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(NOTE: Dr. Giroux has provided written authorization to the diarist to reproduce his work in its entirety for the benefit of the Daily Kos community. Here’s a LINK to his website. And, here’s a LINK to his Wikipedia page. This essay is currently the lead article over at

Neoliberalism's Culture of Cruelty
Authoritarian Politics in the Age of Casino Capitalism
August 27, 2012

The United States has entered a new historical era marked by a growing disinvestment in the social state, public goods, and civic morality. Matters of politics, power, ideology, governance, economics, and policy now translate unapologetically into a systemic disinvestment in institutions and policies that further the breakdown of those public spheres which traditionally provided the minimal conditions for social justice, dissent, and democratic expression.

Neoliberalism, or what might be called casino capitalism, has become the new normal. Unabashed in its claim to financial power, self-regulation, and its survival of the fittest value system, neoliberalism not only undercuts the formative culture necessary for producing critical citizens and the public spheres that nourish them, it also facilitates the conditions for producing a bloated defense budget, the prison-industrial complex, environmental degradation, and the emergence of “finance as a criminalized, rogue industry.”[i] It is clear that an emergent authoritarianism haunts a defanged democracy now shaped and structured largely by corporations.  

Money dominates politics, the gap between the rich and poor is ballooning, urban spaces are becoming armed camps, militarism is creeping into every facet of public life, and civil liberties are being shredded.  Neoliberalism’s policy of competition now dominates policies that define public spheres such as schools, allowing them to stripped of a civic and democratic project and handed over to the logic of the market.  Regrettably, it is not democracy, but authoritarianism, that remains on the rise in the United States as we move further into the 21st century.

The 2012 U.S. Presidential Election exists at a pivotal moment in this transformation away from democracy, a moment in which formative cultural and political realms and forces – including the rhetoric used by election candidates – appear saturated with celebrations of war and Social Darwinism. Accordingly, the possibility of an even more authoritarian and ethically dysfunctional leadership in the White House in 2013 has certainly caught the attention of a number of liberals and other progressives in the United States.

(Continued below.)

(Continued from above.)

American politics in general and the 2012  election in particular present a challenge to progressives, whose voices in recent years have been increasingly excluded from both the mainstream media and the corridors of political power. Instead, the media have played up the apocalyptic view of the Republican Party’s fundamentalist warriors, who seem fixated on translating issues previously seen as non-religious—such as sexual orientation, education, identity, and participation in public life—into the language of a religious revival and militant crusade against evil.

How else to explain Republican Vice-Presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s claim that the struggle for the future is a “fight of individualism versus collectivism,” with its nod to the McCarthyism and cold war rhetoric of the 1950s.  Or Rick Santorum’s assertion that “President Obama is getting America hooked on ‘The narcotic of government dependency,’” promoting the view that government has no responsibility to provide safety nets for the poor, disabled, sick, and elderly.  

There is more at work here than simply a ramped up version of social Darwinism with its savagely cruel ethic of  “reward the rich, penalize the poor, [and] let everyone fend for themselves,” [ii]  there is also a full scale attack on the social contract, the welfare state,  economic equality, and any viable vestige of moral and social responsibility. The Romney-Ryan appropriation of Ayn Rand’s ode to selfishness and self-interest is of particular importance because it offers a glimpse of a ruthless form of extreme capitalism in which the poor are considered “moochers,” viewed with contempt, and singled out to be punished.  But this theocratic economic fundamentalist ideology does more. It destroys any viable notion of the and civic virtue in which the social contract and common good provide the basis for creating meaningful social bonds and instilling in citizens a sense of social and civic responsibility. The idea of public service is viewed with disdain just as the work of individuals, social groups, and institutions that benefit the citizenry at large are held in contempt.

As George Lakoff and Glenn W. Smith point out, casino capitalism creates a culture of cruelty: “its horrific effects on individuals-death, illness, suffering, greater poverty, and loss of opportunity, productive lives, and money.”[iii] But it does more by crushing any viable notion of the common good and public life by destroying “the bonds that hold us together.”[iv]  

Under casino capitalism, the spaces, institutions, and values that constitute the public are now surrendered to powerful financial forces and viewed simply as another market to be commodified, privatized and surrendered to the demands of capital.  With religious and market-driven zealots in charge, politics becomes an extension of war; greed and self-interest trump any concern for the well-being of others; reason is trumped by emotions rooted in absolutist certainty and militaristic aggression; and skepticism and dissent are viewed as the work of Satan.

