Progressive Calendar 03.13.08
From: David Shove (
Date: Thu, 13 Mar 2008 03:10:33 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    03.13.08

1. Peace & war        3.13 11:30am-9pm
2. Digital inequality 3.13 4pm
3. McKinney/Cavlan    3.13 6:30pm

4. Women's rights     3.14 5pm
5. Alt to violence    3.14 6pm
6. Moyers/corruption  3.14 9pm

7. Henry Giroux - Slouching towards Bethlehem: The new gilded age

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From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Peace & war 3.13 11:30am-9pm

Thursday, 3/13, 11:30 am to 9 pm, Peace and War in the Heartland presents
a Mock Draft Lottery at 11:45, "The Rhetoric of War and Peace" with
Nonviolent Peaceforce's Pat Keefe, Honeywell Project's Marv Davidov,
former FBI agent Coleen Rowley and Vet for Peace Chante Wolf at 1:30, "The
Sacrament of Civil Resistance" with former CEO of Friends for a Nonviolent
World Phil Steger and MN 8 Frank Kroncke at 3:30, "Demonstration in Our
Own Backyard: the RNC" with Dennis Dillon of the Peace Island Project,
College of St Catherine, Rauenhorst Hall, 2004 Randolph Ave, St Paul.
drweiss [at] or

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From: Jeff Hartman <hartm152 [at]>
Subject: Digital inequality 3.13 4pm

"The Digital Reproduction of Inequality": A talk with Eszter Hargittai
Thursday, March 13, 4:00 pm
Institute for Advanced Study, 125 Nolte Center
315 Pillsbury Dr. SE, Minneapolis

The growing diffusion of information technologies influences people's life
chances and raises questions as to their ability to appropriate digital
media for their empowerment. Based on original data the talk will look at
disparities in people's Internet uses, skills and participation. Eszter
Hargittai is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies and
Sociology, and Faculty Associate of the Institute for Policy Research at
Northwestern University where she heads the Web-Use Project at .

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From: DoriJJ [at]
Subject: McKinney/Cavlan 3.13 6:30pm

Thursday, March 13,  2008
will be presented at Painter Park Community Center
corner of Lyndale Ave. & 34th Street

beginning at 6:30pm
With an introduction by Michael Cavlan, Candidate for US Senate 2008

This documentary is about the manipulations of our votes in the 2006
elections featuring the voice of Representative Cynthia McKinney, former
US Representative from Georgia.  Cynthia McKinney, a member of the Green
Party is now a candidate for the office of President of the United States.

The documentary is an eye opener that is a must see for anyone hoping to
preserve democracy in this nation.

We would like to see those from all points of the metro area who vote.

For further information please contact: --Dori Ullman
  _dorijj [at] aol.com_ (mailto:dorijj [at]

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From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Women's rights 3.14 5pm

March 14: Women's Human Rights Program at Advocates for Human Rights
Fundraiser. 5-7 PM with Special Guest: Robin Morgan, keynote speaker for
the 13th Annual International Women's Day Celebration on March 15. At the
home of Ruth Usem, 4700 W. Lake Harriet Pkwy, Mpls.

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From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Alt to violence 3.14 6pm

3/14 (6 pm) to 3/16 (5 pm), basic level Alternatives to Violence Workshop,
Hennepin County Men's Workhouse, 1145 Shenandoah Lane, Plymouth.
avperika [at] or

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From: t r u t h o u t <messenger [at]>
Subject: Moyers/corruption 3.14 9pm

Bill Moyers Journal | Government Waste
This week, the Bill Moyers Journal, "looks at waste, fraud and abuse of
power in Washington with an examination of the scandals investigated by
Congress's Committee on Oversight and Government Reform."

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Slouching Towards Bethlehem
The New Gilded Age and Neoliberalism's Theater of Cruelty
by Henry Giroux / March 11th, 2008
Dissident Voice

One of the distinctive features of the modern American right has been
nostalgia for the late 19th century, with its minimal taxation, absence of
regulation and reliance on faith-based charity rather than government
social programs. Conservatives from Milton Friedman to Grover Norquist
have portrayed the Gilded Age as a golden age, dismissing talk of the
era.s injustice and cruelty as a left-wing myth. Well, in at least one
respect, everything old is new again. Income inequality - which began
rising at the same time that modern conservatism began gaining political
power - is now fully back to Gilded Age levels.
  - Paul Krugman1

What is often ignored by many theorists who analyze the rise of
neoliberalism in the United States is that it is not only a system of
economic power relations, but also a political project of governing and
persuasion intent on producing new forms of subjectivity and particular
modes of conduct.2 In addressing the absence of what can be termed the
cultural politics and public pedagogy of neoliberalism, I want to begin
with a theoretical insight provided by the British media theorist, Nick
Couldry, who insists that "every system of cruelty requires its own
theatre," one that draws upon the rituals of everyday life in order to
legitimate its norms, values, institutions, and social practices.3
Neoliberalism represents one such a system of cruelty, one that is
reproduced daily through a regime of commonsense and a narrow notion of
political rationality that "reaches from the soul of the citizen-subject
to educational policy to practices of empire".4

What is new about neoliberalism in a post-9/11 world is that it has become
normalized, serving as a powerful pedagogical force that shapes our lives,
memories, and daily experiences, while attempting to erase everything
critical and emancipatory about history, justice, solidarity, freedom, and
the meaning of democracy.

