9 Following


Currently reading

All You Need Is Kill
Hiroshi Sakurazaka
The Two Towers
J.R.R. Tolkien
The Society of the Spectacle
Guy Debord, Donald Nicholson-Smith
Les Misérables
Victor Hugo, Norman MacAfee, Lee Fahnestock
Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle - Chris Hedges This book brings up a lot of good criticisms against capitalist societies but it is certainly not without flaws. Hedges' biases are obvious and he seems to have a grudge against those he calls the "elites", that is, the wealthy and powerful capitalists that his book rails against. I get it, money takes over for morals, corporations are destroying America (and the rest of the world by extension) due to their unbridled thirst for profit, and our society is flooded with slick images selling ideology that may hurt us rather than help us. He paints a very dark image of present day America with his messages of doom.

But what about the people themselves? There is no discussion of individual agency, no sympathy or understanding towards the people or the elites that govern them; instead Hedges chooses to rant about how much he hates capitalism and the entertainment industry. He obviously thinks the general public is too stupid so it's up to him to tell them that they're being duped. And then confusingly, in the last two or three pages, Hedges says that it is human love that will save us.

While I don't think his complaints are wrong, this book is hardly a critical look at the problem. It reads more like a rant against a few specific things that Hedges dislikes (non-print media, porn, elitism, positive psychology), which are all examples/symptoms of a much bigger issue that he never quite addresses directly. I am also surprised and curious as to why he hasn't mentioned the works of theorists such as Guy Debord and Jean Baurdillard, who have written what can be considered seminal works on the the same topics. Hedges was definitely onto something in this book but he executed it poorly.