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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 o 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.


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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 o 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.

30 review for The Death of the Liberal Class

  1. 5 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    CSI: Democracy That piercing stench is the aroma of failure and betrayal lying in a dumpster outside a lobbyist’s condo. Chris Hedges, toting his kit, approaches the body and examines it for evidence of foul play. A uniform steps aside, giving Hedges room. He bends down and opens the surprisingly fat wallet. It is clear that the vic was once a powerful presence, as Hedges can see from the wallet’s contents, scattered about the corpse. The Social Security card is worn at the edges, but it remains CSI: Democracy That piercing stench is the aroma of failure and betrayal lying in a dumpster outside a lobbyist’s condo. Chris Hedges, toting his kit, approaches the body and examines it for evidence of foul play. A uniform steps aside, giving Hedges room. He bends down and opens the surprisingly fat wallet. It is clear that the vic was once a powerful presence, as Hedges can see from the wallet’s contents, scattered about the corpse. The Social Security card is worn at the edges, but it remains whole, although oncoming rain is likely to fray it even more. A union membership card has been cut to bits and scattered. The victim was no kid. He had clearly been around a long time and had more than his share of scar tissue. A closer examination would later reveal several very old fractures from when the vic was a much younger fellow, maybe from the 50s. They had healed badly, leaving bones that supported his body, but with the right leg shorter than the left and so a tilt. If the vic had had any more tracks in his arms he would have been Grand Central Station. Whatever he’d shot up left a green tinge. Had he kept it up, he might have been confused for the Hulk’s skinnier, weaker cousin. His shoes, found nearby, were a travesty, holes completely through the bottoms, with the uppers clearly separated from the soles. It was clear from the condition of the vic’s feet that he had ignored their care altogether. 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. Chrius Hedges - Image from UC Observer So what is the “liberal class” on which Hedges performs his post mortem? 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 religious institutions, churches and synagogues that fail to criticize the extreme right wing of America’s churches, the ones that foment greed, racism and violence, while encouraging their members to look solely inward, instead of engaging in a mission of holding evil-doers morally accountable. It is the universities that minimize dissent from the established range of political views, in order not to antagonize their corporate supporters. It is labor unions, which once fought for worker rights, for social and political rights of working class people across the board, but which now “have been transformed into domesticated negotiators with the capitalist class.” It is the Democratic Party that sells itself as the voice of the people, but that instead abandoned working people by passing legislation such as NAFTA, that offered support to Republican plans to shred the social safety net, that goes along with corporate looting of the national treasure, and that refuses to stand up to right wing assaults on civil liberties. 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 1917, which criminalized not only espionage but also speech deemed critical of the government.” A year later, the Sedition Act was passed, expanding governmental interference with free speech. The president also established the CPI, or Committee for Public Information, or propaganda central. The Ministry of Truth with stars and stripes. 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 near collapse of the economy in the Great Depression, also largely due to corporate malfeasance, led up to liberalism’s last great stand, the New Deal, which succeeded in saving capitalism from its own excesses. 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. See George Meany allying labor with support for the Viet Nam War. 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. 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. Clearly there are times when the use of weaponry to preserve one’s existence is justified. Was the American Revolution won by mass demonstrations? 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. And once rights are abridged too far during real (WW I, WW II, et al) or even a faux wars (Cold War, Global War on Terror) they rarely make it back. 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. Hedges brings in many sources to back his analysis of liberalism’s corpse, on almost every page it seems. 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. Even after the mess Wall Street made of our economy, hell, the world’s economy, the government has done almost nothing to prevent them from doing it all over again. 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. 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. There is much detail in Hedges’ book that is worth knowing. Hopefully, some people will find a way to beat back the darkness. Maybe we can take some encouragement from the recent (2018) 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. =============================EXTRA STUFF Links to the author’s Twitter, FB and Youtube pages You can find a nice collection of his writings at Truthdig.com Items of interest -----7/11/11 - An interesting article regarding censorship -----11/8/11 - NY Times - Promises Made, and Remade, by Firms in S.E.C. 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.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bakari

    "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. 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. 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 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 1930s 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. 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 1930s 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.E.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). And again, Hedges would have been better off devoting much of the book comparing Nader to say Obama, which would have more clearly illustrated how and why Obama can't bring about the so-called "yes we can" objectives that he ran on, and why we need leadership like Nader. Anyone with a real understanding of left politics in this country should have realized that Obama could not bring about the real effective change, because Obama simply did not have the political movement and organization behind him to do so. Hedges could have used Obama as an example of what the liberal class has failed to do; that is, build a strong cadre of students and working class leadership that will fight for structural changes in the political economy. When Hedges starts writing as an activist and an organization builder, rather than some spiritual Jeremiah, he'd start pointing his readers to take specific actions. When he writes as an activist, he doesn't spend countless pages bemoaning corporate media; instead, he spends pages outlining all the progressive media that people can tap into, no matter how small. He doesn't just talk about the problem, he talks about the solution. This is exactly why I stopped reading Chomsky years ago. Chomsky has pretty much said the same thing over and over. And as far as I know he hasn't written one book about the solutions to all the problems he writes and speaks about. Don't get me wrong, Hedges is a great writer, with a strong voice. But when he writes books like this that try to cover way too much in relatively small number of pages, it's get frustrating to read. In the final chapter of the book he also critiques the problems of the Internet, mainly by referring to critics. While I agree with that those who run and control the Internet are profiting from lots of free information from artists, writers, professional critics (e.g. content producers), this critique of Internet really needs an entire book as well. He greatly glosses over the potential of the Internet and digital technology as democratizing tools. Though Google's YouTube, for example, has largely become a tool for its advertisers, its space has not yet been limited the just corporate media producers. Thousands to millions of people can be reached with the savvy produced content. This is just a small example. The corporate media owns the airwaves, but ordinary citizens can have a voice on the Internet.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dave Lefevre

    How can someone get 95% of a book so right and get the rest so wrong? I really liked most of this book. It's a great work for anyone that wants to understand the outrage that has kindled movements like Occupy Wall Street. Piece by piece Hedges indites the liberal institutions that are supposed to make us think and edge progress along. He rightly points out that what we tend to call liberals today (and are yelled about on such outlets as Fox news) have basically sold out to corporate culture in or How can someone get 95% of a book so right and get the rest so wrong? I really liked most of this book. It's a great work for anyone that wants to understand the outrage that has kindled movements like Occupy Wall Street. Piece by piece Hedges indites the liberal institutions that are supposed to make us think and edge progress along. He rightly points out that what we tend to call liberals today (and are yelled about on such outlets as Fox news) have basically sold out to corporate culture in order to have a good life and remain in the power structure. They are tolerated as long as they don't go to far and criticize dogma from today such as "free markets" (also known as unfettered capitalism). He's right. It's because of this movements like OWS and the Coffee Party are coming about because no progressive thought is allowed in many of our "liberal" institutions and now corporate thought has become sacrosanct everywhere. But then Hedges lets goes into a Harlan Ellison-like "pay the author" rant about the Internet. Hedges basically doesn't see any good in the Internet because the author doesn't get paid directly. He doesn't have any sense of the Internet's history or purpose (the "expert" he talks to doesn't either) and gets several key ideas wrong. He rightly points out that is a lot of hatred, name-calling, and general bad debate on the Internet, but he fails to see that the Internet actually is a mirror of society itself and there are plenty of spaces where true debate and deep thinking are happening. He also fails to recognize one of the major positives of the Internet: that it's one of the very few spaces where people can speak to a wide audience without corporate mediation, getting around the very corporate censorship he is writing about! It's one of the few places that the constant corporate propaganda can be debunked. (An interview Hedges did himself a few weeks ago itself was used to debunk the anti-OWS bias in the media where Hedges eviscerated personal attacks made by his interviewer, a Wall Street fraudster. It's more proof that the Internet is one of the major ways people in modern America can get people the truth when it is being actively suppressed by a corporate gatekeeper.) He also forgets that the Internet gives average persons the ability to get to more knowledge than ever before in history, and even though most might not search out the answers it's like a library: it's existence sure doesn't hurt. In the case of his ill-informed Internet opinions he lets a personal bias get the best of him and he gets incredibly sloppy and incorrect. Hedges, while right about most everything in this book, has this horrible blind spot (some of which is a Luddite streak based on how I read it) and for that reason I won't be reading any more of his books. Someone who can't see why the Internet's freedom of information is important must be wrong about other things as well.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mike Sheehan

