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Hedges writes: "I am reading and rereading the debates among some of the great radical thinkers of the 19th and 20th centuries about the mechanisms of social change. These debates were not academic. They were frantic searches for the triggers of revolt."

The Occupy movement's success was rooted in its ability to build an infrastructure that could sustain a movement. (photo: Joerg Koch/AP)
The Occupy movement's success was rooted in its ability to build an infrastructure that could sustain a movement. (photo: Joerg Koch/AP)

The Sparks of Rebellion

By Chris Hedges, Truthdig

01 October 13


am reading and rereading the debates among some of the great radical thinkers of the 19th and 20th centuries about the mechanisms of social change. These debates were not academic. They were frantic searches for the triggers of revolt.

Vladimir Lenin placed his faith in a violent uprising, a professional, disciplined revolutionary vanguard freed from moral constraints and, like Karl Marx, in the inevitable emergence of the worker's state. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon insisted that gradual change would be accomplished as enlightened workers took over production and educated and converted the rest of the proletariat. Mikhail Bakunin predicted the catastrophic breakdown of the capitalist order, something we are likely to witness in our lifetimes, and new autonomous worker federations rising up out of the chaos. Pyotr Kropotkin, like Proudhon, believed in an evolutionary process that would hammer out the new society. Emma Goldman, along with Kropotkin, came to be very wary of both the efficacy of violence and the revolutionary potential of the masses. "The mass," Goldman wrote bitterly toward the end of her life in echoing Marx, "clings to its masters, loves the whip, and is the first to cry Crucify!"

The revolutionists of history counted on a mobilized base of enlightened industrial workers. The building blocks of revolt, they believed, relied on the tool of the general strike, the ability of workers to cripple the mechanisms of production. Strikes could be sustained with the support of political parties, strike funds and union halls. Workers without these support mechanisms had to replicate the infrastructure of parties and unions if they wanted to put prolonged pressure on the bosses and the state. But now, with the decimation of the U.S. manufacturing base, along with the dismantling of our unions and opposition parties, we will have to search for different instruments of rebellion.

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+77 # fredboy 2013-10-01 11:39
Today's tantrum-fueled shutdown of the "nonessential" federal government is an example. How long will the American people put up with this bullshit? An entire wing of a major party is now sociopathic. Do we wait until they prompt or impose a major disaster to act?

Remember, while Obamacare is certainly not perfect it was created to help those being shunned by "traditional healthcare" find insurance and subsequent medical treatment. Those opposing it, quite literally, don't care about such victims. And don't care if they die. This goes against every notion of America, and the teachings of all the great faiths.

Is anyone out there breathing?
+31 # bmiluski 2013-10-01 12:40
If you're truly truly sincere about this, then get in contact with the closest "Occupy" group. They're not that hard to find.
+20 # RHytonen 2013-10-01 14:14
They are unfortunately not always close enough if you don't have a working car (like ANYONE on SS alone, which is 1/2 FPL)
+8 # jwb110 2013-10-02 09:33
Quoting RHytonen:
They are unfortunately not always close enough if you don't have a working car (like ANYONE on SS alone, which is 1/2 FPL)

Call and ask if someone would be willing to give you a ride to an Occupy meeting or event.
-86 # lib-buster 2013-10-01 13:21
Those that don't care for it don't like it because it SCREWS the 85% of people that have insurance with HIGHER premiums not lower! Less choices not more and they can't keep their doctor / hospital & insurance etc like Bummer told us! Many are losing their insurance all together and being thrown in to the govt exchanges...Alr eady! Hiring is substantially less due to all the uncertainty regarding this terrible legislation passed with not one Republican vote. Full time people are being regulated to part time (under 30 hrs) so as companies can pawn them off on the Post office...errrrr rr Govt exchanges. There aren't enough doctors or nurses to suddenly take (supposedly) 30 million more people...the list goes on and on and will only get worse.