Wedded to the belief that the market should be the organizing principle
for all political, social, and economic decisions, neoliberalism wages an
incessant attack on democracy, public institutions, public goods, and
non-commodified values. Under neoliberalism everything either is for sale
or is plundered for profit. Public lands are looted by logging companies
and corporate ranchers; politicians willingly hand the public.s airwaves
over to broadcasters and large corporate interests without a dime going
into the public trust; corporations drive the nation's energy policies,
and the war industries give war profiteering a new meaning as the
government hands out contracts without any competitive bidding; the
largesse of government is then rewarded when the latter is bilked for
millions by the same companies; the environment is polluted and despoiled
in the name of profit-making just as the government passes legislation to
make it easier for corporations to do so; public services are gutted in
order to lower the taxes of major corporations; schools increasingly
resemble malls or jails and teachers, forced to raise revenue for
classroom materials, increasingly function as circus barkers hawking
everything from hamburgers to pizza parties - that is, when they are not
reduced to prepping students to get higher test scores. The neoliberal
economy with its relentless pursuit of market values now extends to the
entirety of human relations. As markets are touted as the driving force of
everyday life, big government is disparaged as either incompetent or a
threat to individual freedom, suggesting that power should reside in
markets and corporations rather than in governments and citizens.
Citizenship has increasingly become a function of market values and
politics has been restructured as "corporations have been increasingly
freed from social control through deregulation, privatization, and other
neoliberal measures".5

Fortunately, the corporate capitalist fairytale of neoliberalism has been
challenged all over the globe by students, labor organizers,
intellectuals, community activists, and a host of individuals and groups
unwilling to allow democracy to be bought and sold by a combination of
multinational corporations, corporate swindlers, international political
institutions, and those government politicians who willingly align
themselves with corporate interests and profits. From Seattle to Davos,
people engaged in popular resistance are collectively taking up the
challenge of neoliberalism and reviving both the meaning of resistance and
the places where it comes about. Political culture is now global and
resistance is amorphous, connecting students with workers, school teachers
with parents, and intellectuals with artists. Groups protesting the attack
on farmers in India whose land is being destroyed by the government in
order to build dams now find themselves in alliance with young people
resisting sweatshop labor in New York City. Environmental activists are
joining up with key sections of organized labor as well as with groups
protesting Third World debt. The collapse of the neoliberal showcase,
Argentina, along with numerous corporate bankruptcies and scandals
starting with Enron, reveals the cracks in neoliberal hegemony and
domination. In Latin America, a new wave of resistance to negative
globalization and neoliberal structural adjustment policies has emerged
among countries such as Chile, Peru, Argentina, and Venezuela.6 [All hail
them - ed]

In addition, the multiple forms of resistance against neoliberal
capitalism are not limited by an identity politics focused on
particularized rights and interests. On the contrary, a politics of
identity politics has been expanded to address a broader crisis of
political culture and democracy that connects the militarization and
corporatization of public life with the collapse of the welfare state and
the attack on civil liberties. Central to these new movements is the
notion that neoliberalism has to be understood within a larger crisis of
vision, meaning, education, and political agency. Democracy in this view
is not limited to the struggle over economic resources and power; indeed,
it also includes the creation of public spheres where individuals can be
educated as political agents equipped with the skills, capacities and
knowledge they need to perform as autonomous political agents. I want to
expand the reaches of this debate by arguing that any form of resistance
against neoliberalism must address the discourses of political agency,
civic education, and cultural politics as part of a broader struggle over
the relationship between democratization (the ongoing struggle for a
substantive and inclusive democracy) and the global public sphere.

We live at a time when the conflation of private interests, empire
building, and evangelical fundamentalism puts into question the very
nature, if not existence, of the democratic process. Under the reign of
neoliberalism, capital and wealth have been largely distributed upward
while civic virtue has been undermined by a slavish celebration of the
free market as the model for organizing all facets of everyday life.
Political culture has been increasingly emptied of democratic values as
collective life is organized around the modalities of privatization,
risks, deregulation, and commercialization. When the alleged champions of
neoliberalism invoke politics, they substitute "ideological certainty for
reasonable doubt" and deplete "the national reserves of political
intelligence" just as they endorse "the illusion that the future can be
bought instead of earned".7

Under attack is the social contract in which people were bound together,
not as individuals expressing themselves only through the market place but
as citizens who had obligations to one another. What neoliberalism
undermines is a social contract bound to enlarging the public good,
protecting the public values, and expanding social provisions - such as
access to adequate health care, housing, employment, public
transportation, and education - that put into place a limited though
important safety net and a set of conditions upon which democracy could be
experienced and critical citizenship engaged. It has been replaced with a
notion of national security based on fear, surveillance, and control
rather than with a culture of shared responsibility. Self-reflection and
collective empowerment are now reduced to self-promotion, and
self-interest, and legitimated by a new and ruthless social Darwinism
played out nightly on network television as a metaphor for the
"naturalness" of downsizing, the celebration of hyper-masculinity, and the
promotion of an unchecked notion of self-interest and individualism over
even the most limited notions of solidarity and collective struggle.
Neoliberalism with its celebration of markets, finance, and investors
"requires a new belief in the future . . . the time of investment is now.
The future must be lived in the present".8

Under neoliberal domestic restructuring and the foreign policy initiatives
of the Washington Consensus, motivated by an evangelical belief in
free-market democracy at home and free trade abroad, the United States in
the last thirty years has witnessed the increasing obliteration of those
discourses, social forms, public institutions, and non-commercial values
that are central to the language of the common good, public commitment,
and democratically charged politics. Civic engagement now appears impotent
as corporations privatize public space and disconnect power from issues of
equity, social justice, and civic responsibility. Proceeding outside of
democratic accountability, neoliberalism has allowed a handful of private
interests to control as much of social life as possible in order to
maximize their personal profit.

