Thursday, September 05, 2013

Hope Where Power Is Divorced From Politics

Henry Giroux is one of neo-liberalism's fiercest critics. From McMaster University, he now writes about his native land with incandescent passion. In the United States, Giroux opines, power has become divorced from politics. And the American experience is spreading around the world:

As power is separated from politics, it becomes more reckless, arrogant and death-dealing. No longer viewed as accountable, casino capitalism and its minions turn savage in their pursuit of wealth and the accumulation. All bets are off and everything is fodder for increasing the wealth of the bankers, hedge fund managers and the corporate elite. Ensconced in culture of cruelty, neoliberal power relations have become global, eschewing any sense of responsibility to an ethics of care, justice and spiritual well-being. Responsibility now floats like a polluted cloud signaling a dystopian future - a symbol of both extreme savagery and corporate irresponsibility.

It's hard to be hopeful when the corporate juggernaut has advanced so far. But, Giroux writes:

Hope is not an individual fantasy or a recourse to a romanticized and unrealistic view of the world. On the contrary, it is a subversive force that enables those who care about democracy and its fate to not mistake the difficulty of individual and collective agency with the urgent need to shape it in the interest of the arc of justice and the promise of a democracy to come. In opposition to those who seek to turn hope into a new slogan or punish and dismiss efforts to look beyond the horizon of the given, progressives need to resurrect a language of resistance and possibility, a language in which hope is viewed as both a project and a pedagogical condition for providing a sense of opposition and engaged struggle

Giroux believes that hope is rooted in resistance. There are those who still resist -- and who are, therefore, a cause for hope:

Prophecy, moral witness and civic courage matter more than ever in American society. And we see hits of such practices in the rise of public intellectuals such as Michael Lerner, Stanley Aronowitz, Carol Becker, Angela Davis, Chris Hedges, Amy Goodman, Bill Moyers, Robin D.G. Kelley, Noam Chomsky and too many others to name. We also see the power of collective hope in the increasing resistance by unions, workers and young people to the attack on all things public in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Maine and other states now controlled by right-wing Republican extremists. In this instance, the longing for a more humane society does not collapse into a retreat from the world but emerges out of critical and practical engagements with present policies, institutional formations and everyday practices. Hope in this context does not ignore the worse dimensions of human suffering, exploitation and social relations; on the contrary, it acknowledges the need to sustain the "capacity to see the worst and offer more than that for our consideration."[xiii]

It is true that we live in dark times. But there is reason to hope that we still can, in Tennyson's phrase, "seek a newer world."


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link to Giroux, Owen. Tennyson was right, we must always strive for the newer world.

Owen Gray said...

Giroux reminds us that, like Ulysses, the goal is "to strive, to seek to find and not to yield," Anon.