In his most frankly apocalyptic missive to date, Chris Hedges weaves together the decline of Athenian democracy – recounted by Plato in The Republic, and pictured above – with the modern-day devastation of Elizabeth, New Jersey which followed the closing of the Singer sewing-machine plant there in 1982. In the modern American experience, Hedges see the terminal symptoms of Empire reaching the end of its natural life:
Empire requires a centralized, authoritarian government that has no use for the demos. Greek democracy, always a patriarchy, was with the rise of empire extinguished. Corruption and a lust for power defined the new ruling elites. The citizen…became irrelevant. As the Athenian general Thucydides noted, the tyranny that Athens imposed on the outer reaches of empire, it eventually imposed on itself. Athens, like the United States centuries later, was hollowed out from the inside by the corrosive force of empire. The brutal tools of control used initially in distant parts of the empire—in our case militarized police, drones, suspension of civil liberties, wholesale surveillance and mass incarceration—migrated back to the homeland. This is how most empires die. They commit suicide.
He decries the evisceration of language and the rise of magical thinking. He warns of the emergence of “crisis cults,” dedicated to purging the society with violence and a return to a mythical past (cf. Trump, et al.). He abhors the illusions fostered by our all-embracing electronic culture.
The Wages of Sin
by Chris Hedges, at TruthDig – April 10, 2016