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The Best Among Us

Chris Hedges on the struggle to Occupy Wall Street.
Chris Hedges: The Best Among Us

Eric Lusion

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There are no excuses left. Either you join the revolt taking place on Wall Street and in the financial districts of other cities across the country or you stand on the wrong side of history. Either you obstruct, in the only form left to us, which is civil disobedience, the plundering by the criminal class on Wall Street and accelerated destruction of the ecosystem that sustains the human species, or become the passive enabler of a monstrous evil. Either you taste, feel and smell the intoxication of freedom and revolt or sink into the miasma of despair and apathy. Either you are a rebel or a slave.

To be declared innocent in a country where the rule of law means nothing, where we have undergone a corporate coup, where the poor and working men and women are reduced to joblessness and hunger, where war, financial speculation and internal surveillance are the only real business of the state, where even habeas corpus no longer exists, where you, as a citizen, are nothing more than a commodity to corporate systems of power, one to be used and discarded, is to be complicit in this radical evil. To stand on the sidelines and say "I am innocent" is to bear the mark of Cain; it is to do nothing to reach out and help the weak, the oppressed and the suffering, to save the planet. To be innocent in times like these is to be a criminal. Ask Tim DeChristopher

Choose. But choose fast. The state and corporate forces are determined to crush this. They are not going to wait for you. They are terrified this will spread. They have their long phalanxes of police on motorcycles, their rows of white paddy wagons, their foot soldiers hunting for you on the streets with pepper spray and orange plastic nets. They have their metal barricades set up on every single street leading into the New York financial district, where the mandarins in Brooks Brothers suits use your money, money they stole from you, to gamble and speculate and gorge themselves while one in four children outside those barricades depend on food stamps to eat. Speculation in the 17th century was a crime. Speculators were hanged. Today they run the state and the financial markets. They disseminate the lies that pollute our airwaves. They know, even better than you, how pervasive the corruption and theft have become, how gamed the system is against you, how corporations have cemented into place a thin oligarchic class and an obsequious cadre of politicians, judges and journalists who live in their little gated Versailles while 6 million Americans are thrown out of their homes, a number soon to rise to 10 million, where a million people a year go bankrupt because they cannot pay their medical bills and 45,000 die from lack of proper care, where real joblessness is spiraling to over 20 percent, where the citizens, including students, spend lives toiling in debt peonage, working dead-end jobs, when they have jobs, a world devoid of hope, a world of masters and serfs.

The only word these corporations know is more. They are disemboweling every last social service program funded by the taxpayers, from education to Social Security, because they want that money themselves. Let the sick die. Let the poor go hungry. Let families be tossed in the street. Let the unemployed rot. Let children in the inner city or rural wastelands learn nothing and live in misery and fear. Let the students finish school with no jobs and no prospects of jobs. Let the prison system, the largest in the industrial world, expand to swallow up all potential dissenters. Let torture continue. Let teachers, police, firefighters, postal employees and social workers join the ranks of the unemployed. Let the roads, bridges, dams, levees, power grids, rail lines, subways, bus services, schools and libraries crumble or close. Let the rising temperatures of the planet, the freak weather patterns, the hurricanes, the droughts, the flooding, the tornadoes, the melting polar ice caps, the poisoned water systems, the polluted air increase until the species dies. 

Who the hell cares? If the stocks of ExxonMobil or the coal industry or Goldman Sachs are high, life is good. Profit. Profit. Profit. That is what they chant behind those metal barricades. They have their fangs deep into your necks. If you do not shake them off very, very soon they will kill you. And they will kill the ecosystem, dooming your children and your children's children. They are too stupid and too blind to see that they will perish with the rest of us. So either you rise up and supplant them, either you dismantle the corporate state, for a world of sanity, a world where we no longer kneel before the absurd idea that the demands of financial markets should govern human behavior, or we are frog-marched toward self-annihilation. 

Those on the streets around Wall Street are the physical embodiment of hope. They know that hope has a cost, that it is not easy or comfortable, that it requires self-sacrifice and discomfort and finally faith. They sleep on concrete every night. Their clothes are soiled. They have eaten more bagels and peanut butter than they ever thought possible. They have tasted fear, been beaten, gone to jail, been blinded by pepper spray, cried, hugged each other, laughed, sung, talked too long in general assemblies, seen their chants drift upward to the office towers above them, wondered if it is worth it, if anyone cares, if they will win. But as long as they remain steadfast they point the way out of the corporate labyrinth. This is what it means to be alive. They are the best among us.

