The writer Mark Kurlansky, by a series of coincidences, spent his life as a journalist and author in the shadow of Ernest Hemingway, starting with his presence in Idaho on the day Hemingway died. Kurlansky would reside and work during his career in Paris, the Basque region of Spain, Cuba, and Ketchum, Idaho—all places where Hemingway lived, and where his myth remains firmly implanted and celebrated. Kurlansky struggled to free himself from the haunting presence of Hemingway, whose life—starting with the tales he told of being an ambulance driver in Italy in World War I—was a confusing blur of fact, exaggeration, hyperbole, and lies.
Rulers divide the world into ‘worthy’ and ‘unworthy’ victims; those we are allowed to pity, such as Ukrainians enduring the hell of modern warfare, and those whose suffering is minimized, dismissed, or ignored. This bifurcation of the world into worthy and unworthy victims is a key component of propaganda, especially in war. In this episode of The Chris Hedges Report, award-winning journalist Peter Oborne joins Chris Hedges to examine how worthy victims are used to allow citizens to see themselves as empathetic, compassionate, and just; how they are an effective tool to demonize the aggressor; and how they are used to obliterate nuance and ambiguity. Peter Oborne is a former political commentator of The Spectator, The Daily Telegraph, and Daily Mail, who covered the war in Yemen.
Dr. Cornel West is the most important standard bearer for the Black prophetic tradition, the most important intellectual and spiritual movement in our history. Rooted in the experience of American racism, capitalist exploitation, and imperialism, this tradition has provided an ongoing critique of our economic, social, and political institutions and beliefs, as well as calling out the country’s spiritual bankruptcy. In this premiere episode of The Chris Hedges Report, Dr. West joins Chris Hedges to discuss the decay of the American empire, the struggle to show international solidarity in the face of escalating militarism, and what it means to examine this historical moment through a moral and spiritual lens.
The entire archive of On Contact, the Emmy-nominated show I hosted for six years for RT America and RT International, has been disappeared from YouTube. Gone is the interview with Nathaniel Philbrick on his book about George Washington. Gone is the discussion with Kai Bird on his biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Gone is my exploration with Professor Sam Slote from Trinity College Dublin of James Joyce’s “Ulysses.” Gone is the show with Benjamin Moser on his biography of Susan Sontag. Gone is the show with Stephen Kinzer on his book on John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles. Gone are the interviews with the social critics Cornel West, Tariq Ali, Noam Chomsky, Gerald Horne, Wendy Brown, Paul Street, Gabriel Rockwell, Naomi Wolff and Slavoj Zizek.
The painter Jacob Lawrence, in his 22-piece series ‘The Legend of John Brown’, first exhibited in 1941, chronicles in each of his panels a seminal stage in the life of the abolitionist John Brown. The first panel depicts Brown as Christ nailed to a cross, blood flowing from his nailed feet to the ground. The next scenes portray Brown as a man of exceptional religious conviction, willing to suffer financial failure and hardship in his fight for abolition. The middle compositions tell the story of Brown’s plans to free slaves, including his raids that massacred pro-slavery settlers in Kansas, his failed attack on the US arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, and the final panels portray his capture, with his head bent, covered by long hair, and holding a cross, his sentencing and hanging.
A bipartisan group of senators are crafting legislation to impose sweeping sanctions on Russia if it engages in what they consider hostile action of any kind against the Ukraine. New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, calls the legislation “the mother of all sanctions bill.” The bill led in the House by Gregory Meeks of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, like Menendez a Democrat, demands that the administration “not cede to the demands of the Russian Federation regarding NATO membership or expansion.” This cuts off the ability to discuss Moscow’s core demands, including a ban on future NATO membership for Ukraine.
After the end of World War II, two generations of workers in the United States were blessed with a period of unprecedented prosperity. Wages for the working class were high. Jobs were stable and came with benefits and health insurance. Unions protected workers from abuse by the business elites. Taxes on the wealthiest individuals and corporations was as high as 91%. The public school system provided a quality education to the poor and the rich. The nation’s infrastructure and technology were cutting edge and unrivaled. But by the 1970s, it all began to go south. Wages stagnated. Income inequality grew, until by 2008, the top wealthiest 10% of Americans received 87% of the economic growth, compared with 29% from 1933 to 1973. The good industrial jobs vanished. In their place rose the temp or gig economy, one where wages were low, the jobs were not secure and did not provide benefits, unions were emasculated, and the nation’s great democratic institutions, along with its infrastructure, crumbled into decay.
