Sunday, August 18, 2013
Charting America's (And Our Own) Descent Into Madness
He's one of the most under-celebrated sages of this era but that doesn't stop American Henry Giroux from dispensing invaluable pearls of wisdom and insight. He currently is Chair in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster. Perhaps from Canada he's able to more clearly chart his native land's descent into madness.
The issue of who gets to define the future, own the nation’s wealth, shape the reach of state resources, control of the global flows of goods and humans, and invest in institutions that educate an engaged and socially responsible citizens has become largely invisible. And yet these are precisely these issues that offer up new categories for defining how matters of representations, education, economic justice, and politics are to be defined and fought over. The stories told by corporate liars and crooks do serious harm to the body politic, and the damage they cause together with the idiocy they reinforce are becoming more apparent as America descends into authoritarianism, accompanied by the pervasive fear and paranoia that sustains it.
It is genuinely painful to read this, mainly because it is so true and because the social contagions of America eventually spread north. Our FinMin, Jimbo "The Gnome" Flaherty, entertains top Canadian CEOs at a retreat every summer where they deliver their wish lists that are invariably anchored on the notion of staying competitive with the Americans which is a twisted form of "keeping up with the Joneses." If America shreds its social safety net, so too must Canada in the name of remaining competitive. If America skews its tax code to the benefit of the richest of the rich, so too must Canada in the name of competitiveness. If America tolerates rampant inequality, so too must Canada. As long as it's masked in the guise of competitiveness it is just and right somehow.
We need to see it as a lung cancer patient persisting in a pack-a-day habit. Should we then take up a pack-a-day habit - in the name of competitiveness, of course? Yet this is what appeals to our social darwinist prime minister's every instinct. It is the rancid marrow that fills his bones.
Would that Henry Giroux was writing policy for Tom Mulcair or Trudeau the Lesser. For we need minds like Giroux's to inform our political conscience, to rehabilitate our collective sensibilities. We need every Giroux we can find that we might finally wake up to the war that is being waged against us and understand what we can and must do to fight back.