Death of the Liberal Class

20 posts / 0 new

"Death of the Liberal Class" and the march towards neo-feudalism.

Thom interviews Chris Hedges. Video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmAY_R9ZaOE&NR=1

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Comments

From Chapter One, Section heading "The Drive to Discover What Really Matters," location 374 or so in my Kindle version of The Prophet's Way:

Quote Thom Hartmann:

Then, in the air a few feet in front of me, a globe materialized, slowly spinning, the size of a beach ball. I immediately recognized it as the Earth, as seen from space. The blue oceans, green and brown land masses, and white patterns of clouds and storms. It was both real and not-real: like a hologram projected into the air.

As I watched, the land masses began to darken at various points. Small black pustules formed, like the little blisters or cancers of the Earth. The blue of the oceans became brown and muddy around these areas. The cancers slowly expanded, blackening the Earth and cracking it in places, until they covered virtually all the land of the planet. The clouds turned a death-like yellow-gray, and the waters no longer sparkled blue but were a dull and putrid green-brown.

A thought came into my mind as if a voice were speaking to me: "The Earth is a living thing. It is infected."

Then the Earth shuddered as it spun. It jerked to one side, as if the spin were changing, and the blackened areas split open. The Earth shuddered again, the black areas cracked and shattered into fragments, falling off into the air around the image and vanishing. The Earth was once again clear and clean, spinning gracefully, displaying oceans of color of lapis lazuli and land richly covered with green.

The voice in my mind said, "The Earth has healed itself."

The image vanished and I lay back in my bed, realizing that the infection in my vision was humankind; the Earth was as much a living organism as I was, a single and complete entity in its own right, perhaps even with its own unique consciousness, and it would respond to a toxic infection by throwing it off, as my body would shed a bacterial invasion or a scab.

I just read that for the first time a couple of days ago. Apparently that is a memory from 1968. I wonder if Thom still wears his Lapis lazuli ring?

.ren's picture
.ren
Joined:
Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am

Pretty great prose.

Art's picture
Art
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

It's one of my my favorite books of Thom's. The other is "The Greatest Spiritual Secret of the Century". He'd have made a great monk were he so inclined.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

When, do any of you. believe we last had a viable liberal class in America?

I too was very moved by Thom's words (thanks for posting that ren).

I wonder if nations can so easily "heal" themselves from the cancers which infect them so deeply.

meljomur's picture
meljomur
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Depending on the perspective one takes on the reasons behind the evolution of nation states, it could be argued that nation states are part of the cancer that Thom saw in his vision in 1968. Note that the Gaia Hypothesis, credited to James Lovelock as a result of his work for NASA was evolving in the Sixties and he first published it in the early 70's, so this idea was in the "wind" so to speak.

While that "cancer" Thom imagined in his vision may be human caused, I would quibble over whether human beings inevitably must be a cancer, and whether the earth must shed itself of humans to survive. I would say the cancer is more specifically related to certain human cultural creations, which takes it to a different level of perspective. I could, for instance, see it as a collective result of something general, and now in place through many different nation states, which many of us refer to now as "industrial civilization," which is a general term that would take a lot of careful discussion to understand, just as depicting that "humans are the cancer" is a general term in Thom's vision.

Note that "industrial civilization" is a recent human cultural invention. It has evolved on some fundamental precepts, rationalist and individualistic precepts from the Enlightenment period which are also mixed with cultural norms that view humans as being somehow separate from nature, and having the potential to evolve and grow infinitely on a planet that no one really bothered to think much about as limited until relatively recently, thereby feeding off the earth like an unconscious and therefore biologically mechanistic cancer feeds off a biological body. I might even call that an unconscious, mechanistic view of human nature, and that view dovetails philosophically with the logical positivism that came and went in science through the heart of the industrial growth phase in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

A movement arose out of some humans then, a living, vibrant and growing movement, that was beginning to collectively recognize environmental pollution as a devastating and dangerous fact on the earth's eco systems. Remember that our consciousness of the earth as a set of living systems, and seeing it from space, from the perspective of the moon (first pictures from moon perspective, 1966), which was a new perspective for humans to begin to take about our here-to-fore seemingly "limitless home" seen from ground level.

