The Occupy Movement: Destroyed by a Conspiracy of Infiltration and Sabotage?
So says the Yankee celebrity hipster Chris Hedges, co-author with Joe Sacco of Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, about which I cannot comment because I haven't read so much as a page of it, but also author of the wildly popular Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle, which I found so excruciating in its silliness that I couldn't get past the first third or so. Anyhow, in this debate with Hedges, moderated by the inestimable Steve Paikin, I do my level best to keep a civil tongue in my head. I don't do a very good job, I'm afraid. I find Hedges to be almost shockingly ridiculous and I can't understand why so many otherwise intelligent people seem to take him seriously.
As for the so-called Occupy "movement," I rest my case on the completely overwhelming evidence that the whole thing merely collapsed into a vanity-heap of its own absurdities and contradictions. I don't claim clairvoyance but it seems to me I had it pretty well right when I suggested very early on that the only thing worth considering was what, if anything, might arise from its ashes, and ashes and garbage are what it would leave behind in the greatest quantity, and indeed for the zombies that brought on Occupism's auto-cannibalism it was the whole point in the first place. This is the same fate I projected, with regret, for Idle No More. No gift of clairvoyance was necessary for that either.
It seems to me that Sam Harris, a proper American intellectual and author of such extremely worthwhile books as The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation, has probably said all that needs be said about Chris Hedges: "I don’t think I have ever met anyone so determined to live as a Freudian case study: To read any page of Hedges’ is to witness the full catastrophe of public self-deception. He rages (and rages) about the anger and intolerance of others; he accuses his opponents of being 'immune to critiques based on reason, fact and logic' in prose so bloated with emotion and insult, and so barren of argument, that every essay reads like a hoax text meant to embarrass the humanities."
Meanwhile, in my Ottawa Citizen column today I'm on about some very, very welcome news and wondering aloud why more has not been made of it. It turns out that the “Third World” isn’t there anymore. The Global South has moved north. Those benighted states we’ve all grown accustomed to calling “developing countries” have been developing so much faster than Europe and North America that they’ve pretty well caught up. Released March 14, the 2013 Human Development Report concludes: “Never in history have the living conditions and prospects of so many people changed so dramatically and so fast.” Here’s Khalid Malik, the report’s lead author: “The Industrial Revolution was a story of perhaps 100 million people, but this is a story about billions of people.”
This is wonderfully happy-making, and it puts Canada's Conservative government in a unique position to finally get on with honouring a six-year-old promise to put Canada's back into the work of advancing democratic development the world round. Just do it, for mercy's sake.