If the Republican candidacy race of 2012 is any indication, then political discourse in the United States has not only moved to the right—it has been introducing totalitarian values and ideals into the mainstream of public life.  Religious fanaticism, consumer culture, and the warfare state work in tandem with neoliberal economic forces to encourage privatization, corporate tax breaks, growing income and wealth inequality, and the further merging of the financial and military spheres in ways that diminish the authority and power of democratic governance.[v]

Neoliberal interests in freeing markets from social constraints, fueling competitiveness, destroying education systems, producing atomized subjects, and loosening individuals from any sense of social responsibility prepare the populace for a slow embrace of social Darwinism, state terrorism, and the mentality of war—not least of all by destroying communal bonds, dehumanizing the other, and pitting individuals against the communities they inhabit.

Totalitarian temptations now saturate the media and larger culture in the language of austerity as political and economic orthodoxy. What we are witnessing in the United States is the normalization of a politics that exterminates not only the welfare state, and the truth, but all those others who bear the sins of the Enlightenment—that is, those who refuse a life free from doubt. Reason and freedom have become enemies not merely to be mocked, but to be destroyed. And this is a war whose totalitarian tendencies are evident in the assault on science, immigrants, women, the elderly, the poor, people of color, and youth.

What too often goes unsaid, particularly with the media’s focus on inflammatory rhetoric, is that those who dominate politics and policymaking, whether Democrats or Republicans, do so largely because of their disproportionate control of the nation’s income and wealth. Increasingly, it appears these political elite choose to act in ways that sustain their dominance through the systemic reproduction of an iniquitous social order.

In other words, big money and corporate power rule while electoral politics are
rigged. The secrecy of the voting booth becomes the ultimate expression of democracy, reducing politics to an individualized purchase—a crude form of economic action. Any form of politics willing to invest in such ritualistic pageantry only adds to the current dysfunctional nature of our social order, while reinforcing a profound failure of political imagination.

The issue should no longer be how to work within the current electoral system, but how to dismantle it and construct a new political landscape that is capable of making a claim on equity, justice, and democracy for all of its inhabitants. Obama’s once inspiring call for hope has degenerated into a flight from responsibility.  The Obama administration has worked to extend the policies of the George W. Bush administration by legitimating a range of foreign and domestic policies that have shredded civil liberties, expanded the permanent warfare state, and increased the domestic reach of the punitive surveillance state. And if Romney and his ideological cohorts, now viewed as the most extremists faction of the Republican Party, come to power, surely the existing totalitarian and anti-democratic tendencies at work in the United States will be dangerously intensified.

A catalogue of indicting evidence reveals the depth and breadth of the war being waged against the social state, and particularly against young people. Beyond exposing the moral depravity of a nation that fails to protect its young, such a war speaks to nothing less than a perverse death-wish, a barely masked desire for self-annihilation—as the wilful destruction of an entire generation not only transforms U.S. politics into pathology, but is sure to signal the death-knell for America’s future.  How much longer will the American public have to wait before the nightmare comes to an end?

An awareness of the material and cultural elements that have produced these deeply anti-democratic conditions is important; however it is simply not enough. The collective response here must include a refusal  to enter the current political discourse of compromise and accommodation—to think well beyond the discourse of facile concessions and to conduct struggles on the mutually informed terrains of civic literacy, education, and power. A rejection of traditional forms of political mobilization must be accompanied by a new political discourse, one that uncovers the hidden practices of neoliberal domination while developing rigorous models for critical reflection and fresh forms of intellectual and social engagement.

Yet, the current historical moment seems at an utter loss to create a massive social movement capable of addressing the totalitarian nature and social costs of a religious and political fundamentalism that is merging with an extreme market-fundamentalism. In this case, a fundamentalism whose idea of freedom extends no further than personal financial gain and endless consumption.

Under such circumstances, progressives should focus their energies on working with the Occupy movement and other social movements to develop a new language of radical reform and to create new public spheres that will make possible the modes of critical thought and engaged agency that are the very foundations of a truly participatory and radical democracy. Such a project must work to develop vigorous educational programs, modes of public communication, and communities that promote a culture of deliberation, public debate, and critical exchange across a wide variety of cultural and institutional sites. Ultimately, it must focus on the end goal of generating those formative cultures and public spheres that are the preconditions for political engagement and vital for energizing democratic movements for social change—movements willing to think beyond the limits of a savage global capitalism.

