Essay:Death to - uh, of the Liberal Class

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Chris Hedges, M.Div., a socialist author who equates Christian fundamentalists to Nazis, but then turns around and lumps Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens in with said fundamentalists for the crime of being too hard on Islamic fundamentalists, has recently been mouthing off about what he calls the "liberal class," which by his definition is roughly equal to what such figures as Andrew Schlafly call the "liberal elite." Hedges, being sore that most liberals are now more of a liability than an asset for pinkos, rips the former group of persons in a book entitled Death of the Liberal Class (which, from what is visible of it, is more appropriately entitled Death TO the Liberal Class), an excerpt of which has been made available as part of an NPR feature.

In this essay, I offer a partial translation of this excerpt into English.

Newspeak English
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.Liberals can be useful when they do what we want...

It also serves as an attack dog that discredits radical social movements, making the liberal class a useful component within the power elite....but they're worse than the Nasty Fascist Capitalists when they get out of line.

But the assault by the corporate state on the democratic state has claimed the liberal class as one of its victims.After communism fell, our remaining liberal lackeys started to question the Gospel of Socialism and became apostates.

Corporate power forgot that the liberal class, when it functions, gives legitimacy to the power elite.The "liberal class" actually manages to do something about some of the abuses that we think are "inherent in capitalism," thus making the simple-minded doubt the obvious truth that only socialism can get rid of them, which steals our thunder.

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.Now that the liberals have flown the coop, it's time to drum up the proles for a little bourgeois-bashing.

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 left 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.The U.S. now has very few people who have first-hand experience of what most people would call a dictatorship. Hence, to get them to accept that we're in a dictatorship without bringing up our definition of that term (viz., any system of government in which socialists are allowed not to be in power), all we have to do is say "WE'RE IN A DICTATORSHIP!" very loudly and very often.

The liberal class refuses to recognize the obvious because it does not want to lose its comfortable and often well-paid perch.To reject the Gospel of Socialism, you either have to be stupid and benighted and blinded by false consciousness (like the proles) or not, in which case you cannot resist its blinding truth, but keep quiet about it because you're in the pay of the Fascist Capitalist Conspiracy.

Churches and universities — in elite schools such as Princeton, professors can earn $180,000 a year — enjoy tax-exempt status as long as they refrain from overt political critiques.Those uppity churches and universities are forgetting their place. Marx help us if people ever suspect that churches are houses of God, or that universities are houses of learning, rather than our docile little political bullhorns!

Labor leaders make lavish salaries and are considered junior partners within corporate capitalism as long as they do not speak in the language of class struggle.There are union bosses who aren't Marxists. We don't like that.

Politicians, like generals, are loyal to the demands of the corporate state in power and retire to become millionaires as lobbyists or corporate managers.There are politicians who aren't socialists. We don't like that.

Artists who use their talents to foster the myths and illusions that bombard our society live comfortably in the Hollywood Hills.There are artists who don't quack the party line. We don't like that.

The media, the church, the university, the Democratic Party, the arts, and labor unions — the pillars of the liberal class — have been bought off with corporate money and promises of scraps tossed to them by the narrow circles of power.We hate liberals just as much as right-wingers do, so let's cash in on their hatred of liberals by emphasizing the things we agree with them on -- the biased liberal media, professor values, and the like.

Journalists, who prize access to the powerful more than they prize truth, report lies and propaganda to propel us into a war in Iraq. Many of these same journalists assured us it was prudent to entrust our life savings to a financial system run by speculators and thieves. Those life savings were gutted. The media, catering to corporate advertisers and sponsors, at the same time renders invisible whole sections of the population whose misery, poverty, and grievances should be the principle focus of journalism.There are journalists who think that the "principle" [sic] focus of journalism is to report the news, rather than to follow our orders and grind a political axe. We don't like that, so we'll say over and over again, "THE MEDIA NEVER COVER STORIES ABOUT POOR PEOPLE!" until we manage to get people to believe it.

In the name of tolerance — a word the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., never used — the liberal church and the synagogue refuse to denounce Christian heretics who acculturate the Christian religion with the worst aspects of consumerism, nationalism, greed, imperial hubris, violence, and bigotry.Those liberals just don't get it. When we said, "'Heretic' is a dirty word," they were so boneheaded they didn't understand that we meant, "We aren't heretics; the Nasty Fascist Capitalists are!" So, now that that little misunderstanding is coming around to bite us in the tush, let's blame the liberals for it; after all, they're the ones who continue to stick to the same stupid principles that they've always held.

These institutions accept globalization and unfettered capitalism as natural law.Those stupid resources (obviously imbued with false consciousness) insist on being limited and really interfere with our ability to have autarkic countries. But we don't like that, so let's just sweep it under the rug.

Liberal religious institutions, which should concern themselves with justice, embrace a cloying personal piety expressed in a how-is-it-with-me kind of spirituality and small, self-righteous acts of publicly conspicuous charity. Years spent in seminary or rabbinical schools, years devoted to the study of ethics, justice, and morality, prove useless when it comes time to stand up to corporate forces that usurp religious and moral language for financial and political gain.There are ministers who don't interpret religion as mandating socialism. We don't like that.

