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Full Show: Zombie Politics and Casino Capitalism
November 22, 2013

This week on Moyers & Company, author and scholar Henry Giroux explains how our political system has turned people into zombies – “people who are basically so caught up with surviving that they become like the walking dead — they lose their sense of agency, they lose their homes, they lose their jobs.”

TRANSCRIPT:

BILL MOYERS: This week on Moyers & Company…

HENRY GIROUX: What's at stake here is not just the fact that you have rich people who now control the economy and all the commanding institutions of society. What you have is basically a transgression against the very basic ideals of democracy. I mean, it's hard to imagine life beyond capitalism. You know, it's easier to imagine the death of the planet than it is to imagine the death of capitalism...
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BILL MOYERS: Welcome. A very wise teacher once told us, “If you want to change the world, change the metaphor.” Then he gave us some of his favorite examples. You think of language differently, he said, if you think of “words pregnant with celestial fire.” Or “words that weep and tears that speak.” Of course, the heart doesn’t physically separate into pieces when we lose someone we love, but “a broken heart” conveys the depth of loss. And if I say you are the “apple of my eye”, you know how special you are in my sight. In other words, metaphors cleanse the lens of perception and give us a fresh take on reality. In other words.

Recently I read a book and saw a film that opened my eyes to see differently the crisis of our times, and the metaphor used by both was, believe it or not, zombies. You heard me right, zombies. More on the film later, but this is the book: “Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism”. Talk about “connecting the dots” -- read this, and the headlines of the day will, I think, arrange themselves differently in your head -- threading together ideas and experiences to reveal a pattern. The skillful weaver is Henry Giroux, a scholar, teacher and social critic with seemingly tireless energy and a broad range of interests. Here are just a few of his books: America's Education Deficit and the War on Youth, Twilight of the Social, Youth in a Suspect Society, Neoliberalism's War on Higher Education.

Henry Giroux is the son of working class parents in Rhode Island who now holds the Global TV Network Chair in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University in Canada. Henry Giroux, welcome.

HENRY GIROUX: Pleasure. It’s great to be here.

BILL MOYERS: There's a great urgency in your recent books and in the essays you've been posting online, a fierce urgency, almost as if you are writing with the doomsday clock ticking. What accounts for that?

HENRY GIROUX: Well, for me democracy is too important to allow it to be undermined in a way in which every vital institution that matters from the political process to the schools to the inequalities that, to the money being put into politics, I mean, all those things that make a democracy viable are in crisis.

And the problem is the crisis, while we recognize in many ways is associated increasingly with the economic system, what we haven't gotten yet is that it should be accompanied by a crisis of ideas, that the stories that are being told about democracy are really about the swindle of fulfillment.

The swindle of fulfillment in that what the reigning elite in all of their diversity now tell the American people if not the rest of the world is that democracy is an excess. It doesn't really matter anymore, that we don't need social provisions, we don't need the welfare state, that the survival of the fittest is all that matters, that in fact society should mimic those values in ways that suggest a new narrative.

I mean you have a consolidation of power that is so overwhelming, not just in its ability to control resources and drive the economy and redistribute wealth upward, but basically to provide the most fraudulent definition of what a democracy should be.

I mean, the notion that profit making is the essence of democracy, the notion that economics is divorced from ethics, the notion that the only obligation of citizenship is consumerism, the notion that the welfare state is a pathology, that any form of dependency basically is disreputable and needs to be attacked, I mean, this is a vicious set of assumptions.

BILL MOYERS: Are we close to equating democracy with capitalism?

HENRY GIROUX: Oh, I mean, I think that's the biggest lie of all actually. The biggest lie of all is that capitalism is democracy. We have no way of understanding democracy outside of the market, just as we have no understanding of how to understand freedom outside of market values.

BILL MOYERS: Explain that. What do you mean "outside of market values?"

HENRY GIROUX: I mean you know, when Margaret Thatcher married Ronald Reagan--

BILL MOYERS: Metaphorically?

HENRY GIROUX: Metaphorically. Two things happened. 1) There was this assumption that the government was evil except when it regulated its power to benefit the rich. So it wasn't a matter of smashing the government as Reagan seemed to suggest, it was a matter of rearranging it and reconfiguring it so it served the wealthy, the elites and the corporate, of course, you know, those who run mega corporations. But Thatcher said something else that's particularly interesting in this discussion.

She said there's no such thing as society. There are only individuals and families. And so what we begin to see is the emergence of a kind of ethic, a survival of the fittest ethic that legitimates the most incredible forms of cruelty, that seems to suggest that freedom in this discourse of getting rid of society, getting rid of the social-- that discourse is really only about self-interest, that possessive individualism is now the only virtue that matters. So freedom, which is essential to any notion of democracy, now becomes nothing more than a matter of pursuing your own self interests. No society can survive under those conditions.

BILL MOYERS: So what is society? When you use it as an antithesis to what Margaret Thatcher said, what do you have in mind? What's the metaphor for--

HENRY GIROUX: I have in mind a society in which the wealth is shared, in which there is a mesh of organizations that are grounded in the social contract, that takes seriously the mutual obligations that people have to each other. But more than anything else--I'm sorry, but I want to echo something that FDR once said.

When he said that, you know, you not only have to have personal freedoms and political freedoms, the right to vote the right to speak, you have to have social freedom. You have to have the freedom from want, the freedom from poverty, the freedom from-- that comes with a lack of health care.

Getting ahead cannot be the only motive that motivates people. You have to imagine what a good life is. But agency, the ability to do that, to have the capacity to basically be able to make decisions and learn how to govern and not just be governed--

BILL MOYERS: As a citizen.

HENRY GIROUX: As a citizen.

BILL MOYERS: A citizen is a moral agent of--

HENRY GIROUX: A citizen is a political and moral agent who in fact has a shared sense of hope and responsibility to others and not just to him or herself. Under this system, democracy is basically like the lotto. You know, go in, you put a coin in, and if you're lucky, you win something. If you don't, then you become something else.

BILL MOYERS: So then why when I talk about the urgency in your writing, your forthcoming book opens with this sentence, "America's descending into madness." Now, don't you think many people will read that as hyperbole?

HENRY GIROUX: Sometimes in the exaggerations there are great truths. And it seems to me that what’s unfortunate here is that's not an exaggeration.

BILL MOYERS: Well, madness can mean several things. It can mean insanity. It can mean lunacy. But it can also mean folly, foolishness, you know, look at that craziness over there. Which do you mean?

HENRY GIROUX: I mean, it's certainly not just about foolishness. It's about a kind of lunacy in which people lose themselves in a sense of power and greed and exceptionalism and nationalism in ways that so undercut the meaning of democracy and the meaning of justice that you have to sit back and ask yourself how could the following, for instance, take place?

How could people who allegedly believe in democracy and the American Congress cut $40 billion from a food stamp program, half of which those food stamps go to children?

And you ask yourself how could that happen? I mean, how can you say no to a Medicaid program which is far from radical but at the same time offers poor people health benefits that could save their lives?

How do you shut down public schools and say that charter schools and private schools are better because education is really not a right, it's an entitlement? How do you get a discourse governing the country that seems to suggest that anything public, public health, public transportation, public values, you know, public engagement is a pathology?

BILL MOYERS: Let me answer that from the other side. They would say to you that we cut Medicaid or food stamps because they create dependency. We closed public schools because they aren't working, they aren't teaching. People are coming out not ready for life.

HENRY GIROUX: No, no, that's the answer that they give. I mean, and it's a mark of their insanity. I mean, that's precisely an answer that in my mind embodies a kind of psychosis that is so divorced-- is in such denial about power and how it works and is in such denial about their attempt at what I call individualize the social, in other words--

BILL MOYERS: Individualize?

HENRY GIROUX: Individualize the social, which means that all problems, if they exist, rest on the shoulders of individuals.

BILL MOYERS: You are responsible.

HENRY GIROUX: You are responsible.

BILL MOYERS: If you're poor, you're responsible if you're ignorant, you're responsible if--

HENRY GIROUX: Exactly.

BILL MOYERS: --you're sick?

HENRY GIROUX: That's right, that the government-- the larger social order, the society has no responsibility whatsoever so that-- you often hear this, I mean, if there--I mean, if you have an economic crisis caused by the hedge fund crooks, you know and millions of people are put out of work and they're all lining up for unemployment, what do we hear in the national media? We hear that maybe they don't know how to fill out unemployment forms, maybe it's about character. You know, maybe they're just simply lazy.

