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Death of the Liberal Class [Kindle Edition]

Chris Hedges
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this tsunami of terrifying revelations, juxtaposed truths, and demonstrated facts, Hedges (War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning) argues that the traditional beacons of the liberal class—the universities, media, church, labor unions, and arts–have sacrificed themselves completely to the dominance of corporate greed and unbounded capitalism. We are all to blame and everything moral about our democracy stands to be lost—is indeed already vanishing, in Hedges's view—and those who draw attention to it are banished and booed. While every page erupts with calamities of the human spirit worthy of their own irate broadcasts and bull-horned fury, Hedges is at his best when he unpacks the density of his polemic and embraces the power of his narrative. Regardless of form, however, his most interesting theses include the parallel between the current domestic climate and the fall of Weimar Germany and the conclusion that "Everything formed by violence is senseless and useless. It exists without a future. It leaves behind nothing but death, grief, and destruction." These insights come not just as warning, but as witness. (Nov.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The real danger to progressive social ideals is not President Obama’s failure to push through a more liberal agenda or the threat presented by the Tea Party and others pushing the Republicans more to the Right. Hedges argues that the true threat to liberalism is the long and gradual weakening of its ideals. Drawing on analysis and interviews from his long career as a journalist, including 15 years with the New York Times, Hedges chronicles the corruption of such bastions of liberalism as the Democratic Party, academia, and labor unions. He cites the NAFTA agreement and welfare reform during the Clinton administration and union coziness with corporations as recent examples of the merging of government and corporate interests to the detriment of the interests of the poor or even the middle class. He also reviews the long history of assassination and co-optation of radical voices in the U.S. and the singular career of Ralph Nader as a consistent voice against capitalist excess. This is a thoughtful analysis of why and how liberals have compromised principles due to the allure of power and wealth. --Vanessa Bush

Product Details

  • File Size: 504 KB
  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books; First Trade Paper Edition edition (October 19, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00440D9DM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #294,770 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
221 of 243 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This truly is a "must read" November 11, 2010
The term "must read" is admittedly overused and abused. Not so with this recommendation because this is a book that will advance the debate we are having as a country about who we are, what we are doing, and where we are going. Additionally, in the interest of complete disclosure - I am a huge fan of Chris Hedges' work - even though I do not agree all of the time with his points of view - his work is always well written, well researched, and very well presented. No difference here.

His fundamental premise is compelling and enlightening. He argues that the "real division in America today is not between Democrats and Republicans, but between average citizens and the corporate and financial elite...." If you are like me, you have been dismayed at the breakdown in our political rhetoric over the last 20 years; you have been depressed by the hostility and vitriol that marks the "debate" about politics; you despair at the prospect that the logical conclusion is that there is no "solution" at the end of the road. For my team to win this game - your side must lose. The old saying that "politics is the art of compromise" seems to have gone right out the window.

Although I have not finished the book I have read enough to understand what Hedges is doing and (I think) where he is going. His argument resonates with me because although I voted for Obama I am one of those who have been very disappointed with the gulf between what he promised and what he is doing. His campaign rhetoric energized me (and perhaps millions of others) with the promise that "change" was coming but he lied - giving proof to the sad truth that there is not really a "dimes worth of difference" between the political parties.

Hedges gives us an answer to why this is happening.
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142 of 157 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OUCH November 24, 2010
I have read most of Hedges' books, and he is easily my favorite political/cultural writer. But this book is also his darkest to date. I've given it five stars, mostly because I still believe that what Hedges has to say is worth reading, now more than ever.

That said, the book comes off rather as a hissy fit against the now-impotent liberal class which, in Hedges' opinion, has utterly failed to live up to its moral principles. And he's right. Since the world's ruling uber-class is interested only in acquiring more and more wealth and power, Hedges believes that all we have to look forward to at this point in human history is eventual economic and environmental devastation. To allay the inevitable sense of utter hopelessness, however, Hedges leaves us one redeeming moral act: civil disobedience and resistance. While admitting that this path will almost certainly lead to self-destruction of those who choose it, Hedges implies that it would at least give us the satisfaction that we will have done our moral duty. Shades of Immanuel Kant, indeed.

