FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Hardening of Society and the Rise of Cultures of Cruelty in Neo-Fascist America

by

Photo by Hayden Schiff | CC BY 2.0

Photo by Hayden Schiff | CC BY 2.0

 

What does the culture of cruelty look like under a neo-fascist regime?

First, language is emptied of any sense of ethics and compassion.

Second, a survival of the fittest discourse provides a breeding ground for racial and social sorting.

Third, references to justice are viewed as treasonous or, as at the present moment, labelled dismissively as “fake news.”

Fourth, the discourse of disposability extends to an increasing number of groups.

Fifth, ignorance becomes militarized, enforced not through an appeal to reason but through the use of the language of humiliation and eventually through the machinery of force.

Sixth, any form of dependency is viewed as a form of weakness, and becomes a referent and eventually a basis for social cleansing. That is, any form of solidarity not based on  market-driven values is subject to derision and potential punishment.

Seventh, the language of borders and walls replaces the discourse of bridges and compassion.

Eighth, violence becomes the most important method for addressing social problems and mediating all relationships, hence, the increasing criminalization of a wide range of behaviours in the United States.

Ninth, the word democracy disappears from officially mandated state language.

Tenth, the critical media is gradually defamed and eventually outlawed.

Eleventh, all forms of critical education present in theory, method, and institutionally are destroyed.

Twelfth, shared fears replace shared responsibilities and everyone is reduced to the status of a potential terrorist, watched constantly and humiliated through body searches at border crossings.

Thirteenth, all vestiges of the welfare state disappear and millions are subject to fending for themselves.

Fourteenth, massive inequalities in power, wealth, and income will generate a host of Reality TV shows celebrating the financial elite.

Underlying this project is one of the most powerfully oppressive ideologies of neoliberal neo-fascism. That is, the only unit of agency and analysis that matters is the isolated individual. Shared trust and visions of economic equality and political justice give way to individual terrors and self-blame reinforced by the neoliberal notion that people are solely responsible for their political, economic, and social misfortunes. Consequently, a hardening of the culture is buttressed by the force of state sanctioned cultural apparatuses that enshrine privatization in the discourse of self-reliance, unchecked self-interest, untrammeled individualism, and deep distrust of anything remotely called the common good. Freedom of choice becomes code for defining responsibility solely as an individual task, reinforced by a shameful appeal to character.

Liberal critics argue that choice absent the notion of constraints feeds Ayn Rand’s culture of rabid individualism and unchecked greed. What they miss in this neo-fascist moment is that the systemic evil, cruelty, and moral irresponsibility at the heart of neoliberalism makes Ayn Rand’s lunacy look tame. Rand’s world has been surpassed by a ruling class of financial elites that embody not the old style greed of Gordon Gekko in the film Wall Street, but the psychopathic personality of Patrick Bateman in American Psycho.

The notion that saving money by reducing the taxes of the rich justifies eliminating health care for 24 million people is just one example of how this culture of cruelty and hardening of the culture will play out.

Dark Times are truly upon us. There will be an acceleration of acts of violence under the Trump administration and the conditions for eliminating this new stage of state violence will mean not only understanding the roots of neo-fascism in the United States, but also eliminating the economic, political, and cultural forces that produced it.

There is more at work here than getting rid of Trump, there is a need to eliminate a system in which democracy is equated with capitalism, a system driven almost exclusively by financial interests, and beholden to two political parties that are hard wired into neoliberal savagery.

More articles by:

Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Ryerson University. His most recent books are America’s Education Deficit and the War on Youth (Monthly Review Press, 2013) and Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education (Haymarket Press, 2014). His web site is www.henryagiroux.com.

November 20, 2017
T.J. Coles
Doomsday Scenarios: the UK’s Hair-Raising Admissions About the Prospect of Nuclear War and Accident
Peter Linebaugh
On the 800th Anniversary of the Charter of the Forest
Sheldon Richman
Assertions, Facts and CNN
Ben Debney
Plebiscites: Why Stop at One?
LV Filson
Yemen’s Collective Starvation: Where Money Can’t Buy Food, Water or Medicine
Thomas Knapp
Impeachment Theater, 2017 Edition
Binoy Kampmark
Trump in Asia
Curtis FJ Doebbler
COP23: Truth Without Consequences?
Louisa Willcox
Obesity in Bears: Vital and Beautiful
Deborah James
E-Commerce and the WTO
Ann Garrison
Burundi Defies the Imperial Criminal Court: an Interview with John Philpot
Robert Koehler
Trapped in ‘a Man’s World’
Stephen Cooper
Wiping the Stain of Capital Punishment Clean
Weekend Edition
November 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Thank an Anti-War Veteran
Andrew Levine
What’s Wrong With Bible Thumpers Nowadays?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The CIA’s House of Horrors: the Abominable Dr. Gottlieb
Wendy Wolfson – Ken Levy
Why We Need to Take Animal Cruelty Much More Seriously
Mike Whitney
Brennan and Clapper: Elder Statesmen or Serial Fabricators?
David Rosen
Of Sex Abusers and Sex Offenders
Ryan LaMothe
A Christian Nation?
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Finger on the Button: Why No President Should Have the Authority to Launch Nuclear Weapons
W. T. Whitney
A Bizarre US Pretext for Military Intrusion in South America
Deepak Tripathi
Sex, Lies and Incompetence: Britain’s Ruling Establishment in Crisis 
Howard Lisnoff
Who You’re Likely to Meet (and Not Meet) on a College Campus Today
Roy Morrison
Trump’s Excellent Asian Adventure
John W. Whitehead
Financial Tyranny
Ted Rall
How Society Makes Victimhood a No-Win Proposition
Jim Goodman
Stop Pretending the Estate Tax has Anything to do With Family Farmers
Thomas Klikauer
The Populism of Germany’s New Nazis
Murray Dobbin
Is Trudeau Ready for a Middle East war?
Jeiddy Martínez Armas
Firearm Democracy
Jill Richardson
Washington’s War on Poor Grad Students
Ralph Nader
The Rule of Power Over the Rule of Law
Justin O'Hagan
Capitalism Equals Peace?
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: From the Red Sea to Nairobi
Geoff Dutton
The Company We Sadly Keep
Evan Jones
The Censorship of Jacques Sapir, French Dissident
Linn Washington Jr.
Meek Moment Triggers Demands for Justice Reform
Gerry Brown
TPP, Indo Pacific, QUAD: What’s Next to Contain China’s Rise?
Robert Fisk
The Exile of Saad Hariri
Romana Rubeo - Ramzy Baroud
Anti-BDS Laws and Pro-Israeli Parliament: Zionist Hasbara is Winning in Italy
Robert J. Burrowes
Why are Police in the USA so Terrified?
Chuck Collins
Stop Talking About ‘Winners and Losers’ From Corporate Tax Cuts
Ron Jacobs
Private Property Does Not Equal Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Mass Shootings, Male Toxicity and their Roots in Agriculture
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail