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girouxamericaatwarwithitselfoct2016LUMPENPROLETARIAT—Educator and leading theorist of critical pedagogy, Dr. Henry Giroux has published a new book entitled America At War With Itself.

Free speech radio’s Democracy Now! has been good enough to feature a brief interview with Dr. Giroux during today’s broadcast. [1]  Primary host Amy Goodman assured her audience this brief interview was only the beginningListen/view (and/or download) here. [2]

Messina

***

[Working draft transcript of actual radio broadcast by Messina for Lumpenproletariat and Pacifica Radio.]

DEMOCRACY NOW!—[14 OCT 2016]  “From Pacifica, this is Democracy Now!.

YUSEF SALAAM:  “I really didn’t know anything about Donald Trump until he took out those ads and called for our execution.  Every time I think about that, I think, had this been the 1950s, we would’ve been modern-day Emmett Tills.  They had our names, our phone numbers, and addresses in the papers.  And, so, what would’ve happened, if somebody from the darkest places of society would’ve come to our homes, kicked in our doors, and drug us from our homes, and hung us from the trees in Central Park?  That would’ve been the type of mob justice, that they were seeking.”

AMY GOODMAN:  “In 1989, Yusef Salaam and four other African-American and Latino teenagers were arrested for beating and raping a white woman jogger in New York City’s Central Park.  They became known as the Central Park Five.

“Donald Trump took out full-page ads at four New York newspapers calling for their execution.

“Then, in 2002, their convictions were vacated after the real rapist came forward, confessed to the crime.  His DNA matched.

“The Central Park Five served between 7 and 13 years in jail each for the assault.

“New York City, ultimately, settled with them for $41 million dollars.  But, as late as last week, Donald Trump still claimed they were guilty.

“We’ll speak with Yusef Salaam, one of the Central Park Five.  He recently wrote in the Washington Post: Donald Trump won’t leave me alone.

“Then, a new report documents the devastating harm of policies, that criminalise the personal use and possession of drugs.”

FILM CLIP:  “Every 25 seconds, someone is arrested in the United States simply for possessing drugs for their personal use.  Around the country, police make more arrests for drug possession than for any other kind—over 1.25 million arrests per year.”

AMY GOODMAN:  “Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union released the findings Wednesday with a call for a call for states and the federal government to decriminalise low-level drug offences.

“And, from poisoned water in Flint to the police deaths of African-Americans to hatemongering on the presidential campaign trail, is America at war with itself?

“We’ll speak with Professor Henry Giroux, who argues just that in his new book.  All that and more, coming up.”  (c. 2:35)

[Democracy Now! News Headlines omitted by scribe.  Read, or ‘watch’, them here.]

AMY GOODMAN:  “And those are some of the headlines.  This is Democracy Now!, DemocracyNow.org, the War and Peace Report.  I’m Amy Goodman.” (c. 13:09)

JUAN GONZÁLEZ:  “And I’m Juan González.  Welcome to all of our listeners and viewers around the country and around the world.

“And, Amy, before we get to the rest of the show, I wanted to ask you.  You’re heading back to North Dakota to answer the charges, that were lodged against you in connection to the Labor Day Weekend protests over the Dakota Access pipeline.”

AMY GOODMAN:  “That’s right, our filming of them.  I’m going back to North Dakota to cover the ongoing standoff at Standing Rock with the Democracy Now! team.  I’ll be turning myself in to authorities at the Morton County Jail in North Dakota Monday morning [17 OCT 2016], 8am, North Dakota time—that’s 9am here—as a result of being charged by the state of North Dakota with criminal trespass, following the release of our video showing the Dakota Access pipeline security guards physically assaulting, non-violent, mainly Native American land protectors, pepper-spraying them and unleashing attack dogs.  (c. 14:05)

I intend to vigorously fight the charge, as I see it as a direct attack on the First Amendment, freedom of the press, and the public’s right to know.  The prosecutor in the case say [sic] he may, actually, uh, add more charges.  Uh, so, we will see.”

JUAN GONZÁLEZ:  “Well, hopefully, reason will prevail on Monday with the authorities there.  But we’ll be watching it, definitely.  And best of luck to you.”  (c. 14:29)

[Central Park Five segment omitted by scribe.  Access the news story here.]  (c. 32:14) [3]

[Music break, interrupted by local KPFA announcements:  Dr. Ralph Nader book event, Breaking Through Power Is Easier Than You Think, on Monday, October 17th, 2016, at 7:30pm at St. John’s Presbyterian Church (2727 College Avenue, Berkeley, CA).]  (c. 33:30)

[Pete Seeger music break continues] (c. 33:33)

AMY GOODMAN:  “Pete Seeger, ‘What Did You Learn In School Today?‘  This is Democracy Now!, DemocracyNow.org, the War and Peace Report.  I’m Amy Goodman.”

