Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chris Hedges: The Death of the Liberal Class

In This Issue:

- Chris Hedges: The Death of the Liberal Class
- Quantitative Easing Explained
- Other Articles


Chris Hedges: The Death of the Liberal Class


" . . . I did leave the seminary because of the hypocrisy of the church. . . . so I got a nice window into all those people who like the poor but don't like the smell of the poor . . . especially at Harvard Divinity School--you know, talking about empowering people they never met."

"We have a choice. You can either be complicit in your own enslavement or you can lead a life that has some kind of integrity and meaning . . . ."

"I distrust all systems of power . . . ."

"Lets not be naive, you're not rewarded in this kind of a system for virtue, probably in any kind of a system--That is the price for having a life worth living."

"I think that if you don't have anger and courage then hope is not a possibility."

On mass internet communication: "The electronic forms of communication are very useful in terms of transmitting a message, they're not very useful and probably actually counterproductive in terms of transmitting ideas--and the thought-terminating cliches that dominate the wider culture dominate the internet. People retreat into intellectual ghettos."

"Remember there were two reactions to the global crisis of the nineteen thirties--one resulted in fascism and the other resulted in the 'New Deal'--and the reason we got the 'New Deal' is because we we had powerful, radical, social movements with broad social visions, and the guts to stand up and fight back--and those movements, with the complicity of the liberal class have been destroyed. So we are certainly headed for a similar kind of social meltdown--and without the aid of those movements, and led by a liberal class that is utterly bankrupt. Dostoevsky was obsessed with this--that's what 'Notes From Underground' is about--its about the defeated dreamer, its about the person who went to all the Barak Obama rallies and shouted 'yes we can,' and then realized that it doesn't make any difference. And so they withdrew, underground, and laughed at all the idiots and buffoons in the tea-party or Sarah Palin--and nursed their cynicism and self-indulgence. And Dostoevsky writes than when that happens, you enter an age of moral nihilism--and that's where I think we're headed."

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Chris Hedges: The Death of the Liberal Class

Other Articles:

Quantitative Easing Explained
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Bush [Still] At Large

Angry Left to Obama: Stop Caving on Agenda

The Origin of America’s Intellectual Vacuum
By Chris Hedges
November 15, 2010 "Truthdig" --

The blacklisted mathematics instructor Chandler Davis, after serving six months in the Danbury federal penitentiary for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), warned the universities that ousted him and thousands of other professors that the purges would decimate the country's intellectual life.

"You must welcome dissent; you must welcome serious, systematic, proselytizing dissent-not only the playful, the fitful, or the eclectic; you must value it enough, not merely to refrain from expelling it yourselves, but to refuse to have it torn from you by outsiders," he wrote in his 1959 essay "...From an Exile." "You must welcome dissent not in a whisper when alone, but publicly so potential dissenters can hear you. What potential dissenters see now is that you accept an academic world from which we are excluded for our thoughts. This is a manifest signpost over all your arches, telling them: Think at your peril. You must not let it stand. You must (defying outside power; gritting your teeth as we grit ours) take us back."

But they did not take Davis back. Davis, whom I met a few days ago in Toronto, could not find a job after his prison sentence and left for Canada. He has spent his career teaching mathematics at the University of Toronto. He was one of the lucky ones. Most of the professors ousted from universities never taught again. Radical and left-wing ideas were effectively stamped out. The purges, most carried out internally and away from public view, announced to everyone inside the universities that dissent was not protected. The confrontation of ideas was killed.
. . . .

Davis got his doctorate from Harvard in mathematics and seemed in the 1950s destined for a life as a professor. But the witch hunts directed against "Reds" swiftly ended his career on the University of Michigan faculty. He mounted a challenge to the Committee on Un-American Activities that went to the Supreme Court. The court, ruling in 1960, three years after Joseph McCarthy was dead, denied Davis' assertion that the committee had violated the First Amendment protection of freedom of speech. He was sent to prison. Davis, while incarcerated, authored a research paper that had an acknowledgement reading: "Research supported in part by the Federal Prison System. Opinions expressed in this paper are the author's and are not necessarily those of the Bureau of Prisons."

Davis, who has lived in Canada longer than he lived in the United States, said that his experience of marginalization was "good for the soul and better for the intellect."

"Though you see the remnants of the former academic left still, though some of us were never fired, though I return to the United States from my exile frequently, we are gone," he said. "We did not survive as we were. Some of us saved our skins without betraying others or ourselves. But almost all of the targets either did crumble or were fired and blacklisted. David Bohm and Moses Finley and Jules Dassin and many less celebrated people were forced into exile. Most of the rest had to leave the academic world. A few suffered suicide or other premature death. There weren't the sort of wholesale casualties you saw in Argentina or El Salvador, but the Red-hunt did succeed in axing a lot of those it went after, and cowing most of the rest. We were out, and we were kept out."

"I was a scientist four years past my Ph.D. and the regents' decision was to extinguish, it seemed, my professional career," he said. "What could they do now to restore to me 35 years of that life? If it could be done, I would refuse. The life I had is my life. It's not that I'm all that pleased with what I've made of my life, yet I sincerely rejoice that I lived it [AMEN!], that I don't have to be Professor X who rode out the 1950s and 1960s in his academic tenure and his virtuously anti-Communist centrism."

Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Truthdig.com. Hedges graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times.
© 2010 TruthDig.com

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