The demonic Captain Ahab in Melville’s epic novel Moby Dick represents a quest for power and domination that is a death wish. Hubris will doom Ahab and his Pequod crew, all perish except for Ishmael. Is there a larger lesson to be learned? Is the United States much different? The U.S. with its obsessive drive for control of oil and other resources, its relentless hunger for profits, its garrisoning the globe with military bases, its arrogant disregard for the environment, is on the same suicidal path as Ahab. Washington’s policies, under both political parties, are always imbued with benevolence and noble intentions. It is innocent of imperialistic designs. Freedom and democracy are its goals. A well-disciplined media and intellectual class rarely challenge these embedded assumptions. We continue to ignore all warnings as to the destruction we are wreaking on the planet.
Chris Hedges is an award-winning journalist who has covered wars in the Balkans, the Middle East and Central America. He writes a weekly column for Truthdig.org and is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute. He is the author of War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, American Fascists, Empire of Illusion, Death of the Liberal Class, The World As It Is, and with Joe Sacco, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt.