Journalist and author Chris Hedges will be in Portland on Monday, June 16.
“We have undergone a corporate coup d’etat,” says Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Chris Hedges, who will be in Portland on Monday evening, giving the keynote talk at Peace Action Maine’s annual gathering. “It’s over.”
Formerly a reporter for the New York Times covering global terrorism (which is where he won the Pulitzer, in 2002), Hedges is best known for his anti-corporate stance, his criticism of US foreign policy, and his call to action: “You have to build a community and you have to physically attempt to stop the machine,” he says.
Hedges’ talk, which shares its title with his forthcoming book (it comes out this fall), is “Wages of Rebellion;” in it he’ll discuss how “confronting predatory corporate capitalism and trying to create sustainable communities” is the only way to proceed “in an era of declining resources, climate change, and economic stagnation.” He’s especially critical of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Barack Obama’s shoddy record on civil liberties, and worldwide inaction on the “state of emergency” that is global warming.
We’ve reached a point, Hedges says, where acts of civil disobedience and mass protest (on the scale of Occupy Wall Street) are “a moral imperative. To remain passive in the face of this destruction is to be complicit.”
Electoral politics are irrelevant, he argues — but he hasn’t written off the system entirely. “I don’t not vote, but my votes are a kind of registration of opposition to the system,” he says. He calls himself a socialist, but he recognizes both points of convergence with Libertarian right and places where he diverges from the majority of the political left, whose great failure is that it has “yet to grasp the inner workings of power — you can’t respond effectively until you understand how power operates.”
And to do so takes both courage and coordination. “Nonviolence does not protect demonstrators from violence,” Hedges wrote in his June 9 column at Truthdig, “Rules of Revolt” — 12 lessons we can learn from the student occupation of Beijing’s Tianamen Square 25 years ago. “It also does not always succeed. Nonviolence requires—despite what those who advocate violence contend — deep reserves of physical and moral courage. State violence is defeated through the refusal to be afraid, even after violence is used by the state to stamp out protests, and through continuing acts of nonviolent resistance. The goal is to show that violence will not work.”
Also at Monday’s event, Peace Action Maine will give its annual Peace Worker Award to long-time activist and Maine artist Robert Shetterly, whose portrait series “Americans Who Tell the Truth” includes a painting of Hedges.
Chris Hedges, “The Wages of Rebellion” | Monday, June 16 at 7 pm | preceded by Peace Action Maine annual meeting at 5 pm | Hannaford Hall, University of Southern Maine, Portland | $10 suggested donation; students free | 207.773.5707 or peaceactionme.org