08 January 2013

Chris Hedges: Propaganda, Endless War, Repression, Greed, and Betrayal

“If you can feel that staying human is worth while, even when it can't have any practical result whatsoever, you've beaten them.”

George Orwell

This video below is not new, but someone asked me for a summary of Chris Hedges' narrative of modern US history, and what he sees as the dwindling death of the American dream.

This video is a fairly decent example. I obviously do not agree with everything Hedges says. But I find his perspective much more plausible than other 'alternative histories' and viewpoints that come from left of center, and certainly moreso than those from the right.

I look at the political party to which I had belonged for most of my life, and I am disbelieving and ashamed. But I can find no easy home in the other. There are few places for the independent thinker to rest their head in rational moderation with decency. Hysteria, polarization, and division seem to be the order of the day.

I do not think that things will change until they get bad enough, and then we will finally see the change that will be required to forge a sustainable economic recovery.


"We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.”

Viktor E. Frankl

"Upon her recent passing at the age of 76, I took the opportunity to reread Bubby's memoirs. In four different instances, my grandmother had stood—amid the smoke of the crematoriums, the barking dogs, the trampling boots and swinging clubs—on the infamous "selection line" at the head of which Mengele and his minions stood, pointing left and right, sentencing some to back-breaking labor, and sending others to the gas chambers. In each of those instances, somebody would come along and say or do something that would change Bubby's fate from certain death to tenuous life. In one such incident, she already had been sent to the line of those marked for death when a man appeared as if from nowhere, physically removed her from that line and shoved her into the other, without saying a word.

Indeed, the miracles and the mysteries of the events of those days abound along with the horrors and the tragedies. In contrast to the vile actions of the "Angel of Death" were the noble and heroic actions of many "Angels of Life" who stood ready to risk their own lives for the sake of saving that of a stranger.

It is thanks in no small part to "Angels" like these, who stepped out from behind their own misery and grief to come to the aid of others, that generations now live on to tell the story. How clearly we see the infinite ripple effects of single acts of kindness and compassion, even if accomplished in a split second..."

Yossi Refson, Angels of Light

"Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Franciscan friar, provided shelter to refugees from Greater Poland, including 2,000 Jews whom he hid from Nazi persecution in his friary in Niepokalanów. He was also active as a radio amateur, with Polish call letters SP3RN, vilifying Nazi activities through his reports.

On February 17, 1941 Kolbe was arrested by the German Gestapo and imprisoned in the Pawiak prison, and on May 25 was transferred to Auschwitz I as prisoner #16670.

In July 1941 a man from Kolbe’s barracks vanished, prompting SS-Hauptsturmführer Karl Fritzsch, the deputy camp commander, to pick 10 men from the same barracks to be starved to death in Block 13 (notorious for torture), in order to deter further escape attempts. One of the selected men, Franciszek Gajowniczek, cried out, lamenting his family ["My poor wife! My poor children! What will they do?"], and Kolbe volunteered to take his place.

During the time in the cell he led the men in songs and prayer. After three weeks of dehydration and starvation, only Kolbe and three others were still alive. Finally he was murdered with an injection of carbolic acid [14 August 1941] ...

Kolbe is one of ten 20th-century martyrs from across the world who are depicted in statues above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey, London."

Jewish Virtual Library, Maximilian Kolbe