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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 171 - 180 of 288

Page 18 of 29

Denise Ward

If the system of democracy does not allow its citizens time to partake in a democratic action, then does that still make it a democracy? As much as you do not like to hear you are on the wrong side of history, understand that harsh though it may sound, it is absolutely correct. Stand now while there is a chance. We do not know where this will lead. We do not know if you and everyone will be relegated to a life of work without end. The rulers are watching and they are very shrewd. They feel the pressure and if the numbers are not there to support change, they will not allow this uprising to happen again without bloodshed, that is the caliber of leadership we are dealing with.

Denise Ward

If the system of democracy does not allow its citizens time to partake in a democratic action, then does that still make it a democracy? As much as you do not like to hear you are on the wrong side of history, understand that harsh though it may sound, it is absolutely correct. Stand now while there is a chance. We do not know where this will lead. We do not know if you and everyone will be relegated to a life of work without end. The rulers are watching and they are very shrewd. They feel the pressure and if the numbers are not there to support change, they will not allow this uprising to happen again without bloodshed, that is the caliber of leadership we are dealing with.

Anonymous

Don't like the huge Wall Street bonuses? Remember, it was the NY AG's office that pointed them out. When the finger wagged at Sen Chris Dodd of Senate Banking Committee, ( the same Dodd that got sweetheart loans from Countrywide's Angelo Mozilo, and refused any oversight of Fannie Mae) he correctly pointed to the White House! Wonder why? Google; Barack Obama, political contributions, opensecrets. OMG He got in 2008, $15 million from Wall Street & Big Banks, plus another $8.25 million bundeled by them. $1 million just from Goldman Sachs!
Rich people did not put us $17 trillion in debt. Politicians did. Bill Clinton and his National Homeownership Strategy was the root cause of the housing collapse. (Read "Reckless Endangerment by Gretchen Mortgenstern) Fannie & Freddie went belly-up 100% on their own. Congress took Wall Street money to allow them to do what they did, then refused any oversight, including Obama. The sub-prime mortgage industry gave big to him. Google it! We're still paying for Fannie & Freddie, and they're still doing sub-primes. At least the Tea Party threw some of these crooks out of office.

Anonymous

Don't like the huge Wall Street bonuses? Remember, it was the NY AG's office that pointed them out. When the finger wagged at Sen Chris Dodd of Senate Banking Committee, ( the same Dodd that got sweetheart loans from Countrywide's Angelo Mozilo, and refused any oversight of Fannie Mae) he correctly pointed to the White House! Wonder why? Google; Barack Obama, political contributions, opensecrets. OMG He got in 2008, $15 million from Wall Street & Big Banks, plus another $8.25 million bundeled by them. $1 million just from Goldman Sachs!
Rich people did not put us $17 trillion in debt. Politicians did. Bill Clinton and his National Homeownership Strategy was the root cause of the housing collapse. (Read "Reckless Endangerment by Gretchen Mortgenstern) Fannie & Freddie went belly-up 100% on their own. Congress took Wall Street money to allow them to do what they did, then refused any oversight, including Obama. The sub-prime mortgage industry gave big to him. Google it! We're still paying for Fannie & Freddie, and they're still doing sub-primes. At least the Tea Party threw some of these crooks out of office.

Anonymous

"He got in 2008, $15 million from Wall Street & Big Banks, plus another $8.25 million bundeled by them. $1 million just from Goldman Sachs! Rich people did not put us $17 trillion in debt. Politicians did."

You contradict yourself. Wall Street is the one pulling the strings. The politicians took the money, but THEY ALL take the money. The system is corrupt, and unchecked greed is the cause. Check the history of income taxes on the IRS's page. Even when Reagan was in office, the upper 1% paid 50%. If we're going to stop living on loans, there needs to be parity in the system. Wall Street is a great place to start.

Anonymous

"He got in 2008, $15 million from Wall Street & Big Banks, plus another $8.25 million bundeled by them. $1 million just from Goldman Sachs! Rich people did not put us $17 trillion in debt. Politicians did."

You contradict yourself. Wall Street is the one pulling the strings. The politicians took the money, but THEY ALL take the money. The system is corrupt, and unchecked greed is the cause. Check the history of income taxes on the IRS's page. Even when Reagan was in office, the upper 1% paid 50%. If we're going to stop living on loans, there needs to be parity in the system. Wall Street is a great place to start.