Pelosi lied to all of you. O'blamer lied to all you Libs as well. He lied again this morning with more of his B.S. Why do you people believe anything this con artist has to say? He's the worst prez since "Jimma" and proves it everyday. He's taken our country right down the Shxxter while running up the biggest debt and deficits in HISTORY! He peaked at "Community Organizing"! Shoulda stayed back in Chi Town the Murder capitol of the country where he belongs!
+16 # RHytonen 2013-10-01 14:19
Camden NJ is the murder capital. Ready why Chris Hedges' book "Days of Destruction..."
[hint:] CORPORATE GREED -and power- destroyed the gov't, regulation, public safety, and the economy.
+19 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-10-01 15:37
Please take the time to visit your friendly doctor. Get an enema. Or, your mother will be happy to help you do this, OK?
-8 # WestWinds 2013-10-01 16:50
>>> Why do you people believe anything this con artist has to say?
+32 # tabonsell 2013-10-01 18:11
We have heard this type of nonsense before.

Remember when not a single Republican voted for Clinton's budgets that produced four years of surpluses (which Buffoon Bush destroyed immediately on taking office.)

We were told that Clinton would install socialism. Didn't happen.

When a maniac was poisoning Tylenol headache capsules and putting them back on shelves, we we told that requiring tamper-proof packaging would drive drug manufacturers out of business, socialism would engulf the nation and we would lose all our freedom. Didn't happen.

We were told that if Carter turned the Panama Canal over to Panama the Soviet Union would take over and all shipping would be prevented. Didn't happen.

We were told that an Obama election would assure a massive terrorist attack. Didn't happen.

We were told that Obama would go door to door and confiscate all our weapons. Didn't happen.
+33 # tabonsell 2013-10-01 18:27
If you think that Obama is the worst president since "jimma" how do you account for the fact that "Jimma" had a better economic record than your beloved Ronald Reagan.

In the one term of "Jimma" the economy produced more than 10 million new jobs. In the three terms of RR and Bush the Daddy the economy produced an average of 6 million per term. "Jmma" did 67% better than St. Ronnie.

"Jimma" had the debt down to 32.5% of GDP. St Ronnie and GHWB ran it up past 68%. Buffoon Bush has pushed it past 100%.

"Jimma" lowered poverty in the US to ll.4%. RR and Bush raised it past 15%. Thn, after clinton reduced it to 11.3$ Buffoon Bush pushed it past 15% once again., where it ahas remained for six years while the GOP does nothing to lleviate the problem.

"Jimma" made human rights a centerpiece of foreign policy; RR made mass murder his legacy.

How is it possible that Obama has run up the biggest deficit in history? When he took office he inherited a budget deficit of $1.55 trillion from Buffoon Bush. Off-budget surpluses lowered the spending deficit to $1.412 trillion. Latest figures place the deficit at about $640 billion with no off-budge surpluses figured in. So Obama has cut the deficit by $900 billion, and you think that is somehow bad.

Our debt is the product of Ronald Reagan and the two Bushes, not Obama. Spending as a percentage of GDP under Obama is much lower than under Buffoon Bush, which explains the weak economic recovery.
+10 # Rita Walpole Ague 2013-10-02 00:57
Well, fredboy, is it possible that this shutdown is yet more of karlroving style MSDing (manipulating, spinning, distracting) of we the sheeple? Caught hell I did when interfering with the MSDing of us, carefully crafted 'war on women'. Pull up: Not My Tribe, Denver, Rita Ague.

Chris Hedges, so bright, brave, determined, is, per usual, right on in his analysis of what has worked and most likely will work, i.e. non-violence, creativity, recognition of infiltration, etc. in our so needed revolt and implosion.

