Review: “Listen, Liberal” by Thomas Frank

by DGO Web Administrator

“Listen, Liberal,” by Thomas Frank Review by Kirbie BennettAs the current madness of this election year continues to reveal both major political parties to be two cheeks connected to the same sphincter of Wall Street and imperialism, Thomas Frank’s new book is here to help make sense of the hollowing out of the Democratic Party.

Written in the vein of rabble-rousing, muckraking journalism, “Listen, Liberal” documents the party’s abandonment of the working class in the post-industrial 1970s, thereby catering to the growing class of “professional elites” – those with Ivy League degrees, Upper-East-Side social status (perhaps what Ted Cruz would condemn as embodying “New York values”) and Silicon Valley brains, all with the “power to prescribe” what’s best for everyone else. In assessing the donkey party, Frank reveals how proponents of liberalism have accommodated these technocratic entrepreneurs, professionals in the “knowledge economy” scheming up new rackets in finance, communication, surveillance and military contracting. Frank points out that although this “creative class” once identified as Republican, over time they became swayed by the charm of Democrats eager to ditch the unions, and ready to please their corporate suite-hearts.

Frank spends considerable time on the Clinton administration – the team Frank pinpoints as being largely responsible for transforming the liberal class. “The triumph of Clinton marked the end of the Democrats as a party committed to working people and egalitarianism,” Frank states. From the gutting of welfare reform and the increase of mass incarceration among African-Americans to the deregulation of Wall Street and the championing of NAFTA (which destroyed the local economy of Mexico while multi-national corporations devoured the profits), Clinton was able to achieve what a Republican could not have done. And this doesn’t even include the bloody military interventions in the Balkans and the crippling sanctions imposed on Iraq.

Such a conjob continues under the two-term administration of Barack Obama. Despite the creative class of technocrats and financiers throwing the global economy into a recession, no one has been held responsible for such sociopathic criminality. And under the Obama administration, mass surveillance has expanded, along with military interventions and the use of armed drones, and financial technocrats continue to run free, concocting new hustles to plunder the economy. But at least Obama’s not a Republican, right?

Taking swings left and right, Frank smashes the hollow halos of a morally bankrupt liberal class. “Listen, Liberal” is an urgent read to make sense of the funk we’re in. And while Frank offers an open-ended conclusion on where to go from here, presenting a fork in the road between reforming the party or revolt, given the momentum and monkeywrenching of Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein, in a few months the people may make the decision themselves. As Howard Zinn once wrote, “The really critical thing isn’t who is sitting in the White House, but who is sitting in – in the streets, in the halls of government and in the factories.”


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