Anonymous

The role of Congress is to protect us from Corporate Greed. Not to take money and go along with it. No one made them take Wall Street money. They are as addicted to power as Wall St. is to money.
Obama had the Super Majority from 2008-2010. He could have raised taxes then, or passed a fla t tax, or cut loopholes, tax breaks, or dedustions, How about term limits and a balanced budget. NONE of these. His plan to tax the rich more would bring in $31 billion/yr. That's 5% of his deficts! In 5 years, our interest on debt will be @ $1 trillion. We can't pay it! Medicare/Medicaid is the largest part of fed spending (24%) and the fastest growing. Obamacare took in big $ from trial lawyers, Insurance, & Big Pharma to price protect them. Read @ the Dorgan Amendment. Read; The K Street Hustlin of Obamacare. Read; The Influence Game: Drug Lobby's Health Care Win. Put down your I-Pod and READ.
I have an old college buddy who's a liberal lawyer. (Half of Congress are lawyers, most of which never held a job) We argue. He didn't believe me when I said this, but here goes. Half the Super Rich are liberals! You can look up the 100 richest people in America, then google which party they support. How do you think Obama raised $750 million in 2008, and plans to raise $1 billion for 2012?
Of the top 20 political contributors to either party, 14 are unions that give only to democrats. Obama bailed the UAW out, not GM. GM simply would have continued building cars in Mexico % Canada. In Obamacare, was bailout $ for their health & pension funds. Stimulus $ went ONLY to unions, mostly public secto, the same ones that are bankrupting the states. "Shovel Ready" jobs also had to be union. There is no hiring because Obama and the NLRB are trying to force unionization on businesses.
Best book to read, Reckless Endangerment by Gretchen Mortgenstern. It' s about how the government created the housing bubble. Remember, Fannie & Freddie went bankrupt on their own.

Anonymous

The role of Congress is to protect us from Corporate Greed. Not to take money and go along with it. No one made them take Wall Street money. They are as addicted to power as Wall St. is to money.
Obama had the Super Majority from 2008-2010. He could have raised taxes then, or passed a fla t tax, or cut loopholes, tax breaks, or dedustions, How about term limits and a balanced budget. NONE of these. His plan to tax the rich more would bring in $31 billion/yr. That's 5% of his deficts! In 5 years, our interest on debt will be @ $1 trillion. We can't pay it! Medicare/Medicaid is the largest part of fed spending (24%) and the fastest growing. Obamacare took in big $ from trial lawyers, Insurance, & Big Pharma to price protect them. Read @ the Dorgan Amendment. Read; The K Street Hustlin of Obamacare. Read; The Influence Game: Drug Lobby's Health Care Win. Put down your I-Pod and READ.
I have an old college buddy who's a liberal lawyer. (Half of Congress are lawyers, most of which never held a job) We argue. He didn't believe me when I said this, but here goes. Half the Super Rich are liberals! You can look up the 100 richest people in America, then google which party they support. How do you think Obama raised $750 million in 2008, and plans to raise $1 billion for 2012?
Of the top 20 political contributors to either party, 14 are unions that give only to democrats. Obama bailed the UAW out, not GM. GM simply would have continued building cars in Mexico % Canada. In Obamacare, was bailout $ for their health & pension funds. Stimulus $ went ONLY to unions, mostly public secto, the same ones that are bankrupting the states. "Shovel Ready" jobs also had to be union. There is no hiring because Obama and the NLRB are trying to force unionization on businesses.
Best book to read, Reckless Endangerment by Gretchen Mortgenstern. It' s about how the government created the housing bubble. Remember, Fannie & Freddie went bankrupt on their own.

Denise Ward

Your argument is lopsided. Notice not once was blame laid on any Conservative entity and we all know that that is patently untrue. I do not want to speak for this new movement but it will come to a point where it will seek credibility and trustworthiness in persons and structures. These will be the commodities that trade will be based on in future. Soon the whole wobbly economic structure will fall. It only stands to reason that nothing can survive without credibility and trust. We will still need money as a barter method but it will be stable once the foundations of this system are repaired. We will still have the structures we have today but they will be made stronger and accessible to all. We will be able to have confidence in them again.

Denise Ward

Your argument is lopsided. Notice not once was blame laid on any Conservative entity and we all know that that is patently untrue. I do not want to speak for this new movement but it will come to a point where it will seek credibility and trustworthiness in persons and structures. These will be the commodities that trade will be based on in future. Soon the whole wobbly economic structure will fall. It only stands to reason that nothing can survive without credibility and trust. We will still need money as a barter method but it will be stable once the foundations of this system are repaired. We will still have the structures we have today but they will be made stronger and accessible to all. We will be able to have confidence in them again.

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