So true - lots and lots we've gotta do to

+49 # Dennyc 2013-10-01 12:20
The soul of Hedges is the soul of all of us. He is a rare human being under the circumstances. Without intending to sound presumptuous, one of our first considerations should be in developing a discipline which will possibly carry us through the opening stage of the looming struggle. Those who overtly resist initially will be those most severely punished by the state and its corporate supporters in government and the various police forces. We must be prepared to lose things which have varying value for different people. Things like jobs, friends, possessions (All it takes these days is for the state apparatus to get you in court. Even if you are found innocent a good deal of your wealth will be lost in proving your innocence. It's that way for the obvious reasons.) Yet when resistance becomes more universal and sympathetic, the state will most likely crack down even more harshly. People will die, be vilified in the corporate media. Effective leaders will be turned into pedophiles or something worse. These reactions have already been used successfully many times. Those infinite numbers of think tanks aren't only in place to simply provide a newer approach for corporate welfare. As Mr. Hedges alluded to, the corporate state has already developed what they believe to be effective and lasting responses. A humble suggestion - An effective beginning might be a massive boycott of corporate products - massive. One thing they ALWAYS pay attention to is the bottom line.
+12 # Rita Walpole Ague 2013-10-02 11:09
Well said and sooooo true, DennyC. One of your points, in particular, hit home - fraudulent defamation of character. Simply put, the evil villainaires will stop at nothing whatsoever to keep their longtime coming coup in place. Not one bit of their egregious greed and power over all addictions must be disclosed and/or interfered with, so they believe. Slay any Hedges "...soul of all of us.", literally and figuratively, they do and will.

And try it they have recently, on me, a very junior league version of Chris. I make a joke about it (while not caving in one bit) and declare: They've done it to the wrong person - an Irish bitch with a legal background.

Brave and determined we must be to take on all this evil plus. Period. End of story, but absolutely not the end of....

+5 # Dennyc 2013-10-03 10:48
Thanks for the consideration and compliment. My mom was hard core Irish and tough as nails. In any case, our national comeuppance waits in the wings. You can only kill children and boast about it for so long before the cosmos brings its response (I'm thinking along the lines of the cosmic response being something like taking away all those things we take for granted and love so much, like shopping malls. A world without malls will have most Americans grinding their teeth on the asphalt in the deserted parking lots, among other things). Thanks again and good luck to you. We're all going to need it.
+19 # MidwesTom 2013-10-01 12:29
With a Congress more divided than since the Civil War, I am not so sure that we aren't relatively close to another Civil War. A Russian think tank last year projected that the US would split within five years.
+9 # Douglas Jack 2013-10-01 12:47
No future is possible in United States of Army colonial invasion. Its not a matter of account twiddling for an illegal war entity repeatedly involved in False-Flag invasions & willing to bring WW3 along with Canada, NATO, Israel & the Bank for International Settlements. War-crimes ongoing without relent, overdue war-reparations & biosphere-envir onmental destruction are too profound for such an entity to continue.

1st Nations have the only sovereignty & realizable future here on Turtle Island & humanity's universal 'indigenous' (Latin 'self-generatin g') heritage worldwide. The present monetary capital system is an absolute unworkable unsustainable 'exogenous' (L 'other-generate d') war-making perversion of origins. Humanity's indigenous ancestors have 'economic' (Greek 'oikos' = 'home') remedy.

Humanity's indigenous Economy is based in multihome (eg. apartment, townhouse & village living) where proximity enables intergeneration al female-male intimate collaboration. Universal progressive ownership in Production Societies. 'Money' (Gk 'mnemosis' = 'memory') 'capital' (L 'cap' = 'head' = 'wisdom') is meant as an integrated system involving collective intelligent for all stakeholders. Indigenous worldwide 'string-shell' recognizes 'time' as the universal human resource common denominator accounting integrating capital, currency, social-security , education-credi ts & other human values.
-32 # MidwesTom 2013-10-01 13:12
Healthcare for all is a good activity. The ADA does have some flaws, which need fixing. Many groups, including Congress and their staffs, have been exempted, which in my mind indicates that there certainly are things in it that people object to. Obama and the Democrats have absolutely refused to consider any changes, and therefore the opposition has taken the stance that if you will not allow any fixes, we might as well try and kill the whole bill.

