The Zero Point of Systemic Collapse by Chris Hedges

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humboldt pi
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The Zero Point of Systemic Collapse by Chris Hedges

I tried unsuccessfully to place this in the “Collapse” thread as I thought it had relevance to many of the discussions there.  Here it is on its own, but you may want to refer to the Ruppert’s Collapse thread for integration of the ideas.

The Zero Point of Systemic Collapse

A piece of Chris Hedges mind on the realities of our world during this crisis of EEE’s, the TPTB, resistance, violence (self defense included).  Link below for the entirety of what he had to say.


We will have to grasp, as the medieval monks did, that we cannot alter the larger culture around us, at least in the short term, but we may be able to retain the moral codes and culture for generations beyond ours. Resistance will be reduced to small, often imperceptible acts of defiance, as those who retained their integrity discovered in the long night of 20th-century fascism and communism.



We stand on the cusp of one of the bleakest periods in human history when the bright lights of a civilization blink out and we will descend for decades, if not centuries, into barbarity. The elites have successfully convinced us that we no longer have the capacity to understand the revealed truths presented before us or to fight back against the chaos caused by economic and environmental catastrophe.


As long as the mass of bewildered and frightened people, fed images that permit them to perpetually hallucinate, exist in this state of barbarism, they may periodically strike out with a blind fury against increased state repression, widespread poverty and food shortages.  (Such as our first, very own suicide bomber, discounting the monks in NY who immolated themselves just before the 2003 war on Iraq.)


But they will lack the ability and self-confidence to challenge in big and small ways the structures of control. The fantasy of widespread popular revolts and mass movements breaking the hegemony of the corporate state is just that – a fantasy.


My analysis comes close to the analysis of many anarchists. But there is a crucial difference. The anarchists do not understand the nature of violence. They grasp the extent of the rot in our cultural and political institutions, they know they must sever the tentacles of consumerism, but they naïvely believe that it can be countered with physical forms of resistance and acts of violence. There are debates within the anarchist movement – such as those on the destruction of property – but once you start using plastic explosives, innocent people get killed.  


And when anarchic violence begins to disrupt the mechanisms of governance, the power elite will use these acts, however minor, as an excuse to employ disproportionate and ruthless amounts of force against real and suspected agitators, only fueling the rage of the dispossessed.


I am not a pacifist. I know there are times, and even concede that this may eventually be one of them, when human beings are forced to respond to mounting repression with violence. I was in Sarajevo during the war in Bosnia


Our democratic system has been transformed into what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin labels inverted totalitarianism. Inverted totalitarianism, unlike classical totalitarianism, does not revolve around a demagogue or charismatic leader. It finds expression in the anonymity of the corporate state. .....“Under inverted totalitarianism the reverse is true,” Wolin writes. “Economics dominates politics – and with that domination comes different forms of ruthlessness.


....resistance must respond to the harsh new reality of a global, capitalist order that will cling to power through ever-mounting forms of brutal and overt repression. Once credit dries up for the average citizen, once massive joblessness creates a permanent and enraged underclass and the cheap manufactured goods that are the opiates of our commodity culture vanish, we will probably evolve into a system that more closely resembles classical totalitarianism. Cruder, more violent forms of repression will have to be employed as the softer mechanisms of control favored by inverted totalitarianism break down.


The free market’s assumption that nature and human beings are objects whose worth is determined by the market allows each to be exploited for profit until exhaustion or collapse. A society that no longer recognizes that nature and human life have a sacred dimension, an intrinsic value beyond monetary value, commits collective suicide. Such societies cannibalize themselves until they die. This is what we are undergoing.


The indifference to the plight of others and the supreme elevation of the self is what the corporate state seeks to instill in us. It uses fear, as well as hedonism, to thwart human compassion. 


Aaaarrgh.  This is very grim; unfortunately for my peace of mind it coincides with my current conclusions (which have careened off many walls during the last decade) and presents an entirely different scenario under which to prepare for the future from transition towns, community gardens, etc.; how to live each day now with meaning.  I’ve gotten past denial (mostly I think), grief, bargaining, etc.  But how to function realistically and morally given this framework?  C’est la vie?  Certainly suicide bombing only played into the media’s hands.  Didn’t that fellow care about his family, the fellow members of his band?  Was this an act of consuming hatred; or akin to the stock brokers who allegedly jumped from buildings during the depression?  When I give handouts to the beggars they inevitably say God Bless You and I think to myself God forgive us.  Unless of course ours is a god of retribution - in which case s/he may be having a good laugh at our expense. Yes?  Seeking words of wisdom.


