Monday, 2 January 2012

An Opinon About the Opinion-Makers by Michael Parenti

Jill Pletcher and Mary Magnuson (two of my favorite FB people) were speculating as to what might be my opinion of Chris Hedges. I think Hedges makes a valuable contribution. He goes over issues and topics that some of us have dealt with for many years. It is familiar terrain but also nice to have a fresh verve injected into it, the enthusiasm of the recent convert. Plus he brings his own idiom and experience to it.

I differ from him in regard to his view (resembling Michael Moore's view) that capitalism "has lost its way." As that argument goes, earlier capitalism was okay but this corporate monster has become something that cannot be countenanced, etc. I agree of course that it is a corporate monster but I also think that earlier capitalism was pretty rotten in its own way: y'know, 8-year-old kids working 14-hour-days, widespread typhoid epidemics, massive underemployment, starvation wages, etc.

Perhaps Hedges and Moore are thinking about capitalism after WW II, with the postwar prosperity and "historical compromise" with labor. In that case, their argument is a little more understandable but it still does not hold, since even then the 1% was at war with the 99%, albeit with less of the systematic confidence and brutal persistence displayed today.

Also, Jill wrote, "Dr. Michael Parenti would wholeheartedly support Hedges comments on Yugoslavia." That surprised me. In Hedges' early book about war correspondence, as I recall, he supported the destructive war against Yugoslavia which broke that country into a cluster of shattered, right-wing, mini republics where everything is privatized and deregulated and (almost) everyone is poor. Hedges just couldn't stop demonizing the Serbs and Milosevic in that most ill-informed but de rigueur way that does shore up one's legitimacy with the liberal centrists.

Maybe Jill is referring to a more recent opinion of Hedges. I hear that some people on the left ,who stood shoulder to shoulder with NATO, the CIA, the Pentagon, and the White House (Clinton) in delivering death and destruction on Yugoslavia, now are having second thoughts. Maybe Hedges is one of them. I wonder how he stands on Libya.

In any case more important than what I think about this or that other left commentator is what do YOU think about what is being said. Fashioning a reasoned argument is always a superior path to political liberation (both mental and collective) than embracing the latest name as the authoritative source. I am happy to say that people like Jill and Mary keep all of us on our toes as they forge ahead, determined to make sense out of the madness.

1 comment:

  1. Dr.Parenti, I love Hedges' books (especially the last two - Empire of Illusion and Death of the Liberal Class) as much as I love yours, but I agree with you that his views on Serbia leave a lot to be desired. I heard him say in one of his talks that he would have supported the bombing of Serbia had it happened earlier (he didn't support it in 1999). I think in this case he bought into the general anti-Serb sentiment and propaganda demonizing the Serbs and putting the blame for the war squarely on them. This is even harder to believe considering the fact that he was war correspondent in former Yugoslavia and spent time there during the conflict.

    Also, if we were to bomb Belgrade, why not Zagreb or Sarajevo? Tudjman and Izetbegovic to me were worse war criminals than Milosevic. Why can't people see it? (I'm not Serbian btw. I'm of Polish descent).

    If I could ask Hedges one question, it would be how he'd square his criticism of the empire with his support for the empire's bombing of a civilian population in Serbia had it happened in early and mid 1990's. (in 1995, it actually would have made much more sense to bomb Croatia on account of their crimes in Krajina, if we follow the logic of humanitarian intervention). And what would such bombing of civilians accomplish?