Abroad, neoliberal global policies have been used to pursue rapacious free
trade agreements and expand Western financial and commercial interests
through the heavy-handed policies of the World Bank, the World Trade
Organization, and the International Monetary Fund in order to manage and
transfer resources and wealth from the poor and less developed nations to
the richest and most powerful nation states and to the wealthy, corporate
defenders of capitalism.9 Third world and semi-peripheral states of Latin
America, Africa, and Asia have become client states of the wealthy nations
led by the United States. Loans made to the client states by banks and
other financial institutions have produced severe dislocations and
consequences for "social welfare programs such as health care, education,
and laws establishing labor standards".10

For example, the restrictions that the IMF and World Bank impose on
countries as a condition for granting loans not only impose capitalist
values, they also undermine the very possibility of an inclusive and
substantive democracy. The results have been disastrous and can be seen
both in the economic collapse of countries such as Nigeria and in the fact
that "one third of the world's labor force - more than a billion people -
are unemployed or underemployed".11 Tracking twenty-six countries that
received loans from the World Bank and the IMF, The Multinational Monitor
spelled out the conditions that accompanied such loans:

[C]ivil service downsizing; [p]rivatization of government-owned
enterprises, with layoffs required in advance of privatization and
frequently following privatization; [p]romotion of labor flexibility .
regulatory changes to remove restrictions on the ability of government and
private employers to fire or lay off workers; [m]andated wage reductions,
minimum wage reductions or containment, and spreading the wage gap between
government employees and managers; and [p]ension reforms, including
privatization, that cut social security benefits for workers.12

At home, corporations increasingly not only design the economic sphere but
also shape legislation and policy affecting all levels of government, and
with limited opposition. As corporate power lays siege to the political
process, the benefits flow to the rich and the powerful. Included in such
benefits are reform policies that shift the burden of taxes from the rich
to the middle class, the working poor, and state governments as can be
seen in the shift from taxes on wealth (capital gains, dividends, and
estate taxes) to a tax on work, principally in the form of a regressive
payroll tax. During the 2002-2004 fiscal period, tax cuts delivered $197.3
billion in tax breaks to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans (i.e.,
households making more than $337,000 a year) while state governments
increased taxes to fill a $200 billion budget deficit.13 Equally alarming,
a recent congressional study revealed that 63 percent of all corporations
in 2000 paid no taxes while "[s]ix in ten corporations reported no tax
liability for the five years from 1996 through 2000, even though corporate
profits were growing at record-breaking levels during that period".14

While the rich get huge tax cuts, the Pentagon is spending about "$6
billion a month on the war in Iraq or about $2 million a day".15

Moreover, as part of an ongoing effort to destroy public entitlements, the
Bush administration has reduced government-provided services, income, and
health care; in addition, it has implemented cuts in Medicare and veterans
benefits as well as trimmed back or eliminated funds for programs for
children and for public housing. Neoliberal global policies also further
the broader cultural project of privatizing social services through
appeals to "personal responsibility as the proper functions of the state
are narrowed, tax and wage costs in the economy are cut, and more social
costs are absorbed by civil society and the family".16

The hard currency of human suffering permeates the social order as health
care costs rise, one out of five children remain beneath the poverty line,
and 47 million Americans bear the burden of lacking health insurance. In
2007, President Bush vetoed legislation that would have provided an
additional and much needed $35 billion to the highly successful and
popular State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-chip). Bush's
justification ranged from silly - as when he claimed the whole issue was a
media myth - to the more transparent and ideologically driven argument
that the program would expand - socialized-type medicine,- interfere with
private insurance, and cost too much.

Actually, the costs for the bill would have come from levying a
61-cents-a-pack increase in the federal excise tax on cigarettes and other
tobacco products, providing a further disincentive for smokers.17

Moreover, the program run by insurers, doctors, and nurses who deliver the
services. This bill would have provided health insurance for 3.8 million
children from low-income families who are currently uninsured. Besides a
veto, the Bush administration offers no alternative program to address the
plight of the nine million children uninsured and the millions
underinsured. What becomes clear in this egregious act of presidential
incompetence and moral indifference is that Bush the unflappable
neoliberal warrior was willing to sacrifice the health of millions of poor
children as part of his relentless attempts to destroy all vestiges of the
welfare state and promote his pro-corporate, market-based

Draining the public treasury of funds and disparaging the social state
does more than result in failed governance, it also puts people's lives at
risk, as was obvious in the government's recent failure to provide decent
care at Walter Reed Hospital for wounded soldiers returning from the wars
in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the same time that it starves public programs
and services, neoliberalism becomes complicitous with the transformation
of the democratic state into a national security state that repeatedly
uses its military and political power to develop a daunting police state
and military-prison-education-industrial complex to punish workers, stifle
dissent, and undermine the political power of labor unions and progressive
social movements.

With its debased belief that profit-making is the essence of democracy,
and its definition of citizenship as an energized plunge into consumerism,
neoliberalism loosens or eliminates government regulation of market
forces, celebrates a ruthless competitive individualism, and places the
commanding political, cultural, and economic institutions of society in
the hands of powerful corporate interests, the privileged, and unrepentant
religious bigots.

Within the discourse of neoliberalism, democracy becomes synonymous with
free markets while issues of equality, social justice, and freedom are
stripped of any substantive meaning and used to disparage those who suffer
systemic deprivation and chronic punishment. Individual misfortune, like
democracy itself, is now viewed either as an excess or as being in need of
radical containment. The media, largely consolidated through corporate
power, routinely provide a platform for high profile right-wing pundits
and politicians to remind us of how degenerate the poor have become
reinforcing the central neoliberal tenet that all problems are private
rather than social in nature.

