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Mon Apr 30, 2012, 07:50 AM

Chris Hedges: Welcome to the Asylum


from truthdig:



Welcome to the Asylum

Posted on Apr 30, 2012
By Chris Hedges


When civilizations start to die they go insane. Let the ice sheets in the Arctic melt. Let the temperatures rise. Let the air, soil and water be poisoned. Let the forests die. Let the seas be emptied of life. Let one useless war after another be waged. Let the masses be thrust into extreme poverty and left without jobs while the elites, drunk on hedonism, accumulate vast fortunes through exploitation, speculation, fraud and theft. Reality, at the end, gets unplugged. We live in an age when news consists of Snooki’s pregnancy, Hulk Hogan’s sex tape and Kim Kardashian’s denial that she is the naked woman cooking eggs in a photo circulating on the Internet. Politicians, including presidents, appear on late night comedy shows to do gags and they campaign on issues such as creating a moon colony. “At times when the page is turning,” Louis-Ferdinand Celine wrote in “Castle to Castle,” “when History brings all the nuts together, opens its Epic Dance Halls! hats and heads in the whirlwind! Panties overboard!”

The quest by a bankrupt elite in the final days of empire to accumulate greater and greater wealth, as Karl Marx observed, is modern society’s version of primitive fetishism. This quest, as there is less and less to exploit, leads to mounting repression, increased human suffering, a collapse of infrastructure and, finally, collective death. It is the self-deluded, those on Wall Street or among the political elite, those who entertain and inform us, those who lack the capacity to question the lusts that will ensure our self-annihilation, who are held up as exemplars of intelligence, success and progress. The World Health Organization calculates that one in four people in the United States suffers from chronic anxiety, a mood disorder or depression—which seems to me to be a normal reaction to our march toward collective suicide. Welcome to the asylum.

When the most basic elements that sustain life are reduced to a cash product, life has no intrinsic value. The extinguishing of “primitive” societies, those that were defined by animism and mysticism, those that celebrated ambiguity and mystery, those that respected the centrality of the human imagination, removed the only ideological counterweight to a self-devouring capitalist ideology. Those who held on to pre-modern beliefs, such as Native Americans, who structured themselves around a communal life and self-sacrifice rather than hoarding and wage exploitation, could not be accommodated within the ethic of capitalist exploitation, the cult of the self and the lust for imperial expansion. The prosaic was pitted against the allegorical. And as we race toward the collapse of the planet’s ecosystem we must restore this older vision of life if we are to survive.

The war on the Native Americans, like the wars waged by colonialists around the globe, was waged to eradicate not only a people but a competing ethic. The older form of human community was antithetical and hostile to capitalism, the primacy of the technological state and the demands of empire. This struggle between belief systems was not lost on Marx. “The Ethnological Notebooks of Karl Marx” is a series of observations derived from Marx’s reading of works by historians and anthropologists. He took notes about the traditions, practices, social structure, economic systems and beliefs of numerous indigenous cultures targeted for destruction. Marx noted arcane details about the formation of Native American society, but also that “lands (were) owned by the tribes in common, while tenement-houses [were] owned jointly by their occupants.” He wrote of the Aztecs, “Commune tenure of lands; Life in large households composed of a number of related families.” He went on, “… reasons for believing they practiced communism in living in the household.” Native Americans, especially the Iroquois, provided the governing model for the union of the American colonies, and also proved vital to Marx and Engel’s vision of communism. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/welcome_to_the_asylum_20120430/



12 replies, 1777 views

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Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
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Arrow 12 replies Author Time Post
Reply Chris Hedges: Welcome to the Asylum (Original post)
marmar Apr 2012 OP
malaise Apr 2012 #1
cali Apr 2012 #2
Bandit Apr 2012 #4
coalition_unwilling Apr 2012 #9
alcibiades_mystery Apr 2012 #3
Whiskeytide Apr 2012 #5
raouldukelives Apr 2012 #6
ljm2002 Apr 2012 #7
Starry Messenger Apr 2012 #8
coalition_unwilling Apr 2012 #10
Egalitarian Thug Apr 2012 #11
nadinbrzezinski Apr 2012 #12

Response to marmar (Original post)

Mon Apr 30, 2012, 08:05 AM

1. MUST READ

Rec

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Mon Apr 30, 2012, 08:23 AM

2. Hey, I didn't know Snookie was pregnant until I read this- and

 

I follow the news closely. In fact, I didn't know about any of that stuff.

