Chapter Five: Days of Revolt (part 2) from "Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt" by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco

Reading by James Anderson

Former New York Times foreign correspondent Chris Hedges has been one of the staunchest critics of corporate capitalism. Writing weekly for the online news/analysis outlet Truthdig, Hedges systematically dismantles neoliberal logic in his columns while describing the real life immiseration caused by the current system. His latest book, "Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt," featuring illustrations from graphic artist Joe Sacco, delivers hard-hitting literary journalism documenting the devastation the corporate state has wreaked. The first four chapters: Days of Theft, Days of Siege, Days of Devastation and Days of Slavery provide a sombering account of the social and personal impacts of ceaseless capital accumulation. Hedges covers the plight of indigenous populations in Pine Ridge. He explores the capitalist "sacrifice zones" in Camden, N.J. where the working poor have been utterly abandoned. He documents the destruction of once life-sustaining ecosystems in places like Welch, W.Va., where mountaintop removal has destroyed land and livelihood. And he also writes about the degradation of labor in Imokalee, Fl., where workers toil under slave-like conditions for piss poor pay even as the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) struggles for fair remuneration and equitable treatment for exploited farmworkers.

But even as, "The virus of corporate abuse--the perverted belief that only corporate profit matters--has spread to outsource our jobs, cut the budgets of our schools, close our libraries, and plague our communities with foreclosures and unemployment," there inevitably comes a time "when the dead ideas and decayed systems, which only days before seemed unassailable, are exposed and discredited by a popultation that once stood fearful and supine." Hedges pinpoints September 17, 2011, as such a historic moment. The last chapter in his book, "Days of Revolt: Liberty Square, New York City," details the democratizing impulse embodied by the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement. Hedges contends, "Revolt is all we have left," and that although it seems futile -- and indeed it could very well be -- he says OWS offers a glimmer of hope.

A reading of that final chapter, "Days of Revolt," has been posted here. The final paragraph of the book sums up the spirit of the piece -- and of the epoch -- with metaphorical force:

"There were times when I entered the ring as a boxer and knew, as did the spectators, that I was woefully mismatched. Ringers--experienced boxers in need of a tune-up or a little practice--would go to the clubs where semi-pros fought, lie about their long professional fight records, and toy with us. Those fights became about something other than winning. They became about dignity and self-respect. You fought to say something about who you were as a human being. These bouts were punishing, physically brutal, and demoralizing. You would get knocked down and stagger back up. You would reel backward from a blow that felt like a cement block. You would taste your blood on your lips. Your vision would blur. Your ribs, the back of your neck, and your abdomen would ache. Your legs felt like lead. But the longer you held on, the more the crowd turned in your favor. No one, not even you, thought you could win. But then, every once in a while, the ringer would get overconfident. He would get careless. And you would find deep within yourself some new burst of energy, some untapped strength, and, with the fury of the dispossessed, bring him down. I have not put on a pair of boxing gloves for thirty years. But I feel this twinge of euphoria again in my stomach, this utter certainty that the impossible is possible, the realization that the mighty can fall."

You can read more from Chris Hedges and find links to purchase recent books he's authored here:

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