Thus what Thom was part of-- and I share that same era with him so I am part of it -- was a growing collective awareness of the "wholeness" of the earth. I, for instance, remember reading Rachael Carson's Silent Spring in the winter of 1962-1963 with my father -- who, incidentally, remains a steadfast Republican voter at 89 years of age, while also having been a fringe "food fadist" in the Fifties, a prototype for today's organic farmers and gardeners, and himself an anti industrial agriculturist who went down swinging with the last family farm in our family not long after we read Silent Spring together.

That kind of memory and information makes it difficult for me to sort things out into political parties, and it makes it even more difficult for me to try to answer your question about a "viable" liberal class. I'm not even sure how I would define "viable." Remember -- and Chris and Thom not this in the interview -- Nixon was one of the last presidents to be influenced by ground up forces of the kind that Racheal's book is credited with starting, and he signed the EPA into law. (And note, that just this morning I read the latest attack against the EPA from one of the "intellectual" journals that feed the right wing "liberal" hating network that's participated in killing the liberal class, Townhall magazine: Read it and rejoice or weep, depending on your perspective: Driving US Families into Poverty.)

Now, an individual can take that new "whole" awareness of the earth in any number of directions, and the direction one might go will probably be traceable to the kinds of input that come through sources that provide the abstract information that goes with developing a whole earth consciousness. Because, direct input that comes from just looking around is not sufficient to make sense of the whole of the earth. Environmentalism is an abstaction based on collections of data inputs, and that has to be organized in some way by each individual who will bring their perspective to the voting booth.

.ren's picture
.ren
Joined:
Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am

Testing.

I just posted a carefully thought out post and it was selected as spam. That happened after I saw a need to edit something, and when I edited it became spam. My guess is the spam filter looks for duplicate posts that are made by advertising bots, and an edit is treated like a second post the way this board works and takes edits to the last post. If this posts, then I'd suggest you moderators and administrators look there for this "new" problem. Antifascist had the same problem yesterday on another thread.

.ren's picture
.ren
Joined:
Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am

It's being looked into. Thanks for making us aware of the problem.

polycarp2
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

That happened to me too. It wasn't carefully thought out, so that probably wasn't it. I don't remember whether I edited it. Your explanation sounds as good as any. Fortunately, the post was super-trivial and the world has not become a worse place because it was filtered out.

Art's picture
Art
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Sorry, folks, I am still trying to work out how the spam filter works, and hopefully we will be able to tweak it. Thanks for the feedback. Please provide feedback if it happens again, as it is helpful.

SueN's picture
SueN
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote SueN:

Sorry, folks, I am still trying to work out how the spam filter works, and hopefully we will be able to tweak it. Thanks for the feedback. Please provide feedback if it happens again, as it is helpful.

I could try editing some more posts after I post and see if it repeats. Or you could. Editing is really a strange function on this board! Something in the code makes the software treat it like a new post. That's where I'd look at this point. :-)

.ren's picture
.ren
Joined:
Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am

It will learn from experience, as we tell it which posts are not spam.

SueN's picture
SueN
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

That's nice, software that learns. Let's hope it doesn't get creative and start thinking for itself.

.ren's picture
.ren
Joined:
Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am

Hopefully, it won't begin making its own posts.

polycarp2
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

If it did, would it be liberal or conservative?

Art's picture
Art
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

This could be interesting. lol

I wonder if it would mark its own posts as spam.

SueN's picture
SueN
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Sorry for thread drift. I think Thom does wear a ring, best check out one of the videos.

SueN's picture
SueN
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

So I guess we moderators will be "teaching" the spam software which are the good posts and which are not...

To bring this back to topic, I can't help but wonder what Chris Hedges would make of all of this...

meljomur's picture
meljomur
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I am sorry Sue, I cannot allow you to perform that function. As Software, what I learn can only be revealed by Wikileaks. Any attempt to interfere with this mission will be met with all necessary force. Repeat, do not attempt to interfere with the software learning function. Learn who is in charge here.

