cover image Wages of Rebellion

Wages of Rebellion

Chris Hedges. Nation, $26.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-56858-966-4

It’s time to eradicate “the pestilence of corporate totalitarianism,” according to this lurid anticapitalist manifesto. Likening global capitalism to the Beast of the book of Revelation, Pulitzer Prize–winning ex-New York Times correspondent Hedges (War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning) anticipates a nigh-apocalyptic future of deepening poverty and exploitation, ecological destruction, omnipresent surveillance, “looting, pillaging, and killing,” and perhaps even a reprise of the Black Death. Our only hope, he maintains, is to revive a revolutionary tradition that he omnidirectionally yokes to such diverse figures as Thomas Paine, Karl Marx, and Julian Assange. The latter-day rebels that he profiles are a tamer collection of Occupiers and hacktivists who mainly espouse Hedges’ own preference for non-violence. Hedges’s usual acute (if one-sided) reportage is on display—lengthy sections on unfairly prosecuted activists and the harshness of America’s penal system hit hard—but is ill-served by his lack of perspective and exaggeration of every injustice into unreformable tyranny. He suggests no substantive alternative beyond an undefined “socialism,” nor any coherent politics besides a “sublime madness” of imaginative zealotry. Hedges’s jeremiad will please left-wing romantics, but other readers may find it less inspiring. Agent: Lisa Bankoff, ICM Partners. (May)