You may only read this site if you've purchased Our Kampf from Amazon or Powell's or me
• • •
"Mike and Jon, Jon and Mike—I've known them both for years, and, clearly, one of them is very funny. As for the other: truly one of the great hangers-on of our time."—Steve Bodow, head writer, The Daily Show

"Who can really judge what's funny? If humor is a subjective medium, then can there be something that is really and truly hilarious? Me. This book."—Daniel Handler, author, Adverbs, and personal representative of Lemony Snicket

"The good news: I thought Our Kampf was consistently hilarious. The bad news: I’m the guy who wrote Monkeybone."—Sam Hamm, screenwriter, Batman, Batman Returns, and Homecoming

October 27, 2010

Can't Argue With That

Chris Hedges says:

The lunatic fringe of the Republican Party, which looks set to make sweeping gains in the midterm elections, is the direct result of a collapse of liberalism. It is the product of bankrupt liberal institutions, including the press, the church, universities, labor unions, the arts and the Democratic Party. The legitimate rage being expressed by disenfranchised workers toward the college-educated liberal elite, who abetted or did nothing to halt the corporate assault on the poor and the working class of the last 30 years, is not misplaced. The liberal class is guilty. The liberal class, which continues to speak in the prim and obsolete language of policies and issues, refused to act. It failed to defend traditional liberal values during the long night of corporate assault in exchange for its position of privilege and comfort in the corporate state. The virulent right-wing backlash we now experience is an expression of the liberal class’ flagrant betrayal of the citizenry.

The rest.

In defense of liberals, though, we...uh. Yeah, I got nothing.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at October 27, 2010 03:42 PM

We're pretty good at the liberal arts: you know, university educated, familiar with grammar, rhetoric, logic, geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, and music.

Politically, our shititude is ineffable.

Posted by: Cloud at October 27, 2010 03:51 PM

Although, given the common circular reasoning of "You shouldn't vote third party because they can't win because other people aren't voting third party, because they shouldn't ..." maybe logic is no longer a strong point.

Posted by: Cloud at October 27, 2010 03:54 PM

I found it very easy to argue with. I think, you know, it just takes a lot of practise arguing with people. My wife would probably say that.

In this case Hedges doesn't define his terms so it's really hard to tell what the heck he's saying. What is a liberal? On page one Hedges suggests that "we" are liberals,

"It does not help our cause that liberals indeed turned their backs on the working and middle class."

but by page three liberals are "our" biggest enemies,

"It is the gutless and bankrupt liberal class, even more than the bizarre collection of moral and intellectual trolls now running for office, who are our most perfidious opponents."

Should I be beating myself up? Please advise this confused communist.

Posted by: DavidByron at October 27, 2010 04:45 PM

with due respect to everybody, how are progressive elitists reponsible for neogoldbuggism? if more than half the population believes the national debt is causing the job losses, what can ANYONE do to turn the tide? public debt will increase during a depression -- you can't stop it.

Posted by: hapa at October 27, 2010 05:06 PM

It's the old problem of the co-opted bourgeoisie. Be nice, you get your kibble. And in a world where the Ũbercapitalists, red in claw and fang, have the upper hand, it's hard not to comply. When even the previously "safe" jobs can be outsourced, and the likely arc for your progeny is a downward-trending one, the bourgeoisie aren't going to make waves, even if they comprehend the box that they are in.

Fear is a powerful motivator.

Posted by: JerseyJeffersonian at October 27, 2010 05:11 PM

I called Nan(1-202-225-0100), EVERY fucking day the phones were open. I KNOW I voiced my discontent and that SEVERAL in Congress heard about it, so I don't feel I did nothing. I even TRIED to get others to call. It just that I'm ONLY one citizen.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at October 27, 2010 06:29 PM

Don't worry, the Republican Conservatives will 'take care' of you.

Posted by: Fred at October 27, 2010 09:43 PM

On page one Hedges suggests that "we" are liberals,

"It does not help our cause that liberals indeed turned their backs on the working and middle class."

The "our" there refers to all of us (and does throughout the piece); that's why it's "turned their backs" instead of "turned our backs" later in the sentence.

Posted by: John Caruso at October 27, 2010 09:47 PM

I used to sing along with Phil Ochs, but I've grown older and wiser And that's why I'm turning you in. So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal.