    This is the longest of my reviews but it's certainly worthy of the attention. Although often times when I read nonfiction books of a similar caliber-that is, books I consider incredibly urgent and important; which include other Hedge’s books and "The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism," where almost every passage makes me want to just DO SOMETHING- I often just state it is necessary for everyone to read it and leave it at that. This time, instead of some random guy saying it must This is the longest of my reviews but it's certainly worthy of the attention. Although often times when I read nonfiction books of a similar caliber-that is, books I consider incredibly urgent and important; which include other Hedge’s books and "The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism," where almost every passage makes me want to just DO SOMETHING- I often just state it is necessary for everyone to read it and leave it at that. This time, instead of some random guy saying it must be read, I’m going to take the more practical approach of trying to convince one to read this. This book is of the stuff that keeps your blood boiling all throughout reading it. The past few days have been rife with anger. With every subject, Hedge’s demonstrates his political acumen with rarely matched potency and emotes feelings of incredible urgency. He touches upon a vast amount of topics: religion, origins of corporate take-over (namely World War I’s propaganda campaign against Germany. “’Sauerkraut became known as liberty cabbage… German clover appeared… as crimson or liberty clover…’ Dachshunds were renamed liberty dogs.” Sound familiar?), the internet, rebellion vs. revolution, the environment (“We face a terrible political truth. Those who hold power will not act with the urgency required to protect human life and the ecosystem.”), hypermasculinity (“Hypermasculinity crushes the capacity for moral autonomy, difference, and diversity… militarized culture attacks all that is culturally defined as feminine, including love, gentleness, compassion, and acceptance of difference.”), the 1960’s counterculture (which “shared commercial culture’s hedonism, love of spectacle, and preoccupation of self.” Which helps explain it’s abandonment of so-called rebellion when the war ended and the middle class, of which they were a part, stopped going off to war; few showed solidarity with working class struggle.), 2008’s economic meltdown (“’Why is it that a handful of thugs and plunderers can commit unthinkable atrocities and when it's time for their gravy train to crash under the weight of their gluttony and overwhelming stupidity, the force of the full federal government has no difficulty coming to their aid within days if not hours?’”), art, and many, many more. Early on, Hedge’s opines that fear is what drives us to (perhaps/usually unconsciously) consent to ludicrous defense budgets, immense losses of individual liberty, inequitable power structures, &c., whilst speaking of the corporate strategy of permanent war. “The corporations that profit from permanent war need us to be afraid. Fear stops us from objecting to government spending on a bloated military. Fear means we will not ask unpleasant questions of those in power. Fear permits the government to operate in secret. Fear means we are willing to give up our rights and liberties for promises of security. The imposition of fear ensures that the corporations that wrecked the country cannot be challenged.” Whether through fear or apathy “citizens, rather than authentically participating in power, have only virtual opinions… They are reduced to expressing themselves on issues that are meaningless, voting on American Idol or in polls conducted by the power elite.” (see: “participatory fascism,” “inverted totalitarianism”). Hedge’s adequately assays how the liberal institutions (especially the major one: the Democratic Party) have betrayed and/or blackballed a number of freethinking liberals, mostly for challenging power, overstepping the boundaries that corporate power vis-à-vis the liberal class, have ascribed. The black list includes: Noam Chomsky- “Chomsky’s courage to speak on behalf of those whose suffering is minimized or ignored in mass culture, such as the Palestinians, is an example for anyone searching for models of the moral life. Perhaps, even more than his scholarship, his example of moral independence sustains all those who defy the cant of the crowd, and that of the liberal class, to speak the truth.” Moral independence is a major no-no in the modern liberal class, which Hedge’s goes through pains to elucidate. Howard Zinn- “Zinn knew that if we do not listen to the stories of those without power, those who suffer discrimination and abuse, those who struggle for justice, we are left parroting the manufactured myths that serve the interests of the privileged. Zinn set out to write history, not myth. He found that challenging these myths, even as a historian, turned one into a pariah.” Ralph Nader- I’m sure many remember the rage expressed towards Nader after the 2000 election, all I can say is I came out of Nader’s passage with the utmost respect for him. “I don’t care about my personal legacy. I care about how much justice is advanced in America and in our world day after day. I’m willing to sacrifice whatever ‘reputation’ in the cause of that effort. What is my legacy? Are they going to turn around and rip seat belts out of cars, air bags out of cars?” This quote was a perfect way to cap off Nader’s impressive legacy (which may be only surpassed by his humility) that is mentioned in the few preceding pages. There’s also a fantastic section on Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X who Hedge’s claims would’ve become pariahs, had they not been assassinated, for espousing ideas of economic justice (among other things), since “’Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ was, as King and Malcolm knew, a meaningless slogan if there was no possibility of a decent education, a safe neighborhood, a job, or a living wage.” Further, today “they would have denounced liberals who mouth platitudes about justice while supporting a party that slavishly serves the moneyed elite.” Michael Moore, Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul are also covered, though the latter two with a bit more brevity. The liberal class has its hands in ostracizing all these independent thinkers, and they aren’t ostracized solely by conservatives, but by everyone who bows to corporate power- those who make decisions for personal gain, to further their careers- rather than do what is right. It’s America’s pathetic liberal class, that left itself powerless and thus useless through collaborating with the corporate elite. “The failure of the liberal class to adjust to the harsh, new reality of corporate power and the permanent war economy, to acknowledge it’s own powerlessness, has left the liberal class isolated and despised.” I think the thing most telling of liberal weakness is in what can be and is often accepted as defining an American “patriot,” whose modern definition is filled with illiberal and even undemocratic beliefs. “The ‘patriotic’ citizen, although abused by the actual policies of the state, unfailingly supports widespread surveillance and permanent war. The ‘patriotic’ citizen does not question the $1 trillion in defense-related spending. The ‘patriotic’ citizen accepts that the eighteen military and civilian intelligence agencies, most of whose work is now outsourced to private corporations, are held above the government. The ‘patriotic’ citizen accepts the state’s assertion that it needs more police, prisons, inmates, spies, mercenaries, weapons, and troops than any other industrialized nation. The ‘patriotic’ citizen objects when anyone suggests that military budgets can be cut, that troops need to come home, that domestic policies need more attention than the pursuit of permanent war…. In the name of patriotism, the most powerful instruments of state power and control are effectively removed from public discussion.” Patriotism couldn’t plausibly be defined in such a way if the liberal class actually had a spine. “We endure more state control than at any time in U.S. history. And the liberal class, whose task was once to monitor and protest the excesses of the power elite, has assisted in the rout.” If all this isn’t clear in this review, you can count on Hedge’s masterful articulation to clarify everything. “’There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop.’” This is very nearly how I feel two hours after reading this book, and hopefully it’s how everyone will feel after reading it. Death of the Liberal Class may be the most important book in our lifetimes.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ann Douglas

    If you've been looking for a book that will help you to make sense of all the drastic and far-reaching changes that have occurred in North American society at the social, political, and economic level over the past 25 years or so, this book is for you. In THE DEATH OF THE LIBERAL CLASS, Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges argues that the increasing irrelevancy of the liberal class -- a class that has historically helped to champion the needs of the poor, the working class, and even th If you've been looking for a book that will help you to make sense of all the drastic and far-reaching changes that have occurred in North American society at the social, political, and economic level over the past 25 years or so, this book is for you. In THE DEATH OF THE LIBERAL CLASS, Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges argues that the increasing irrelevancy of the liberal class -- a class that has historically helped to champion the needs of the poor, the working class, and even the middle class -- has allowed for the rise of an all-powerful, corporate-controlled ruling elite. "Democracy, a system designed to challenge the status quo, has been corrupted to serve the status quo," he writes. The book is powerful and illuminating; deeply disturbing and often heartbreaking. But far from leaving his reader with a sense of hopelessness, Hedges concludes with a powerful call to action by those who value "reason, logic, and truth, for a fact-based society, for political and social structure designed to protect the common good." I hope every person I know will read this book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Marcus

