by Robert Wilkinson
There are few articulate, thorough, and comprehensible public philosophers. Henry Grioux is one of them. I've read his material for quite a while, and while it can be VERY dense filled with complex ideas arrived at through rigorous critical thinking, it's definitely worth the read. This article articulates a clear threat to democracy awakening in the US. Should it succeed, I have no doubt it will reawaken in other places,
Civil public discourse is being hijacked by authoritarians. These times echo prior epochs (think the '30s, the last time the Grand Irrationality was in full force) when intimidation and violence were the tools to quash reasonable dialogue and critical thinking. Though the news would have us believe there is an actual (if rowdy) dialogue going on regarding health care and other topics, in actuality these are not spontaneous outpourings of a population outraged with business as usual, but rather a cleverly organized series of staged actions to undermine democracy itself.
It would be a good thing to read the article in its entirety, since the man is highly articulate and well-reasoned in his points. There's a link to the article on TruthOut at the end of this excerpt, along with links to more about The Grand Irrationality. For now, here's a taste of the article (paragraph breaks inserted to make it more readable):
The United States is neither Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, nor does it bear a resemblance to Pinchot's Chile. What is important to recognize in light of these violent tendencies in the culture is Hannah Arendt's prescient warning that elements of totalitarianism continue to be with us and that rather than relegated to the dustbin of history, the "still existing elements of totalitarianism would be more likely to crystallize into new forms." 
These tendencies have been around for the last 20 years in the form of militarism, religious fundamentalism, a rabid economic Darwinism and a growing violence against the poor, immigrants, dissenters, and others marginalized because of their age, gender, race, ethnicity, politics and color. What is new under the Obama regime is that the often hidden alliance between corporate power and the forces of extremism are now both celebrated and highly visible in the culture. What is new is that the production of violence and the organized attempts to undermine the most basic principles of democracy are now embraced, if not showcased, as a register of patriotism and then offered up as a spectacle in much of the mainstream media.
Under such circumstances, politics is emptied of any substance as citizens are urged to participate in the public sphere by shutting it down - screaming inane slogans in order to cancel out the very process of political participation. Shaming and silencing those who are at odds with right-wing and corporate power and its orthodox and increasing reactionary views of the world has now become a national pastime, or as the fatuous Glenn Beck would claim, just common sense.
Some have referred to these groups as mobs, but that distinction does not hold since many of the protesters are being fed talking points and are well organized to target very specific Democratic Congressional representatives. Mob rule is often spontaneous, while these rowdy, gun-toting and increasingly violent groups are being organized and legitimated through the money and power of the insurance industry, lobbying groups such as FreedomWorks, anti-government politicians, racist fringe groups and elements of the white militia.
They are generally uninformed, politically illiterate and harbor an acute disdain for debate, thoughtfulness and dialogue. In other words, they disdain critical exchange and view as a pathology any vestige of Democratic governance, politics and representation. They are part of a fringe element within the GOP that has moved increasingly from the margins to the center of power.
The media has often focused, if not cashed in, on the rowdiness of these groups - treating them as simply angry citizens with a point of view as opposed to being members of a deeply authoritarian campaign organized not only to disrupt Obama's health care reforms but also to gut and destroy those spaces in American society where democracy can be nourished. Such groups have to be understood as being mobilized not merely to promote symbolic and real violence, but also as a growing movement that promotes a willful misreading of the meaning of the freedom, security and human rights.
What is crucial to recognize is that the groups who are shouting out and disrupting health care meetings are also the same people who want to privatize and corporatize public schooling, eliminate all vestiges of the social state and destroy all remnants of those public spheres that promote critical literacy, civic courage and those noncommodified values that give meaning to a democracy.
He cuts a wide wake in his arguments for creating spaces where democracy can be nurtured, and the need of a society to guard the ability for diverse opinions and voices to be heard without threat of intimidation and thuggery. Again, a fairly dense read, but one worth the time.
Via TruthOut, for your consideration,
Town Hall Democracy or Mob Hysteria? Rethinking the Importance of the Public Sphere by the remarkable Henry A. Giroux.
And for more on the on-going Grand Irrationality:
Spiritual Astrology in July-August-September 2009 Pt. 5 - The Grand Irrationality and When It Will Be Set Into Motion For Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, and Pisces
© Copyright 2009 Robert Wilkinson