Nails like seashells, filthy, ridged, untrimmed. The vic had a name, Liberalism. Now Hedges had to put the pieces together, examine the clues and see just what it was that dragged this once-hardy character so low. He calls on his team and together they set about the task. And that is what Hedges does, pokes through the corpse of contemporary American liberalism for reasons, and ultimately, implications, bringing in considerable analysis and quotable extracts from some of our leading minds.
It is a media that purports to support middle-class people but reports lies and propaganda that help build support for our invasion of Iraq, and promotes our corrupt financial system as a safe place for families to park their savings.
It is the universities that minimize dissent from the established range of political views, in order not to antagonize their corporate supporters. Those people. He looks into the history of what we think of as liberalism, noting its heyday from the late 19th into the early 20th century.
Hedges sees a major turning point in government control of speech during the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, when opposition to American entry into World War I was faced with legislation like the Espionage Act of , which criminalized not only espionage but also speech deemed critical of the government. The Ministry of Truth with stars and stripes.
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This is fascinating material and was news to me. The CPI was shut down after the war, but the era of mass propaganda had arrived. Certainly there had been plenty of attempts to control public opinion through media manipulation in the past Remember the Maine but advancing technology made it increasingly powerful. The body of liberalism has always been susceptible to the external assaults of fear-mongering, racism, and nationalistic saber rattling by the right.
Hedges sees the willingness of the left to kowtow to the crazier elements of the right as being based on the fear, by those who have attained position of privilege, that standing up for what is right might endanger their position in society. I suspect that many who sell us out to the corporatocracy never really had our interests at heart, only our votes. This shows up in the willingness of organized labor to purge their ranks of people deemed out of the mainstream.
Of course, in doing so, they minimize pressure on themselves from within their own organizations to fight harder for their members. But they also out chest-pound the militarist, or anti-communist, or anti-islamic chest-pounders they see as external threats to their power. I was of two minds about this book. On one hand I found much here that makes sense. I have read Hedges before so know that he is an exceptionally bright guy who uses his prodigious critical faculties to figure out and report to us what is actually going on out there.
I am mostly simpatico with his political leanings. On the other hand, I reacted to the book, at first, as I might to a cranky uncle, who rants incessantly about the failure of this or that politician. You know the one. Whatever your politics, left right or whatever, there is always a cranky uncle who just goes on and on about this or that failure or betrayal.
The proper thing to do is to smile, excuse yourself from the room, and find some other air to breathe.
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It took me a while to get into the book, because I needed to breathe other air. It is not that the cranky uncle is necessarily wrong, just that the drone of what sounds like complaining starts to erode patches of skin after a time. Universities no longer train students to think critically, to examine and critique systems of power and cultural and political assumptions… Really? All of them? He also spends a chapter on the futility of war, with a focus on Afghanistan. I wonder if Europe felt it would have been a better approach to Hitler to have laid down their arms.
Was the American Revolution won by mass demonstrations?
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The union preserved? While I agree with his positions re Iraq, and how the US mission in Afghanistan has become something other than what it was sold as, I take issue with his portrayal of war as completely indefensible. But once one gets over the tonality, and generalizations like the ones noted above, it becomes clear that there is actual coherence to what he has to say in Death of the Liberal Class. Just because Hedges might benefit from de-caf, and goes too far at times, does not mean that he is wrong in his overall take. Underlying all is the notion of permanent war, used as an excuse by government to do whatever the hell they please, the Constitution be damned.
Another major theme is the creation and growth of the cult of the self. Americans are raised to be, above all, consumers, and this has observable roots, and extreme implications. One may agree or disagree with his analysis, but he has plenty of company to buttress his take on things. Hedges paints with a very broad brush and in so doing, I think he overlooks some bright spots in the liberal world.
For example, after years of Fox going unchallenged as a purveyor of lies and misdirection, MSNBC finally entered the fray, with at least some people there willing to point out where Fox lies and why, a task that was clearly beyond the three major networks. Of course, one must truly wonder how long a leash the politicals on MSNBC will be allowed, given that its ownership is as corporate as the network it counters.
