Chris Hedges appeared last Sunday on C-SPAN's Book TV series, In Depth for a three hour interview which you can watch all of at their archives. Here's a portion from the beginning of the last hour where Hedges weighed in on Ron Paul and Libertarianism, the battle between the working class and the elites for democracy and on Oprah Winfrey and her role in the cultural and religious pursuit of personal wealth in America.
On Ron Paul and Libertarianism:
HEDGES: Ron Paul for me is sort of a funny guy. I mean, he says a lot of good stuff, but for me Libertarianism is sort of a preindustrial ideology. The idea that government should be so diminished... well, I mean, the problem is that government is anemic in the face of corporations like Exxon Mobil, City Bank and Goldman Sachs and Bank of America. And we need to find leverage by which these monopolies can be broken up and the power of these corporations can be curbed.
And so I think Ron Paul is pretty good in terms of empire, in terms of fiscal responsibility, in terms of Constitutional rights, but the core of his message, which is essentially to gut government is one that I think isn't going to do anything to diminish the power of the corporate state.
On whether elites have always run society:
HEDGES: Yes. And I think that one could argue that the battle for American democracy has been one long battle against those elites, the Native Americans, African Americans, women, men without property, none of these people were invited to the Constitutional Convention.
It became a battle to open up American society and radical movements did that. None of these radical movements achieved political power, but they were potent forces that the power elite had to reckon with. And I think the destruction of those movements has disempowered us.
I mean one could argue that in April of 1968, the most powerful political figure in the United States was Martin Luther King and Johnson was scared to death of him. A year before King had denounced the Vietnam War and that's because when King went to Memphis, 50,000 people went with him. And I think we have to rebuild those movements.
For those of us that care about democracy and care about justice, it's not our job to take power. You know Julien Benda wrote a really great book called The Treason of Intellectuals and he said that we have a choice in life. We can serve privilege and power or we can serve justice and truth. And those of us who commit to serving justice and truth, the more we make concessions to those who serve privilege and power, the more we dilute the possibilities of justice and truth.
And I think King, Malcolm X, Frederick Douglass, Randolph Bourne, Eugene Debs, Mother Jones, you know, all of these people were figures that didn't make those concessions and they never achieved formal positions of power, or frankly did they ever strive to achieve formal positions of power, but they defended the interests of the dispossessed.
On Oprah's role in the cultural and religious pursuit of personal wealth:
HEDGES: Negative. Oprah peddles this fantasy that we can have everything we want if we just focus on happiness and grasp that we are truly exceptional and dig deep enough within ourselves and this is just magical thinking. It's not just peddled by Oprah. I don't want to pick on Oprah. The Christian right does it, Hollywood does it, corporatism does it. Tony Robbins, self-help guru and it's just a myth, and frankly it's a myth that's used to beat up on the poor.
So, there are no jobs in Camden. They used to make Campbells Soup in Camden. Even that's gone. Everything's gone. The schools are dysfunctional, there's a gigantic drop out rate, the streets are unsafe and to somehow tell a poor black child who's not getting a good education, not being raised in an environment that provides safety and security and nurturing and upon that being tossed out into a city where there is no work that they have to dig deep enough within themselves is really a way for us to turn our backs on the vulnerable and the poor.
And to say you are responsible, this is what's called cultural messages, you are responsible for your fate. And that's just the way the corporate state wants it as it sheds job after job after job. As large or as larger segments of American society are reduced to subsistence levels, without any kind of job security, without any kind of adequate health insurance, that it's sort of their fault because they haven't managed to tap into their inner strength, this is not only delusional, but in the end I think callous to the weak and the poor and to the working class.