Conservative columnist Ann Coulter captures the latter sentiment with a
cruel vengeance with her comment that "[i]nstead of poor people with hope
and possibility, we now have a permanent underclass of aspiring criminals
knifing one another between having illegitimate children and collecting
welfare checks".19 Radio talk show host Michael Savage also exemplifies
the unabashed racism and fanaticism that emerge under a neoliberal regime
in which ethics and justice appear beside the point. Buttressed by a right
wing media culture in which 91 percent of political talk radio is
conservative20, Savage routinely refers to non-white countries as "turd
world nations," homosexuality as a "perversion" and young children who are
victims of gunfire as "ghetto slime".21

As Fredric Jameson argues in The Seeds of Time, it has now become easier
to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.22 The
breathless rhetoric of the global victory of free-market rationality
spewed forth by the mass media, right-wing intellectuals, and governments
alike, has found its material expression in both in an all-out attack on
democratic values and in the growth of a range of social problems,
including virulent and persistent poverty, joblessness, inadequate health
care, racial apartheid in the inner cities, and the increasing
inequalities between the rich and the poor. Such issues appear to have
been either removed from the inventory of public discourse and social
policy or factored into talk-show spectacles in which the public becomes
merely a staging area for venting private interests and emotions.

Within the discourse of neoliberalism that has taken hold of the public
imagination, it becomes increasingly more difficult to talk about what is
fundamental to civic life, critical citizenship, and a substantive
democracy. In its dubious appeals to universal laws, neutrality, and
selective scientific research, neoliberalism "eliminates the very
possibility of critical thinking, without which democratic debate becomes
impossible".23 Hence, neoliberal policies that promote the cutthroat
downsizing of the workforce, bleeding of social services, reduction of
state governments to police precincts, the ongoing liquidation of job
security, the increasing elimination of a decent social wage, the creation
of a society of low-skilled workers, and the emergence of a culture of
permanent insecurity and fear hide behind appeals to common sense and
alleged immutable laws of nature.

When and where such nakedly ideological appeals strain both reason and
imagination, religious faith is invoked to silence dissension. Society is
now defended not as a space to nurture the most fundamental values and
relations necessary to a democracy but rather as an ideological and
political sphere "where religious fundamentalism comes together with
market fundamentalism to form the ideology of American supremacy".24

Similarly, American imperial ambitions have been legitimated by public
relations intellectuals as part of the responsibilities of empire
building, now celebrated as a civilizing process for the rest of the
globe. A culture of force buttressed by notions of "full spectrum
dominance" and a permanent war on terror are not seen to function "in the
service of spreading liberty and democracy".25

Neo-conservatives join hands with neoliberals and religious
fundamentalists in broadcasting to the rest of the globe an American
triumphalism in which the United States is arrogantly defined as "[t]he
greatest of all great powers in world history".26 Money, profits, and fear
have become powerful ideological elements in arguing for opening up new
markets and closing down the possibility of dissent at home. In such a
scenario, a new kind of coercive state emerges as "authorized power is
[sanctioned as the only type of] credible . . . [and] state appeals to
fear [become] the only effective basis for obedience".27 This becomes
clear not only in the passage of repressive laws such as the USA PATRIOT
Act and the Military Commissions Act of 2006, but also in the work of
prominent neoconservatives such as David Frum and Richard Pearle who
without any irony intended insist that "[a] free society is not an
un-policed society. A free society is self-policed society".28 In what
could only be defined as an Adam Smith joins George Orwell in a religious
cult in California scenario, markets have become sacrosanct temples to be
protected while citizens-turned-Army-of-God are urged to spy on one other
and dissent is increasingly criminalized.29 At the same time, democratic
politics is increasingly derailed by the intersection of a free-market
fundamentalism and an escalating militarism.30 The consequences can be
seen in the commercialization of vibrant public spheres and the attack on
civil liberties; it is also evident in the growing militarization at home
and abroad organized around the perpetuation of an obsessive culture of
fear and the unbridled economic claims of empire, most obvious in the
occupation of Iraq. The demise of democracy is further revealed in the
policy of anti-terrorism practiced by the Bush administration that mimics
the very terrorism it wishes to eliminate. Hypocrisy reaches a new level
of obscenity as President Bush declares the United States does not torture
and then proceeds to veto a bill making torture illegal. Not only does
this policy of all-embracing anti-terrorism exhaust itself in a discourse
of moral absolutes, militarism, revenge, and public acts of denunciation,
it also strips community of democratic values by configuring politics in
religious terms and defining every citizen and inhabitant of the United
States as a potential terrorist. Politics becomes empty as citizens are
reduced to obedient recipients of power, content to follow orders, while
shaming those who make power accountable. Under the dictates of a
pseudo-patriotism, dissent is stifled in the face of a growing racism that
condemns Arabs and people of color as less than civilized. The ongoing
refusal of the American government to address with any degree of
self-criticism or humanity the torture and violation of human rights
exercised by American soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq offers a case
in point.31 In light of the revelation of the most grotesque brutality,
racism, and inhumanity exhibited by American soldiers against Arab
prisoners captured on camera and video, powerful right-wing politicians
and pundits such as Rush Limbaugh and Cal Thomas initially defended such
actions as a way for young men to either "blow some steam off," engage in
a form of harmless frat hazing, or give Muslim prisoners what they
deserve. It gets worse. Commentators such as Newt Gingrich and Republican
Senator James Inhofe went so far as to suggest that calling attention to
such crimes not only undermined troop morale in Iraq but was also
unpatriotic. That argument seems to have some credibility in the highest
reaches of government since as of 2007 no high ranking official has been
legally charged with a crime. Defending torture and gross sexual
humiliations by U.S. troops in Saddam's old jails is not merely
insensitive political posturing, it is, more tellingly, indicative of how
far the leadership of this country has strayed from any semblance of
democracy. As a New York Times editorial pointed out in October 2007, the
Bush administration turned the United States into a "nation that tortures
human beings and then concocts legal sophistries to confuse the world and
avoid accountability before American voters". The editorial goes on to
state that, "President Bush and his aides have not only condoned torture
and abuse at secret prisons..[whose techniques were] modeled on the
dungeons of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Soviet Union . . . but they have
conducted a systematic campaign to mislead Congress, the American people
and the world about those policies".32