[ACLU & HRW report calling for drug decriminalisation segment omitted by scribe.  Access the news story here.]  (c. 45:37)

[Music break, interrupted by local KPFA announcement:  author David Talbot will join author Chris Hedges, Unspeakable, book event, Wednesday, October 19th, at 7:30pm at King Middle School (1781 Rose Street, Berkeley, CA); Wednesday, October 19, 2016, Pacifica coverage of the final presidential debate.]  (c. 46:55)

[Elliot & The Ghost music break continues]

AMY GOODMAN:  “‘Turn Off Your Radar‘, Elliot & The Ghost, whose bandmember, Brett Giroux, is the son of our next guest.   This is Democracy Now!, DemocracyNow.org, the War and Peace Report.  I’m Amy Goodman with Juan González.”  (c. 47:07)

rigged 2016JUAN GONZÁLEZ:  “Well, we end today’s show with a look at a new book, that argues America is at war with itselfFrom poisoned water in Flint and other cities to the police deaths of African Americans, including Keith Lamont Scott, Eric Garner, and Sandra Bland, to hatemongering on the presidential campaign trail, Henry Giroux critiques what he believes is a slide toward authoritarianism and other failings, that led to the current political climate.”

AMY GOODMAN:  “Noted scholar Robin D.G. Kelley writes in the book’s foreword, quote:

“‘These are, indeed, dark times.  But they are dark, not merely because we are living in an era of vast inequality, mass incarceration, and crass materialism, or that we face an increasingly precarious future, they are dark because most Americans are living under a cloak of ignorance, a cultivated and imposed state of civic illiteracy, that has opened the gates for what Giroux correctly sees as an authoritarian turn in the United States.  These are dark times because the very fate of democracy is at stake—a democracy fragile from its birth, always battered on the shoals of racism, patriarchy, and class rule.’

“‘The rise of Donald J. Trump is a sign of the times,’ he writes.

“Well, for more, we’re joined by the author of America at War with Itself, Henry Giroux, MccMaster University Professor for Scholarship in the Public Interest.  He joins us in New York City.

“We welcome you.  It’s great to have you with us.”

DR. HENRY GIROUX:  “Well, I’m honoured.”

AMY GOODMAN:  “How is America at war with itself?” [4]

DR. HENRY GIROUX:  “It’s at war with itself because it’s basically declared war, not only on any sense of democratic idealism, but it’s declared war on all the institutions that make democracy possible. [5]  And we see it with the war on public schools.  We see it with the war on education.  We see it with the war on the healthcare system.  We see it, as you said earlier, with the war on dissent, on the First Amendment.  We see it in the war on women’s reproductive rights. (c. 48:57)

“But, we, especially see it with the war on youth.  I mean, it seems to me that you can measure any degree—any society’s insistence on how it takes democracy seriously can, in fact, be measured by the way it treats its children.  And if we take that index as a measure of the United States, it’s utterly failing.  You have young people basically who—in schools, that are increasingly modeled after prisons—you have their behavior being increasingly criminalised.  And, one of the most atrocious of all acts, you have the rise of debtors’ prisons for childrenKids, who basically are truant from school, are being fined.  And if they can’t—their parents can’t pay the fine, they’re being put in jail.  You have kids whose every behavior is being criminalised.

“I mean, what does it mean to be in a public school, and all of a sudden you are engaged in a dress code violation, and the police come in, and they handcuff you? They take you out; they put you in a police car, put you in the criminal justice system, and all of a sudden you find yourself, as Tess was saying earlier, marked for life.  Entire families are being destroyed around this. (c. 49:57)

“So—but it seems to me the real question here is:  How do you understand these isolated incidents within a larger set of categories, that tell us exactly what’s happening? [6]  And what’s happening is the social state is being destroyed, and the punishing state is taking its place.  So, violence now becomes the only tool by which we can actually mediate social problems, that should be dealt with in very different ways.”  (c. 50:20)

JUAN GONZÁLEZ:  “Well, you devote an entire chapter to Donald Trump’s America.” [7]

DR. HENRY GIROUX:  “Yeah.”

