Yesterday, eschewing pre-game frivolity, we stole away to our local Barnes & Noble to review Chris Hedges’ newest book, “Death of the liberal class.” (Hedges is so eager to start explaining that he even eschews the word “the.”)
Who or what killed “the liberal class?” We won’t attempt to summarize Hedges’ argument, which basically starts around World War I. But here’s the start of the synopsis provided by the publisher:
NATION BOOKS: For decades the liberal class was a defense against the worst excesses of power. But the pillars of this class—the press, the universities, trade unions, the Democrats, and the liberal church—have collapsed as effective counterweights to the corporate state. In its absence the needs of the poor, the working class, and even the middle class no longer have a champion. The death of the liberal class has permitted the rise of a new and terrifying political configuration. In his devastating new book, Chris Hedges chronicles the gradual corruption and decline of the liberal class, which no longer provides an institutional check to mitigate corporate control of politics, education, labor, the arts, religious institutions, or financial systems. Without any impediments, the corporate state is dismantling the last vestiges of protection for ordinary citizens once put into place by the liberal class.It’s “a lucid and disturbing look inside America's fallen liberal institutions,” the publisher gloomily says.
Again, Hedges describes a long, slow death—a death which begins around World War I. We were especially interested by his treatment of the professoriate, whose general uselessness we have long noted and puzzled about. That in mind, we’ll mention a second current book, this one concerning the state of the universities. That would be the poorly titled “Higher Education?” by Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus. (Some of Hedges’ critique of the academy dove-tail with the complaints lodged by Hacker and Dreifus.)
We haven’t read the Hacker/Dreifus book; to examine its web site, just click here. But on two occasions in recent months, we’ve watched a book event by the authors on C-Span. We were fascinated both times. To watch this event, just click here.
We’ve often discussed the lame, limp work which issues from the “liberal” world. With that in mind, we think Hedges’ gloomy critique is well worth examining, especially as he describes the way liberal careerists of various types get purchased by the plutocrats. Hedges is currently showing on C-Span too. To watch that event, just click this.
(Welcome news! In his discussion of the art world, Hedges quotes, at length, the painter Rob Shetterly, a friend of ours from college.)