V's picture
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Re: The Zero Point of Systemic Collapse by Chris Hedges

Hi Mallard

Not so grim really. Hedges makes a classic mistake in assuming anarchy = violence.

If we assume we are not living in an an anarchistic paradigm now I would suggest it is hard to imagine a more violent scenario.

Anarchy does not mean out of control. It means out of THEIR  control. We live in interesting times no doubt . They are pregnant with possibilities.

We have seen two of the three phases of Empire. The Rise, and the Golden Age. We are now in the Decline of Empire. 

I personally think Joe Stack is a hero and committed an act of great courage. However I wish he had found a different way. We could use him alive now.

Back to Hedges though I think he pretty well nails it.. I also think he is right on the money when he suggests we just leave the system. It is dawn we have had all the free drinks we can consume and still walk out of the casino. If we go in again and again we will only be giving the system the strength it needs to finish us off. Quit buying stuff you dont need, get out of banks and into local credit unions, create local currency, grow your own food or get involved in a csa and support local farmers. cut up your credit cards, and for god's sake and ours get the hell out of any kind of investing. I disagree with that matrix fellow on just about everything but this. but pay off you debts you have already incurred.



Damnthematrix's picture
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Re: The Zero Point of Systemic Collapse by Chris Hedges

mallard wrote:

"The anarchists do not understand the nature of violence. They grasp the extent of the rot in our cultural and political institutions, they know they must sever the tentacles of consumerism, but they naïvely believe that it can be countered with physical forms of resistance and acts of violence. There are debates within the anarchist movement – such as those on the destruction of property – but once you start using plastic explosives, innocent people get killed."

Let's get one thing straight here......  violent anarchism was invented by the media covering G20 meetings.  From Wikipedia:

Anarchism is a political philosophy encompassing theories and attitudes which consider the state to be unnecessary, harmful, or otherwise undesirable, and favour instead a stateless society or anarchy.[1][2] Individual anarchists may have additional criteria for what they conceive to be anarchism, and there is often broad disagreement concerning these broader conceptions. According to The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, "there is no single defining position that all anarchists hold, and those considered anarchists at best share a certain family resemblance."[3]

There are many types and traditions of anarchism, not all of which are mutually exclusive.[4] Strains of anarchism have been divided into the categories of social and individualist anarchism or similar dual classifications.[5][6] Anarchism is often considered to be a radical left-wing ideology,[7][8] and much of anarchist economics and anarchist legal philosophy reflect anti-statist interpretations of communism, collectivism, syndicalism or participatory economics; however, anarchism has always included an individualist strain,[9] with that strain supporting a market economy and private property, or unrestrained egoism that bases right on might.[7][10]

Others, such as panarchists and anarchists without adjectives, neither advocate nor object to any particular form of organization as long as it is not compulsory. Some anarchist schools of thought differ fundamentally, supporting anything from extreme individualism to complete collectivism.[2] The central tendency of anarchism as a social movement have been represented by communist anarchism, with individualist anarchism being primarily a philosophical or literary phenomenon.[11] Some anarchists fundamentally oppose all forms of aggression, supporting self-defense or non-violence, while others have supported the use of some coercive measures, including violent revolution and terrorism, on the path to an anarchist society.[12]

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Re: The Zero Point of Systemic Collapse by Chris Hedges

I'm enjoying the Hedges piece, and others, in the current issue of Adbusters.

The long-blurred distinction between anarchy and disorder-for-its-own-sake (no realistic proposal in hand) is another* I'd like each of us to sharpen whenever we have a chance.  Ensuing discussions can relatively soon raise consciousness to the tipping point where others become our allies.

* in a separate thread I advocate striving to upgrade our fellows' considerations from standard of living to quality of life by artfully reminding and explaining that the latter is the more comprehensive, revealing and useful metric.

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