BILL MOYERS: This line struck me, "The ideology of hardness and cruelty runs through American culture like an electric current..."

HENRY GIROUX: Yeah, it sure does. I mean, to see poor people, their benefits being cut, to see pensions of Americans who have worked like my father, all their lives, and taken away, to see the rich just accumulating more and more wealth.

I mean, it seems to me that there has to be a point where you have to say, "No, this has to stop." We can't allow ourselves to be driven by those lies anymore. We can't allow those who are rich, who are privileged, who are entitled, who accumulate wealth to simply engage in a flight from social and moral and political responsibility by blaming the people who are victimized by those policies as the source of those problems.

BILL MOYERS: There's a new reality you write emerging in America in no small part because of the media, one that enshrines a politics of disposability in which growing numbers of people are considered dispensable and a drain on the body politic and the economy, not to mention you say an affront on the sensibilities of the rich and the powerful.

HENRY GIROUX: If somebody had to say to me-- ask me the question, "What exactly is new that we haven't seen before?" And I think that what we haven't seen before is an attack on the social contract, Bill, that is so overwhelming, so dangerous in the way in which its being deconstructed and being disassembled that you now have as a classic example, you have a whole generation of young people who are now seen as disposable.

They're in debt, they're unemployed. My friend, Zygmunt Bauman, calls them the zero generation: zero jobs, zero hope, zero possibilities, zero employment. And it seems to me when a country turns its back on its young people because they figure in investments not long term investments, they can't be treated as simply commodities that are going to in some way provide an instant payback and extend the bottom line, they represent something more noble than that. They represent an indication of how the future is not going to mimic the present and what obligations people might have, social, political, moral and otherwise to allow that to happen, and we've defaulted on that possibility.

BILL MOYERS: You actually call it-- there's the title of the book, “America's Education Deficit and the War on Youth.”

HENRY GIROUX: Oh, this is a war. It's a war that endlessly commercializes kids, both as commodities and as commodifiable.

BILL MOYERS: Example?

HENRY GIROUX: Example being that the young people can't turn anywhere without in some way being told that the only obligation of citizenship is to shop, is to be a consumer. You can't walk on a college campus today and walk into the student union and not see everybody represented there from the local banks to Disneyland to local shops, all selling things.

I mean, it's like the school has become a mall. It imitates the mall. And if you walk into schools as one example, I mean, you look at the buses, there are advertisements on the buses. You walk into the bathroom, there are advertisements above the stalls. I mean, and the curriculum is written by General Electric.

BILL MOYERS: We're all branded--

HENRY GIROUX: They're branded, they're branded.

BILL MOYERS: --everything is branded?

HENRY GIROUX: Where are the public spaces for young people other learn a discourse that's not commodified, to be able to think about non-commodifiable values like trust, justice, honesty, integrity, caring for others, compassion. Those things, they're just simply absent, they're not part of those public spheres because those spheres have been commodified.

What does it mean to go to school all day and just be taking tests and learning how to teach for the test? Their minds are numb. I mean--the expression I get from them, they call school dead time, these kids. Say it's dead time. I call it their dis-imagination zones.

BILL MOYERS: Dis-imagination?

HENRY GIROUX: Yeah, yeah, they rob-- it's a form of learning that robs the mind of any possibility of being imaginative. The arts are cut out, right, so the questions are not being raised about what it means to be creative.

All of those things that speak to educating the imagination, to stretching it, the giving kids the knowledge, a sense of the traditions, the archives to take risks, to learn about the world, they're disappearing.

BILL MOYERS: I heard you respond to someone who asked you at a public session the other evening--"What would you do about what you've just described?" And your first response was start debating societies in high schools all across the country.

HENRY GIROUX: That's right. One of the things that I learned quickly as a result of the internet is I started getting a ton of letters from students who basically were involved in these debate societies. And they're saying like things, "We use your work. We love this work.”

And I actually got involved with one that was working with-- out of Brown University's working with a high school in the inner cities right, and I got involved with some of the students. But then I began to learn as a result of that involvement that these were the most radical kids in the country.

I mean, these were kids who embodied what a critical public sphere meant. They were going all over the country, different high schools, working class kids no less, debating major issues and getting so excited about in many ways winning these debates but doing it on the side of-- something they could believe in.

And I thought to myself, "Wow, here's a space." Here's a space where you're going to have a whole generation of kids who could be actually engaging in debate and dialogue. Every working class urban school in this country should put its resources as much as possible into a debate team.

BILL MOYERS: My favorite of your many books is this one, “Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism.” Why that metaphor, zombie politics?

HENRY GIROUX: Because it's a politics that's informed by the machinery of social and civil death.

BILL MOYERS: Death?

HENRY GIROUX: Death. It's a death machine. It's a death machine because in my estimation it does everything it can to kill any vestige of a robust democracy. It turns people into zombies, people who basically are so caught up with surviving that they have no-- they become like the walking dead, you know, they lose their sense of agency-- I mean they lose their homes, they lose their jobs.

And so this zombie metaphor actually operated at two levels. I mean, at one level it spoke to people who have no visions, who exercise a form of political leadership that extends the politics of what I call war and the machineries of death, whether those machineries are at home or abroad, whether they're about the death of civil liberties or they're about making up horrendous lies to actually invade a country like Iraq.

So this-- the zombie metaphor is a way to sort of suggest that democracy is losing its oxygen, you know, it's losing its vitality, that we have a politics that really is about the organization of the production of violence.

It's losing its soul. It's losing its spirit. It's losing its ability to speak to itself in ways that would span the human spirit and the human possibility for justice and equality.

BILL MOYERS: Because we don't think of zombies as having souls?

HENRY GIROUX: They don't have souls.

BILL MOYERS: Right. You--

HENRY GIROUX: They're driven by lust.

BILL MOYERS: By lust?

HENRY GIROUX: The lust for money, the lust for power.

BILL MOYERS: Well, that's, I guess, why you mix your metaphors. Because you talk about casino capitalists, zombie politics, which you say in the book shapes every aspect--

HENRY GIROUX: Every aspect.

BILL MOYERS: --of society .

HENRY GIROUX: Yeah, at the current moment. This is what--

BILL MOYERS: How so?

HENRY GIROUX: Well, first, let's begin with an assumption. This casino capitalism as we talk about it, right, one of the things that it does that hasn't been done before, it doesn't just believe it can control the economy. It believes that it can govern all of social life. That's different.

That means it has to have its tentacles into every aspect of everyday life. Everything from the way schools are run to the way prisons are outsourced to the way the financial services are run to the way in which people have access to health care, it's an all-encompassing, it seems to me, political, cultural, educational apparatus.

And it basically has nothing to do with expanding the meaning and the substance of democracy itself. What it has to do is expanding-- what it means to get--a quick return, what it means to take advantage of a kind of casino logic in which the only thing that drives you is to go to that slot machine and somehow get more, just pump the machine, put as much money in as you can into it and walk out a rich man. That's what it's about.

BILL MOYERS: You say that casino capitalist, zombie politics views competition as a form of social combat, celebrates war as an extension of politics and legitimates a ruthless social Darwinism.

HENRY GIROUX: Oh, I mean, it is truly ruthless. I mean, imagine yourself on a reality TV program called “The Survivor”, you and I, we're all that's left. The ideology that drives that program is only one of us is going to win. I don't have any respect for you. I mean, all I'm trying to do is beat you. I just want to be the one that's left. I want to win the big prize.

And it seems to me that what's unfortunate is that reality now mimics reality TV. It is reality TV in terms of the consensus that drives it, that the shared fears are more important than shared responsibilities, that the social contract is the pathology because it basically suggests helping people is a strength rather than a weakness.

It believes that social bonds not driven by market values are basically bonds that we should find despicable. But even worse, in this ethic, the market has colonized pleasure in such a way that violence in many ways seems to be the only way left that people can actually experience pleasure whether it's in the popular medium, whether it's in the way in which we militarize local police to become SWAT teams that actually will break up poker games now in full gear or give away surplus material, equipment to a place like Ohio State University, who got an armored tank.

I mean, I guess-- I'm wondering what does it mean when you're on a campus and you see an armored tank, you know, by the university police? I mean, this is-- everything is a war zone. You know, Senator Graham--when Lindsey Graham, he said-- in talking about the terrorist laws, you know these horrible laws that are being put into place in which Americans can be captured, they can be killed and, you know--the kill list all of this, he basically says, "Everybody's a potential terrorist."

