The Sad Irony of Radical Elitists Like Chris Hedges

The radical Right hates Obama because they think he's a communist. The radical Left hates Obama because they know he isn't.
I heard someone say on TV this once, and I have paraphrased it with some modifications.

Chris Hedges is the Truthdig author who published Cornel West's racist, antisemitic screed last week. After the liberal and progressive voices were out there took Prof. West to task and summarily condemned the nasty racism and bigotry that Prof. West displayed, Hedges was apparently unhappy that his attempt to hide behind Cornel West's race baiting to cover his own had been a flop. So in his Truthdig column yesterday, he doubled down, calling West a "prophet" and delving in a self-congratulating pathetic diatribe of bitter, angry and false complaints against the Democratic party and what he calls the "liberal class."

Hedge's argument, in a nutshell, is that you can't be considered to be on the Left unless all you do is oppose "the state." He manages to trash every cornerstone of a free and democratic society, along with any organized group that has ever made progress in the long history of this country.
The pillars of the liberal establishment—the press, the church, culture, the university, labor and the Democratic Party—all honor an unwritten quid pro quo with corporations and the power elite, as well as our masters of war, on whom they depend for money, access and positions of influence.
Oh, irony. Chris Hedges spent all his career in the middle of what he calls the "liberal establishment" - 15 years of it working for the New York Times as a foreign correspondent. His last column, that got taken out for a severe haircut, was about the reaction of a professor from an Ivy League university. And for him to headline an article about how someone is a "prophet" and then in the body of the article lament some perceived connection to "the church" would be rather funny if it weren't so WTF-inspiring. For someone who blames liberals for war as a foreign policy, Hedges sure doesn't seem to have any qualms about selling himself (and his books) as the connection of the press to "masters of war", you know, being a foreign correspondent in the middle east in his own bio! Hedges last article was two super elites talking to themselves trying to tell everybody else how to think. Do the deafening elitism and irony just not register, or is it intentional?

Hedges can either argue that even as part of this "liberal establishment" press he was able to work without selling his soul, which eviscerates the argument he just made above, or he can argue that the entire "liberal" press is in an unwritten quid pro quo with the corporate power elite and the masters of war, which means he's admitting to himself being a sellout. But he can't argue both simultaneously.

Hedges is now doing two monumentally dumb (and dumbfounding things): (a) irony of ironies, lamenting how horrible this press is (you want to talk about establishment press, you will hardly find a better example than the New York Time) that he worked for and made money in all his life, and (b) spreading the stupendous myth of a liberal bias in our media, educational institutions and - oh, no - culture! Why doesn't he just say teh gays are trying to recruit your children in our public schools by making them read the Washington Post? With "friends" like Hedges spreading right wing propaganda so freely, who needs the Tea Party?

I really don't know if Hedges thinks he's making a persuasive argument here or simply lashing out like a wounded animal, but he comes out as a classical anarchist who, just like the Tea Party whackjobs, believes in the Reaganesque idea that the government is useless in solving problems, but it is rather the problem itself. The only difference is that Hedges replaces "problem" with "enemy" and "government" with "the state." Compare for yourself:

Ronald Reagan:
In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.
Chris Hedges:
The state, now the repository of the hopes and dreams of the liberal class, should always have been seen as the enemy. The destruction of the old radical and militant movements—the communists, socialists and anarchists—has left liberals without a source of new ideas.
Yes, let's all be radical militants. The top of the Tea Party food chain could not have put it any better. The government is the enemy, and stateless anarchism is the great source of new ideas. Insanity at its best.

But this quote also makes something else rather clear as to the mindset of Chris Hedges, his pal Cornel West, and their numerous admirers on the supposed "Left": they see the government as incurably corrupt, and believe that change cannot be affected by public policy. This is why Barack Obama is such a threat to them: he is proving that axiom wrong and useless. While the President has always maintained that the lion's share of the work to bring change is done by everyday citizens, he has proven that properly managed and lead, government can be an able partner in making change happen. He has shown that public policy is an indispensable tool to building a more perfect union and a more just society. He has shown that the state, as Hedges puts it, by nature is neither good nor bad but that it can be an agent for either depending on leadership and governance.

In other words, Barack Obama has proven that government matters. He has proven who is in power matters. He has showed, beyond any doubt, that democracy calls for an informed citizenry, eternal vigilance, hard work, and citizen involvement - and that when these factors are present, Americans (and really, any free people) can affect positive change through public policy. Barack Obama has proven that the choice of progress vs. regress, equality vs. bigotry and responsibility vs. laizzes faire matter in government. And so, he is as much a pariah to Dick Armey as he is to Chris Hedges. From Dick Armey's perspective, the rouse of how government is an evil liberal plot to take away all your money and therefore can never be on your corner has been taken away. And from Hedges' perspective, the equally frivolous shtick that government is an evil corporatist plot to keep the peasants in check and therefore can never be in your corner has been decimated. While Armey is busy describing Obama as a communist, Hedges calls him a fascist (i.e. the head of what he calls a "corporatist state").

What Chris Hedges is expressing an interest in here is not making anyone's lives better but in validating his own tired strawman of a government. What he is afraid of here is not that liberals are devoid of new ides but that he is devoid of new avenues of making a radical anarchist philosophy look good. What Hedges is worried about is not the "liberal establishment" but his own relevancy. What he cannot fathom is that America, with a vibrant, young, multicultural President is moving on beyond the dichotomy of philosophies of government that dictates that a government is either all controlling or laissez faire. What Hedges has a problem with is that America is whistling past the idea that private industry is either all evil or non-existent. Hedges is still bogged down in the tired old debates about small vs. big, business vs. labor-friendly government, as is the Tea Party.

What neither can stand is that Americans - especially the new generation - have dumped that shrill debate and instead opted for not a big or a small government but an effective government. Not for government control or corporate collusion but a government with a leader who has his mind on solutions. It's the placing of progress before ideological rancor that is causing a petty, defensive reaction full of elitism and radicalism.