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Criminalizing Dissent and Punishing Occupy Protesters: Introduction to Henry Giroux’s "Youth in Revolt"

Thursday, 31 January 2013 06:22 By Henry A Giroux, Truthout | Book Excerpt

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Military-style command and control systems are now be­ing established to support "zero tolerance" policing and urban surveillance practices designed to exclude failed consumers or undesirable persons from the new enclaves of urban consumption and leisure.

—Stephen Graham 

Youth in Revolt.(Image: Paradigm Publishers)Young people are demonstrating all over the world against a variety of issues ranging from economic injustice and massive inequality to drastic cuts in education and public services.1 In the fall of 2011, on the tenth anniversary of September 11, as the United States revisited the tragic loss and celebrated the courage displayed on that torturous day, another kind of commemoration took place. The Occupy movement shone out like flame in the darkness—a beacon of the irrepressible spirit of democracy and a humane desire for justice. Unfortunately, the peacefully organized protests across America have often been met with derogatory commentaries in the mainstream media and, increasingly, state-sanctioned violence. The war against society has become a war against youthful protesters and in­creasingly bears a striking resemblance to the violence waged against Occupy movement protesters and the violence associ­ated with the contemporary war zone.2 Missing from both the dominant media and state and national politics is an attempt to critically engage the issues the protesters are raising, not to mention any attempt to dialogue with them over their strate­gies, tactics, and political concerns. That many young people have become "a new class of stateless individuals ... cast into a threatening and faceless mass whose identities collapse into the language of debt, survival, and disposability" appears to have escaped the attention of the mainstream media.3 Matters of justice, human dignity, and social responsibility have given way to a double gesture that seeks to undercut democratic public spheres through the criminalization of dissent while also resorting to crude and violent forms of punishment as the only mediating tools to use with young people who are at­tempting to open a new conversation about politics, inequality, and social justice.

 

In the United States, the state monopoly on the use of violence has intensified since the 1980s and in the process has been di­rected disproportionately against young people, poor minorities, immigrants, women, and the elderly. Guided by the notion that unregulated, market-driven values and relations should shape every domain of human life, a business model of governance has eviscerated any viable notion of social responsibility and conscience, thereby furthering the dismissal of social problems and expanding cutbacks in basic social services.4 The examples are endless, but one in particular stands out. In March 2012, Texas governor Rick Perry7 joined eight other states in passing legislation to ban funding for clinics, including Planned Parent­hood facilities, affiliated with abortion services for women.5 As a result, the federal government has stopped funding the Texas Women's Health Program. Unfortunately, this attempt by Perry to punish all women because of his antiabortion stance means that more than 130,000 women in Texas will not have access to vital services ranging from mammograms to health care for their children. There is more at work here than a resurgent war on women and their children or "an insane bout of mass misogyny."8 There is also a deep-seated religious and political authoritarianism that has become one of the fundamental pil­lars of what I call a neoliberal culture of cruelty. As the welfare state is hollowed out. a culture of compassion is replaced by a culture of violence, cruelty, waste, and disposability.7 Banks, hedge funds, and finance capital as the contemporary registers of class power have a new visibility, and their spokespersons are unabashedly blunt in supporting a corporate culture in which "ruthlessness is prized and money is the ultimate measure."8 Collective insurance policies and social protections have given way to the forces of economic deregulation, the transformation of the welfare state into punitive workfare programs, the privatiza­tion of public goods, and an appeal to individual culpability as a substitute for civic responsibility. At the same time, violence—or what Anne-Marie Cusac calls "American punishment"—travels from our prisons and schools to various aspects of our daily lives, "becoming omnipresent ... [from] the shows we watch on television, [to] the way many of us treat children [to] some influential religious practices."9

 

David Harvey has argued that neoliberalism is "a political proj­ect to re-establish the conditions for capital accumulation and to restore the power of economic elites" through the implementation of "an institutional framework characterized by strong private property rights, free markets, and free trade."10 Neoliberalism is also a pedagogical project designed to create particular subjects, desires, and values defined largely by market considerations. National destiny becomes linked to a market-driven logic in which freedom is stripped down to freedom from government regulation, freedom to consume, and freedom to say anything one wants, regardless of how racist or toxic the consequences might be. This neoliberal notion of freedom is abstracted from any sense of civic responsibility or social cost. In fact, "neoliberalism is grounded in the idea of the 'free, possessive individual,'" with the state cast "as tyrannical and oppressive."11 The welfare state, in particular, becomes the archenemy of freedom. As Stuart Hall points out, according to apostles of free-market fundamentalism, 'The state must never govern society, dictate to free individuals how to dispose of their private property, regulate a free-market economy or interfere with the God-given right to make profits and amass personal wealth."12

