Happy Birthday to Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges, born on 18 September 1956

Chris Hedges is a truth teller at a time when truth is not valued – by the masses. Me, I value it.

There are so many great essays, so many good books, so many keen observations that he shared over the decades. On this day, I am grateful to his example. Because he shows up, we get to witness someone who reminds us what journalism is and could be.

In August 2019, he wrote:

“Hannah Arendt in ‘The Origins of Totalitarianism’ pointed out that ideologies are attractive in times of crisis because they reduce and simplify reality to a single idea. While the right wing blames the decline on darker races, the liberal elites blame the decline on Russia or racists. It is the ideology, not experience or fact, that is used ‘to explain all historical happenings, [to provide] the total explanation of the past, the total knowledge of the present, and the reliable prediction of the future,’ she wrote.

All ideologies demand an impossible consistency. This is achieved by a constant mutation and distortion of reality until it becomes, as the Mueller investigation did, absurdist theater. The result for believers, Arendt wrote, is disorientation, heightened fear and paranoia.

These types of collective self-delusions have always existed in American society, as the historian Richard Hofstadter pointed out. Such self-delusions, he wrote, are ‘made up of certain preoccupations and fantasies: the megalomaniac view of oneself as the Elect, wholly good, abominably persecuted, yet assured of ultimate triumph; the attribution of gigantic and demonic powers to the adversary.’

But these self-delusions have usually been confined to the fringes of society, such as, for example, a left wing that made political pilgrimages to the Soviet Union, blissfully ignoring its government’s slaughter of millions of its own citizens, the gulags and the famines, and a right wing that celebrated fascist dictatorships in Spain and later Latin America, overlooking the mass executions, state terror and death squads there.

Collective self-delusions, however, have now been mainstreamed. They are trumpeted by media platforms across the political spectrum and by the political establishment. They are the fodder of Fox News and Breitbart as well as MSNBC and CNN. Jake Tapper and Rachel Maddow, as Matt Taibbi has pointed out, are ‘liberal’ versions of Sean Hannity.”

You can read the full article at https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/08/26/curse-moral-purity

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