Pedagogy in this sense becomes central to any substantive notion of politics and must be viewed as a crucial element of organized resistance and collective struggles. The deep regressive elements of neoliberalism constitute both a pedagogical practice and a legitimating function for a deeply oppressive social order. Pedagogical relations that make the power relations of casino capitalism disappear must be uncovered and challenged.  Under such circumstances, politics becomes transformative rather than accommodating and aims at abolishing a capitalist system marked by massive economic, social, and cultural inequalities.  A politics that uncovers the harsh realities imposed by casino capitalism should also work towards establishing a society in which matters of justice, equality, and freedom are understood as the crucial foundation of a substantive democracy.

Rather than invest in electoral politics, it would be more worthwhile for progressives to develop formative conditions that make a real democracy possible.  As Angela Davis has suggested, this means engaging “in difficult coalition-building processes, negotiating the recognition for which communities and issues inevitably strive [and coming] together in a unity that is not simplistic and oppressive, but complex and emancipatory, recognising, in June Jordan’s words that ‘we are the ones we have been waiting for.’”[vi] Developing a broad-based social movement means finding a common ground upon which challenging diverse forms of oppression, exploitation, and exclusion can become part of a wider effort to create a radical democracy.

In part, this means reclaiming a discourse of ethics and morality, elaborating a new model of democratic politics, and developing fresh analytical concepts for understanding and engaging the concept of the social.  

One avenue for developing a critical and transformative politics  might take a cue from youth protesters the world over and develop new ways to challenge the corporate values that shape American, and increasingly global, politics. It is especially crucial to provide alternative values that challenge market-driven ideologies that equate freedom with radical individualism, self-interest, hyper-competitiveness, privatization, and deregulation, while undermining democratic social bonds, the public good, and the welfare state. Such actions can be further addressed by recruiting young people, teachers, labor activists, religious leaders, and other engaged citizens to become public intellectuals who are willing to use their skills and knowledge to make visible how power works and to address important social and political issues.

Of course, the American public needs to do more than talk. It also needs to bring together educators, students, workers, and anyone else interested in real democracy in order to create a social movement–a well-organized movement capable of changing the power relations and vast economic inequalities that have created the conditions for symbolic and systemic violence in American society.

Addressing such challenges suggests that progressives will invariably need to take on the role of educational activists. One option would be to create micro-spheres of public education that further modes of critical learning and civic agency, and thus enable young people and others to learn how to govern rather than be governed. This could be accomplished through a network of free educational spaces developed among diverse faith communities and public schools, as well as in secular and religious organizations affiliated with higher educational institutions. These new educational spaces focused on cultivating both dialogue and action in the public interest can look to past models in those institutions developed by socialists, labor unions, and civil rights activists in the early twentieth century and later in the 1950s and 60s. Such schools represented oppositional public spheres and functioned a democratic public spheres in the best educational sense and ranged from the early networks of radical Sunday schools to the later Brookwood Labor College and Highlander Folk School in Tennessee.

Stanley Aronowitz rightly insists that the current “system survives on the eclipse of the radical imagination, the absence of a viable political opposition with roots in the general population, and the conformity of its intellectuals who, to a large extent, are subjugated by their secure berths in the academy; less secure private sector corporate jobs, and centrist and center-left media institutions.”[vii] At a time when critical thought has been flattened, it becomes imperative to develop a discourse of critique and possibility—one that recognizes that without an informed citizenry, collective struggle, and dynamic social movements, hope for a viable democratic future will slip out of reach.  


[i]. Charles H. Ferguson, Predator Nation (New York: Crown Press, 2012), p.21. See, for example, Bill McKibben, The End of Nature (New York: Random House, 2006); Chalmers Johnson, Dismantling the Empire: America’s Last Hope (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2010); Angela Davis, Are Prisons Obsolete? (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2003);

[ii] Robert Reich, “Romney-Ryan Will Bring Back Social Darwinism,” The Kansas City Star (August 14, 2012). Online:

[iii] George Lakoff and glenn W. Smith, “Romney, Ryan and the Devil’s Budget,” Huffington Post (August 22, 2012). Online:

[iv] Ibid.

