Three days before the Abu Mansur and Al Bilad dams collapsed in Wadi Derna, Libya, on the night of September 10, the poet Mustafa al-Trabelsi participated in a discussion at the Derna House of Culture about the neglect of basic infrastructure in his city. At the meeting, al-Trabelsi warned about the poor condition of the dams. As he wrote on Facebook that same day, over the past decade his beloved city has been ‘exposed to whipping and bombing, and then it was enclosed by a wall that had no door, leaving it shrouded in fear and depression’. Then, Storm Daniel picked up off the Mediterranean coast, dragged itself into Libya, and broke the dams. CCTV camera footage in the city’s Maghar neighbourhood showed the rapid advance of the floodwaters, powerful enough to destroy buildings and crush lives. A reported 70% of infrastructure and 95% of educational institutions have been damaged in the flood-affected areas. As of Wednesday 20 September, an estimated 4,000 to 11,000 people have died in the flood – among them the poet Mustafa al-Trabelsi, whose warnings over the years went unheeded – and another 10,000 are missing.
"We came, we saw, he died,” Hillary Clinton famously quipped when Muammar Gaddafi, after seven months of U.S. and NATO bombing, was overthrown in 2011 and killed by a mob who sodomized him with a bayonet. But Gaddafi would not be the only one to die. Libya, once the most prosperous and one of the most stable countries in Africa, a country with free healthcare and education, the right for all citizens to a home, subsidized electricity, water and gasoline, along with the lowest infant mortality rate and highest life expectancy on the continent, along with one of the highest literacy rates, swiftly fragmented into warring factions.
The American public is hurting. The bare necessities—clean water, nutritious food, and affordable housing—are hard to come by. Tap water is contaminated with lead, PFAS, and other pollutants. The water systems that serve cities and towns suffer additional stressors, including drought, overuse, and a failure to incorporate greywater systems. And, like many necessities, you have to pay for it in the United States: Water utility prices continue to go up and up. Hunger is a severe problem. Insufficient money and/or access means that millions of families regularly go hungry. Massive corporations dominate what is available in a grocery store, and much of what they produce is innutritious.
It’s quite possible that the BRICS may well become the institutional foundation of the world majority, as the global South and Russia are increasingly being called. They have done more things. The Western press has also sought to portray these countries, the BRICS countries, as little more than a bunch of autocracies or very iffy democracies. But in fact, despite such propaganda, what we’ve seen in the BRICS summit is that they have been focused on presenting a very different vision of the world order, one based on development, on people-centered development. And this has been expressed in a direct confrontation with the Western conception of the world order, which has, of course, been dressed up in the garb of human rights and democracy, but for decades has brought only poverty and exploitation to much of the world.
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 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.
Hurricane Ian. The threat of nuclear war. Inflation. Mississippi’s water crisis. Any one of these developments have the potential to send even the most clear-headed individual into a state of nihilism and despair. And this is just the short list of calamities currently plaguing humanity. Life under the decline of U.S. imperialism is far from easy. Little relief exists from the toxic stress induced by poverty, debt, racism, militarism, social isolation, and mainstream media propaganda. Exhaustion is widespread. Trust in the institutions that form the fabric of U.S. society is incredibly low. These conditions have ripened the fruit of nihilism which is growing in abundance in the United States. In Combat Liberalism , Mao Zedong condemned the liberal worldview as “a corrosive which eats away unity, undermines cohesion, causes apathy and creates dissension.”
In the past two decades, the U.S. grip on global power has been slipping, and new nations and organizations have begun to emerge that challenge American dominance. One of these is the BRICS, an economic and increasingly political bloc of emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Argentina, Iran and others have expressed an interest in joining this alliance, which has now laid out plans for its own bank and international currency, two moves strike at the heart of American economic hegemony.
The mass shooting of 19 children and two teachers, and the wounding of 17 more people, at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday was a genuinely horrific event. The students killed were 9, 10 and 11 years old, in the second, third and fourth grades. The adults killed, both women, were fourth-grade teachers. The perpetrator of the crime barricaded himself inside a classroom and opened fire with a lightweight semi-automatic rifle that he had obtained a day after his 18th birthday, one week earlier. In the most immediate and direct sense, hundreds if not thousands of people will never recover from the damage done in this one incident alone. The American ruling elite, its politicians and its media outlets, have nothing insightful or useful to say about this most recent calamity.
Why has the United States already become so heavily invested in the Russia-Ukraine war? And why has it so regularly gotten involved, in some fashion, in so many other wars on this planet since it invaded Afghanistan in 2001? Those with long memories might echo the conclusion reached more than a century ago by radical social critic Randolph Bourne that “war is the health of the state” or recall the ancient warnings of this country’s founders like James Madison that democracy dies not in darkness, but in the ghastly light thrown by too many bombs bursting in air for far too long. In 1985, when I first went on active duty in the U.S. Air Force, a conflict between the Soviet Union and Ukraine would, of course, have been treated as a civil war between Soviet republics. In the context of the Cold War, the U.S. certainly wouldn’t have risked openly sending billions of dollars in weaponry directly to Ukraine to “weaken” Russia.
The United States has all but declared the COVID-19 pandemic over and done with. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advised 230 million Americans, 70 percent of the population, to no longer wear masks in most cases, including indoors. Cities, counties, and states across the US have lifted their mask mandates. Restaurants, shopping malls, movie theatres, and grocery stores have dropped mask and physical distancing requirements. Even school districts have gone mask-optional since the end of February. This is despite more than 55,000 Americans contracting the disease and nearly 2,000 dying from it and the complications it causes every day through early March. As the US approaches one million dead from COVID and 80 million sickened from this pathogen and its variants, it is clear that whiteness, capitalism, and narcissism have prolonged the pandemic, and horribly so.
This question of what we do doesn’t exactly feel like it gets at the heaviness that’s in me, that’s in us. I’ve spent the last three years asking, in the face of enormous difficulty, “What do we do now?” and I’ve learned that coming up with a smart answer to that question may offer some high for a period of time, but it’s pretty clear it can’t sustain us. I think that’s because the significance of what we’re staring down doesn’t just beg questions about potential shifts in strategic emphasis, it also raises much deeper questions about what we do when hope is scarce. What do we do when it’s quite reasonable to believe that things will get harder? When we assume that more of our campaigns will fail? When the suffering around us keeps increasing?
Regardless of the outcome of COP26, one inevitability is that the rich and powerful celebrate whatever the conference produces as vital progress. Only a disaster on the level of COP15 in Copenhagen might put a stop to the self-congratulatory triumphalism. Already, though, most observing the negotiations with a critical eye are highlighting how inadequate their product will be. Ed Miliband has said we’re ‘miles from where we need to be’ and Greta Thunberg declared COP26 to be a ‘failure’. These condemnations are backed up by analysis from Climate Action Tracker (CAT), assessing governments’ short-term commitments for the next decade. Its study reveals that our trajectory coming out of COP26 would take us to a devastating 2.4oC warming by the end of this century.
Donald Trump was the convenient scapegoat for the first year of the Covid-19 crisis. Austerity, low wage work, housing insecurity, and the profit driven health care system were problematic issues before anyone heard the word Covid-19 or indeed before Trump’s presidency. Every failing of the United States already in existence came into sharp relief when the pandemic struck. Joe Biden has done nothing to alleviate these many crises. Temporary unemployment benefits end in September, and millions of people were denied these funds when republican state legislatures decreed that they wanted people back at work. The Supreme Court struck down the eviction moratorium and 90% of the funds allocated to pay for rent relief remain unspent. Millions of people face the prospect of becoming unhoused.