Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Henry's Abyss - The Curse of the Neoliberal Era

I suspect that there are moments when most of us wrestle to make sense of our world today. There are so many things going on from climate change to the collapse of biodiversity and ecological ruin to the failure of our political systems and institutions. WTF? Exactly.

Renowned American public intellectual and McMaster prof Henry Giroux offers some timely insights.
The signposts are clear. Across the globe, politicians spew out inordinate incitements of hatred and bigotry, while legitimating and often overtly supporting racism. Liberals cling to notions of freedom and liberty that ignore the power of capital to turn such terms into their opposite. The mainstream media measure the task of pursuing the truth against how their bottom line is affected. 
What has emerged out of this abyss of rising authoritarian power and its politics of depoliticization is the depredations of an updated version of fascist politics and the normalization of a rising tide of cruel and habituated ignorance. Habit normalized in a politics that destroys notions of informed agency and self-determination now merges ignorance and hatred. One result is the growing support for right-wing populism, which views individuals and populations displaced by global forces and deprived of the most basic means of existence — including food, shelter and pure water — with disdain and hatred.
...Right-wing populism offers a pseudo-democratic notion of politics in which matters of informed judgment, critical agency and collective action disappear into the symbol of the leader. In this discourse, politics becomes personalized in the image of the larger-than-life demagogue, removed from the alleged ignorance of the masses or “herd.”  ...Right-wing populism destroys everything that makes a genuine democratic politics possible
...right-wing populism builds upon and accentuates a long tradition of anti-democratic, neoliberal and racist tendencies that have been smoldering in the United States for decades. It eliminates critical thinking, undermines acts of civic courage, dismantles genuine collective action rooted in mass movements, suppresses democratic forms of opposition and crushes opponents. Its stark Hobbesian division between friends and enemies, unquestioning loyalty and democratic participation contains a propensity for violence rooted in its unforgiving politics of exclusion. The latter is especially troubling at a time in which violence has increasingly emerged and is accepted as a defining feature and organizing principle of politics, if not society itself. In this instance, the friend/enemy binary becomes all the more dangerous in a context where history is being erased and ignorance colludes with power to give rise to widening networks of oppression.
Trump makes this divisive feature central to his mode of governance. Putting forward coded assertions of white supremacy, Trump acts on a regressive notion of unity that relies on exclusion and a politics of disposability. According to Trump, “The only thing that matters is the unification of the people — because the other people don’t mean anything.” In Trump’s discourse, the call for unity has as its foundation the implication that all opposition is not only illegitimate but constitutes the terrain of the enemy. His notion of “the people” is reduced to a category that mimics the will of the leader whose image of the U.S. is as racist as it is anti-democratic in this deeply authoritarian discourse. The right-wing populist claim to exclusive power, representation and governance in the hands of the leader is not without its critical moments. For instance, right-wing populist leaders go out of their way to criticize globalization and the elite, but in doing so, they claim that only they can “represent the people” while putting policies into play that expand the power of the financial elite and their neoliberal imperatives, such as regressive tax cuts and the hollowing out of the welfare state.
Who will protect Canadians from this populist contagion? Will it be Justin Trudeau? No, not hardly. You'll have to look for a leader who understands the urgent need for democratic restoration, progressive democracy, while there may still be time. That, like it or not, begins with electoral reform something Trudeau promised and then jettisoned shortly after taking power.

We felt the scourge of our skewed electoral politics during the torment of the Harper years. We elected Trudeau in good measure on his promise to see that would never happen again. No more false majorities that so readily transform into autocracies. No, in future all voices would be heard, all would be represented. Only Junior never had the guts, the courage, the decency to fulfill his promise. And, in reneging on that solemn  promise, Trudeau ensured we would still be vulnerable to the next rightwing populist who came along. 


the salamander said...

.. in my non humble opinion.. people incorrectly attribute 'clever Trevor thinking' to people like Trump or Scheer or even Trudeau or Doug Ford, or in the distant past ms Redford or Christy Clark.. Well, the Boss here suggests it more just 'we don't care' 'so why would they notice' attitude.. You know.. the car won't start cuz I left the headlights on.. and that's what drives the morning activity.. ie waiting on a jump start.. cuz you don't like or know your neighbors who might have a set o jumper cables.... She probably right, usually is.. 'Honey.. why did huge sparks come from the battery.. and why did you mention being negative or positive ?'