JUAN GONZÁLEZ:  “And you, specifically, talk about the—how the media coverage of Trump has sort of divorced him from any past history of the country, in terms of the development of right-wing demagogues and authoritarian figures.” [7]

DR. HENRY GIROUX:  “That’s an important question.  I mean, you live in a country marked by a culture of the immediate.  You live in a country, that’s marked by celebrity culture, you know, that basically infantilises people, paralyses them.  It eliminates all notions of civic literacy, turns the school into bastions of ignorance.  They completely kill the radical imagination in any fundamental way.”

“And I think that what often happens with Trump is that you see something utterly symptomatic of the decline of a formative culture that makes democracy possible.  Juan, you have to have informed citizens to have a democracy.  You don’t have an informed citizenry.  You don’t have people who can think.  Remember what Hannah Arendt said when she was talking about fascism and totalitarianism.  She said:  Thoughtlessness is the essence of totalitarianism.  So, all of a sudden, emotion becomes more important than reason.  Ignorance becomes more important than justice.  Injustice is looked over as simply something, that happens on television.  The spectacle of violence takes over everything. (c. 51:34)

“I mean so it seems to me that we make a terrible mistake in talking about Trump as some kind of essence of evil. [8]  Trump is symptomatic of something much deeper in the culture, whether we’re talking about the militarisation of everyday life, whether we’re talking about the criminalisation of social problems, or whether we’re talking about the way in which money has absolutely corrupted politics.  This is a country that is sliding into authoritarianism. [9]  I mean it is not a—you cannot call this a democracy anymoreWe make a terrible mistake when we equate capitalism with democracy. [10]  And—” [Amy Goodman’s voice overlaps/interrupts]

AMY GOODMAN:  “You, you talk about the ethical bankruptcy of the U.S. ruling elites paving the way for Donald Trump.” [7]  (c. 52:11)

DR. HENRY GIROUX:  “You know, you live in a country in which we have separated all economic activity from social cost, from ethical considerations. [10]  The ethical imagination, in itself, has become a liability.  And I think that when people like you and others make that clear—that you can’t have a democracy without that kind of ethical intervention, without assessing, you know, the degree to which people in some way can believe in the public good, can believe in justice—you have the heavy hand of the law pouncing on you.

And I think that when the radical imagination dies, when an ethical sensibility dies, you live in a state of terrorism; you live in a state of fear; you live in a state in which people can’t trust each other.  Shared fears become more important than shared responsibilities.  And that’s the essence of fascism.” (c. 52:51)

JUAN GONZÁLEZ:  “And what sign of hope do you see out of all this, uh—yeah—” [Dr. Henry Giroux’s voice overlaps/interrupts]

DR. HENRY GIROUX:  “I think there are a lot of signs.  And thank you for the question.  I mean, I think, at some level, we see young people all over the country mobilising around different issues, in which they’re doing something, that I haven’t seen for a long time.  And that is, they’re linking these issues together.  You can’t talk about police violence without talking about the militarisation of society, in general.  You can’t talk about the assault on public education, unless you talk about the way in which capitalism defunds all public goods.  You can’t talk about the prison system without talking about widespread racism.  You can’t do that.  They’re making those connections. [6]  (c. 53:27)

“But they’re doing something more: They’re linking up with other groups.  If you’re gonna talk about Flint, if you’re gonna talk about, it seems to me, Ferguson, you have to talk about Palestine.  If you’re going to talk about repression in the United States, you’ve got to figure out how these modes of repression have become global because something has happened that we—that suggests a new kind of politics: Politics is local, and power is global.  The elite float; they don’t care about the social contract anymore.  So, you know, we see a level of disposability, a level of violence, that is really unlike anything we’ve seen before.  (c. 54:02)

“I mean, Donald Trump talking about the Central Park Five still being guilty, give me a break.  I mean, what is this really about? Is it about somebody who’s just ignorant and stupid?  Or is it somebody who now is part of a ruling class, that is so indifferent to questions of justice that they actually boast about their own racism?”  (c. 54:20)

AMY GOODMAN:  “Hm.  So. let me ask you about the issue of education.”

DR. HENRY GIROUX:  “Right.”

AMY GOODMAN:  “The debate here is around school choice—”

DR. HENRY GIROUX:  “Right, right.”

