Totalitarian Paranoia in the Post-Orwellian Surveillance State

by Henry A. Giroux Surveillance, in any land where it is ubiquitous and inescapable, generates distrust and divisions among its citizens, curbs their readiness to speak freely to each other, and diminishes their willingness to even dare to think freely. — Ariel Dorfman The revelations of whistle-blowers such as Chelsea Manning, Jeremy Hammond and Edward Snowden about government lawlessness and corporate spying provide a new meaning if not a revitalized urgency and relevance to George Orwell’s dystopian fable 1984. Orwell offered his readers an image of the modern state that had become dystopian — one in which privacy as a civil … Continue reading Totalitarian Paranoia in the Post-Orwellian Surveillance State

Radical democracy against cultures of violence

by Henry A. Giroux Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. –– Nelson Mandela Guy Debord once argued that the spectacle suggests society’s desire for sleep.[1] He was enormously prescient, and his words and work are more important today than when they were first written. The spectacle has been energized and reworked under the forces of neoliberalism and now promotes a mix of infantilism, brutality, disposability and lawlessness. As the visibility of extreme violence is endlessly reproduced in various cultural apparatuses and screen cultures, it functions increasingly, alongside a range of other economic and political … Continue reading Radical democracy against cultures of violence

Hope in the age of looming authoritarianism

by Henry A. Giroux I can understand pessimism, but I don’t believe in it. It’s not simply a matter of faith, but of historical evidence. Not overwhelming evidence, just enough to give hope, because for hope we don’t need certainty, only possibility. — Howard Zinn In the current historical moment, the line between fate and destiny is difficult to draw. Dominant power works relentlessly through its major cultural apparatuses to hide, mischaracterize, or lampoon resistance, dissent, and critically engaged social movements. This is done, in part, by sanitizing public memory and erasing critical knowledge and oppositional struggles from newspapers, radio, … Continue reading Hope in the age of looming authoritarianism

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

The New Extremism: Politics of distraction in the Age of Austerity

by Henry A. Giroux The debate in both Washington and the mainstream media over austerity measures, the alleged fiscal cliff and the looming debt crisis not only function to render anti-democratic pressures invisible, but also produce what the late sociologist C. Wright Mills once called “a politics of organized irresponsibility.”[1] For Mills, authoritarian politics developed, in part, by making the operations of power invisible while weaving a network of lies and deceptions through what might be called a politics of disconnect. That is, a politics that focuses on isolated issues that serve to erase the broader relations and historical contexts … Continue reading The New Extremism: Politics of distraction in the Age of Austerity

Beyond the politics of the Big Lie

by Henry A. Giroux “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” — Martin Luther King, Jr. The American public is suffering from an education deficit.  By this I mean it exhibits a growing inability to think critically, question authority, be reflective, weigh evidence, discriminate between reasoned arguments and opinions, listen across differences, and engage the mutually informing relationship between private problems and broader public issues. This growing political and cultural illiteracy is not merely a problem of the individual, one that points to simple ignorance. It is a collective and social problem that goes … Continue reading Beyond the politics of the Big Lie