Several years ago, the American educator Henry Giroux moved to Canada to take the Global Television Network Chair in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. From there he has continued to write about the land of his birth. His criticisms have been clear-eyed and stark. Writing yesterday about Paul Ryan's proposed budget, Giroux had this to say:
It is a story that embodies a kind of savage violence that makes clear that those who occupy the bottom rungs of American society - whether they be low-income families, poor minorities of color and class or young failed consumers - are to be considered disposable, removed from ethical considerations and the grammar of human suffering.
Giroux then expands on Ryan's -- and the Republican Party's -- notion of the disposable citizen:
At the heart of this account is an ideology, a mode of governance, and a set of policies that embrace a pathological individualism, a distorted notion of freedom, and a willingness both to employ state violence to suppress dissent and to abandon those suffering from a collection of social problems ranging from dire poverty and joblessness to homelessness. In the end, this is a story about disposability and how it has become a central feature of American politics. Rather than work for a better life, most Americans now work to simply survive in a survival-of-the-fittest society in which a growing number of groups are considered disposable and a drain on the body politic, economy, and sensibilities of the rich and powerful. What is new about the politics of disposability is not that public values and certain groups are now rendered as excess or redundant, but the ways in which such anti-democratic practices have become normalized in the existing contemporary neoliberal order. A politics of inequality and ruthless power disparities is now matched by a culture of cruelty soaked in blood, humiliation and misery. Private injuries are not only separated from public considerations in Ryan’s story, they have become the object of scorn just as all noncommercial public spheres are viewed with contempt, a perfect supplement to a chilling indifference to the plight of those disadvantaged because of their class, health, race, age and disability. There is a particularly savage violence that fuels Ryan’s account and that violence has made America unrecognizable as a democracy.
What is truly chilling is how many people have bought Ryan's story. Canadians, by the way, are in no position to feel a sense of schadenfreude. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is implementing the same agenda north of the border. For both Ryan and Harper, citizens are disposable.
Their agenda has moved from policy to pathology.
This entry is cross posted at The Moderate Voice.