Monday, March 9, 2009

It's Not Going to be OK

I've been saving this column by Chris Hedges for several weeks waiting for an opportune time to talk about it. I first became aware of Hedges some years ago when I read his book War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, a heart-felt, moving anti-war tome by a guy who's seen one hell of a lot of war, death, and destruction. (I also must confess I found it intriguing that a guy with a B.A. in English lit and a Masters of Divinity ended up being a war correspondent. And by God, a guy who got booed off the stage where he was delivering a commencement address in 2003 for denouncing the war in Iraq can't be all bad.)

So maybe the time for sharing this is "opportune," but I don't think there will ever be a good time to share this. Because what Hedges has to say will not cheer anybody up. But who's to say he's not right? I, for one, do not believe that America has a special guardian angel that protects us from history, from the fate of all overextended empires. Nor do I believe that there is anything special about this nation that insulates it from history. "All Things Must Pass," as George Harrison reminds us. It's just that most of us don't want to believe that the time to pass for the U.S. has arrived so quickly.

Hedges is a true prophet of doom. Here's what he says: because of the economic crisis in the country, social unrest is inevitable. Millions out of work will put people on the streets rioting just as similar problems have done in many countries recently. Economic crisis = political crisis. The danger of totalitarianism from the right is very real. People will readily give over control to a demagogue who promises order.

Our way of life is over. Our profligate consumption is finished. Our children will never have the standard of living we had. And poverty and despair will sweep across the landscape like a plague. This is the bleak future. There is nothing President Obama can do to stop it. It has been decades in the making. It cannot be undone with a trillion or two trillion dollars in bailout money. Our empire is dying. Our economy has collapsed.

Hedges has no faith that Americans are going to cope with our present difficulties with intelligence and with the foresight to change our way of living.

Now, you tell me, do you really think things are going to revert to the way things were before all this unpleasantness? Do you really think your kids are going to be better off than you are (or were)? These are the kinds of worries that keep me up nights, typing up blogs rather than tending to writing that I should be doing. I wonder how many other parents are bothered by these same questions. Don't know about you, but they won't go away for me.

Honest. I truly hope I'm drastically mistaken. What do you think?

Update 1: In his latest piece, "Forget about 'Recovery'," Jim Kuntsler likewise thinks that violence by the people being (still!) screwed by Wall Street and the bankers is also highly likely. Read the comments after this piece, too.
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