Chris Hedges, one of the great intellectuals of our time, opens this important interview with two quotes. James Baldwin says of the rebel and the artist that it’s not so much that they have a vision, but that they’re propelled by it. Hannah Arendt writes of people who resist that “It’s not those who say ‘This shouldn’t be done.’ or ‘We oughtn’t to do this.’ It’s those who say ‘I can’t.'”
Hedges uses these quotes as a launching point into an important conversation with Derrick Jensen about rebels, revolutionaries, and revolt. How do people willing to defy power develop, and what contributes to their success or failure in fighting injustice? Are such people born with a unique spark required for them to stand up against those in power? Can this impulse be cultivated in them, or in those willing to follow the rebel? What conditions need be present in society to launch a larger movement of resistance? Can these conditions be cultivated? What are the differences between rebels working for the good of others vs abusers who call themselves victimized rebels? What are the dangers of using violence in a struggle for liberation?
Jensen and Hedges discuss the difficulty of getting a radical or even progressive message out to people in these days of society in decay, spectacle, and unwillingness to hear uncomfortable truths. Between the entrenched political parties shutting out any discourse critiquing power, the control of mass media by corporations carefully filtering what gets through, and even the erosion of intellectual freedom in universities, the process of building an opposition to business as usual is painful and deadly slow. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, we must work harder (and smarter) than ever to break down these corrupt structures, restore local decision making, and rebuild healthy communities.
Hedges believes the system is irredeemable, and any attempt to work with or within it is a waste of precious time we don’t have. Everything we do now must be oriented towards overthrowing the system and corporate power. If we don’t overthrow it soon, we’re faced with the extinction of not just the human species, but all others as well.
Hedges has many insights into our current crises of political, economic, and moral systems; and into what is necessary to correct our course. Listen to his June 21, 2015 interview below, download mp3, or listen on our Youtube channel. For more of his brilliant analysis, read his latest book Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt or any of his many other books.
Browse all of Derrick Jensen’s Resistance Radio interviews.