From CHRIS HEDGES
Transcribed from BookTV interview
Q: What do you think of Oprah’s role in the cultural and religious pursuit of personal wealth?
CH: Negative. Oprah peddles this fantasy that we can have everything we want if we just focus on happiness and grasp that we are truly exceptional if we dig deep enough in ourselves, and this is just magical thinking. It’s not just peddled by Oprah… I don’t want to pick just on Oprah. The Christian Right does it, Hollywood does it, Corporatism does it. Tony Robbins, self-help gurus do it… and it’s just a myth… a myth used to beat up on the poor.
There are no jobs in Camden, New Jersey. They used to make Campbell’s soup in Camden… even that’s gone… everything is gone. The school’s are dysfunctional with a gigantic drop out rate, the streets are unsafe… and to somehow tell a poor black child who’s not getting an adequate education, not being raised in an environment that provides safety and security and nurturing… and upon that, being tossed out into a city where there is no work, that they have to dig deep enough within themselves is really a way for us to turn our backs on the vulnerable and the poor. And to say, the cultural message is, “you are responsible for your fate”… that’s just the way the corporate state wants it as it sheds job after job… as larger and larger segments of American society are reduced to a subsistence level without any kind of job security, without any kind of adequate health insurance… that it’s sort of their fault because they haven’t managed to tap into their inner strength… this is not only delusional, but in the end, I think, callous to the weak and the poor and the working class.
There should be heavy state interventions into impoverished areas in our inner cities and rural enclaves where poverty has become tremendous… I’ve spent a lot of time with military units, and the best military units never leave their wounded or dead on the field… even corpses, they still mean something, they’re not commodities although their utility to the unit is gone… and I’ve seen soldiers and marines crawl out and bring these bodies back… and these were always units with the highest morale and most effective fighting capacity. It was the units, who left their dead on the field and walked away, that rapidly disintegrated… and I think that’s what we’re doing as a nation. We need to rebuild that solidarity, that community, that sense that when you stumble and fall, I will reach down and help pick you up… if we are going to make it.
We have allowed corporate values, whether it’s reality television… reality TV is essentially about Corporatism… it’s about the celebration of values that are characteristic of psychopaths: self-aggrandizement, incapacity for remorse or guilt, betrayal… one builds false friendships then betrays them… for what? Fleeting fame or a little money, and it’s writ large throughout the whole culture. We have to begin to question our value system if we’re gonna make it.
One of the most important questions is: what are we going to do about all those people that we’ve allowed to be treated like human refuse?
From his book Empire of Illusion