[v] See Jeffrey R. Di Leo, Henry A. Giroux, Sophia A. McClennen, and Kenneth J. Saltman, Neoliberalism, Education, Terrorism,: Contemporary Dialogues (Boulder: Paradigm, 2012).

[vi] Angela Davis, “The 99%: a community of resistance,” The Guardian, (November 15, 2011)

[vii] Stanley Aronowitz, “The Winter of Our Discontent,” Situations,  IV, no.2, (Spring 2012). p. 68.

Henry A. Giroux holds the Global TV Network chair in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University in Canada. His most recent books include: “Take Back Higher Education” (co-authored with Susan Searls Giroux, 2006), “The University in Chains: Confronting the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex” (2007) and “Against the Terror of Neoliberalism: Politics Beyond the Age of Greed” (2008). His latest book is Twilight of the Social: Resurgent Publics in the Age of Disposability,” (Paradigm.)
Here’s more on him from his website
Henry Armand Giroux was born September 18, 1943, in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Armand and Alice Giroux.

Giroux received his Doctorate from Carnegie-Mellon in 1977. He then became professor of education at Boston University from 1977 to 1983. In 1983 he became professor of education and renowned scholar in residence at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where he also served as Director at the Center for Education and Cultural Studies. He moved to Penn State University where he took up the Waterbury Chair Professorship at Penn State University from 1992 to May 2004. He also served as the Director of the Waterbury Forum in Education and Cultural Studies. He moved to McMaster University in May 2004, where he currently holds the Global Television Network Chair in English and Cultural Studies.

He currently lives in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada with his wife, Dr. Susan Searls Giroux.

Originally posted to on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 09:17 PM PDT.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement and Occupy Wall Street.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Black Agenda Report (6+ / 0-)

    The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

    by lotlizard on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 10:33:24 PM PDT

  •  First they came for the bank regulations, (7+ / 0-)

    but I was not a banker, and my portfolio was up.
    Then they came for the right to vote, but I voted, though they had the supreme court and voting machine manufacturers to control the count.
    Then they came for the Magna Carta, but my latin was rusty and they controlled the military tribunals.
    Then they came for our savings, but I didn't have any, and they had congress, the courts and the White House.
    Then they came for our houses, but I rented and they had the robo-signers, the sheriffs and the courts.

    Now they've come for the social safety net...

  •  Well, from where I sit, a liberal is a (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vahana, blueoregon

    person who derives pleasure from another's success.  How that morphs into neo or new liberalism, I don't know.

    Also, the suggestion that casino capitalism spawns a culture of cruelty falsely assigns agency to a mental construct or idea.  Ideas don't act.  People do.  People are the perpetrators of human husbandry, which exploits their own kind to their detriment and is, at best, less lethal than outright cannibalism.  Indeed, since attacking one's own species is cannibalistic, doing it indirectly with the law and money as the primary tools, brings us what I call "vicarious cannibalism." Humans don't devour their own, young or old, or even the ones they actually kill; they have discovered that it can be done symbolically by depriving their prey of the necessities of life and the results, albeit less immediate and less bloody, will be just as real. The prey expires prematurely and its properties can be acquired by the survivors.

    How many prematurely ruined lives does Willards stash of money represent? How many prematurely dead?
    For vicarious cannibalism to work, btw, there have to be more and more victims.  Humans have to be born so they can be killed prematurely.

    Willard's forte = "catch 'n' cage". He's not into "catch and release."

    by hannah on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 11:24:10 PM PDT

    •  Sorry, but casino capitalism is not... (8+ / 0-)

      ...a "mental construct or an idea." It's a legitimate description of the finance marketplace. And, when commodities markets (take those little frivolous things such as food, for instance) are speculated upon by capitalist investors, people have an inconenient tendency to die "be disappeared."

      "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

      by bobswern on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 11:31:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There is a difference between (0+ / 0-)

        consequence and cause and effect.

        "Capitalism" is an idea.  So is "casino," even though the latter usually involves a real material building (the internet has changed that) where a certain speculative (also an idea) activity takes place.

        For that matter, money is an idea, a figment of the imagination, something humans thought up. To recognize a piece of paper as money requires the ability to recognize symbols, things that stand for other things. Money is a symbol of obligation.  Using it to play with is abusive.

