(Researcher) Death of the Liberal Class

Guzder assisted Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges with researching his book, Death of the Liberal Class (Nation Books, 2010). Read the author’s acknowledgment of her contribution as it appeared in the published book (PDF).

Chris Hedges, Death of the Liberal Class

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.

Copyright © 2009 Journalist Deena Guzder