 

Paradoxically, neoliberalism severely proscribes any vestige of social and civic agency through the figure of the isolated automaton for whom choice is reduced to the practice of end­less shopping, fleeing from any sense of civic obligation, and safeguarding a radically individualized existence. Neoliberal governance translates into a state that attempts to substitute individual security for social welfare but in doing so offers only the protection of gated communities for the privileged and incarceration for those considered flawed consumers or threats to the mythic ideal of a white Christian nation. Neoliberalism refuses to recognize how private troubles are connected to broader systemic issues, legitimating instead an ode to self-reliance in which the experience of personal misfortune becomes merely the just desserts delivered by the righteous hand of the free market—not a pernicious outcome of the social order being hijacked by an antisocial ruling elite and forced to serve a narrow set of interests. Critical thought and human agency are rendered impotent as neoliberal rationality "substitutes emotional and personal vocabularies for political ones in formulating solutions to political problems."13 Within such a depoliticized discourse, youths are told that there is no dream of the collective, no viable social bonds, only the ac­tions of autonomous individuals who must rely on their own resources and who bear sole responsibility for the effects of larger systemic political and economic problems.

 

Under the regime of neoliberalism, no claims are recognized that call for compassion, justice, and social responsibility. No claims are recognized that demand youths have a future better than the present, and no claims are recognized in which young people assert the need to narrate themselves as part of a broader struggle for global justice and radical democracy. Parading as a species of democracy, neoliberal economics and ideology cancel out democracy "as the incommensurable sharing of existence that makes the political possible."14 Symptoms of ethical, politi­cal, and economic impoverishment are all around us. And, as if that were not enough, at the current moment in history we are witnessing the merging of violence and governance along with a systemic disinvestment in and breakdown of institutions and public spheres that have provided the minimal conditions for democracy and the principles of communal responsibil­ity. Young people are particularly vulnerable. As Jean-Marie Durand points out, "Youth is no longer considered the world's future, but as a threat to its present. [For] youth, there is no longer any political discourse except for a disciplinary one."13

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

As young people make diverse claims on the promise of a radical democracy in the streets, on campuses, and at other occupied sites, articulating what a fair and just world might be, they are treated as criminal populations—rogue groups incapable of toeing the line, "prone to irrational, intemperate and unpredictable" behavior.16 Moreover, they are increasingly subjected to orchestrated modes of control and containment, if not police violence. Such youths are now viewed as the enemy by the political and corporate establishment because they make visible the repressed images of the common good and the impor­tance of democratic public spheres, public services, the social state, and a society shaped by democratic values rather than market values. Youthful protesters and others are reclaiming the repressed memories of the Good Society and a social state that once, as Zygmunt Bauman has pointed out, "endorsed collective insurance against individual misfortune and its consequences."17 Bauman explains that such a state "lifts members of society to the status of citizens—that is, makes them stake-holders in addition to being stock-holders, beneficiaries but also actors responsible for the benefits' creation and availability, individuals with acute interest in the common good understood as the shared institutions that can be trusted to assure solidity and reliability of the state-issued 'collective insurance policy.'"18 In an attempt to excavate the repressed memories of the welfare state, David Theo Goldberg spells out in detail the specific mechanisms and policies it produced in the name of the general welfare between the 1930s and 1970s in the United States. He writes,

 

From the 1930s through the 1970s, the liberal democratic state had offered a more or less robust set of institutional appara­tuses concerned in principle at least to advance the welfare of its citizens. This was the period of advancing social security, welfare safety nets, various forms of national health system, the expansion of and investment in public education, including higher education, in some states to the exclusion of private and religiously sponsored educational institutions. It saw the emer­gence of state bureaucracies as major employers especially in later years of historically excluded groups. And all this, in turn, offered optimism among a growing proportion of the populace for access to middle-class amenities, including those previously racially excluded within the state and new immigrants from the global south.19

 

