Hedges defends civil disobedience as only avenue to real change



Chris Hedges describes the collapse of liberal institutions in America as a “corporate coup d’etat in slow motion.”

“It’s more than a tipping point,” he said.

Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and graduate of Harvard Divinity School, speaks at 2 p.m. today in the Hall of Philosophy on the oligarchic state of the corporate elite holding power in America.

Liberal institutions have traditionally functioned as safety nets for the American capitalist system, he explained. Throughout the Great Depression, figures like Franklin D. Roosevelt and Henry Wallace attempted to build systems that would alleviate the suffering of the working class.

But it’s now nearly impossible to vote against the interests of large corporations.

“When you can no longer make incremental or piecemeal reform, then you enter a situation not only of political paralysis, but ultimately political dysfunction,” Hedges said. “And that’s where we’re headed.”

The only way Hedges believes Americans can achieve change is through acts of civil disobedience, such as the Occupy Wall Street movement, in which he participated.

In November 2011, Hedges marched with protesters to Goldman Sachs Tower to stage a “people’s trial,” pronouncing Sachs executives guilty of fraud, theft and perjury. He was arrested with more than a dozen other people.

“Getting arrested is more time than I care to donate to the government,” he said. “But I don’t see that we have any other option if we’re going to begin to challenge these corporate forces that are disfiguring and ultimately destroying our country.”

His book Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt focuses on different regions in America that are suffering, from sociological issues of crime in Camden, N.J., to disease in the coal town of Welch, W.Va.

“When you see the suffering,” he said, “and you see how extensive it is, it certainly propels you to act.”