I mean, so that what happens here is that this notion of fear and this fear around the notion of security that is simply about protecting yourself, not about social security, not about protecting the commons, not about protecting the environment, turns everybody into a potential enemy. I mean, we cannot mediate our relationships it seems any longer in this culture in ways in which we would suggest and adhere to the notion that justice is a matter of caring for the other, that compassion matters.

BILL MOYERS: So this is why you write that America’s no longer recognizable as a democracy?

HENRY GIROUX: No. Look, as the social state is crippled, as the social state is in some way robbed, hollowed out and robbed of its potential and its capacities, what takes its place? The punishing state takes its place.

You get this notion of incarceration, this, what we call the governing through crime complex where governance now has been ceded to corporations who largely are basically about benefiting the rich, the ultra-rich, the big corporations and allowing the state to exercise its power in enormously destructive and limited ways.

And those ways are about militarizing the culture, criminalizing social--a wide swathe of social behavior and keeping people in check. What does it mean when you turn on the television in the United States and you see young kids, peaceful protestors, lying down with their hands locked and you got a guy with, you know, spraying them with pepper spray as if there's something normal about that, as if that's all it takes, that's how we solve problems? I mean, I guess the question here is what is it in a culture that would allow the public to believe that with almost any problem that arises, force is the first way to address it.

I mean, one has to recognize that in that kind of logic, something has happened in which the state is no longer in the service of democracy.

BILL MOYERS: Well, George Monbiot, who writes for “The Guardian,” wrote just the other day, "It's business that really rules us." And he says, "So I don't blame people for giving up on politics … When a state-corporate nexus of power has bypassed democracy and made a mockery of the voting process, when an unreformed political funding system ensures that parties can be bought and sold, when politicians of the main … parties stand and watch as public services are divvied up by a grubby cabal of privateers, what is left of the system that inspires us to participate?"

HENRY GIROUX: I mean, the real question is why aren't we more outraged?

HENRY GIROUX: Why aren't we in the streets?

HENRY GIROUX: I mean, that's the central question for the American public. I mean, and I think that question has to address something fundamental and that is what we have, while we have an economic system that in fact has caused a crisis in democracy. What we haven't addressed is the underlying consensus that informs that crisis. What you have is basically a transgression against the very basic ideals of democracy. We have lost what it means to be connected to democracy.

And I think that's coupled with a cultural apparatus, a culture, an educative culture, a mode of politics in which people now have gone through this for so long that it's become normalized. I mean, it's hard to imagine life beyond capitalism. You know, it's easier to imagine the death of the planet than it is to imagine the death of capitalism. I mean-- and so it seems to me--

BILL MOYERS: Well, don't you think people want to be capitalist? Don't you think people want capitalism? They want money?

HENRY GIROUX: I'm not sure if they want those things. I mean, I think when you--when you read all the surveys about what's important to people's lives, Bill, actually the things that they focus on are not about, you know, "I want to be about the Kardashian sisters," God forbid, right?

I mean, I think that what--they the same way we want--we need a decent education for our kids, we want, you know, real health care. I mean, we want the sense of equality in the country. We want to be able to control the political process so that we're not simply nameless and invisible and disposable.

I mean, they basically--they want women to be able to have the right to have some control over their own reproductive rights. I mean, they're talking about gay rights being a legitimate pursuit of justice.

And I think that what is missing from all of this are the basic, are those alternative public spheres, those cultural formations, what I call a formative culture that can bring people together and give those ideas, embody them in both a sense of hope, of vision and the organizations and strategies that would be necessary at the very least to start a third party, at the very least. I mean, to start a party that is not part of this establishment, to reconstruct a sense of where politics can go.

BILL MOYERS: Well, you write that the liberal center has failed us and for all of its discourse of helping the poor, of addressing inequality, it always ends up on the side of bankers and finance capital, right.

HENRY GIROUX: Are you talking about Obama?

BILL MOYERS: I'm talking about what you say.

HENRY GIROUX: I know, I know. I'm--

BILL MOYERS: But you do, I must be fair and say that you go on in that same chapter of one of these books to say isn't it time we forget trying to pressure Obama to do the right thing?

HENRY GIROUX: Obama to me is symptomatic to me of the liberal center. But the issue is much greater than him. I mean, the issue is in a system that is entirely broken. It's broken.

Elections are bought by big money. The political process is not in the hands of the people. It's in the hands of very few people. And it seems to me we have to ask ourselves what kind of formative culture needs to be put in place in which education becomes central to politics, in which politics can be used to help people to be able to see things differently, to get beyond this system that is so closed, so powerfully normalized.

I mean, the right since the 1970s has created a massive cultural apparatus, a slew of anti-public intellectuals. They've invaded the universities with think tanks. They have foundations. They have all kinds of money. And you know, it's interesting, the war they wage is a war on the mind.

The war on what it means to be able to dissent, the war on the possibility of alternative visions. And the left really has-- and progressives and liberals, we have nothing like that. I mean, we always seem to believe that all you have to do is tell the truth.

BILL MOYERS: You shall know the truth, the truth will set you free.

HENRY GIROUX: Yeah, and the truth will set you free. But I'm sorry, it doesn't work that way.

BILL MOYERS: Which brings me to the book you're now finishing and will be published next spring. You call it “The Violence of Organized Forgetting.” What are we forgetting?

HENRY GIROUX: We're forgetting the past. We're forgetting all those struggles that in fact offered a different story about the United States.

BILL MOYERS: How is it organized, this forgetting?

HENRY GIROUX: It's organized because it's systemic. It's organized because you have people controlling schools who are deleting those histories and making sure that they don't appear. In Tucson, Arizona they banished ethnic studies from the curriculum. This is the dis-imagination machine. That's the hardcore element.

BILL MOYERS: The suffocation of imagination?

HENRY GIROUX: The suffocation of imagination. And we kill the imagination by suggesting that the only kind of rationality that matters, the only kind of learning that matters is utterly instrumental, pragmatist.

So what we do is we collapse education into training, and we end up suggesting that not knowing much is somehow a virtue. And I'll and I think what's so disturbing about this is not only do you see it in the popular culture with the lowest common denominator now drives that culture, but you also see it coming from politicians who actually say things that suggest something about the policies they'd like to implement.

I mean, I know Rick Santorum is not-- is kind of a, you know, an obvious figure. But when he stands up in front of a body of Republicans and he says, the last thing we need in the Republican party are intellectuals. And I think it's kind of a template for the sort of idiocy that increasingly now dominates our culture.

BILL MOYERS: What is an intellectual, by the way? The atmosphere has been so poisoned, as you know, by what you've been describing, that many people bridle when they hear the term intellectual pursuit.

HENRY GIROUX: I mean, yeah, I think intellectuals are-- there are two ways we can describe intellectuals. In the most general sense, we can say, "Intellectuals are people who take pride in ideas. They work with ideas." I mean, they believe that ideas matter.

They believe that there's no such thing as common sense, good sense or bad sense, but reflective sense.

That ideas offer the framework for gives us agency, what allows us to read the world critically, what allows us to be literate. What allows us to be civic literacy may be in some ways the high point of what it means to be an intellectual--

BILL MOYERS: Because?

HENRY GIROUX: Because it suggests that how we learn what we learn and what we do with the knowledge that we have is not just for ourselves. It's for the way in which we can expand and deepen the very processes of democracy in general, and address those problems and anti-democratic forces that work against it. Now some people make a living as a result of being intellectuals. But there are people who are intellectuals who don't function in that capacity. They're truck drivers. They're workers.

I grew up in a working class neighborhood. The smartest people I have ever met were in that neighborhood. We read books. We went to the library together. We drank on Friday nights. We talked about Gramsci. We drove to Boston--

BILL MOYERS: Gramsci being the Italian philosopher.

HENRY GIROUX: The Italian philosopher. I mean--

BILL MOYERS: The pessimism of the--

HENRY GIROUX: Of the intellect, and optimism of the will.

BILL MOYERS: Right.

HENRY GIROUX: Right? I mean, we--

BILL MOYERS: You see the world as it is, but then you act as if you can change the world.

HENRY GIROUX: Exactly. I mean, we tried to find ways to both enliven the neighborhoods we lived in. But at the same time, we knew that that wasn't enough. That one-- that there was a world beyond our neighborhood, and that world had all kinds of things for us to learn. And we were excited about that. I mean, we drank, danced and talked. That's what we did.

BILL MOYERS: And I assume there were some other more private activities.