Young people today are protesting against a strengthening global capitalist project that erases the benefits of the welfare state and the possibility of a radical notion of democracy. They are protesting against a neoliberal project of accumulation, dispossession, deregulation, privatization, and commodification that leaves them out of any viable notion of the future. They are rejecting and resisting a form of casino capitalism that has ushered in a permanent revolution marked by a massive project of depoliticization, on the one hand, and an aggressive, if not savage, practice of distributing upward wealth, income, and op­portunity for the 1 percent on the other. Under neoliberalism, every moment, space, practice, and social relation offers the possibility of financial investment, or what Ernst Bloch once called the "swindle of fulfillment."20 Goods, services, and targeted human beings are ingested into its waste machine and dismissed and disposed of as excess. Flawed consumers are now assigned the status of damaged and defective human beings. Resistance to such oppressive policies and practices does not come easily, and many young people are paying a price for such resistance. According to OccupyArrests.com, "there have been at least 6705 arrests in over 112 different cities as of March 6, 2012."21

 

Occupy movement protests and state-sponsored violence "have become a mirror"—and I would add a defining feature—"of the contemporary state."22 Abandoned by the existing political system, young people in Oakland, California, New York City, and numerous other cities have placed their bodies on the line, protesting peacefully while trying to produce a new language, politics, and "community that manifests the values of equality and mutual respect that they see missing in a world that is structured by neoliberal principles."23 Well aware that the spaces, sites, and spheres for the representation of their voices, desires, and concerns have collapsed, they have occupied a number of spaces ranging from public parks to college campuses in an effort to create a public forum where they can narrate themselves and their visions of the future while representing the misfortunes, suffering, and hopes of the unemployed, poor, incarcerated, and marginalized. This movement is not simply about reclaiming space but also about producing new ideas, generating a new conversation, and introducing a new political language.

 

Rejecting the notion that democracy and markets are the same, young people are calling for the termination of corporate control over the commanding institutions of politics, culture, and economics, an end to the suppression of dissent, and a shutting down of the permanent warfare state. Richard Lichtman is right to insist that the Occupy movement should be praised for its embrace of communal democracy as well as an emerging set of shared concerns, principles, and values articulated "by a demand for equality, or, at the very least, for a significant lessening of the horrid extent of inequality; for a working democracy; for the elimination of the moneyed foun­dation of politics; for the abolition of political domination by a dehumanized plutocracy; for the replacement of ubiquitous commodification by the reciprocal recognition of humanity in the actions of its agents."24 As Arundhati Roy points out, what connects the protests in the United States to resistance move­ments all over the globe is that young people "know that their being excluded from the obscene amassing of wealth of U.S. corporations is part of the same system of the exclusion and war that is being waged by these corporations in places like India, Africa, and the Middle East."25 Of course, Lichtman, Roy, and others believe that this is just the beginning of a movement and that much needs to be done, as Staughton Lynd argues, to build new strategies, a vast network of new institutions and public spheres, a community of trust, and political organiza­tion that invites poor people into its ranks.26 Stanley Aronowitz goes further and insists that the Occupy movement needs to bring together the fight for economic equality and security with the task of reshaping American institutions along genuinely democratic lines.27

 

All of these issues are important, but what must be addressed in the most immediate sense is the danger the emerging police state in the United States poses not just to the young protesters occupying a number of American cities but to democracy itself. This threat is particularly evident in the results of a merging of neoliberal modes of discipline and education with a warlike mentality in which it becomes nearly impossible to reclaim the language of obligation, compassion, community, social re­sponsibility, and civic engagement. And unless the actions of young protesters, however diverse they may be, are understood alongside a robust notion of the social, civic courage, com­munal bonds, and the imperatives of a vital democracy, it will be difficult for the American public to challenge state violence and the framing of protest, dissent, and civic engagement as un-American or, worse, as a species of criminal behavior.

 

Although considerable coverage has been given in the pro­gressive media to the violence being waged against the Occupy protesters, these analyses rarely go far enough. I want to build on these critiques by arguing that it is important to situate the growing police violence within a broader set of categories that both enables a critical understanding of the underlying social, economic, and political forces at work in such assaults and al­lows us to reflect critically on the distinctiveness of the current historical period in which they are taking place. For example, it is difficult to address such state-sponsored violence against young people and the Occupy movement without analyzing the devolution of the social state and the corresponding rise of the warfare and punishing state.'2b The notion of historical conjunc­ture is important here because it both provides an opening into the diverse forces shaping a particular moment and allows for a productive balance of theory and strategy to inform future interventions. That is. it helps us to address theoretically how youth protests are largely related to and might resist a histori­cally specific neoliberal project that promotes vast inequalities in income and wealth, creates the student-loan debt bomb, eliminates much-needed social programs, privileges profits and commodities over people, and eviscerates the social wage.

