Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Henry Giroux on the Stories We Tell Ourselves and the Moral Coma of Elites in Casino Capitalist Societies

Henry Giroux gives us serious reason to worry about the future of democratic institutions, I think--and of the globe itself:

For the first time in modern history, centralized commercial institutions that extend from traditional broadcast culture to the new interactive screen cultures—rather than parents, churches or schools—tell most of the stories that shape the lives of the American public. This is no small matter since the stories a society tells about its history, civic life, social relations, education, children and human imagination are a measure of how it values itself, the ideals of democracy and its future. Most of the stories now told to the American public are about the necessity of neoliberal capitalism, permanent war and the virtues of a never-ending culture of fear. 

In American political life as it's presently configured, we really have no alternative to the dominant imagination described in the last sentence of Giroux's paragraph above.  Both major parties actively promote an imagination that privileges neoliberal capitalism above all other economic arrangements, permanent war above peace, and a never-ending culture of fear of some never-ending successions of stigmatized Others.

I do think, however, that between the two major parties and their leaders there are differences that may be called the difference between greater and lesser evil.  And if the greater evil prevails in the coming U.S. elections, its goal will be to cement into place for the foreseeable future the imagination described in that final sentence of Giroux's paragraph--so that no other cultural imagination will be possible in American culture, without serious struggle and, ultimately, revolution.

And if this greater evil prevails and cements into place for the future the cultural imagination it wants for the United States, that cultural imagination will also to a great extent be cemented into place for the rest of the world, due to the influence of the United States in global culture.  Very serious planetary consequences ride on the outcome of the 2012 elections in the U.S.  

And it is beyond tragic--it is deeply reprehensible--that those most actively promoting the greater evil at this point in American history, and the cementing into place of the single possible imagination Giroux describes, are many of our most powerful religious leaders, the U.S. Catholic bishops included.  The U.S. Catholic bishops at the forefront.  At the forefront of an intensive effort to tip our election in the direction of the greater evil, while claiming to be led by God in this enterprise.

As many educated Catholics who should know better cheer these tribal leaders along every bit as much as similar cultured Catholic elites in Nazi Germany (and France, Poland, Austria, and on and on) joined many Catholic bishops in cheering the Nazis as they rose to power. . . .  Becoming complicit in grave evil that affected the course of human history for all of us, and resulted in tremendous loss of life . . . .

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