( – promoted by buhdydharma )
Chris Hedges has written a book called The Death of the Liberal Class that says a lot just by its title. He is saying, essentially, that the liberal class which is the class of intellectuals, professionals and so on that are the cornerstone of any economy or ruling coalition, is finished and reform is impossible. Liberals in our context are people who have been able to “solve” the contradictions of capitalism by putting pressure on the oligarchs to provide reforms that can keep the system functioning. Liberals are and always have been anti-communist and anti-socialist, in this country at least, because they believe that capitalism can evolve into a friendly and progressive system through things like humane treatment of workers, social-safety nets, and universal health insurance (the last gasp of liberalism was the failure of HCR).
But let’s be clear here: liberals exist at the pleasure of the ruling elites. The minute liberal ideas threaten the system in any way liberals are crushed–and this goes for any society not just ours. Hedges is saying that this class in this country is finished as a class because it can no longer deliver reforms to the system. This is what I’ve been saying for some time. There was no need to put liberals in prison or assassinate them. Liberals have purged themselves by accepting cushy jobs in the system and learning to keep quiet all the while engaged in the illusion that they were “doing” something by voting for Democratic Party politicians who are designed and branded by Madison Avenue to keep the liberal class from facing reality or looking in the mirror.
Cross posted at Writing in the Raw.
Personally, I’m highly sympathetic to American liberalism. It provided a civilizing force within our civilization that created a great country and a great economy during the first seven decades of the 20th century. It created a world order after WWII that could have been a foundation for a more just and prosperous future world order based on rule of law and rational discourse.
For about 35 years this ideal has been gradually crumbling almost without anybody noticing it. Facts, however don’t lie. Around the mid-seventies wages began to stagnate while productivity increased in part due to globalization, illegal immigration, feminism and so on. At the same time credit cards began to be almost universally available and Wall Street, by the 80’s began to create a casino financial system that fed on the systematic creation of financial bubbles all of which would have been impossible without a growth in creativity that helped spawn the technological/digital revolution and a strong rise in productivity.
At the same time wages stagnated the real cost of living was going up–this a very carefully guarded secret no one wanted to look into since the official figures maintained that wages were keeping up with inflation (they weren’t). It wasn’t until, perhaps the most dangerous radical in America, Elizabeth Warren, did some comparative analysis on what the situation for families really is. That research was almost completely ignored and is still largely unknown. For more see this video from 2007 before the downturn.
This situation was consciously created by oligarchs after the rebellions of the 1960’s. It is instructive to read this memo by Lewis Powell (later Supreme Court Justice) to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce from 1971. The memo paints a looming disaster for the oligarchs, particularly the rebellion of people in universities:
A recent poll of students on 12 representative campuses reported that: “Almost half the students favored socialization of basic U.S. industries.”
The memo was taken seriously by the Chamber and that began a full-scale attack on the left in general and it included liberals. This attack worked perfectly. I doubt any more than a handful of students would agree today with what students believed in 1971. This fact has been carefully engineered by creating an increasingly illiterate public that could care less about compassion or justice and who are fast losing any connection to what was once called “the Great Conversation” by all shades of political beliefs.
It’s time to turn on, tune in and drop out, so to speak. The current political/economic/cultural scene is a circus that is unworthy of our attention. It is a spectacle created to hypnotize us into believing that the narrative it provides is real–it isn’t. And it’s time we all realized it and lived it. The more we tune into it the worse it will be.
Hedges suggests something that I’ve been suggesting for years and that’s that the only alternative is for us to organize ourselves locally and be willing, if we care to be politically active, to seriously resist. There is no way, no way, for reform to occur.
Hedges and I are both very pessimistic. I’m probably more deeply pessimistic than he is because the fact is that our contemporary culture is one that can only result in a neo-feudal future. Resistance is futile not because resistance is futile but because no one wants to resist. The radical left that should show the way has no theoretical grounding, no courage, no ideas no “sexiness” so that it inspires no one.
I think we need to try to find connection where we can and be happy as best we can within the structure of the impending disasters that have come and will continue to come at an accelerating pace.
When I see people willing to risk their lives for a new vision then maybe I’ll look up from my private concerns again. Right now, I see no point, in thinking much about politics with a view to make positive changes. There are no positive movements other than in a few very isolated pockets–those will be the wild cards that could change everything–hope I can come near them someday.
I say democracy is dead for the moment in this country because people don’t want it. They want to be drones and worker bees and want to be told what to do and so it is and so it will be. I can only hope that the elites contain some strain of decency and intelligence that isn’t just grasping for more. I have seen no indication of that but it has happened in history.
As for this election–I can only give it the finger. It doesn’t matter at all it is a farce we need to remove from our minds. We need the lightness that will follow in our minds so we can pursue the beauty that is inherent in all things. How history moves is no longer up to us but to forces we cannot possibly understand because we swim in our own fantasies. To live fully we must wake up from these fantasies. Turn of the TV and begin to realize how much more important love and connection is than politics. I, of course, will still follow it much the way I follow professional basketball, interesting, but very peripheral to my life–unless, of course, I find comrades who share Hedges vision as well–most of life is a mystery so we can’t know.