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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 131 - 140 of 288

Page 14 of 29

Denise Ward

Some people take longer to convince and are not endowed with the perception to determine authenticity. They probably have other skills. However it's good that they voice their opposition because at least they are paying attention and eventually they may change their opinion through discussion and reasoned persuasion, the basis of free societies.

Denise Ward

Some people take longer to convince and are not endowed with the perception to determine authenticity. They probably have other skills. However it's good that they voice their opposition because at least they are paying attention and eventually they may change their opinion through discussion and reasoned persuasion, the basis of free societies.

Denise Ward

I am wondering what the corporate elite really think. It's difficult to imagine. Surely for example, they too are dependent on clean water? Or maybe not. Maybe they have more than enough to pay for a purification system in their mansion or maybe even their town. They probably sachet around others of similar wealth levels and work with those who never criticize or give negative feedback, where everyone's greatest goal is to further their career. I really don't know but it is intriguing. Nevertheless, the system leaves out good leaders and fosters the ones who are complicit. The incentives are all wrong. If Capitalism is to succeed, it must give a better life for its participants than Communism does. And Capitalism cannot work when the incentives are wrongly skewed. Occupy Wall Street has not said anything about removing Capitalism. It wants the morals of Capitalism spelled out and reworked. We are in the 21st century and a lot of changes have come about since the documents we use as a basis. There is nothing in those documents that could have laid down the tenets of say the use of drones, or the rights of internet users. This movement calls upon everyone to put out their ideas to help build an inclusive system.

Denise Ward

I am wondering what the corporate elite really think. It's difficult to imagine. Surely for example, they too are dependent on clean water? Or maybe not. Maybe they have more than enough to pay for a purification system in their mansion or maybe even their town. They probably sachet around others of similar wealth levels and work with those who never criticize or give negative feedback, where everyone's greatest goal is to further their career. I really don't know but it is intriguing. Nevertheless, the system leaves out good leaders and fosters the ones who are complicit. The incentives are all wrong. If Capitalism is to succeed, it must give a better life for its participants than Communism does. And Capitalism cannot work when the incentives are wrongly skewed. Occupy Wall Street has not said anything about removing Capitalism. It wants the morals of Capitalism spelled out and reworked. We are in the 21st century and a lot of changes have come about since the documents we use as a basis. There is nothing in those documents that could have laid down the tenets of say the use of drones, or the rights of internet users. This movement calls upon everyone to put out their ideas to help build an inclusive system.

reasonableresponse1

The front page of your website refers to "our democracy". We don't live in a democracy. This country has never been a democracy. It is a republic, just how it was designed in the 18th century.

Idiots.

reasonableresponse1

The front page of your website refers to "our democracy". We don't live in a democracy. This country has never been a democracy. It is a republic, just how it was designed in the 18th century.

Idiots.

ArtX

Read the Declaration of Independence -- which is prior to and more fundamental than the 1789 Constitution (a document written by and for plutocrats). The D of I guarantees our fundamental right to DEMOCRACY. Under the D of I we can have any government we want -- we are not limited to a "republic," a form of govt that has always been about elite population control. Before you call people idiots, you should know what y'r talking about. Otherwise, it makes you look like a brainwashed dimwit.

ArtX

Read the Declaration of Independence -- which is prior to and more fundamental than the 1789 Constitution (a document written by and for plutocrats). The D of I guarantees our fundamental right to DEMOCRACY. Under the D of I we can have any government we want -- we are not limited to a "republic," a form of govt that has always been about elite population control. Before you call people idiots, you should know what y'r talking about. Otherwise, it makes you look like a brainwashed dimwit.

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