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Chris Hedges: ‘Death of the Liberal Class’ on Book TV

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Posted on Feb 8, 2011
booktv.org

Author, journalist and Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges takes his bracing argument from his latest book, “Death of the Liberal Class,” about the takeover of U.S. liberal organizations and institutions by the corporate state, to Powell’s Books in Portland, Ore., in this Book TV clip.  —KA

Click here to watch Hedges’ talk on Book TV.

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By techisbest, February 14, 2011 at 12:20 am Link to this comment

I have read “Death of the Liberal Class” and found it
rambling.

I took from it these two paragraphs by the author:

“The best opportunities for radical social change
exist amont the poor, the homeless, the working
class, and the destitute.  As the numbers of
disenfranchised dramatically increase, our only hope
is to connect ourselves with the daily injustices
visited upon the weak and the outcast.  Out of this
contact we can resurrect, from the ground up, a
social ethic, a new movement.  We must hand out bowls
of soup.  Coax the homeless into a shower.  Make sure
those who are mentally ill, cruelly-abandoned on city
sidewalks, take their medication.  We must go back
into America’s segregated schools and prisons.  We
must protest, learn to live simply and begin, in an
age of material and imperial decline, to speak with a
new humility.  It is in the tangible, mundane, and
difficult work of forming groups and communities to
care for others that we will kindle the outrage and
the moral vision to fight back, that we will
articulate an alternative.” (p. 156-157)

“If we build small, self-contained structures, ones
that do as little harm as possible to the environment, we can perhaps weather the collapse. 
This task will be accomplished through the creation
of communities with access to sustainable
agriculture, able to sever themselves as much as
possible from commercial culture and largely self-
sufficient.  These communities will have to build
walls against the electronic propaganda and fear that
will be pumped out over the airwaves.  Canada will
probably be a more hospitable place to do this than
the United States, especially given America’s
undercurrent of violence.  But in any country, those
who survive will need isolated areas of farmland
distant from urban areas, which will see food deserts
in the inner cities, as well as savage violence,
spread outward across the urban landscape as produce
and goods become prohibitively expensive and state
repression becomes harsher and harsher.” (p. 205)

In other words - we need to live like the Amish.

Or am I missing something?  Has Mr. Hedges given up
his residence in Princeton and started the simple
life he wants everyone else to live?  Is he walking
his talk?

The Amish life seems to exemplify what Mr. Hedges
would like to see as the norm.  The example is out
there, but not too many people are drawn to that
life.

How does he propose that this “new” way of living
will become the norm?

Chris Hedges is right - this is the way we should
live if we want to stop harming the earth and each
other.  But knowing that does not make it happen.  I
find it difficult to give up my destructive,
comfortable habits.

I suspect Chris Hedges finds it difficult, too.

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D.R. Zing's avatar

By D.R. Zing, February 10, 2011 at 3:38 am Link to this comment

As usual, I didn’t note my source below.  It came from the biography Ben Franklin: An American Life by former Time magazine editor Walter Isaacson.  Journalists do write great books, indicating they are throttled an awful lot by newspapers.

There’s a wonderful story in Isaacson’s book. Franklin noticed that anytime a storm approached, church leaders would send boys up in the steeples to ring the church bells to let God know it was a holy place that should not be struck by lightning. Franklin, noting the high incidence of lightning strikes to steeples and, no doubt, the unusually high fatality rate of the boys ringing the bells, deduced it was self-evident the church’s method was not working and subsequently invented the lighting rod.

Modern journalist who for TV and newspapers (I tend to think magazine journalists working for places like Vanity Fair have a bit more freedom) need to take this lesson to heart. 

It is self-evident that liberals were right when, way back in the 1980s, they said the drug war would lead to an erosion of our right to privacy. It has.  Liberals were right when they said, again, in the 1980s, that funding the mujaheddin in Afghanistan was wrong and that one day that same group would use those weapons and tactics to kill Americans.  They did.  Liberals were right to back Civil Rights. They were right to end slavery. They were right to give women the right to vote.  And conservatives have been wrong, wrong, wrong on all these issues. 