This article originally appeared on truthdig. Chris Hedges has been at the Wall Street Occupation and gave an interview live from Freedom Plaza. Hedges’ latest book is a collection of his essays called The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress. Check out OCCUPY TOGETHER, a hub for all of the events springing up across the country in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street.

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288 comments on the article “The Best Among Us”

Displaying 11 - 20 of 288

Page 2 of 29

ArtX

Amen, Chris Hedges! A heroic voice for democracy!

Democracy threatens plutocracy, which means democracy threatens Wall Street. Occupy Wall Street is about enacting democracy. Do enough of that and change is inevitable. Occupy Wall Street is pioneering post-plutocratic society!

Capitalism is the organization of society so money makes money. This societally-created profit logic concentrates the power of wealth (because those with almost all the money make almost all the money), creating plutocracy, which is by definition rule by a minority overclass, inherently anti-democratic.

Capitalism requires the majority of the population be wage slaves and debt serfs – bar-scanned people whose destinies are sliced into tranches and allotted to various profit-centers and accounting gimmicks in the interest of the wealthy's wealth accumulation.

But it doesn't have to be this way! We have, and always have had, the radical power to create democratic societies in which like-minded people come together and take responsibility and use their freedom to construct the best lives they can. The 'money makes money' ponzi scheme that defines capitalism and creates plutocracy will disappear when we enact democratic societies.

The transition to democracy does mean giving up the lazy, flabby, doltified consumerist way of life capitalism has instituted. And, sure, some won't be able to make it – the very core of their lives and identities being tied too tightly into tv shows and "celebrity news," conspicuous consumption, petroleum, and processed food. But the rest of us have to start moving on. The beginning of the path is right here, as it always has been, just out of view, obscured by the flashing lights and anomie created by capitalism. To start moving down the path, it is up to us to blaze the trail – we have to enact democracy! http://democracylight.blogspot.com/

ArtX

Amen, Chris Hedges! A heroic voice for democracy!

Democracy threatens plutocracy, which means democracy threatens Wall Street. Occupy Wall Street is about enacting democracy. Do enough of that and change is inevitable. Occupy Wall Street is pioneering post-plutocratic society!

Capitalism is the organization of society so money makes money. This societally-created profit logic concentrates the power of wealth (because those with almost all the money make almost all the money), creating plutocracy, which is by definition rule by a minority overclass, inherently anti-democratic.

Capitalism requires the majority of the population be wage slaves and debt serfs – bar-scanned people whose destinies are sliced into tranches and allotted to various profit-centers and accounting gimmicks in the interest of the wealthy's wealth accumulation.

But it doesn't have to be this way! We have, and always have had, the radical power to create democratic societies in which like-minded people come together and take responsibility and use their freedom to construct the best lives they can. The 'money makes money' ponzi scheme that defines capitalism and creates plutocracy will disappear when we enact democratic societies.

The transition to democracy does mean giving up the lazy, flabby, doltified consumerist way of life capitalism has instituted. And, sure, some won't be able to make it – the very core of their lives and identities being tied too tightly into tv shows and "celebrity news," conspicuous consumption, petroleum, and processed food. But the rest of us have to start moving on. The beginning of the path is right here, as it always has been, just out of view, obscured by the flashing lights and anomie created by capitalism. To start moving down the path, it is up to us to blaze the trail – we have to enact democracy! http://democracylight.blogspot.com/

Alexia Miller

I heavily resonate with what is written in this article, and believe that the truth will come out sooner or later. I find it atrocious that no one else broadcasts what is going on live on Wall Street- as that should be the main topic of the news!

This is very well written and I commend you for writing this!

Alexia Miller

I heavily resonate with what is written in this article, and believe that the truth will come out sooner or later. I find it atrocious that no one else broadcasts what is going on live on Wall Street- as that should be the main topic of the news!

This is very well written and I commend you for writing this!

Anonymous

HOW DARE YOU INSIST AMERICANS HAVE BEEN CORNERED!?!

WE ARE FREE AS WE NEED BE TO MAKE CHANGE.