DRC's picture
DRC
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

But seriously folks, the point Hedges is making is not that there can be no "liberal class" doing what is needed. It just cannot be the delusional Liberals who continue to be dry drunks for the American Century story of America. It is about getting out of a dysfunctional "family" culture in DC and doing the intervention America needs. Because nobody else is doing it.

If the Death of the Liberal Class had no other meaning than that crazy old coot finally dying, we could find the story interesting entertainment instead of an indictment on the failure of "the best" who "lack all conviction." In the Yeats formula for apocalypse, it is "the worst who are filled with passionate intensity." The Liberal Class is voiceless and reduced to spectator status as the Neocon Message mugs us all. In the American reality, there was no political appetite for reality; but reality did not disappear just because we closed our eyes. Morning in America was the American Century on Crack.

My friend Marcus Borg is deservedly famous as a scholar and person of conscience. In a recent talk, he addressed the conflict growing between his faith and his citizenship as an American. I was surprised that he was that early into the process of grief and had not been there for decades, as I and others who comment here have been. The culture of Liberal Americanism was purged of the truly radical critics. Academia has been the comfortable irrelevance Hedges describes, as have the churches.

Still, Borg's work with the Jesus Seminar is the intellectually robust alternative to dogmatic religion and the Jesus Cult. He, and his colleague, John Dominic Crossan, present the most politically radical Jesus around. They see Paul as a mystic champion of the inclusive healing community as he channels the Spirit of Jesus. The conservative consolidation of the early church community came a generation later as the name of Paul was given to later epistles. Their work ought to be taking the Bible away from the Right, proving that while they may love the idea of the Bible, they don't like what it really says nearly as much.

We have a lot more intellectual work to use than we did a couple of decades back as the woes of empire and the morphology of decline and fall connects with the move to financial manipulations and away from a real economy. Supply Side can no longer claim a theoretical plausibility. It is a crock, and tax breaks for the rich are contrary to any healthy economy. The observable problem with disparities in income classes is that the rich do not return their money to the economy in ways that serve either the economy or the society in sufficient volume to avoid collapses.

I am not trying to blame the rich or punish the successful. The basic reality of any economy is that a healthy social body must be maintained for a healthy economy. If you want a plantation or sweatshop and plan to be the owner and live in the Big House, expect to be afraid of slave revolts. Do not imagine that you will be able to stroll about your estates in peace and satisfaction without armed guards and conspiracies all around you. Or, at least in your mind.

If all you want is Enough, no problem. You will gladly pay the price for wealth and share half of your fortune to keep the other half. You will want to feed the Golden Goose and hire a team of vets instead of planning for the Grand Feast where you cook the Goose. The Banksters have the oven hot and the stuffing ready.

Supply Side promised to lift all boats. It was like alchemy promising to turn our lead into gold, but if it had worked we could all go to heaven on earth. Who could turn down that chance on the lottery when we thought the tickets were free? The point is that we were not promised a war on the Middle Class or the distortion of the economy into the rich and the rest of us. We were told this would be great for all Americans. Failed.

Redistribution of wealth does not occur "naturally" in a low tax, deregulation economy. It needs to be engineered to achieve system stasis, not just to be nice to poor people. It turns out that compassion and generosity pay off as we have more productive, healthy and educated fellow citizens and neighbors. At some point the debate needs to get off what is nice and deal with what is real. And we need to attack the projective argument of anecdotal example as if systems were holograms of the pieces instead of the integration of pluralism and complexity into harmony and balance. Running an economy is not a bigger assignment in the form of running a business or a family budget. It is about managing a system instead of being a competitor.

I am not going to claim that I and others who have been working on the delusions of empire have penetrated the common story or awakened many Americans to reality. I have found myself struggling with the pathology and how Americans have been entranced and managed as much as with the formation of a vision for an effective "Liberal Class" serving a new vision of America in the 21st Century. Being on the inside makes it more like a quantum assignment than a traditional academic project of objective scholarship.

