“Rebels share much in common with religious mystics. They hold fast to a vision that often they alone can see. They view rebellion as a moral imperative, even as they concede that the hope of success is slim and at times impossible. Rebels, a number of whom I interviewed for this book, are men and women endowed with a particular obstinacy. Willing to accept deprivation and self-sacrifice, they are not overly concerned with defeat. They endure through a fierce independence and courage. Many, maybe most, have difficult and eccentric personalities. The best of them are driven by a profound empathy, even love, for the vulnerable, the persecuted and the weak….There is nothing rational about rebellion. To rebel against insurmountable odds is an act of faith, without which the rebel is doomed. This faith is intrinsic to the rebel the way caution and prudence are intrinsic to those who seek to fit into existing power structures. The rebel, possessed by inner demons and angels, is driven by a vision.”
– Chris Hedges
“Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt”
I just finished reading Chris Hedges’ latest book and its fantastic. I know he’s been doing interviews lately promoting the book but for those of you unfamiliar with him and his work, this recent interview he did with VICE gives you a pretty idea of where he’s coming from.
In my opinion, he’s going to be Noam Chomsky’s intellectual heir on the political front, when Professor Chomsky eventually passes on (knock on wood it doesn’t happen anytime soon). I find Hedges interesting not only because of the high calibre and eloquence of his thinking and writing, but he’s one of the few journalists and political writers today who actually has a degree in something else besides journalism and political science. He has a degree in theology from Harvard Divinity School but I’ve never gotten the impression the he’s religious but, like Chomsky, driven by a very deep sense of moral outrage and feels that its his duty to report these things.
Hedges makes a very compelling case in the book that in an age of globalization, complete corporate control of our life, our food supply, our media, information and even our entertainment, persons who refuse to fall in line are violently dealt with. Usually it involves incarceration say like in the cases of Chelsea Manning or Mumia Abu Jamal (which is actually a profit-driven industry in the US, particularly in rural areas where many of these facilities are located), exile like in Edward Snowden’s case, and in many cases, death (Socrates, Malcolm X, Sitting Bull, Ken Saro-Wiwa, etc. etc. etc.). In essence, rebels are those persons who have completely and utterly lost their fear. They’re going for broke because there’s nothing left to lose anymore. That’s real freedom.
I think many people forget that even though “being a rebel” is marketed as something sexy these days, there’s very little that’s sexy about it in real terms and in real life. They’re usually ostracized, forgotten about, they usually never have any kind of material or financial security, family and romantic relationships are always a mess since their mind and hearts are constantly somewhere else, nobody will ever completely understand then, simple things like Starbucks chai lattes, which give most people joy, bug the living fuck out of them. Other little things, like seeing bare tree branches in the winter against a full moon sky, which no one notices or takes for granted on the other hand, completely delight them. They “see” too much and it can be a source of irritation and mental aggravation that no one else sees how banal, empty, immature, useless, temporary and juvenile many of these preoccupations are. In this regard, Hedges is spot on; the rebel’s life is not that different from the mystic or the person who wants to lead a deeper spiritual life. While the rebel rejects the social, political and economic status quo and tries to find meaning in the material world, the mystic tries to find meaning in the spiritual world.
One of the things which bothers me about the plastic New Age and faux-religious types, is that they think that the spiritual life is going to be a cakewalk. Love, light and laughter bullshit. That going to confession at church or to your daily yoga class will activate your chakras and you’ll somehow be able to meditate your problems away. Or they think that by “becoming spiritual”, they attract what Alan Watts once called “psychic technologies” like being a pre-cog.
Its not. Its messy as hell. You’re always going to be an outsider. You’re going to see things other people don’t thanks to your intuition. Information you don’t even want, will find its way to you because you’re emotionally and spiritually mature enough to hold it, not sell it. Like Cassandra of ancient Greek myth, a Trojan princess who had the gift of prophecy but was cursed in that no one would ever believe her, you can sometimes see phantasmagoric patterns developing a few miles away, yet no one really listens or believes you. You just cannot settle for anything less than full transparency, full authenticity and full honesty. You might even have a literal, physical reaction to anything or anyone inauthentic or disingenuous like nausea, vomiting, developing ulcers, grinding your teeth, or breaking out into hives.
I’m watching whats happening in the world these days, especially with Syria and this Russian plane which the Turkish military shot down.
No good is going to come of this, and already Russia is placing sanctions on Turkey. (I should clarify, when I say Russia or Turkey, I mean their military and political leaders, not the people who come from those countries.) Anyway you look at this, Turkey is going to lose. I don’t think Putin will allow it to happen, he’s way too intelligent, but if push comes to shove, a full-on conflict happens between these two countries, I highly doubt the EU will back Turkey and NATO may initially back up Turkey but if there is a dogfight with Russia, Turkey will be the first country cut loose, sacrificed and stabbed in the back.
Without a doubt, this is the fault of Erdogan’s hubris, ambition and the grandiose “plans” he has for northern Syria. Namely, take Syrian territory and oil for himself and his son, Bilal, under the name of Turkey and ensure that a Kurdistan or independent Kurdish country is NEVER formed out of Turkish, Syrian and Iraqi land. Many of these paid mercenaries who are a part of ISIL are recruits from other Turkic speaking countries and areas like Turkmenistan, the Uighar region of Western China (some of these ISIL towns are now being called “Chinese towns” by local Syrians because of the influx of Uighar mercenaries) in an attempt to make parts of Syria more Turkish.
Going back to mystics, there was an Greek Orthodox monk who died back in 1994, Elder Paisios, who was canonized as a saint last year and he is now known as Saint Paisios the Athonite and is venerated throughout the Orthodox world. Born in Cappadocia, his family re-located to mainland Greece during the bitter and painful population exchange back in the 1920s. Russian television and Greek television regularly show documentaries about him, his prophecies and his life. While he was steeped in his Greek Orthodox religiosity, I have no doubt he was as authentic a mystic as they come. Watch any Youtube video about his prophecies and you’ll understand quickly why they’ve been showing his documentaries even more lately. He was spot-on about the Greek economic crisis and now this Russian and Turkish spat. According to St. Paisios, it doesn’t end there. There’s more to come. Only time will tell if he is correct or not.
When it comes to real rebels and mystics, when they speak, pick up your ears just a little bit more. There’s information there we all need to know and hear.