Political culture, if not the nature of politics itself, has undergone
revolutionary changes in the last two decades, reaching its most debased
expression under the administration of the imperial presidency of
President George W. Bush. Within this political culture not only is
democracy subordinated to the rule of a market, but corporate decisions
are also freed from territorial constraints and the demands of public
obligations, just as economics is disconnected from its social
consequences. Power itself is now free from territorial constraints and
politics largely nation-based. Zygmunt Bauman captures what is new about
the relationship among power, politics, and the shredding of social
obligations in his comment that:

[T]he mobility acquired by 'people who invest' - those with capital, with
money which the investment requires - means the new, indeed unprecedented
. . . disconnection of power from obligations: duties towards employees,
but also towards the younger and weaker, towards yet unborn generations
and towards the self-reproduction of the living conditions of all; in
short, the freedom from the duty to contribute to daily life and the
perpetuation of the community. . . . Shedding the responsibility for the
consequences is the most coveted and cherished gain which the new mobility
brings to free-floating, locally unbound capital.33

As corporate power increasingly frees itself from any political
limitations, it uses its power through the educational force of the
dominant culture to put into place an utterly privatized notion of agency
in which it becomes difficult for young people and adults to imagine
democracy as a public good, let alone the transformative power of
collective action. Democratic politics has become ineffective, if not
banal, as civic language is increasingly impoverished and genuine spaces
for democratic learning, debate, and dialogue such as schools, newspapers,
popular culture, television networks, and other public spheres are either
underfunded, eliminated, privatized, or subjected to corporate ownership.
Under the politics and culture of neoliberalism, despite its tensions and
contradictions, society is increasingly mobilized for the production of
violence against the poor, immigrants, dissenters, and others marginalized
because of their age, gender, race, ethnicity, and color. At the center of
neoliberalism is a new form of politics in the United States, one in which
radical exclusion is the order of the day, a politics in which the primary
questions are no longer about equality, justice, or freedom, but instead
concern the survival of the slickest in a culture marked by fear,
surveillance, and economic deprivation. As Susan George insists, the
question that now seems to define neoliberal "democracy" is "Who has a
right to live or does not?"34

It is important to stress that neoliberalism is more than a neutral
economic discourse and logic that can be measured with the precision of a
mathematical formula or defended through an appeal to the rules of a
presumptively unassailable science that conveniently leaves its own
history behind. On the contrary, rather than a paragon of economic
rationality that offers the best "route to optimum efficiency, rapid
economic growth and innovation, and rising prosperity for all who are
willing to work hard and take advantage of available opportunities,"35 it
is an ideology that subordinates the art of democratic politics to the
rapacious laws of a market economy, a calculating cost-benefit analysis
that expands its reach to include all aspects of social life within the
dictates and values of society.36

More importantly, neoliberalism is a historical and socially constructed
ideology that needs to be made visible, critically engaged, and shaken
from the stranglehold of power it currently exercises over most of the
commanding institutions of national and global life.37 As an economic
theory, cultural politics, and public pedagogy, neoliberalism constructs a
notion of commonsense in which it becomes difficult for many people either
to imagine a notion of individual and social agency necessary for
reclaiming a substantive democracy or to theorize the economic, cultural,
and political conditions necessary for a viable global public sphere in
which public institutions, spaces, and goods become valued as part of a
larger democratic struggle for a sustainable future and the downward
distribution of wealth, resources, and power.

As a public pedagogy and political ideology, the neoliberalism of
Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman38 is far more ruthless than the
classic liberal economic theory developed by Adam Smith and David Ricardo
in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.39 Neoliberalism has become the
present conservative revolution because it harkens back to a period in
American history - the Gilded Age - that supported the sovereignty of the
market over the sovereignty of the democratic state and the common good.40
Reproducing the future in the image of the distant past, it represents a
struggle designed to roll back, if not dismantle, all of the policies put
into place more than seventy years ago by the New Deal to curb corporate
power and give substance to the liberal meaning of the social contract.
The late Pierre Bourdieu captures what is new about neoliberalism when he
said that neoliberalism is:

A new kind of conservative revolution [which] appeals to progress, reason
and science (economics in this case) to justify the restoration and so
tries to write off progressive thought and action as archaic. It sets up
as the norm of all practices, and therefore as ideal rules, the real
regularities of the economic world abandoned to its own logic, the
so-called laws of the market. It reifies and glorifies the reign of what
are called the financial markets, in other words the return to a kind of
radical capitalism, with no other law than that of maximum profit, an
unfettered capitalism without any disguise, but rationalized, pushed to
the limit of its economic efficacy by the introduction of modern forms of
domination, such as "business administration", and techniques of
manipulation, such as market research and advertising.41

Neoliberalism has indeed become a broad-based political and cultural
movement designed to obliterate public concerns and liquidate the welfare
state, and make politics everywhere an exclusively market driven
project.42 But neoliberalism does more than make the market "the informing
principle of politics"43 while allocating wealth and resources to those
who are most privileged by virtue of their class, race, and power; its
political culture and pedagogical practices also put into play a social
universe and cultural landscape that supports a particularly barbaric
notion of authoritarianism, set in motion under the combined power of a
religious and market fundamentalism and anti-terrorism laws that suspend
civil liberties, incarcerate disposable populations, and provide the
security forces necessary for capital to destroy those spaces where
democracy can be nourished. All the while the landscape and soundscape
become increasingly militarized through a mass mediated spectacle of
violence whose underlying purpose is to construct the public as soldiers
in the "war on terrorism" while redefining democracy as a mix of war and
American idealism. As a cultural politics and form of economic domination,
neoliberalism tells a very limited story, one that is antithetical to
nurturing democratic identities, values, public spheres, and institutions
while lacking any ethical language for recognizing politics outside of the
realm of the market, controlling market excesses, or for challenging the
underlying tenets of a growing authoritarianism bolstered by the pretense
of religious piety.

