Chris Hedges and Leo Panitch: The American Left Needs To Get Its Shit Together, Part 2

Occupy Greek solidarity

Image via Michael Fleshman via Flickr

Dandelion Salad

with Chris Hedges and Leo Panitch

teleSUR English on Sep 14, 2015

In this episode of Days of Revolt, host Chris Hedges continues his conversation on global neoliberalism with author and professor Leo Panitch. They name its beneficiaries, the global financial elite; as well as its victims ­ particularly, the people of Greece. Together, they examine how to bring about revolutionary change in the face of imposed austerity and political suppression. teleSUR


From the archives:

Chris Hedges and Leo Panitch: The Genesis of Global Imperialism and Capitalism, Part 1

Chris Hedges on Corbyn VS Sanders: Two Different Political Animals + Hedges: US’ Ongoing Assault on Iraq Coughed Up Groups Like ISIS

The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion by Ellen Brown + Greece is Not the Major Problem – Europe is by Siv O’Neall

Andrew Gavin Marshall: Who Rules Europe?

Greece is a Nation Under Occupation by Andrew Gavin Marshall

The Problem of Greece is Not Only a Tragedy. It is a Lie. by John Pilger + Grexit or Jubilee? How Greek Debt Could Be Annulled by Ellen Brown

13 thoughts on “Chris Hedges and Leo Panitch: The American Left Needs To Get Its Shit Together, Part 2

  1. Pingback: Noam Chomsky and Yanis Varoufakis: The Neoliberalism Assault on the World | Dandelion Salad

  2. The simple logic of capital gain is conquest by ever more sophisticated deterministic mechanisms. The problem is this: once you have devised and successfully deployed your invincible capitalist war-engine ~ what then?

    This is the sempiternal dilemma ~ it was the basic error of “Iraqi Freedom” as Chirac pointed out and is also the fundamental mistake of the Israeli forced occupation of Palestine ~ what do you do with your triumphant “victory?” Just kill more people?

    Who really won “WW2”, the Cold War, or any war? Shouldn’t we all be better off? If not, why not? What went wrong? What is the point of all this suffering, death and destruction; just to do it all over again in more refined and ruthless measure?

    I think we’ve got it totally inverted. Why not devise a globally interactive, pragmatic and self-determined emergent judicial “holarchic” system? One based on a completely decentralised economic structure; lean, efficient, productive and embedded in local and regional contexts ~ especially those embracing regenerative initiatives.

    This would be energized by an accountable and representative, circulating (not fixed,) rotating and participatory membership, that honours and respects indigenous peoples…..and ensures the most robust principles of stewardship, protection, aid and support for law-abiding communities. The objective would be to encourage and promote social and ecological continuity through progressive development, appropriate technology and the voluntary adoption of the most ingenious and effective new economic models.

    This may sound absurdly futuristic, but in fact many of these ideas are already being trialled. Self-management, gift and share economies, forest gardening, land restoration, regeneration schemes ~ its only the militaristic junta of corporatized geeks who don’t get it. Time to call their bluff ~ after all, we’ve nothing to lose have we….only the entire habitable planet.

      • Thanks Lo. I’ve been thinking about this a great deal lately, and have arrived at the conclusion that we are reflexively habituated to patterns of organization that do not actually conform to the facts of life as we presently understand them.

        Laws are meaningless without methods of implementation. That requires political will & the art of wise government. Rights are only as human as the individuals who embody them, who practice them rather than preach them.

        Bertrand Russell once penned an essay on the harm that good men do. Life is full of paradoxes, but there is a considerable difference between the irony of a paradoxical situation and the crime of sheer neglect. We are living in an age of gross neglect and irresponsibility.

        The destructive powers that we have evoked are beyond our control, but the will to exercise restraint is well within our means. I think we need to experiment with more creative political solutions, and need to find the courage to imagine more fearlessly.

  3. “HEDGES: But you’re talking about revolutionary organizations, right?

    PANITCH: Yes, but I don’t know that that necessarily has to mean insurrectionary ones. One of the things that the left needs to learn from the 20th century is that the way the left beat itself up then over reform versus revolution often meant insurrection versus parliamentarism, rather than–and insurrection didn’t necessarily lead to anything all that damn good either. So I think we need to get past that old debate and reformulate it in new ways. That’s a topic for another interview, probably.

    HEDGES: Well, what does that look like?

    PANITCH: Well, I think, as opposed that old debate, I think we need to try to find ways of doing electoral and parliamentary politics which have revolutionary implications. I think that means linking up, [as] SYRIZA did, to the social movements in a way that overcomes what has been the anarchism of the social movements, the anti-party orientation of the social movements.”


    So, I guess that Panitch is admitting that although like everyone else he sees that capitalism is beyond reforming, he has no answer as to how we might get ourselves beyond it.

    He wants revolution without revolution, ways of doing electoral and parliamentary politics (i.e., business as usual) but in ways that have revolutionary implications, as though that were even possible given that the real nexus of political power is a) the power of property and money; b) the co-optation of electoral and parliamentary politics by the power of property and money; and c) government bureaucracies (the treasury, the judiciary, the military, etc.,) ruled by a network of bureaucratic elites ideologically at one with the plutocracy when those elites are not in fact members of that plutocracy.

    In other words, Panitch would have “us” think of ways of taking control of the existing power structure on its own terms when the problem, narrowly defined, is the brute fact of the existence of the power structure itself.

