Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt

For my ‘skyping while drinking whiskey book club’, we’re reading Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt. This is posing a major problem for me.

For, you see, whiskey makes me happy. It makes me all huggie, dance-y, and, ‘life is wonderful-ly’ (and, also, a bit sentimental . . . so, no watching The Little Drummer Boy while imbibing).

This book does not compliment that state of being well.

Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt examines those areas known as ‘sacrifice zones.’ Sacrifice zones are specific areas in the U.S. that have been exploited for the sake of profit and technological ‘advance’. It’s an illustrated testament to the inherent bureaucracy of an unfettered ‘free’ market unleashed against humans, non-humans and the earth. It’s what happens when profit becomes the chief telos of humanity. We all become commodities.

If Chris Hedges’s writing doesn’t get you, then Joe Sacco’s artwork will. And this very well may be some of Sacco’s finest.

Damn him.

So, no: this book is not good with booze. I mean, for some of my friends they think booze is required (or, at least, prozac may be necessary). For me, no . . . I must finish it sober.

And that, if nothing else, is one hell of an endorsement.

(Here’s a review from the NY TIMES, if that sort of thing interests you. I don’t have it in me at the moment to say much more about the book other than, ‘read it’. Booze is optional.)




Further Reading:
  • Dave_the_Zoo_Advocate

    So Professor, the first thing that strikes me is the ‘Days of Destruction…’ anti-free market diatribe is on sale in the free market for $28 per copy. The second thing is even the NYT Book Review thinks this book is too strident for anyone capable of forming their own opinions. Third, this is yet another instance of ostensibly caring people on the left erroneously blaming the free market for the woes of ne’er-do-wells. Here’s an idea for do-gooders on the left: Help people help themselves succeed by taking advantage of the limitless opportunities offered in our free market country. God Bless America.

    • theamishjihadist

      First step of literary criticism: you must read the material before critiquing it.

      (I have no opinion on the NYT review. Just thought I would provide it for a bit of summation.)

      Also, it is not simply an anti-free market diatribe. It merely shows how, like any socio-politic, there are ‘sacrifices’ to be made. This simply rolls through a number of those showing how the bureaucracy of capitalism does damage just like the bureaucracy of anything will cause damage (socialism, government, punk rock sXe movements–any principality and power). I cannot but admit to find it odd how those so willing to decry the bureaucracy of government kneel at the bureaucracy of capitalism. Now, stop making massive leaps from a criticism of something to being completely opposed to something (for instance, to survive in this world by the trading of goods, in this case, monetary exchange, does not mean that criticism of such an worldly system is not in complete opposition of it).

      Limitless? Oh, there is a limit. Even the best capitalist theorists understand there is a limit. Capitalism assumes scarcity, not abundance (read Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations–that is THE primer for capitalism, or Derrida’s account of late modern capitalism). On this point, it is not ‘capitalism’ to blame for having us think there is a never-ending insatiable amount of abundance waiting to be consumed, that’s nation-states and corporations making sure you’re willing to consume your fair share that is to blame.

      My god, those were some of the worst sentences I’ve ever constructed in my life. Writing on the fly.

      Oh, and Hedges is not a do-gooder on the left (these binary-predicated dualisms you assume have been dogmatically imprinted upon you–you must resist them–seriously, they are tired and old, and are taught to you by those who need you to think there are only two options in this world–it’s insane). Hedge’s critique of leftist politics is as harsh as a Hannity/Beck/Coulter orgy is on the eyes (and noses and ears, I imagine). The vast majority of leftists are capitalists. They wouldn’t have it any other way. This book is digging much deeper than what you will find channeled to you via corporate-owned media outlets.

      Other than that, yes, I think there are some lovely criticisms to be made of the book. But, I can do that, as, I did, after all, read it.

      As for ‘God Bless America’–I’ve never liked that sentiment. Sounds far too much like a statement than a request. And God will bless whatever God blesses and will damn whatever God damns. Since the Bible says that God will damn those nations that do not enact justice to the poor and weak, I’m banking that a nation-state with our criminal record to other humans beings is not sitting at the top of the ‘to be blessed’ list. But, I can’t know that for sure. Unlike many Christians in North America, I cannot pretend to be presumptuous enough to know what God does and does not do.

    • Felicia

      Tripp, you are brilliant. I find it hard to add anything to what you’ve said. :)

      Dave, I can’t help but wonder why you appear on this blog so much. You must like to fight, which is totally fine I can dig that. :) As ridiculously hard as it was to read this book, I had to do it. If only for the personal information that is left out of our history books. The people in this book are real; they were and continue to be tragically effected by greed. Has capitalism created opportunity for some people? (some) Of course. We hear about them all of the time. But at what cost, and what is the other side?? Really, “limitless opportunities” are the words of a child unable to fully grasp the scope and depth of the world around him.

      This book doesn’t apologize for being too strident, it’s motive is to give a voice to those left voiceless. It does that well. But again, reading it is, you know, key to understanding that.

  • Amanda

    First, I think the ‘skyping while drinking whiskey book club’ is off to a fantastic start and I agree that the reading material was difficult on a number of levels, the main one being that, if you commit to opening yourself to the vivid reality Hedges presents about these very real “sacrifice zones,” then you will (or should be) forever changed. This information is not new, but I think the difference here lies not only in, as you say, Sacco’s artwork, which paints the reality of these areas in a way that words can’t, but also in the very detailed, personal way that Hedges explores these communities through the personalities, stories, and histories that make them up. There is a very real and concerted effort on the part of society to ignore and forget these ugly histories, both consciously–on the part of the individuals and corporations who would prefer that profit not suffer at any cost, despite decimation of land, mind, body, and spirit–as well as unconsciously–by every single one of us, as we attempt to surround ourselves with “nice things” in “nice neighborhoods” with “nice people” as we’ve been subtly (and not-so-subtly) taught to do. Our “free market” society does not, in fact, as suggested by that other commenter, offer limitless possibility as clearly evidenced by the information held in this book (as well as the poverty, racism, classism, and sexism that pervades every community across our nation), with the exception perhaps of its ability to completely corrupt and, as a result, completely and utterly destroy.
    Hedges is hopeful for a revolution, and I fear, as the NYT reviewer does, that that revolution may not be as imminent as Hedges hopes. Is it needed? Absolutely. Is it possible? Perhaps. Can it happen in our current society? I don’t know; there is so much noise. There is so much misinformation. There is so much ignorance, and the pervasive ideology today both rewards ignorance and also allows ignorance to mask itself as knowledge through creative rhetorical strategy. We pay people millions of dollars to get on television and convince people that shit that isn’t true is…true. I suppose that’s always happened but the rewards have never been quite so great. So it’s easy for people like Dave to say, “Oh, that Hedges book is just a bunch of leftist do-gooders trying to blame the right for the woes of the poor” when, in fact, Dave has not even read the book, nor does he intend to do so and come to any kind of informed conclusion.
    I think what struck me most was, in the first section, and I apologize for paraphrasing but I don’t have the book with me, there was a quote from one of the Native American subjects that described the way of life they had that the European settlers subsequently destroyed, and that way of live revolved around inclusiveness, respect for self, other, and environment. It said “we did not have any prisons and therefore did not have any prisoners,” or something along those lines. The greatest tragedy to me is that this way of life has been lost, that our ancestors came in and destroyed it without even considering what a beautiful thing this way of life and sense of community might be. We destroyed it and replaced it with a way of life that not only continues to decimate but also creates yet more and more division, offering no respect whatsoever for self, other, and environment. Revolution or not, this is going to destroy us. It has already done so.