01 August 2015

Chris Hedges: Reform or Revolution

"In the task of that redemption the most effective agents will be men who have substituted some new illusions for the abandoned ones. The most important of these illusions is that the collective life of mankind can achieve perfect justice. It is a very valuable illusion for the moment; for justice cannot be approximated if the hope of its perfect realization does not generate a sublime madness in the soul.

Nothing but such madness will do battle with malignant power and 'spiritual wickedness in high places.' The illusion is dangerous because it encourages terrible fanaticisms. It must therefor e be brought under the control of reason. One can only hope that reason will not destroy it before its work is done."

Reinhold Niebuhr

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

John F. Kennedy

The illusions of extremists, of both the right and the left, are very dangerous things, for the very reason that they often incline themselves to sacrifice the individual, and even surprisingly large groups of individuals and segments of society, for the 'greater good' of their extremes and their illusions.

One only has to look to the excesses of the French Revolution, with the slaughter of the aristocracy and the burning and desecration of churches and monasteries, the wantonness of the Terror and the Reaction, and the eventual rise of Napoleon out of that chaos of the sacrifice of reason.

An seemingly endless parade of infamous tyrants, forgotten viceroys, and faceless bureaucrats always seem to have their roots in the extremity of illusion that rises out of some turmoil of excess, and the throwing off of the restraints of reason.

And no people, no organization of people, and no nation is immune or exceptional to this extremity, not by a long shot. The human being is remarkably clever and wonderfully self-deluding in choosing the things that they know are wrong, that they hide both from the world and themselves at first. That they excuse, wrap in exceptionalism, drape in personal exemption and necessity.

Evil is a choice, or more properly a long, gradual succession of choices. And it never sleeps, is always open for business.