AMY GOODMAN:  “—of vouchers, charter schools.  But you’ve been talking about schools for a long time.  What is the role of schools and education in our society?”  [overlapping voices; Dr. Giroux eagerly begins answering the question before Amy Goodman finished answering it.]

DR. HENRY GIROUX:  “Schools should be democratic public spheresThey should be places, that educate people to be informed, to learn how to govern rather than be governed, to take justice seriously, to spur the radical imagination, to give them the tools, that they need to be able to, both, relate to themselves and others in the wider world in a way in which they can imagine that world as a better place.  (c. 54:51)

“I mean it seems to me, at the heart of any education, that matters, is a central question:  How can you imagine a future much different than the present, and a future, that basically grounds itself in questions of economic, political, and social justice?”  (c. 55:03)

JUAN GONZÁLEZ:  “And so, how do you see, then—for instance, the Obama administration has been a big promoter of charter schools and these privatisation efforts as a school choice model.”

DR. HENRY GIROUX:  “I—the Obama administration is a disgrace on education.  The Obama administration, basically, is an administration, that has bought the neoliberal line.  It drinks the orange juice.  I mean it doesn’t see schools as a public good.  It doesn’t see schools as places where, basically, we can educate students in a way to take democracy seriously and to be able to fight for it.  It sees them as, basically, kids, who should be part of the global workforce.  But it does more because not understanding schools as democratic public spheres means that the only place you can really go is, either, to acknowledge and not do anything about the fact that many of them are now modeled after prisons, or, secondly, they become places, that kill their radical imagination.

Teaching for the test is a way to kill the radical imagination.  It’s a way to make kids boring; you know?  It’s a way to make them ignorant.  It’s a way to shut them off from the world in a way in which they can recognise that their agency matters.  It matters.  You can’t be in an environment and take education seriously when your education is under—when your agency is under assault.” (c. 56:15)

AMY GOODMAN:  “—[Dr. Giroux interjected before Goodman could respond.]

DR. HENRY GIROUX:  “You can’t do it.”  (c. 56:17)

AMY GOODMAN:  “You begin your book with a quote of Albert Camus: Memory is the enemy of totalitarianism.'” [overlapping voices; Dr. Giroux begins agreeing prior to Goodman completing her statement]

DR. HENRY GIROUX:  “Yeah.  Yeah, yeah.”

AMY GOODMAN:  “Explain.” (c. 56:25)

DR. HENRY GIROUX:  “Well, I’ll explain it in terms of a slogan, a Donald Trump slogan: Let’s make America great again.  You know—and when I hear that—that seems to suggest there was a moment in the past when America really was great—you know?—when women knew their places, when we could set dogs on black people in Mississippi, when young people went and sat-in in at lunch counters and were assaulted by others, that’s about—that’s about the death of memory.  That’s about memory being, basically, suppressed in a way, that doesn’t allow people to understand that there are things, that happened in the past, that we not only have to remember, we have to prevent from happening again.  Or, at another level, it suggests the suppression of memory, so that those things can happen again and that we don’t have to worry about them.

“And, so, it seems to me that a country without a sense of public memory, without a sense of historical memory, is a country always in crisis.” (c. 57:13)

AMY GOODMAN:  “You have talked about Donald Trump also coming about, the phenomenon, as the—a failure of the progressive left.”

DR. HENRY GIROUX:  “Yeah.”

AMY GOODMAN:  “How?”

DR. HENRY GIROUX:  “Well, I think that, you know, one of the things about the left—three things about the left disturb me, Amy.  One is, they never really have taken education seriously.  They think education is about schooling.  What they don’t realise is that forms of domination are not just simply structural.  They’re also about changing consciousness.  They’re also about getting people to invest in a language in which they can recognise that the problems, that we’re talking about have something to do with their lives.  It means making something meaningful, to make it critical, to make it transformative.  (c. 57:55)

“Secondly, it seems to me that the left is too involved in isolated issues [i.e., identity politics]. [11]  You know, we’ve got to bring these issues together to create a mass social movement, that in some way really challenges the kind of power that we’re now confronting.”

AMY GOODMAN:  “Only the beginning of the conversation.  Henry Giroux, thanks so much for being with us, McMaster University Professor for Scholarship in the Public Interest.  His new book: America at War with Itself.

“That does it for our broadcast.  Oh, Juan, tomorrow is a very special day: Happy birthday!”

JUAN GONZÁLEZ:  “Amy, thank you.”

