a call for resistance
AUTHORITARIANISM IN AMERICA
HENRY A. GIROUX
A. Giroux currently holds the Global TV Network Chair
Professorship at McMaster University in the English and Cultural
Studies Department and a Distinguished Visiting Professorship
at Ryerson University. He is the author of more than 50 books
including The Educational Deficit and the War on Youth
Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism.
Many of his essays, including The Spectacle of Illiteracy, appear
on his website at www.henryagiroux.com.
His interview with Bill
Moyers is must viewing.
have now entered into one of the most sickening and dangerous
periods of the 21st century. Trump is not only a twisted caricature
of every register of economic, political, educational and social
extremism, he is the apogee of a warrior culture committed to
rolling back civil rights, women’s reproductive rights,
denying the threat of climate change and mocking, if not threatening,
all vestiges of economic justice and democracy. As David Remnick
pointed out in The New Yorker, “he is nothing
less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for
the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and
abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny and racism.
Actually, it gets worse. Trump is the fascist shadow that has
been lurking in the dark since Nixon’s Southern Strategy.
A ghostly reminder of the price to be paid when historical consciousness
and public values are lost in a culture of immediacy, ignorance
and a flight from social and political responsibility.
has now become viral in America, spreading its toxic ideology
into every facet of American life. The threat of totalitarianism
with its legions of alt-right political zombies has now exposed
itself, without apology, knowing full well that it no longer
has to code or apologize for its hatred of all those who do
not fit into its white-supremacist and ultra-nationalist script.
America tipping over into authoritarianism, we have learned
that liberalism sabotaged itself as it morphed into third-way
market-driven economic and political policies, transforming
itself into nothing more than an ugly corpse decomposing on
the national and global landscape. Its commitment to corporate
power and the financial elite has helped to provoke a wave of
unchecked anger among the dispossessed, which Trump has tapped
into in order to turn misfortune into hatred. In doing so, he
has helped to undermine the most sacred democratic ideals and
has pushed America into a mirror image of those European countries,
which have been transformed into gated sites of social abandonment
for refugees and a Petri dish for right-wing extremists.
have also learned that the economic crisis and the misery neoliberalism
has spurned has not been matched by an ideological crisis, a
crisis of ideas, education and values. In part, that is because
the left and progressives have not taken education seriously
enough as central to the meaning of politics. Without an informed
public, there is no resistance in the name of democracy and
course, power is never entirely on the side of domination, and
in this coming era of acute repression, we will have to redefine
politics, reclaim the struggle to educate, change individual
and collective consciousness, engage in meaningful dialogue
with people left out of the political landscape, and build broad
based social movements. There are hints of this happening among
youth of colour and we need to be attentive to these struggles.
is a time for those who believe in democracy to both talk back
and fight back. It will not be easy but it can happen and there
are historical precedents for this. The main vehicle of change
and political agency has to be young people. They are the beacon
of the future and we have to learn from them, support them,
contribute where possible, and join in their struggles.
lights are going out in America and in many European countries
and the time to wake up from this nightmare is today. Forget
depression, look ahead, get energized, read, build alternative
public spheres, and learn how to hold power accountable. There
are no guarantees in politics, but there is no politics that
matters without hope, that is, educated hope. What is happening
in the United States can happen in any country, including Canada.
America’s move into authoritarianism is a warning for
all of us, regardless of where we live.