HENRY GIROUX: And there was more private activity.

BILL MOYERS: You know, you are a buoyant man. And yet you describe what you call a shift away from the hope that accompanies the living, to a politics of cynicism and despair.

HENRY GIROUX: Yeah.

BILL MOYERS: What leads you to this?

HENRY GIROUX: What leads me to this is something that we mentioned earlier, and that is when you see policies being enacted today that are so cruel and so savage, wiping out a generation of young people, trying to eliminate public schools, eliminating health care, putting endless percentage of black and brown people in jail, destroying the environment and there's no public outrage.

There aren't people in the streets. You know, you have to ask yourself, "Has this market mentality, is it so powerful and that it's become so normalized, so taken for granted that the imagination, the collective imagination has been so stunted that it becomes difficult to challenge it anymore?" And I think that leads me to despair somewhat. But I've always felt that in the face of the worst tyrannies, people resist.

They're resisting now all over the world. And it seems to me history is open. I believe history is open. I don't believe that we have reached the finality of a system that is so destructive that all we have to do is look at the clock and say, "One minute left." I don't believe in those kinds of metaphors.

We have to acknowledge the realities that bear down on us, but it seems to me that if we really want to live in a world and be alive with compassion and justice, then we need educated hope. We need a hope that recognizes the problems and doesn't romanticize them, and also recognizes the need for vision, for social organizations, for strategies.

We need institutions that provide the formative culture that give voice to those visions and those ideas.

BILL MOYERS: You've talked elsewhere or written elsewhere about the need for a militant, far-reaching, social movement to challenge the false claims that equate democracy and capitalism. Now, what do you mean "Militant and Far Reaching Social Movement?"

HENRY GIROUX: I mean, what we do know, we know this. We know that there are people working in local communities all over the United States around particular kinds of issues, whether it be gay rights, whether it be the environment, whether it be, you know the Occupy movement, helping people with Hurricane Sandy. We have a lot of fragmented movements.

And I think we probably have a lot more than we realize, because the press gives them no visibility, as you know. So, we don't really have a sense of the degree to which these-- how pronounced these really are. I think the real issue here is, you know, what would it mean to begin to do at least two things?

To say the very least, one is to develop cultural apparatuses that can offer a new vocabulary for people, where questions of freedom and justice and the problems that we're facing can be analyzed in ways that reach mass audiences in accessible language.

We have to build a formative culture. We have to do that. Secondly, we've got to overcome the fractured nature of these movements. I mean the thing that plagues me about progressives in the left and liberals is they are all sort of ensconced in these fragmented movements that seem to suggest those movements constitute the totality of the system of oppression that we are facing. And they don’t.

Look, we have technologies in place now in which students all over the world are beginning to communicate with each other because they're realizing that the punishing logic of austerity has a certain kind of semblance that a certain normality that, in common ground, that is affecting students in Greece, students in Spain, students in France.

BILL MOYERS: And in this country?

HENRY GIROUX: And in this country. And it seems to me that while I may be too old to in any way begin to participate in this, I really believe that young people have recognized that they've been written out of the discourse of democracy. That they're in the grip of something so oppressive it will take away their future, their hopes, their possibilities and their sense of the future will be one that is less than what their parents had imagined.

And there's no going back. I mean, this has to be addressed. And it'll take time. They'll build the organizations. They'll get-- they'll work with the new technologies. And hopefully they'll have our generation to be able to assist in that, but it's not going to happen tomorrow. And it's not going to happen in a year. It's going to as you have to plant seeds. You have to believe that seeds matter.

But you need a different vocabulary and a different understanding of politics. Look, the right has one thing going for it that nobody wants to talk about. Power is global. And politics is local. They float. They have no allegiance to anyone. They don't care about the social contract, because if workers in the United States don't want to compromise, they'll get them in Mexico. So the notion of political concessions has died for this class.

They don't care about it anymore. There are no political concessions.

BILL MOYERS: The financial class.

HENRY GIROUX: The financial class.

BILL MOYERS: The one percent.

HENRY GIROUX: The one percent. That's why they're so savage. They're so savage because there's nothing to give up. They don't have to compromise. The power is so arrogant, so over the top, so unlike anything we have seen in terms of its anti-democratic practices, policies, modes of governance and ideology.

That at some point, you know they feel they don't have to legitimate this anymore. I mean, it's because the contradictions are becoming so great, that I think all of a sudden a lot of young people are recognizing this language, this whole language, doesn't work. The language of liberalism doesn't work anymore.

No, let's just reform the system. Let's work within it. Let's just run people for office. My argument would be, you have one foot in and you have one foot out. I'm not willing to give up the school board. I'm not willing to give up all forms of electoral politics. But it seems to me at the local level we can do some of that thing, that people can get elected. They can make moderate changes.

But the real changes are not going to come there. The real changes are going to come in creating movements that are longstanding, that are organized, that basically take questions of governance and policy seriously and begin to spread out and become international. That is going to have to happen.

BILL MOYERS: But here's the contradiction I hear in what you're saying. That if you write about a turning toward despair and cynicism in politics. Can you get movements out of despair and cynicism? Can you get people who will take on the system when they have been told that the system is so powerful and so overwhelming that they've lost their, as you call it, moral and political agency?

HENRY GIROUX: Well let me put it this way. What we often find is we often find people who take for granted the systems that they live in. They take for granted the savagery-- the sort of things that you talked about. And it produces two kinds of rage.

It produces an inner rage in which people blame themselves.

It’s so disturbing to me to see working class, middle class people blaming themselves when these bankers have actually caused the crisis. That's the first issue.

Then you have another expression of that rage, and that rage blames blacks. It blames immigrants. It blames young people. It says, "They're not--" it says about youth, it says, "Youth is not in trouble. They're the problem."

And so, all of a sudden that rage gets displaced. The question is not what do we-- the question is not just where's the outrage. The question is how do you mobilize the rage in ways in which it's not self-defeating, and in ways in which it doesn't basically scape-- be used to scapegoat other people. That's an educational issue. That should be at the center of any politics that matters.

BILL MOYERS: One of your intellectual mentors, the philosopher Ernst Bloch, said, "We must believe in the principle of hope." And you've written often about the language of hope. What does that mean, the principle of hope and the language of hope, and why are they important as you see it in creating this new paradigm, metaphor that you talk about?

HENRY GIROUX: Yeah, I mean, hope to me is a metaphor that speaks to the power of the imagination. I don't believe that anyone should be involved in politics in a progressive way if they can't understand that to act otherwise, you have to imagine otherwise.

What hope is predicated on is the assumption that life can be different than it is now.

But to be different than it is now, rather than romanticizing hope and turning it into something Disney-like, right, it really has to involve the hard work of A) recognizing the structures of domination that we have to face, B) organizing collectively and somehow to change those, and C) believing it can be done, that it's worth the struggle.

That if the struggles are not believed in, if people don't have the faith to engage in these struggles, and that's the issue. I mean, that working class neighborhood that I talked to you about in the beginning of the program, I mean, it just resonates with such a sense of joy for me, the sense of solidarity, sociality.

And I think all the institutions that are being constructed under this market tyranny, this casino capitals is just the opposite. It's like that image of all these people at the bus stop, right. And they're all-- they're together, but they're alone. They're alone.

BILL MOYERS: If we have zombied politics, if we have as you say, metaphorically, zombies in the high levels of government, zombies in banks and financial centers and zombies in the military, can't you have a zombie population? I mean, you say the stories that are being told through the commercial corporate entertainment media are all the more powerful because they seem to defy the public's desire for rigorous accountability, critical interrogation and openness.

Now if that's what the public wants, why isn't the market providing them? Isn't that what the market's supposed to do? Provide what people want?

HENRY GIROUX: The market doesn't want that at all. I mean, the market wants the people, the apostles of this market logic, I mean, they actually the first rule of the market is make sure you have power that’s unaccountable. That's what they want.

And I think that, I mean, what we see for the first time in history is a war on the ability to produce meanings that hold power accountable. A war on the possibility of an education that enables people to think critically, a war on cultural apparatuses that entertain by simply engaging in this spectacle of violence and not producing programs that really are controversial, that make people think, that make people alive through the possibilities of, you know, the imagination itself.

I mean, my argument is the formative culture that produces those kinds of intellectual and creative and imaginative abilities has been under assault since the 1980s in a very systemic way. So that the formative culture that takes its place is a business culture.

It's a culture run by accountants, not by visionaries. It's a culture run by the financial services. It's a culture run by people who believe that data is more important than knowledge.

