Page 3 – Chris Hedges / Joe Sacco – Days of Destruction
Still by eschewing regular politics as hopelessly corrupt, will Hedges accept responsibility for his electoral fruit? As much as one may agree with significant aspects of Hedges’ critique of capitalism as it is enabled by both major political parties and their “carnival act” (267), the question remains: is it disingenuously Gnostic for a critic to rely on the proper consciousness about capitalism while denigrating the efforts of those who continue to speak to all sides as they seek to bring all along in community? Hedges himself positively portrays the hellraising West Virginia liberal former congressman Ken Hechler, so perhaps some role remains for those fighting within the system. Some of Hedges own examples remain engaged and do not seek to “disconnect as thoroughly as possible from the consumer society” (266) and “defy all formal systems of power” (267). Indeed, many of the sacrificed souls whose stories he chronicles have no choice but to remain economically engaged even if they are traditionally politically disengaged.
In the midst of this unsentimental storytelling, the reader comes across traces of Christian faith. In passing, churches act as supports to working people in West Virginia, Camden and Florida (as well as Eastern Europe) even as they seem to harm Native Americans and lack any role in the story of the salvation they may just hope for from the Occupy Movement. As “the physical embodiment of hope” which requires “self-sacrifice, discomfort and finally faith” (266), it is odd that Occupy movements in the end do not find a place for communities of religious faith. Is it not possible that hope needs to be nurtured in broader communities of faith instead of in Hedges “monastic enclaves” (267)?
As a polemic, Days of Destruction makes an optimistic argument for change because he believes that the Occupy movement is not dead. In any event, I found myself unable read this book in one sitting as it stirred passions in every chapter. Instead of its allusions to hope at its end, the strength of this book is in its vivid portraits of the lives sacrificed to an economic system that makes everything a commodity. Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco tell a powerful story of the underside of American society that deserves a wide reading and debate. These stories are not the carefully scripted scenes of a political convention. Hedges sees the faces of dying children and broken adults. He makes us see them too. We may not make of them what he does, but we must see them. And we must find accountability for what we have seen.
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