Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges offers up a “stunning” (my new favorite word – it’s an inside joke) diagnosis of the state of America today in his book, Death of the Liberal Class, a recent release from Nation Books.
Hedges defines “liberal class” as the press, universities, labor movement, culture, Democratic Party, and liberal religious institutions. I would posit that one remaining bulwark of the liberal class is the independent bookstore, but that’s for another day. I’ll just say that we, as an industry sub-group, are by definition liberal in the very best sense of that word.
The death he describes was not sudden – it was lingering – and its absence as an institutional check on the rapaciousness of a corporate capital regime dismantles the last protections for the weakest among us.
Publishers Weekly, in a review, said “his most interesting theses include the parallel between the current domestic climate and the fall of Weimar Germany and the conclusion that ‘Everything formed by violence is senseless and useless. It exists without a future. It leaves behind nothing but death, grief, and destruction.'”
Without a living liberal class, Hedges reports, there remains no “mechanism to make incremental reform possible. Its absence results in anger being channeled into anti-democratic ideologies that “detest … the civilities of a liberal democracy.”
With power grabs flying at us daily, now might be a good time to explore how America allowed itself to become so vulnerable to those ideologies.