The Big Ideas of 2047

The Next Fissure is only a Spark away

Chris Hedges on the inevitability of revolt.

The most important dilemma facing us is not ideological. It is logistical. The security and surveillance state has made its highest priority the breaking of any infrastructure that might spark widespread revolt. The state knows the tinder is there. It knows that the continued unraveling of the economy and the effects of climate change make popular unrest inevitable.

The state knows that as underemployment and unemployment doom at least a quarter of the U.S. population, perhaps more, to perpetual poverty, and as unemployment benefits are scaled back, as schools close, as the middle class withers away, as pension funds are looted by hedge fund thieves, and as the government continues to let the fossil fuel industry ravage the planet, the future will increasingly be one of open conflict.

This battle against the corporate state, right now, is primarily about infrastructure. We need an infrastructure to build revolt. The corporate state is determined to deny us one.

The corporate state, unnerved by the Occupy movement, has moved to close any public space to movements that might reignite encampments. The state has, at the same time, heavily infiltrated movements in order to discredit, isolate and push out their most competent leaders.

The state has used its vast surveillance capacities to monitor all forms of electronic communications, as well as personal relationships between activists, giving the state the ability to paralyze planned actions before they can begin. It has mounted a public relations campaign to demonize anyone who resists, branding environmental activists as “ecoterrorists,” charging activists under draconian terrorism laws, hunting down whistle-blowers such as Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden who shine a light on the inner secrets of power and condemning them as traitors and threats to national security.

Occupy articulated the concerns of the majority of citizens. Most of the citizenry detests Wall Street and big banks. It does not want more wars. It needs jobs. It is disgusted with the subservience of elected officials to corporate power. It wants universal health care. It worries that if the fossil fuel industry is not stopped, there will be no future for our children. And the state is using all its power to stymie any movement that expresses these concerns.

Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show Homeland Security, the FBI, the Federal Protective Service, the Park Service and most likely the NSA and the CIA (the latter two have refused to respond to FOIA requests) worked with police across the country to infiltrate and destroy the encampments. There were 7,765 arrests of people in the movement. Occupy, at its peak, had about 350,000 people – or about 0.1 percent of the U.S. population.

“Look how afraid the power structure was of a mere 1/10th of 1 percent of the population,” says Freedom Plaza Occupier, Kevin Zeese. “What happens when the movement grows to 1 percent—not a far reach—or the 5 percent that some research shows is the tipping point where no government, dictatorship or democracy can withstand the pressure from below?”

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning author and former international correspondent for the New York Times. His latest books include The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress and Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt with Joe Sacco. This is an excerpt of his article, Sparks of Rebellion originally published on Truthdig.

18 comments on the article “The Next Fissure is only a Spark away”

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The figure of 0.1% only counts the number of people who were able to get out into the street and protest... You have to wonder, how many people agreed with Occupy, but were unable to attend a street protest because they couldn't get off work, or couldn't afford to travel to the nearest Occupation, or otherwise had their hands tied? I wonder what the figure is for Occupy-sympathizers overall, and how close it comes to that crucial 5%? Or beyond?

As Adbusters continues to romanticize the idea of revolution in their magazine issues, I feel I have to tell them to stop misleading our younger generations.

Although I appreciate your attempt to show the world what is wrong with our consumerist culture, you have failed on many occasions to show the right way. The Occupy Movement that you promoted in 2011 failed by the time winter came along, and the One Percent quickly rearmed, creating one of the most fearful and sophisticated surveillance machines ever known to men.

But let’s consider for a minute that the Occupy Movement was successful. What will these kids do after “the revolution”? Who will govern and what do you stand for? Let me remind you that it only took one week for the people of Argentina to kick their president out, and they did it with cooking pans.

In the following years, the mining and soy industries expanded so much that Monsanto and Barrick Gold alone represent at least 20% of the national economy. And this happened under one of the most anti-Neoliberal governments in the world. Yes, people watch soccer games for free and some groups receive welfare as to not rally against the government again. Egypt had its uprising too, what has changed?

