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Good for Chris Hedges. But can we do better?

I applaud Chris Hedges.  After years of writing apocolyptic, often hauntingly accurate and incisive columns for TruthDig, there’s finally a sign that he is going to take tangible action and, as they say, put his money where his mouth is.

On Dec. 16 I will join Daniel Ellsberg, Medea Benjamin, Ray McGovern and several military veteran activists outside the White House to protest the futile and endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of us will, after our rally in Lafayette Park, attempt to chain ourselves to the fence outside the White House. It is a pretty good bet we will all spend a night in jail.

Hedges presents the argument that futile resistance is to be celebrated, it is the source of hope, and that it is what must be done.

Hope has a cost. Hope is not comfortable or easy. Hope requires personal risk. Hope does not come with the right attitude. Hope is not about peace of mind. Hope is an action. Hope is doing something. The more futile, the more useless, the more irrelevant and incomprehensible an act of rebellion is, the vaster and the 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 does not believe in force. Hope knows that an injustice visited on our neighbor is an injustice visited on us all. Hope posits that people are drawn to the good by the good. This is the secret of hope’s power and it is why it can never finally be defeated.

Yet, and perhaps I am just unwilling to entirely embrace Hedge’s bleak and desperate worldview, it seems that something is lost in Hedges’ vision of hope.  Why would we desire to be unorganized?  Why would we chain ourselves to a fence, an act of symbolism, rather than sit in the middle of a road and stop traffic, which forces others to take notice?  Hedges’ argument is based on the idea that we are, as a society, beyond the point of no return in terms of corporate dominance, ecological destruction, the dominance of the war machine, the corruption of our politics, and similar themese.  But even if that is 100 percent true, doesn’t it make more sense to resist in ways, which can be equally nourishing of the soul, that have more of an impact than symbolism alone?