BILL MOYERS: You paint a very grim picture of the state of democracy, and yet you don't seem contaminated by cynicism yourself.

HENRY GIROUX: No, I'm not.

BILL MOYERS: How do we understand that?

HENRY GIROUX: Because I refuse to become a part of it.

Because I refuse to become complicitous. I refuse to say--I refuse to be alive and to watch institutions being handed over to right wing zealots. I refuse to be alive and watch the planet be destroyed.

I mean, when you mentioned-- you talk about the collective imagination, you know, I mean that imagination emerges when people find strength in collective organizations, when they find strength in each other.

Believing that we can work together to produce commons in which we can share that raises everybody up and not just some people, that contributes to the world in a way that-- and I really don't mean to be romanticizing here, but a world that is we recognize is never just enough. Justice is never done. It's an endless struggle. And that there's joy in that struggle, because there's a sense of solidarity that brings us together around the most basic, most elemental and the most important of democratic values.

BILL MOYERS: Henry Giroux, thank you, very much for talking to me.

HENRY GIROUX: Thank you, Bill.

BILL MOYERS: Henry Giroux and I spoke of how zombies are an appropriate metaphor for a society whose political, media, and financial institutions are without a soul. They walk a world in which the lust for power and wealth corrupts absolutely and sucks away real life.

We know a lot about zombies here at Moyers & Company....


#            #            #

For more commentary from Henry Giroux, checkout THIS LINK.

Here's A LINK to additional commentary on Bill Moyers' show with Dr. Giroux, over at Naked Capitalism.


#            #            #
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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for the diary. (20+ / 0-)

    Unnaccountable power?  Most people believe it couldn't happen here.  I wish they were right.

    •  Click on the next-to-last link in the post, and... (24+ / 0-)

      ...you'll be able to read roughly 16 of Giroux's selected works, which I've republished here over the past 18 months, give or take. In those posts you'll see there are plenty of other links to his website and to the works of TONS of outstanding pieces by other great thinkers!

      (Henry and I have developed a nice rapport over the past couple of years. He allows me to edit his "academically-lengthy" paragraph structures for better readability on blogs. etc. He's even better on TV, IMHO.)

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

      by bobswern on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 08:52:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Thatcher reference really jumped out at me (19+ / 0-)
        Thatcher said something else that's particularly interesting in this discussion.

        She said there's no such thing as society. There are only individuals and families. And so what we begin to see is the emergence of a kind of ethic, a survival of the fittest ethic that legitimates the most incredible forms of cruelty, that seems to suggest that freedom in this discourse of getting rid of society, getting rid of the social-- that discourse is really only about self-interest, that possessive individualism is now the only virtue that matters. So freedom, which is essential to any notion of democracy, now becomes nothing more than a matter of pursuing your own self interests. No society can survive under those conditions.

        Given Thatcher's record in office, that quote is curious on many levels.  I don't recall her telling Falklanders they were on their own in '82.  She sent sizable air, naval, and land forces to reclaim a sparsely populated colony off the Argentine coast.  Why didn't she leave it up to the individuals and families to take care of themselves?

        Eight years later, Thatcher strongly encouraged GHWB to go to war over Kuwait.  Couldn't Kuwaiti individuals and families take care of themselves.  Why did they need an Anglo/American force to drive out SH's forces?

        I can live w/ an honest libertarian who hates the NSA as much as he/she hates the IRS.  While I don't agree w/ the abolition of SS, Medicare, and minimum wage, I can respect someone who advocates those positions while also advocating massive Pentagon cuts.  Selective libertarianism that inevitably favors the 1% to the detriment of the 99%, however, is not worthy of respect.

        Sadly, such selective libertarianism has tended to dominate our politics for the past 30+ years.  The Very Serious People generally agree that we can afford a bloated (and increasingly privatized) MIC, but we can't afford to sustain current "entitlement" spending.  Wall Street should be given considerable leeway, but ordinary Americans must go through body scanners in order to board airplanes.

        The Thatcher ethic arguably lives on here more than it lives on in her own country.

        Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

        by RFK Lives on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 09:43:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Conflicting messages almost define our culture (12+ / 0-)

          I mentioned this point in a different context in my comment below.  I also referred to this in another comment recently, when the NSA justified what they were doing as good for "the nation".  I questioned who they meant by the nation, to which Hannah replied that "the nation" is an artificial construct.  My reply:

          And I was thinking of a particular aspect of that artificial construct--that it refers to a collective.  Since the people invoking the term believe there is no such thing as society, as Margaret Thatcher once said, only individuals and families, it is certain that they are merely using the term cynically to suit the only thing that is real to them, their private, selfish ends.
          Such shifting of the meaning of words to suit the ends of power can almost be said to define political discourse today and is a central component to the on-going destruction of the rule of law.  "Imminent threat" becomes a meaningless term, as do "enemy combatants" and "terrorism" and even increasingly "war", with the latter being used to apply to wholesale slaughter by drone strike in which the victims have no means of self-defense.  Historically, the term "massacre" might have been applied.

          I have been considering a photo essay pointing out the lines of internal conflict, of ambivalence, that I have begun to see everywhere in our culture.  I first noticed this in a hospital restaurant, where the cooler with drinks was full of unhealthy soda but sported an informative sign on its side urging the consumer to "Choose your drinks wisely".  In check out lines, I see next to the array of candy bars magazines whose covers gleam with freshly skinny women revealing their secrets for losing weight.

          The word "America" has no meaning when the most powerful people in the country do not even believe there exists such a thing as the common good.  I refer once again to the lecture that I think best defines our time.  It is Harold Pinter's Nobel Lecture.  The central theme of his lecture is truth and reality.

          Political language, as used by politicians, does not venture into any of this territory since the majority of politicians, on the evidence available to us, are interested not in truth but in power and in the maintenance of that power. To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives. What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed.
          To Pinter, our essential task is to define the real truth of our lives, freeing ourselves from the soothing distortions of politicians which keep thought at bay.  Pinter ends:
          I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory.

          If such a determination is not embodied in our political vision we have no hope of restoring what is so nearly lost to us - the dignity of man.

          Secrecy is a hot bed of vanity. - Joseph Brodsky They who have put out the people’s eyes reproach them for their blindness. – John Milton 1642

          by geomoo on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 10:19:21 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thank you. n/t (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            geomoo

            I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

            by Just Bob on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 02:10:17 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I just want to add that it's not just politicians (0+ / 0-)

            that keep us in ignorance.  Talk Radio and Faux news are blatant propaganda mechanisms that broadcast 24/7 with no purpose other than maintaining our ignorance.  I would also heap religion on that pile of shit.

        •  . (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dkmich

          Confession:  I smiled inside when that wretched bitch went to her grave it is so unfortunate it took so long.  I have other inner smiles waiting for other political types in US politics  finally making their long overdue exits.  I can only hope that their some of their influence and wretched ideology is laid in the grave with them

          "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

          by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 10:45:00 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  The Wisdom of Dubya (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Just Bob, RFK Lives, NoMoreLies
          Bush's circle of pre-election advisers had a fixation on the political capital that British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher collected from the Falklands War. Said [ousted Dubya ghost writer Mickey] Herskowitz: "They were just absolutely blown away, just enthralled by the scenes of the troops coming back, of the boats, people throwing flowers at [Thatcher] and her getting these standing ovations in Parliament and making these magnificent speeches."
          "Two Years Before 9/11, Candidate Bush was Already Talking Privately About Attacking Iraq, According to His Former Ghost Writer," Common Dreams, October 28, 2004, emphasis added

          "Injustice wears ever the same harsh face wherever it shows itself." - Ralph Ellison

          by KateCrashes on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 03:35:58 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for this, Bob (7+ / 0-)

        Henry just got another non-pragmatic fan.

        He's very good at making his points, especially bouncing off Moyers. Great stuff!

  •  Wow -- what an interview (27+ / 0-)

    I'm on vacation and have been reading Robert Hughes' The Fatal Shore, about Australia's early convict history.  It tells me that the idea that politics should be confined to the propertied classes is far from new: it was universally conceded in the Georgian age in England, which is why the franchise was restricted to free white males of property in our original Constitution -- it didn't occur to our revolutionary founding fathers to extend it further,so great was the convention of the time.

