Is This The Age of Moral Nihilism? I Thought It Was The Age Of Aquarius

by | Feb 21, 2011

Pulitzer prize-wining journalist Chris Hedges is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute. He’s also the author of Death of the Liberal Class and several other books.

I’ve been reading through some of his essays on TruthDig and finding that I generally agree with his assessments, but not with his recommended solutions, nor his alarmist tone.

Let’s take this passage on the 2012 election and how “the left” has nowhere to go:

Nader fears a repeat of the left’s cowardice in the next election, a cowardice that has further empowered the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party, maintained the role of the Democratic Party as a lackey for corporations, and accelerated the reconfiguration of the country into a neo-feudalist state. Either we begin to practice a fierce moral autonomy and rise up in multiple acts of physical defiance that have no discernable short-term benefit, or we accept the inevitability of corporate slavery. The choice is that grim. The age of the practical is over. It is the impractical, those who stand fast around core moral imperatives, figures like Nader or groups such as Veterans for Peace, which organized the recent anti-war rally in Lafayette Park in Washington, which give us hope.

The inevitability of corporate slavery? Really? That’s the choice before the American people?

I totally agree that the Democratic Party is controlled by corporate interests. There’s really no debate there, as corporate lobbyists line the pockets of all lawmakers, not just the conservative ones.

Now, what do we do about it? Hedges wants people with core moral imperatives to lay their bodies on the line, and I’m sure there’s a place for that, but getting big money out of politics is the only way to shift the balance of power back to the people. If my voice is going to be equal the voice of Exxon-Mobile, then my contribution to candidates has to be equal, as well. Otherwise, Exxon-Mobile’s millions will be always be a million times more important.

I also question what Hedges and Nader mean by “the corporate state.” It’s too broad a statement, in my opinion. The great majority of Americans work for a corporation, and many of these corporations do great things for people. After all, corporations are nothing more than a group of people with a common commercial interest. It seems that the need to make dramatic statements to jar people from their sleepy stupor is more important to Hedges than being clear and accurate–a fact which strips some of the power away from his fiery rhetoric.