Editor's Pick:
December 2021
*Chris Hedges. Death of the Liberal Class.
Read by Arthur Morey.
8 CDs. 9 hrs.
Dreamscape Audiobooks. 2010.

In Death of the Liberal Class Award-winning journalist Chris Hedges describes and examines in depth (and predicts) much of what is happening today, all around us and why. I have been intending to write a review of this audiobook since 2010, when both the book and audiobook were first published, but never found the time. So, finally, here are my thoughts on Death of the Liberal Class, in our final issue of SoundCommentary.

I have listened to Death of the liberal Class several times and have learned more each time. I also plan to read more of the books Hedges recommends. Award winning, experienced narrator Arthur Morey's mature voice, impeccable narration, and steady pace, capture the truth, beauty and urgency in Hedges' elegant words.

In Death of the Liberal Class Hedges carefully examines what constitutes the liberal class, its origins and goals and how it has finally totally failed as the last bastion against the coup d'etat against the corporate state that now appears to control all in the U.S. What has brought about the failure of the liberal class and who else has written about this? How did the liberal class function historically? How does it work now? How has the power of the liberal class been so corrupted that many of its outstanding members, many of whom still have much to contribute to saving the planet and its inhabitants (e.g. Ralph Nader, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, journalist Sydney Schanberg, journalist/publisher Julian Assange, Professor Norman Finkelstein, South African Justice Richard Goldstone, and many other writers, rebel artists and playwrights), are now vilified, imprisoned and/or virtually banished from public view. Hedges also examines specifically the 1930s and The McCarthy period.

As Hedges so eloquently writes: "the liberal class has ossified. It has become part of the system it once tried to reform. It continues to speak in the language of technical jargon and tepid political reform, even though the corporate state has long since gutted the mechanisms for actual reform. The failure by the liberal class to adjust to the harsh, new reality of corporate power and the permanent war economy, to acknowledge its own powerlessness, has left the liberal class isolated and despised....It ignored the looming environmental and economic collapse. It ignored the structural critique that might pull us back from the horrific effects of climate change and global depression. Our power elite and their liberal apologists lack the ideas and vocabulary to make sense of our new and terrifying reality....The inability of liberals and the power elite to address our reality leaves the disenfranchised open to manipulation by the demagogues." I have wondered about all this for years; Hedges explains.

Hedges is not optimistic but he describes what others, who care, have done in "opportunities for radical social change...." One example: As Jesuit Priest and longtime activist Father Daniel Berrigan, who stood openly against the Vietnam war, and went to prison for burning draft cards of those who would be sent to war in 1968, said: "...Good is to be done because it is good, not because it goes somewhere."

Hedges first chapter in Death of the Liberal Class is entitled "Resistance." The last chapter is entitled "Rebellion." He says "All resistance must recognize that the corporate coup d'etat is complete. We must not waste our energy trying to reform or appeal to systems of power. This does not mean the end of resistance, but it does mean very different forms of resistance."

Among many other achievements Hedges was a foreign correspondent for more than 15 years, in more than 50 countries. He was the Balkan Bureau Chief for the NYTimes in the 90s. He covered the wars in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala from 1983 to 1988. He won an Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism. He also earned a degree at Harvard Divinity School and was ordained Presbyterian Minister in 2014. He is the host of the Emmy nominated television interview show "ON CONTACT." He is the author of more than 15 books, including: War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, What Every Person Should Know About War, and most recently Our Class: Trauma and Transformation in an American Prison. He has taught in the B.A. program run by Rutgers University for men and women in the New Jersey prisons system since 2013; he has changed lives. He has also taught at Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University and The University of Toronto. He became vegan in 2014, writing that the "animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all worldwide transportation combined. Interestingly, at his private high school, where he was a scholarship student, he "founded an underground newspaper that was banned by the school authorities and saw him put on probation." For more about Hedges check out this site: https://www.chrislhedges.com/ about

Arthur Morey has acted in theaters and cabarets in New York, Chicago, and Milan and is also a writer and teacher in addition to many award winning readings. He has been awarded five prestigious Audie Awards. I would listen to almost anything he reads.

Hedges' Death of the Liberal Class bibliography available in the print book is an excellent list that listeners will want to seek out.

A definite must listen.

Reviewed by Jean Palmer

Jean Palmer, Editor-in-Chief

Jean Palmer, a librarian, is the Editor of SoundCommentary. She worked in a medium sized public library and the largest private high school library in the U.S. until she discovered her love for audiobooks. Her book and audiobook reviews and other writings have been published in local and national magazines and newspapers. She is the editor of the KLIATT Audiobook Guide.

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