    The death of democracy Giroux describes here should properly be called the death of social democracy, the later idea that we're all in this country together, and that the country and its economy should work for all of us.  The willful historical amnesia we're being conned into accepting removes this idea from our memory, along with other once- cherished civic virtues like equality and social justice.  Not to mention the idea that the government should actively promote the growth of the middle class.

    Politics isn't really about which side wins the next election, it's fundamentally about who lives and who dies in a society.  Politics has been zombified by corporate interests who have convinced us it's only about cheering for the Red team or the Blue team, even though both teams have the same ownership.  I see hope that Americans are starting to see through this scam, and a real politics with a vital, beating heart is starting to stir once again.  If this site doesn't recognize that development and get over its partisan blindness, it will die.  Most of the old political order is already rotten, and if we don't change we'll putrify with the rest of it.

    We have always been at war with al Qaeda.

    by Dallasdoc on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 08:39:17 AM PST

    •  The problem with DKos politics (20+ / 0-)
      Politics has been zombified by corporate interests who have convinced us it's only about cheering for the Red team or the Blue team, even though both teams have the same ownership
      Well, not exactly the same ownership. More like different groups of governing elites.
        Sort of like the War of the Roses, where the battles between the ruling families is real and viscious, but life for the peasants isn't going to change no matter who wins. (note: if you don't know the war, think of Game of Thrones)

        Politics on DKos is about cheering for the Blue Team (i.e. anyone with a "D" in front of their name). The only reason why some Democrats are demonized is because they side with the Red Team too much, not because of their beliefs.
         Ideology and actual values has been tossed aside, both on DKos and in American society in general. At least when it comes to elections.

        I once proposed a change in the DKos manifesto, to incorporate an actual ideology, and was flamed into submission. No one was interested in championing actual values, just a political party.

      None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

      by gjohnsit on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 09:30:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Values and ideals and long-standing Democratic (11+ / 0-)

        Party principles should be paramount.

        Blind loyalty to the Blue team overlooks what is really happening in our country.

        Honestly, I think the ruling elite is pretty much the same in both parties.  Wall Street, for example, strongly backed Obama, but also strongly backed Romney.

        You can pick out different corporations here and there, but if you untangled the interlocking boards of directors, there would be a lot of overlap. Look at Clinton.  Look at Madeline Albright. Where does their income come from today?

        "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

        by YucatanMan on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 10:14:06 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  A quibble at an excellent comment (11+ / 0-)

        I see precious little of anyone on this site siding with the red team.  I see people getting in trouble when attempting to break out of the artificial binary paradigm of two corporate parties.  It is particularly frustrating to see traditional democratic values relating to the common good treated as anathema.  It is those who want to pressure current Dem politicians to honor those values who come in for such criticism.

        Secrecy is a hot bed of vanity. - Joseph Brodsky They who have put out the people’s eyes reproach them for their blindness. – John Milton 1642

        by geomoo on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 10:26:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  . (12+ / 0-)

        "I once proposed a change in the DKos manifesto, to incorporate an actual ideology, and was flamed into submission"

        That is a sad reflection on the value of the site.  I have yet to truly see a political message being generated from the democratic party establishment as to what it stands for, it seems its running on the residual vapors of what it used to stand for.

        Of course, my usual issue with trade policy has gained no traction either on this site or within the 'democratic' party after all these years.  It seems so few understand it, oppose it, or care or think the problem just has to do with republicans.  In the meantime, BO will probably get TPP passed with complete 'bipartisan' agreement from the republican party and no one will suspect anything weird about republicans and democratic politicians being so agreeable about fucking another 2 million workers in the US out of decent jobs.

        "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

        by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:00:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  This (13+ / 0-)
        I once proposed a change in the DKos manifesto, to incorporate an actual ideology, and was flamed into submission. No one was interested in championing actual values, just a political party.
        I did something similar asking that this site focus  more on policy, only I sent a detailed outline of why to kos himself via kosmail and it was totally ignored.

        "I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~ Dr. Cornel West "It was a really naked declaration of imperialism." ~ Jeremy Scahill on Obama's speech to the UN

        by gulfgal98 on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:19:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  what do you expect? (0+ / 0-)

        They are authoritarians motivated by tribalism. It doesn't matter what the D party proposes, it is good and must be supported. Even if its a republican health insurance plan.

    •  Insightful that you mention memory (11+ / 0-)

      Giroux also sees these connections.  Here is an article by him entitled The Violence of Organized Forgetting.

      Secrecy is a hot bed of vanity. - Joseph Brodsky They who have put out the people’s eyes reproach them for their blindness. – John Milton 1642

      by geomoo on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 10:22:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Truer words (10+ / 0-)

      were never written.  Excellent comment in its entirity, but this part stands out for me in particular.

      Politics isn't really about which side wins the next election, it's fundamentally about who lives and who dies in a society.  Politics has been zombified by corporate interests who have convinced us it's only about cheering for the Red team or the Blue team, even though both teams have the same ownership.  I see hope that Americans are starting to see through this scam, and a real politics with a vital, beating heart is starting to stir once again.  If this site doesn't recognize that development and get over its partisan blindness, it will die.
      The last sentence is something that I had hoped kos would address for some time but obviously that does not seem to be happening.  There is greater power to effect real change in pushing for good policy than just pushing a politician who wears blue.  Thanks for saying it.

      "I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~ Dr. Cornel West "It was a really naked declaration of imperialism." ~ Jeremy Scahill on Obama's speech to the UN

      by gulfgal98 on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:15:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Big-ass transcript. (8+ / 0-)

    You do have permission, yeah?

    Anyway, if the powers that be are going to take away our right to live off the land, then we're going to demand from them some other right to live, and that's what welfare is about.  Giroux should assert that.

    And it's nice to see that he's hanging out with Zygmunt Bauman.  Good people.

    “All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.” – I.F. Stone

    by Cassiodorus on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 08:45:08 AM PST

  •  I believe that line (11+ / 0-)

    about it being easier to imagine the death of the world then the death of capitalism comes from Slavoj Žižek.  The current consolidation of power, and who has it, makes it really easy to imagine. . . .

    He who would trade liberty for security deserves great customer service.

    by Publius2008 on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 08:47:31 AM PST

  •  Slandered, I tell you , (11+ / 0-)

         we was slandered.

    HENRY GIROUX: It's organized because it's systemic. It's organized because you have people controlling schools who are deleting those histories and making sure that they don't appear. In Tucson, Arizona they banished ethnic studies from the curriculum. This is the dis-imagination machine. That's the hardcore element.
    We didn't ban books in Tucson dammit. That was Phoenix, Right-Wing Maricopa County, cracking down on progressive educators in more liberal Tucson.
    Other than that, good interview. I hope it gets a wide audience.

    The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

    by Azazello on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 08:52:04 AM PST

  •  This is a great public service for the community (12+ / 0-)

    you have done.

    Of course, all your diaries are...

    Thanks, bob.

    Trust, but verify. - Reagan
    Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

    When the rich have tripled their share of the income and wealth yet again, Republicans will still blame the poor and 3rd Way Democrats will still negotiate.

    by Words In Action on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 08:55:42 AM PST

  •  I like what he said about hope (15+ / 0-)

    I recently wrote a diary about hope and despair and how despair is the language of fascism and corporatism.
       Without hope there is no possibility to make the world a better place. Without hope we all work to enrich the wealthy elite. Without hope we are all serfs.

    None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

    by gjohnsit on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 09:22:50 AM PST

    •  Missed that one. (7+ / 0-)

      Here's my piece on "hope":

      http://www.dailykos.com/...

      “All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.” – I.F. Stone

      by Cassiodorus on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 09:48:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  . (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gulfgal98, Agathena

      and without a strong middle class and without socio-economic mobility, it is much easier to implement more and more fascist or corporatist policies with political agendas' pointing to poor people, or trade unions, or social democrats, or homosexuals thru controlled media outlets as the root cause of society's woes.   How close are we now to pure corporatism  ... are we there yet or does TPP have to pass and one more grand stock market crash and burn along with oh-the-banks-failed-sorry-you-lost-your-life-savings to get the final nail in

      "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

      by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:13:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Reality now mimics reality TV (8+ / 0-)

    A good point. After shows like Survivor and Trump's reality travesty, when will we see "reality TV government"?

    If cutting Social Security & Medicare benefits for low income seniors is what Democrats do after they win a budget standoff, I'd hate to see what they do after they lose one.

    by Betty Pinson on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 09:40:35 AM PST

  •  Two points I especially appreciate in this (12+ / 0-)

    As usual, Giroux stresses the cruelty of our current systems.  I know of no one else who refers to this point so often and so forcefully.  It is so close to us that it is difficult for us to have perspective on this, especially given how much the cruel effects are ignored by our media as well as by the perennially cheerful affects of our "news" reporters.

