Friday, October 9, 2015

"Read the last 2½ pages first!”

The most telling thing about this book that really says a lot about the dystopian future Giroux so brilliantly analyzes, is that he doesn’t begin to discuss “optimism” seriously until the last 2½ pages, near the very end. The other 244 pages are devoted to an in-depth examination of a variety of subjects, including the following:

1. HUMAN DISPOSABILITY (“Contemporary neoliberal societies are increasingly defined by their waste.”)

2. THE MACHINERY OF DISPOSABILITY (“Under neoliberalism in the US, war has become an extension of politics, transforming spheres of society into combat zones, or killing zones.”)

3. THE DESTRUCTION OF HUMANITY ("One of the real causalities of the post 9/11 terror wars has been our belief that we can transform the world for the better.”)

4. THE PREDATORY FORMATION OF NEOLIBERALISM (“The history of capitalistic development has been one of continued expropriation and plunder of the world’s resources – including its people.”)

5. THE SICKNESS OF REASON (“The sickness of reason points to the triumph of everyday aggression, the withering of political life and the withdrawal into private obsession.”)

6. A PROMISE OF VIOLENCE (“….more people find their behavior pathologized, criminalized and subject to state violence. This is a social order in which bonds of trust have been replaced by bonds of anxiety.”)

7. RACISM (“As politics becomes more racialized, the discourse about race become more privatized, indifference and cynicism breed outright contempt and social resentment…”)

8. THE SPECTACLE OF MILITARIZED RACISM (“The act of homicide by a white police officer makes visible how a racist military culture now dominates American society.”)

9. THE FORCE OF LAW (“Prison begins well outside its gates; from the moment you leave your house.”)

10. THE POVERTY OF GUILT (“Somewhere, every culture has an imaginary zone for what it excludes.”)

11. THE SPECTACLE OF FASCISM (“…the fascism in us our heads and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us.”)

12. RITUALS OF HUMILIATION (“Violence and humiliation cannot be understood outside of the racism and brutality that accompanies the exercise of power…”)

13. VIOLENCE AND THE SURVEILLANCE STATE (“..the worst excesses of capitalism are a consumer-driven ethic furthering the collective indifference to the growth of the surveillance state.”)

14. DYSTOPIAN REALISM (“Neoliberalism’s retreat from social responsibility, costs and ethics contain monstrous logic and ISIS seems to have adopted that logic and deployed it to the extreme as a political and military weapon.”)

Finally, 2½ pages near the end of the book, Giroux subtitles his last section: BEYOND SPECTACLE (“While the subject of this book is concentrated in the bleakness of the contemporary condition, there are reasons to be optimistic.”) BLEAKNESS – that’s an understatement, and unfortunately, the “reasons to be optimistic” only fill up 2½ pages!

Giroux writes that “neoliberalism is exhausted and its modes of subjectivity increasingly revealing of itself-destructive nihilism.” He thinks that its brutal response to dissent, protest and civic disobedience is proof of neoliberalism’s end game. He argues that now we can begin to think about neoliberalism in the context of its “present death”. He believes “people will always resist what they find patently intolerable. Despite the horrors, they will find reasons to believe in the world and that it can be transformed for the better.”

Giroux’s optimism in the future, in spite of the horrors of our current dystopian, neoliberal reality, is expressed in the idea that “in the realm of the imagination, we can rethink the world.” He believes that "the human condition is defined by our ability to imagine a better world, and that the power of the imagination is already engaged in a form of political resistance and struggle.”

He concludes, “To dare to imagine is always the start of a new form of politics that doesn’t passively wait for historical forces to come to the rescue.” This is all well and good, and of course, it is brilliant and inspiring, and it is a MUST-READ book! I only wish I would have read the last 2½ pages
FIRST!

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