Chris Hedges: The Second American Revolution

They say Revolution

Image by mario via Flickr

Dandelion Salad

with Chris Hedges

RT America on Sep 18, 2021

On the show, Chris Hedges discusses the Second American Revolution with author David Talbot.

The populist uprisings of the Progressive Era, labor militancy of the 1930s and the sweeping social and cultural transformations of the 1960s and 1970s constitute America’s second revolution. These movements sought to complete the unfinished work of the first revolution, enfranchising those the founders of the nation had condemned and thrust aside, Blacks, women, Native Americans and the poor. The second American revolution, embodied in its final phase by Dr. Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, spawned a series of powerful movements including the anti-war movement, the Black power movement, the women’s movement, the American Indian Movement, gay and lesbian movements, the United Farm Workers Union, the Weather Underground and a radical, alternative press embodied in publications such as Ramparts magazine. But the promises of these movements have been largely obliterated. The ruling elites mounted a sustained, often lawless and successful campaign to crush these expressions of popular yearning and popular discontent.

Salon founder David Talbot and New Yorker writer Margaret Talbot look back at this moment in our history in their book By the Light of Burning Dreams: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the Second American Revolution to ask what happened and what, finally, went wrong. The authors use portraits of radical activists, including Tom Hayden, Jane Fonda, Jerry Rubin, Bobby Seal, Huey Newton, Eldridge Cleaver, Heather Booth and the Women of Jane, Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Dennis Banks, Madonna Thunder Hawk, Russell Means, John Lennon and Yoko Ono as a lens to look at the inner workings and inherent flaws in the second American revolution.

See also:

Margaret & David Talbot: The Second American Revolution, interviewed by Robert Scheer

From the archives:

Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Three Evils of Society: Racism, Militarism and Capitalism

The Radicalization of Martin Luther King + Dr. Martin Luther King: Where Do We Go From Here?

Caleb Maupin: Martin Luther King Was A Socialist!

Glen Ford: The Black Elite and the Legacy of MLK + Martin Luther King, Jr.: Organized Non-violent Resistance Is The Most Powerful Weapon

What Is COINTELPRO? by The Anti-Social Socialist

Chris Hedges: Restrained Resistance with Bill Ayers

Abby Martin: An Unparalleled Act of Police Terror

One thought on “Chris Hedges: The Second American Revolution

  1. Why did the “revolution” of the 1960s fail? My own view, not mentioned in the Hedges interview, is this:

    The revolution failed because its vision was not big enough, and Joseph McCarthy had done his work too well. Too many of us in the 1960s, children of the newly formed middle class, imagined revolution bringing a kinder, gentler capitalism, one without corruption, poverty, racism, or war.

    We wouldn’t have described our vision in those words — indeed, we would not have used the word “capitalism.” It never would have occurred to us to question the most fundamental concepts of the economic system, just as a fish might never imagine life beyond water.

    Sure, there were a few vocal communists in those days. In particular, some members of the black liberation movement were communists. But most of us middle class kids never heard their voices. Their message never reached very far.

    Today I am convinced that a kinder, gentler capitalism is not actually possible. Capitalism cannot help but generate corruption, poverty, racism, war, and more recently ecocide, which is about to kill us all. All the parts are connected; we cannot have a “revolution” against just some of the symptoms of capitalism while tolerating the rest.

    That message is spreading a little farther today, but it still is not reaching very far. Too many of today’s “leftists” go not much farther to the left than Bernie Sanders, who seems to believe that some sort of “socialism” can coexist with capitalism. These lukewarm leftists have their hearts in the right place, but they believe that a kinder, gentler capitalism is possible. I write leaflets to try to tell them that they are mistaken. The word is spreading, but is it spreading fast enough? The destruction of the ecosystem may be faster. Some crop failures have already begun.

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