Within the United States, the often violent response to non­violent forms of youth protest must also be analyzed within the framework of a mammoth military-industrial state and its commitment to war and the militarization of the entire society. The merging of the military-industrial complex and unchecked finance capital points to the need for strategies that address what is specific about the current warfare state and the neo­liberal project that legitimates it. That is, what are the diverse practices, interests, modes of power, social relations, public pedagogies, and economic configurations that shape the poli­tics of the punishing state? Focusing on the specifics of the current historical conjuncture is invaluable politically in that such an approach makes visible the ideologies, policies, and modes of governance produced by the neoliberal warfare state. When neoliberal mechanisms of power and ideology are made visible, it becomes easier for the American public to challenge the common assumptions that legitimate these apparatuses of power. This type of interrogative strategy also reclaims the necessity of critical thought, civic engagement, and democratic politics by invoking the pedagogical imperative that humans not only make history but can alter its course and future direction.

For many young people today, human agency is denned as a mode of self-reflection and critical social engagement rather than a surrender to a paralyzing and unchallengeable fate. Likewise, democratic expression has become fundamental to their existence. Many young people are embracing democracy not merely as a mode of governance, but more importantly, as Bill Moyers points out, as a means of dignifying people "so they become fully free to claim their moral and political agency."29 Human agency has become a vital force to struggle over as part of an ongoing project in which the future remains an open horizon that cannot be dismissed through appeals to the end of history or end of ideology.30 But to understand how politics refuses any guarantees and resistance becomes possible, we must first understand the present. Following Stuart Hall. I want to argue that the current historical moment, or what he calls the "long march of the Neoliberal Revolution,"31 has to be understood not only through the emergent power of finance capital and its institutions but also in terms of the growing forms of authoritarian violence that it deploys and reinforces. I want to address these antidemocratic pressures and their relationship to the rising protests of young people in the United States and abroad through the lens of two interrelated crises: the crisis of governing through violence and the crisis of what Alex Honneth has called "a failed sociality"32—which currently conjoin as a driving force to dismantle any viable notion of public pedagogy and civic education. If we are not to fall prey to a third crisis—"the crisis of negation"33—then it is imperative that we recognize the hope symbolized and embodied by young people across America and their attempt to remake society in order to ensure a better, more democratic future for us all.

The Crisis of Governing through Violence

 

The United States is addicted to violence, and this dependency is fueled increasingly by its willingness to wage war at home and abroad.34 As Andrew Bacevich rightly argues, "war has be­come a normal condition [matched by] Washington's seemingly irrevocable abandonment of any semblance of self-restraint regarding the use of violence as an instrument of statecraft."35 But war in this instance is not merely the outgrowth of policies designed 'to protect the security- and well-being of the United States. It is also, as C. Wright Mills pointed out. part of a "mili­tary metaphysics"36—a complex of forces that includes corpora­tions, defense industries, politicians, financial institutions, and universities. The culture of war provides jobs, profits, political payoffs, research funds, and forms of political and economic power that reach into every aspect of society. War is also one of the nation's most honored virtues. Its militaristic values now bear down on almost every aspect of American life.37 Similarly, as the governing-through-violence complex becomes normalized in the broader society, it continually works in a variety of ways to erode any distinction between war and peace.

 

Increasingly stoked by a moral arnd political hysteria, war­like values produce and endorse shared fears and organized violence as the primary registers of social relations. The con­ceptual merging of war and violence is evident in the ways in which the language of militarization is now used by politicians to address a range of policies as if they are operating on a battlefield or in a war zone. War becomes the adjective of choice as policymakers talk about waging war on drugs, poverty, and the underclass. There is more at work here than the prevalence of armed knowledge and a militarized discourse; there is also the emergence of a militarized society in which "the range of acceptable opinion inevitably shrinks."38 And this choice of vocabulary and slow narrowing of democratic vision further enable the use of violence as an instrument of domestic policy.

