Interview with Chris Hedges
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    • Death of the Liberal Class (Nation Books, 2010) by Chris Hedges

Check out Senior Institute Fellow Chris Hedges' latest interview by the History News Network. In it, he discusses his latest book, Death of the Liberal Class, published by Nation Books in 2010, the betrayal that the public feels at the dying liberal institutions that are no longer able to protect them, media coverage of the Iraq War, Hedges' training as a priest, and why he left the New York Times.

Here's a brief excerpt:

Lindley: You were trained as a minister.  How does your training as a minister and experience as a journalist tie into the genesis of this book?

Hedges: Because I was trained in ethics I think I have a vocabulary that people who don't have that training lack. I studied for many years systems of power and institutions and how they work and how moral decisions were made, which I think gives my writing a quality that people who don't have that background often lack or struggle to express. And of course the journalism is key because I know how to report and how to find stuff out. It's not brain surgery, but it takes a long time to be a good journalist. I think those two skills come together in my book and give it perhaps a unique quality that’s uncommon with that wedding of academic background coupled with the skills of reporting, which I did for twenty years, fifteen of them with The New York Times.

Lindley: You foresee not only the end of democracy but also the environmental ruin of civilization as we know it.

Hedges: Of course. The commodification of human beings, which is what corporations do, is matched by a commodification of the natural world. Nothing has an intrinsic value; everything is exploited for money or profit until exhaustion or collapse, and that's why the environmental crisis is intimately twinned with the economic crisis.

Lindley: Your prognosis for American democracy is bleak, but you find hope in the stories of figures such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Nader, journalists Sydney Schanberg and I.F. Stone, historian Howard Zinn, and [Catholic social activist] Dorothy Day.

Hedges: Hope comes from physical actions: resistance or rebellion. It's not going to come from placing our faith in bankrupt liberal institutions. All those people you mentioned are essentially American radicals who understood that. We don't have a progressive wing of the Democratic Party that has any power or influence. Labor unions are spent. Liberal churches are irrelevant. Universities and the press have been corporatized.

So it's incumbent upon those of us who care about protecting what's left of civil society to recognize that hope comes in physical acts of resistance. If we're not willing to do that, hope is extinguished.

For the rest of the interview, click here.

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