Today I want to highlight a recent review, by Alan Roxburgh, of a recent book written by Chris Hedges. Hedges is a leftist thinker, one who deeply engages contemporary US and Western culture. I've always found Hedge's to be a very helpful commentator, and a number of his books can be found on my shelves, including The Wages of Rebellion, which is the book Al reviews.
Here's an excerpt from the review.
"...As the expectations of a better future recede for more and more people across the West (e.g. shrinking middle classes, jobless or part-time minimum wage economies, austerity) there is a growing loss of faith in the primary narratives undergirding Western social, political and economic life. With this situation comes a weakening of the capacities or will of elites to provide leadership. The cumulative result is a growing undercurrent of rage, confusion, and frustration roiling just under the surface, waiting to be catalyzed into revolution.
For Hedges these conditions now exist across the West. The hope that we'll, somehow, get through it all with a new fix misses what is happening. In Hedges' analysis what is occurring is no longer amenable to adjustment. As the basis of people's hope keeps being hollowed out, existing social, political and economic structures can collapse at a dizzying speed. This sense of collapse is now happening, but it's not primarily at the level of rational, abstract analysis. Rather, what is occurring is that the emotional experiences and convictions of people are changing as witnessed in events like Brexit or the US election. When this happens the soil is ripe for revolution. Revolutions are about emotions not primarily new ideas. As has been said revolutions come about when people feel that established power structures no longer serve the common good. The language Hedges uses here is drawn from the American social theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr who used the term sublime madness to describe a force which gathers inside people who 'disregard immediate appearances' and, with 'nothing but madness will do battle with malignant power and "spiritual wickedness in high places"' (211). What was prescient about Niebuhr's own evaluation was his recognition that traditional liberalism (which has made a come-back in Canada in its last national election) is a 'useless force in moments of extremity' (211)..."
The first book of Hedges that I bought was his War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning (2002). The most recent is Unspeakable (Oct. 2016) which is a transcript of Chris Hedges conversation with David Talbot (He is the founder and former editor in chief of Salon).. It covers all of Hedge's areas of focus and interest and should be a good introduction for anyone not familiar with Hedges and his writing.