 

How else to explain that the United States has become the punishing state par excellence, as indicated by the hideous fact that while it contains "5 percent of the Earth's population, it is home to nearly a quarter of its prisoners"?39 Senator Lindsay Graham made this very clear in his rhetorical justification of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act by stating "that under this Act the U.S. homeland is considered a 'battlefield.'"40 The ominous implications behind this statement, especially for Oc­cupy movement protesters, became obvious in light of the fact that the act gives the US government the right to detain "U.S. citizens indefinitely without charge or trial if deemed necessary by the president.... Detentions can follow mere membership, past or present, in 'suspect organizations.'"41

 

Since 9/11, the war on terror and the campaign for home­land security have increasingly mimicked the tactics of the enemies they sought to crush and as such have become a war on democracy. A new military urbanism has taken root the United States as state surveillance projects proliferate, signaling what Stephen Graham calls "the startling militariza­tion of civil society—the extension of military ideas of tracking, identification, and targeting into the quotidian spaces and circulations of everyday life."42 This is partly evident in the ongoing militarization of police departments throughout the United States. Baton-wielding cops are now being supplied with the latest military equipment imported straight from the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan. Military technologies once used exclusively on the battlefield are now being supplied to police units across the nation: drones, machine-gun-equipped armored trucks, SWAT-type vehicles, "digital communications equipment, and Kevlar helmets, like those used by soldiers used in foreign wars."43 The domestic war against "terrorists" (code for young protesters) provides new opportunities for major defense contractors and corporations to become "more a part of our domestic lives."44 As Glenn Greenwald points out, the United States since 9/11

has aggressively paramilitarized the nation's domestic police forces by lavishing them with countless military-style weapons and other war-like technologies, training them in war-zone mili­tary tactics, and generally imposing a war mentality on them. Arming domestic police forces with paramilitary weaponry will ensure their systematic use even in the absence of a terrorist attack on U.S. soil; they will simply find other, increasingly permissive uses for those weapons.45

 

These domestic paramilitary forces also undermine free speech and dissent through the sheer threat of violence while often wielding power that runs roughshod over civil liberties, human rights, and civic responsibilities.46 Given that "by age 23, almost a third of Americans are arrested for a crime," it is not unreason­able to assume that in the new militarized state the perception of young people as predators, threats to corporate governance, and disposable objects will intensify, as will the growth of a punish­ing state that acts out against young protesters in increasingly unrestrained and savage ways.47 Young people, particularly poor minorities of color, have already become the targets of what David Theo Goldberg calls "extraordinary power in the name of securitization ... [viewed as] unruly populations ... [who] are to be subjected to necropolitical discipline through the threat of imprisonment or death, physical or social."4

 

Shared fears and the media hysteria that promotes them pro­duce more than a culture of suspects and unbridled intimidation. Fear on a broad public scale serves the interests of policymakers who support a growing militarization of the police along with the corporations that supply high-tech scanners, surveillance cameras, riot extinguishers, and toxic chemicals—all of which are increasingly used with impunity on anyone who engages in peaceful protests against the warfare and corporate state.49 Im­ages abound in the mainstream media of such abuses. There is the now famous image of an eighty-four-year-old woman looking straight into a camera, her face drenched in a liquid spray used by the police after attending a protest rally. There is the image of a woman who is two months pregnant being carried to safety after being pepper-sprayed by the police. By now, the images of young people being dragged by their hair across a street to a waiting police van have become all too familiar.50 Some protesters have been seriously hurt, as in the case of Scott Olsen. an Iraq War veteran who was critically injured in a protest in Oakland in October 2011. Too much of this violence is reminiscent of the violence used against civil rights demonstrators by the enforcers of Jim Crow in the 1950s and 1960s.51

 

No longer restricted to a particular military ideology, the celebration and permeation of warlike values throughout the culture have hastened the militarization of the entire society. As Michael Geyer points out, militarization can be defined as "the contradictory and tense social process in which civil society organizes itself for the production of violence."52 As the late Tony Judt put it, "The United States is becoming not just a militarized state but a military society: a country where armed power is the measure of national greatness, and war, or planning for war, is the exemplary (and only) common project."55 But the prevailing intensification of American society's permanent war status does more than embrace a set of unifying symbols that promote a survival-of-the-fittest ethic, conformity over dissent, the strong over the weak, and fear over responsibility. Such a move also gives rise to a "failed sociality" in which violence becomes the most important tool of power and the mediating force in shaping social relationships.

