Chris Hedges on the Death of the Liberal Class

Monday, November 22, 2010

Senior fellow at The Nation Institute Chris Hedges examines the failure of the liberal class to confront the rise of the corporate state. In The Death of the Liberal Class he argues that the five pillars of the liberal establishment – the press, liberal religious institutions, labor unions, universities, and the Democratic Party— have become more concerned with status and privilege than justice and progress.


Chris Hedges

Comments [29]

amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night

@ Mr. Jack Blair from Morningwood, NJ - Oh yeah, I forgot. Support your claims with authoritative citations, otherwise you cannot be taken seriously.


Nov. 22 2010 04:57 PM
amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night

@ Mr. Jack Blair from Morningwood, NJ - Funny; I didn't hear of anyone clamoring for, as you state, Obama to be the

"great socialist-collectivist deliverer that white Liberals have been hoping and praying for all these long years."

Especially risible since, as stated by Hedges, "left-wingers" in the USA would be centrist at most when compared to virtually any other leftists throughout the world. So, to wit, those hopeful prayers of "socialist-collectivist" deliverance for "white Liberals" doesn't exist in in the USA except your mind, and the minds of other right-wingers in this country. This here is a corporatist America that we live in, fellow.

You embody the great American Exceptionalism that has almost always prevailed in these lands with the all-so-apparent puritanical, hierarchical streak. Bully for you and your form of ascendant America!

Nov. 22 2010 04:54 PM
Jack Blair from Morningwood, NJ

Mr. Hedges was in full meltdown. Lovely to hear. Of course, the ever-testosterone depleted Mr. Lopate was right there with him.

It's great when white Liberals tell the truth; their hatred and frustration is on full display. President Obama did not turn out to be the great socialist-collectivist deliverer that white Liberals have been hoping and praying for all these long years. Thus, the demons in their heads scream all the louder.

Rationalism at its most appalling - and entertaining.

Jack Blair

Nov. 22 2010 04:04 PM
Rob Rhodes


Bill Clinton was an effective Republican president because he actually did what Republicans had been trying successfully to do for some time, which was break the unions and end whatever political/economic power labor might have once had. He, more successfully than anyone had before him, handed power over to the corporations.

Not only that, he drank the Republican cool aid about how the economy works and convinced most in the country that they were correct, too. While there are now different emphases in the U.S. (mostly on social issues), almost everyone looks at economic issues in more or less the same way. Most of the battles over social issues don't REALLY matter to corporate power. They are just ways to keep people distracted--part of the spectacle Empire has always used to keep regular people distracted.

It is a joke to talk about 'the left' at this point. There is no such thing in the U.S. anymore. There are two versions of the same right wing party (and even their attacking one another over social issues is just a ruse--it helps people think there is actually a choice when they vote. There isn't).

Bill Clinton is the only Republican I ever voted for and I only did that once (the next time around I didn't cast a vote for president, though I did vote that year).

I don't know if that's what Mr. Hedges meant. But that's how I've seen it since Clinton's first term.

Nov. 22 2010 02:58 PM
jawbone from Parsippany

I'm not sure I heard correctly, but I think Chris Hedges said the internet is ruining news.

My experience has been that, by using the internet and by reading blogs on the left, I find more sources and more fact base information about issues and people.

What I did notice is that once Obama became the hero of many on the left, the search for facts and rigourous analysis was subjugated to cheerleading, even worshipping the new OneGreatLeader.

But it was by searching pretty rigorously that I was able to put together that Obama was not much of a progressive, much less a liberal and we were not going to get much needed change from his leadership. I did not search deeply enough, because since his election I've learned even more which was predictive of his governing style, which I see as Reagan Redux and right of center on some issues, very right of center on executive power as it pertains to civil liberties.

Also, I read Chris on the internet -- where else is he published?

Nov. 22 2010 12:38 PM
Jeffrey Malashock from New York


Every study so far of the 2010 elections showed that in spite of the hyperfocus on the effect of media matters on political spending, and on what the Chamber of Commerce spent, that the Democratic Party and the left spent about 30 percent more, when one includes both Union backed spending and private organizations like and others. I'm not at my desk at the moment, but would be happy to document this for either you or Chris. His case falls apart with any close examination.

Nov. 22 2010 12:36 PM
Mr. Bads from NYC

@ Robert from NYC

Chris is right 100% and there isn't much chance for hope in the short term but "truth has the virtue of always being able to be rediscovered" and when there is nothing left to burn down the liberal class will rise again to rebuild our society - I hate to be so fatalistic but we really just have to ride this awful period out.

Nov. 22 2010 12:35 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

a "Liberal Arts" education produces mostly malcontents who graduate with no discernible skill other than constantly critiquing the status quo. By contrast, a science, technical and math based education develops people who know facts and and can actually develop and produce the things that actually can make life better. But the liberals know-nothings are only good at criticizing the mistakes made. But that would be find, if criticism was only focused on mistakes. Unfortunately, it mostly focuses on overthrowing any status quo in sight. No institution or person should be immune from being critiqued, as long as the criticisms are based on HARD facts, and not utopian theories.

