Corporate capitalism, defined by the cult of the self and the ruthless exploitation of the natural world and all forms of life for profit, thrives on the fostering of chronic psychological and physical disorders. The diseases and pathologies of despair — alienation, high blood pressure, diabetes, anxiety, depression, morbid obesity, mass shootings (now almost two per day on average), domestic and sexual violence, drug overdoses (over 100,000 per year) and suicide (49,000 deaths in 2022) — are the consequences of a deeply traumatized society. The core traits of psychopaths — superficial charm, grandiosity and self-importance, a need for constant stimulation, a penchant for lying, deception, manipulation and the inability to feel remorse or guilt — are celebrated.
There are very few intellectuals who have been as attacked, censored, and blacklisted as long and as ruthlessly as the Middle Eastern scholar, Norman Finkelstein. He has been hounded out of universities, denied speaking engagements, and had his books and scholarship either ignored or dismissed. It is surprising, perhaps, that Professor Finkelstein’s latest book, I’ll Burn That Bridge When I Get to It! Heretical Thoughts on Identity Politics, Cancel Culture, and Academic Freedom is a savage attack on identity politics. He likens the current woke culture of the left to red-baiting when his heroes, Paul Robeson, Pete Seager, Rosa Luxemburg, Paul Sweezy, and Annette Rubinstein were marginalized, and in the case of Luxembourg, assassinated.
The fusion of politics, news, and entertainment has given prominence to comics like Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, and Bill Maher, who serve as attack dogs for the Democratic Party, which has joined forces with the establishment wing of the old Republican Party against Donald Trump and his supporters. By belittling Trump and his followers, these comics feed the smug, self-righteousness of the ruling establishment, bolstering their sense of moral and intellectual superiority. All the while, they remain comfortably constrained by the corporations and advertisers that employ them.
Mechanic Falls, Maine – I am sitting in Eric Heimel’s barbershop in the center of Mechanic Falls. Russ Day, who was the owner for 52 years before he sold it to Eric, cut my hair as a boy. The shop looks the same. The mounted trout on the walls. The worn linoleum floor. The 1956 Emil J. Paidar barber chair. The two American flags on the wall flanking the oval mirror. The plaque that reads: “If a Man is Alone In the Woods, With No Woman to Hear Him, Is He Still Wrong?” Another plaque that reads: “Men have 3 hairstyles parted…unparted…and DEPARTED!” I can almost see my grandfather, with his thick gold masonic ring on his pinky finger smoking an unfiltered Camel cigarette, waiting for Russ to finish.
Violence is ubiquitous in American life, and so is the trauma that follows in its wake. From the domestic sphere to the public sphere, interpersonal violence, particularly of a sexual nature, is all-too-common in the US. How does the resulting trauma manifest, and how does this trauma shape everything from our personal relationships to our politics? Specialist Dr. Judith Lewis Herman joins The Chris Hedges Report for an in-depth discussion on how trauma distorts the mind and the body politic alike. Dr. Judith Lewis Herman is a psychiatrist who studies trauma and developed the diagnosis for Complex PTSD. She is the author of several books, including her most recent, Truth and Repair: How Trauma Survivors Envision Justice.
The terror of police power is a recurring fact of American life, particularly in this country’s poorest communities and in communities of color. The power of officers comes not only from the strength of arms, but also from a legal system that is swift to protect its enforcers, yet slow to hold them to account. Where did this virtual immunity from prosecution come from? Has it always been this way? And if not, how has police power and impunity changed through the ages? Historian Joanna Schwartz joins The Chris Hedges report to discuss her new book, Shielded: How the Police Became Untouchable. Joanna Schwartz is a professor of law at UCLA, where she teaches civil procedure and courses on police accountability and public interest lawyering.
On Dec. 24, 2022 Matt Taibbi was in a room at the Parc 55 Hotel in San Francisco poring through reports sent to Twitter from an entity called the Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF). The FITF is an FBI-led interagency task force that forwards “moderation requests” from numerous government agencies, including Homeland Security, the CIA, the Pentagon and the State Department, to social media outlets. Taibbi was given access to the internal traffic by Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk. It revealed how the FBI and other government agencies routinely suppressed news and commentary. He published a Twitter thread that night, Christmas Eve, with the headline “Twitter and Other Government Agencies”.
New Brunswick, N.J. — Here are some of the senior administrators I did not see joining us on the picket lines set up by striking teachers and staff at Rutgers University. Brian Strom, the chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, whose salary is $925,932 a year. Steven Libutti, the vice chancellor for Cancer Programs for Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, who makes $929,411 a year. Patrick Hobbs, the director of athletics, who receives $999,688 a year. The president of the university, Jonathan Holloway, who is paid $1.2 million a year. Stephen Pikiell, the university’s head basketball coach, who has received a 445 percent pay raise since 2020 and currently gets $3 million a year. Gregory Schiano, the university’s head football coach, who pulls in $4 million a year.