        Willard's forte = "catch 'n' cage". He's not into "catch and release."

        by hannah on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 12:28:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Horse hockey. (10+ / 0-)
      Also, the suggestion that casino capitalism spawns a culture of cruelty falsely assigns agency to a mental construct or idea.  Ideas don't act.  People do.  
      Zombies in movies just act. People act according to ideas, preconceptions, and feelings.

      "Casino capitalism" is not a "mental construct." It is short-hand for the behavior of real human beings acting in space and time. When the Banks fix LIBOR rates, speculate through the nose (while filling the nose with cocaine) on all sorts of real things which drive up real prices for real human beings... We're not talking about a mental construct. In your approach, World War II and landing on the Moon would be mental constructs. It's non-sensical, non-referential to experience, what you say.

      Watch some tv and see how most commercials and most "comedies" are about people "getting over" on their family and friends to get what they desire.

      Ideas are given to the public ALL the time, and by the most sophisticated and pervasive propaganda insights and techniques which have ever existed. Stalin and Goebbels would kill to have what we have in the USA and the West in general.

      How do you imagine that we came to have public support for invading Iraq? Everybody just woke up one day and Just Acted?

      Good grief.

      Since 1950, there's been a revolving door between psychologists, advertising, and secret police/military agencies, and in aggregate they've spent literally tens of billions of dollars studying how to manipulate public opinion, and cultural values. This is the public record, we can't make reality go away.

      Years back I was a typesetter, and handled conference materials for advertisers. There'd be a big conference off in Europe and a private printing of 200, 300 of these things which the top Ad Agency people would have a seminar about. So I set this piece: "Forget about selling people on the quality of the product, instead sell them on their identity. Sell them on what they imagine themselves to be, or want to be." Paraphrased.

      So the next year a new coffee comes out which is aimed at a particular slice of the market -- later to be called "Yuppies" -- young people with money and the pretension of sophistication. Why buy the coffee: It's the taste of Old Vienna, that's why.

      Well now we've got a mass culture promoted where one's desires are one's identity. If you don't understand that the permanent adolescent-izing of the people's values has been a goal of consumer capitalism, and politicians for literally decades, then I'd think you'd want to spend a few more years gathering data before just acting to opine, in the absence of any real ideas.

      PS: The entire political class is on board with this, though some politicians are better than others.

      The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

      by Jim P on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 12:08:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Casino capitalism=1 of Stiglitz' favorite terms nt (6+ / 0-)

        "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

        by bobswern on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 12:12:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Economists have a long history of coming up (0+ / 0-)

          with terms that don't fit what they are trying to describe.
          "False attribution of agency" is a logical fallacy that's, apparently, very common.  I suspect it's because humans try hard to blame someone or some idea outside themselves for their acts.

          I will grant you that playing with money instead of using it to lubricate the exchange and trade of real things, is what is going on on Wall Street.  But the game does not coerce the players.  The players are choosing to abuse a tool on their own.

          People may argue that an idea (like the devil) made them do stuff, but it's still people who act, or don't.  After all, self-directed people think before they act, evaluate the potential consequences and then act or not.  Self-restraint is a necessary component of self-direction.  
          That there are obviously many humans who can't engage in self-restraint and feel compelled to respond to prompts is another matter.

          Willard's forte = "catch 'n' cage". He's not into "catch and release."

          by hannah on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 12:21:49 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  And this time they got it right! (5+ / 0-)

            Do you recognize that some terms are short-hand for many many actions, and not reification?

            The bankers have been gambling by any plain understanding of the ordinary English word "gambling."

            What the short-hand refers to... but surely you must know, and neither of us would be so foolish as to pretend we don't.

            "Casino Capitalism" comes from thousands (tens?) of human beings going to the office every day and making bets in the tens (hundreds) of trillions of dollars in the aggregate. These -- what? one hundred thousand hours spent every day in this kind of activity is not a verbal construct. Seriously, just ponder it for a minute.

            These are real people going on real car and train and bus rides to enter real buildings to 'punch in' on real time clocks making real bets with real money, every business day. This is not an abstraction. The short-hand is "Casino Capitalism" as the sums involved are a) huge, b) the larger part of financial activity these days, c) gambling. No longer confused?

