Hedges mourns America’s betrayed democracy
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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