A state that embraces a policy of permanent war needs willing subjects to abide by its values, ideology, and narratives of fear and violence. Such legitimation is largely provided through people’s immersion in a market-driven society that appears increasingly addicted to consumerism, militarism, and the spectacles of violence endlessly circulated through popular culture.54 Examples of the violent fare on offer extend from the realm of high fashion and Hollywood movies to extreme sports, video games, and music concerts sponsored by the Pentagon.55 The market-driven celebration of a militaristic mind-set de­mands a culture of conformity, quiet intellectuals, and a largely passive republic of consumers. It also needs subjects who find intense pleasure in spectacles of violence.56

 

In a society saturated with hyperviolence and spectacular representations of cruelty, it becomes more difficult for the American public to respond politically and ethically to the violence as it is actually happening on the ground. In this in­stance, previously unfamiliar violence such as extreme images of torture and death become banally familiar, while familiar violence that occurs daily is barely recognized, relegated to the realm of the unnoticed and unnoticeable. How else to explain the public indifference to the violence inflicted on nonviolent youth protesters who are raising their voices against a state in which they have been excluded from any claim on hope, pros­perity, and democracy? While an increasing volume of brutal­ity is pumped into the culture, yesterday's spine-chilling and nerve-wrenching displays of violence lose their shock value. As the demand for more intense images of violence accumulates, the moral indifference and desensitization to violence grow, while matters of savage cruelty and suffering are offered up as fodder for sports, entertainment, news media, and other pleasure-seeking outlets.

 

As American culture is more and more marked by exag­gerated aggression and a virulent notion of hard masculinity, state violence—particularly the use of torture, abductions, and targeted assassinations—wins public support and requires little or no justification as US exceptionalism becomes accepted by many Americans as a matter of common sense.57 The social impacts of a "political culture of hyper punitiveness"58 can be seen in how structures of discipline and punishment have in­filtrated the social order like a highly charged electric current. For example, the growing taste for violence can be seen in the criminalization of behaviors such as homelessness that once elicited compassion and social protection. We throw the home­less in jail instead of building houses, just as we increasingly send poor, semiliterate students to jail instead of providing them with a decent education. Similarly, instead of creating jobs for the unemployed, we allow banks to foreclose on their mortgages and in some cases put jobless people in debtors' prisons. The prison in the twenty-first century7 becomes a way of making the effects of ruthless power invisible by making the victims of such power disappear. As Angela Davis points out, "According to this logic the prison becomes a way of disappearing people in the false hope of disappearing the underlying social problems they represent."39 As the notion of the social is emptied out. criminality is now defined as an essential part of a person's identity. As a rhetoric of punishment gains ground in American society, social problems are reduced to character flaws, insuf­ficient morality, or a eugenicist notion of being "born evil."60

 

Another symptomatic example of the way in which violence has saturated everyday life and produced a "failed sociality" can be seen in the growing acceptance by the American pub­lic of modeling public schools after prisons and criminalizing the behavior of young people in public schools. Incidents that were traditionally handled by teachers, guidance counselors, and school administrators are now dealt with by the police and the criminal justice system. The consequences have been disastrous for young people. Not only do schools increasingly resemble the culture of prisons, but young children are being arrested and subjected to court appearances for behaviors that can only be called trivial. How else to explain the case of the five-year-old student in Florida who was put in handcuffs and taken to the local jail because she had a temper tantrum, or the case of Alexa Gonzales in New York, who was arrested for doodling on her desk? Or twelve-year-old Sarah Bustamatenes, who was pulled from a Texas classroom, charged with a crimi­nal misdemeanor, and hauled into court because she sprayed perfume on herself?61 How do we explain the arrest of a thirteen-year-old student in a Maryland school for refusing to say the pledge of allegiance?62 Or the case of a sixteen-year-old student with an IQ below 70 being pepper-sprayed because he did not understand a question asked by the police officer in his school? After being pepper-sprayed, the startled youth started swinging his arms and for that was charged with two counts of assault on a public servant and faces a possible prison sentence .63 In

The most extreme cases, children have been beaten, Tasered, and killed by the police.