Neither side is approaching this as sane leaders should. The opposition has softened their position by proposing a one year delay, but the Democrats have refused to consider a delay, or the elimination of the exemptions. In my mind Obama should agree to eliminating the exemptions, and agree to either open discussions on, or delay for one year, any provisions that are in contention. Then both sides should agree to advance.the parts of the program that make sense, and forget this cliffhanging.
+29 # RHytonen 2013-10-01 14:29
The only problem is the ACA ws designed to have a public option.
And opening it to amendment in ANY way will allow destructive forces access to it.
As long as there is private profit in health care it will continue to escalate in price and be THE significant driver of upward wealth consolidation.

The only answer to health care is Medicare for All.
+19 # pres92 2013-10-01 14:31
MidwesTom ...

I assume there is a typo in your post as you refer to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) not the ACA (Affordable Care Act). The ACA is, for sure, flawed -- as it is really insurance regulation rather than health care legislation. That being said, the Congress and their staffs are "exempt" because they have health insurance. Everyone who currently has health insurance is exempt from the ACA. The only people who are covered by the ACA are those who are currently uninsured -- ie. young people (many of whom think they are invincible and do not need health insurance); and, people with disabilities (who have been, until this morning, uninsurable. Insurance companies routinely deny coverage to PWD or folks who have been treated for certain medical conditions. If a PWD can get coverage, the premiums are extreme, the deductibles enormous, and the coverage de minimus with lifetime caps.) Now, they can purchase affordable insurance coverage, cannot be denied because of a pre-existing condition, the treatments for the pre-existing condition cannot be exempted from coverage by the ins. co., and the insurance co. cannot put a lifetime cap in the coverage. The ACA also closes the "donut whole" (which has caused seniors on Medicare to pay huge prescription drug bills out of pocket). But, NOTHING changes for people who have med. ins. They keep their coverage, they keep their doctors. They may end up paying less or getting a premium rebate, but how bad is that?
+16 # Mannstein 2013-10-01 18:42
The Rethugs have proposed the one year delay because they hope to control the Senate after the mid term elections. Then they plan to kill the ACA.
+6 # randrjwr 2013-10-02 10:03
Quoting Mannstein:
The Rethugs have proposed the one year delay because they hope to control the Senate after the mid term elections. Then they plan to kill the ACA.

And if they can't do that, blackmail us again to delay it and delay it and delay it and............ .............
+43 # Vardoz 2013-10-01 13:20
Having the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip because 53 millions people don't have health care when Obama care, which we support, is already law is the height of lunacy. All reps have triple A health care and pensions for life that tax payers pay for but you would deny it to tens or millions of Americas and burn down the economy. A special prosecutor should be appointed and all those who perpetrated this crime should be indicted. This is treason. The world economy is too important for a bunch of right wing extremists to be toyed with.
+11 # 2013-10-01 13:56
All political leaders know that history proves Jose Gasset to be accurate in his book, The Revolt of the Masses. It always happens with violence.

THAT is the reason the leaders fear public opinion - and they should !
+11 # brux 2013-10-01 14:03
The best case would be if we did not need to go into revolt mode ... if the people would have stayed interested, educated and informed and pursued their interests all along then we would be by far the greatest country in the world that we always say we are.
+2 # Douglas Jack 2013-10-01 21:15
There are many popular ways to achieve the positive action which you are describing here through what Mohandas Gandhi & India describe as 'Swaraj' (Hindi 'self-sufficien cy') joining in critical mass groupings of mutual-aid for essential services. Gandhi expressed 'Swaraj' as 'Become the change, which you want to see in the world'. I agree with you that this should be our main focus.