    The question of ‘revolution,’ it seems to me, is the question of how to go about dismantling that power structure. And Panitch does not seem to want to go there. At least to mind, there is something odd and even disorientating in what Panitch has to say on the issue of revolutionary change, as though he was afraid to even broach the issue head on.

      • Sound Norman. The “power structure” is the centralised nuclear state. Until we face this, we’ll get nowhere. Why do we rejoice in the arcane revelations of the Large Hadron Collider when small babies are still being murdered by multiple means, many still in their mother’s wombs who happen to be on the wrong side of some arbitrary line in the sand?

        The moral bankruptcy of this dictatorship of ignorance we call enlightenment governance is complete. The future is said to belong to the unborn, but at the current rate of infanticidal abomination, there will be no future if the fittest cannot even survive while the unfit rule.

        • David:

          You touched upon a very important issue of fitness and unfitness here. Humans have drastically interfered with all the natural processes of nature, including those of the natural selection. In capitalist and imperialist societies, natural selection has been largely replaced by the human capitalist and imperialist selection, selecting for the traits of selfishness; aggressiveness; competitiveness; ruthless exploitation of one’s fellow human beings, other forms of life, and nature; greed; will to power; injustice; calculative thinking; capitalist technological rationality etc., and selecting against the traits of altruism; genuine peacefulness (which is totally different than the capitulation to powers-that-be, masquerading as peace in these societies); genuine cooperativeness (which is totally different than the capitulation to powers-that-be, masquerading as cooperativeness in these societies); will to compassion; holistic and meditative thinking; feelings of justice and love for one’s fellow human beings and other forms of life; genuine holistic reason and rationality; etc., in a word, selecting against human soul. These processes are taking place on the politico-economic, mass psychological, cultural, epigenetic, and biological levels, which interact with each other and are all inextricably intertwined in reality, even though humans have separated them into separate areas of research, information, and knowledge.

        • Thank you Fazal for expanding on this crucial matter so fully. What you say is deeply relevant and applicable on all levels of human experience.

          According to my lights, it really does boil down to this question of human nature, what is real, what is true ~ what is possible.

          John McMurtry seems to be addressing this in his philosophical discourses on life value. The issue of altruism is exceptionally problematic however, insofar as it is a category of potential hazard, eagerly capitalized and exploited by prescriptive systems, by sundry tyrannies, imperial institutions of “divine right,” by corporate ideologies, NATO, the PNAC gang, extreme cults and the rest ~ for whom it simply means power, obedience and conformity.

          As I read it, this leads directly to a fundamental abuse of religious principle (or rather, the spiritual idea itself….that Blavatsky framed as “the aim of religion”) because it says, in effect, to humanity at large ‘it is morally desirable and a good thing for you and for society generally, to forego instinctive well-being for this such-and-such higher cause…’ That “higher cause” that only “we” understand, can then be readily harnessed as a direct means of totalitarian control. What would “Jesus do?” Why, invest in Raytheon of course!

          In that respect I’m with Marx’s opiate, that ironically has also been cunningly inverted by CIA-manipulated drug barons. The archetypal example must be the “holy” Roman empire, which is what PNAC and the rest of the fanatical apologists for “straight-jacket christendom” desire most earnestly to resurrect & reanimate ~ if indeed it ever declined. That is why Daesh is so useful to them. It shifts the entire problem into the realm of theological dogma, that personally I find exceptionally distasteful and iniquitous, but that is precisely the intent.

          Better by far, surely, to be, like yourself, an educated advocate for the scientific method ~ ie pure scepticism….and leave the literalists to wrestle with their obsessive sophist obscurantism, in the perinatal darkness of their Freudian fantasies & forbidden infantile terrors.

    • Most of the leftist pundits-almost all of them whites-in the US, are academics, have well-paying jobs, and, financially and socially, nothing in common with the oppressed minorities, poor whites, the unemployed, and the lower strata of the working class. There are fundamental problems and contradictions in their politico-economic, philosophical, and “revolutionary” positions. In fact, they consider their reformist positions as “revolutionary”, and, to most Americans, these appear to be like that. Exposing these properly is an important, but very time-consuming and depressing, task. Unless one has the necessary intellectual tools and background-which most people do not have- these remain hidden. A lot of them reproduce the empirical and statistical facts-mostly researched by others, mostly on single issues-quite accurately. However, the theoretical flaws in their above-mentioned positions, make it impossible to propose any credible or effective solutions to the immense problems of capitalism and imperialism. They cannot get their own “Sh..” together, but preach the Left to do it! They are getting away with all this quite easily, with typical academic arrogance, in this nebulous period that began after the success of capitalist counterrevolutions in the USSR, Eastern Europe, and China. They need to be challenged by the real revolutionary intellectuals, who are based in the working class and are informed about the essential foundations and requirements of the revolutionary replacement of capitalism and imperialism with socialism.

      • Acutely framed Fazal. I totally agree with you about the complacency and privileged arrogance of tenured “librarians.” It is hugely condescending and actually really stupid of career academics to “preach” to the poor.

        We need the idealism and enthusiasm of youth, let us liberate the future generations from the bondage of habit. Unleash the genius of real need and affirm the wisdom of life well lived.

  4. The left need to get it right!
    But that is just playing with words.
    It is crazy what is happening in Greece and all because of some big pockets in the higher ups.
    It is always the smaller men that has to suffer.

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