 

These examples may still be unusual enough to shock, though they are becoming more commonplace. What must be recognized is that too many schools have become combat zones in which students are routinely subjected to metal detectors, surveillance cameras, uniformed security guards, weapons searches, and in some cases SWAT raids and police dogs sniffing for drugs.64 Under such circumstances, the purpose of school­ing becomes to contain and punish young people, especially those marginalized by race and class, rather than educate them. "Arrests and police interactions ... disproportionately affect low-income schools with large African-American and Latino populations."65 For the many disadvantaged students being funnelled into the "school-to-prison pipeline," schools ensure that their futures look grim indeed as their educational experiences acclimatize them to forms of carceral treatment.66 There is more at work here than a flight from responsibility on the part of educators, parents, and politicians who support and maintain policies that fuel this expanding edifice of law enforce­ment against youth. Underlying the repeated decisions to turn away from helping young people is the growing sentiment that youths, particularly minorities of color and class, constitute a threat to adults and the only effective way to deal with them is to subject them to mind-crushing punishment. Students being miseducated, criminalized, and arrested through a form of pe­nal pedagogy in prison-type schools provides a grave reminder of the degree to which the ethos of containment and punishment now creeps into spheres of everyday life that were largely im­mune in the past to this type of state and institutional violence.

 

The era of failed sociality that Americans now inhabit reminds us that we live in a time that breaks young people, devalues justice, and saturates the minute details of everyday life with the constant threat, if not reality, of violence. The medieval turn to embracing forms of punishment that inflict pain on the psyches and bodies of young people is part of a larger immersion of society in public spectacles of violence. The control society67 is now the ultimate form of entertainment in America, as the pain of others, especially those considered disposable and pow­erless, is no longer a subject of compassion but one of ridicule and amusement. High-octane violence and human suffering are now considered consumer entertainment products designed to raise the collective pleasure quotient. Brute force and savage killing replayed over and over in the culture function as part of an anti-immune system that turns the economy of genuine pleasure into a mode of sadism that saps democracy of any political substance and moral vitality, even as the body politic appears engaged in a process of cannibalizing its own young. It is perhaps not far-fetched to imagine a reality TV show in which millions tune in to watch young kids being handcuffed, arrested, tried in the courts, and sent to juvenile detention centers. No society can make a claim to being a democracy as long as it defines itself through shared hatred and fears rather than shared responsibilities.

 

In the United States, society has been reconfigured to eliminate many young people's access to the minimal condi­tions required for living a full, dignified, and productive life as well as the conditions necessary for sustaining and nurturing democratic structures and ideologies. The cruelty and violence infecting the culture are both a symptom and a cause of our collective failure to mobilize large-scale collective resistance against a growing police state and the massive suffering caused by the savagery of neoliberal capitalism. Unfortunately, even as expressions of authentic rage against Wall Street continue in the Occupy movement, the widespread hardship that young people and other marginalized populations face today "has not found resonance in the public space of articulation. "fs With the collapse of a market economy into a market society, democracy no longer makes a claim on the importance of the common good. As a mode of diseased sociality, the current version of market fundamentalism has turned the principle of freedom against itself, deforming a collective vision of democracy and social justice that once made equality a viable economic idea and political goal in the pursuit of one's own freedom and civil liberties. As Zygmunt Bauman insists, one of the consequences of this market-driven sovereignty is "the progressive decomposi­tion and crumbling of social bonds and communal cohesion."6

Neoliberalism creates a language of social magic in which the social either vaporizes into thin air or is utterly pathologized. Shared realities and effects of poverty, racism, inequality, and financial corruption disappear, but not the ideological and institutional mechanisms that make such scourges possible.70 And when the social is invoked favorably, the invocation is only ever used to recognize the claims and values of corporations, the ultrarich, banks, hedgefund managers, and other privileged groups comprising the 1 percent. Self-reliance and the image of the self-made man cancel out any viable notion of social relations, the common good, public values, and collective struggle.

The Occupy movements have recognized that what erodes under such conditions is not only an acknowledgment of the historical contexts, social and economic formations, relations of power, and systemic forms of discrimination that have pro­duced massive inequalities in wealth, income, and opportunity but also any claim to the promise of a substantive democracy. Increasingly, as both the public pedagogy and economic dic­tates of neoliberalism are contested by the Occupiers, the state responds with violence. But the challenges to militarism, in­equality, and political corruption with which young people have confronted American society are being met with a violence that encompasses more than isolated incidents of police brutality. It is a violence emanating from an ongoing wholesale transfor­mation of the United States into a warfare state, from a state that once embraced the social contract—at least minimally—to one that no longer has even a language for community, a state in which the bonds of fear and commodification have replaced the bonds of civic responsibility and democratic commitment. As a result, violence on the part of the state and corporations is not aimed just at youthful protesters. Through a range of visible and invisible mechanisms, an ever-expanding multitude of individuals and populations has been caught in a web of cruelty, dispossession, exclusion, and exploitation.