Neoliberalism does not merely produce militarized public spheres, economic
inequality, iniquitous power relations, and a corrupt political system, it
also promotes rigid exclusions from national citizenship and civic
participation. As Lisa Duggan points out, "Neoliberalism cannot be
abstracted from race and gender relations, or other cultural aspects of
the body politic. Its legitimating discourse, social relations, and
ideology are saturated with race, with gender, with sex, with religion,
with ethnicity, and nationality".44 Neoliberalism comfortably aligns
itself with various strands of neoconservative and religious
fundamentalisms waging imperial wars abroad as well as at home against
those groups and movements that threaten its authoritarian misreading of
the meaning of freedom, security, and productiveness.

One controversial example of how big corporations, particularly media
conglomerates, use their power to simultaneously support neoliberal
values, reactionary policies, and the politicians who produce them took
place in 2004 when the Sinclair Broadcast Group, a Maryland-based media
company whose holdings comprise sixty-two television stations, including
several ABC affiliates refused to air on its stations a special edition of
Nightline with Ted Koppel. Sinclair was disturbed because Koppel had
announced that he was going to read the names and show photographs of the
faces of the then 721 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq. Sinclair's refusal to
air Nightline on its ABC stations was based on the argument that Koppel
was making a political statement that allegedly undermined the war effort
by drawing attention to its most troubling consequences. And its rationale
for this act of censorship was partly based on the argument that Nightline
could have read the names of the thousands of citizens killed in
terrorists attacks during and the events of September 11, 2001. The
problem with this accusation, as a statement from ABC made clear shortly
after the charge, is that the network did broadcast a list of the 9/11
victims, one year after the gruesome event. What Sinclair did not mention
was that it has been a generous contributor to the Republican Party and
that it has lobbied successfully for policies that have allowed it to own
even more stations. Sinclair shares the perspective of many of its
corporate allies on the Right who believe that the costs of the war should
be hushed up, in favor of news that portrays the Bush administration in a
favorable light. After all, censoring the news is a small price to pay for
the corporate windfalls that reward such acts. Free market fundamentalism
makes it easier for corporate power and political favoritism to mutually
inform each other, reinforcing the ideological and political conditions
for the perpetuation of a system of profits, money, market values, and
power that, as Bill Moyers has pointed out, allows big corporations and
big government to scratch each others' back, while canceling out the
principles of justice and human dignity that inform a real democracy.45

Neoliberalism has to be understood and challenged as both an economic
theory and a powerful public pedagogy and cultural politics. That is, it
has to be named and critically understood before it can be critiqued. The
commonsense assumptions that legitimate neoliberalism's alleged historical
inevitability have to be held up to the light so as to reveal the social
damage they cause at all levels of human existence. Hence, it is crucial
not only attempt to identify and critically engage many of the most
salient and powerful ideologies that inform and frame neoliberalism but
also argue for making cultural politics and the notion of public pedagogy
central to the struggle against neoliberalism, particularly since
education and culture now play such a prominent political and economic
role in both securing consent and producing capital. In fact, my position
is similar to Susan Buck-Morss' argument that "[t]he recognition of
cultural domination as just as important as, and perhaps even as the
condition of possibility of, political and economic domination is a true
'advance' in our thinking".46

Of course, this position is not meant to disavow economic and
institutional struggles but rather to supplement them with a cultural
politics that connects symbolic power and its pedagogical practices with
material relations of power. In addition, it is crucial to analyze how
neoliberal policies work at the level of everyday life through the
language of privatization and the lived cultural forms of class, race,
gender, youth, and ethnicity. Finally, such a struggle would have to
employ both a language of critique and possibility, engagement and hope as
part of a broader project of viewing democracy as a site of intense
struggle over matters of representation, participation, and shared power.

Central to such a political struggle is the belief, as Alain Touraine
argues, that neoliberal globalization has not "dissolved our capacity for
political action".47 Such action depends on the ability of various groups
- the peace movement, the anti-corporate globalization movement, the human
rights movement, the environmental justice movement - within and across
national boundaries to form alliances in which matters of global justice,
community, and solidarity provide a common symbolic space and multiple
public spheres where norms are created, debated, and engaged as part of an
attempt to develop a new political language, culture, and set of
relations. Such efforts must be understood as part of a broader attempt
not only to resist domination, but also to defend all those social
advances that strengthen democratic public spheres and services, demand
new rights and modes of power sharing, and strive for social justice
adequate to creating forms of collective struggle that can imagine and
sustain democracy on a global level. The anti-corporate globalization
struggle's slogan "Another World is Possible!" demands, as Alex Callinicos
insightfully points out, a different kind of social logic, one that
requires a powerful sense of unity and solidarity.

