January 17, 2011
THE ANEMIC AMERICAN LIBERALISM
Hedges, Chris, Death of the Liberal Class (New York: Nation Books, 2010) ("The disparity between what we are told or what we believe about war itself is so vast that those who come back are often rendered speechless. What do you say to those who advocate war as an instrument to liberate the women of Afghanistan or bring democracy to Iraq? How do you tell them what war is like? How do you explain that the very proposition of war as an instrument of virtue is absurd? How do you cope with memories of small, terrified children bleeding to death with bits of iron fragments peppered throughout their small bodies? How do you speak of war without tears?" "Look beyond the nationalist cant used to justify war. Look beyond the seduction of the weapons and the pornography of violence. Look beyond Obama's ridiculous rhetoric about finishing the job or fighting terror. Focus on the evil of war. War begins by calling for the annihilation of the Other, but ends ultimately in self-annihilation. It corrupts souls and mutilates bodies. It destroys homes and villages and murders children on their way to school. It grinds into the dirt all that is tender and beautiful and sacred. It empowers human deformities--warlords, Shiite death squads, Sunni insurgents, the Taliban, al-Qaida and our own killers--who can speak only in the despicable language of force. War is a scourge. It is a plague. It is industrial murder. And before you support war, especially the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, look on to the hollow eyes of the men, women and children who know it." Id. at 58. "In his book White Collar, which includes a scathing chapter titled 'Brains, Inc.,' Mills argued that 'men of brilliance, energy, and imagination' were no longer valued within universities. Colleges did not 'facilitate, much less create, independence of mind.' The professor had become part of a petty hierarchy, almost completely closed in by its middle-class environment and it segregation of intellectual from social life . . . mediocrity makes its own rules and sets its own image of success.' But the intellectuals outside the academy in the commercial sphere were no better. They had abandoned politics for administration and personal success. 'The loss of will and even of ideas among intellectuals,' he wrote, is due not simply to 'political defeat and internal decay of radical parties.' The liberal class who accepted its appointed slots in educational, state, institutional, and media bureaucracies had, Mills noted, sold their souls." Id. at 122 (citing C. Wright Mills, White Collar (New York: Oxford U. Press, 1956), 130-131, 158-159.).