Chris Hedges on C-51: They have won, and it is up to us

Chris Hedges on C-51: They have won, and it is up to us

Postby Oscar » Wed Mar 18, 2015 7:33 pm

Chris Hedges on C-51: They have won, and it is up to us

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By Chris Hedges | March 17, 2015

This is the speech Chris Hedges would have delivered at the Toronto protest against Bill C-51 on Saturday, if he had made it to the city in time. Weather delayed his plane, but was able to obtain the text of his address and present it here.

Hedges has spent much of his career working as a foreign correspondent in war zones across the globe, and has written extensively on the surveillance state and world conflict. interviewed Hedges by phone that day. You can read that interview here.

Here is what Chris Hedges planned to tell the Toronto crowd protesting C-51:

There are no internal constraints left to halt totalitarian capitalism. Electoral politics is a sham. The media is subservient to corporate power. The working class is being disempowered and impoverished. The legal system is a subsidiary of the corporate state. Any form of dissent, no matter how tepid, will soon to be blocked by an internal security apparatus empowered by anti-terrorist laws that will outstrip anything dreamed of by the East German Stasi state. And no one in Ottawa or Washington intends to help us. Opposition parties, such as the Democratic Party, may cry foul when out of power, but once in power they bow to the demands of the omnipotent military and security organs that serve our corporate masters.


Societies that once had democratic traditions, or periods when openness was possible, are often seduced into totalitarian systems because their rulers continue to pay outward fealty to the ideals, practices and forms of the old systems. This was true when the Emperor Augustus dismantled the Roman Republic. It was true when Lenin and the Bolsheviks seized control of the autonomous soviets and ruthlessly centralized power. It was true following the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Nazi fascism. And it is true today in Canada and the United States. Thomas Paine described despotic government as a fungus growing out of a corrupt and decayed civil society.

Try to defend the treaty rights of First Nations people and you will go to prison. Try to halt the tar sands, fracking, or the bitumen-carrying pipelines and you will go to prison. Try to oppose Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian territories and you will go to prison. And once you are seized by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service you can be subjected to sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, the disorienting poles of extreme light and darkness or extreme heat and extreme cold, along with stress-position torture, waterboarding, beatings and pressure-point torture. And it will all be legal.

Those singled out as internal enemies will include people of color, immigrants, gays, intellectuals, activists, feminists, Jews, Muslims, journalists, union leaders and those defined as "liberals." They will be condemned by reactionary forces, fed and sustained by corporate propaganda and money, and blamed for our decline. The looming economic and environmental collapse will be pinned by these demagogues and hate-mongers -- some of whom have found a perch within the CBC -- on vulnerable scapegoats. And the random acts of violence, such as the attack by a lone gunman on Parliament Hill, will be used to justify even harsher measures of internal control. Fear will be relentlessly orchestrated to manufacture paralysis and consent.


Those who do not rebel in our age of totalitarian capitalism, those who convince themselves that there is no alternative to collaboration with corporate tyranny are complicit in their own enslavement. They commit spiritual and moral suicide. They extinguish hope. They become the living dead.

No one Ottawa or Washington will halt the rise of the most sophisticated security and surveillance state in human history. The corporate coup is over. And they have won. It is up to us. We are the people we have been waiting for.

I do not know if we can build a better society. I do not even know if we will survive as a species. But I know these corporate forces have us by the throat. And they have my children by the throat. I do not fight fascists because I will win. I fight fascists because they are fascists. And this is a fight that in the face of the overwhelming forces against us requires us to find in all acts of sustained rebellion the embers of life, an intrinsic meaning that lies outside of certain success. It requires us to at once grasp reality and then refuse to allow this reality to paralyze us. It is, and I say this to people of all creeds or no creeds, to make an absurd leap of faith, to believe, despite all empirical evidence around us, that good always draws to it the good, that the fight for life always goes somewhere. We do not know where. The Buddhists call it karma. And in these sustained acts of resistance we make it possible to reclaim a future for the generations that come after us, a future that the corporate state, if not overthrown, will obliterate.
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