"America: The Farewell Tour," Chris Hedges, Simon & Schuster, 388 pages, $27.
In his current book, Pulitzer Prize winner and former New York Times reporter Chris Hedges raises provocative questions. Has the destructive aspect of capitalism reached a tipping point? Are drug abuse, pornography and gambling emblematic of a free market run amok? Are the vacant shells of cities like Scranton, Dayton, Buffalo, Youngstown and Cleveland the inevitable consequences of an economy based on greed?
Hedges’ answer consists of a grim doubling down. Traditional institutions of liberalism, including the Democratic Party, are, in Hedges’ view, hopelessly corrupted, with figures like the Clintons, Barack Obama and the Sierra Club espousing words of liberal democratic values “while making war on these values in the service of corporate power.”
Hedges is a Harvard Divinity School graduate and an ordained Presbyterian minister. His ecclesiastical immersion shows. Insofar as Hedges holds out any hope, it is through local community organizing.
Both righteous and self-righteous, Hedges is addicted to fire and brimstone. A Jeremiah preaching eternal damnation, he is adding to the already crowded shelf of American narratives of decline.
His call springs not only from Jonathan Edwards and Cotton Mather but also from spoiled preachers like Jimmy Swaggart and James Bakker, and now from President Donald Trump. It’s a call that has echoed down through the ages: “Drain the Swamp.”