Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 20, No. 5, 2021
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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Bernard Dubé
  Contributing Editors
David Solway
Louis René Beres
Nick Catalano
Lynda Renée
Gary Olson
Howard Richler
Oslavi Linares
Jordan Adler
Andrew Hlavacek
Daniel Charchuk
  Music Editors
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Chantal Levesque Denis Beaumont
Emanuel Pordes
  Past Contributors
  Noam Chomsky
Mark Kingwell
Naomi Klein
Arundhati Roy
Evelyn Lau
Stephen Lewis
Robert Fisk
Margaret Somerville
Mona Eltahawy
Michael Moore
Julius Grey
Irshad Manji
Richard Rodriguez
Navi Pillay
Ernesto Zedillo
Pico Iyer
Edward Said
Jean Baudrillard
Bill Moyers
Barbara Ehrenreich
Leon Wieseltier
Nayan Chanda
Charles Lewis
John Lavery
Tariq Ali
Michael Albert
Rochelle Gurstein
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward




Henry 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 and Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism. Many of his essays, including The Spectacle of Illiteracy, appear on his website at His interview with Bill Moyers is must viewing. He was recently named one of the century's 50 most significant contributors to the debate on education.


YOUR COMMENTSManufactured ignorance now thrives in a world of interlacing disasters. This age of consuming catastrophes is part and parcel of an age in which the distinction between the truth and falsehoods is under assault by the rise of right-wing extremists and a conservative media empire. As Niko Block has observed, “the forces of reactionary bigotry are now more powerful than any of us had predicted.” In a time of pandemics and economic and political plagues, there has been an acceleration of lies, conspiracy theories, fear, dread and anxiety adding to the surge of civic illiteracy, a disdain for reason, and a return of anti-democratic ideologies and policies.

Times have changed. Instead of having too much democracy, the current historical moment is being framed by the call to eliminate it altogether. Under the growing influence of ultranationalists, climate change deniers and voter suppression advocates, such as most members of the Republican Party in the United States, the ideological winds of the moment call for replacing the ideal and promise of democracy with the dictates of authoritarian nationalism, white supremacy and an attack on any version of critical thinking — now dismissed as unpatriotic.

Manufactured ignorance is the new face of submission and the ongoing flight from political and social responsibility. Misinformation has become a new form of necropolitics spreading fear, lies, anxiety and scapegoating — most obvious in the spiraling deaths brought on in part by the bungling Trump leadership in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Social media has turned poisonous and dangerous in tracking our needs, interests, desires and politics while spreading false information that aligns individual and collective consciousness with the forces of an upgraded authoritarianism.

For instance, right-wing social media endlessly stokes vaccine resistance among a wide array of conservatives, religious fundamentalists and rural Americans, indifferent to the tragic amount suffering and deaths such messages both legitimate and produce.

Manufactured ignorance merges with a hideous batch of bigoted and hateful emotions that surge through millions of Americans like an electric current. As David Frum argues, “Pro-Trump America has decided that vaccine refusal is a statement of identity and a test of loyalty.” Politics is no longer simply a struggle over economic institutions and power relations; it is also a struggle over consciousness, ideas, identity and agency.

The current historical era has witnessed an accelerating merger of culture, power and social media, which has contributed to the development of new social formations that produce tsunamis of misleading information, amounting to what the World Health Organization has labeled “infodemics.” In this instance, media ecospheres and disimagination machines have created among large segments of the public a flight from critical thought and social responsibility. This is further accentuated by a type of appalling silence and refusal to speak up on the part of many politicians in the face of widespread misery and suffering that endlessly and needlessly repeats itself. Infodemics obscure the connection between damaging social relations and the configurations of power that shape them. This is a failure of the public imagination. As private interests trump the public good, public spaces are corroded and short-term personal advantage and a regressive notion of freedom devoid of social responsibility replace any larger notion of civic justice. Infodemics make it more difficult for the public to imagine alternative futures, as horizons of possibility begin to disappear.

Popular culture now in the hands of a limited number of corporations has turned toxic in the U.S., and given the global reach of social media, threatens Canada as well. The plague of manufactured ignorance emerging from a political arena is now largely defined by popular culture and powerful right-wing media. In the age of the spectacle, the tools of education and critical thinking must be elevated to the centre of politics.

What is needed is a revitalized movement to reclaim the language of a substantive democracy, one dedicated to the creation of visions, ideals, institutions, social relations and forms of collective resistance that enable the public to imagine a life beyond a social order in which racial, class and-gender-based violence produce endless assaults on the environment, manufactured ignorance and a culture of cruelty. Education is the basis of politics, and the formative culture it produces is the sphere where people become either politically literate or civically illiterate. To forget this is to give the far right an upper hand in the culture war that might be impossible to reverse. The stakes are much too high to allow this to happen.

By Henry Giroux:
Racial Cleansing and Erasing History
Plague of Historical Amnesia
Recovering from Trumpism
Tribute to Noam Chomsky
The Ouster of Trump
White Supremacy in the Offal Office
The Plague of Inequity
Covid and our Embattled Society
Trump and the Corona Death Waltz
Neoliberal Fascism
The Terror Unforseen
Interview of H.A.Giroux
The Normalization of Fascism
The Public Intellectual II
Bertrand Russell: Public Intellectual
Thinking Dangerously in Dark Times
Democracy in Exile
Authoritarianism in America
Violence: US Favourite Pastime
Losing in Trump's America
In Dark Times Teachers Matter
The Age of Civic Illiteracy
Exile and Disruption in the Academy
What Society Produces a Donald Trump
From School to the Prison Pipeline
Orwell & Huxely
American Sniper and Hollywood Heroism
Selfie Culture
The Age of Disposability
In the Shadow of the Atomic Bomb
Killing Machines and the Madness of the Military
The Age of Neoliberal Cruelty
The Politics of the Deep State
Challenging Casino Capitalism
Crisis in Democracy
America's Descent into Madness




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