            PS: Most of humanity is not self-directed. That's an idea which holds no water. The tests showing that people take their cue from suggestions and the "when in Rome principle" have demonstrated that for some decades, if not centuries, now.

            You don't seem clear on the difference between actual human actions as played out in time and space and symbol-making about those real-life events. And the difference between symbol-making as just jaw-flapping, and symbol-making as a finger to point to an existing collection, or series, of events actually existing in the world. "Casino capitalism" is as accurate a phrase as "Casino" is for the gambling spots in Las Vegas.

            The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

            by Jim P on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 12:43:50 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  What people intend and what they get (0+ / 0-)

        are not necessarily the same.  Some people prefer to believe that intent is the beginning and the end; that they don't need to act.  That's how Dubya and his coterie convinced themselves that they'd brought democracy to Iraq as soon as they thought of it and before the first boot touched the ground.  Never mind all the bombs.
        Exxon Mobile has an ad about extracting natural gas to "last a hundred years."  The ad concludes, "All it takes is the idea."  That's how modern day Platonists think.  "All it takes is the idea."  It's sort of a secular replay of "In the beginning was the word," as if man is defined by the ability to name things and speak.  It's a sort of magical thinking that's also expressed in the notion that "the free market" is some sort of automatic system, like the universe.
        People who have ideas are now described as idealists.  The ideal is no longer a moral value, but a simple figment of the imagination, apparently divorced from any awareness of the self.
        Ayn Rand, for example, seems to have been totally unaware of her self-centered and exploitative attitude towards her own kind.  Ditto for her acolyte, Ryan. There are lots of clueless, self-centered people and they are likely to pop up anywhere.

        Willard's forte = "catch 'n' cage". He's not into "catch and release."

        by hannah on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 12:44:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I once worked for a prominent market research (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bobswern, PrahaPartizan, Smoh, Joieau, gmoke

        firm (we did a lot of in-house work for Democrats) with many corporate clients, one of which owned nuclear power plants.

        We did a survey, couched as a concerned group looking for answers for the energy crisis, and we asked a set of questions about energy conservation and dependence on foreign oil. (The only answers we really cared about were the ones that pertained to nuclear power--the rest were there for obfuscation).

        Then we had the reseachers read a short statement that dealt with nuclear power and its potential to deal with environmental issues and dependence on foreign oil.

        We had fifteen different versions with fifteen different statements.

        Then we asked another short set of questions which were in fact the same as the first set only worded slightly differently.

        The point was to see if the statements (mostly lauding nuclear power as the answer to the problems we face) changed the interviewees opinions on nuclear power and in particular which statements were most effective in changing opinions toward a pro-nuclear stance.

        A few of the statements were very effective and this gave the company we worked for a blueprint for how best to manipulate public opinion.

        This was a huge and very expensive nationwide study, but industries and companies know that this sort of investment pays off in the end.

        The average person doesn't have a chance.

  •  Um, no. We got this, Doc. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sky Net, freedomalliance, Smoh

    First, I'm not, in any way, addressing my rant that follows to bobswern of any other DKos members who may or may not agree with my opinion here. In fact, I appreciate that this was republished here. It is an interesting and informative essay. I just don't buy the exaggerated and unsubstantiated claims nor the approach to addressing these claims.


    Dear Dr. Giroux,

    We're here to elect more and better Democrats to public office.

    It's not that I don't appreciate Dr. Giroux's work, I do. There's a great deal that we can and should learn from his many published books and papers. However, it must be recognized that his work is almost entirely theoretical in nature and offers its own unique form of educational ideology known as critical pedagogy. As such, I see little or no possibility of applying these theories in practice, especially for those who are interested in improving our complex and difficult political and governance problems.

    After reading this paper here, I wholeheartedly agree with John Searle's opinion as expressed in the wiki page about the subject:

    Philosopher John Searle suggests that, despite the "opaque prose" and lofty claims of Giroux, he interprets the goal of Giroux's form of critical pedagogy "to create political radicals", thus highlighting the contestable and antagonistic moral and political grounds of the ideals of citizenship and "public wisdom"; these varying moral perspectives of what is "right" are to be found in what John Dewey has referred to as the tensions between traditional and progressive education.
    We are aware that many of our elected officials are corrupt, irrational, ignorant, and dysfunctional. We are especially aware that out US Congress is badly broken.