Universities no longer train students to think critically, to examine and critique systems of power and cultural and political assumptions, to ask the broad questions of meaning and morality once sustained by the humanities.Not many students are becoming socialists these days. Naturally this means they can't think, which in turn means their professors are pumping them full of lies.

These institutions have transformed themselves into vocational schools. They have become breeding grounds for systems managers trained to serve the corporate state. In a Faustian bargain with corporate power, many of these universities have swelled their endowments and the budgets of many of their departments with billions in corporate and government dollars. College presidents, paid enormous salaries as if they were the heads of corporations, are judged almost solely on their ability to raise money.Sliming somebody-or-other by saying he's sold himself to Satan for 30 pieces of silver really worked well for our Puritan forebears, so we'll have a crack at it, too.

In return, these universities, like the media and religious institutions, not only remain silent about corporate power but also condemn as "political" all within their walls who question corporate malfeasance and the excesses of unfettered capitalism.Oh, dear! How did those deranged liberals ever get the idea that there's anything political about what is quite openly called "progressive activism"? I mean, seriously...

Unions, organizations formerly steeped in the doctrine of class struggle and filled with members who sought broad social and political rights for the working class, have been transformed into domesticated negotiators with the capitalist class. Cars rolling off the Ford plants in Michigan were said to be made by UAW Ford. But where unions still exist, they have been reduced to simple bartering tools, if that.The unions aren't marching to our tune these days; only the Wobblies deserve to be called a "labor union" anymore, so we'll hold the other unions to their standard.

The social demands of unions in the early twentieth century that gave the working class weekends off, the right to strike, the eight-hour workday, and Social Security, have been abandoned.Can those proles get any dumber? They think their demands actually succeeded just because they still have weekends off, and the right to strike, and an eight-hour workday, and Social Security.

Universities, especially in political science and economics departments, parrot the discredited ideology of unregulated capitalism and have no new ideas.Now what is it they do in university economics departments these days? I haven't a clue, but I'll yank a guess out of the air and hope I'm right.

The arts, just as hungry as the media or the academy for corporate money and sponsorship, refuse to address the social and economic disparities that create suffering for tens of millions of citizens.Of course, we don't believe that our ideas all but destroyed the high-art world and left it almost incapable of saying anything at all, let alone quacking the agenda we want it to quack. And never mind all the artists and galleries who get state grants for the express purpose of railing about social tensions; they've been duped by the Nasty Fascist Capitalists.

Commercial artists peddle the mythical narrative, one propagated by corporations, self-help gurus, Oprah and the Christian Right, that if we dig deep enough within ourselves, focus on happiness, find our inner strength, or believe in miracles, we can have everything we desire.Hollywood spews a lot of bullshit, but...

Such magical thinking, a staple of the entertainment industry, blinds citizens to corporate structures that have made it impossible for families to lift themselves out of poverty or live with dignity....the real problem, you see, is not that it's bullshit, but that Hollywood is using it to give the proles false consciousness.

But perhaps the worst offender within the liberal class is the Democratic Party. The party consciously sold out the working class for corporate money. Bill Clinton, who argued that labor had nowhere else to go, in 1994 passed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which betrayed the working class. He went on to destroy welfare and in 1999 ripped down the firewalls between commercial and investment banks to turn the banking system over to speculators. Barack Obama, who raised more than $600 million to run for president, most of it from corporations, has served corporate interests as assiduously as his party. He has continued the looting of the U.S. Treasury by corporations, refused to help the millions of Americans who have lost their homes because of bank repossessions or foreclosures, and has failed to address the misery of our permanent class of unemployed.We don't like what the Democrats have been doing. Obviously they were once "Commiecrats" and only pretending to be liberals, just like Joe McCarthy said, and now they've sold us out, the dirty bastards!

Populations will endure the repression of tyrants, as long as these rulers continue to manage and wield power effectively. But human history has demonstrated that once those in positions of power become redundant and impotent, yet insist on retaining the trappings and privileges of power, their subject populations will brutally discard them. Such a fate awaits the liberal class, which insists on clinging to its positions of privilege while at the same time refusing to play its traditional role within the democratic state. The liberal class has become a useless and despised appendage of corporate power.Notice, comrades: It is now open season on liberals.

And as corporate power pollutes and poisons the ecosystem and propels us into a world where there will be only masters and serfs, the liberal class, which serves no purpose in the new configuration, is being abandoned and discarded.Got to reel in the greenies, of course. Just have to hope they know who the enemy is, or else won't suspect anything when we don't complain about environmental damage that isn't traceable to "corporate power."

The death of the liberal class means there is no check to a corporate apparatus designed to enrich a tiny elite and plunder the nation. An ineffectual liberal class means there is no hope, however remote, of a correction or a reversal. It ensures that the frustration and anger among the working and middle classes will find expression outside the confines of democratic institutions and the civilities of a liberal democracy.We've milked those stupid liberal fascists and their petty-bourgeois cultural-hegemonic civil rights for all they're worth; time to stop pretending we support them. Workers of the world, unite! Forth the revolution!