Chris Hayes: Getting Past the “Fail Decade”


The Common Good hosted a lunch discussion with Chris Hayes, host of Up with Chris Hayes on MSNBC, about his new book Twilight of the Elites, which analyzes how our institutions have imploded, spawning a lack of trust between citizens and the elites. Chris spoke about the shortcomings of contemporary American financial and social meritocracy, with the intelligence and humor we’ve come to expect from him.

Over the past decade, Americans watched in bafflement and rage as one institution after another – from Wall Street to Congress, the Catholic Church to corporate America, even Major League Baseball – imploded under the weight of corruption and incompetence. In the wake of the Fail Decade, Americans have historically low levels of trust in their institutions; the social contract between ordinary citizens and elites lies in tatters.

How did we get here? With Twilight of the Elites, Christopher Hayes offers a radically novel answer. Since the 1960s, as the meritocracy elevated a more diverse group of men and women into power, they learned to embrace the accelerating inequality that had placed them near the very top. Their ascension heightened social distance and spawned a new American elite--one more prone to failure and corruption than any that came before it.


Christopher Hayes is Editor at Large of The Nation and host of Up with Chris Hayes on MSNBC (Sat 8-10am and Sun 8-10am.) From 2010 to 2011, he was a fellow at Harvard University’s Edmond J Safra Foundation Center for Ethics. From 2008-2010, he was a Bernard Schwartz fellow at the New America Foundation. From 2005 to 2006, Hayes was a Schumann Center Writing Fellow at In These Times.

Since 2002, he’s written about political culture and political economy. His essays, articles and reviews have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Time, The Nation, The American Prospect, The New Republic, The Washington Monthly, The Guardian, and The Chicago Reader.

His book about the crisis of authority in American life, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy, will be published by Crown in June 2012

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