AMY GOODMAN:  “Well, we’ll be broadcas—”

JUAN GONZÁLEZ:  “You didn’t need to mention that. [chuckles] (c. 58:28)”

AMY GOODMAN:  “We’ll be broadcasting Monday from North Dakota, from right near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.  Tune in.  [SNIP]  ”

[end of Democracy Now! broadcast]

KPFA CART:  Dr. Ralph Nader presentation:  Breaking Through Power, Monday, October 17, 2016, , First Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Avenue, Berkeley, California; Mickey Huff will host.

[SNIP]  (c. 59:59)

Learn more at DEMOCRACY NOW!.

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[1]  Unfortunately, the brief interview seems to have been designed as a form of news abuse in the sense that the entire brief interview, as evidenced by the line of questions the interviewers asked, was not interested in the larger issues discussed in the book about the anti-democratic trends plaguing our institutions, such as education and our political system, a cartelised two-party dictatorship, as Ralph Nader calls it.  Dr. Giroux doesn’t seem to ever use that term.  But if you read more than a soundbite from Dr. Giroux, you will find that he’s very clear on the political corruption of both political parties.

But this interview is taking place in the context of the ongoing 2016 U.S. presidential election and free speech radio (and TV) coverage, with the election less than a month away.  And this interview, as evidenced by the questions from Amy Goodman and Juan González, the editorial slant at Democracy Now! was bent on using Dr. Henry Giroux to sensationalise a bogeyman image of Donald Trump and foment fear among the listeners and viewers.  That is news abuse, in terms of critical media literacy.  And Democracy Now!, like the editorial slant of the SaveKPFA faction at KPFA, has framed the overwhelming majority of its interviews and discussions, which have touched upon the 2016 presidential election, within a narrow-two party framework, and which (intentionally or not) functions to help marginalise alternative political parties and their candidates.  And alternative candidates, such as the Green Party’s Dr. Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka, are far closer aligned to the ideals and general philosophy of socioeconomic justice championed by Democracy Now! (and KPFA radio).  Yet, they’re loathe to admit it.

Democracy Now! was not interested in the more profound issues being raised by Dr. Giroux, only in a narrow fear-mongering trope about Donald Trump, with a conspicuous implicit subtext to vote for Hillary Clinton.  No critical questions were asked about Hillary Clinton or her how her political record compares to her campaign platform, even though Amy Goodman herself actually emphasised the importance of this point in a speech she gave earlier this year.  But, in practice, Democracy Now! seems to primarily acquiesce to the anti-democratic nature of the two-party machine, which not only keeps out other political parties.  The Democratic Party even keeps out left-of-center candidates, such as Bernie Sanders.  And this is not the first time, as Dr. Jill Stein, has pointed out elsewhere:

And what we learned, in the course of Bernie’s campaign, is that you cannot have a revolutionary campaign in a counter-revolutionary party.

The party pulled out its kill switch against Bernie and sabotaged him As we saw from the emails revealed, showing the collusion between the Democratic National Committee, Hillary’s campaign, and members of the corporate media.

“And it wasn’t the first time.  This happened to Dennis Kucinich.  It happened to Jesse Jackson.  They did it even to Howard Dean, creating the ‘Dean Scream’.

“This is how they work.  And it’s been a huge wake-up moment.”

This is not the first time this type of news abuse has been perpetrated by Democracy Now!  Some of us have been watching their election coverage since the show began in 1996.  And it seems clear that the editorial agenda at Democracy Now!, during election cycles, has been to subtly steer voters toward the Democratic Party.  A rigorous analysis of Democracy Now!‘s coverage of presidential elections will likely demonstrate this.  And, inhabiting such a central role within free speech media, Democracy Now! should be held accountable for this.  But few have wanted to be critical of their beloved Democracy Now!  Mnar Muhawesh (Mint Press News) is one of the few voices we’ve heard on free speech radio be critical about the failings of our beloved Democracy Now! and their figureheads, such as Amy Goodman.

“But you and I, we’ve been through that; and this is not our fate
So, let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.”

[2]  Terrestrial radio transmission, 94.1 FM (KPFA, Berkeley, CA; Pacifica Radio Network, nationwide) with online simulcast and digital archiving:  Democracy Now!, one-hour episode co-hosted by Juan González and Amy Goodman, Friday, 14 OCT 2016, 09:00 PDT.

