September 25, 2018
Pretending the world isn’t bleak feeds the mania for unreal hope that exists within American culture…
Chris Hedges – Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, ordained Presbyterian minister, ferocious anti-corporate activist and prolific author – has long occupied an isolated spot among American public intellectuals, as much a moral crusader as a political critic. But as American, and Western, politics continue to decay and xenophobic nativism continues to rise, Hedges, 61, seems less and less an outlier, his critique of contemporary America more acceptable to his countrymen. And that’s without walking back any of his analysis. If Hedges was worried nine years ago in Empire of Illusion that his nation – like all republics before it – would fail to survive the acquisition of an empire, he’s now convinced it won’t. The title of his newest book, America: The Farewell Tour, says it all. In powerfully reported chapters – including “Decay” (deindustrialization), “Heroin” (the opioid epidemic), “Sadism” (the pornography-industrial complex), and “Hate” (racism) – Hedges talks to the most oppressed and dispossessed citizens of an empire he thinks has not much more than a decade of life left.
Q: A very bleak and wide-ranging report. The Farewell Tour is, in its way, the antithesis of Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now.
A: That book is the modern version of Candide. I mean it is completely unplugged from reality. Pinker, who has spent his life in academic gardens like Harvard, just doesn’t understand what societies look like when they break down. I’ve been there. I’m not an academic. I was primarily a war correspondent for 28 years. Pinker doesn’t get the dark side of human nature and how technology has, in degenerated societies, accelerated the power to commit wholesale slaughter. People love his book….