BUT MUST ACCEPT THAT CHANGE DOES NOT HAPPEN OVERNIGHT. OR COME FROM ANYWHERE

BUT WITHIN OURSELVES AS INDIVIDUALS.

YOU ARE ALL TAKING THE EASY WAY. ASK YOURSELF HOW HARD IT IS TO GIVE UP YOUR DAILY

STRUGGLES AND JOIN THE MASSES ON WALL STREET. NOT HARD RIGHT? KINDA FUN? MAYBE

EVEN RELIEVING? THAT'S BECAUSE YOU'RE ALL COWARDS GIVING UP YOUR DIGNITY TO JOIN

THE BIGGEST PITY PARTY EVER. DON'T BE SO NAIVE TO THINK THIS WILL EVENTUALLY RESULT

IN DISASTER.

GO HOME, TOMORROW IS A PROMISE TO NO ONE, IS THIS HOW YOU EMBRACE THE BLESSING

THAT YOU ARE ALIVE AND FREE. BY AIRING YOUR DIRTY LAUNDRY AS IF IT WILL DO ANYONE

ANY GOOD?

GO HOME.
GO HOME.
GO HOME.

STOP SAYING YOU ARE DOING THIS FOR THE REST OF US. WE ASK NOTHING OF YOU BUT TO

TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOURSELVES.

Anonymous

HOW DARE YOU INSIST AMERICANS HAVE BEEN CORNERED!?!

WE ARE FREE AS WE NEED BE TO MAKE CHANGE.

BUT MUST ACCEPT THAT CHANGE DOES NOT HAPPEN OVERNIGHT. OR COME FROM ANYWHERE

BUT WITHIN OURSELVES AS INDIVIDUALS.

YOU ARE ALL TAKING THE EASY WAY. ASK YOURSELF HOW HARD IT IS TO GIVE UP YOUR DAILY

STRUGGLES AND JOIN THE MASSES ON WALL STREET. NOT HARD RIGHT? KINDA FUN? MAYBE

EVEN RELIEVING? THAT'S BECAUSE YOU'RE ALL COWARDS GIVING UP YOUR DIGNITY TO JOIN

THE BIGGEST PITY PARTY EVER. DON'T BE SO NAIVE TO THINK THIS WILL EVENTUALLY RESULT

IN DISASTER.

GO HOME, TOMORROW IS A PROMISE TO NO ONE, IS THIS HOW YOU EMBRACE THE BLESSING

THAT YOU ARE ALIVE AND FREE. BY AIRING YOUR DIRTY LAUNDRY AS IF IT WILL DO ANYONE

ANY GOOD?

GO HOME.
GO HOME.
GO HOME.

STOP SAYING YOU ARE DOING THIS FOR THE REST OF US. WE ASK NOTHING OF YOU BUT TO

TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOURSELVES.

Anonymous

"STOP SAYING YOU ARE DOING THIS FOR THE REST OF US. WE ASK NOTHING OF YOU BUT TO

TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOURSELVES."

That is the problem. Everyone has said to us, take responsibility for YOURSELF, do well for YOURSELF, look out for YOURSELF, make money for YOURSELF.

There are bigger things at stake here than our individual well-beings. We, HUMAN BEINGS, were put on this earth to take care of EACH OTHER. To look out for our brothers and sisters, friends, strangers, everyone!

To put others in front of one's own desires and needs is SELFLESS. We are taught this as CHILDREN, but when we grow up we are told that we should forget this and instead focus on making as much money for OURSELVES as possible.

Change does NOT happen overnight, but we must plant a seed. We must start SOMEWHERE.

Anonymous

"STOP SAYING YOU ARE DOING THIS FOR THE REST OF US. WE ASK NOTHING OF YOU BUT TO

TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOURSELVES."

That is the problem. Everyone has said to us, take responsibility for YOURSELF, do well for YOURSELF, look out for YOURSELF, make money for YOURSELF.

There are bigger things at stake here than our individual well-beings. We, HUMAN BEINGS, were put on this earth to take care of EACH OTHER. To look out for our brothers and sisters, friends, strangers, everyone!

To put others in front of one's own desires and needs is SELFLESS. We are taught this as CHILDREN, but when we grow up we are told that we should forget this and instead focus on making as much money for OURSELVES as possible.

Change does NOT happen overnight, but we must plant a seed. We must start SOMEWHERE.

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