Anyway, as someone pointed out earlier on this forum, we should have realized we were in big trouble when liberals and conservative alike started referring to us as "consumers" instead of citizens. What I find so strange is that when Mr. Hedges points out the obvious, it become a subject of perplexity.

Posted by: Paul Avery at October 28, 2010 09:34 AM

Addendum to consider:

You Are Safe, Your Majesty, The Peasants Are Attacking Each Other

Naturally, online libs are screaming about fascist violence, how we're in the early stages of Nazi America, and so on. I'll grant that Paul's groupies are behaving horribly, even criminally, if the activist or MoveOn decide to press charges. But the notion that we're approaching a Tea Party putsch flatters idiot reactionaries while further deluding liberals that Democrats, however "spineless" (i.e. partners with the GOP in theft and corruption), are the sole rational alternative.

That neither Tea Party nor MoveOn are any threat to our corporate owners merely deepens the absurdity, turning scuffles like the above into bad street theater. This must make any elite watching momentarily happy, for as awful as our dying empire is for them, at least the peasants are attacking each other.

--Dennis Perrin

Posted by: Paul Avery at October 28, 2010 10:29 AM

Although I think Chris Hedges is generally on the right side, his habit of making sweeping pronouncements at the expense of discussing "prim and proper" policy specifics has always rankled me. Also, at one point he writes:

"The real enemy of the liberal class has never been Glenn Beck, but Noam Chomsky."

Later in the essay he criticizes liberals for shutting out and marginalizing Chomsky. OK, which is it?

I'd have more sympathy with his thesis if he was willing to specifically criticize Obama and distinguish between the democratic party leadership and the concept of liberalism. My guess is that Hedges would respond that a critique of Obama and the dem leadership is implicit in his comments, but it isn't, and Hedges' conflation lets obedient dem voters off the hook for their sheepish loyalty to the party.

Mike Meyer used to write here about the need for a viable 3rd party. Well the creation of a viable 3rd party isn't something that needs to be put off, perpetually, until one more election in which you back the dems. It's like one more cigarette before you quit. There is nothing that Obama would do with 230 or 240 house members sworn in on 1/2011 that he wouldn't be able to do with just 210 or 205.

Their decision, for example, to avoid voting on repealing tax cuts just means they're hoping to be "forced" to save the rich man's tax cuts next year, like a drunk who threatens the other guy while he's being held back by his more sober friends.

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at October 28, 2010 12:47 PM

let me clarify the above slightly. I should have written that

There is nothing that Obama would willingly do with 230 or 240 house members sworn in on 1/2011 that he wouldn't be able to do with just 210 or 205, because he is a phoney-baloney democrat and merely a bag man for the finance industry.

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at October 28, 2010 01:32 PM

How many posts am I allowed before you take away my little soapbox?

I just want to make it clear that I'm going go ahead vote. (There are state and local questions on the ballot.) and I'm going to once again check the Democrat box (I'm a hopeless party loyalist, unlike the party leader take-your-endorsement-and-shove-it Obama.)

However, I know the hard-boiled, self-deflating and bitter truth: My vote and opinions have about as much influence of the corporate-controlled political system as an average low-income shopper has influence on a Wal-Mart executive.

Posted by: Paul Avery at October 28, 2010 02:44 PM

"Also, at one point he writes:

"The real enemy of the liberal class has never been Glenn Beck, but Noam Chomsky."

Later in the essay he criticizes liberals for shutting out and marginalizing Chomsky. OK, which is it?"

He's saying that the respectable, pro-corporate liberal establishment is more threatened by Chomsky than clowns like Beck. He's not saying Chomsky is OUR enemy. He's THEIR enemy, thus they shut out and marginalize him.

Posted by: jeremy at October 28, 2010 02:48 PM

Jeremy, I accept your distinction but Hedges is not very clear about the distinction between 'the liberal class" and liberalism. He also makes it sound as if he believes the New Deal was something that once seemed to work and no longer does, without addressing the bipartisan effort over the past 30 years to emasculate and destroy the New Deal. Or to put it another way, he tells us we were at A and now we're several letters past that down the alphabet while he glides past "political positions" and policies that got us to where we are as mere rhetoric, without assessing the harm done along the way by so-called neoliberalism.