And Hedges wants it both ways- he wants to exalt "primitive" cultures and he wants to compare current western civ negatively to "primitive" cultures.

Native American civilizations certainly had their wonderful aspects, and like all cultures/civilizations had negative aspects as well.

Romanticizing these civilizations is a tad bit foolish. And despite acknowledging that Native American culture could be cruel and brutal, Hedges does just that. The other side of the coin is that he misrepresents and demonizes the Enlightenment. It's an extremist view of the world. I don't extremists. They all wipe out what they don't like with too much ease for me.

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Response to cali (Reply #2)

Mon Apr 30, 2012, 08:56 AM

4. They all wipe out what they don't like with too much ease for me.

Wow do you ever read what you write? What are you doing with your comments?

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Response to cali (Reply #2)

Mon Apr 30, 2012, 02:19 PM

9. Excuse me, but exactly how is Hedges "romanticizing" these civilizations? He's contrasting

 

them favorably with capitalist\englightenment civilizations. But I don't get 'romanticizing' from his piece. Likewise, how does Hedges misrepresent and demonize the Enlightenment? He critiques it but his criticism is soundly rooted in fact, so neither misrepresentation nor demonization.

Hedges is the latest in a long line of poets, artists and essayists who expose the flaws in the mentality of the post-1600 West.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Mon Apr 30, 2012, 08:46 AM

3. "the cult of the self"

 

Good description of the weirdo American religion...

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Mon Apr 30, 2012, 09:01 AM

5. What?

...Somewhere on the internet there's a naked photo of Kim Kardashian cooking eggs?

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Mon Apr 30, 2012, 01:14 PM

6. K&R

Hedges always gets to the heart of the matter. We are now reaping what we have sown.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Mon Apr 30, 2012, 01:46 PM

7. A wonderful article...

...I am liking Chris Hedges more and more.

The bottom line is the capitalist imperatives of unlimited growth and unlimited consumption are killing us. The side effects of capitalism include killing the arts and artistic impulses, i.e. killing our souls.

Maybe it sounds extreme. I think what's happening right now is extreme, so it's refreshing to read a well-reasoned essay that acknowledges that reality.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Mon Apr 30, 2012, 01:58 PM

8. k&r

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Mon Apr 30, 2012, 02:23 PM

10. Wordsworth said it 200 years ago:

 

THE World is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours
And are up-gather'd now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.—Great God! I'd rather be
A pagan suckled in a creed outworn,—
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Mon Apr 30, 2012, 03:24 PM

11. Not only are they going to bankrupt the nation, they seek to kill the very ideas

 

that America was founded on. Same game they've been playing since the revolutionary War.
K&R

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Mon Apr 30, 2012, 03:35 PM

12. I know this will not be popular...

 

but I blame the people as well.

Wait, but... they watch what is given to them.

No, not quite. Time for the American people to do some reflection. Voting is not the end of it. How many here KNOW who their city council member is? State reps? We all should also follow and stay informed on what our government does... and Kim Kardashian is fine... but I will also blame the people. How many here? And we are far more plugged, watches the Span?

And if your local media by mistake covers silly procedural shit (murders are normal diet), those articles will receive very little traffic.

We even believe that we cannot change things, so why bother? Oh and of course it is BORING.

So yes, this benefits the top, but we have either allowed ourselves to become the most uninterested group of citizen ever, or perhaps democracy really does not work... (And then we look at places in other places where democracy actually works and the people are actually involved)

But ends of empire looks like this.... sadly.

We are Rome, with better plumbing...

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