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This Country Needs a Few Good Communists—Full Marx to Chris Hedges

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Posted on June 3 2010 8:00 am
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In an era when the budding Van Joneses of this world are “dropping the radical pose” and concealing their truly dreadful, intellectually bankrupt ideas beneath layers of hopey-changey gauze it is refreshing to read a lefty who actually says what he means.

Thus, Chris Hedges and his post This Country Needs a Few Good Communists, a title that requires no decoder-ring or special glasses to understand. His basic thesis is America was a better place when communists were allowed to operate with impunity (damn those witch hunts anyway) and the Left-Lib movement has become anemic for the lack of them.

The communists spoke the language of class war. They understood that Wall Street, along with corporations such as British Petroleum, is the enemy. They offered a broad social vision which allowed even the non-communist left to employ a vocabulary that made sense of the destructive impulses of capitalism. But once the Communist Party, along with other radical movements, was eradicated as a social and political force […] We lost our voice and became part of the corporate structure we should have been dismantling.

[…]

It does not mean we have to agree with Karl Marx, who advocated violence and whose worship of the state as a utopian mechanism led to another form of enslavement of the working class, but we have to speak in the vocabulary Marx employed. We have to grasp, as Marx did, that corporations are not concerned with the common good.

One suspects the injunction against violence is perfunctory since Chris has written glowingly (no pun intended) elsewhere in support of the recent Greek riots. If people burning to death in buildings doesn’t give him pause it’s difficult to imagine what would. Also, since the article explicitly advocates the dismantling of the corporate structure it is reasonable to conclude Chris is up for more than a chat.

Nor does Chris ever quite get around to explaining how the statism he describes can be avoided after the structures he so reviles have been torn down, or why no communist government has ever been able to avoid that rapid and bloody metamorphosis—but it’s possible he is too focused on elucidating the evils of capitalism, and the obvious communist-gap in responding to it, to concern himself with those kinds of details.

But these are quibbles. Let me repeat—without a hint of irony—that I appreciate his candor. Unlike many of his fellow leftists, he’s honest about where he stands and what he wants. From now onwards, whenever we read an article written by Hedges, at least we know whom we’re dealing with: a man who wants to tear down capitalism and who supports ideas that were wrong 100 years ago and that have gotten 100 million people killed, and impoverished billions more. He doesn’t insult my intelligence by pretending it’s all to save the sea turtles or protect my children from the horrors of Chocolate Yoo-hoo. He doesn’t appropriate the rhetoric or symbols of American history to somehow convince me that collectivism has always been the plan.

I disagree with everything he says, including “and” and “the,” but I respect him more than any ten Robert Gibbses (sorry for that unhappy image) you want to put in the room—and let’s not even talk about his boss.

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