[3]  The Central Park Five is a tragic story of five black and Latino teenagers wrongly accused and imprisoned between 7 and 13 years in jail each for the assault, the rape and beating of a white woman, which they did not commit.  Donald Trump put out ads back in 1989, which helped railroad the five teenagers, whose sentences were later vacated when the actual perpetrator came forward and a DNA match was established.

Yes, Donald Trump is a political opportunist.  But, unfortunately, that is not newsworthy, unless one is engaging in electoral propaganda.  Of course, it doesn’t have to be newsworthy.  We can have political commentary and opinion, as long as we’re clear on what’s being presented.  In this case, this ‘Central Park Five’ news story is not actually news, technically speaking.  The only thing new is the fact that one of the Central Park Five, Yusef Salaam, wrote an opinion piece for The Washington Post, in which he outlined the legal and social injustices suffered by the Central Park Five as well as the sinister role Donald Trump played in the matter.

The constant reporting on trivial details about Trump, such as his latest inappropriate remark, is definitely emblematic of junk food news.  The rehashing of the Central Park Five story, of course, is not junk food news.  But, as we learn from our critical media literacy education, the placement of this story by Democracy Now! within this broadcast to reinforce the paradigm of fear of Trump and a reactionary vote for neoliberal Hillary Clinton is an example of news abuse.  An older example, as Dr. Peter Phillips has mentioned, would be the case of the Jon Benet story, which was also tragic, but overly reported so as to drown out other more consequential news stories.

The central thrust of Yusef Salaam’s opinion piece in The Washington Post is summarised in its subtitleThe Republican candidate’s antics have filled me with fear.

The implied fear-based messaging is clear, however: Vote Hillary for president next month.

Similarly, the function of Democracy Now! broadcasting a segment about an opinion-piece expressing fear of a Trump presidency also serves to send subtle messaging to its audiences to vote Hillary for president.  And many liberals are already of a lesser-of-two-evils mentality, and don’t need any further enabling from Democracy Now!, who should be counted on to maintain its commitment to critical analysis, even during election cycles.  But, it’s clear the editorial slant at Democracy Now! favours Hillary Clinton.  Even though, Democracy Now! has taken credit for ‘Expanding the Debates’ during recent broadcasts by inserting responses from willing candidates excluded from the Debates.  (Only the Green Party candidates, Dr. Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka agreed to participate in Democracy Now!‘s expanded debates.  It’s unclear whether or not Democracy Now! also invited smaller political parties, such as the socialist Peace and Freedom Party based in California.)

But, despite token coverage of the Green Party candidates, the overwhelming bulk of Democracy Now!‘s coverage of the 2016 U.S. presidential election has been focused on the Democratic and Republican Party candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  And, worse, it’s largely been uncritical, or toned down its critique, of Hillary Clinton, who, essentially, stole the Democratic Primary.

[4]  A leading question is one which leads the person being questioned to respond in a certain way.  This can be objectionable of proper, depending on the circumstances.  In this case, Amy Goodman‘s selection of a quote from Dr. Giroux‘s book foreword, invoking the spectre of a Donald Trump presidency, seems designed to lead Dr. Giroux into contributing to Democracy Now!‘s ongoing agenda of fomenting fear of a Donald Trump presidency, of prioritising a dominant focus on a binary, good versus evil, narrative of Donald Trump posing an unprecedented menace to society with Hillary Clinton cast as the voice of reason.  But Dr. Giroux is concerned with larger, more profound issues, which transcend one single candidate.  Thus, Dr. Giroux seemed to disappoint Goodman’s interview agenda.  (Apparently undeterred, Juan González kept the Democracy Now! agenda on track when it was his turn to ask question of Dr. Giroux, steering the interview topic back to the Donald Trump talking point with an even more pointed focus than before.)

The dominant focus of this broadcast was:  Fear Trump.  Two of the three news stories were framed in terms of a fear of a Donald Trump presidency.  The framing of the Democracy Now! segment on Dr. Henry Giroux‘s new book is unmistakable in the segment title:  Is Trump’s Rise a Result of America Declaring War on Institutions That Make Democracy Possible?  The segment about the Central Park Five is about an anti-Trump opinion piece recently published in The Washington Post.  We may wonder, however, why an opinion piece about a fear of a Hillary Clinton presidency was not featured, instead, or even an entire factual book, such as My Turn: Hillary Clinton Targets the Presidency (2015) by Doug Henwood or Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich (2015) by Peter Schweizer.  For example, Honduras has now become one of the most dangerous nations for activists, or citizens attempting to experience democracy in their daily lives.  Thanks to the role Hillary Clinton played, as U.S. Secretary of State, in helping to legitimate the military coup against the Democratically-elected president Manuel Zelaya, prize-winning activists, such as Berta Caseres have been assassinated for standing up to exploitative behaviours of multinational corporations after being targeted, threatened, and harassed.  Only through hyperbole and bad journalism can opportunist Donald Trump be elevated to a bogeyman and neoliberal Hillary Clinton be humanised, as a lesser of two evils.  They are, both, just evil.  Can we say that one pedophile is more evil than another?  Not really.  They are both sick.  They both need help.  They must both be kept away from positions of authority where the health and safety of society is at stake.

