Empire of Illusion Book Summary By Chris Hedges

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Empire of Illusion (2010) is an eye-opening book that takes a hard look at the current state of literacy in the US and its repercussions.

Author Chris Hedges provides an insightful look into how television is numbing people’s minds, how corporate power has taken hold of the country, and how America can move forward from these cultural dilemmas.

In this work, Hedges also provides enlightening solutions to these relevant issues facing society today.

With engaging writing and analytical thinking, Empire of Illusion guides readers on a journey to understanding today's literary landscape and what it means for America's future.

Empire of Illusion Book

Book Name: Empire of Illusion (The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle)

Author(s): Chris Hedges

Rating: 4.4/5

Reading Time: 15 Minutes

Categories: Education

Author Bio

Chris Hedges is a renowned American journalist, revered for his work with The New York Times as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans.

He has written several highly successful books; most notably War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and Death of the Liberal Class.

His latest book Empire of Illusion provides an overview of our increasingly materialistic and celebrity-driven society, leading readers to search for more meaningful answers for life than those traditionally provided by religion alone.

How Chris Hedges’ Empire Of Illusion Exposes The Delusions Of American Society

American Society

Chris Hedges provides an invaluable insight into American society in his Empire of Illusion, discussing how common societal delusions can cause some people to be blindsided.

He begins by highlighting facts around illiteracy and statistics that point to a delusional mainstream society, then delving into topics such as education, the economy, and the military.

From those discussions, it becomes clear that one has to overcome these societal delusions or risk being swallowed up by them.

To start on your journey to understanding and eventually overcoming these delusions, you’ll need honest insights into topics like how much time on average Americans spend watching television every year or how positive psychology influences people’s outlooks in negative ways.

You should also find out more about Harvard’s Z-list applicants – their success could be your own story with enough determination!

By taking a closer look at reality over illusions, you too can unshackle yourself from harmful delusions that limit your ability to reach greater heights.

Knowing what the truth is will only empower you in the long run as you strive for personal freedom from delusion-driven lives.

Americans Are Experiencing An Illiteracy Epidemic And Illusion-Fuelled Reality Thanks To Television

Americans are increasingly becoming the most illusion-prone people in the world, largely due to an illiteracy epidemic.

An alarming level of functional illiteracy has been documented in the US – one-third of the population is either barely or entirely illiterate.

Studies have shown that after high school or college graduation – 7 million Americans are illiterate while 27 million can’t read enough to complete a job application and 50 million read at a fifth-grade level!

Furthermore, many don’t read books after graduating.

This trend was accurately envisioned by Aldous Huxley’s novel “Brave New World”.

Mass communication today is no longer reading books; rather it consists of television which is excellent at manipulating images and distorting reality causing citizens to be cut off from reality.

The average American home has the TV on for seven hours a day, with viewers spending four out of those hours watching TV – thus totaling nine years of their life by the time they reach 65!

All these factors add up resulting in widespread illiteracy cutting Americans off from reality completely.

Tv Culture Leads To Narcissism, Surveillance Normalization, And Political Distraction

In Chris Hedges’ book, Empire of Illusion, he discusses how a low literacy rate in America is a direct threat to democracy.

As more people consume media like television and movies than read books or newspapers, they become more likely to be influenced by these sources.

This can lead to a society that values celebrity culture over meaningful content and facts.

People begin to think that the celebrities on television have something exceptional when really their talents are often exaggerated and it encourages narcissism.

In extreme levels, this leads to people competing for the privilege of living under surveillance in order for some sort of recognition or fame.

It also normalizes government monitoring of citizens which infringes on our constitutional rights.

How Elite Education System Breeds Illiteracy And Inequality In America

Education System

The American education system supports a privileged and wealthy elite, rather than learning for the good of all.

It’s evident in the way colleges prioritize fundraising from big corporations over education-related matters.

For instance, at the University of California at Berkeley, Coca-Cola secured exclusive rights to sell soft drinks at football games while BP signed a $500 million agreement with the university’s research facilities.

Moreover, dorm rooms are assigned according to family income – providing better conditions to wealthier students.

Ivy League schools like Andover, Yale and Harvard often require wealthy applicants to financially “buy a spot” as even their “Z list” reserves 50 spots for well-to-do but academically borderline candidates – many of whom have one key factor tying them together: a parent who attended Harvard.

This system allows elites to inhabit an environment filled with self-delusion and false notions of invincibility.

With access to gated communities such as Short Hills and Greenwich, they never come into contact with real difference or true hardship – which would inevitably challenge their superiority complex.

Therefore, this warped education system perpetuates inequality among social classes in America.

The Decay Of The Humanities Puts America At Risk Of Constant Crisis And Diminishes Our Ability To Envision Alternative Futures

In recent decades, the humanities have seen a massive decline in colleges and universities across the United States.

This is due to a shift in mentality– education is being treated as mere preparation for gainful employment rather than expansion of the mind.

This has led to a decrease in degree holders in humanities fields such as literature, art and philosophy– from 50 percent in the 1960s down to 25 percent today.

At the same time, we have seen an influx of undergraduate business students increasing from 13 percent to 21 percent over the past half-century.

