Friday, September 18, 2009

'Barrelling toward collapse' - National Post

Chris Hedges, the American author and Pulitzer Prize winner, does not care much for the popular notion of optimism, the idea that every situation has a silver lining or a neat solution. It is far better, he said, given the awful state of his country, to be realistic.

"I was a war correspondent for many years and we never used the words optimism or pessimism," said the former New York Times reporter, who spent 20 years covering conflicts in Latin America, the Middle East and the Balkans. "Either you had a realistic and sober understanding of what weapons were at the end of that road, and the capacity of those people at the end of the road to use them and kill you, or you didn't last long. The first capacity, the most important element that creates a capacity for change, is the acknowledgement of what's real."

And what's real, in the grim and steely-eyed Hedges world view, is that America, in its morality, its culture and economy, is crumbling.

"It would be a gigantic step in U. S. culture to at least acknowledge what we've become and what's happening to us," said Mr. Hedges, in Toronto recently to promote his book, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle. "Until that happens, there is no hope for any positive change into a direction that can sustain the country."

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