Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hope, From Now On, Will Look Like This

Hope will only come now when we physically defy the violence of the state.

Chris Hedges gave this speech to the assemblage of Anti-war veterans and activists preparing to be arrested for civil disobedience at the White House gates on Thursday, December 16. Hedges was among the 130+ who were arrested:
Hope, from now on, will look like this.

Hope will not come in trusting in the ultimate goodness of Barack Obama, who, like Herod of old, sold out his people. It will not be realized by chanting packaged campaign slogans or attempting to influence the democratic party. It will not come through our bankrupt liberal institutions-- from the press, to the withered stump that is the labor movement.

Hope will only come now when we physically defy the violence of the state. All who resist, all who are here today, keep hope alive. All who succumb to fear, despair and apathy become an enemy of hope. They become, in their passivity, agents of injustice.

It is not having a positive attitude or pretending that happy thoughts and false optimism will make the world better. Hope is not about chanting packaged campaign slogans or trusting in the better nature of the Democratic Party. Hope does not mean that our protests will suddenly awaken the dead consciences, the atrophied souls, of the plutocrats running Halliburton, Goldman Sachs, ExxonMobil or the government.

If the enemies of hope are finally victorious in this nation, the poison of violence will become not only the language of power but the language of opposition. And those who resist with nonviolence are the last thin line of defense between a civil society and its disintegration.

Hope has a cost. Hope is not comfortable or easy. Hope requires personal risk. It is not about the right attitude. Hope is not about peace of mind. Hope is action. Hope is doing something. The more futile, the more useless, the more irrelevant and incomprehensible an act of rebellion is, the vaster and more potent hope becomes.

Hope never makes sense. Hope is weak, unorganized and absurd. Hope, which is always nonviolent, exposes in its powerlessness, the lies, fraud and coercion employed by the state. Hope knows that an injustice visited on our neighbor is an injustice visited on all of us. Hope posits that people are drawn to the good by the good. This is the secret of hope's power. Hope demands for others what we demand for ourselves. Hope does not separate us from them. Hope sees in our enemy our own face.

Hope is not for the practical and the sophisticated, the cynics and the complacent, the defeated and the fearful. Hope is what the corporate state which saturates our airwaves with lies seeks to obliterate. Hope is what this corporate state is determined to crush. Be afraid, they tell us. Surrender your liberties to us so we can make the world safe from terror. Don't resist. Embrace the alienation of our cheerful conformity. Buy our products. Without them you are worthless. Become our brands. Do not look up from your electronic hallucinations. No. Above all do not think. Obey.

The powerful do not understand hope. Hope is not part of their vocabulary. They speak in the cold, dead words of national security, global markets, electoral strategy, staying on message, image and money. The powerful protect their own. They divide the world into the damned and the blessed, the patriots and the enemy, the privileged and the weak. They insist that extinguishing lives in foreign wars or in our prison complexes is a form of human progress.

They cannot see that the suffering of a child in Kandehar or a child in the blighted urban pocket of our nation's capitol diminishes and impoverishes us all. They are deaf, dumb and blind to hope. Those addicted to power, enthralled by self-exaltation, cannot decipher the words of hope any more than most of us can decipher hieroglyphics.

Hope to Wall Street bankers and politicians, to the masters of war and commerce, is not practical. It is gibberish. It means nothing. And this is because they kneel before the idols of greed and money.

If we resist and carry out acts, no matter how small, of open defiance, hope will not be extinguished. If all we accomplish today is to assure a grieving mother in Baghdad or Afghanistan, a young man or woman crippled physically and emotionally by the hammer blows of war, that he or she is not alone, our act will be successful. But hope cannot be sustained if it cannot be seen.

Any act of rebellion, any physical defiance of those who make war, of those who perpetuate corporate greed and are responsible for state crimes, anything that seeks to draw the good to the good, nourishes our souls and holds out the possibility that we can touch and transform the souls of others. Hope affirms that which we must affirm. And every act that imparts hope is a victory in itself.

Defenseless under the night

Our world in stupor lies;

Yet, dotted everywhere,

Ironic points of light

Flash out wherever the Just

Exchange their messages:

May I, composed like them

Of Eros and of dust,

Beleaguered by the same

Negation and despair

Show an affirming flame.
(from Auden)


  1. God bless him Vigil.We need to turn off the Becks and the Maddows, the mindless cheerleaders for our corrupt leaders.
    Yeah I said the Maddows too,not just the Becks. Beck lies from the Right, Maddow masquerades as a voice from the left but ultimately a shill for Obama and Wall St too.

  2. Ho, Ho, Ho!
    Merry Christmas to all you cool cats and kute kittens!
    Ho, Ho, Ho!

  3. I agree with Oso! After a while it all becomes the mindless chatter of more than slightly deranged minds all trying to prove their importance.

    I call for a party at Vigil's house, we bring the beer, chips, and salsa, and he can take us all sailing.

  4. Stella by StarlightJanuary 4, 2011 at 6:32 AM

    Happy New Year to you all. I thought you'd all "enjoy" Alternet article. I hoped for hope in 2011, but this won't help...

    Obama's Economic Report Card: A+ for Helping the Wealthy -- Failing the Rest of Us

    The S&P 500 index is up 50% since Obama took office. But unemployment remains higher than it was when he entered the White House, home foreclosures continue to mount to the detriment of borrowers and entire neighborhoods, health insurance companies responded to his health care “reform” bill by raising premiums, and the financial system’s largest banks continue to prosper in the wake of a multi-trillion dollar bailout with no strings attached to share their subsidizations with the rest of American citizens. To top it all off, as he approaches the midpoint of his first, and likely last, term, Obama bowed to the pressure of the Republican Party and extended tax cuts for the richest Americans in order to be able to also extend them for everyone else more sorely in need. There’s only so long you can blame another administration for your actions.

    Not happy reading.

    On the up side: Jerry Brown is now California's new governor. So here's a little hope for the California, at least. Brown refused a fancy celebration, preferring:

    Brown's hot dog budget

    Despite the carefully crafted messages of Jerry Brown inaugural speech Monday, it was the refreshment served outside afterward that best summed up the state of the state he inherited - hot dogs.

    No caviar or champagne was flowing as part of the spare inaugural events throughout the day and evening, which reportedly cost less than $100,000 to stage. It was the well-known and cheap tube of meat parts popular in backyard barbecues across America that was served up free as part of a post-inauguration celebration on the Capitol lawn.

    The op-ed was critical of Brown: I applaud his recognition of those of us who are struggling by not having a fancy to do, spending hundreds of thousands for a one-day event.