Henry Giroux: Let’s Shut Down the Authoritarian Machine

Jeffrey Smith

“We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but not both"

Truthout - June 19, 2019

... The Age of Jackals is the outgrowth of a new political formation that I call neoliberal fascism. This is a historical conjuncture in which neoliberalism and its updated form of finance capital have produced massive degrees of inequality, extreme austerity measures, and ever-expanding attacks on the welfare state. The consequences have been a merging of popular anger and declining hopes for social mobility and a decent life, combined with an intensifying discourse of white supremacy and ultra-nationalism. The current manifestation of finance capital has merged the elements of a fascist politics with the hostile death-dealing machinery of a market fundamentalism, as I discuss in The Terror of the Unforeseen.

We now live in a world in which there appear to be few alternatives to a ravaging global capitalism — a world in which existing authoritarian societies announce themselves as the only viable reality. Under such circumstances, it may appear that all that is left to choose from are competing fictions. This is an age dominated by dangerous narratives that are free of evidence, that bulge with misrepresentations, and that are adamant about destroying any semblance of not just truth, but morality, social responsibility and justice. For the Jackals, language, thinking, memory and civic values function like an autoimmune system threatening to weaken their power and modes of legitimation. As the boundaries of the unthinkable become normalized, language becomes emptied of meaning, filled with the blighted values of commercialization, the lure of the spectacle, and the ever-growing registers of corruption.

One consequence is that everything touched by rabble-rousing power becomes a performance and fodder for a mainstream media eager to increase their ratings. Discourses that invoke historical memory and take on the task of moral witnessing while interrogating the abuse of power are derided as fake news or dismissed as being irrelevant in light of the reigning assumption by those demagogues occupying the highest political offices arguing that democratic socialist society is no longer worth pursuing and that all that is left is illiberal “democracy” — code for the suppression of political and civil liberties in return for authoritarian notions of security. This attack on democratic socialism appears to be more than a rhetorical flourish, especially since more and more members of the public are supportive of democratic socialist policies, especially as articulated by Bernie Sanders, who is arguing for affordable health care, an Economic Bill of Rights, a living wage, economic security, independence from the dictates of a market society, and a full-fledged attack on massive inequalities in wealth and power. ...
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