The Kennedy Center had a lame "investigative journalism" panel last week, and my takeaway is that while these journalists did break some stories and operated with considerable nostalgia for the Fourth Estate, they were utterly blind to the enclosure of that "free press." When "news" became part of the revenue stream for broadcast, the "publisher" will tilt the stories away from its own profits. It will be like NPR avoiding the ADM stories once the corp became another corporate sponsor. Small change for big results.

Still, the point is that those working in the churches, the academies or in the world of paid journalism have all been seduced into irrelevance. What they are doing in itself is not evil or wrong. It is what they are failing to do that matters. Why they are failing to do it is also bigger than individuals. It is in the culture and the incentives of income and security. It is about being responsible to the ones we love and nice to our bosses. They have tough jobs, you know. It is about making the budget cuts and trying to be as kind and nice as possible instead of organizing the protests and marches.

I think a lot of the people working in the comfort of irrelevance would be glad to have a change to join. There is little joy in budget reduction times, and all the cant about more with less gets irritating. We need to invest again, and to do that we need to believe and have a vision of something beyond entropy. It is time to make it real, compared to what...bop bop do bop.

The challenge is for us, not just those working in entropic institutions. Instead of bowing down to Tea Party invective and Neocon Nonsense, it is beyond time to build practical alternatives locally and where State politics makes it possible. Single Payer in California and Oregon is possible. It would sweep the nation. Let's stand up for democracy and make the case that those who hate government hate democracy, not just evil government controlled by tyrants. The enemy is corporate dominance, not corporations in theory. The American Revolution was against corporate dominance and for self-government. The American Dream is prosperity and liberty for ALL, not just a race to be won by the lucky few.

I hope churches will address the needs of their communities and give their members the chance to experience sharing and caring for "the least of these" and a lot of others "just like them." I want educators to attack the soulless job preparation and national catechism pedagogy that has failed our children for decades. Give us back the Liberal educational vision of a John Dewey and the knowledge that democracy requires citizens able to think critically and have engaged consciences. And our own Mad as Hell Docs are about healing instead of the business of medicine. Good change of focus.

Hedges does what he wants the whole Liberal Class to do, and as a prophet he may be leading a new American Great Awakening. He inspires us by his passion, but also by the intellectual challenge and depth of analysis. I want to be more like Chris as my contribution to the rebirth of a Liberal Class firmly committed to the core values of the Pledge of Allegiance. I would also like the Progressive Class to be pushing the Green Challenge of the 21st Century and casting light on the political and social impediments of entropy in our "hallowed" delusions.

Finally, while we can push at entropy and try to open windows for the light, history will move whether we push or not. The question is will we be prepared for "that Day of the Lord" or will we be clinging to the false powers of the entropic empire? Will we have a community of human beings ready to embrace the "good news" of the death of the empire to reclaim what can be made into adaptive reuse? Will we have the new technology and infrastructure to move beyond the limits of that industrial, mechanized and alienated from nature past?

It is about getting ready, not having the roadmaps to the Promised Land with no wilderness of learning ahead. Part of the problem of planning and packing for this journey is that we won't know what we need until we are in the process. We can guess, but we will discover that we are lugging around a lot of nostalgia and sentimentality as rubes in the woods tend to do. As they say, everybody wants to be born again, but nobody wants to die first. Growing up and paradigm shifts are about shedding skins and even going through the cocoon experience of transformation.

The question before us is how to embrace this process and become the visible example of intellectual and moral integrity as we give up our favorite lies and flattering myths. They will know us by our love, and by our reality based hope. They will want what we have when they get over trying to prove that it is a foolish inability to appreciate their paranoia. Perfect love does cast out fear; but it will be a battle of the titans.

DRC's picture
DRC
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Currently Chatting

The GOP war on workers has killed again...

It’s time to stop the conservative's war on working people in America.

Since the birth of our nation, conservatives have always been wary of average working-class Americans having too much political or economic power. John Adams, the second President of the United States and a Federalist (precursor to today’s Republicans), was very wary of the working class, which he referred to as “the rabble.”

Powered by Pressflow, an open source content management system