Introduction to Is There a Human Future?

David Finkel

Following Chris Hedges’ forced retirement as a war correspondent and New York Times reporter (where his reputation was forged by his acclaimed first book War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning), Hedges has emerged as a trenchant and increasingly radical critic of the politics and imperial culture of the United States. His prolific articles and speeches paint a picture of a society well on its way to self-destruction through the dominance of corporate power and sheer greed.

Hedges has produced a series of sharp, polemical treatises on a range of topics from the realities of war to the illusions of inevitable progress. Drawing on his background as a divinity student, he may be the only author to simultaneously denounce both the religious right (in American Fascism: The Christian Right and its War on America) and its atheist opponents (in I Don’t Believe in Atheists. The Dangerous Rise of the Secular Fundamentalist).

His view of the official opposition to the dominant forces in American society is no less scathing — he has written that today’s liberals are reduced to the impotent repeated holdings of “the conference” where they speak to each other — and this is an evident inspiration for his recent The Death of the Liberal Class.

It appears, however, that Hedges’ rapid radicalization is not anchored in a positive conception of a social force that can reverse the moral, economic and political collapse he portrays, leaving him on the brink of a vision of despair rather than a call to effective action. Richard Lichtman’s review explores the roots of Hedges’ contribution as a moral critic and its limitations.

September/October 2011, ATC 154