34 pages 1 hour read

Chris Hedges

Empire Of Illusion: The End Of Literacy And The Triumph Of Spectacle

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2009

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Chapter 3Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 3 Summary: “The Illusion of Wisdom”

Hedges blames elite higher education institutions for many of the problems facing the United States. Such institutions care less about teaching students critical thinking skills than they do about preparing such students to become “competent systems managers” (89). Elite institutions discourage independent intellectual inquiry and instead promote learning broken up into highly specialized disciplines and vocabularies. These divisions make collective understanding amongst disciplines difficult.

Hedges interviews Henry Giroux, an English and Cultural Studies professor at McMaster University. Giroux is an outspoken critic of the university’s role in what he refers to as the “military-industrial-academic complex” (91). According to Giroux, an intimate relationship exists between universities, corporations, and governments. He claims that “corporate and Pentagon money was now funding research projects, and increasingly knowledge was being militarized in the service of developing weapons of destruction, surveillance, and death” (91).

According to a student at UC Berkeley, relatively little political action or interest is observable on campus. Instead, students are fragmented into separate groups according to ethnicity and professional focus. The corporate influence is blatantly obvious, however, thanks to Berkeley’s interest in cultivating corporate relationships. For example, Berkeley displays its corporate affiliations publicly. Coca-Cola is sold exclusively at football games, and Cingular and Allstate advertise at California Memorial Stadium.