Nov. 22 2010 12:34 PM
Eric from Brooklyn

I believe Mr. Hedges' analysis is compelling and difficult to refute. Combine it, the roots of the 'meltdown' and Ben Barber's and Robert Reich's recent work on the consumerism/supercapitalism and it is clear we are a democracy in name only... is there a political response?

Nov. 22 2010 12:34 PM
Robert from NYC

Well didn't the Supreme Court "proclaim" that corporations are individuals or have the rights that individuals--we the people-- have!

Nov. 22 2010 12:33 PM
sanych from NJ

It is not the death of the liberal class. It is death of middle class, liberal class, liberties, freedom of speech, etc., and rise of managerial class.

Nov. 22 2010 12:33 PM

Brilliant! You just sold a book.

Nov. 22 2010 12:33 PM
Mark from bklyn

And hasn't this been the plan of conservatives since the 70s? ... dismantle or discredit scientists, academia and the press?

Nov. 22 2010 12:31 PM

Who has appropriated my name to make a post about me? Cease and desist! Not @SuzanneNYC

Nov. 22 2010 12:31 PM
Mark from bklyn

Hasn't it really come down to Wall St. and multinationals taking over the media and electoral process?

Nov. 22 2010 12:28 PM
Robert from NYC

I'm so impressed. This guy has it right on every issue including the press/media. Oh I feel vindicated. Someone who can articulate what I have thought on these issues.

Nov. 22 2010 12:27 PM

I think that part of the problem is that in other countries there are non economic ways for me to say I am better than you. Europeans and Asian societies have a class system. So its probably easier to get mass people to rally for programs for the majority.

Since we have no official class system, the only way I can say that I am better than you is if I have more stuff than you. More money, bigger car, better health benefits, better neighborhood etc.

The problem with White working class is that they don't have any of these things. So the only way they can say that they are better than you is via race or that they are more macho than some pencil neck in a University or educated "do gooder." Nixon and the GOP understood this and played the race card.

So it makes it difficult for a liberal to get white working class people on board and unite with Hispanics, Blacks and Asians because the white working class has to admit that he is the same as the minority and just as dependent on the government etc.

Plus there is a reason why working class are working class. They probably are not deep thinkers, they don't read or think critically, they are not good at dealing with lots and lots of data and they probably weren't very good in school. So why would anyone be shocked that they identify with emotional messages of negative populism?

Nov. 22 2010 12:26 PM
@ SuzanneNYC

Liberalism has become the de facto religion of academics and the arts. Academics thrives on elitism. The rift between blue collar unionist and East-coast effete intellectual is only getting deeper within the Democratic paty.

Nov. 22 2010 12:25 PM
Michael from The Battery

I didn't vote for Obama, but I like him now. I credit Obama with averting a much deeper economic crisis. A lot of people are still hurting, but the worst is over -- and it could have been so much worse.

Nov. 22 2010 12:21 PM

Since when are liberals -- who have traditionally stood for the working class against the state -- elites and snobs? Only in the alternate universe of Limbaugh and Murdoch clones. Liberalism has been falsely vilified to pave the way for the uber corporate state.

Nov. 22 2010 12:20 PM

What did the guest mean when he said that Bill Clinton was a successful Republican President?

Nov. 22 2010 12:20 PM
Mr. Bad from NYC

@ Craig

Not everyone else Craig, just people like you, or maybe just you. Anyone who sneers at art and philosophy in one breathlessly stupid sentence is very high in the running for most useless person alive.

Nov. 22 2010 12:18 PM

the question is why do people buy the crap that the corporations sell?

Nov. 22 2010 12:18 PM
Gerald Fnord from Palos Verdes, CA

People calling these groups "elites" are ignoring the fact that their opposition are other élites, and generally more-powerful such.

I agree with Mr Hedges, but don't share his animus, thinking it not so much a matter of "selling out" as getting too timid in the act of getting done what you you think you can get done.

Nov. 22 2010 12:17 PM
Robert from NYC

Mr Hedges has hit the nail on the head regarding the Liberal class. They have deserted social causes and Clinton lead the way.

Nov. 22 2010 12:16 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Police are in a "permanent state of war" against criminals. The US has been in a permanent state of war with first the communists, and today with islamofascists, because it is the world's policeman, and no one else is volunteering for the job. The rogues and international criminals naturally lead the charge against the world's policeman and its deputies.

Nov. 22 2010 12:13 PM
Robert from NYC

That's a pretty stupid thing to say that Dennis Kucinich is a weirdo?!! I mean you're a news person, have you no idea what Kucinich stands for? He stands up for working class and that makes him a weirdo? You're a weirdo.

Nov. 22 2010 12:10 PM

Typical Tea party guy, he wants his benefits but wants to make sure that others don't get their benefits

Nov. 22 2010 12:09 PM

Great! Where can I celebrate? I am glad that these elites and snobs are done for. Think they are so much better than everyone else because of where they live or because they like art, or read some stupid philosopher.

Nov. 22 2010 12:06 PM

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