My reading for the month has been “The Death of the Liberal Class,’ by Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges. In it he makes the argument that the “liberal class” which has historically been at the forefront of championing social reforms for the poor and middle class is increasing becoming irrelevant.
Hedges point accusing fingers at five specific groups and institutions in America for failing Americans and allowing for the creation of a “permanent underclass.” These are the Democratic Party, churches, unions, the media and academia.
Hedges argues that for motives ranging from self-preservation to careerism, the “liberal establishment” purged radicals from its own ranks and, as a result, lost its checks on capitalism and corporate power.
Although the book is essentially about American politics and societies, I find the that some of the questions it raises bear universal relevance. Hedges indictment of the academia and its complicity in the corporatization of the global socio-political space is one that I think resonates with many observers. League universities, he argues have become essentially, vocational schools. There has been a “kind of withering of the humanities” in which the liberal education that would normally ask broad questions and challenge structure and assumptions has become corporate. Academic departments now carry the burden of raising their own funds. “This is pretty hard to do if you’re in the classics department,” Hedges notes.
Hedges also faults the “purging within economics departments and business schools of people who challenged what I call the utopian vision of globalization — the idea that somehow the marketplace should determine human behavior and guide human activity.”
Not everyone will agree with the Hedges’ blanket indictments in this book, but I think it makes for very thought provoking reading. The books comes highly recommend.