Another world - that is, a world based on different social logic, run
according to different priorities from those that prevail today. It is
easy enough to specify what the desiderata of such an alternative social
logic would be - social justice, economic efficiency, environmental
sustainability, and democracy - but much harder to spell out how a
reproducible social system embodying these requirements could be built.
And then there is the question of how to achieve it. Both these questions
- What is the alternative to capitalism? What strategy can get us there? -
can be answered in different ways. One thing the anti-capitalist movement
is going to have to learn is how to argue through the differences that
exist and will probably develop around such issues without undermining the
very powerful sense of unity that has been one of the movement's most
attractive qualities.48

Callinicos' insight suggests that any viable struggle against neoliberal
capitalism will have to rethink "the entire project of politics within the
changed conditions of a global public sphere, and to do this
democratically, as people who speak different political languages, but
whose goals are nonetheless the same: global peace, economic justice,
legal equality, democratic participation, individual freedom, mutual
respect".49 Indeed, one of the most central tasks facing intellectuals,
activists, educators, and others who believe in an inclusive and
substantive democracy is the utilization of theory to rethink the language
and possibilities of politics as a way to imagine a future outside of the
powerful grip of neoliberalism and the impending authoritarianism that
tells a different story about the future, one that invents the past in the
image of the crude exercise of power and the unleashing of unimaginable
human suffering. Critical reflection and social action in this discourse
must acknowledge how the category of the global public sphere extends the
space of politics beyond the boundaries of local resistance. Global
problems need global institutions, global modes of dissent, global
intellectual work, and global social movements.

We have entered a period in which the war against democracy, dissent,
social justice, freedom, and equality offers no apologies because it is
too arrogant and ruthless to imagine any resistance. But the collective
need and potential struggle for justice should never be underestimated
even in the darkest of times. To confront the biopolitics of capital and
disposability, we need to create the conditions for multiple collective
and global struggles that refuse to use politics as an act of war and
markets as the measure of democracy. The great abolitionist Frederick
Douglas bravely argued that freedom is an empty abstraction if people fail
to act, and "if there is no struggle, there is no progress". I realize
this sounds a bit utopian, but we have few choices if we are going to
fight for a future that enables teachers, parents, students, and others
who deserve a future that does a great deal more than endlessly repeat the
present. I think it is all the more crucial to take seriously the
challenge of Jacque Derrida's provocation that "We must do and think the
impossible. If only the possible happened, nothing more would happen. If I
only I did what I can do, I wouldn't do anything".50 We may live in dark
times as Hannah Arendt reminds us, but history is open and the space of
the possible is larger than the one on display.

1 Paul Krugman, .Gilded Once More., The New York Times, May 27, 2007. #

2 Thomas Lemke, .Foucault, Governmentality, and Critique,. Rethinking
Marxism, Volume 14, Number 3, (Fall 2002), pp. 49-64. #

3 Nick Couldry, .Realty TV, or the Secret Theatre of Neoliberalism,. The
Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies (forthcoming), p. 1. #

4 Wendy Brown, Edgework: Critical Essays on Knowledge and Politics
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005), p. 40. #

5 William K. Tabb, .Race to the Bottom?. in Stanley Aronowitz and Heather
Gautney, eds. Implicating Empire: Globalization & Resistance in the 21
Century World Order (New York: Basic Books, 2003), p. 153. #

6 Richard L. Harris, .Popular Resistance to Globalization and
Neoliberalism in Latin America,. Journal of Developing Societies 19:2-3
(2003), pp. 365-426. #

7 Lewis Lapham, .Buffalo Dances,. Harper.s Magazine, May, 2004, pp. 9, 11.

8 Randy Martin, .War, by all Means,. Social Text 25:2 (Summer 2007), p.
17. #

9 For an excellent analysis of the profound impact the world bank has on
global politics and culture, see Bret Benjamin, Invested Interest:
Capital, Culture, and the World Bank (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota
Press, 2007). #

10 Stanley Aronowitz and Heather Gautney, .The Debate About Globalization:
An Introduction,. in Stanley Aronowitz and Heather Gautney, eds.
Implicating Empire: Globalization & Resistance in the 21 Century World
Order (New York: Basic Books, 2003), p. 3. #

11 Stanley Aronowitz, How Class Works (New Haven, CT: Yale University
Press, 2003), p. 30. #

12 The Multinational Monitor, September 2001, pp. 7-8. See also, David
Moberg, .Plunder and Profit,. In These Times, March 29, 2004, pp. 20-21. #

13 Sean Gonsalves, .How to Skin a Rabbit,. The Cape Cod Times, April 20,
2004. #

14 Cheryl Woodard, .Who Really Pays Taxes in America: Taxes and Politics
in 2004,. April 15, 2004. #

15 Martin Wolk, .Cost of Iraq Could Surpass $1 Trillion,. MSNBC, March 17,
2006. #

16 Lisa Duggan, The Twilight of Equality: Neoliberalism, Cultural
Politics, and the Attack on Democracy Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2003, p.
16. #

17 Paul Krugman, .Children Versus Insures,. New York Times, April 6, 2007,
p. A21. #

18 For some informative commentaries on the S-chip program and Bush.s
veto, see Amy Goodman, .Children.s Defense Fund Marian Wright Edelman
Calls on Congress & Bush Administration to Help the Country.s Nine Million
Children Without Health Insurance,. Democracy Now, July 24, 2007;
Editorial, .Misleading Spin on Children.s Health,. New York Times, October
5, 2007, p. A26; Paul Krugman, .Conservatives Are Such Jokers,. New York
Times, October 5, 2007, p. A27. #

19 Cited in Kellie Bean, .Coulter.s Right-Wing Drag,. The Free Press,
October 29, 2003. #

20 Report by the Center for American Progress and Free Press, The
Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio (Washington, D.C.: Center for
American Progress and Free Press, 2007). #

