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Bill Moyers and Chris Hedges: How Whole Regions of America Have Been Destroyed in the Name of Quarterly Profits

Hedges discusses his new book with Moyers and the totally unchecked corporate power that is destroying our democracy.

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CHRIS HEDGES: I think it began after World War I. You know, Dwight McDonald writes about how after World War I, American society became enveloped in what he called the psychosis of permanent war, where in the name of anti-Communism, we could effectively banish anyone within the society who questioned power in a serious kind of way.

And of course, we destroyed populist and radical movements, which have always broadened democracy within American society, it's something Howard Zinn wrote quite powerfully about in “A People's History of the United States.” It has been a long struggle, whether it's the abolitionist movement that fought slavery, whether it's the suffragists for women's rights, the labor movement, or the civil rights movement. And these forces have the ability to essentially destroy those movements, including labor unions, which made the middle class possible in this country. And have rendered us powerless. And--

BILL MOYERS: Except for the power of the pen. You keep writing, you keep speaking, you keep agitating.

CHRIS HEDGES: I do, but, you know, things aren't getting better. And I think, you know, like you, I come out of the seminary, and I look less on my ability to effect change and understand it more as a kind of moral responsibility to resist these forces. Which I think in theological terms are forces of death. And to fight to protect, preserve, and nurture life.

But you know, as my friend, Father Daniel Berrigan says, you know, "We're called to do the good, or at least the good insofar as we can determine it. And then we have to let it go." Faith is the belief that it goes somewhere.

BILL MOYERS: So let's talk about you. You've been showing up in the news as well as well as just reporting the news, you took part in that mock trial down at Goldman Sachs.

CHRIS HEDGES: Goldman Sachs is an institution that worships death, the forces of Thanatos, of greed, of exploitation, of destruction.

BILL MOYERS: And I still remember the picture of you and the others sitting down, locking arms, and blocking the interests of the company. What was that about?

CHRIS HEDGES: That was personal for me. Goldman Sachs runs one of the largest commodities index in the world. And I've spent 20 years in places like Africa, and I know what happens when wheat prices increase by 100 percent. Children starve. And I knew I was going to get arrested because, you know, I was, I covered the famine in Sudan and was in these huge U.N. tents and feeding stations trying to save.

And you know, the people who die in famines were usually elderly and children. The place was, I mean, everyone had tuberculosis. I have scars in my lungs from tuberculosis, which I successfully fought off. And those are sort of the whispers of the dead. All those children and others who couldn't didn't have the ability to go in front of a place like Goldman Sachs and condemn them.

BILL MOYERS: But surely those people, as you were arrested, there were people working for Goldman Sachs looking down from the windows--

CHRIS HEDGES: They were taking pictures--

BILL MOYERS: Taking pictures, laughing. Surely you don't think they would wish that outcome in Africa or anywhere else, right?

CHRIS HEDGES: Well, it's moral fragmentation. I mean, they blind themselves to what they do all day long, and they define themselves as good human beings by other criteria, because they're a good father or a good husband or because they go to church. But it is that human trait to engage in what I would have to describe as a system of evil. And yet, look at it as just a job.

 
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