    A liberal, by Hedges' reckoning, is part classical liberalism, which insists on basic human rights such as freedom speech and civil rights, combined with many of the social and economic ideas of Marxist socialism. The free market, capitalism and corporations are, by contrast, the source of most evil, and in this utopian vision, they would not exist. By that definition, it's easy to take most of todays politicians who claim to be liberals to the cleaners for neglecting, or outright defiling, their A liberal, by Hedges' reckoning, is part classical liberalism, which insists on basic human rights such as freedom speech and civil rights, combined with many of the social and economic ideas of Marxist socialism. The free market, capitalism and corporations are, by contrast, the source of most evil, and in this utopian vision, they would not exist. By that definition, it's easy to take most of todays politicians who claim to be liberals to the cleaners for neglecting, or outright defiling, their purported values. Hedges does not hesitate to do so. The Death of the Liberal Class is about how almost every item on the liberal agenda is flawed. From healthcare reform to foreign relations, especially the wars we're in, to welfare to civil rights to public radio and television. None of it goes far enough. He advocates a peaceful revolution of civil disobedience that would overturn all corporatism, put the power back in the hands of the workers through unions and wealth redistribution and use government funding for socially conscious programs that didn't only pay lip service to equality, but that actually implement it. His heroes are Malcolm X (over MLK Jr.), Ralph Nader (though he thinks he's lost much of his former prowess in recent years), Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore (how he can intellectually justify that, I don't know). He excoriates Obama, Gore and every other so-called liberal politician almost without exception. His idealism is appealing. He is passionate and seems to be intellectually honest (to a point) and a compassionate person. He has witnessed war first hand and he hates it. The chapters on the horrors of war are the strongest in the book. His arguments are vehement and convincing. He brings home the awfulness with incredible clarity. His critiques of liberals should embarrass anyone who voted for or supports Obama. He convincingly shows how Obama gives lip service to idealism but is just as much in the pockets of corporations as Bush was. One of the closing chapters on the dreary future we face due to climate change and the coming economic collapse caused by our fiat currency is dark and harrowing and is an effective call to action for anyone who agrees with his premises. The writing throughout the book flows so smoothly from the circumstantial to the philosophical that the pages fly by. On the other hand, the chapter on the Internet should have been left out of the book. Almost every sentence has some technical error or misrepresentation. I think that Hedges, as so many other idealists, fails at convincingly meshing his ideology with human nature. At one point in the book he briefly gives lip service the human nature, but takes for granted that the reader agrees that socialism is a more natural state than capitalism. He never explains how a society with no competition is to work economically or how such a strong human instinct will be suppressed to bring about his idea of utopia. It feels like he consciously decides to stop short of a practical analysis of the implications of his ideas once carried beyond the initial revolution. As far as I can tell, he envisions a world of small, semi-isolated tribes sustaining themselves on primitive, low-impact technology and living in harmony with each other. This is never, of course, stated explicitly but for everything he advocates to have any semblance of possibility of working together I can't imagine any other way for the world to be structured. The Death of the Liberal Class is worth reading because the historical analysis and critiques of our current political situation are novel and valid, and I'm excited to read his other books, but unless he is better coupling his ideals with the reality of human nature, I don't find his brand of idealism any more convincing than anarcho-capitalism or communism.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Foppe

    I am of two minds when it comes to this book, even if in the end I like it. On the one hand, I do think Hedges is onto something important, and I am very sympathetic to his plight. So if you are a patient reader, who already is somewhat familiar with the sorts of problems Hedges is addressing, it is possible to figure out this book without getting lost in the text. On the other hand, Hedges is unnecessarily negative about his fellow citizens, and he does not present what I would call a coherent I am of two minds when it comes to this book, even if in the end I like it. On the one hand, I do think Hedges is onto something important, and I am very sympathetic to his plight. So if you are a patient reader, who already is somewhat familiar with the sorts of problems Hedges is addressing, it is possible to figure out this book without getting lost in the text. On the other hand, Hedges is unnecessarily negative about his fellow citizens, and he does not present what I would call a coherent argument in the book (other than a little bit at the end), while, especially in the first half, his argumentation is fairly repetitive. As a result, the argumentation can at times be fairly uneven, and the book contains more than a few non-sequiturs; for instance in his discussion of global warming (which, regardless of its validity, is rather post-apocalyptic and out of place where it is located), and in his discussion of the consequences of technological change, especially with regard to "the internet." However, if you ignore these parts (and his deterministic, and largely negative view of people, which I shall discuss more later), it seems to me that this book is a quite worthwhile read. Basically, I think the problem is that Hedges started out trying to give a history of activism in the United States, but he ended up (carried away by his pessimism) writing a history of decline. And while the former is interesting, the latter is not at all, not least because it is incoherent (Hedges himself identifies waxings and wanings, so the trend is not monotonous, and neither is it fair to say that all later activism was only the rise of narcissism, as Hedges does). In the book, Hedges discusses a number of different social institutions that have in the past served to organize dissent and social change, and how these have been changed over the past 80 or so years. He shows how most of these institutions have either been weakened through introduction of market forces (or market thinking), or destroyed entirely, through the introduction of legislation such as the Taft-Hartley Act. Hedges argues that American public discourse has been greatly impoverished because of these developments, as nearly all discussion about issues of political and economic organization, as well as the organization itself, has basically become impossible. And this, in turn, has resulted in the creation of a political monoculture (the GOP+Dems), that doesn't care one bit about the suffering of most of its citizens, and which is only concerned with creating new ways to benefit themselves and their corporate sponsors further. Hedges argues that a large part of the reason why social protest has become so difficult and ineffective in the US is because the national press has been entirely coopted by large corporations, who get to decide what is reported on, and how they report on it ("objectively"). He traces the start of this development to the invention of propaganda before WWI - with the accompanying repression and demolition of any `news' agency that refused to print pro-government (and pro-war) news during the war - and argues that this trend has only gotten worse since then, while social movements have become ever more `emasculated'. Examples of legislation promoting the party line are the Espionage Act, the Sedition Act, Taft-Hartley, McCarthyism, with liberalization and corporatization taking care of the rest. Together, these laws served to limit or outlaw almost all effective social protests against issues of redistribution and social organization, while the fact that most news corporations are and were willing to ignore or ridicule protestors as their thought being informed by "totalitarian communism," while former `liberals' who joined protest movements were strongly attacked by their former colleagues. This occurred especially often during the frequent wars the US has found itself in over the past century, as appeals to patriotism and nationalism made it exceedingly easy to (legally and through abuse of state power) exclude these people from public life, via ostracization and blacklisting. And while these laws were not always equally effective, especially since Reagan they have resulted in ever more encompassing repression of all effective opposition to the direction in which the US was heading with regards to social inequality. Having said that, I also have a number of problems with the book, especially as published in its current form. Firstly, Hedges's argument would've been a great deal easier to follow (especially in the middle of the book) if he had allowed a good editor to tidy up his argument and restructure the chapter contents, as these are quite repetitive (and a little disjointed) in their current form. The absence of a brave editor is especially noticeable in the concluding chapter. Although it contains a number of excellent points, the argument as it is presented is very uneven, especially when he unexpectedly discusses global warming and the `consequences of individualism'. Secondly, while Hedges offers a number of very valid criticisms of American society as it has developed over the past decades, he does not help himself by doing things like repeatedly calling something "the last gasp of social protest movement," implying that all later social protest movements should only be seen as "degenerate." (He presumably argues this because he feels that those new movements were too concerned with identity politics and affirming individual rights, and too little with issues of group rights and social organization.) This line of argument, it seems to me, is invalid for two reasons. First of all, because it is entirely inconsistent with his laudatory treatment of MLK and Malcolm X; secondly, although it is probably valid to suggest that the realm of social discourse has been narrowing over the past 80 years, this is at least in part because some actual progress has been made. As such, Hedges's suggestion that social protest movements have only became more inane and more self-centered, because they became ever more concerned with self-expression and issues of social recognition, seems unfair at best, and reactionary at worst. (Presumably these complaints were inspired by his religious background.) The worst part of the book is probably Hedges's discussion of Lanier, who has recently argued that the internet has "destroyed creativity" and made "fair remuneration" of authors impossible, while it has conditioned people to expect "free culture" (or whatever, I didn't finish the book out of boredom). He never says so explicitly, but it seems to me that Hedges uses Lanier primarily to argue that the internet (and the attendant idea that "information should be free" has somehow led to the demise of high-quality journalism -- an argument which, it seems to me, is rather silly given the rest of the book. Why oh why does good journalism have to happen in print? Additionally, his ideas about how, once independent journalism is viable or "rewarded" again, this will somehow mean that people will want to read good journalism, seem rather naïve. Although I am in total agreement with Hedges that having a good press is of paramount importance if you want to have a functioning democracy, I am not sure journalists deserve the heroic status Hedges attributes to them, based on the few examples of good journalists he really gives. Implicit in most of the book, but especially obvious in the section about the way the internet determines the thinking of its users are Hedges's ideas about the passive nature of "members of the public." Determinism, and the attribution of near-total passivity to the `reading public' pervades Hedges's thinking, especially in his darker moments, in which he totally seems to forget that the population is not as homogeneous as he presents it to be. And I do not believe that the readers/consumers deserve to be described as being little more than a sheep whose only interests are to get "everything for free", while they have destroyed good journalism out of stinginess. But reading those passages, you cannot help but wonder for whom he thought he was writing his book if things really were this bad. In Hedges's eyes, only institutions (unions, Great Journalists, universities and academics, theater companies, churches) are capable of politically organizing the public. But even though I agree with Hedges that these institutions have largely been destroyed (insofar as they were politically active), while US citizens have been drenched in the belief that political organization on social distributive issues is inappropriate, it still seems to me that he is very unkind to suggest that all of the decline in social activism can neatly be explained by people's "unwillingness to collectively fight for their rights" because they have all jumped on the consumerism & "cultural narcissism/self-realization" bandwagon. Contrary to what Hedges wants us to believe, the way in which society was organized earlier, with its strict class hierarchies, was hardly ideal either. In all, though, the pros do strongly outweigh the cons in this book, as Hedges has something to say about American political life that needs to be heard. As such, I do recommend that you read it, keeping in mind that you're reading it as a history of activism rather than as one of decline.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    After seeing Hedges deliver this talk: http://www.tvo.org/TVO/WebObjects/TVO... I was intrigued to hear him develop his ideas in a book. Even so, I went into Death of the Liberal Class not expecting something as groundbreaking and incredible as it turned out to be. Hedges' thesis is that there is a set of social instutions (press, liberal churches, universities, artists, labor unions, and the Democratic Party) that have historically advocated the interests of the poor, working, and middle class After seeing Hedges deliver this talk: http://www.tvo.org/TVO/WebObjects/TVO... I was intrigued to hear him develop his ideas in a book. Even so, I went into Death of the Liberal Class not expecting something as groundbreaking and incredible as it turned out to be. Hedges' thesis is that there is a set of social instutions (press, liberal churches, universities, artists, labor unions, and the Democratic Party) that have historically advocated the interests of the poor, working, and middle classes against the exploitation of the corporate state. He calls these institutions the "liberal class," and this book is, as you might imagine, a declensionist narrative that illuminates how the liberal class went from its peak in the Progressive Era to its current washed-up state. Hedges tells this story in journalistic fashion, quoting heavily from other authors (usually contemporaries of whichever period he's looking at) as well as from interviews he's done for the book. This lends a lot of credibility to the argument, and it also made the history a lot more interesting. And Hedges tells some really fascinating, compelling histories. My favorite was probably the Federal Theatre Project, a last-gasp of the liberal class after decades of World War I jingoist nationalism, anti-communist witchhunts, and the concomitant censorship of both. The FTP, a New Deal program, hired thousands of playwrites and actors and other people to write and perform politically aware drama that would get people engaged, particularly low-income people who normally are excluded from theatre. It was so successful at radicalizing and organizing people (art is powerful - when it isn't self-absorbed and inane) that it was the first New Deal project to be cancelled – and it had to cancelled quite violently, because its employees became very attached to it. The broad historical story of the book is thus: Progressive Era great reformers were brutally quashed by the government during WWI, and never recovered. After that, anti-communist witchhunting kept grinding the movement down until, by the time they ended, the liberal class had internalized the formerly external censorship and limitations. There is still active censorship, of course – as Hedges himself found out quite vividly: http://www.democracynow.org/2003/5/21.... Now, the liberal class is almost entirely subordinated to the needs of the corporate state. Intellectuals act as the conscience of things like the war economy, granting it approval and moral legitimacy. More importantly, there is no serious radical liberal alternative like the old communist and anarchist movements in the Progressive Era. These radicals, Hedges argues, served a crucial role in shaping the discourse of the liberal class and in shifting perception of more moderate (but still radical by today's standards) reform movements, thereby making them more effective. The liberal class is meant, ideally, to provide historical and ideological context to the exploitation of workers by the corporate state. Today, the class lacks both the organization and ideological coherence necessary to do that, and the contact with its intended 'constituents' needed for them to get the message and be galvanized by it. Hedges' analysis of the alternative – i.e., what happens when workers are exploited but there is no liberal class to organize their frustrations or vent them in reforms, is one of the high points of the book. It gives a clear historical view of movements like the Tea Party: "The mechanisms of control, which usually work to maintain a high level of fear among the populace, have produced, despite these admissions of failure, the "patriotic" citizen, plagued by job losses, bankrupted by medical bills, foreclosed on his or her house, and worried about possible terrorist attacks. In this historical vacuum, the "patriotic" citizen clings to the privilege of being a patriot [..] The retreat into a tribal identity is a desperate attempt to maintain self-worth and self-importance at a time of deep personal and ideological confusion. The "patriotic" citizen, althoguh abused by the actual policies of the state, unfailingly supports widespread surveillance and permanent war." Going even further, Hedges predicts that, without the safety valve of the liberal class' reforms, increasingly abused workers will be prey to the cruelest of galvanizing demagogues and even fascisms, as can already be observed, for instance, in the reaction to immigration. The last chapter was the keystone of the entire work. It is at the same time harrowing, depressing, and inspiring. Hedges believes that there is little hope for the revitalization of the liberal class, and as such, the depredations of the corporate state against workers, against the environment, against foreign nations, will become increasingly severe and result in increasingly tragic instabilities and social hardships. However, he still believes that there is no appropriate, no moral, and no truly fulfilling way to live in response to such conditions than to resist the dominant culture, and to form communities with each other as we do so. This is something I believe in strongly right now.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gordon Long

