I just picked up Chris Hedges’ Death of the Liberal Class. It is an excellent book. He argues that the liberal class—basically, the professional class—has traditionally served as a counterbalance to corporate power. Over the past many decades, however, the corporate class has eroded and corrupted the liberal class so that it is now too small and too beholden to corporate interests to serve this critical function. But Hedges isn’t naive. He knows that the liberal class has always been in important ways dependent upon corporate power. The compelling case he makes is that a system that was always fragile has crumbled to bits, only to be replaced with corporate power alone. It is well worth reading.
Here he is sounding a lot like a reasonable me:
In a traditional democracy, the liberal class functions as a safety valve. It makes piecemeal and incremental reform possible. It offers hope for change and proposes gradual steps toward greater equality. It endows the state and the mechanisms of power with virtue. It also serves as an attack dog that discredits radical social movements, making the liberal class a useful component within the power elite.
But the assault by the corporate state on the democratic state has claimed the liberal class as one of its victims. Corporate power forgot that the liberal class, when it functions, gives legitimacy to the power elite. And reducing the liberal class to courtiers or mandarins, who have nothing to offer but empty rhetoric, shuts off this safety valve and forces discontent to find other outlets that often end in violence.
The inability of the liberal class to acknowledge that corporations have wrested power from the hands of citizens, that the Constitution and its guarantees of personal liberty have become irrelevant, and that the phrase consent of the governed is meaningless, has let it speaking and acting in ways that no longer correspond to reality. It has lent its voice to hollow acts of political theater, and the pretense that democratic debate and choice continue to exist.
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