21 Editorial, .Savage Anti-Semitism: Radio Hosts Targets Jewish Foes with
Ethnic Derision,. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (July/August 2003). #

22 Fredric Jameson, The Seeds of Time (New York: Columbia University
Press, 1994), xii. #

23 Susan Buck-Morss, Thinking Past Terror: Islamism and Critical Theory on
the Left (London: Verso, 2003), pp. 65-66. #

24 George Soros, The Bubble of American Supremacy (New York: Public
Affairs, 2004), p. 10. #

25 Christopher Newfield, .The Culture of Force,. The South Atlantic
Quarterly, 105:1 (2006), p. 244. #

26 Here I am quoting David Frum and Richard Pearle cited in Lewis H.
Lapham, .Dar al-Harb,. Harper.s Magazine, March 2004, p. 8. This
fascistically inspired triumphalism can be found in a number of recent
books churned out to gratify the demands of a much celebrated jingoism.
See Joseph Farah, Taking America Back (New York: WND Books, 2003);
Michelle Malkin, Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists,
Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores (New York: Regnery
Publishing, 2002); William J. Bennett, Why We Fight: Moral Clarity and the
War on Terrorism (New York: Regnery, 2003). #

27 Michael Foessel, .Legitimations of the State: The Weakening of
Authority and the Restoration of power,. Constellations, 63:3 (2006), pp.
313-314. #

28 Cited in Lewis H. Lapham, .Dar al-Harb,. Harper.s Magazine, March 2004,
p. 8. The full exposition of this position can be found in David Frum and
Richard Perle, An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror (New York:
Random House, 2004). #

29 For a rather vivid example of how dissent is criminalized, see the
March 5, 2004 NOW with Bill Moyers transcript of .Going
Undercover/Criminalizing Dissent.. The program documents how undercover
agents from all levels of government are infiltrating and documenting
peaceful protests in America. #

30 Chalmers Johnson, Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic (New
York: Metropolitan Books, 2006); Andrew Bacevich, The New American
Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War (New York: Oxford University
Press, 2005). #

31 For the latest revelation about the refusal of the Bush administration
to take responsibility for the abuse and torture produced at Abu Ghraib
and other U.S. prisons, see Seymour M. Hersh, .The General.s Report,. The
New Yorker, June 25, 2007, pp. 58-69. See also, Tara McKelvey, Monstering:
Inside America.s Policy of Secret Interrogations and Torture in the Terror
War (New York: Carroll & Graf, 2007). #

32 Editorial, .On Torture and American Values,. New York Times, October 7,
2007, wk p. 13. #

33 Zygmunt Bauman, Globalization: The Human Consequences (New York:
Columbia University Press, 1998), pp. 9-10. #

34 Susan George, Ibid., .A Short History of Neo-Liberalism: Twenty Years
of Elite Economics and Emerging Opportunities for Structural Change.. #

35 David Kotz, .Neoliberalism and the U.S. Economic Expansion of the
Monthly Review, April 2003, p. 16. #

36 On neoliberalism as a form of governmentality or politics of conduct,
Michael Foucault, Society Must be Defended: Lectures at the College De
France 1975-1976 (New York: Picador, 2003). #

37 David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (New York: Oxford
University Press, 2005). #

38 See for instance, Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (Chicago, IL:
University of Chicago Press, 1994, 50th edition); Milton Friedman,
Capitalism and Freedom: Fortieth Anniversary Issue (Chicago, IL:
University of Chicago Press, 2002). #

39 See, David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (New York: Oxford
University Press, 2005). #

40 For a comprehensive and critical analysis of The New Gilded Age, see
Michael Mchugh, The Second Gilded Age: The Great Reaction in the United
States, 1973-2001 (Boulder: University Press of America, 2006). #

41 Pierre Bourdieu, Acts of Resistance (New York: Free Press, 1989), p.
35. #

42 Colin Leys, Market Driven Politics (London: Verso, 2001), p. 2 #

43 Lisa Duggan, The Twilight of Equality: Neoliberalism, Cultural
Politics, and the Attack on Democracy (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2003), p.
34. #

44 Lisa Duggan, Ibid., p. xvi. #

45 Bill Moyers, .The Media, Politics, and Censorship,. Common Dreams News
Center, May 10, 2004. See also Eric alterman, .Is Koppel a Commie,. The
Nation, May 24, 2004, p. 10. #

46 Susan Buck-Morss, Thinking Past Terror: Islamism and Critical Theory on
the Left (London: Verso, 2003), p. 103. #

47 Alain Touraine, Beyond Neoliberalism (London; Polity press, 2001), p.
2. #

48 Alex Callinicos, .The Anti-Capitalist Movement After Genoa and New
York,.in Stanley Aronowitz and Heather Gautney, eds. Implicating Empire:
Globalization & Resistance in the 21 Century World Order (New York: Basic
Books, 2003), p. 147. #

49 Susan Buck-Morss, Thinking Past Terror: Islamism and Critical Theory on
the Left (London: Verso, 2003), pp. 4-5. #

50 Jacques Derrida, .No One is Innocent: A Discussion with Jacques About
Philosophy in the Face of Terror,. The Information Technology, War and
Peace Project, p. 2. #

Henry A. Giroux holds the Global TV Network Chair in English and Cultural
Studies at McMaster University in Canada. His latest book is Against the
Terror of Neoliberalism: Politics Beyond the Age of Greed (2008), from
which this essay is excerpted. His most recent books include: Beyond the
Spectacle of Terrorism (2006), Stormy Weather: Katrina and the Politics of
Disposability (2006), and The University in Chains: Confronting the
Military-Industrial-Academic Complex (2007). He can be reached at:
henry.giroux [at] Read other articles by Henry, or visit Henry's

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