The ghost of Authoritarianism in the Age of the Shutdown

by Henry A. Giroux In the aftermath of the reign of Nazi terror in the 1940s, the philosopher Theodor Adorno wrote: National Socialism lives on, and even today we still do not know whether it is merely the ghost of what was so monstrous that it lingers on after its own death, or whether it has not yet died at all, whether the willingness to commit the unspeakable survives in people as well as in the conditions that enclose them.[1] Adorno’s words are as relevant today as they were when he first wrote them. The threat of authoritarianism  to citizen-based … Continue reading The ghost of Authoritarianism in the Age of the Shutdown

Hope in a time of permanent war

by Henry A. Giroux Revolution is not ‘showing’ life to people, but making them live. A revolutionary organization must always remember that its objective is not getting its adherents to listen to convincing talks by expert leaders, but getting them to speak for themselves, in order to achieve, or at least strive toward, an equal degree of participation. – Guy Debord The war drums are beating loudly and America is once more mobilizing its global war machine. How might it be possible to imagine hope for justice and a better world for humanity in a country that has sanctioned state … Continue reading Hope in a time of permanent war

Lockdown, USA: The Boston marathon manhunt

by Henry A. Giroux A tragedy of errors: nobody knows any more who is who. The smoke of the explosions forms part of the much larger curtain of smoke that prevents all of us from seeing clearly. From revenge to revenge, terrorism obliges us to walk to our graves. I saw a photo, recently published, of graffiti on a wall in NYC: ‘An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind’. — Eduardo Galeano[1] The American public rightfully expressed a collective sigh of relief and a demonstration of prodigious gratitude towards law enforcement authorities when the unprecedented manhunt for … Continue reading Lockdown, USA: The Boston marathon manhunt

The Politics of debt in America: From debtor’s prison to debtor nation

by Steve Fraser Shakespeare’s Polonius offered this classic advice to his son: “neither a borrower nor a lender be.”  Many of our nation’s Founding Fathers emphatically saw it otherwise.  They often lived by the maxim: always a borrower, never a lender be.  As tobacco and rice planters, slave traders, and merchants, as well as land and currency speculators, they depended upon long lines of credit to finance their livelihoods and splendid ways of life.  So, too, in those days, did shopkeepers, tradesmen, artisans, and farmers, as well as casual laborers and sailors.  Without debt, the seedlings of a commercial economy … Continue reading The Politics of debt in America: From debtor’s prison to debtor nation

Taking notes 11: Torture is wrong but so is the supreme war crime

by Coleen Rowley A number of human rights issues converged on Friday January 11, 2013. In Washington DC and many other cities around the country, including the Twin Cities, people will don orange “Gitmo” jumpsuits and black hoods to protest the 11th year anniversary-travesty of Guantanamo as well as the (bizarrely coincidental) national release of the  despicable, CIA-inspired “zero conscience” film that falsely conveys the message that torture “works” and is somehow heroic. The third, far less known issue involves the resignation (effective on January 11) of Suzanne Nossel, Director of Amnesty International-USA.  Her resignation after only one year as American Director would be … Continue reading Taking notes 11: Torture is wrong but so is the supreme war crime

Nightfall II: Endgame for the American Way of Life

by P. J. Laska After commenting on the mass delusion that characterizes AWOL (the American Way of Life) in the Post-Meltdown era (Nightfall: Dimming of the dream) this essay looks at the significance of the Occupy Movement and presents Istvan Meszaros’ analysis of the unresolvable structural crisis of capitalism as a way of understanding the system’s failure to act on our present science-based foresight capability by addressing the critical issue of our species’ metabolism with nature.  It then examines the demented logic of extreme technologies that consume fossil fuel in order to obtain the additional fossil fuel necessary to continue … Continue reading Nightfall II: Endgame for the American Way of Life

The end of American Democracy?

by Henry A. Giroux “For we already know that a worthwhile society will not be less but more free than our own. More instruction, more — and more precise — information, more concrete criticism, publicity given to the actual functioning of society and politics, all problems put in the most offensive terms — as offensive as suffering and as all true reasoning — here are the preliminary conditions for ‘transparent’ social relations.” — Merleau Ponty “It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” — James Baldwin Four decades of … Continue reading The end of American Democracy?

Nightfall: Dimming of the dream and search for an alternative

by P. J. Laska Given the emphasis on imposing hegemony by military means, it is a splendid irony that ‘American Way of Life’ should share its acronym (AWOL) with the military term “Absent Without Leave.” — http://www.laetusinpraesens.org Ronald Reagan in the famous “Morning-in-America” speech that was part of his 1984 re-election campaign took credit for the improvement of the economy since his election in 1980.  By 1983 the inflationary spiral of the 70’s had been brought under control by Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volker, who was originally appointed by Carter and then reappointed by Reagan in 1983.  Reagan could also … Continue reading Nightfall: Dimming of the dream and search for an alternative

The warfare state and the brutalizing of everyday life

by Henry A. Giroux Since 9/11, the war on terror and the campaign for homeland security have increasingly mimicked the tactics of the enemies they sought to crush. Violence and punishment as both a media spectacle and a bone-crushing reality have become prominent and influential forces shaping American society. As the boundaries between “the realms of war and civil life have collapsed,” social relations and the public services needed to make them viable have been increasingly privatized and militarized.(1) The logic of profitability works its magic in channeling the public funding of warfare and organized violence into universities, market-based service … Continue reading The warfare state and the brutalizing of everyday life

The ‘suicidal state’ and the war on youth

by Henry A. Giroux In spite of being discredited by the economic recession of 2008, market fundamentalism has once again assumed primacy as a dominant force for producing unprecedented inequalities in wealth and income, runaway environmental devastation, egregious amounts of human suffering and what Alex Honneth has called an “abyss of failed sociality.”(1) The Gilded Age is back with big profits for the ultra-rich and large financial institutions and increasing impoverishment and misery for the middle and working class. Political illiteracy and religious fundamentalism have cornered the market on populist rage providing support for a country in which, as Robert … Continue reading The ‘suicidal state’ and the war on youth