Chris Hedges - The Death of the Liberal Class (Sponsored by Student Progressive Dane)


UW - Madison Humanities Building
2650 Humanities, 455 N. Park Street
Madison , WI
Event Details
Event Date: 
Wednesday, March 23, 2011 - 7:00pm

Chris Hedges is an American journalist, author, and war correspondent, specializing in American and Middle Eastern politics and societies. His most recent book is titled, "Death of the Liberal Class," which he will be his lecture topic of choice for the night.

Hedges is also known as the best-selling author of War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2002), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. He is currently a senior fellow at The Nation Institute in New York City and spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than fifty countries, and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News, and The New York Times, where he was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years (1990–2005).

In 2002, Hedges was part of the team of reporters at The New York Times awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the paper's coverage of global terrorism. He also received in 2002 the Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University and Princeton University. He is currently the F. Ross Johnson-Connaught Distinguished Visitor in American Studies, Centre for the Study of the United States at The University of Toronto.

Nation Books writes this summary of his new book:

"For decades the liberal class was a defense against the worst excesses of power. But the pillars of this class—the press, the universities, trade unions, the Democrats, and the liberal church—have collapsed as effective counterweights to the corporate state. In its absence the needs of the poor, the working class, and even the middle class no longer have a champion. The death of the liberal class has permitted the rise of a new and terrifying political configuration. In his devastating new book, Chris Hedges chronicles the gradual corruption and decline of the liberal class, which no longer provides an institutional check to mitigate corporate control of politics, education, labor, the arts, religious institutions, or financial systems. Without any impediments, the corporate state is dismantling the last vestiges of protection for ordinary citizens once put into place by the liberal class.

A lucid and disturbing look inside America's fallen liberal institutions, Hedges tells of his own experiences, especially of his role as a journalist for the New York Times. Although the liberal class was always compromised by its embrace of the power elite, as well as its deep hostility to American radicals who questioned the assumptions and the structures of the elite, it nevertheless provided a mechanism that made incremental reform possible. But with the rise of the corporate state, the liberal class has been forced to distort its basic belief systems to support unfettered capitalism, the national security state, globalization, and staggering income inequalities. It relinquished it moral authority to become courtier and apologist for a system of power that despises liberal values.

The anger among the working and the middle class is, without a functioning liberal class, being expressed in ideologies that detest democratic institutions and the civilities of a liberal democracy. The death of the liberal class is creating a power vacuum that speculators, war profiteers, and gangsters, often led by charismatic demagogues, are beginning to fill. Totalitarian and proto-fascists, from militias to Tea Party movements, ridicule and taunt the liberal class and its democratic values. The promises of these movements are fantastic and unrealistic, but their critiques of the liberal class are grounded in a disturbing truth. History has shown time and again that when the liberal class ceases to function, as happened in Tsarist Russia, Weimar Germany, and the former Yugoslavia, it always opens a Pandora's Box of evils that infect the remnants of civil society."

Please join Student Progressive Dane in welcoming Chris Hedges for what should be a top-notch lecture by a top-notch public intellectual.