We don’t need pitches and forks. We need urban farmers, we need scientists who can make bioplastics and recycle them into compost, we need to turn our garbage into valuable goods, we need better transportation systems, we need clothes, clean energy, and homes.

We need a silent revolution. While being a conscious consumerist can make a difference, we need to tip corporations by targeting their market share. Your attempt to create Blackspots Shoes in order to compete against Nike is much more sincere and effective than the romantification of protesting. The One Percent is truly afraid of people achieving economic independence, while even the most peaceful rally is an excuse to take our tax dollars and build a Police State.


Wouldn't it be nice if we decided to govern ourselves instead of asking someone else to do it? Of course, it won't happen. Nothing's going to happen until we reduce our population. The world is obviously not capable of supporting the kind of rapatious entity we have turned out to be from the start. If we controlled our population then we could do anything we wanted and it wouldn't bother anybody else. Something like 1/100th left. 70 million humans is enough for any endevour but small enough to let most of the rest of the world get on it's own way.


Totally bogus there Mr. detective. This world when properly managed can support upwards of 54 BILLION. Are you Bill Gates ? You are espousing euthanasia. So does he. That was also the game plan of the NAZIs. That's also the game plan of Monsanto - the same company that brought us DDT, Agent Orange, and Talapia [GMO Trout.] Between GMOs, Fluoride (in your water and used in the concentration camps of WWII), vaccinations (highest influenza deaths directly correspond to the years of highest vaccination rates), EMF pollution, Planned [infantacide] Parenthood, & all other soft-kill methods now being implemented, there is no need for further population control.
If you want population control so badly, do the world a favor and start with yourself.

Reinette Senum

You do realize that the Food Modernization Act of 2010 will kill all such sensible possibility? As a person who has been spearheading much of what you support, these acts of resiliency are now becoming criminal. So, now what do we do? Get out our pots and pans?


Your question about who will "govern" after the "revolution" shows you have missed the point...
This is bigger than revolution this is evolution and it is necessary.

steve from virginia

Q: What is everyone revolting for? New cars? Better TV? Luxury jobs? 'Shangri La'? An end to the designated hitter in the American League? Don't we have enough of these things already?

It's silly to revolt when nobody has any idea what it is they are revolting for. The past four- to five hundred years have seen violent revolutions around the world for 'more stuff'. These revolts have all failed as there is no limit to how much stuff people want ... (and not much in the way of limits to people, either).

What we need is less ... less people and much less stuff, less demands on ourselves and on our life support system. 'Less' does not require public gestures, it's not exciting or dramatic, there are no marches in the street ... just doing without. Less requires imagination and artistry, it is impossible to wrest less from others ... which is what a revolution is.

Surprise! What is underway right now is less occurring under everyone's nose! Success is guaranteed, we don't have to do anything and we will all have less. We just have to learn how to make good use of it, then we can learn to like it.


Everyone is revolting for a shift in priorities. Our resource allocation is completely messed up right now. The wealth needed to drive the industries that will save us (alternative energy, practical food solutions, affordable medicine, adequate housing, public transport, etc.) is quietly being walked into the pockets of swarthy salesmen and finance giants, where it stays. The fact that government legislation is bending to accommodate this makes it worse still. If 5% of the population was motivated to protest this fact, it may start to weaken.

Imagine the Occupy Movement as a test rocket. We saw how much power a movement needs. We saw how the media covered it. And it showed us where the weaknesses are. When the symbol of the Occupy Movement is college educated, unemployed twenty and thirty-somethings rather than a shanty town run by stoners, it won't fail so easily. I'm certainly no kid, and the next movement will have my full support.

Progress is always perpetuated by conflict. If enough people get on the same page before the internet becomes corporatized, maybe America can avoid complete enslavement to big business and the police state. But that would give us less than 10 years, by my calculations.

Shangey g

I agree with the article.

Judging from the violence that occurred at stores on black Friday, all that's needed to motivate and rouse the zombie portion of our population is some cheap blenders or flat screen TVs.

The political, economic and military "leadership" should be shivering in their shorts.


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