    “The Death of the Liberal Class” is a sad book. Not that we require all books to have pleasant subjects. There are plenty of unhappy things that need to be said. This book is sad for another reason; it is sad that it came to be written at all. Chris Hodges is a radical. He is a vociferous critic of what is wrong with America and the human race, and many of his ideas strike a receptive chord in a lot of people who don’t go quite as far as he does, but still appreciate his thoughts. For the most “The Death of the Liberal Class” is a sad book. Not that we require all books to have pleasant subjects. There are plenty of unhappy things that need to be said. This book is sad for another reason; it is sad that it came to be written at all. Chris Hodges is a radical. He is a vociferous critic of what is wrong with America and the human race, and many of his ideas strike a receptive chord in a lot of people who don’t go quite as far as he does, but still appreciate his thoughts. For the most part, those people make up the liberal class. As he explains in his book, the usual process of change in a democratic society is that the radicals present the ideas, but are too few in numbers to take effective action. The radical thinkers depend on attracting the attention of the more mainstream liberals, who have the numbers to effect the change they desire in a methodical and incremental fashion. In “Les Miserables”, the cry of the rebels on the barricades is, “The people will rise.” Like “Les Mis,” this book is the story about what happens to the radicals when the people don’t rise. In reading through “The Death of the Liberal Class,” I see the sad spectacle of a tired and discouraged reformer who has given up on the possibility of making any of the changes of his dreams, and has instead turned his invective against those upon whom he depended for support, but who, in his view, have failed him. The book is thus a constant stream of denunciation. It is a list of all the atrocities that this widely experienced journalist has encountered in his life, all described with professional skill. Responsibility is then laid directly at the feet of, not those who caused society’s ills (the “power elite”), but of the liberal class who failed to live up to the author’s expectations, because they did not rally behind him as he hoped. This book lists America’s constant state of war (all the way back to WWI), the McCarthy era, the dispossessed and unemployed of America, the plight of civilians in Afghanistan, the decline of the written word, the increasing spectacle of the political scene, and many other ailments of our society. One by one, these are all recounted and their cause laid directly at the feet of those who know better, but have not acted. The specific problem with this book is that while these things probably need to be said in order to light a fire under a complacent group of people, Hodges has chosen to forgo the usual pattern of philosophical argument: set up a scenario, make a connection, then point out a solution. In almost every case he uses his skill to set up a scenario that makes our blood boil, then skips the necessity of making a connection, and goes straight to “it’s all the fault of the liberal class.” As a result, there is sense that Hodges is too tired to discuss or argue any more. He only wishes to blame. Instead of logical argument, his one technique to support his theories is a constant stream of references to the opinions of people most of us have never heard of, who think the same way he does. Another trick not really meant to persuade anybody of anything. The book has its share of factual errors (Canada has no Labour party) and faulty logic, leading the reader to suspect that it was not aimed at the logical thinker. In fact, one is constantly led to wonder for whom this book was really written. It is not until the very end of the book, when Hedges begins to discuss the duty of the rebel to stand with the dispossessed, that we see the fire and enthusiasm that has driven this writer to achieve his much-deserved reputation for excellence in thought and expression. Unfortunately, 5 pages of inspiration do not make up for over 200 pages of invective and anger. If you read this book, it will only sadden you, that one of America’s great social critics has reached such depths of despair as to turn against his necessary partners in the functioning of democracy. It is one of those rants that would have been a great way for the author to blow off steam, but should have then been put on a shelf. And left there.