Haiti has been thrown into political turmoil since the 2021 assassination of Jovenal Moïse, which has left the nation without a formerly elected leader. The current acting head of state, Ariel Henry, was appointed by the US-led “Core Group” of foreign occupying nations. Henry has been the target of major protests throughout his tenure. However, international media has largely focused instead on the problem of “gang violence” in Haiti, with Henry’s government citing the issue to call for international military intervention. Jimmy “Barbecue” Chérizier has been placed in the global spotlight as an emblem of Haiti’s purported “gang problem.” But who is Chérizier really?
The Unites States Empire is falling, just as previous empires have done. Clearing the FOG speaks with journalist and author Chris Hedges about his newest book, "The Greatest Evil is War," and the connection between wars and the end of empire. Hedges compares current conditions in the United States and the fall of Rome. He describes the Western war against Russia being fought in Ukraine and aggression against China as part of the last gasp grabs to hold onto US hegemony, but they are failing. He talks about the Military Industrial Complex as an institution that has taken over and is out of control. It will continue to siphon every dollar it can from the US coffers while an increasing number of people are unable to meet their basic needs. Hedges provides an outline of where we are headed and what we must do to change course.
Empires in terminal decline leap from one military fiasco to the next. The war in Ukraine, another bungled attempt to reassert U.S. global hegemony, fits this pattern. The danger is that the more dire things look, the more the U.S. will escalate the conflict, potentially provoking open confrontation with Russia. If Russia carries out retaliatory attacks on supply and training bases in neighboring NATO countries, or uses tactical nuclear weapons, NATO will almost certainly respond by attacking Russian forces. We will have ignited World War III, which could result in a nuclear holocaust. U.S. military support for Ukraine began with the basics — ammunition and assault weapons. The Biden administration, however, soon crossed several self-imposed red lines to provide a tidal wave of lethal war machinery
The deep malaise that defines American society — the rage, despair and widespread feelings of betrayal and loss — is rarely captured and almost never explained in the pages of newspapers or on screens. To grasp what has happened to the United States, the savage economic and emotional cost of deindustrialization; the destruction of our democratic institutions; the Neolithic violence that sees us beset with almost daily mass shootings in malls, offices, schools and movie theaters; the rise of the militarized state; and the consolidation of national wealth by a tiny cabal of corrupt bankers and corporations, we must turn to our artists, poets and writers. Foremost among writers who explored our peculiar American zeitgeist was the novelist Russell Banks, who died on January 7th at the age of 82.
Boyah J. Farah fled the war in Somalia arriving in the United States as a refugee with his mother and siblings when he was fifteen. His romantic dreams of America quickly ran into the dark undercurrents of American racism. Living in a housing project in Bedford, Massachusetts he was forced to discover the curse of being Black in America, the daily humiliations and small, but insidious ways he was made to constantly feel an outsider by whites. He watched as other Somali families succumbed to the poison of American racism, writing that although they had survived the war in Africa, American broke them and carried them off. America is democratic, he concedes sardonically, for every Black person is, in the end, simply another disposable Black body. Boyah J. Farah joins The Chris Hedges Report to discuss his memoir America Made Me a Black Man.
Our political class does not govern. It entertains. It plays its assigned role in our fictitious democracy, howling with outrage to constituents and selling them out. The Squad and the Progressive Caucus have no more intention of fighting for universal health care, workers’ rights or defying the war machine than the Freedom Caucus fights for freedom. These political hacks are modern versions of Sinclair Lewis’s slick con artist Elmer Gantry, cynically betraying a gullible public to amass personal power and wealth. This moral vacuity provides the spectacle, as H.G. Wells wrote, of “a great material civilization, halted, paralyzed.” It happened in Ancient Rome. It happened in Weimar Germany. It is happening here.
As a young man, Roy Bourgeois enlisted to fight in the Vietnam War. After being injured, he became a volunteer at a local orphanage and was inspired to become a priest upon his return to the US. Bourgeois became a priest in Bolivia during the dictatorship of General Hugo Banzer. He decided he could not be an apolitical priest. He spoke out against Banzer’s political repression, leading to his arrest and expulsion from Bolivia. Back in the US, Bourgeois organized protests outside Fort Benning, Georgia where the US was training Salvadorian soldiers to fight the leftist insurgency. He was imprisoned twice for illegally entering the base during planned direct actions against the war. In 2012, Bourgeois was excommunicated by the Catholic Church for supporting the ordination of women.v