Friday, October 14, 2011

Chris Hedges on the Occupation

This interview with correspondent and author Chris Hedges was posted this morning. Hedges makes several welcome points about the Occupation and the plutocracy that currently dominates the global economic scene. This is a must-view for those in the movement or those seeking understand the movement. Enjoy!


  1. Not sure about this website. Seems a good idea.

    Some thoughts are, one, in philosophy, the problems seem only slightly to overlap with the Occupy Wall St movement. In many ways, the problems in philosophy are *inverse* to the problems in society.

    Two, I have found that philosophers who are informed about the Occupy Wall St movement are eloquent and insightful, but those that are not informed are as confident and as a incorrect in what they say about the Occupy Wall St movement as nonphilosophers.

    Three, it will be great to hear what informed philosophers have to say about it!

  2. @Froggie...With respect to your first point, I have to sincerely disagree. Professional academic philosophers are currently suffering through the most anemic job market in living memory. The same plutocrats who have tanked the American, and the World, economy have created a climate wherein universities are increasing unable to hire tenure track professors, universities lost billions in the economic collapse of 2008, and they have not recovered. Adjunct faculty receive ludicrously low pay, no benefits, no insurance, and no leave, and are comprising a growing portion of university faculties (larger than at any time in history). Graduate students likewise live at or near the poverty line in many (if not most cases). Simply put, it is a bad time to be in academics from a fiduciary standpoint. And we have the Wall Street plutocrats to thank for this. They have squandered our national wealth, including the accumulated wealth of our Universities and Colleges, and in doing so they have directly adversely effected the wellbeing of professional philosophers.

  3. There is a deeper question: to what extent are universities and even graduate departments run in ways that are a reflection of the surrounding culture? My undergraduate education was pathetic. My graduate education was better, but I could have never finished without working outside the university and getting financial help from my family. And I got my PH.D. more than twenty years ago. From my point of view, there has always been a problem. Today it is worse, but it's not a new problem. University tuition was cheaper when I was an undergraduate (in the seventies), but there is a more basic point: education should be free. It's not just about jobs or the job market for Philosophy Ph.D.'s. It's about where education fits into the society.

  4. I am acutely aware of the fact that my remark above might seem vacuous or trivial. However, I meant it to be a provocation or an invitation to others. Perhaps I can be more specific. For me, as impressive as Occupy Wallstreet itself is an accompanying website "". Leiter described it as a place where the victims of capitalism speak. Academics haven't quite got the same problems as the people writing there, but Neo-Liberalism (or whatever you want to call it) has interfered with and impacted upon the lives of professional philosophers. Would it be possible for individual philosophers to details the ways in which the invasion of the universities by financial interests have damaged teaching, research, and the lives of those in the universities? I imagine that in some cases there could be practical or university-level political difficulties with telling such stories. So, I can't say if my suggestion is realistic. But, to whatever extent it worked, it would be a way of showing how one institution in the society has been damaged.

  5. I just wanted to point out a relevant post on The Stone, the New York Times' philosophy blog:

    Chris Hedges uses the term "civil disobedience", but perhaps we should follow Bernard E. Harcourt in using "political disobedience". I'm curious to hear what you think of this term, and might even suggest giving Harcourt's "Occupy Wall Street's 'Political Disobedience'" its own post on this blog.

  6. From Bakunin (in "The Hypnotizers") to Gramsci (in "The Intellectuals") to Chomsky ("Objectivity and Liberal Scholarship"), dissident thinkers have long recognized the role academics play in promoting, maintaining, and reinforcing the status quo. The corporatization of higher education has only served to strengthen and intensify this role.

    If we are to be honest with ourselves, we must recognize our own complicity in what has been called "the academic industrial complex." Academics in general, and philosophers in particular, who would marshal our teaching and research in the service of dissent must acknowledge that we are an integral part of the very system we oppose. As Malatesta says, we must suffer by this contradiction and seek to minimize it however, and in whatever way, we can.