Journalist Chris Hedges is Coming to Concordia

Activist to Discuss Global Protest Movements

American journalist Chris Hedges. Photo courtesy of Nation Books

At least we’re waking up—that’s the sentiment American journalist Chris Hedges feels about the global protest movements.

Whether it’s Quebec or Ferguson, Missouri, there are signs of a growing awareness that the exploitative system of capitalism has failed us, he said.

Hedges will speak at Concordia University on Wednesday, Dec. 9, in a talk titled The Algebra of Revolution. The event is being organized by the Concordia Community Solidarity Co-op Bookstore and Canadian Dimensions magazine; an independent socialist publication based out of Winnipeg, which the event also serves as a fundraiser for.

Sustained civil disobedience is the only protest tactic we have left, Hedges argued. He cited Idle No More —an indigenous sovereignty movement—and the 2012 Quebec student strikes as two of examples of this tactic.

“Whether or not we’ll succeed is another story, but there is a growing awareness among a broader and broader segment that we have undergone, as [philosopher] John Ralston Saul pointed out, a corporate coup d’état in slow motion,” Hedges explained over the phone.

“Corporations have ceased the mechanisms by which incremental and piecemeal reform is made possible. It has destroyed them,” he added.

Hedges’s work as a journalist and activist has taken him to Germany during the collapse of the Berlin wall, to Prague during the ousting of the Communist regime, and to Zuccotti Park in 2011 to a protest which became known as the Occupy movement. More recently, Hedges has reported on the Black Lives Matter movement throughout the United States, which began in Ferguson.

In 2010, Hedges and comic journalist Joe Sacco travelled across America to areas destroyed by capitalism, racism, and exploitation. From Camden, New Jersey to the coal mountains of West Virginia, these places share the common thread of destruction in the name of profit.

“In St. Louis county, because of austerity, 30 to 40 per cent of budgets have to be raised by fines, and so fines are levied on the poor,” he said. “For not mowing your lawn, you can get fined. For standing too long on a street corner—there’s just an array of absurd fines to extract money out of the poor.”

In Quebec, protests and strikes are being organized by students and labour unions in response to cuts in the public sector. Response to protests in Montreal by the police has become increasingly harsh, often ending in teargas and violent confrontations.

“As people understand that the system is gamed against them, the state feels pressure, feels a greater threat. So, the softer mechanisms of control, you know, the carnival of elections, writing letters to your representative in parliament, all of that, people realize it doesn’t work,” he said.

“They have to use harsher forms of control, which is the iron boot of repression. And we’ve seen that throughout the United States, we’ve seen that in Canada. The most grievous example being the G20 summit in Toronto [in 2010], ” he continued.

“In Canada, with Idle No More, we see that everything is linked. The corporate assault against civil society, and working men and women against the environment is all about exploitation, the commodification of the earth, and the commodification of human beings. It’s all the same system.”

Hedges’ latest book Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt explores the idea that revolt is inevitable in a world of an increasing wealth gap paired with the destruction of our ecological system. The book explores various protest movements and their similarities in confronting systems of power.

Chris Hedges: The Algebra of Revolution // Dec. 9 // Hall Building, Room H-110 (1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W.) // 7:00 p.m. // $30, $20 students