I guess it all depends on how you frame the apparent problem, but I think Mr. Giroux's take on this is spot on. I wonder who Susan is, his wife? Have to check since he qoutes her.
Tuesday, 10 April 2012 11:14
By Henry A Giroux, Truthout | Op-Ed
An Occupy Wall Street protester is detained during a march through lower Manhattan, in New York, November 17, 2011. (Photo: Robert Stolarik / The New York Times)
In spite of being discredited by the economic recession of 2008, market fundamentalism has once again assumed primacy as a dominant force for producing unprecedented inequalities in wealth and income, runaway environmental devastation, egregious amounts of human suffering and what Alex Honneth has called an "abyss of failed sociality."(1) The Gilded Age is back with big profits for the ultra-rich and large financial institutions and increasing impoverishment and misery for the middle and working class. Political illiteracy and religious fundamentalism have cornered the market on populist rage providing support for a country in which, as Robert Reich points out, "the very richest people get all the economic gains [and] routinely bribe politicians" to cut their taxes and establish policies that eliminate public goods such as schools, social protections, health care and important infrastructures.
It gets worse. Everywhere we look, the power of the rich and powerful operates to create a "suicidal state"(3) in which regulations meant to restrict their corrupting power are shredded; shamelessly and without apology, they use their unchecked power to lay off millions of workers while simultaneously cutting the benefits and rights of those on the job in order to dramatically increase corporate profits. As social protections are dismantled, public servants denigrated and public goods such as schools, bridges, health care services and public transportation deteriorate, the current neoliberal social order embraces the ruthless and punishing values of economic Darwinism and a survival-of-the-fittest ethic. In doing so, the major political parties now reward as its chief beneficiaries the mega banks, ultralarge financial industries, the defense establishment and big business.
Reinvigorated by the passing of tax cuts for the superrich, the right-wing dominated House of Representatives along with number of right-wing state governorships have launched an ongoing war on women's rights, the welfare state, workers, students, and anyone who has the temerity to speak out against such attacks. The corporate-controlled media, especially Fox News and Clear Channel Communications, emulate the former Soviet Union's version of Pravda, its once laughable propaganda rag. At the same time, the liberal media is as spineless as it is complicit with existing relations of power - more willing to compromise with right-wing ideology than exercising civic courage in searching for the truth and exposing the lies of normalizing power.
Hiding behind the mantle of balance and objectivism, the liberal media is incapable of a discriminating judgment and moral position and, increasingly, resembles a game show nervously repeating bad jokes, promoting sensationalist stories, emulating celebrity culture and garnering elevated ratings in order to lure in big money from advertisers.
Neoliberalism is once again imposing its values, social relations and forms of social death upon all aspects of civic life.(4) One consequence is that the United States has come to resemble a "suicidal state," where governments work to destroy their own defenses against anti-democratic forces;(5) or as Jacques Derrida has put it, such states offer no immunity against authoritarianism and in fact emulate "that strange behavior where a living being, in quasi-suicidal fashion 'itself' works to destroy its own protection, to immunize itself against its 'own' immunity ... What is put at risk by this terrifying autoimmunity logic," he grimly stated, "is nothing less than the existence of the world...."(6) Susan Searls Giroux follows up this logic with a series of important questions. She writes:
Since then, I've wondered about the troubling figure of societal suicide. How is it possible that a free and democratic society, precisely in the act of securing itself, or claiming to secure itself, could quicken its own demise? Where does the suicidal urge come from - is it a function of a deep, abiding illness in the collective psyche or a fleeting impulse linked to traumatic loss, or some imagined heroism? Is this really the future we face and, if so, how do we determine our degree of risk? Do we invoke the same assessment scale used for individual suicides? Gender, for example, is a factor; males are at greater risk, but how does one determine the gender of a society - by its masculinist inclination? Evidence of depression is another sign. Does one look to dips in the stock market or consumer confidence indices? Sales of anti-depressant medications? How about recent suicide attempts? Derrida describes the Cold War as a "first moment," a "first autoimmunity." Recent significant trauma or loss? Without question. Capacity for rational thinking lost? So it would seem. Little or no social support? Would loss of global support work here? Going down such a list, the signs don't look promising.
For over thirty years, the North American public has been reared on a neoliberal dystopian vision that legitimates itself through the largely unchallenged claim that there are no alternatives to a market-driven society, that economic growth should not be constrained by considerations of social costs or moral responsibility, that war is a permanent condition of society and that democracy and capitalism are virtually synonymous.
At the heart of this market-driven regime is materialist and instrumental rationality that sells off public goods and services to the highest bidders in the private sector, while simultaneously dismantling those public spheres, social protections and institutions serving the larger society. As economic power succeeds in detaching itself from government regulations, social costs and ethical considerations, a new global financial class reasserts the prerogatives of capital and systemically destroys those public spheres - including public and higher education - that traditionally advocated for social equality and an educated citizenry as the fundamental conditions for a viable democracy.
Susan Searls Girouxis a Professor in Ontario. Don't know if she is married to him, but in any case she seems qualified to comment.
Associate Dean, Faculty of Humanities
Very good article, by the way. Market fundamentalism is just as discredited as communism is in terms of ideology and its consequences for society, yet it does not die because a number of very powerful people and corporations make so much easy money out of it, and the end up influencing or even controlling the democratic process totally in their favor.
Look at this for example:
President Obama’s re-election campaign is straining to raise the huge sums it is counting on to run against Mitt Romney, with sharp dropoffs in donations from nearly every major industry forcing it to rely more than ever on small contributions and a relative handful of major donors.
From Wall Street to Hollywood, from doctors and lawyers, the traditional big sources of campaign cash are not delivering for the Obama campaign as they did four years ago. The falloff has left his fund-raising totals running behind where they were at the same point in 2008 — though well ahead of Mr. Romney’s — and has induced growing concern among aides and supporters as they confront the prospect that Republicans and their “super PAC” allies will hold a substantial advantage this fall.
With big checks no longer flowing as quickly into his campaign, Mr. Obama is leaning harder on his grass-roots supporters, whose small contributions make up well over half of the money he raised through the end of March, according to reports filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission. And Mr. Obama is asking far more of those large donors still giving, exploiting his joint fund-raising arrangement with the Democratic National Committee to collect five-figure checks from individuals who have already given the maximum $5,000 contribution to his re-election campaign.
“They clearly are feeling the pressure,” said one major Obama fund-raiser, who asked for anonymity to characterize his conversations with campaign officials. “They’re behind where they expected to be. You have to factor in $500 million-plus in Republican super PAC money.”