  10. 4 out of 5

    VJ

    I was most struck by the following, taken from my notes: "History has shown time and again that when the liberal class ceases to function, as happened in Tsarist Russia, Weimar Germany, and the former Yugoslavia, it always opens a Pandora's Box of evils that infect the remnants of a civil society." Mass communication technologies and propaganda killed populism. The cultural embrace of simplification has banished complexity and pushed to the margins difficult, original, or unfamiliar ideas. (p.88) " I was most struck by the following, taken from my notes: "History has shown time and again that when the liberal class ceases to function, as happened in Tsarist Russia, Weimar Germany, and the former Yugoslavia, it always opens a Pandora's Box of evils that infect the remnants of a civil society." Mass communication technologies and propaganda killed populism. The cultural embrace of simplification has banished complexity and pushed to the margins difficult, original, or unfamiliar ideas. (p.88) "...mediocrity makes its own rules and sets its own image of success." (p.122) The discussions of Dorothy Day, Phillip and Daniel Berrigan, Thomas Merton, the Catholic Worker, MLK as political revolutionary, and Malcolm X as cultural revolutionary were illuminating. The processes of the marginalization of Ralph Nader and the surveillance of Howard Zinn were also informative. "Democracy, a system designed to challenge the status quo, has been corrupted to serve the status quo." (p.198) Death of the liberal class has been accomplished by a shift from print-based to image-based culture. Verifiable fact, which is rooted in the complexity of print, no longer forms the basis of public discourse or collective memory. Images and words defy the complex structures of print when isolated from context. "Oh my soul, do not aspire to the immortal life, but exhaust the limits of the possible." Pindar, Greek poet. In short, rage against the machine that would destroy our compassion, sense of self and community. Defy the machine that would have us give up our humanity to behave as sheeple as we are quickly destroyed by the corporate elite and their propaganda. Don't swallow the illusions.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kaelan Ratcliffe ▪ كايِلان راتكِليف

    Dismantling the Liberal Class This is as dense as a Chris Hedges book gets. There's so much to unpack in such a small number of pages that the reader feels as though he/she might explode if more than four pages are attempted per session. However, I would make the claim that this is the most informative and relevant of all Hedges works (at least so far in my reading of the man), and warnings aplenty are planted throughout these pages for Americans - and the world - to take heed from. See belo Dismantling the Liberal Class This is as dense as a Chris Hedges book gets. There's so much to unpack in such a small number of pages that the reader feels as though he/she might explode if more than four pages are attempted per session. However, I would make the claim that this is the most informative and relevant of all Hedges works (at least so far in my reading of the man), and warnings aplenty are planted throughout these pages for Americans - and the world - to take heed from. See below: if this extract takes your interest then perhaps consider putting The Death of the Liberal Class on your 'to-read' list: "We stand on verge of one of the bleakest periods in human history, when the bright lights of civilization will blink out and we will descend for decades, if not centuries, into barbarity. The elites, who successfully convinced us that we no longer possessed the capacity to understand the revealed truths presented before us or to fight back against the chaos caused by economic and environmental catastrophe, will use their resources to create privileged little islands where they will have access to security and goods denied to the rest of us. As long as the mass of bewildered and frightened people, fed images by the organs of mass propaganda that permit them to perpetually hallucinate, exist in this state of barbarism, they may periodically strike out with a blind fury against increased state repression, widespread poverty, and food shortages. But they will lack the ability and self-confidence to challenge in big and small ways the structures of control. The fantasy of wide- spread popular revolts and mass movements breaking the hegemony of the corporate state is just that-a fantasy. Hedges is pretty much spot on throughout this work, however there is an egregious error made in which he tarnishes the Black Panther Party with "becoming infected with the lust for violence, quest for ideological purity, crippling paranoia, self exaltation and internal repression as the state system they defied". I found this to be a highly contestable statement and I'm certain he was called out for this when he took part in a debate regarding the uses of black block just afrer occupy wall street took place. I'll let the reader decide how they feel about the above statement, however, this, along with some sweepingly dismissive statements about the 1960's protests, and the various mind opening, Eastern influenced aspects that were introduced to young western minds at the time, stopped me from giving this the full five star rating. Despite this, I would go as far as to say this is required reading if one hopes to understand current American politics.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kenneth

    This is a very precient book by Chris Hedges, an American intellectual who has spent his entire career dissecting the smokes and mirrors employed by the US government and its allies, the global elite, the corporate interests, and his fellow academics. Hedges's views with regard to the death of the Liberal Class has finally come into fruition with the election of President Trump. He writes how the liberal class (the union leaders, academics, various religious authorities, activists, NGOs, etc.) h This is a very precient book by Chris Hedges, an American intellectual who has spent his entire career dissecting the smokes and mirrors employed by the US government and its allies, the global elite, the corporate interests, and his fellow academics. Hedges's views with regard to the death of the Liberal Class has finally come into fruition with the election of President Trump. He writes how the liberal class (the union leaders, academics, various religious authorities, activists, NGOs, etc.) has essentially stopped becoming the traditional defenders of the working class and has instead worked for the power elite, some of which have become members the power elite themselves. With this transmogrification of the liberal class came the disillusionment among the working class who were given false hopes and false promises. This resentment, according to Hedges, will eventually be filled by a demagogue who will promise the populace that he will bring to them what the liberal class has failed to achieve: job security, economic vibrancy, and anything that falls under the word "Greatness," all premised on the fact that these goals could only be attained through the expulsion of specific groups of people which are deemed as "parasitic", "illegal", "freeloaders" and all the other labels used by totalitarian leaders to unite their society against a common enemy. The idea is to put people's attention away from the power elite themselves and use the "divide and conquer" strategy which has always proven useful in fomenting animosity and hate within social groups. Chris Hedges delves into many other topics in his book and if you like Noam Chomsky's works, this book fully complements Chomsky's works.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    There was a lot of hatred and paranoia from the people in charge in America since the thirties through the forties, fifties, sixties, seventies and on up into the eighties, but seemed to drop with the B. Wall, coming back only when “the towers” fell. This fear and hatred fell (falls) on anyone willing to cast a critical eye or word, and the more they press the button the more people react against them, the same way my six year old is really skilled at pressing his five year old brother’s buttons There was a lot of hatred and paranoia from the people in charge in America since the thirties through the forties, fifties, sixties, seventies and on up into the eighties, but seemed to drop with the B. Wall, coming back only when “the towers” fell. This fear and hatred fell (falls) on anyone willing to cast a critical eye or word, and the more they press the button the more people react against them, the same way my six year old is really skilled at pressing his five year old brother’s buttons, and how the five year old is really, really good at getting my six year old’s goat. They are like Abbott and Costello, constantly bickering for no apparent object other than having the last word. When you grow up, though, it’s not supposed to be like this. People are supposed to cooperate, work together, understand they are part of a greater whole. And when you want to change something, how much patience do you have to burn through, how much rejection and stupidity and fear must you confront before you reach for the anger and start pushing the buttons that, while perhaps furthering your case, are also going to turn people against you. You can see this in the writings and speeches of Martin Luther King. Early on he seems willing to do whatever it takes in non-violent protests, then later he starts contemplating giving up, because it doesn’t seem to be working … Nevertheless, I would like to think that these men and women did not work and suffer (persecution and ostracism for association with the communist party or for merely advocating workers’ rights or criticizing government policy) in vain, that the points they advocated have somehow been adopted into the current cultural context, that the sixties were not a pipe dream, that something besides identity politics and meditation came out of them, and found its way into the, excuse me for this cliché, cultural DNA of our nation, into the general background of information that Americans reference in their political thinking. But perhaps this is just a fantasy of mine that I tell myself.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cyanemi

