Chris Hedges on Bernie Sanders: He functions as a sheepdog to corral progressives, left-leaning progressives, back into the embrace of the Democratic establishment.
Chris Hedges on Bernie Sanders: "He functions as a sheepdog to corral progressives, left-leaning progressives, back into the embrace of the Democratic establishment." PP
This evening at 6:30, the re-election campaign for city council member Kshama Sawant is holding a rally at Town Hall, featuring appearances by journalist Chris Hedges and Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein. Hedges, a socialist who has collaborated with cartoonist Joe Sacco, is a columnist for Truthdig, and was a prominent voice in the Occupy movement, agreed to a hasty interview yesterday afternoon before a speaking event in San Francisco.

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What, to your mind, is the difference between a liberal and a radical?

A liberal is willing to critique the system but is not willing to critique the virtues of the system. A radical questions the virtues of the system. A liberal will say: "We made mistakes in Iraq." A radical will say: "Iraq is a war crime, it was conducted for profit, and the people who conducted it are war criminals."

You've critiqued electoral politics in the past, but are coming to Seattle to support Kshama Sawant's electoral campaign. Does that indicate some shift in your thinking about the usefulness of electoral politics?

Electoral politics, when it functions, can create meaningful change. When it's beholden to multinational corporations, it doesn't—which is why you have complete continuity between the Bush administration and the Obama administration in every major structural way.

At the local level, where you don't need that kind of money, electoral politics has the capacity to make small inroads. On the national—or even, I would argue, at the state level—it's impossible. Even beyond the local level, a lot of resources are being thrown at Sawant's campaign to get her defeated. [Note: At the moment, Sawant has raised significantly more money than any of her competitors in District 3. But other candidates have reportedly promised to raise large amounts of money from out-of-state donors to defeat her.] It's a question of resources. Hillary is set to raise $2.5 billion, and that doesn't include the Super PACs.

What about Bernie Sanders? Should far-left progressives support him?

He won't run as an independent. He's already cut a deal with the Democratic party and won't get into the debates unless he supports Hillary. By April, it's dead. And all that energy and all of that money goes back into the Democratic party. He functions as a sheepdog to corral progressives, left-leaning progressives, back into the embrace of the Democratic establishment.

Do you think the election of Sawant is a one-off anomaly for Seattle or a harbinger of some larger change?

Harbinger. If it was just a one-off, the Democrat party establishment would ignore it. They're terrified of it because it exposes them for who they are, because of things like raising the minimum wage, and because she shames them into doing the right thing. Those council members only voted for the minimum wage because of pressure from the left.

If Bernie Sanders is hopeless, who should far-left progressives support in the presidential election?

I would support somebody like Jill Stein—somebody outside of the Democrat or Republican establishment, as a kind of protest vote.