Chris Hedges 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 that there are five pillars of the liberal establishment and that each of these institutions has sold out the constituents it represented. In doing so, the liberal class has become irrelevant to society at large and ultimately the corporate power elite they once served.
"Insightful.... [Hedges] is an engaging writer, and his passion alone makes for a compelling read.... Offers those of us who dare to refer to ourselves as liberal a lot to think about.” (Harvard Political Review)
©2010 Chris Hedges (P)2010 Dreamscape Media, LLC
This book is absolutely essential listening. Having said that, one must understand that it presents a remarkably pessimistic picture of where we (the U.S.) is right now and how we came to be there. It is a picture I find myself increasingly sharing (although I wish I didn't), but one that a lot of readers (and listeners) will find just TOO bleakly devastating. This is not, in and of itself, a bad thing, since Hedges's points are very well made, and if you disagree, you'll find that having to argue against those points will probably make you smarter. Since one of Hedges's points is that one of the main problems with our "culture" is massive--and quite deliberately engendered--historical ignorance and intellectual vapidity, this can't be bad.
If you happen to be one of the enemy (and Hedges has no problem at all utilizing categories like "enemy," for sound reasons he makes very clear), you will be just too f-cking stupid to be able to get through the first twenty minutes.....
Plato said that opinion is just the medium between ignorance and knowledge. For a while, I was almost singularly passionate about educating myself regarding politics - gaining knowledge - then I plum ran out of mental energy, and returned to the easy comfort of just having an opinion. Familiar with Truthdig, and having read War Is A Force...so many yrs. ago I've forgotten most of the content, I thought maybe Death of the Liberal Class might get me back into the quest. While I'll never be truly politically savvy, reading Death of the Liberal Class was my own little "intellectual effort" to move my opinion towards knowledge.
Call Hedges cynical, pessimistic, a bleak alarmist, whatever...but reasonably, you'd better add honest, passionate, globally intelligent, and a patriot. Yes, you can be "disobedient" and be a patriot. Howard Zinn wrote, "Historically, the most terrible things - war, genocide, and slavery- have resulted not from disobedience, but from obedience."
Admittedly, this is a blood-boiling and sobering book, not fun to hear (quoting Hamilton's too-little-too-late Requiem for a Species...that's depressing stuff. At one point in "Camelot," Merlin says to King Arthur, "The uglier the truth, the truer the friend that tells it." a good reference point.) I don't agree with all of Hedges statements (perhaps I should, he is much more knowledgeable than I'll ever be), some of the long pieces of history are already well known therefore not as interesting as the rest of the book, and the structure was sometimes tangled, (and I wish I would have known enough to have read Empire of Illusion first) but Hedges tells it like it is and backs up his words with the facts in a way that any level of pilgrim can understand. Far far and beyond any person's criticisms and political alignments, this is important information that is crucial for our future; fantastic research, brave thesis, and impossible to ignore.
This was an informative read about how we've ended up where we are right now politically, socially, economically, et al. It put facts to things I've felt over the last several years and filled out information that I was aware of, but not at this depth. It's not a warm fuzzy book, I don't agree with everything (tho' most) that he says, but if it helps wake up a few more people, I think it will have served its purpose. I wonder what Mr. Hedges' thoughts are on the Occupy Wall Street movement. I am more hopeful than he is, but damn! Makes me wonder if our grandkids will be spitting on our graves! Yup, highly recommended - just don't expect "light" listening here.
Chris Hedges possesses one of the most unforgiving and challenging voices of any writer I've consistently read and listened to. This is one of his finest books, as always blessedly free of BS and to the point. I'm convinced he writes with a sharpened baseball bat.
The above review by David is everything I could have hoped to say about such an insightful, heartfelt and honest book, so I'll just finish by saying... Get this. It's worth every penny/credit and then some.
Excellent historical references and perspective. Puts so many things of I was aware into a deeper, more complete context. Well researched and devastating work.
This is the kind of writing from which philosophies are born.
Hedges has outdone himself again...this is an important work in the contemporary intellectual scene.
This book was engaging and at times, enraging. It both complimented other books and arguments with which I'm familiar and broadened my understanding of the diminution of liberal institutions in the United States.
This book is the first in a long time to capture and support my sense of what is unfolding in our world. I feel mobilized and motivated by its message. It has been and the important read for me; a turning point.
Chris Hedges makes a remarkable case for the pessimistic side of liberal thought: the establishment has won, and the corporate state has co-opted the institutions which once would have defended the public from its abuses. Education, Art, and the media have all sold out for the privilege of inclusion into the emerging corporate oligarchy. This is a book that all liberals, or anyone who believes in freedom and justice should experience. Even if Hedges' larger point is wrong, the picture he paints of contemporary liberalism is one that needs to be evaluated. 10/10
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