Chris Hedges – Occupy Harvard November 28 2011



Chris Hedges: Right. I mean this is the kind of stuff that has to be ramped up. The focus is not that encampment. That encampment is a physical presence that says, “We’re here.”


But the message has to be taken out–you know, as often as is humanly possible to begin to confront those forces and those figures–that have plunged this country and frankly, the global economy into a tailspin as well as those forces that continue to carry out an assault on the eco-system itself you know.


Remember, in the seventeenth century, speculators were hung. And what corporations like Goldman Sachs and Citibank are doing–has been considered throughout history– and I’m not going to start speaking about classics in front of Professor Thomas but Solon forgave all debts—when the Athenian empire went through a very similar period where essentially the criminal class took control. And that’s what we have.


We pay– this institution is paying deference to individuals and to systems that commit crimes.

And since they won’t name those crimes, you have to name them.



Students: Yeah. Wooh! <Applause>


Man 3: You spoke at the University of Toronto last year about the withering of Humanities–



Man 4: Can you speak up please?



Man 3: Sure.–



Man 4: Thank You.



Man 3: You spoke last year at the University of Toronto about sort of the withering of Humanities Departments in Universities, the withering of the classics, the doing away with of the arts and the process by which the Universities are turned into vocational schools.


I’m wondering– and I know you spoke about that or wrote about that in Liberal class and others–I’m wondering if you could summarize that argument.



Chris Hedges: He’s asking about the death of the humanities. Well, that’s what the corporate state began with Carnegie and others at that turn of the century.


They made war against all of those–and it’s not just the humanities but the humanities an important part– they made war against all those forces within society that had the power to transform. Everything had to become vocational.


So that you– You know there’s a huge difference between teaching people what to think and teaching people how to think. And the power of a Liberal Arts education is that it teaches you how to think. And this institution is being rapidly reconfigured like Stanford and other places into an– basically a glorified Engineering school.


And there is a very subtle and very pernicious assault against those departments and those disciplines that teach people how to think, because thinking is subversive.  Thinking forces you to challenge assumptions and structures, and question them.


And I can guarantee you, having taken Professor Thomas’ virtual course, there’s more worth in that course than an entire 3 years to get an MBA or however long it takes them over there in that big Wizard of Oz building—



Students: Hehehehe.



Chris Hedges: –across the river.



Man 5: So where do you see the Occupy movement headed?



Chris Hedges: Well, I’ve covered movements before. I’ve covered all of the revolutions in– Eastern Europe, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Romania, I’ve covered the Pales–both of the Palestinian uprisings. I’ve covered all of the street protests that brought down Milosevic. And I can tell you, “No one knows.”


Students: Hahahaha.



Chris Hedges: I was in Leipzig on November 9th 1989 with the leaders of the East German opposition and they told me that perhaps within a year there would be free passage back and forth across the Berlin Wall.


Within a few hours, the Berlin Wall, at least as an impediment to human traffic did not exist. Week after week, month after month these clergy in Leipzig held these candlelit vigils.


And it was slow at first, people forget. Just as the Egyptian revolution has been percolating for many, many months and even years and suddenly it began to grow.


And Honecker who had been ruling East Germany since the time of the dinosaurs, sends down a paratroop division to Leipzig and they won’t attack the demonstrators.

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