    We aren't going to change their distorted beliefs and misguided value systems. These people aren't receptive to facts, to say nothing about education.

    Destroying our government is not the answer, Doc. We're here to improve and repair the parts of our system that aren't working as well as they should. We're here to replace those in our government who wish to destroy our government and replace it with the end-of-the-world form of government of your worst-case imagination.

    Anarchy isn't the answer, Doc. A radically different economic model isn't the answer, Doc. Improving education by creating private progressive schools to counter the private conservative schools isn't the answer, Doc.

    For example, this is crap:

    The issue should no longer be how to work within the current electoral system, but how to dismantle it and construct a new political landscape that is capable of making a claim on equity, justice, and democracy for all of its inhabitants.
    Yeah, let's just flip a coin or something. Elections happen to work. This isn't perfect, of course, but dismantling the electoral system isn't a way to construct a new political landscape. Our current electoral system is the way to create a new political landscape. Elect more and better Democrats. This isn't 18th century France. This isn't Colonial America.
    This, too, is crap:
    Obama’s once inspiring call for hope has degenerated into a flight from responsibility.  The Obama administration has worked to extend the policies of the George W. Bush administration by legitimating a range of foreign and domestic policies that have shredded civil liberties, expanded the permanent warfare state, and increased the domestic reach of the punitive surveillance state.
    President Obama has not failed, Doc. Your firedoglake "Obama caved" talking points don't  work here. You talk as if W somehow improved civil liberties and had positive effects on foreign and domestic policies and somehow, President Obama suddenly make everything worse. The fact is that the Republicans are standing in the way of nearly everything meant to dismantle the travesty of democracy of the Dick and George tyranny.

    You might note that the US left Iraq some time back. You might note that Bin Laden is dead and GM is alive. You might note that student loans are no longer encumbered by payments to unnecessary 3rd party lending institutions. You might note that our civil liberties aren't shredded. Maybe you're just blind to this.

    You're free to express your views here, Doc, and your work is interesting and helpful, but when the arguments suggest impending doom and total collapse and an edge of the cliff urgency that no matter what we do, we're doomed, then your arguments fail. Badly.

    These are arguments that promote rebellion, not civil and social governance. These are arguments that promote neoliberal economics as a way to fight Austrian economics when, in fact, our president and most Democrats in office understand they Keynesian economics is the right solution.

    We got this Doc.

    Thanks for writing.


    "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

    by GrumpyOldGeek on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 11:35:00 PM PDT

    •  FireDogLake, Marxist references? Gimme' a break! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      philipmerrill, 2020adam

      Pedagogy is defined as: "...the art, science, or profession of teaching."

      You're really contorting this...and not doing a very good job of that, either. A very transparent comment and a very weak "argument"...try again.

      Here's a definition of "critical pedagogy," question everything.

      The nerve of some of us, huh? Daring to criticize the Party only 10 weeks before the election!

      What you fail to recognize is that Giroux's writing about PRECISELY the type of mentality you're projecting in your comment.

      "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

      by bobswern on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 12:01:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  giroux is using (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        hyperbole and innaccurate rhetoric

        "In other words, big money and corporate power rule while electoral politics are
        rigged. The secrecy of the voting booth becomes the ultimate expression of democracy, reducing politics to an individualized purchase—a crude form of economic action. Any form of politics willing to invest in such ritualistic pageantry only adds to the current dysfunctional nature of our social order, while re
        inforcing a profound failure of political imagination."

        For example, here, prior to citizens united 2010, the 1970's to now, was a period of stiffening campaign finance regs. starting with the 1970's and the 2002 law known as mccain-feingold.

        All these bad things the author doesn't like income inequality happened during a time of tightened campaign finance regs. I am not suggesting that campaign finance regs are the reason we have income inequality or increasing disparities and I think we need STRONGER campaign finance regs, but you really can't blame campaign finance or money in politics for all this crap.

        The facts simply aren't there. But then again, I doubt a Canadian knows crap about American campaign finance laws.

        •  I would doubt you've read any links to this... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

, other than the ones which are contorted by commenters to support your "argument."  I say this based upon the inaccuracies in your own comment.

