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Death of the Liberal Class…

October 16, 2012

Well, I just finished Chris Hedges’ 2010 book “Death of the Liberal Class”.

Spoiler alert! The American Empire and the Environment are crashing all around us! There are no lifeboats…

DLC is a grim and angry read of the 20th century, revealing (with broad strokes) how the “liberal class” sold itself out to corporate interests and marginalized its voice by accepting small privileges of power.

You can debate whether America ever really had a so-called Liberal Class – in the sense that this class had any real political power – but there has been moments of liberalism – when the American political process recognized workers’ rights, civil rights, gender rights, and even a few environmental rights.

Hedges shows us – for those who don’t already know – that those days are now over. Those small gains made in the name of social progress, equality, fairness, and sustainability have been slowly pared back over the last 40-50 years and Hedges highlights those exact moments when the political process passed the bills that repealed these rights.

Hedges follows in the footsteps of Chomsky, Zinn, Nader, Faludi, and others who decry a political process that moves at the whim of the minority rich, with increasing disregard for the majority.

While Hedges never directly states that he is appealing to an earlier “golden age” of American politics, I feel while reading him that it was there somewhere – in the mists of the early 20th century. I know he would deny this, as any reader of American history will attest. Maybe that nostalgia goes back to the American Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the beliefs then written, for the first time, on paper.

Walter LeFeber’s “Inevitable Revolutions” was the first history book for me that opened my eyes to the fact that American political power has always only ever been in the interest of the rich and powerful. Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of America” still stands as one of the essential readings on how political power has been wrested, inch-by-inch, from those who disregard human rights at the altar of wealth and power.

What Hedges brings to the table is an articulate and concise examination of how those small gains (the weekend, habeas corpus, secular education, environmental protection etc) have now been eroded almost back to the 1950’s. To be replaced by illusion, postmodern irony, and the vacuous political campaign of hope.

Hedges, and others (environmental scientists especially), know that we are at a convergence of eras that are coming to an end. American Empire and environmental stability are collapsing at the same time.

The future, like at the end of the Roman Empire, will be wide-spread political chaos and species collapse. It will be left to those small communities who quickly adapt to sustainable agricultural practices, population equilibrium, and the keepers of knowledge, who will preserve the good things of our history. Surviving, if they can, in a world of population collapse where people will revert back to fanatical tribalism, and superstition.

Yea, it’s a fun read…better perhaps to track down your grandmothers and learn how to pickle vegetables and grow potatoes…

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