Empire Files on Sep 26, 2015
Abby Martin interviews Chris Hedges on American myths, war and revolt. Hedges explains the ‘folly of Empire,’ the dangers posed by right-wing extremism and the urgent need for a new system.
Hedges: “After WWI, factories re-converted to produce domestic products. After WWII, they kept producing weapons, even though we had peace, so that we could obliterate every Soviet city ten times over with nuclear weapons. It was nuts, but with guaranteed cost overruns and guaranteed profits, that fusion of the militarists and the corporatists hijacked the country, disemboweled the country economically, and made war on all of those advances that had come under the New Deal. So it had both in an economic impact and a political impact. The USA is undoubtedly the world’s biggest, strongest empire in history, but it operates in a different way than empires past.”
Hedges: “Yeah, I had written a column in which I said you can’t be a socialist unless you’re an anti-imperialist and anti-militarist because it’s really those forces, and we have to remember that the arms industry is a for-profit industry. We sell 40% of the world’s weapons. We have to break the back of empire, not only for what empire is doing to what Frantz Fanon calls “the wretched of the earth,” but for what it’s doing at home because as it disembowels the country, the harsh forms of control that empire uses on the outer reaches of empire migrate back to the homeland, so you get wholesale surveillance, militarized police, indiscriminate use of lethal force on our city streets. We’re in Baltimore where you don’t have to go very far to see that, and destruction of our most basic civil liberties.”
Martin: “And you quoted Engels in one of your recent speeches on this point which said that it’s either barbarism or socialism.
Hedges: “It’s often attributed to Luxembourg. She stole it, but it did come from Engels. It is really between barbarism or socialism. Either we reconfigure our relationship to each other and to the planet in a radical way or these forces, which in theological terms are forces of death, will extinguish what hope we have for life. It’s that dire. It’s that dramatic, as anyone who reads climate change reports understands. And this is the folly of empire. This is how empires destroy themselves and always have. It’s how the Roman Empire ended. You expand militarily beyond your capacity to sustain yourself and that’s precisely what we’re doing and what we’ve done, and the consequences of it politically, economically, socially, culturally and finally environmentally are catastrophic.”
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