    Another horror story from Chris Hedges. It just makes me want to buy more property wall around it and wait for the inevitable. I do believe what he is saying will come to pass but probably not in my liefetime, unless I live until 100. Certainly people in their teens and 20's at this time will be greatly compromised in the future. The book goes through the history of the liberal class, what it's purpose was supposed to be and how that got convoluted and then dismantled entirely. Keeping us in a Another horror story from Chris Hedges. It just makes me want to buy more property wall around it and wait for the inevitable. I do believe what he is saying will come to pass but probably not in my liefetime, unless I live until 100. Certainly people in their teens and 20's at this time will be greatly compromised in the future. The book goes through the history of the liberal class, what it's purpose was supposed to be and how that got convoluted and then dismantled entirely. Keeping us in a war state ensures that fear and the mentality that goes along with being at war all the time will not allow the liberal class to rise again and help the down trodden and destitute. I've heard it at work a hundred times. "Why don't they just go to school like I did and get a job." The only work around here are medical jobs. Not everyone should could or can go into the medical field. There is a mentality of "they did it to themselves." The town I work in is dying. Delphi and the UAW cut the wages in half. More people are on drugs than have jobs and child endangerment and domestic abuse are huge. Chris Hedges mentions Oprah a few times and her gospel of you are special, magical and all things will come to you if you hope and visualize it. This magical thinking keeps people from viewing the inequities aroung them and keeps them in a perpetual fog. Hope had two daughters anger and courage and that is what he says we will need for the coming decades.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    There isn't much interesting in this book that wasn't expressed better previously. The ideas are a hodgepodge of Chomsky, Camus and other people it would be better to read directly to find out what they think. In addition, the whole book is too negative. Hedges doesn't mention recent successes of the people over the corporate overlords, e.g. tobacco control. What are the differences between that and the failure to do much about global warming? Well, they are pretty obvious but they don There isn't much interesting in this book that wasn't expressed better previously. The ideas are a hodgepodge of Chomsky, Camus and other people it would be better to read directly to find out what they think. In addition, the whole book is too negative. Hedges doesn't mention recent successes of the people over the corporate overlords, e.g. tobacco control. What are the differences between that and the failure to do much about global warming? Well, they are pretty obvious but they don't have to do with the "death" of a "liberal class." Framing everything in relation to the "liberal class" is the main contribution of this book but to me it doesn't make much sense, and so the book as a whole doesn't have a coherent thread holding it together. Who is/was the "liberal class?" What social progress movement did they lead? Big changes come from the bottom up and the so-called leaders follow.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Campbell

    As I generally do, I was listening to National Public Radio (my driving companion when I'm not listing to gangster rap) and I first heard a story Hedges Laments The 'Death Of The Liberal Class'. I was struck listening to Hodges talk about his life and the liberal class. It was a soon after that that I ended up being at Barnes & Nobel and quickly bought the book when I saw it. You must understand that this is about a year (I don't know why it took me so long to read it, it was really good), and I As I generally do, I was listening to National Public Radio (my driving companion when I'm not listing to gangster rap) and I first heard a story Hedges Laments The 'Death Of The Liberal Class'. I was struck listening to Hodges talk about his life and the liberal class. It was a soon after that that I ended up being at Barnes & Nobel and quickly bought the book when I saw it. You must understand that this is about a year (I don't know why it took me so long to read it, it was really good), and I was spending a lot of time at anywhere that had wireless internet. Read the rest of the review at my blog, Can These Dry Bones Still be Raised, A Review on Chris Hodges's Death of the Liberal Class or more reviews.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rob Granniss

    Chris Hedges lays out a rather stark case for the difficulties of putting forth any type of liberal argument in the mainstream with leaders who treat the term like it's an assignation of a disease, mainstream journalism treating it as bias, and popular culture treating it as synonymous with undermining personal liberty. Anyone interested in criticism of the New York Times would do well to read this as it lays out how difficult it is to be a liberal at an institution commonly (and mistakenly it s Chris Hedges lays out a rather stark case for the difficulties of putting forth any type of liberal argument in the mainstream with leaders who treat the term like it's an assignation of a disease, mainstream journalism treating it as bias, and popular culture treating it as synonymous with undermining personal liberty. Anyone interested in criticism of the New York Times would do well to read this as it lays out how difficult it is to be a liberal at an institution commonly (and mistakenly it seems) to be termed liberal. It documents cases of censorship by omission, arrogance of editors putting basically bad or poorly researched journalism on the front pages, and Hedges own dismissal following a criticism of war at a graduation ceremony (along with pointing out the hypocrisy of allowing other journalists to make speeches which are pro-war). There isn't much light at the end of the tunnel except some Dorothy Day and Catholic Worker mentions, but it is a book with a black cover and the word Death on it so I suppose what you see is what you get.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ademption

    Chris Hedges writes an angry, dirge-like polemic against liberals, yet The Death of... is chiefly aimed at corporatist politicians of both stripes. His thesis is that since progressive, labour, socialist, and communist movements have been rendered irrelevant, previously sold-out by the liberal class, US liberalism is now being hallowed out and discarded. Liberals have no more support in either wing of the political spectrum. For example, when the president threatens war, as Bush did in Iraq and Chris Hedges writes an angry, dirge-like polemic against liberals, yet The Death of... is chiefly aimed at corporatist politicians of both stripes. His thesis is that since progressive, labour, socialist, and communist movements have been rendered irrelevant, previously sold-out by the liberal class, US liberalism is now being hallowed out and discarded. Liberals have no more support in either wing of the political spectrum. For example, when the president threatens war, as Bush did in Iraq and Afghanistan, liberals/democrats argue tactics rather than whether or not to wage war. In other words, what is currently considered liberal is a party of deluded sockpuppets offering token resistance on finer, nearly irrelevant points, like political correctness, instead of actual opposition to the dominant ideology. Liberalism asks for inclusion on methods instead of pushing its own answers to foundational questions, which are solely left to moneyed corporate culture. This book will not sway political die-hards either way, but it does go to great lengths to explain and justify the right-wing's frothy hatred of liberals, i.e. liberals have not addressed the needs and realities of the working-class since the New Deal and are even now abandoning the plight of the shrinking middle class, killing its own base. Neither party delivers, but republicans at least pretend to hear this large and politically invisible segment of society out, enabling them to rant as tea partiers and giving them Fox News for their daily rage-gasms. Democrats don't even attempt to listen, but take a paternalistic approach, promising to help everyone, not listening, and being snobbishly dismissive while not delivering. Instead of being a check on conservative aggression and dominance, liberal politicians have become a mouthpiece, selling a conservative viewpoint with a soft touch for corporate donations, or in the case of academia, using deliberately obscure and masturbatorily banal rhetoric, i.e. saying nothing much, in the hopes of not offending and therefore securing grants from corporations. While certainly polemical, Hedges does not lack the courage of his convictions. In 2012, he personally sued the Obama administration and members of congress regarding indefinite detention. The issue and the ongoing case don't seem to be addressed much by politicians and media, even though Hedges successfully won a permanent injunction on the detention powers while the case continues. As with most journalists and political critics, Hedges diagnoses the problems he sees well, but offers few solutions, other than progressives should withdraw, but stay connected to like-minded others as the angry get angrier and more disenfranchised, and those with power seek increasingly fascist methods of quelling dissent, until we live in an age of open barbarity, which we must all weather in closed communities. Hedges shares a political kinship with Noam Chomsky. Both rail against US militarism, corporatism, and the narrow political spectrum currently deemed acceptable by corporatist media. Hedges is informed by his progressive Protestant education and upbringing, while Chomsky is an atheist. As such, Hedges interviews and quotes religious progressives in addition to atheist/agnostic progressives like Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and Ralph Nader. Hedges also implies that faith is needed to maintain endurance in the struggle. Father Daniel Berrigan is invoked throughout the book as a model shit-disturber and true blue progressive. Also Hedges seems to genuinely detest the power he rails against. Chomsky, while railing in an analogous vein, seems to secretly admire such power's concentration and expression. It's a well-reasoned polemic, explaining much of the entrenched political divide in the US as corporatist power theatre.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Azrielq

