REBEL YELL: The Wages of Rebellion – By Chris Hedges

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“…Members of the Occupy movement, whom he repeatedly cites as models of moral courage. He celebrates whistleblowers Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden for raising awareness of the government’s duplicity and “wholesale surveillance”

The Wages of Rebellion – By Chris Hedges

Revolutions come in waves and cycles. We are again riding the crest of a revolutionary epic, much like 1848 or 1917, from the Arab Spring to movements against austerity in Greece to the Occupy movement. In Wages of Rebellion, Chris Hedges—who has chronicled the malaise and sickness of a society in terminal moral decline in his books Empire of Illusion and Death of the Liberal Class—investigates what social and psychological factors cause revolution, rebellion, and resistance. Drawing on an ambitious overview of prominent philosophers, historians, and literary figures he shows not only the harbingers of a coming crisis but also the nascent seeds of rebellion. Hedges’ message is clear: popular uprisings in the United States and around the world are inevitable in the face of environmental destruction and wealth polarization. 

Focusing on the stories of rebels from around the world and throughout history, Hedges investigates what it takes to be a rebel in modern times. Utilizing the work of Reinhold Niebuhr, Hedges describes the motivation that guides the actions of rebels as “sublime madness” — the state of passion that causes the rebel to engage in an unavailing fight against overwhelmingly powerful and oppressive forces. For Hedges, resistance is carried out not for its success, but as a moral imperative that affirms life. Those who rise up against the odds will be those endowed with this “sublime madness.”

From South African activists who dedicated their lives to ending apartheid, to contemporary anti-fracking protests in Alberta, Canada, to whistleblowers in pursuit of transparency, Wages of Rebellion shows the cost of a life committed to speaking the truth and demanding justice. Hedges has penned an indispensable guide to rebellion.

KIRKUS REVIEW – The Wages of Rebellion – By Chris Hedges

A call for a new American revolution.

Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Hedges (The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress, 2011, etc.) continues his exhortation for nonviolent rebellion in eight feisty essays drawn from or expanding upon his weekly column for Truthdig. Without a revolution, he claims, we face a dire future, “the culmination of a 500-year global rampage of conquering, plundering, and polluting the earth” by economic and military elites. Among many incendiary claims, he asserts that climate change will lead to famine, the spread of deadly diseases, and “levels of human mortality that will dwarf those of the Black Death,” a plague, the author warns, that could re-emerge. As a scholarship student at an exclusive boarding school, Hedges confesses that he developed a virulent “hatred of authority [and] loathing for the pretensions, heartlessness, and sense of entitlement of the rich,” whom he sees as democracy’s enemies. He decries the nation’s history of violence not only in wars, slavery, and persecution of indigenous peoples, but also in an astonishingly high rate of incarceration, especially of black men; its refusal to enact gun control laws, even after tragic school shootings; and its vengeance against protestors, such as members of the Occupy movement, whom he repeatedly cites as models of moral courage. He celebrates whistleblowers Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden for raising awareness of the government’s duplicity and “wholesale surveillance,” which the author believes inevitably will be used to quash dissent: “This information waits like a dormant virus inside government vaults to be released against us.” Despite his ominous predictions, Hedges sees a popular revolt imminent because “ideas used to prop up ruling elites” are being discredited, and “the vision of a new society” is taking hold in the popular imagination.

Like early-20th-century muckraking journalists and, more recently, I.F. Stone, Hedges makes a boisterous, outspoken contribution to revolutionizing the national conversation.

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