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Radical Democracy Against Cultures of Violence

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. – Nelson Mandela

Guy Debord once argued that the spectacle suggests society\’s desire for sleep.[1] He was enormously prescient, and his words and work are more important today than when they were first written. The spectacle has been energized and reworked under the forces of neoliberalism and now promotes a mix of infantilism, brutality, disposability and lawlessness. As the visibility of extreme violence is endlessly reproduced in various cultural apparatuses and screen cultures, colonizing pleasure in its service, it functions increasingly, alongside a range of other economic and political forces, to legitimate a culture of cruelty and disposability in everyday life. Pleasure is now colonized in the service of violence, reinforcing Rustom Bharacuha\’s claim that \”there is an echo of the pornographic in maximizing the pleasure of violence.\”[2]

To read more articles by Henry A. Giroux and other authors in the Public Intellectual Project, click here.

Casino capitalism feeds on the spectacle, whitewashing history while ensuring the triumph of form over substance. Violence is not simply glorified, it is also spectacularized in more graphic, stirring and dazzling digitally induced dramatic depictions. Violence is the new state-supported and institutionalized obscenity, parading as both entertainment and an honorific social ideal to celebrate those who inhabit its repressive state apparatuses – from its war machine to its local police regimes. Violence and politics are no longer separate but permeate each other in contemporary American society, contributing \”to the suppression of the very conditions necessary to build a [democratic social order and] polity.\”[3] Such violence promotes a state of moral, emotional and intellectual anesthesia in which real violence seems technically imperfect compared to its Hollywood, television and screen culture versions, not to mention its celebration of an idiotic celebrity culture, which constitutes an assault on the very spirit of agency and the radical imagination. One consequence is that society now resembles a war machine as the welfare state is transformed into the punishing state and death zones proliferate.

via Radical Democracy Against Cultures of Violence.

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