Humanity's Indigenous ancestors worldwide & First Nations here engaged inter-disciplin ary practices so as to make positive contributions at every level of cultural living starting with their own capacities & then in mutual-aid in multihome living achieving interactive, intergeneration al female-male collaboration in groups of 100 people. Privacy is the foundation as well as proximity for collaborative opportunity.
0 # brux 2013-10-09 21:37
> There are many popular ways to achieve the positive action

No there's not, because either "positive action" as you call it is not a very good goal, or nothing anyone has done has been able to bring it about reliably and absolutely.

I wish people would not say stuff like you said, because it is not true, and whatever movement there might be for "positive action" needs to focus its energy into something else.

That something else might be a compromise world that everyone can live with that is clear and changeable over time.
+12 # brux 2013-10-01 14:06
The other side of this is that we do not want our country run by the lowest common denominator of workers ... not that they are bad or stupid, but theoretically we would be better off to have a government of "philosopher-ki ngs" ... the problem is that our culture corrupts most people the higher they get politically.

All we really need to do is to keep honest people of integrity in the governmen and get those that are dishonest and corrupt out. Easier said that done I guess.
+10 # MendoChuck 2013-10-01 14:35
I wonder who actually makes the decision on what shuts down and what stays open.

Amazing that there are government employees available to shut some things down yet none available to keep things open?
Check this out and then explain it to me please . . . .

We are all being played like a yoyo while the elite of Washington DC go on about their personal business.

The American Public have been dumbed down so far that they are blind to the obvious.

+7 # angelfish 2013-10-01 15:28
The ReTHUGs will NOT like the end result of this Ultimate betrayal of hard working Americans. It will make "le deluge" look like a Spring shower.
+11 # Farafalla 2013-10-01 15:29
This is an impassioned essay that speaks to our greatest hopes and fears. The utter totality of the post-modern state and the post-industrial economy is a paralyzing and frightful thing to behold.

We must fight to roll back the surveillance systems that are killing communications. We must defend our champions whether they be courageous and heroic types like Chelsea Manning, or writers and critics like Chris Hedges.

And we must also reduce our footprint that grows with our mountains of possessions and energy intensive lives. I'm glad to see that Hedges has provided references to a wide range of revolutionary thinkers from different traditions or frameworks. I would add that it's not a bad idea to look at the thinkers of the mid century who energized the protesting generation with a critique of the modern faceless world we were building.

This is a good time to investigate intentional community, community supported agriculture, seed banks, food coops, credit unions, soft energy paths, and grassroots organizing. We have to combat the right wing trolls who are present only to sow confusion and mistrust in our news sources, such as RSN. We should be jealous guardians of our gains and not squander them to appear open minded with reactionaries.

If I learned anything form reading Hedges this time, it's that we need to provide a space for profound and extended discussion on RSN, not a soapbox for racists and reactionaries.
0 # politicaleconomist 2013-10-01 15:40
The working class is the 99%. There is absolutely no reason to divide the working class into different sectors: industrial, service, intellectual or whatever. Marx was a radical democrat and strong supporter of freedom of expression and debate. Hedges -- who I am sure has a good heart -- unfortunately does not seem to understand that there is not a real difference between the interests of Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street crowd. The Tea Partyers are just more heavily propagandized than most. However, they have some real points against the disaster of Obamacare = Romneycare = a continuation of the corporate-contr olled medical care that no one should accept. Those who do are in a way like the Tea Partyers in accepting a diferent version of propaganda.
+6 # da gaf 2013-10-01 16:19
no matter what is all boils down to GREED..and all societies are to blame as they all poison the minds of all children and continue to condition all children through childhood into maturity and the emphasis is always on developing the intelligence of the mind and reaching into financial success and and power over the other..hence the heart center is ignored and the out come is what you see..the rich powerful ones control the other..the corporations are the power brokers..they decide what is good for the elite- to hell with the unfortunate ones..they just are not worth considering..le t them suffer "we the rich and powerful have other more important things to deal with.."..this is the mind of the elite who has no feelings, no sensitivity and their heart centers are dead!..all of this is caused by this idiotic society and bogus phony religions that repress all humans of their naturalness (which includes sex behavior)..all in an effort to control the masses as it is almost impossible to control the individual the leaders will always be criminals hiding behind their masks of Mr. it is common that the greedy leaders can misguide the population of the country..One can only hope that Obama can bring us out of this criminal act of the REpuke-ICANS of the House.
0 # cordleycoit 2013-10-01 17:26
the culture of resistance is already there and waiting. But it need people to breath life into the mix. Too many humorless professional leftoids darken the horizon with ideological stands.Too many school teachers muddle up the thinking that standing outside a government building on a Saturday is revolutionary. Too many leaders of anarchists- Maoist true believers dominate the leftish circuit with their process addicted thinking. And why is dancing forbidden?
+1 # karenvista 2013-10-05 13:20
[quote name="cordleyco it"]the culture of resistance is already there and waiting. Too many leaders of anarchists- Maoist true believers dominate the leftish circuit with their process addicted thinking.