    The other thing only referred to in passing is the tendency of liberals to think their responsibility begins and ends with saying what is true.  Meanwhile, the heart of the neo-liberalism establishment is focused on money and power; to them, reality is something to be "created" and then they move on to the next reality, as stated forthrightly in the famous quote.  Change will require a lot more than expressing indignation that TPTB are ignoring reality and lying.

    I happened to read a book review recommended by Cassiodorus around the same time I heard this interview.  The two work together to inform us of the challenge before us.  In interviews with working class young people, the author shows how the neo-liberal worldview has created a generation who does not even think in terms of society, in terms of the power of solidarity to achieve mutually beneficial goals.  It would seem that the view of Margaret Thatcher, as quoted by Giroux in this interview, is prevailing.

    She said there's no such thing as society. There are only individuals and families.
    Coming Up Short by Jennifer Silva
    Silva outlines an emerging working-class adult self that has "low expectations of work, wariness toward romantic commitment, widespread distrust of social institutions, profound isolation from others, and an overriding focus on their emotions and psychic health." They don't think about their lives in collective terms. They think about them in terms of recovery from painful personal pasts. Absent work as a source of self-respect and self-worth, they "remake dignity and meaning out of emotional self-management and willful psychic transformation."
    This reveals the inadequacy of identity politics to achieve truly democratic goals.  The parts do not sum up to the whole of the good of society--we must see the intimate connections between our individual lives and the culture in which we live, the connections between, for example, cutting food stamps and a child dying from lack of nutrition.

    Secrecy is a hot bed of vanity. - Joseph Brodsky They who have put out the people’s eyes reproach them for their blindness. – John Milton 1642

    by geomoo on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 10:00:22 AM PST

  •  thanks bobswern ! i've watched it twice already... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobswern, gulfgal98, Dallasdoc, Agathena

    In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act.'' George Orwell

    by lostinamerica on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 10:25:18 AM PST

  •  Indeed. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gulfgal98, bobswern, dkmich, emal, Just Bob

    "we collapse education into training."

    The consumer society.


    "We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." - Louis Brandies

    by Pescadero Bill on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 10:33:08 AM PST

  •  The zombie concept arises again and again. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dallasdoc, bobswern, Just Bob, KateCrashes

    Two weeks ago a guest on Moyers touched on a subject that has bothered me: the reanimation of bad ideas through money and media. Ideas proven to be bad, bad, bad, are frequently given new life because it benefits the 1%.

    For example, the Texas Public Policy Foundation established TheLaffer Center for Supply Side Economics in Austinin 2003. The fact that Supply Side (aka Trickle Down or Voodoo Economics) has proven to do the opposite of what it purports to do has not been able to kill this very bad idea. Not even the comical name "Laffer" has been used to effect to laugh this idea off the national stage. The idea is facilitating the growing economic inequality to the satisfaction of the 1% and so it is constantly propped up and given a legitimacy it does not earn.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 10:33:27 AM PST

  •  thanks Bob (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dallasdoc, bobswern, maggiemae

    Funny I just finished watching the show before stopping by here.  I have such tremendous respect for Moyers and the discussions on his show .... it is stuff we can never get too much of.  If only we had more individuals among us who knew enough to discuss it on their own with their friends and families.

    "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

    by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 10:37:36 AM PST

  •  Unfettered, free market consumption of ... (0+ / 0-)

    Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream has turned me into an over weight zombie. Capitalism has its dark side. There is no escape.


    A mirror is facial recognition hardware. Your narcissism is the software.

    by glb3 on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 10:44:14 AM PST

    •  McDonald's is concerned with my hunger ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bobswern

      by providing me with Happy Meals. Walmart is concerned with my need for clothing by providing me with t-shirts and shoes made by poverty stricken hands somewhere on the other side of the planet. State transportation departments are concerned with my housing requirements by providing me with shelter under the freeways crisscrossing the landscape. I have no wants, because of unfettered free market capitalism.
      The only freedom we as the servants of the 1% hold dear anymore is our desire to bear arms. There, we find solace and safety from the despair that slowly chokes off the oxygen of life and happiness as human beings.

      What a country!


      A mirror is facial recognition hardware. Your narcissism is the software.

      by glb3 on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:34:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Terrific interview (9+ / 0-)

    Dr. Giroux had me hanging on every word.  This is the first time I had ever seen Dr. Giroux speak and his passion is contagious. I completely agree with every single idea he expressed in this interview.  

    Our survival as a society is in dire jeopardy.  Years ago, people would have been horrified to learn that the President has a kill list and American citizens are on it.  Now it is being accepted that it is okay to kill people without going through the justice system. I was shocked to read that over 2/3 of the American public think that drone strikes are okay when they are not.

    We are being incrementally divided against one another into ever smaller groups. People are being pitted against one another for the few crumbs that fall from the tables of the elite.  We have lost our civility as a nation and are rapidly losing our humanity as a people.  A nation cannot survive when that happens.

    Tipped, recommended, and hot listed.  Thanks Bob.

    "I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~ Dr. Cornel West "It was a really naked declaration of imperialism." ~ Jeremy Scahill on Obama's speech to the UN

    by gulfgal98 on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:08:06 AM PST

    •  hanging on every word (6+ / 0-)

      same here.  Moyers is normally pretty damn good hitting on the very topics near and dear to my heart and does so regularly but really hit it out of the park with Giroux.

      Henry Giroux is spot on about the cruelty of the current 'system' .. unfortunately it seems the 'drive' toward the Milton Friedman/Leo Strauss global fascist model is still on full-tilt as I understand BO is trying to fast track the TPP 'agreement' after he gets all the secret negotiations completed.... Bush was working the same thing

      "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

      by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:25:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Just before (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobswern, gulfgal98, ceebee7

    checking in on daily kos I was looking up the writer's name on Bill Moyers website.  I had seen part of the interview yesterday, but didn't catch the full program.  So thank you for putting up the whole transcript.  

    I think Henry Giroux makes excellent points, but the question is "how do you shift society?"  I think the answer is right in front of our noses.  Society is shifting, people are stuggling financially and the younger generation will be faced with debt that has been unheard of in previous life times and us older people will be faced with expenses we can't afford for end of life care.  The generations will end up finacially colliding into one another.

    The balance that kept us functional has been so damaged in the past twenty/thirty years that we are getting to a tipping point.  Change is happening, and inevitable.  One thing I've learned in my almost sixty years here on earth and is that change is a constant.  At one point I thought the go go boots and fishnet stocking fab would last forever, but it didn't.

    However, we need to raise consciousness and wisdom, the best period in my lifetime was when wisdom and consciousness truly keep society growing.

    "During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolution­ary act. " George Orwell

    by zaka1 on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:29:30 AM PST

  •  Ohio State Univ gets a Tank for Univ Police (9+ / 0-)

    I found this gem in the article.

    I live about 10 miles from the campus.

    The whole country has militarized its police force and the DOD is sending 1/2 billion of equipment to local police forces

    When the police gets their money from somewhere else, they don't have the same connection to the community

    I looked it up and found out that the vehicle IS from the surplus program.

    Here is the local Republican paper describing the Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP)

    For OSU, adding the military-surplus Navistar MaxxPro MRAP, or Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, to his fleet was a no-brainer, Denton said. The MRAP can be used to safely transport officers and civilians during crises such as a campus shooting, to block restricted areas during large events, even to clear fallen trees after a storm, the chief said.

    “Certainly, we’re not going to run it across the Oval,” he said. “There are no weapons on this thing. It’s simply a personnel-protection vehicle.”

    The MRAP was free through a federal surplus program. The division can always get rid of it if maintenance becomes too expensive, he said.

    He believes that OSU officers have a strong relationship and good dialogue with the university community.

    “Just the fact that we have a particular piece of equipment or tactical resource, that’s not going to change that at all,” he said.

    here is an article from an alternative publication
    The Daily Caller was first to report on the story. They contacted Gary Lewis, OSU's senior director of media relations, who boasted that “OSU’s campus cops are 'the first agency in the state to acquire such a vehicle'.” However, he and the OSU PD dodged specific questions about the armored vehicle.
    I added the bold to show the cutting edge of the university.

    Wow!  The ex president outsourced the parking lot and campus transportation which has been horrible. The University has been around for 140 years and they sell off a capital asset, and a source of jobs, for short term money.

