Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle

Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle

Chris Hedges

Language: English

Pages: 240

ISBN: 1568586132

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

We now live in two Americas. One—now the minority—functions in a print-based, literate world that can cope with complexity and can separate illusion from truth. The other—the majority—is retreating from a reality-based world into one of false certainty and magic. To this majority—which crosses social class lines, though the poor are overwhelmingly affected—presidential debate and political rhetoric is pitched at a sixth-grade reading level. In this “other America,” serious film and theater, as well as newspapers and books, are being pushed to the margins of society.

In the tradition of Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism and Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, Pulitzer Prize-winner Chris Hedges navigates this culture—attending WWF contests, the Adult Video News Awards in Las Vegas, and Ivy League graduation ceremonies—to expose an age of terrifying decline and heightened self-delusion.



















directions. It is not just the humanities that are in danger, but the professors themselves. Most universities no longer hire the best and most experienced teachers but the cheapest. Tenured and tenure-track teachers now make up only 35 percent of the pedagogical work force and the number is steadily falling.23 Professors are becoming itinerant workers, often having to work at two or three schools, denied office space, and unable to make a living wage. The myopic and narrow vision of life as an

asserts, exists. It is called “Transformational Positivity.” And to understand it, people need to shift their thinking, much like Einstein, whom he quotes as saying, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. We must learn to see the world anew.” Positive thinking, which is delivered to the culture in a variety of forms, has its academic equivalent in positive psychology. Cooperrider touts what he calls Transformational Positivity. Transformational

war for his doctorate. Wolin has written political science classics such as Politics and Vision and Tocqueville Between Two Worlds. He is the author of a series of essays on Augustine of Hippo, Richard Hooker, David Hume, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Max Weber, Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx, and John Dewey. His voice, however, has faded from public awareness because, as he told me, “it is harder and harder for people like me to get a public hearing.” He said that publications such as the New York

Great Society is now gasping for air, mortally wounded, coughing up blood. Power no longer lies with the citizens of the United States, who, with ratios of 100 to 1, pleaded with their representatives in Washington not to loot the national treasury to bail out Wall Street investment firms. Power lies with the corporations. These corporations, not we, pick who runs for president, Congress, judgeships, and most state legislatures. You cannot, in most instances, be a viable candidate without their

There are signs that this has begun. Look at Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld. Many of his investors lost everything and yet he pocketed $485 million. An economic collapse does not mean only the degradation of trade and commerce, food shortages, bankruptcies, and unemployment. It also means the systematic dynamiting of the foundations of a society. I watched this happen in Yugoslavia. I watch it now in the United States. The free market and globalization, promised as routes to worldwide

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