This shift away from valuing knowledge over skills has not only harmed our educational system but also had severe repercussions on our society’s morals.

We are focusing so much on teaching people how to make money that we forget about teaching them how to be wise– values like empathy and compassion are essential for developing moral principles and understanding how power works with ethics– yet these things are largely neglected in college courses.

As such, it’s no surprise that the American elite find it nearly impossible to handle crisis scenarios such as the recent financial collapse.

People who haven’t been taught how to think critically and question why their culture is decaying won’t be able to envision paths for alternative solutions or futures when they rise into positions of power– if they even make it that far without proper knowledge or wisdom.

Positive Psychology: A Tool For Self-Delusion, Enforced Compliance And A Stressful Work Environment

Positive psychology gurus may preach messages of happiness and fulfillment through surrender to authority, but in reality they only offer the illusion of true happiness.

Take Tony Robbins, for example: he encourages people to Awaken the Giant Within and visualize their perfect lives.

But this type of thinking does nothing but distort reality because it prevents us from questioning the systems that are actually causing our troubles.

It’s a dream world – an escape from depressing or frightening truths – and it takes us down a one-way path towards delusion instead of solving real problems.

The same is true when positive psychology is used in the corporate world.

Human resource departments often use oppressive tactics such as corporate trainings, staff turnover and reward systems to control behavior and make employees “happy.” This forces individual workers to stifle any independent thinking or criticism, which results in a high-pressure work environment that values image over authenticity.

It’s clear that there are serious implications when we take these illusions seriously, albeit comforting ones.

So don’t be fooled by positivity gurus – get empowered with knowledge about actual solutions for solving problems, instead of depending on false promises!

The Us Economic Crisis Is Driving Militarism And A Vicious Cycle Of Debt

Economic Crisis

America’s economic decline and rampant militarism are closely interconnected.

This began when the country shifted from an empire of production to one of consumption.

Soon, large military expenditures and declining oil production crippled the economy and spurred the need for borrowing in order to sustain an extravagant lifestyle.

This has led to massive military infrastructure around the world, a $623 billion spending in 2008 for US army alone -which is more than every other military on earth combined-, and continued alliance between US and other countries through weapon sales.

All these have only contributed to a trouble-filled downward economic spiral since World War II that has resulted in negative trade balance, loss of manufacturing jobs and finally produced a public debt of $11 trillion, or $36,676 per capita today.

The United States Is Struggling To Invest For The Public Good Due To Excessive Reliance On Defense Spending And The Corporate Lobby’S Influence

The United States’ moral decline can be seen in its physical decay.

Funds for the public good are lacking, causing infrastructure and healthcare to suffer drastically.

This has led to buildings, roads, bridges and airports becoming severely dilapidated and in desperate need of repair.

The Department of Education has even gone so far as to say some US schools are so run-down that teaching is being disrupted!

This happens because fewer resources are being put into sustaining the US economy by investing in useful products and jobs that help build or maintain its infrastructure.

What’s more, corporate lobbies use this lack of investment to their advantage; dominating every aspect of life – from weapons manufacturers to pharmaceutical companies who continuously oppose proposals that would help make access to healthcare more affordable.

Clearly, insufficient investment has created tragic results that prevent us from having a functioning society capable of protecting its citizens’ well-being.

For this reason, it is essential we recognize how our moral decline is mirrored in the physical state of the nation around us.

The Rise Of Corporations & The Risk Of Totalitarianism: How Big Business Is Undermining Democracy


The corporate power in the US is undeniable and unchecked.

Corporations are involved in almost every aspect of our lives, from providing public services to outsourcing manufacturing and finance jobs to low wage countries overseas.

This leaves American workers not organized enough to fight back against this state of affairs.

Even though only 8% of the private sector workforce is unionized-roughly the same percent as in the early 20 century!

Even worse, corporations now have a strong financial grip over both Republican and Democratic spheres of our country’s political leadership, courtesy of their hefty contributions to politicians’ campaign funds.

As a result, they’re able push forward an anti-regulatory agenda that harms everyone except themselves and their shareholders.

A notable example was getting rid of the Glass-Steagall Act, which President Clinton did even though it directly led to the 2008 financial crisis.

This unchecked corporate reign is certainly a serious threat to our nation since it often leads to extreme forms of government like totalitarianism: When people who are hurt by a stagnant political system lose faith in their nation, they may resort to violence thus leading to destruction of morals as well as ideas related with her common good .

We can look at history for evidence with Rome, Egypt and Byzantium all being great civilizations that rose then declined due to reasons including corruption and unchecked ruling by elites.

Wrap Up

Chris Hedges’ Empire of Illusion paints a vivid portrait of America’s current educational crisis, revealing just how far the country has fallen and what kind of impact it’s having on each major part of society.

The wealthy elite, who have never truly understood or valued the importance of morality and justice, are now in control.

The bottom line? Illiteracy has created an educational crisis that is threatening the nation from all sides.

The only way to undo these damaging effects is to start teaching people ethical thinking and instilling a true sense of fairness in our society – two concepts which are integral for any successful country.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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