[5]  Another example of America being at war with itself, of a war on an institution, which makes democracy possible, is the war on the democratic process itself.  The two-party cartelisation of the political process works to censor all political diversity, keep out alternative political parties, kill the American political imagination, and keep the American people within the tight grip of a neoliberal agenda, whether it’s at the hands of a Democratic or Republican administration.  And, sadly, when we look closely, through a critical media literacy lens, we find that Democracy Now! also works to censor all political diversity when it counts the most, during presidential elections when most Americans are likely to be paying attention to political discussions.  Keeping a focus on the two corporate political parties and their candidates helps steer progressives toward the neoliberal Democratic Party, or toward a sense of disaffection in the face of a defeatist TINA ideology—there is no alternative.

[6]  Dr. Giroux raised the question:  How do you understand these isolated incidents [of erosion of democracy] within a larger set of categories, that tell us exactly what’s happening?  One way we can understand these social ills is through understanding the form of socioeconomic organisation, or mode of production, by which we organise our American society.  Given the American capitalist modes of production, our society’s social priorities are subordinated to the goals of the capitalist owning classes to capture profits and market share by any means necessary and regardless of the human or environmental cost.  This means privatising education, criminalising redundant populations, profiting from prisons, profiting from health care, and so on.  And, above all, in terms of pedagogy in education, it means killing the radical spirit and even political imagination of our students, so that they become uncritical cogs in the national machine of capitalist production.  It means killing off the capacity in our students to ever imagine a better world.  In California, Common Core educational standards emphasise evidence-based reasoning.  But, if the educational content being presented to students is narrowed and sterilised, and students are never asked to question the authority or validity of the truth-claims being taught, then there is a gaping hole in our students’ capacity for meaningful critical thinking and knowledge-building.  Books have been written to counter many of the problems with the educational content being presented to our students.  Dr. James W. Loewen‘s Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong is one example.  Dr. Howard Zinn‘s A People’s History of the United States is another.  And, of course, the epic documentary film series, The Untold History of the United States, by Oliver Stone and Dr. Peter Kuznets is another excellent example of a valuable resource to supplement educational content.  Yet, sadly, most Americans have acquiesced to these totalitarian trends.

For an excellent academic paper addressing some of these themes, read:  Benson, P., & Kirsch, S.. (2010). Capitalism and the Politics of Resignation. Current Anthropology, 51(4), 459–486. http://doi.org/10.1086/653091  Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/653091

[7]  As noted above, the focus is kept on fomenting a fear of a Donald Trump presidency, apparently intended to trigger fear-based decision-making responses in the audience to steer voters toward voting for Hillary Clinton.  Of all the chapters, Juan González chose to focus on the one chapter on Trump.  In the absence, of any meaningful inclusion of Dr. Jill Stein in the overarching, ongoing, political analyses and discussions within Democracy Now!‘s 2016 presidential election coverage, it becomes clear that the suggestion is toward Hillary Clinton as the antithesis to a Donald Trump presidency, not toward other alternatives to the two-party status quo, such as the Green Party’s Dr. Jill Stein, whose campaign platform, ironically, is more closely aligned to the ideals of Democracy Now! than is Hillary Clinton’s campaign platform.

[8]  Here we see Dr. Henry Giroux undermining the Trump-as-bogeyman fearmongering agenda of Democracy Now!  Yes, Trump is bad for America.  But so is the neoliberal agenda of Hillary Clinton.  Trump is not “some essence of evil” or bogeyman, as Dr. Giroux subtly informs his Democracy Now! hosts.  It is this larger, neoliberal capitalist imperative, which must be confronted, and which is perpetuated by the two-party system, the two-party dictatorship.  And it is that imperative, that system, which is being perpetuated by an uncritical acquiescence to a cartelised two-party system, which, by definition, kills political diversity and kills our political imagination.

