Chris Hedges’s new book is a wake-up call and a devastating tour of our country as it is, not as we wish it to be. Hedges traveled extensively to report this book, from the decaying town of Scranton, Pa., to underground sex clubs in San Francisco, to the failed Trump casino in Atlantic City, N.J. He talks to families and individuals who’ve had their lives upturned by prostitution, heroin addiction, gambling addiction, suicide and unemployment, as well as survivalists and members of alt-right groups like Oath Keepers and Proud Boys. Please join us to hear the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author tell this tale.
While Donald Trump recognized the pervasive discontent in today’s America and rode it to victory, Hedges argues that neither political party—both now captured by corporate power—properly addresses the systemic problem. Until our corporate coup d’état is reversed, Hedges says, the ills of our nation will continue to grow and devastate society. And as our society unravels, we also face global upheaval caused by catastrophic climate change. All of these ills presage a frightening reconfiguration of the nation and the planet.
Dying cultures begin to deeply fear change. This fear of change soon becomes irrational, Hedges says, and gives rise to magical thinking and “crisis cults.” Demagogues like Trump who promise to miraculously roll back time hypnotize a bewildered and confused population. They all peddle magical thinking. And the most disillusioned are the most vulnerable. They turn to drug abuse, gambling, suicide, magical thinking, xenophobia, and a culture of sadism and hate. Hedges calls on us to respond through acts of self-sacrifice, by recovering a sense of humility, by affirming the sanctity of others and thereby the sanctity of ourselves. Those who fight against the sicknesses have discovered that life is measured by infinitesimal and often unseen acts of solidarity and kindness. It will not reverse the coming collapse, but it will give us the courage to endure.
Chris Hedges served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for The New York Times. He writes for Truthdig and is host of the Emmy Award–winning RT America show On Contact. Hedges is the author of, among others, the bestsellers American Fascists, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, and War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. He teaches college credit courses in the New Jersey prison system.