Hedges mourns Amer­ica’s be­trayed democ­racy

The Georgia Straight - - Books - By

Travis Lupick

ulitzer Prize–winning jour­nal­ist Chris Hedges’s lat­est book, Amer­ica: The Farewell Tour, is no ral­ly­ing cry. There is no call for a march on Wash­ing­ton or for “the re­sis­tance” to re­dou­ble its ef­forts to rid the White House of a grow­ing threat to democ­racy. Amer­ica: The Farewell Tour is a di­ag­no­sis and la­men­ta­tion. A tear shed for a coun­try that once in­spired, and for its cit­i­zens who have be­come the col­lat­eral dam­age of one small fac­tion’s in­sa­tiable thirst for wealth.

Hedges does not blame U.S. pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump for Amer­ica’s de­cay.

“Trump is not the dis­ease, he is a symp­tom,” Hedges tells the Straight by phone, ahead of a Wed­nes­day (Oc­to­ber 10) event in North Van­cou­ver.

“Dem­a­gogues have a kind of ap­peal among an en­raged, be­trayed pop­u­la­tion, be­cause de­spite what­ever vul­gar­ity and im­be­cil­ity they ex­hibit, they nev­er­the­less ridicule the es­tab­lished elites, the way Trump does,” Hedges ex­plains. “And to a pop­u­la­tion that has been ma­nip­u­lated, lied to, and used by these elites, that is kind of cathar­tic. But it’s dan­ger­ous, be­cause it takes very weak­ened struc­tures and de­bil­i­tates them fur­ther. That is what we are wit­ness­ing right now.”

Hedges has re­ported on this phe­nom­e­non be­fore, as a for­eign cor­re­spon­dent in El Sal­vador and dur­ing the breakup of the for­mer Yu­goslavia, for ex­am­ple. He has wit­nessed the ap­peal of an in­di­vid­ual will­ing to em­brace fas­cism and the pow­ers they can wield over a pop­u­la­tion so dis­con­tented it is ready to em­brace vi­o­lence.

In Amer­ica: The Farewell Tour, Hedges notes this pat­tern in ex­am­ples that go back as far as hu­mans have or­ga­nized them­selves into larger so­ci­eties. The Egyp­tians, the Ro­mans, the Mayans, the peo­ple of the In­dus Val­ley civilization… Hedges lists them off.

“They el­e­vated, dur­ing acute dis­tress, in­ept and cor­rupt lead­ers who chan­neled anger, fear, and dwin­dling re­sources into self-de­feat­ing wars and vast build­ing projects,” he writes in the book. “These rul­ing elites, con­sumed

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