17 March 2010

Article: Winter in America: Democracy Gone Rogue

"Winter in America: Democracy Gone Rogue" is an op-ed article by Henry A. Giroux that was published on the alternative news website "Truthout" on 4 March:


Excerpts: "Democracy in the United States is experiencing both a crisis of meaning and a legitimation crisis. As the promise of an aspiring democracy is sacrificed more and more to corporate and military interests, democratic spheres have largely been commercialized and democratic practices have been reduced to market relations, stripped of their worth and subject to the narrow logics of commodification and profit making. [...] When not equated with the free market capitalism, democracy is reduced to the empty rituals of elections largely shaped by corporate money and indifferent to relations of power that make a mockery out of equality, democratic participation and collective deliberation. [...] As part of the crisis of legitimation, democracy's undoing can be seen in the anti-democratic nature of governance that has increasingly shaped domestic and foreign policy in the United States [...]. What is often missed is how such anti-democratic forces work at home in ways that are less visible and when they are visible seem to become easily normalized, removed from any criticism as they settle into that ideological fog called common sense. [...]

"[D]emocracy is [...] transformed from a mode of politics that subverts authoritarian tendencies to one that reproduces them. [...] Used to gift wrap the interests and values of an authoritarian culture, the rhetoric of democracy is now invoked to legitimate its opposite, a discourse of security and a culture of fear [...]. When tied to the discourse of democracy, such practices seem beyond criticism [...] – beyond ethical and political reproach. As the country undermines its own democratic values, violence and anti-democratic practices become institutionalized throughout American culture, their aftershocks barely noticed, testifying to how normalized they have become. [...] Emerging out of this void and shaping a more militaristic anti-politics are the anti-public intellectuals and their corporate sponsors, eager to fill the air with populist anger by supporting right-wing groups [...] and self-styled patriots that bear an eerie resemblance to the beliefs and violent politics of the late Timothy McVeigh, who bombed a federal building in Oklahoma in 1995. [...]

"Under its common-sense rubric, homelessness and poverty are now criminalized, schools are dominated by zero-tolerance policies that turn public schools into a low-intensity war zone, school lockdowns are the new fire drills, the welfare state morphs into the warfare state, and university research is increasingly funded by the military and designed for military and surveillance purposes. [...] Zombie politics loves to depoliticize any vestige of individual agency and will. [...] Under such circumstances, memory is lost, history is erased, knowledge becomes militarized and education becomes more of a tool of domination rather than empowerment. One result is not merely a collective ignorance over the meaning, nature and possibilities of politics, but a disdain for democracy itself that provides the condition for a lethal combination of political apathy and cynicism on the one hand and a populist anger and an ethical hardening of the culture on the other. [...] [U]nderlying [...] is a hatred not merely for government, but for democracy itself. [...] Going rogue is now a metaphor for the death of democratic values and support for modes of symbolic and potentially real violence in which all vestiges of thought, self-reflection and dialogue are destroyed."

Henry A. Giroux is the prime example of a chronologist of the failure of democracy in the United States. With increasing frequency he publishes books and articles (on "Truthout" and elsewhere) that show how democracy is the problem. He has not been able to make the mental leap, though, to realizing that the problems caused by democracy can only be overcome by opposing and overcoming democracy itself. Democracy (not the abuse of it) is the root cause of the ills Giroux keeps highlighting.

American-born Henry A. Giroux is Professor of English and Cultural Studies and Global TV Network Chair in Communications at McMaster University, Canada.

1 comment:

  1. are you an anti-modern rushdoony fan?