Monday, October 12, 2009

Chris Hedges - Empire of Illusion

Chris Hedges is a brilliant writer. His book "Christian Fascists" was a stunning and comprehensive indictment of the right-wing religions in the U.S. and their tactics and goals of destroying democracy and replacing it with a theocratic fascist system. He's a former reporter with the New York Times who left under pressure because of his outspoken opposition to the U.S. war of aggression against Iraq. He currently writes at Truthdig, and is the author of many books. His most recent is called Empire of Illusion, and he's been interviewed by several members of the progressive media, one excerpt being below by Laura Flanders at GritTV. GritTV is broadcast on Freespeech tv and is available online at the following link:

Laura Flanders is a journalist and is host of a daily current events TV show called GRITtv. She is also the author of several books, and has written articles which have appeared in The Nation, In These Times, The Progressive, Ms. Magazine, and ZNet. Noted journalists Alexander and Patrick Cockburn are her uncles.

Excerpt from one review by Brian Bethune in Maclane's magazine, a Canadian newsweekly:

"[Chris Hedges] is not likely to win a lot of new friends with his latest work, Empire of Illusion (Knopf). The “illusion” part of the title is made clear in Hedges’ savage assault on celebrity/pop culture.... [and discusses] how Americans (and, increasingly, the rest of the world) are “bombarded with cant and spectacle” that robs them of “the intellectual and linguistic tools to separate illusion from truth.” Celebrity culture is one of images and sound bites, he writes, one that both drives and is enabled by, functional illiteracy. (He cites studies estimating the illiterate and semi-literate proportion of the U.S. and Canadian populations to be about 42 per cent.)"
"[T]he “illusion” [of celebrity and pop culture] serves the other half of his title, the “empire,” the corporate and military forces that he believes profit from the impoverishment, moral and financial, of his countrymen. It prevents Americans from seeing what is done in their name or even what is done to them."

"What seems to truly drive Hedges’ rage is his conviction that no republic has ever survived the acquisition of empire, and that his own will be no exception. The U.S. is in a death spiral, he believes, inextricably trapped in other nation’s lives and in “a culture of illusion that is, at its core, a culture of death—it will die and leave little of value behind.” Remarkable, bracing and highly moral, Empire of Illusion is Hedges’ lament for his nation.

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