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Saving Liberals from Chris Hedges

Saving Liberals from Chris Hedges

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Critical review of Chris Hedges' "Death of the Liberal Class"
Critical review of Chris Hedges' "Death of the Liberal Class"

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Published by: Patrick McEvoy-Halston on Nov 11, 2011
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Death of the Liberal Class
, Chris Hedges (2010)Reviewed by Patrick McEvoy-Halston- - - - -
Saving Liberals from Chris Hedges
Chris Hedges, in
 Death of the Liberal Class
, ostensibly isn’t wishing the liberalclass to die – he’s simply demarcating it as deceased, or so he argues – but hecertainly doesn’t have much good to say about it either, and as a DeMausianpsychohistorian, I’m probably normally not much in mind to defend it myself.He describes it, the liberal class – a composite of left-leaning artists, journalists,and academics: lefty intellectuals – as if it entrance to it now requires abdicatinganything that meaningfully defined liberals as liberal in the first place. You haveto agree to no longer serve,
to betray
, the people, their best interests, andeffectively end up sycophants to the mandarin corporate ruling class. And to seemy sort of psychohistory at all accepted within academia right now, I would likely have to see it especially emphasize the destructive aspects of patriarchy, how itafflicts women; I would have to see it value all periods of history, applauding any acute psychohistorical study, whether it concern Ancient Greeks or moderntimes; and I would have to see it adopt the academic tone and focus tightly onsubject matter, thanking friends and loving support “for making our work possible” but otherwise keeping our personal life, and the personal—out. Andthis would mean full disrespect of the remarkable truth that patriarchy, thoughindeed now retrograde, was once significant psychogenic evolution—peoplemoving
up
the scale. It would mean implicitly slighting the fact that evolution of the old kind, gradual betterment of people through time,
is
 
real 
, that the further you go into the past the more primitive the people you are dealing with are,making deeper descent into history an increasingly more harrowing descent thatat some point must stop you into bluntly asking yourself why you were so eager toclimb
down
in the first place? It would mean betraying our awareness that ourfamilies didn’t just give us the support we needed but likely determined exactl what we’re up to in this reified realm of scholarship, and that the measured,neutral, reason-clearly-in-charge-here voice usually shows signs of its being an
older 
psychoclass innovation. It would mean betraying what I ought to love,degrading myself, ostensibly 
too
, from heights to lows, knight to accomplice, elf to forlorn orc. Nevertheless, if I am true to what I’ve either learned or confirmed
 
from exploring DeMausian psychohistory, I’m not about to judge Hedges my peer; and am in fact trying to use the book to help keep faith in the same liberalestablishment which treats the sort of psychological ideas so precious to us so very warily.
THE LIBERALS’ STORY: HEDGES’S TAKE
Hedges holds that those who believe in human perfectibility are ruinous to themaintenance of the best that human beings can actually hope to achieve. His sortof liberals – the classic ones – born in the 17th century and who experienced theirheyday in the late 19th and early 20th, were perfectly clear-headed, however, inthat they had a skeptical attitude towards human beings, believed that thoughconditions on earth could be improved it’s never going to be made a utopia—forpeople are constituted so that they cannot be made all good. They guardedagainst parts running rampant over wholes, in particular, private interests andself-serving passions over – respectively – the structuring of society and overall bent of mind. The mind was best constituted with reason checking passions; andsociety, with multifarious interests and independent viewpoints having tocontend, indeed, often highly combatively, with one another. The high-times of  American society – still mostly decentralized, with regions and interests fruitfully engaged yet still clearly separate – had this, but was sundered of it rapidly onceindependence of mind, independence
in general 
, was made to seem injurious,traitorous, to hope of victory in the First World War, and with liberals coming tosee a fractious society as inconsistent with their new view of human beings asperfectible and society as potentially harmonious. The state concentrated,opinion concentrated and “narrowed,” at the same time as liberals came to seeconcentrated power as necessary to disseminate their message of humanperfectibility and the subconscious-targeted manipulations required to unleash itin the mass (62-63, 101-103). The end result, according to Hedges, was of coursenot perfection en masse, but rather mass degradation—people lost much of theirPuritan inner guardedness, of guilt, and let themselves be ruled by their passions(101-103). And from the 1980s on, liberals full-scale abandoned the public they had, with two notable exceptions, spent their time annihilating much of thedignity of, to competitively compete with one another for corporate support—only corporations, now having the public they always wanted, and apparentlfeeling less the need to keep liberals afloat “as a prop to keep the fiction of thedemocratic state alive” (25), soon started abandoning the-now-useless
them
to
 
their death knell. What follows for all of us is surely the chaos of hypermasculineresponse to widespread powerlessness, unless
somehow
some brave
someone
sounds a clarion call that draws fallen liberals back amongst the people.
THE LIBERALS’ STORY: THE DEMAUSIAN TAKE
The DeMausian take on liberals in the 20th
 
century can be reached simply by inversing everything Hedges says. The altered liberals, the ones that came togenuinely hope for the elimination of all strife and who thought they saw itsrealization in the near future, weren’t fallen but rather
 progressed 
 
 from
theirclassic predecessors. The classic liberals were notable, for being an advancement beyond their medieval/renaissance predecessors, and for representing a belief in what human beings were capable of (and deserved) that lead to considerablesocial reforms, but only, really, in the now very qualified way that patriarchy wasan advancement over matriarchy: It should look good to you—but
only
until you become familiar with what all succeeded it. The changed liberals Hedgesdeplores were no-doubt members of a
superior 
psychoclass, who stopped seeingstrife and division as necessarily a good thing
1
 for having experienced the truly  better things issuing from out of their less divided, less “intrapsychically” strickenminds (DeMause,
 Foundations of Psychohistory
, Creative Roots, 1982, 238).
2
That they saw within human grasp, utopia, speaks strongly to their credit: because it was only with this psychogenic advance in ambition that theinequalities and cruelties the classic liberals understood as not just ineradicable but, in full honesty, as actually desirable – for it well communicating the fact of human imperfectability and the limit of their potentially hubristic highestaccomplishments – could in fact begin to be eradicated. It would mean thereduction in size of a handy class of people to project all one’s anxiety-arousingdesires into; but they were better prepared to handle this great but daunting leapforward as well.
 WHO REALLY BETRAYED WHOM?
The “growth” Hedges believes liberals sadly ended up leading the public into, and
1
No doubt, also, a strong centralized state was less offensive to them owing to their experiencing moreabatement of early placental smothering from their less needy, better assuaging, more-your-own-needs-concerned themselves-better-loved psychoclass mothers.
2
This is not to say that unification during the period Hedges speaks of it largely arising – the First WorldWar – wasn’t actually mostly for a short time simply a truly regrettable regression into growth panic-spurred group think, but that its ongoing continuation should be seen as owing to psychoclass innovation.

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