    We're doomed- dooooommmmmeeeedddd! Despite a fair amount of hyperbole, Hedges makes a fair argument that we are currently living in a corporate controlled "inverse totalitarian state" in which the progressive movement, once so strong during the early part of the the 19th century has been completely co-opted and is now impotent to make any real political changes without radical civil disobedience. One thing that I enjoyed about this book was its vignettes of different progressive historical movemen We're doomed- dooooommmmmeeeedddd! Despite a fair amount of hyperbole, Hedges makes a fair argument that we are currently living in a corporate controlled "inverse totalitarian state" in which the progressive movement, once so strong during the early part of the the 19th century has been completely co-opted and is now impotent to make any real political changes without radical civil disobedience. One thing that I enjoyed about this book was its vignettes of different progressive historical movements and personalities, such as the the drama of the 30s and its influence and Ralph Nader.However, this seemed to lend the book to a feeling of jumping around rather than a unified whole. The ending of the book and his conclusion is very hyperbolic. He makes radical predictions on what will happen to our society and environment with scant evidence to back it up, and many of the assertions are enough for an entire book themselves (ex. in the future we will experience widespread urban food deserts, the Balkinization of the internet and all art becoming dominated by advertisement.) Despite these weaknesses the Death of the Liberal Class is certainly thought provoking and mind expanding.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    I'm sorry I didn't like this book more. It started off really promising. But ultimately I'm disturbed by the fact that after 200 plus pages I still don't know who Chris Hedges really means when he says "The Liberal Class". He seems to cast such a wide net with that phrase... and yet most of the people he actually names are, well, either conservatives, or academics / artists whose work he fully admits he doesn't understand. (There's something tragic about the passage where he quotes some "incompr I'm sorry I didn't like this book more. It started off really promising. But ultimately I'm disturbed by the fact that after 200 plus pages I still don't know who Chris Hedges really means when he says "The Liberal Class". He seems to cast such a wide net with that phrase... and yet most of the people he actually names are, well, either conservatives, or academics / artists whose work he fully admits he doesn't understand. (There's something tragic about the passage where he quotes some "incomprehensible" Frederic Jameson which I actually found rather easy to follow.) And then of course there's Jackson Polluck. But the real tragedy is the way the book ends: with Hedges declaring that the battle has been lost, that soon all we leftists will be able to do is eke out survival in monastic conditions, farming our own land, preserving the flickering flames of (high quality) culture for centuries. I mean, this isn't a political analysis, this is a call to circle wagons after surrendering. And lastly, the book badly needs an editor. Each chapter wanders through subject matters like a shopper in a supermarket, visiting many of the aisles more than once.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

    This is not a book that leaves one inspired or hopeful. It is a sad book. In many ways, there is a lot of valuable stuff here. Hedges does provide some concrete explanations that illuminate how America’s social structure underwent a fundamental shift once the US entered the first World War and journalism morphed from a system of balanced truth into a propagandizing system that like a puppet-master, pulled on emotional strings that influence human behavior rather than provide balanced truth that f This is not a book that leaves one inspired or hopeful. It is a sad book. In many ways, there is a lot of valuable stuff here. Hedges does provide some concrete explanations that illuminate how America’s social structure underwent a fundamental shift once the US entered the first World War and journalism morphed from a system of balanced truth into a propagandizing system that like a puppet-master, pulled on emotional strings that influence human behavior rather than provide balanced truth that fosters rational judgement. “Print-based culture, in which fact and assertion could be traced and distinguished, has ceded to a culture of emotionally driven narratives where facts and opinions are interchangeable,” (207). Much of what Hedges is right and true. However, the way that he expresses these thoughts are problematic. Hedges frequently uses the term “liberal class” but he denies the opportunity to define the constituents of this class. From page one he launches into a vindictive diatribe about the failure of the liberal class as the source of all of America’s cultural depravity, however Hedges rarely acknowledges that he, himself is a member of this class. Only until the final paragraph does he begin to use the term “we” to promote change and influence, but it is to little to late. This is a very sad book and one that only frustrates with little hope for inspiration. I feel that the book would have had a better premise if it was titled the ‘Decline of the Liberal Class’ and that Hedges provided a chronological thesis that demonstrated how the effectiveness of the liberal moral movement has declined as the corporate power and war state has risen in power. However that is not the book that Hedges wrote. His book is highly disorganized and often comes off as a rant full of demonstrative and emotionally charged adjectives to describe the liberal class as anemic, ossified, and of course dead. Although he professes that liberalism, or rather the class of liberalism is dead, Hedges is inconsistent in illuminating the actual moment when the liberal class died. He says it happens the day Woodrow Wilson entered the US into ‘the war to end all wars’, he says it arose when fascist hatred turned toward communist hatred and fear-mongering during the forties, he says that the death arose when arts subjected themselves to pithy worship of self and celebrity through the beats, the sixties, and the seventies avaunt-garde, he says that the liberal class died when the likes of Howard Zinn, Raplh Nader, I.F. Stone were followed by the FBI and silenced, he says the liberal class died when journalism subjected objective truth for propaganda and sensationalism. Over and over again Hedges provides concrete examples for the decline of the liberal class, but his writing is so streaked with contempt and anger that he fails to put it altogether into a concise argument and he is so convinced that the liberal class is dead that he fails to acknowledge that through the 20th century there has been a movement that has persisted and continues to thrive. True, the movement lacks the unification of the socialist union movement prior to the first World War, but the world changed and the movement has had to change with the changing world.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Miroku Nemeth

    Spent 5 hours reading Hedges' latest book with rapt attentiveness straight through. As anyone who has read his writing can expect, it was incomparably insightful in its biting analysis of the destruction and betrayal of the liberal class. Hedges takes one through the history of American thinkers who were once the voice for the people, but who were co-opted into the corporate state; chronicling our history up to the truly deplorable present state of affairs, where corporate image production and t Spent 5 hours reading Hedges' latest book with rapt attentiveness straight through. As anyone who has read his writing can expect, it was incomparably insightful in its biting analysis of the destruction and betrayal of the liberal class. Hedges takes one through the history of American thinkers who were once the voice for the people, but who were co-opted into the corporate state; chronicling our history up to the truly deplorable present state of affairs, where corporate image production and the ubiquity of the corporate state and the machinations of its intelligentsia have rendered that part of the American consciousness that is feeling such angst and despair because of its very real and desperate conditions unable to direct its anger effectively. All is not dark, however, much inspiration can be found in reviewing the history of muckraking journalists, true labor organizers, peoples' artists, and uncompromising figures such as Eugene Debs, I.F. Stone, Doris Day, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Phil and Dan Berrigan, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, and Ralph Nader, as well as the many unsung heroes Hedges writes about. "The indifference to the plight of others and the cult of the self is what the corporate state seeks to instill in us. That state appeals to pleasure, as well as fear, to crush compassion. we will have to fight the mechanisms of that dominant culture, if for no other reason than to preserve, through small, even tiny acts, our common humanity. We will have to resist the temptation to fold in on ourselves and ignore the injustice visited on others, especially those we do not know. As distinct and moral beings, we will endure only through these small, sometimes imperceptible acts of defiance. This defiance, this capacity to say no, is what mass culture and mass propaganda seek to eradicate. As long as we are willing to defy these forces, we have a chance, if not for ourselves, then at least for those who follow. as long as we defy these forces, we remain alive." Note: this review was from when this important book was first published. His latest books are excellent as well.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    Chris Hedges is an angry man (see Empire of Illusion). He is angry with what he calls the liberal class who he holds responsible for the unfettered rise of corporatism in America. In his view the liberal class sold out to corporate interests and in doing so, failed to live up to its purpose in providing a counterweight to the worst excesses of capitalism. Quoting John Gray, classical liberalism has four principle features or perspectives: it is individualist, in that it asserts the moral primacy Chris Hedges is an angry man (see Empire of Illusion). He is angry with what he calls the liberal class who he holds responsible for the unfettered rise of corporatism in America. In his view the liberal class sold out to corporate interests and in doing so, failed to live up to its purpose in providing a counterweight to the worst excesses of capitalism. Quoting John Gray, classical liberalism has four principle features or perspectives: it is individualist, in that it asserts the moral primacy of hte peson against any collectivity; egalitarian, in that i confers on all human beings the same basic moral status; universalist, affirming the moral unity of the species; and meliorist, in that it asserts the open-ended improvability, by use of reason, human life. He states that the liberal era flourished in the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th century with the growth of mass movements and social reforms tha taddressed working conditions in factoires, the organizing of labor unions, women's rights, uniersal education, housing for he poor, public health campaigns, and socialism. This era ended with WWI which shattered liberal optimism about the inevitability of human progress and also consolidated state and corporate control over economic, political, cultural and social affairs. Interestingly, many of Hedge's dissatisfactions with contemporary America are very similar to those of the Tea Party movement. The major difference is that he argues that the problem is primarily with corporate interests who have taken over, not only the media, but also the government. He ends on a very pessimistic note saying that things have gotten to the state that nothing can be done to change the fact that we are in for a very long dark period. He does emphasize the importance of individual acts of defiance and courage as a reminder that we have not abandoned humanity altogether and to serve as a reminder to future generations.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Hedges sees the truth of our age! Wow! Hedges is a war correspondent who has clearly seen the light and shines it blindingly on the problems we are collectively struggling with in our globalized culture. Hedges focusses on problems in the US. But we all know the US' problems are the world's problems and as you read this book you see how Canada is suffering from the same affliction. (Harperites beware.) Hedges points out how privileged interests took advantage of the new powers of propaganda in t Hedges sees the truth of our age! Wow! Hedges is a war correspondent who has clearly seen the light and shines it blindingly on the problems we are collectively struggling with in our globalized culture. Hedges focusses on problems in the US. But we all know the US' problems are the world's problems and as you read this book you see how Canada is suffering from the same affliction. (Harperites beware.) Hedges points out how privileged interests took advantage of the new powers of propaganda in the 20th century and used them to seduce the masses and crush social movements of any kind. He documents the rise of the corporate war machine and the insiduous political influence of corporate culture that gradually stripped away the social institutions of US society and drove out or blackballed any critics of it's powers. This is not a conspiracy theory, just an unblinking look at the forces at play in our globalized age. Hedges' warnings are chilling but they must be heeded. His recommendations on how to prepare ourselves as global warming takes hold and the oil and financial crises loom, are worth paying close attention to. As myself a member of the "liberal class", I am of course complicit in abandoning the responsibility to take action. I can say I have witnessed the corporate influences in my own field of psychiatry and how they have insiduosly driven the research and practice agenda. Few psychiatrists today have any idea how to practice without prescribing on-patent medications marketed ingeniously by the propaganda machine. Hedges book is a clarion call to action. It is a source of intense although painful illumination on the real issues of our age. Run and get your hands on this book!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    Hedges offers a fiery, depressing evisceration of the Left's feckless descent into a "lesser of two evils" state. For progressives who feel powerless to do much beyond wag fingers at their supposed allies in the Democratic Party - and take some measure of absolution from participating in that charade - this book will land a few body punches. Hedges, as always, writes particularly forcefully about the ravages of war. On the flip side, there are a few lulls, like a so-so chapter on protest art (al Hedges offers a fiery, depressing evisceration of the Left's feckless descent into a "lesser of two evils" state. For progressives who feel powerless to do much beyond wag fingers at their supposed allies in the Democratic Party - and take some measure of absolution from participating in that charade - this book will land a few body punches. Hedges, as always, writes particularly forcefully about the ravages of war. On the flip side, there are a few lulls, like a so-so chapter on protest art (although I enjoyed the shot at Siddhartha). Hedges: "The liberal class has ossified. It has become part of the system it once tried to reform. It continues to speak in the language of technical jargon and tepid political reform, even though the corporate state has long since gutted the mechanisms for actual reform... The failure by the liberal class to articulate an alternative in a time of financial and environmental collapse clears the way for military values of hypermasculinity, blind obedience, and violence. A confused culture disdains the empathy and compassion espoused by traditional liberalism."