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at October 28, 2010 05:38 PM

"America is a ... company town."

Joe Bageant Algorithms and Red Wine - Is the 'digital hive' a soft totalitarian state?

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at October 28, 2010 07:30 PM

I like to see a good trashing of liberals as much as any other leftist.. but I think Chris Hedges' analysis is incorrect, and he gives liberals far too much "credit" for ever having had the power he attributes to them. See Michael J. Smith's comments to that effect here.

Chris Hedges also incorrectly groups together a lot of disparate groups and institutions into a general "liberal class". This is sloppy thinking and poor analysis.

I like Chris Hedges.. but he's also a bit of a zealous, self-important moralist, which can cut both ways. He can get a bit too zealous with his criticisms and analysis, and get too blinded and enamoured by his own moral fervour to realize his analysis is wrong.

On the other hand, his moral fervour and deep commitment to the Christian social gospel as he understands it gives him a kind of strength and moral clarity that is now sadly missing in what is now the secular, liberal, atheist West. He's a preacher's son and an old fashioned moralist - a pious Christian who believes deeply in the social gospel, and I think that gives him a kind of moral fervour and moral absolutism that animated much of the progressive, leftist movements in the past. It would serve the smug, liberal, secular, athiest crowd who sneer at religion and who now dominate the left/progressive side to seriously consider and think over very carefully how the graduation erosion of religious loss of religious belief in the West in favour of liberalism, hedonism, and secularism has resulted in the loss of that spiritual grammar and moral clarity (duty to help the poor, the powerless, the weak) that Chris Hedges channels.

Posted by: hv at October 29, 2010 10:51 AM

I'm sleepy and made a lot of errors in that last paragraph. Let me try again:

"...think over very carefully how the gradual erosion of religious belief in the West in favour of liberalism, hedonism, and secularism has resulted in the loss of that spiritual grammar and moral clarity (duty to help the poor, the powerless, the weak) that Chris Hedges channels."

Posted by: hv at October 29, 2010 10:55 AM

Possibly his piece wasn't as clear as it could have been, but I think
this is the sort of thing Hedges had in mind.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at October 29, 2010 02:37 PM

To what extent, the so called 'Progressive' or 'Liberal' elected officials are REALLY what they claim to be?

A "Progressive Hero?" Time to Think Outside of the Boxer


Posted by: Rupa Shah at October 29, 2010 04:27 PM

Donald, are you referring to a specific Greenwald column, or his writings in general?

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at October 29, 2010 05:41 PM

Well, WE got a Blackman for President, which IS PROGRESS. Sadly he's an imperialist so, not so much. I'm guessing IF WE get a woman in office next, she'll be an imperialist also. THE QUESTION IS OUR EXPANSIONISM. We've always done it since day one and OUR appetite has only grown. I figure if WE target the moon, while WE still have the where with all, it will take the pressure off other nations at LEAST long enough to recoupe and recover from WHAT WE'VE STOLEN so far.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at October 29, 2010 09:44 PM

I must have made a mistake in the link--I meant the article yesterday about Lawrence Tribe.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at October 30, 2010 10:10 AM

hv, that's ridiculous. The aforementioned Chomsky is a perfect example of a secularist who still brings a moral clarity to his critiques without having to justify it by pointing to a book of Iron Age mythology. And you'd never know it from listening to people like Chris Hedges and his clichéd strawmen about arrogant "New Atheists", but there are plenty of atheists who have spent a lot of time addressing the topic of morality in the absence of old-fashioned religious belief.

It would help my self-esteem if I could believe that I'm a rich, brilliant hunka-hunka burnin' love, but the truth is, I'm not, and it's better to deal with that fact. Telling people that there might be a benefit to believing in old myths is irrelevant -- most people don't believe in them anymore, and wishful thinking won't make it so.

Posted by: . at October 31, 2010 08:52 AM

"It's not so bad once you're up . . . ."

Posted by: Murfyn at October 31, 2010 06:54 PM

check out this excellent recent talk by Chris Hedges on Youtube:

Chris Hedges on "The Death of the Liberal Class" at The Sanctuary for Independent Media - October 17 2010:

Part I

Part II, Q&A

be sure to check out the excellent Q&A segment in addition to the main talk.

Posted by: IAmNotANumber at November 1, 2010 12:34 PM