Shuck and Jive

Monday, September 19, 2011

Calling All Rebels

I watched Chris Hedges last night on LINK TV. It was a powerful speech and an insightful Q & A afterwards. The speech is a longer version of the written column, "Calling All Rebels" he wrote last year. From that piece, he wrote:
Those who do not rebel in our age of totalitarian capitalism and who convince themselves that there is no alternative to collaboration are complicit in their own enslavement. They commit spiritual and moral suicide.
Here is the blurb about the speech:
Join Pulitzer Prize-winner Chris Hedges for an profound new speech - Calling All Rebels. In it, he poignantly argues that American liberalism has been an abject failure in the face of the corporate takeover of the American government. He insists that unless we begin to stand fast around moral imperatives we will be complicit in our self-annihilation.

"As the centers of American power were seized and hijacked by corporations, the media continued to pay deference to systems of power that could no longer be considered honest or democratic. The media treat criminals on Wall Street as responsible members of the ruling class. They treat the criminals in the White House and the Pentagon as statesmen."
During the Q & A he quoted H. Richard Niebuhr. The question was in regards to why religion seems to be a force for evil (think of the Christian right) and yet also a force for good. Hedges said, quoting Niebuhr,
"Religion is good for good people and bad for bad people."

I appreciate that Hedges is stirring up some passion. It is time to bang the pots and pans. If you are near our mountain, join us Saturday, from 2 to 5 p.m. on Roan Street in Johnson City for "Rally for the Humans."

The fact is that we need a great turnout for the rally just to get the attention of our elected representatives. Please join us in our struggle to take the power of government out of the hands of corporations and return it to the people. YOU can make a difference. YOU have the power.
Check out the Facebook event.


  1. This is all very well and good but short of living in a yurt and growing my own tofu, I'd like some guidance on how we can effectively rebel against totalitarian capitalism?

    I've been following the action on Wall Street with great interest ... on Twitter. The MSM won't cover it. That requires the use of my Apple computer and my corporate-provided internet connection and my AT&T phone connection.

    I'm not being flippant here, I really want to know. How much must we compromise our ideals before we're sellouts?

    I suspect the answer is that we must all make ourselves a little uncomfortable, lower our standard of living, step outside our comfort zone .. in short, live in a yurt and grow our own tofu. I can appreciate the message but that is not going to resonate across a large enough spectrum of the American populace to have the desired effect.

    So, other than those personal lifestyle choices we all make ... what else?

  2. Hey, Beale -

    Here's the thing: there isn't a dang thing wrong with the idea of exchanging goods and services for money. If I like hamburgers, and you make really good hamburgers, there's nothing wrong with me giving you a set amount of money for a hamburger now and then.

    But just because I'm willing to give you a little of my "hard-earned" cha-ching for a burger every now and then doesn't mean that you, as a maker of burgers, should be making laws that require people to buy your burgers, allow you to put whatever you want in them, create the prices guaranteeing XXXX profits for you and your closest friends, and so on.

    It's really that simple. This business about feeling somehow hypocritical because you're using goods and services created by corporations to criticize, or to limit the power of those corporations is ridiculous, and serves those corporations.

    A reasonable exchange of money for goods and services is not the problem. Allowing the corporations that sell those goods and services to set policy, to monitor enforcement, to self-regulate, and to self-correct is a BIG problem.

  3. Hey Beale,

    You know me. My links on the sidebar and my posts on this and related topics demonstrate my opinion that civilization is headed for a long descent. It doesn't really matter what individuals decide personally. It is too late. In a period of time (I think in my lifetime) very few of us will even have access to Apple computers and AT&T phone connections. Use them while you got them.

    We are peaking at every measure of significance, energy, money, population, Earth's capacity to hold our refuse, in short, civilization.

    While we descend, the wealthy are doing everything they can to keep as much for themselves. I don't think there is much we can do about it except to name it, criticize it, and lift up sharing as a value. That is what I got out of Hedge's speech.

  4. John,

    Your "it's too late" message is far too bleak for me. I guess I'm a hopeless optimist. I just refuse to believe that it's ever too late. I don't think Jesus' message is "it's too late." I just can't go there. If it's too late, then what's the point of any of it? That is not a faithful message to me. No. just ... no.


    Okay, I hear ya on the capitalism is OK in moderation thing. That's fine, I can buy that. Here's my issue. If I for personal reasons choose to not purchase Coca-Cola products (for example) because I think Coca-Cola is an evil corporation which has far too much influence over our government, then that's great BUT imagine my displeasure when I find out that Coca-Cola's stinky fingers are all over a whole bunch of "wholesome" products too, like Odwalla organic juices and Honest Tea organic teas, etc, etc. I mean, they are just EVERYWHERE.


  5. Hey Beale,

    Thanks for the response. Let me explain a little more what I mean by that. You still may think it is too bleak, but I want to be as clear as I can.

    I am not saying it is too late for humanity. I am saying it is too late to save industrial civilization. Industrial civilization which is based on the exploitation of non-renewable resources (ie. fossil fuels) and infinite economic growth is unsustainable and therefore unjust and immoral. It will collapse. It needs to. Then a more sustainable lifestyle will emerge.

    As far as Jesus is concerned, if you take Ehrman's view, he thought collapse was coming and coming quickly ("not one stone will be left upon another"). Even the more mellow Jesus of the Jesus Seminar realized that the Empire was unsustainable, immoral, and unjust and would eventually be replaced.

    My "biblical" metaphor is the green shoot that grows from the stump of Jesse. Industrial civilization will become a stump. The green shoots of life are my hope.

    One of the authors on my sidebar that has provided the most wisdom for me has been John Michael Greer, author of The Long Descent and The EcoTechnic Future. I think he has a good grasp of where we are and how we can become human again.

    I am not on any moral high horse when I say this. I am completely complicit in the injustice, unsustainability, and immorality of industrial civilization. In fact, I like it. I like cars and fast food and my computer. The reality is that if everyone on Earth enjoyed it as much as I do, we would need five planets of resources.

    Civilizations come and go. It isn't in my view a lack of faith or a lack of optimism to realize that. Faith is trust that we can face our limits and be decent as we contract and move to a totally new future.

  6. You make the best choices you can based on the information you have, SB. And then you try to make people hear you when you say you want changes to the way policy is made regarding corporations.

    For instance, I desperately needed to have a fence built, to protect my dog from the neighbors' uncontrolled beasts. Pretty much all of the lumber available around here is lumber with the Koch Brothers' nastiness on it. But I really didn't have a lot of choice, or a lot of time to make the choice.

    So, I live with the fact that I'm supporting the Tea Party and the damage they are doing to the country (and to their own members, perhaps not ironically). And I will do what I can with my meager voice to offset that.

    By the way, I've known for decades that close to 90% of the country of Belize is/was owned by Minute Made, which is owned by your example, Coca Cola. If you want to see what happens when a country's policy is written by corporations, read the history of Belize.

  7. John - a few months ago I was talking to Lukey about our long decent. He (and how many other kids his age) feel hopeless about the future. I used your sermons - your teachings - as you expressed your hope for the green shoots from the stump, as a way to share some hope with Lukey.

    I likened it to getting the opportunity to go to South America or on an extended camping trip, or something. We will do without a lot of the things we've grown used to having, but the adventure might just make up for that. I think it helped him.

    I hope you continue to speak these words of home amidst unimaginable change for a long time to come. People like Lukey really need to hear it. Let those with ears hear!

  8. Snad, I think adventure is a helpful way to look at things. I am glad you are talking to Luke and others about this. Thanks for the encouragement!