  26. 4 out of 5

    Elinor

    I had one major problem with this book; at some (any) point a/any definition of the liberal class would prove enlightening as class as a vertical social marker is as amorphous and nebulous a quality as any other (like ethnicity and religion or gender). As David Cannadine concludes in The Undivided Past, ‘it is no longer possible to view the past [or present in this case] as a succession of gigantic Manichean encounters between rising, struggling and falling classes’, [p.128] nor is class the pre I had one major problem with this book; at some (any) point a/any definition of the liberal class would prove enlightening as class as a vertical social marker is as amorphous and nebulous a quality as any other (like ethnicity and religion or gender). As David Cannadine concludes in The Undivided Past, ‘it is no longer possible to view the past [or present in this case] as a succession of gigantic Manichean encounters between rising, struggling and falling classes’, [p.128] nor is class the preeminent form of human collective identity. Liberalism is defined as a position on the political spectrum but this intellectual identity is not necessarily tied to a ‘class’ of people. Personally I doubt that there ever was a hegemonic social group known as the ‘liberal class’ and suspect that what Hedges charts is not the disintegration of a collective but the unravelling of contingently, albeit temporarily loosely aligned ‘liberal’ interests. Hedges critiques liberals lack of a single focus as their prime weakness but the catholic nature of liberalism has always been both a great strength and potential weakness. Hedges still seems to take Marx as gospel, which, really is not that useful at this point!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Lozano

    It's hard not to love this eloquent sermon on the failure of the Liberal class. Hedges does a great job elaborating the problem, but this book is short on solutions. Some might see the lack of proposed solutions as an oversight. Or they might argue Hedges simply wanted to ensure his audience understood the true problem of liberalism and that figures people can deduce the solution on their own. I don't think it's either one of those things. Hedges is a religious fatalist (he's a Presbyterian mini It's hard not to love this eloquent sermon on the failure of the Liberal class. Hedges does a great job elaborating the problem, but this book is short on solutions. Some might see the lack of proposed solutions as an oversight. Or they might argue Hedges simply wanted to ensure his audience understood the true problem of liberalism and that figures people can deduce the solution on their own. I don't think it's either one of those things. Hedges is a religious fatalist (he's a Presbyterian minister, after all) and it comes through in his work. He has no hope for this world. He encourages his readers in the end to make themselves martyrs, using Dietrich Bonhoeffer as his example of informed rebelliousness (Bonhoeffer was killed by the Nazis). There is a barely hidden thread of fatalistic "we are not of this world" religiosity that is woven artfully throughout the entire text. In the end, it's rather merciful that he doesn't devote much attention to how we ought to resist the onslaught of mass culture and mass propaganda. Optimism of any kind is clearly not his forte. But he does do an unprecedented job of pointing out the flaws in the system, and for that he gets five stars. It is clearly up to someone else to find a solution.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    I liked where Mr. Hedges was going with this book, but it was lacking in substantial argumentative strength. The basis of his argument is valid, but there were several weak points argued (i.e. he blasts the internet as the mechanism by which corporations will deplete liberal academics ability to earn momey from their productions, considering the fact that I bought his book online for my Kindle), and I think for the most part, his theology tends to overwhelm the cultural and politic. The best par I liked where Mr. Hedges was going with this book, but it was lacking in substantial argumentative strength. The basis of his argument is valid, but there were several weak points argued (i.e. he blasts the internet as the mechanism by which corporations will deplete liberal academics ability to earn momey from their productions, considering the fact that I bought his book online for my Kindle), and I think for the most part, his theology tends to overwhelm the cultural and politic. The best parts of his book are his historical references, and the ability to instruct those discontent with the status quo on how to contend with the overwhelming tactics of the corporate elite. I grew up with people who challenged the creeping plutocracy of America, and the corruption that slowly grew within Washington D.C., but I never had the fundamental principles to be a civil disobedient member of my society. Hedges lays out some great guidelines in this book. It is a somewhat awakening read, but be forewarned, Hedges doesn't follow through with his acknowledgements.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chris K

    Hedges' polemic about the abdication of the liberal class of its responsibility as a check between the excesses of elites and the masses is timely, incisive, and wide-reaching, and while he openly acknowledges his bias (he was fired from the New York Times for exercising the sort of liberal rebellion he advocates in this book) I was troubled by the tone of the book. Hedges could have written an academic work on this thesis, and at many, many points his history and analysis is of that sort of cal Hedges' polemic about the abdication of the liberal class of its responsibility as a check between the excesses of elites and the masses is timely, incisive, and wide-reaching, and while he openly acknowledges his bias (he was fired from the New York Times for exercising the sort of liberal rebellion he advocates in this book) I was troubled by the tone of the book. Hedges could have written an academic work on this thesis, and at many, many points his history and analysis is of that sort of caliber; however, the sources he draws from often leave much to be desired--both in their legitimacy as a source and the extent to which Hedges appears to rely on their statements. In sum, a weakness of this book seems to be its unwillingness to anticipate how the unconvinced (which does not include myself) will attack it--its sources at times, its Christian morality, and what opposing perspectives on this topic may have been left out. This doesn't damn the book per se, but it does compromise its message, in my opinion.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    It is an interesting, if very pessimistic read. I think it's a good expression of the discontent and fears of the Left with the Democratic party and the co-opted "liberals" who are as much a part of the system as the right wing is; the Tom Friedmans who claim left credentials somehow, but always double down and support the causes of the right when it matters most (like in Iraq). But it's only an expression; it won't convince anyone who isn't inclined to believe this way already. I buy about a th It is an interesting, if very pessimistic read. I think it's a good expression of the discontent and fears of the Left with the Democratic party and the co-opted "liberals" who are as much a part of the system as the right wing is; the Tom Friedmans who claim left credentials somehow, but always double down and support the causes of the right when it matters most (like in Iraq). But it's only an expression; it won't convince anyone who isn't inclined to believe this way already. I buy about a third of it directly, another third I think is probable, and another third I have to believe is only possible; it'd be too depressing otherwise. But it's still a good read and way of capturing and expressing the beliefs of those who vote for Nader instead of Obama or Kerry, and insist that the true difference between establishment Democrats and establishment Republicans is not significant enough to engage in strategic voting.

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