cover image America: The Farewell Tour

America: The Farewell Tour

Chris Hedges. Simon & Schuster, $27 (400p) ISBN 978-1-5011-5267-2

Journalist Hedges’s latest critique of late-stage capitalist America is forceful and direct, reflecting a weary despair backed up by diligent reporting. He sees the ills of drugs, gambling, pornography, hate groups, mass incarceration, and an oppressive state as evidence of a “creeping corporate coup d’état,” decries the fiction of an economic recovery, and paints the election of Donald Trump and the ascendancy of “his coterie of billionaires, generals, half-wits, Christian fascists, criminals, racists and moral deviants” as embodying “the moral rot unleashed by unfettered capitalism.” He turns an unflinching eye on the opioid crisis, the evisceration of organized labor, and the resurgence of hate groups, and supports his contention that laborers are on a “global plantation built by the powerful” with harrowing descriptions of sex work in the pornography-industrial complex. In Hedges’s view, the few positive responses left to Americans are to band together for small-scale socialist enterprise and community, and engage in “a global fight for life against corporate tyranny” as exemplified by the protests against industry might and police power in Standing Rock, S.Dak., and Ferguson, Mo. Though this account is trenchant, even the staunchest adherents of Hedges’s unreconstructed socialist views may feel drained by the unrelenting bleakness of its worldview. (Aug.)