One hundred years ago this week, Sylvia Beach, who ran the bookstore Shakespeare and Company on 12 rue de l’Odéon in Paris, placed a copy of a book she had published, ‘Ulysses’ by James Joyce, in the window. Ulysses, with white letters on a blue book cover, had been rejected by publishers in English-speaking countries. The story takes place during a single day in Dublin, June 16, 1904. It would swiftly become one of the most important novels of the 20th century, at once ancient and modern, drawing its inspiration from Homer’s ‘The Odyssey’. Ulysses is the Latin name for Homer’s hero Odysseus. The mythical figures in Homer’s epic are reincarnated in the lives of the Irish working-class.
Russell Banks in books such as ‘Continental Drift’, ‘Affliction’ and ‘The Sweet Hereafter’ has long chronicled the struggles and inner torment that come with being a member of our dispossessed working class. In his new novel, ‘Foregone’, he turns his lens on the inner life of artists, in this case a well-known documentary filmmaker Leonard Fife. Fife, who fled to Canada, supposedly to avoid the draft, is dying from the ravages of cancer. He is confined to a wheelchair, wracked by pain, pumped full of medications, and unable to eat solid food. His final desire, in front of a camera, is to expose to his wife of 40 years the lies and myths that he has spun to create a fictional persona, perhaps a curse of all who become public figures.
Islamophobia is not defined solely as anti-Muslim sentiment. It is not limited to hate speech and hate crimes, racial stereotypes, or discrimination against Muslim men and women. Islamophobia, in its most pernicious and deadly form, is embodied in the wars waged by the United States in the Muslim world, as well as the laws and internal security structures that turn Muslims in the United States into “the other.” These laws include the criminalization of migrants, allowing Americans to justify the violent and illegal treatment of the undocumented, and the wholesale surveillance of Muslim communities. It includes the crippling sanctions imposed by the United States on countries such as Iraq and Iran. It includes the numerous military bases and occupation forces in Muslim countries.
The San Joaquin Valley in California is the most agriculturally productive farmland in the United States, but it is also plagued by high levels of poverty and water pollution, as well as the serious health risks that come with constant exposure to pesticides. These huge corporate farms in California, established over the last century, became the model for modern agrobusiness designed to exploit a transient labor force, bankrupt, and seize small family farms, exhaust the soil, and drain the aquifers and reservoirs. These agrobusinesses use their economic might to buy elected officials, deform the court system to legalize their assault on the land, and silence criticism in academia and the press.
On September 5, 2013, I pulled my old Volvo wagon—a bumper sticker reading “This is the Rebel Base” stuck on the back by my wife, a Star Wars fan—into the parking lot at East Jersey State Prison in Rahway, New Jersey. I had taught college-level courses in New Jersey prisons for the past three years. But neither my new students nor I had any idea that night that we were embarking on a journey that would shatter their protective emotional walls, or that years later our lives would be deeply intertwined. I put my wallet and phone in the glove compartment, emptied my pockets of coins, and dumped them in the console between the front seats. I made sure I had my driver’s license. I gathered up my books, plays by August Wilson, James Baldwin, John Herbert, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Miguel Piñero, Amiri Baraka, and a copy of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.
In part one of a two-part interview, journalist Hugh Hamilton discusses the saga of trauma and transformation in an American prison as chronicled in journalist Chris Hedges’ new book, ‘Our Class: Trauma and Transformation in an American Prison’. The US imprisons more of its people than any other country in the world. According to the non-profit Prison Policy Initiative, the American prison-industrial complex currently holds captive nearly 2.3 million people in more than 6,000 prisons, penitentiaries, jails, detention centers, and correctional facilities across the country. In his newest and positively riveting page-turner, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Chris Hedges takes us behind the forbidding bars of steel at East Jersey State Prison, into a world where prisoners are people.
In his recent article, "America's Fate: Oligarchy or Autocracy," Chris Hedges writes that bankrupt liberals have sold out to the oligarchic class to try to prevent an autocracy from rising but that is actually creating the conditions for autocracy. Hedges speaks with Clearing the FOG about the lessons from the Occupy movement - he was involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City and the occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC in 2011 - and why we must build a militant movement now to confront and hold power accountable. He explains how power works, including the role of politicians such as Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden in protecting the interests of the wealthy classes.