Chris Hedges, who left seminary and social work to become a war correspondent and political writer, is a truly moral and compassionate man, perhaps the only one of his kind left on the political scene. My advice, however, is that you read the last chapter of this book first, "Rebellion." If you can stomach that without feeling totally hopeless, then go back and read the rest of the book to see why Hedges has come to the worldview that he now feels compelled to unveil to us. It's pretty bleak, and I can only wonder if this will be his last book, as I cannot for the life of me think of what else he has left to say about the probable fate of our world.
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67 of 73 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Depressing but true January 15, 2011
Chris Hedges is a regular contributor to the Truth Dig blog and I have always enjoyed his commentaries, so I just finished reading Death of the Liberal Class. As a progressive/liberal I found this book to be very depressing, because Hedges makes us confront the obvious: the corporatists have won. Our real enemies are no longer Fox News or any other conservative outlet. The enemy is ourselves or to be more correct, what passes for liberal leadership in the United States. Basically the liberal class has sold out. They no longer represent the downtrodden. They represent the elite viewpoints of those who have progressive values but who could care less about helping others to the degree that was done in the 1930's. Liberals today identify as much with the wealthy as do the conservatives. At least that is what Chris Hedges thinks and he has built a strong case in his book. He doesn't think very highly of Bill Clinton who identified very heavily with corporate interests. Barack Obama is preoccupied with his own power and prestige. When the President was asked who he admired in the business world he cited Fred Smith the CEO of FedEx who was a notorious union buster and a key contributor to the Republican party. Your could argue with the pessimissm of Mr. Hedges but you would have a hard time marshalling the facts to counteract his assertions. Because if we take an honest look at the progressive movement in this country, it has been going down hill for at least the last three decades. And Mr. Hedges claims it is only going to get worse as we ignore the dangers of climate change and as the gap between haves and have not's widens. We are in for more wars as the rich try to protect their gains and getting the lower classes to fight their wars for them. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone needs to read this book, propaganda and ignorance rule the...
Hedges is an American Hero who lays out how America will self-destruct. Well worth reading.
Published 18 days ago by Home Trade
5.0 out of 5 stars A difficult to read and courageous book. Hedges really ...
A difficult to read and courageous book. Hedges really rubs some people the wrong way but here we see him as principled and he will provoke you to look at your life through a... Read more
Published 19 days ago by Janet M Hanson
5.0 out of 5 stars "The MORE ya know, the more ya know how much ya DON't KNOW."
Eye-opening and unsettling, especially to the comfortably self-satisfied proud, too infrequently aware of even the concept, much less the lingering effects of "unearned White... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Lew Andrew Welge
4.0 out of 5 stars This book isn't the easiest read and it's not Hedges best work but...
Death of the Liberal Class is a must read for those claiming to be liberal, progressive, populist, whatever. Read more
Published 3 months ago by S. Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 4 months ago by David Catterns
4.0 out of 5 stars At least now I know what the liberal class was ...
At least now I know what the liberal class was supposed to be. It's a shame what they've degenerated into.
Published 4 months ago by David Woods
3.0 out of 5 stars Mistakes middle class dead for liberals
Hedges' characterizes his thesis, saying that since the presidency of Ronald Reagan the liberal class has been on a death march. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Gderf
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Read
I enjoyed this book.
Published 4 months ago by Samuel B. Lopez
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading.
A very thought-provoking book. Even if you do not agree with Chris Hedge's views, take a couple days to read this work. It is excellent.
Published 5 months ago by Earthling
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fantastic book. A call to arms
Published 5 months ago by Dan Gilbert
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More About the Author

Chris Hedges is a cultural critic and author who was a foreign correspondent for nearly two decades for The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor and National Public Radio. He reported from Latin American, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He was a member of the team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for The New York Times coverage of global terrorism, and he received the 2002 Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism. Hedges, who holds a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School, is the author of the bestsellers American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle and was a National Book Critics Circle finalist for his book War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. He is a Senior Fellow at The Nation Institute and writes an online column for the web site Truthdig. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University and the University of Toronto.

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