Three doors over.. do they know or care or differentiate John Bolton from Lisa Raitt ? Donald Trump or Michelle Rempel or Rumplestiltskin ? Palestine.. Israel or ice cream .. Do they have pistachio ? Lotsa people are focussed on setting their TV and recorder for Game of Thrones or Days of our Lives.. not on the fantasy of Jason Kenney or a writ being dropped.. (Hint - they won't bother to vote..) The boreal does not interest them, they have zero idea what a caribou is.. or a Chinook. whether it has fins, a rotor.. or comes from over the Rockies.. its probably a minor league hockey team from Minnesotta.. or a new fizzy drink

Instead of trying to awaken people.. or educate em.. we need to accept what % of the population think mankind plowed the prairie earth behind a team of dinosaurs.. Andrew Scheer being one of those folks. He's of the same christian faith as Mrs Jane Philpott.. but has a brain one tenth (just me being generous) or one 50th the size .. and none of the heart n soul she has proven via her charitable actions and extreme sacrifice in Africa.. while he loafed as a Harper slug.. and jumped into a 'safe riding' behind his Saskatchewan wife's skirts.. What a champ eh ?

All this while Jason Kenney was purportedly hiding out in his mommy's basement as lrincipal residence.. Meanwhile, John Baird was advancing Tony the social media weanie wagger Clement 50 million taxpayer dinero.. and ooopsy they both lost track .. it was for 'border security'.. and a coupla gazebos and one fake lake later.. the money vanished.. followed later by John Baird who vanished too..

No wonder people's eyes glaze over & they don't vote.. its like 'why' ?? Like why vote for Moreau ? He gots a chalet in France.. he's a zillionaire.. and married a woman with 10,000 times the money he's got.. Its pathetic who we can 'attract' to politics.. or protecting OUR environment.. or defending Old Age Security.. Nope, we get the Doug Fords, the Kenneys, the Christys, the Ray Novaks.. and people tune out

The Mound of Sound said...

I read an item in today's Guardian. Their journo traveled to a small town in the northern midlands to speak to the locals about Brexit. He found that most were still remainers or leavers. Few had changed their minds. But fewer still cared any more. Three years was too long. Their interest had dissolved, evaporated. They were worn down and had no remaining enthusiasm. Imagine how easy they would be to exploit in that diminished state. Do whatever you like. No one has the will any longer to take to the streets with pitchforks and torches.

I'm beginning to agree with Shawn Rosenberg (next post) that we have become so dumbed down that our brains can no longer handle self-rule. We spurn the 'hard work' that democracy demands of the voting public.

When I started this blog I dedicated it to "the restoration of progressive democracy." I still yearn for that. Trudeau dangled it in front of our eyes with his promise of electoral reform only like Lucy and Charlie Brown to pull the football once he was elected.

Progressive democracy places the public ahead of corporate and other special interests. The neoliberal order of Trudeau and Scheer treats them as indistinguishable and, by blurring the distinctions, inevitably chooses power "in the name of the people" - horse shit. Now we're seeing that it's more than a bad smell but corrosive of what remains of our democracy.

Trailblazer said...

I think we can see why the holocaust happened with little resistance.


John B. said...

Enter the "Closed-Border Libertarian". A new generation of disturbed teenagers eagerly awaits the revisions to the primer.

Anonymous said...

Canada's democracy will save us from populism. Since we don't have it, we don't have to worry.

I know I feel safe with the High Born ruling from above the fray of the ignorant commoners. People believe in silly things like conspiracy theories, God and racism. But we know the wealthy put the public good above their own self interest. They are our Benevolent Rulers, faithful and true!

The UK, which also eschews democracy, made a HUGE mistake allowing the people to have a say on the UK remaining in the EU. The people are too dumb to have a say in such important matters! Only corporations can understand what is good for business. And anyone who's anyone, knows what's good for business is good for the people!

In order to destroy fascism, we must put an end to democracy once and for all!