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Monday, March 14, 2011

Economic, ethical and ecological collapse, according to Chris Hedges

Very sobering piece from Chris Hedges (author of American Fascists, among other things) about what happens when empires go sclerotic.

Resources are exploited ever more recklessly. Class warfare becomes more and more ruthless. Stupidity and illusion are embraced ever more enthusiastically as people deliberately tune out reality. The brain actually starts to rot even while the body is still alive.

The essay is titled This Time We're Taking the Whole Planet With Us. An excerpt:

As societies become more complex they become inevitably more precarious. They become increasingly vulnerable. And as they begin to break down there is a strange retreat by a terrified and confused population from reality, an inability to acknowledge the self-evident fragility and impending collapse. The elites at the end speak in phrases and jargon that do not correlate to reality. They retreat into isolated compounds, whether at the court at Versailles, the Forbidden City or modern palatial estates. The elites indulge in unchecked hedonism, the accumulation of vaster wealth and extravagant consumption. They are deaf to the suffering of the masses who are repressed with greater and greater ferocity. Resources are more ruthlessly depleted until they are exhausted. And then the hollowed-out edifice collapses.

Not that anyone would suggest any similarity between that and what we're seeing now. Nor would anyone suggest that we ought to be disentangling ourselves from the myriad tentacles binding us to any of these decaying colossi.

(H/t Lorne at Politics and its Discontents, and through him, Mound of Sound at The Disaffected Lib.)

Update: God help me, I can't not add this ...

"Beware the beast man, for he is the Devil's pawn. Alone among God's primates, he kills for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother's land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him, for he is the harbinger of death."

1 comment:

  1. Chris Hedges is one of the most intelligent humans I heard of late. He speaks and writes beautifully but really his message is very simple and if the average dumbass took the time to read his message they would be pleasantly surprised at how simple that message is. "The more things change, the more they remain the same". Every society, every generation of our species while occupying their timeframes have missmanaged their time here and suffered decline and destruction. Nobles, elites, serfs, peasantry etc., are words as common to our present society as they were centuries ago. I maintain that one doesen't have to make such eloquent connections to the Mayans, Romans, Easter Islands or any other civilizations but that the comparisons are more recent. Wisconson, Michigan and indeed Toronto (G20) show us all we need to see to make similar relations. The revelution in France should show us what happens when the elites retreat to their insular worlds while the dissenfranchised peasants overtaxed and underfed finnaly out of desparation rise up in "class warfare". I can hear the guillotines being sharpened.