Chris Hedges on "The Death of the Liberal Class" at The Sanctuary for Independent Media - October 17 2010
American journalist and author Chris Hedges discusses the thesis of his upcoming book "Death of the Liberal Class", where he laments the failure of the liberal class to act as a moderating influence in public life - and has allowed for the rise of radicalism - the very threat to liberal democracy. Have the pillars which protect a liberal democracy - the press, liberal religious institutions, labour unions, universities and the Democratic Party in the U.S. - sold out to corporate interests? Have they failed to moderate dissent and to act in the public interest?
Chris Hedges, whose book "Death of the Liberal Class" (Perseus) came out the day of this presentation, is also the best-selling author of "War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning." Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years. Produced by The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy NY, this event was co-sponsored by Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace.
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PART II (Q&A)
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Resources and links to related material
1) TVO - The Agenda, October 22 2010: Chris Hedges on "The Death of the Liberal Class"
2) Read an excerpt from "The Death of the Liberal Class" by Chris Hedges:
3) TVO - Allan Gregg in Conversation, March 19, 2010: Chris Hedges on "Empire of Illusion"
4) Read Chris Hedges' weekly column @ truthdig.com
5) Building on Chris Hedges' points in this program, I highly recommend you read this brilliant, informed, provocative, and quite prescient critique of liberalism, which describes liberalism's weaknesses, its inherently elitest, anti-democratic tendencies, why it repeatedly fails to deal with class issues (here's a hint: it's not a bug with liberalism, it's a feature), and why liberalism and the Democratic party are inevitably doomed to failure. In fact I recommend you read the whole online book and not just the chapter I linked to:
Stop Me Before I Vote Again by Michael J. Smith
The above online book explains the problems and pitfalls of a two-party system, and elaborates on how how crucial bottom-up grass-roots activism, the existence of 3rd parties and of the radical left, and pressure from a strong left and strong social movements were in bringing about civilizing, social progress like civil rights and in forcing the Democratic party and the liberal establisment class into pushing through progressive policies like the New Deal and the Civil Rights Act. Without that pressure from a strong and even radical left, they will never bring about the kind of necessary progressive changes that America, and even Canada, desperately require. I don't understand how many times people need to be witness the "failures"/corruption of the liberal establishment class, of the Democratic party in the US, and of the Liberal Party here in Canada, to understand that.
Quoting from the chapter in the above linked piece entitled The Ratchet Effect:
The electoral ratchet permits movement only in the rightward direction. The Republican role is fairly clear; the Republicans apply the torque that rotates the thing rightward.
The Democrats' role is a little less obvious. The Democrats are the pawl. They don't resist the rightward movement -- they let it happen -- but whenever the rightward force slackens momentarily, for whatever reason, the Democrats click into place and keep the machine from rotating back to the left.
Here's how it works. In every election year, the Democrats come and tell us that the country has moved to the right, and so the Democratic Party has to move right too in the name of realism and electability. Gotta keep these right-wing madmen out of the White House, no matter what it takes.
(Actually, they don't say they're going to move to the right; they say they're going to move to the center. But of course it amounts to the same thing, if you're supposed to be left of center. It's the same direction of movement.)
So now the Democrats have moved to the "center." But of course this has the effect of shifting the "center" farther to the right.
Now, as a consequence, the Republicans suddenly don't seem so crazy anymore -- they're closer to the center, through no effort of their own, because the center has shifted closer to them. So they can move even further right, and still end up no farther from the "center" than they were four years ago.
In fact, the Democrats' rightward shift not only enables the Republicans to move farther right themselves; it actually compels them to do so, if they want to maintain their identity as the angry-white-guy party par excellence. (A great part of the Republicans' hysterical hatred of Bill Clinton arose from this cause: with Democrats like Clinton, who needs Republicans?)
The ratchet clicks: Nixon. The pawl holds: Carter. Click again: Reagan. And again: Bush Senior (and Iraq War I). The pawl holds: Clinton. Click: Bush Junior and Iraq War II; then another click, and it's Bush Junior triumphant, and God knows what to come.
Has the phrase "conspiracy theory" crept into your mind yet? Let me exorcize it. This is not a vast conspiracy. Nobody planned it out. What I am offering here is a structural explanation, not a conspiracy theory. There is a very important difference.
And once more, courtesy of IOZ, just in case you still don't understand the con-job/racket that is the two-party system in the US:
But it's a silent partnership, and guys like Tomasky serve an important function. By emphasizing falsely differing interests on either side, they obscure the fundamental collaboration at work. It's a strategy as old as business. Two secret partners negotiate from opposite sides against the poor suckers in the middle, who think they're going to get a good deal playing one side against the other, but who only get played instead.
6) Read "The Liberal Defence of Murder", in which Richard Seymour so thoroughly and scathingly documents the long and well-established history and track-record of racist Western/American liberals and intellectuals of the likes of Michael Ignatieff to serve power first and foremost, and to provide moral and intellectual justification for violent and barbaric exercises of state power in service of European colonialism in the past, and in more recent history, Western and American imperialism and aggression.
Quoting Richard Seymour from this excellent interview:
RS: The important point is that liberalism emerged as part of the same historical moment as the development of capitalism, the rise of European colonialism, the Atlantic slave trade and race 'science'. Liberalism was always implicated in these processes, from Locke to Tocqueville. US liberals of the Progressive era were generally explicit imperialists and white supremacists, none less than the paladin of 'liberal internationalism', Woodrow Wilson. What you refer to as the "bombing Left" is part of the same history. Large parts of the developing left and labour movements in the 19th Century partook of the colonial triumphalism and associated doctrines such as 'social Darwinism'. The regnant view was that much of the human race was bound for extinction if it wasn't possible to civilize them. Thus Karl Kautsky argued in 1882 that: "In so far as they cannot be assimilated by modern culture, the wild peoples will have to disappear from the surface of the earth."
Talks, Debates, Interviews
Oct 27, 2010, 19:18:58
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