          And, your imagination with regard to  what's happened in campaign finance, especially over the past few election cycles, undermines your own argument. Clearly, you're not "high-info" as far as this topic is concerned. 2008 was fraught with folks like Sheldon Adelson and undue influence from Wall Street, and the Koch's, as well. And, that was two years before Citizens United....and, then many election cycles prior to that, too.

          "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

          by bobswern on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 04:20:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  So you've never heard of soft money, then. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
      •  Tough crowd this morning (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bobswern, Smoh, Joieau

        Thanks for sharing this with the community bob.

        An excellent read with salient points, as usual, from Giroux. Giroux is one my favorites.

        In my honor he pulled out old forgotten dignity and walked straight in a crooked world. ~~poetry of young Barack Obama

        by bronte17 on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 05:04:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Do you think anybody on earth would get (6+ / 0-)

      even the chance to make a serious run at High Office if their agenda was to break up the failed banks, and let the bankers take the haircuts and pain domestically; and end the foreign policy of hegemony abroad by dint of arms?

      These things are completely off the table in our Elections. We've not a word to say about it. And try to say something about it and run for office and see how soon you don't get money, and the media treats you like you were coo-coo.

      Do you think anybody would be allowed to get near the Presidency if they advocated breaking down the corporate/government surveillance state?

      Look, there's Politics as the real life of the people as experienced; there's Official Politics which is a created pose by the political and media classes; there's Electoral Politics which is about Partisanship.

      In our world, what most people experience, and what the reaction is to that, by the people in charge, is the real Politics. The other two are poses centered around getting power.

      In our real politics, with the exception of Social Issues -- and these issues are in center stage because they are deliberately inflamed by TPTB -- we, the people, have no say in our own governance at this point.

      Yes, we must vote, and we must vote Democratic. But if we think that not noticing the much much bigger pool of voters living in the real world, and what they are experiencing, is somehow going to help us win elections...  

      Well, you saw with your own eyes how incredibly corrupt the Bush years were. Not only for Bush but the entire Republican DC crowd. Taking bribes, extorting their own members, lying under oath, ignoring calls to appear before Congress... So then how is it even possible that there should be races to worry about, when all that was needed was for Democratic officials to say out loud what even Republican-leaning rank-and-file understood was going on.

      Because we have the disease of ignoring real politics, and pretending that Official and Electoral politics has something much to do with Democracy. It doesn't. Though some would find it impossible to credit, the fact is that many people can handle several different levels of perception, even contradictory ones, without shutting down. So not to worry on the point.

      If we talk about the real world as experienced, we win without a doubt, and we win big.

      If we just rah-rah our way through, doing the "My team is good, their team is bad" schtick, playing the Partisan game (exactly as George Washington warned us against if we wanted to stay an actual free people), then it's a struggle, maybe we win, maybe we lose.

      The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

      by Jim P on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 12:26:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm with you for almost all of that. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I enjoyed reading words that perfectly described what I think is happening in our country, culture, politics.  And YOU nailed the rebuttal right on.  Interesting and informative diary that opened an interesting and informative discussion.

      Cats are better than therapy, and I'm a therapist.

      by Smoh on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 05:47:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Everyone shut up, there's an election coming up. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bobswern, BradyB

      And whenever there isn't, there will be one in a few years, so stop speaking so accurately about the world around us. We all owe it to ourselves and our Party to ignore the failures of our President (and the political system he inhabits), unless he is a Republican.

      We need to more clearly delineate the difference between the two political parties by ignoring the extrajudicial killing of our citizens and the plain fact that we were forced out of Iraq under a deal brokered by the previous administration. Any attempt to discuss those facts fails, because the only thing that matters is electoral politics.


  •  Someone here while back posted (0+ / 0-)

    a quote by Goebells, I believe. I tried to Google it but couldn't find it. It went something like this: "Convince people that money making is the only real value and you can convince them of anything." I've been meditating that one over for a few years and can't quite figure out how the desensitizing would work. Could any one flesh this out a little more? Do I have the right attribution?

    "...on the (catch a) human network. Cisco."

    by hoplite9 on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 04:42:37 AM PDT

  •  An outstanding article from Giroux (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Makes you think every step of the way and say... uh-huh, why don't more people realize this?

    Shame that it wasn't appreciated more.

    In my honor he pulled out old forgotten dignity and walked straight in a crooked world. ~~poetry of young Barack Obama

    by bronte17 on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 06:52:03 PM PDT

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