Thursday, August 22, 2013

Henry Giroux on America's Descent into Madness: "Stories about Disposability in Which Growing Numbers of Groups Are Considered Dispensable"

Henry Giroux at Counterpunch on America's descent into madness via a politics of cruelty and lies:

America is descending into madness. The stories it now tells are filled with cruelty, deceit, lies, and legitimate all manner of corruption and mayhem.  The mainstream media spins stories that are largely racist, violent, and irresponsible —stories that celebrate power and demonize victims, all the while camouflaging its pedagogical influence under the cheap veneer of entertainment. Unethical grammars of violence now offer the only currency with any enduring value for mediating relationships, addressing problems, and offering instant pleasure. A predatory culture celebrates a narcissistic hyper-individualism that radiates a near sociopathic lack of interest in or compassion and responsibility for others. Anti-public intellectuals dominate the screen and aural cultures urging us to shop more, indulge more, and make a virtue out of the pursuit of personal gain, all the while promoting a depoliticizing culture of consumerism. Undermining life-affirming social solidarities and any viable notion of the public good, right-wing politicians trade in forms of idiocy and superstition that mesmerize the illiterate and render the thoughtful cynical and disengaged. 

Henry Giroux also maintains that the cruel neoliberal ideology of the tea party which now controls the thinking of one of the two major political parties in the U.S., and sets the agenda of the other by deliberate obstructionism, is being mainstreamed throughout American culture, and is deliberately seeking "to destroy those very institutions whose purpose is to enrich public memory, prevent needless human suffering, protect the environment, distribute social provisions, and safeguard the public good." And: 

In the end, these [neoliberal stories] are stories about disposability in which growing numbers of groups are considered dispensable and a drain on the body politic, the economy, and the sensibilities of the rich and powerful.

If Giroux is correct with this grim analysis--and I'm inclined to think he is--then the question facing me as a Catholic, Do the leaders of my own church in the U.S. represent a barrier to the mainstreaming of this cruel neoliberal agenda that deliberately makes many human beings dispensable, and employs outright lies and deceit to pursue that agenda?

I'd like to think that my church leaders stand in opposition to this agenda, which is so clearly irreconcilable with the gospels. But, then, I think about the deliberate lying one leading bishop after another has done about the new healthcare plan, a plan that is all about attempting, no matter how weakly, to address the healthcare needs of those on the margins. And I think about the deliberate cruel lying the bishops continue to facilitate when it comes to their LGBTI brothers and sisters.

And I'm not at all sure that they stand on the side of opposition to the cruel neoliberal agenda and the super-rich who have crafted it. To be bluntly honest, their willingness to participate in campaigns of lies about healthcare, abortion, and contraception, and about homosexuality and homosexual people, is actually central to the attempt of those promoting this neoliberal agenda to undermine the common good and the respect for truth on which it's based.

The graphic is from the Flickr photostream of papalrs, and is available for replication through Creative Commons license.

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