A bailout that rests in our own hands

Chris Hedges has never been known to pull punches or really sugarcoat his view of things. In fact, he engages in equal opportunity critique, as evidenced by a couple of his books, When Atheism Becomes Religion: America’s New Fundamentalists (originally titled I Don’t Believe in Atheists) and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.

Hedges lets loose this week with his weekly column at Truthdig. Titled “America Is in Need of a Moral Bailout,” he writes:

We live in an age of moral nihilism. We have trashed our universities, turning them into vocational factories that produce corporate drones and chase after defense-related grants and funding. The humanities, the discipline that forces us to stand back and ask the broad moral questions of meaning and purpose, that challenges the validity of structures, that trains us to be self-reflective and critical of all cultural assumptions, have withered. Our press, which should promote such intellectual and moral questioning, confuses bread and circus with news and refuses to give a voice to critics who challenge not this bonus payment or that bailout but the pernicious superstructure of the corporate state itself. We kneel before a cult of the self, elaborately constructed by the architects of our consumer society, which dismisses compassion, sacrifice for the less fortunate, and honesty. The methods used to attain what we want, we are told by reality television programs, business schools and self-help gurus, are irrelevant. Success, always defined in terms of money and power, is its own justification. The capacity for manipulation is what is most highly prized. And our moral collapse is as terrifying, and as dangerous, as our economic collapse.

I couldn’t agree more. Between the cult of personality and an economy built on buying things we don’t really need with money we don’t have, we seem to be a society lacking in common sense, ethics or foresight. This, though, isn’t a government bailout. It requires individual and personal effort — one that would bailout both society and government.

I’m not holding my breath, though.

The values that sustain an open society have been crushed.

Chris Hedges, “America Is in Need of a Moral Bailout

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