I think the "anarchists" seen at Occupy events are actually FBI agents provocateur.

Several of the Occupy people said that the anarchists were a group of their own, which just appeared, they didn't know any of the so-called anarchists and that they were so well-muscled and military in behavior, that they found them very suspicious. We all know that every protest movement is infiltrated.

Our Occupy demonstration here in Houston was threatened by snipers on the rooftops of downtown buildings. It was in the Houston Chronicle (believe it or not.) When a FOIA demand made the FBI release documents on it they said they knew who/what organization was responsible for the snipers, who would only fire, if deemed necessary?? but that they had redacted the name(s) due to "privacy" issues??? The Houston police department was, supposedly, not notified.

They are preparing/prepa red for the chickens to come home to roost.
+3 # jwb110 2013-10-02 09:53
I believe that the best possible way to start change is to turn our backs on the institutions that are causing these problems and move forward to a better solution on our own.
There is an old theater move to deal with someone who is upstaging you. Those actors continue to move farther and farther up the stage forcing you to turn your back to the audience. The solution is to turn your back on them and move directly to the front of the stage. Acting is like politics in that it is a contact sport.
What we resist, persists. It is our responsibility to make the changes we want within out own communities. Lobby for a state bank. Form micro-banks to start community/neigh borhood business. Remember that all politics is local. Form food co-ops. Us local farmers for produce. If we remove ourselves from their system them we have a voice.

I would like to think that Unions could be an answer. They aren't. I am a Union member and have over time watched them play into the hands of management and leave many of their members behind. Organizing within communities may open ways for new competing Unions run on a more level playing field.

There is no such thing as a convenience food. Drive threw's are not making the world better or people healthier. Mom and Pop lunch counters and a better answer. If you hear of one in your neighborhood use it.

We only need resilience and resolve to make this happen. Corporate America is babasicly weak. We can do this!
+4 # Edwina 2013-10-02 10:00
Re: the gov't shutdown, give credit where it's due: if the Democrats had stood up to the Republicans when they had a majority in Congress, we would not be here. They preferred to point fingers, rather than govern. Re: the Hedges article, as usual it is educational, as well as a call to action. The latest debacle in Washington underlines the fact that "we the people" are it, if we want change.
+3 # angelfish 2013-10-02 14:27
Quoting Edwina:
Re: the gov't shutdown, give credit where it's due: if the Democrats had stood up to the Republicans when they had a majority in Congress, we would not be here. They preferred to point fingers, rather than govern. Re: the Hedges article, as usual it is educational, as well as a call to action. The latest debacle in Washington underlines the fact that "we the people" are it, if we want change.

When the Democrats had a Majority in Congress, HALF of them were DINOs who ALWAYS sided with the ReTHUGs in everything!

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