When I’m excited, I ride my bicycle very fast. After a day that lacks progress, one that sees no new knowledge or discovery, I bicycle home like a grandmother on a cruiser bike. Most days, average days, I ride home in the middle of my three gears, head up and feet wide. Today after starting a new job, and after a lecture by one of the greats, I biked home on the highest gear, bouncing on my low front tire, more excited than I’ve been in a long time to finally feel, for once in years, that I am where I am supposed to be.
Chris Hedges, journalist and intellectual, lectured at the University of Regina. The writer that I will forever aspire to be, the thinker that I will undoubtedly never become, gave a rousing account of how we came to where we are now, stuck in an “inverted totalitarianism” where we are ruled by the faceless being of corporate capitalism. Where the cannibalization of nature exists for straight profit and greed. He spoke of how after World War I we were placed into the “psychosis of permanent war” where the masses would offer up their own slavery, and how we have now reached an age of the moral nihilist. (I am essentially just listing my notes in sentence form.) We have reached a point where food, water, air, and human beings themselves are being treated and sold as commodities and this has built a quality of self-annihilation.
When he spoke of “sacrifice zones,” the places that were abandoned by unbridled capitalism, left in disrepair and a humiliating culture of dependency after being used and left behind because of their lack of monetary worth, I thought of Saskatchewan in fifty years. A place where natural resources are plentiful and long term thought is not. Accelerated environmental review processes that inhibit the ability for proper research and long-term preparedness have been put into place while Saskatchewan is in its infancy of exploiting these resources. I envisioned ghost towns, alien landscapes after plundering the earth and failed nature reclamation projects. I saw people abandoned by the elite that they once, for some reason, loved and trusted. I could see the future because of what has happened in other parts of North America. The current policy makers refuse or are unable to see what Hedges has shared in his latest book, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, and because of the propaganda of the elite, the people are often unable to see it either.
One might ask how I could be so excited, riding home banging my head with a bike-lane-wide grin after a night of being pummelled with the desperately depressing truths that we find ourselves facing. All of Hedges books that I have read deal with these deflating facts, hundreds of pages of them, but always end in a short breath of hope that the elite will fall. I cycled home feeling like I’ve finally found even a small piece of a greater purpose, directly assisting those the system left behind. Feeling like I’ve found the inspiration and motivation to create, to think, to encourage others to think, and to practice dissent. Knowing that the “fury of the dispossessed” can eventually bring enough fear into those mediocre in positions of power, and will see reform because of it. “The formal systems of power are no longer capable of reform,” he said. We need acts of resistance. This excites me.
“You can’t use the word “hope” if you don’t carry out acts of resistance…But we have a moral obligation to the world the corporate state is bequeathing to our children. We have betrayed their future. At least that generation will be able to look back on those of us, hopefully their parents, and say that they tried, even if we fail. Not to try is to be complicit in what is happening.”
-Hedges in Katherine Norton’s article.
Someday, as I told my father, I hope to be smart enough to be able to ask a coherent question at a lecture to a man such as Hedges. Instead, for now, I will continue to skim off of his brilliant works to make mine look greater than they are. But I’m trying, and I guess you have to try.