Unfortunately, this subtle admonishment is not enough to make explicit the terrible mistakes of journalism, which Democracy Now! is making by predominantly framing their 2016 U.S. presidential election coverage within a narrow two-party framework, even despite token broadcasts featuring the Green Party’s Dr. Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka.

[9]  Dr. Noam Chomsky and others have also written compellingly about the historical trend towards fascism, totalitarianism, or authoritarianism in the United States since, at least, the 1960s government backlash against civic engagement, or political engagement, or as Project Censored’s Andy Lee Roth has recently noted, experiencing democracy on a daily basis, rather than as a shallow participation every few years, in which one passively (and often thoughtlessly) chooses an electoral choice from a predetermined menu, which one had no participatory role in creating.

[10]  Indeed, various experts have written, and commented, about the incompatibility between democracy and capitalism (i.e., capitalist modes of production).

(I’ll have to find a few of those references and include them in this footnote.  A great place to start is with understanding capital and capitalism.  Ilan Ziv‘s Capitalism: A Six-Part Series is a highly accessible and intellectually sound entry point for anyone interested in understanding the capitalist modes of production, which circumscribe all of our lives.)

Essentially, democracy calls for meaningful participation from the citizenry in expressing its political, its socioeconomic, will, which elected leaders and state officials are charged with operationalising.  Capitalism, or capitalist modes of production, on the other hand, prioritise property rights and profit motive above all other considerations, such as democracy in the workplace.  Capitalism requires authoritarianism or fascism in the workplace.  Capitalist labour relations, by definition, involve uneven power relations in which a capitalist employer has all of the power in negotiating wages and working conditions; and employees of capitalists have no choice but to take it or leave it.  This causes income inequality from the start of capitalistic enterprise between the working classes and the capitalist owning classes, the owners of capital, of businesses and corporations.  At the core of capitalist relations we find these uneven power relations and conditions of exploitation.

And, since we allow money to influence our political process, obviously, the owning classes have an advantage in unduly influencing political messaging and propaganda in the nation.  This power differential between the working classes and the capitalist owning classes is why, for example, the nation’s tax burden has been perpetually shifted from corporations (once known as royal charters) onto the working classes, such that income tax, as we now know it, didn’t start in earnest until 1913 with the ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution.  Prior to that, since the nation’s inception, it was understood that the largest corporations could, and should, solely bear the nation’s tax burden.

And, of course, since we went off the gold standard in 1971 under Richard Nixon, taxes function much differently now.  This point brings us, eventually, to modern monetary theory (or modern money theory).  In 1971, the Nixon administration was mired in the American military efforts to control Vietnamese political self-determination (i.e., the so-called Vietnam War).  At that point, the U.S., essentially, ran out of gold and closed the gold window.  So, Nixon ended the international convertibility of the U.S. dollar into gold.  Thus, nowadays, as Dr. Stephanie Kelton and other heterodox economists explainTaxes, technically, don’t pay for anything because all modern money exists as an IOU.  These government IOUs are lent, or spent, into creation by the state.  And when they return to the state in the form of tax payments, those IOUs are extinguished, are erasedDr. Kelton would emphasise this point by reminding us that the federal reserve actually shred that money, which can be observed whenever one takes a tour of a federal reserve bank.

Obviously, the people, the working classes, would rather not be taxed on their income, as it limits their purchasing power, their livelihoods.  But, because of the incompatibility between capitalism and democracy, the people’s popular will is subordinated to that of the capitalist owning and ruling classes.  But the tax code is only one example of the social ills caused and exacerbated by capitalist modes of production.  Other problems arise in self-serving industry deregulation of safety and environmental protections through political interventions by capitalist elites.  A recent example is the Dakota Access pipeline being built through the sovereign indigenous lands.  Native American leaders have led the resistance to this capitalist project and have been met with violence, repression, and even attack dogs.  Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman, as noted above, is even facing criminal trespass charges for filming the state violence against First Amendment activities.

But, virtually everywhere we turn in society, we can see capitalist profit motive at odds with humanity.  This is why capitalist modes of production are incompatible with democracy, because the will of unqualified profit motive is at odds with the needs of a nation, or socioeconomic polity.

[11]  This is the form of false consciousness in which the left isolates itself into narrow silos, which are narrowly focused on single-issue politics, often identity politics.

***

[14 OCT 2016]

[Last modified 17:26 PDT  17 OCT 2016]

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