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Death of the Liberal Classby Chris Hedges
Synopses & Reviews
The liberal class plays a vital role in a democracy. It gives moral legitimacy to the state. It makes limited forms of dissent and incremental change possible. The liberal class posits itself as the conscience of the nation. It permits us, through its appeal to public virtues and the public good, to define ourselves as a good and noble people. Most importantly, on behalf of the power elite the liberal class serves as bulwarks against radical movements by offering a safety valve for popular frustrations and discontentment by discrediting those who talk of profound structural change. Once this class loses its social and political role then the delicate fabric of a democracy breaks down and the liberal class, along with the values it espouses, becomes an object of ridicule and hatred. The door that has been opened to proto-fascists has been opened by a bankrupt liberalism.
The Death of the Liberal Class examines the failure of the liberal class to confront the rise of the corporate state and the consequences of a liberalism that has become profoundly bankrupted. Hedges argues there are five pillars of the liberal establishment — the press, liberal religious institutions, labor unions, universities and the Democratic Party — and that each of these institutions, more concerned with status and privilege than justice and progress, sold out the constituents they represented. In doing so, the liberal class has become irrelevant to society at large and ultimately the corporate power elite they once served.
"In this tsunami of terrifying revelations, juxtaposed truths, and demonstrated facts, Hedges (War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning) argues that the traditional beacons of the liberal class-the universities, media, church, labor unions, and arts-have sacrificed themselves completely to the dominance of corporate greed and unbounded capitalism. We are all to blame and everything moral about our democracy stands to be lost-is indeed already vanishing, in Hedges's view-and those who draw attention to it are banished and booed. While every page erupts with calamities of the human spirit worthy of their own irate broadcasts and bull-horned fury, Hedges is at his best when he unpacks the density of his polemic and embraces the power of his narrative. Regardless of form, however, his most interesting theses include the parallel between the current domestic climate and the fall of Weimar Germany and the conclusion that 'Everything formed by violence is senseless and useless. It exists without a future. It leaves behind nothing but death, grief, and destruction.' These insights come not just as warning, but as witness. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
The liberal class is facing an untimely demise of its own making. In this provocative new work Chris Hedges explains how liberals sold us out, bankrupted the country and now face a crisis of their own.
For decades the liberal class was a defense against the worst excesses of power. But the pillars of the liberal class — the press, universities, the labor movement, the Democratic Party, and liberal religious institutions — have collapsed. In its absence, the poor, the working class, and even the middle class no longer have a champion.
In this searing polemic Chris Hedges indicts liberal institutions, including his former employer, the New York Times, who have distorted their basic beliefs in order to support unfettered capitalism, the national security state, globalization, and staggering income inequalities. Hedges argues that the death of the liberal class created a profound vacuum at the heart of American political life. And now speculators, war profiteers, and demagogues — from militias to the Tea Party — are filling the void.
About the Author
Chris Hedges, currently a senior fellow at The Nation Institute, a Lecturer in the Council of the Humanities and the Anschutz Distinguished Fellow at Princeton University, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. Hedges has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and the New York Times, where he spent fifteen years. He is the author of the best selling War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, which draws on his experiences in various conflicts to describe the patterns and behavior of nations and individuals in wartime.
Hedges, the son of a Presbyterian minister, has a B.A. in English Literature from Colgate University and a Master of Divinity from Harvard University. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard during the academic year of 1998-1999. He has a strong grounding in the classics and knows Greek and Latin, as well as Arabic, French and Spanish. He currently writes for numerous publications including Foreign Affair.
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