And anyone, like me, who only has a cursory knowledge of history knows that when business was left to do as it wanted between 1850 and 1927 there was (how many?) five depressions, hence the term The Great Depression, because there were so many a new label was needed to categorize that last awful witch. 

Still, modern journalists not only cannot report history, they have to pretend like it does not exist.  Just like they have to pretend that books do not exist. It’s why they can report the “news” that, from the colonel level on down in the Pakistan special forces, there are a multitude of officers who support the Taliban, despite the fact that Washington Post journalist Steve Coll won a fucking Pulitzer Prize when he wrote book called Ghost Wars that illustrated that very fact in great detail. 

It’s why pathological liars from political parties are invited back time and time again to The News Hour even though it can be clearly demonstrated they have lied repeatedly or been wrong repeatedly.

It’s why Ralph Nader and Chris Hedges have a hard time getting on national television news programs —even though they have been right time and time again—while people who have been wrong for decades are allowed to repeatedly return and tell more lies and offer more solutions that cause more problems than they solve. 

Journalists have a lightning rod for truth, for what is self evident. They are just not allowed to use it in the rules issued by the corporate media. Break up the corporate media. 

OK. That’s about as fast I can write without getting a hernia. Goodnight.

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D.R. Zing's avatar

By D.R. Zing, February 10, 2011 at 2:57 am Link to this comment

It was an awesome speech and question and answer section.  I encourage everyone to work through whatever technical issues you have and listen to it.  Many issues covered:  health care, the media, how the government learned to promote war with propaganda, how it has silenced intellectuals—

Mr. Hedges is one of the few journalists who dares criticize journalism.  The rest go to “journalists-only” seminars and criticize each other privately—the equivalent of keeping the crazy woman in the attic.

Any time you have Jon Stewart—a comedian!—calling FOX to the carpet for their distortions while the rest of the news media ignores it you have something terribly, terribly wrong.

And it is simply this:  Journalists have been brain washed into believing that telling two sides of the story—even if one side is lying through its teeth and you, as a journalist, know it—that is somehow objectivity. 

In short, journalists have been brainwashed into disbelieving a critical concept that Ben Franklin edited into the Declaration of Independence: that some truths are self-evident. 

And that was the really cool part of Mr. Hedge’s presentation. He provided the history of how propagandists came to realize that truth can be made irrelevant if you fill people’s heads with sensationalized lies. 

The last girl to ask questions at the end there sounded a little bit like she had taken one too many designer drugs, but Mr. Hedges was very kind to her and I think everyone applauded so hard at the end to indicate, yes, it was a great speech, and thank you Chris for not humiliating that girl. 

Mr. Hedges is a class act.  We should all be so lucky—err, dedicated perhaps is a better word.

(Break up the corporate media. Pass it on. Our country depends on it.)

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RayLan's avatar

By RayLan, February 9, 2011 at 11:27 pm Link to this comment

rollzone
“he is simply using the corporate platform “

Why? because he got a book published?
Do you know who the publishers are? Perseus Books.

PERSEUS PARTNERS VII, L.P., established in 2006, is a $602 million fund focused on control growth equity investments in middle market companies with a specific interest in the following industries: energy, environmental, and engineering technologies; healthcare; and branded consumer products.

Hardly Big Business Exploitation

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By richard richards, February 9, 2011 at 7:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

rollzone…
i think this guy is a giant of a man both ethically/morally. read about where he has been as a reporter and of his early life. then read of his summers hikes w/ son and. we need to support men of his ilk.it is a thankless task mirroring a war culture back to itself.
please look deeper…i did not like him at first either…richofheart

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By rollzone, February 9, 2011 at 3:41 pm Link to this comment

hello. you did not miss anything not hearing the audio.
he is simply using the corporate platform to speak his
anti corporate agenda with no alternative, just a hope
for book sales. he needs your money. in time he will
own a corporate trust. he must capitalize on popularity
and meld your soft dollars into wealthy retirement.

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By J, February 9, 2011 at 9:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I couldn’t hear any audio…

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