    And like almost all schools, the humanities are under the chopping block.

    I tried to find something about the MRAP on the campus web page and called the security office and could not get a link. One would think that they would be proud of is as they are of their football team.

  •  re: Madness and insanity (9+ / 0-)
    BILL MOYERS: So then why when I talk about the urgency in your writing, your forthcoming book opens with this sentence, "America's descending into madness." Now, don't you think many people will read that as hyperbole?

    HENRY GIROUX: Sometimes in the exaggerations there are great truths. And it seems to me that what’s unfortunate here is that's not an exaggeration.

    It's not an exaggeration or hyperbole.  A few years ago I met a Native American woman who has devoted her life to helping the oppressed Mayan people in southern Mexico.

    She said that for all their poverty and oppression, the Mayan people are still far more grounded and emotionally healthy than the "civilized, advanced" citizens of our incredibly fortunate society.  

    And every night they pray for us -- THEY pray for US -- literally, with genuine concern and compassion -- that the "crazy" people up north will find peace and balance in our souls.

    If one considers it from the Taoist viewpoint -- that health and balance mean living in harmony with nature, with the "spirit" and flow of the universe -- then modern America is the exact opposite.  We live so proudly and consistently against nature that it is no wonder we are literally going crazy;  that we are so spiritually and psychically sick.

    If I had the United States as one of my therapy clients, I could only conclude that it is profoundly disturbed ... something very close to an out-of-control addict in denial, with narcissistic personality disorder and delusions of grandeur thrown in.

  •  I call it paycheck to paycheck slavery (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobswern, ceebee7

    The stage is set for an uprising. Call it OWS 2.0

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 12:11:17 PM PST

  •  The first step is so bloody obvious, I can't (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobswern, dkmich, emal, Just Bob, ceebee7

    comprehend how it is that we've yet to focus on it. Corporate Media sets ALL narratives. Including the ones Dr. Giroux raises.

    And it seems to me we have to ask ourselves what kind of formative culture needs to be put in place in which education becomes central to politics, in which politics can be used to help people to be able to see things differently, to get beyond this system that is so closed, so powerfully normalized….
    Well, how's this happen unless the public breaks into the narrative-making apparatus? Mass-Reach Corporate Media is ... not disliked, but despised, by any American with a political, social, or community interest. To a degree which equals or excels Congress and used car-salesman. Use the bloody internet to organize that deeply felt revulsion to imagine ways to break into, and break up, the Cartel's centralized narrative-making.

    Or lose.

    There aren't really any other options.

    …We have to build a formative culture. We have to do that. Secondly, we've got to overcome the fractured nature of these movements. I mean the thing that plagues me about progressives in the left and liberals is they are all sort of ensconced in these fragmented movements that seem to suggest those movements constitute the totality of the system of oppression that we are facing. …
    Well, geez somebody, think it through! We don't need a 'liberal' media to offset the Corporate media. We need the mass-reach capability of Corporate media to be open to ordinary citizens.

    I have no doubt that you put a rightwing nut on tv in a room full of ordinary people, show the reasonable alternate, and the 'liberal' (aka 'mainstream,' aka 'humanly decent,' aka 'rational adult') alternative will win every time.

    The fractionating and hiding of opposition, and sane alternatives, is what Corporate Media does.

    …But to be different than it is now, rather than romanticizing hope and turning it into something Disney-like, right, it really has to involve the hard work of A) recognizing the structures of domination that we have to face, B) organizing collectively and somehow to change those, and C) believing it can be done, that it's worth the struggle….
    Good grief! What's so hard to recognize?

    And to people who think the internet will one day, somehow, magically become the counter to mass-reach media: The facts contradict you. Though the 'internet will change everything' promise is 20 years old we've been losing the Class War every day, despite some battles being won. Because all that's happened is that Corporate has come to dominate the internet, and 'consumers' just use the internet as a supplement to regular TV.

    We cannot, and will not possibly, change things around until we do something about the most powerful agitation/propaganda machine in all of human history: Corporate control of mass-reach narratives.

    It's delusional to believe otherwise. Just think it through.


    Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

    by Jim P on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 12:14:43 PM PST

    •  "the fractured nature of these movements" (0+ / 0-)

      The Coffee Party tried to become a part of something greater. Unfortunately, the "something greater" was dominated by No Labels types.

      I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

      by Just Bob on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 03:38:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I wonder why we are not marching in the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobswern, ceebee7

    street as they are in Spain and in Greece. And true the marches don't seem to be enough, but still.

    It seems that all my life we have been bombing someone, teaching them a lesson. Every day I understand more deeply how violent we are. Violent to others and violent to ourselves. - Robert Olmstead

    by glitterscale on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 05:39:04 PM PST

  •  Class warfare (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobswern, ceebee7

    Cynicism and rage was displaced, and turned...

    1. Inward. "It produces an inner rage in which people blame themselves"

    2. Within ranks. "Blacks", "immigrants", "young people".

    Occupy got too close to the truth.  GOP began screeching "Class Warfare".  Koch brothers deployed their shock troops; open-carry Tea Party thugs at town hall meetings.  

    Reagan and Thatcher were wrong.  Government is not the problem.  The 1% predators and scavengers need to be harnessed, not set loose.

    Barack Hussein Obama- Don't Mock the Constitution.

    by odenthal on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 08:47:34 PM PST

  •  President Obama and Democratic leadership need to (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobswern, Agathena, WheninRome, ceebee7

    … ask themselves if — by not putting blame on and directing rage toward the bankers and so on — they aren't in fact enabling the others who direct the rage onto immigrants, women, minorities, and the young.

    Even here. I mean, front pagers mock Republicans for saying 2 + 2 = 5, fine, ha ha. But no good can come of letting our own side get away with saying, "Would you believe 3? Four point five? Six? How about pi?"

    Someone needs to say, as Henry Giroux is willing to, "Look, the bankers are the problem. Capitalism — our current form of it, what it's become since Reagan and Thatcher — is the problem."

    Not, "In spite of some whiners here, the economy is recovering."

    Not, "The Federal Reserve is doing a fine job."

    And certainly not, "Perhaps seniors will have to accept cuts in Social Security to make possible more benefits for the young and the poor."

    The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ♥ ♥ ♥ Forget Neo — The One is Minori Urakawa

    by lotlizard on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 01:13:35 AM PST

    •  What good does mocking Republicans over and over (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bobswern, WheninRome, ceebee7, lotlizard

      do? Instead it would be more productive to hold Democrats to higher standards and critique those who don't live up to democratic ideals. There's a saying, 'we get to be like the people we hate.' So let's stop hating and concentrate on what we can do for ourselves.

      As you point out, not with false optimism like "the economy is recovering."

      As Giroux says, we have to utilize the rage in the ways that are not self-defeating.

      To thine ownself be true

      by Agathena on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 07:55:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We watch Bill Moyers every Friday (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Don midwest, bobswern

    My daughter comes over for snacks and we watch online. As I listened to Giroux last Friday, I agreed with everything he said but I was thinking darkly that few would accept his message or believe his warnings. So I'm really happy to see these diaries and this reaction.

    To thine ownself be true

    by Agathena on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 07:43:39 AM PST

  •  double dipping if I may (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobswern, ceebee7

    Outstanding, thought artist, palette
        Moyers, diary, comments. In a Devoeuphemism. Are we good informed intelligent "borg"? Hell Yes!
        The thing that is not understood even by pundits not experiencing this poorness, of grown for the MIC's 1%, is how great the disconnect is especially for survivors. Ages all. Ink point.
        Simplified example: I could care less that the stock market is at record highs. I will not ever care. It is done & over. The brain/washed & all it's media, thrill is gone. More simplified: bitcoin idea vs value.
        To that we go to music. The younger gens get music way beyond the meme presented.
        Unstoppable as the "Emperor" in his gold pyramid spaceship, folds, in the movie "Dune"

    March AGAINST monsatanOHagentorange 3/25/13 a time warp

    by 3rock on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 08:05:15 AM PST

  •  Fascinating interview. Giroux is my new (0+ / 0-)

    hero.  His depth of understanding what's really going on outdoes all the other analyses I've seen.

    Thanks for posting this in its entirety!

    One presumes as a Canadian he is not as easy to attack as U.S. based truth-tellers...  I guess we'll find out soon enough.

    "There's always room for cello." Yo Yo Ma

    by ceebee7 on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 12:09:56 PM PST

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