There is way, way far to go, but same-sex couples may legally wed in all 50 states, the pervasiveness of sexual predation has been getting a lot more sunlight than it ever had, and that is most definitely progress. Of course there are so many areas in which we are heading, no racing, in the wrong direction that occasional victories often seem Pyrrhic. Unionization continues to plummet. The radicalized Supreme Court keeps broadening corporate rights and narrowing personal liberties.
The wealth of the nation continues to flow to the incredibly wealthy at the expense of all of us, and the minions of the rich convince the victims of this economic rape that they had it coming. So if Hedges winds up seeing a dark age ahead, he has a pretty good basis.
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For a recent betrayal just take a quick look at this steaming turd the Obama administration tried to serve up to the American people as a reasonable compromise with the sociopaths of the right. Death of the Liberal Class is a grim read, but it is an enlightening one. It makes it clear why those of us on the left feel so betrayed by so much not all our leadership. It is because we have been, over and over and over. Hopefully, some people will find a way to beat back the darkness. Maybe we can take some encouragement from the recent mid-term elections.
But while more and more people realize just what is going on, while more and more people feel the pain of growing concentration of wealth and rights, we are still afflicted with media that sets its own agenda, sells the corporate Kool-Aid about deficits and taxation, and depicts almost all who object as extremists. Hedges does not offer much in the way of tactics for resistance or even ways to evade subjugation. He seems to be despondent about the prospects for actual democracy going forward, but at least he has chalk-outlined the shape of the beast.
Whether it was a lifetime of that special wartime hooch or corporate sweeteners, it was clear that the vic had issues with substances. But the body met its demise from a combination of external assaults, personal weaknesses and self-inflicted injuries. Skin that had turned blue from lack of oxygen, now, under the darkening sky of impending night, as a result of multiple stab wounds to both the front and back, shone a dark and sickly red.
Fraud Cases - just in case you are looking for recent evidence that even a supposedly liberal government is a captive to Wall Street money, proving yet again that there is no law, only power. View all 92 comments. Oct 21, Bakari rated it liked it Shelves: left-politics , cultural-studies , books-read , ibooks , ebook. Though I agree with much of what he has to say, I'm very irritated by some of his analysis and approach addressing the problems he writes about.
Hedges is certainly correct that the liberal class has abandoned the historical objectives of liberalism—that of defending real, progressive democratic reform—but he greatly generalizes the differences "Death the Liberal Class" is the first book I've read by Chris Hedges, though I've read some of his articles and heard a few of this speeches on YouTube. Hedges is certainly correct that the liberal class has abandoned the historical objectives of liberalism—that of defending real, progressive democratic reform—but he greatly generalizes the differences between the the old left movement and the liberal class of today.
First off, the term liberalism itself, from what I understand, is a very general term in political science. Hedges points to writers, intellectuals, and activists of the Popular Front of the s whom I don't think labeled themselves liberals. They were left progressives who sought revolutionary change, while the real liberal class only sought reform. Modern liberalism developed as a compromise between capitalism and the objectives of real socialism. Historical liberalism supported so-called free market enterprise, but it wanted to keep a safety net for the working class and disenfranchised sectors of society.
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Staunch anti-war activists also came out of the liberal class. But again, Hedges generalizes a lot of this history.
Readers of this book who don't have background knowledge about the Popular Front and communist movements of the s are not getting the full picture from this book. In fact, Hedges would have been better off leaving out much of this cursory history of the old left. I think he should have expanded the last chapter of his book, "Rebellion," into an entire book itself.
This is why: Similar to Noam Chomsky, Hedges spends pages and pages—now book after book—bemoaning the wrath and downfall of the imperial empire. Both writers are not wholly wrong in their analysis, but unlike critics such as Marx and Lenin, labor union activists, W. B Du Bois, Martin L. King, Malcolm X, members of SDS, etc, these activists wrote from the vantage point of political organizers, not simply as journalists, scholars, speakers and writers.
They fought the power structure by talking and writing about the imperial empire, but also they fought for real solutions. If Chomsky or Hedges are members or leaders of any political organization or political party, I've never heard of them. The only person Hedges writes about with any history of activism is Ralph Nader well, also, Dorthy Day.
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