Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist, Princeton professor, and Presbyterian minister Chris Hedges spoke at Aladdin Theater on May 26. Advocating resistance against fascism, speaker Chris Hedges recounted the history of crippling debt in America, called for dismantling the corporate state, advocated empathy, and examined people power.
Outside the theater distributors of publications such as Portland Labor Against Fascists and Street Roots beckoned to people approaching the entrance. Inside about 225 people were seated.
Overhead the stage blue and white cluster lights shone. On the stage were a lectern, and a stand with an arm and microphone. After being introduced Hedges strode up to the lectern and stated economic growth is based on myth, and that many live in crippling debt peonage because capitalism has caused the disempowerment of citizens.
Comparing Roman emperors Pertinax to Bernie Sanders and Commodus to Donald Trump, Hedges said that ineptness and idiocy had come full circle, and that corporations and war machines are omnipotent. He asked when humans had started descending into despotism.
Political debate, according to Hedges, is a burlesque, and the political and economic system is structured to impose obedience from its workers. “Our failure to protect our democracy leaves us without democracy,” he said.
In his historical analysis of despotisms, Genesis and Romans were discussed. He called for dismantling the corporate state. Hedges said that elitists would “do to the majority what they once did to the minority.”
Using no special effects or slide presentation, Hedges’ lecture kept the audience captivated and interactive. Comments of agreement often supported Hedges statements, and many laughed when Trump was called a nitwit.
Unfettered capitalism was related to being lewd, and Hedges explained that corporations were legally empowered. He said he was “way down the neck” of the health and insurance industry, then related stories of untreated illnesses that have lead to early deaths.
Police practices that may be interpreted as militarization are also empowered, Hedges claimed. When he called prisons work farms, there was loud support from someone in the audience followed by strong approval from others.
Hedges explained that a criminal caste system had evolved, and that the shackles will not be removed if Trump were to disappear. What has to be done, he claimed, is to topple capitalism, destroy corporations, create deindustrialization, and enact the twilight phase of capitalism.
Warning of the plunder and murder of the white race, Hedges used the word “irresistible” in the sense of the merging of the self into the capitalist collectivity and the desire for career advancement.
He called for resistance. In agreement the audience erupted. On the stage, behind the lectern, Hedges leaned back from the microphone and, under the blue and white lights, he smiled.
Moving forward into the microphone, he spoke of resistance, of showing up, of making politics a vocation and defying injustice, of acts of silence or obedience that one’s conscious will not allow them to take. Dissidence, he explained, may be a career one is thrown into by feelings of personal responsibility and pressure from outside circumstances.
“Actions articulate dignity,” Hedges said, adding that good attracts good. He talked about masses of people resisting. “Can we have a power that terrifies the state and corporations,” he asked.
Again he entreated for empathy. Next he spoke of sedition, faith and confrontation.
Ending, he advocated for people taking to the streets and making ruling elites afraid.