The predominance of violence in all aspects of social life suggests that young people and others marginalized by class, race, and ethnicity have been abandoned as American soci­ety's claim on democracy gives way to the forces of militarism, market fundamentalism, and state terrorism. We must ad­dress how a metaphysics of war and violence has taken hold of American society, and the savage social costs it has entailed.

It is these very forms of social, political, and economic violence that young people have recognized and endured against their own minds and bodies, but they are using their indignation to inspire action rather than despair. The spreading imprint of violence throughout society suggests the need for a politics that riot only critiques the established order but imagines a new one—one informed by a radical vision in which the future does not imitate the present. Critique must emerge alongside a sense of realistic hope, and individual struggles must merge into larger social movements.

 

Occupy Wall Street surfaced in the wake of the 9/11 memori­als and global economic devastation rooted in market deregu­lation and financial corruption. It also developed in response to atrocities committed by the US military in the name of the war on terror, violent and racist extremism spreading through US politics and popular culture, a growing regime of discipline and punishment aimed at marginalized youth, retrograde edu­cation policies destructive of knowledge and critical learning, and the enactment of ruthless austerity policies that serve only to increase human suffering. With the democratic horizon in the United States increasingly darkened by the shadows of a looming authoritarianism and unprecedented levels of social and economic inequality, the Occupy movement and other global movements signify hope and renewal. The power of these movements to educate and act for change should not be under­estimated, particularly among youths, even as we collectively bear witness to the violent retaliation of official power against democratic protesters and the growing fury of the punishing state. In the book that follows, I present chapters that move from negation to hope, from critique to imagining otherwise in order to act otherwise.

 

The first chapter provides a retrospective on 9/11 that ac­knowledges the way in which the tragic events of 2001 were used to unleash brutal violence on a global scale and legitimate the expansion of the warfare state and unthinkable forms of torture against populations increasingly deemed disposable. In particular, the traumatic aftermath of 9/11 in the United States was distorted into a culture of fear: heightened domes­tic security; and accelerated disciplinary forces that targeted youth, particularly the most vulnerable marginalized by race and class, as potential threats to the social order. This chapter exposes some of the widespread impacts of an unchecked pun­ishing state and its apparatuses—most notably the escalating war on youth, the attack on the social state, and the growth of a "governing through crime" complex—while also paying tribute to the resilience and humanity of the victims of the 9/11 at­tacks and their families. It asserts that public recollection in the aftermath of those traumatic events—particularly the sense of common purpose and civic commitment that ensued—should serve as a source of collective hope for a different future than the one we have seen on display since September 2001.71

 

Chapter 2 discusses in further detail the cultural shift in the United States that has led to the inscription and normalization of cruelty and violence. In spring 2011, the role of the domi­nant media in sanctioning this culture of cruelty extended to its failure to provide a critical response when the "Kill Team" photographs were released. Even as young people around the world demonstrated against military power and authoritarian regimes, soldiers in the US military fighting in the "war on ter­ror" gleefully participated in horrifying injustices inflicted upon helpless others. The "Kill Team" photos—images of US soldiers smiling and posing with dead Afghan civilians and their des­ecrated bodies—serve as but one example signaling a broader shift in American culture away from compassion for the suffer­ing of other human beings toward a militarization of the culture and a sadistic pleasure in violent spectacles of pain and torture. Further discussion of American popular culture demonstrates how US society increasingly manifests a "depravity of aesthetics" through eagerly consuming displays of aggression, brutality, and death. Connecting this culture of cruelty to the growing influence of neoliberal policies across all sectors, I suggest that this disturbing new enjoyment of the humiliation of others—far from representing an individualized pathology—now infects US society as a whole in a way that portends the demise of the social state, if not any vestige of a real and substantive democ­racy. Recognizing the power of dominant culture to shape our thoughts, identities, and desires, we must struggle to uncover "instants of truth" that draw upon our compassion for others and rupture the hardened order of reality constructed by the media and other dominant cultural forces.

 

The third chapter suggests that even as US popular culture increasingly circulates images of mind-crushing brutality, American political culture in a similar fashion now functions like a theater of cruelty in which spectacles and public policies display gratuitous and unthinking violence toward the most vulnerable groups in the country, especially children. Despite persistent characterizations of terrorists as "other," the greatest threat to US security lies in homegrown, right-wing extremism of a kind similar to that espoused by Anders Behring Breivik who in July 2011 bombed government buildings in Oslo, kill­ing eight people, and then went on a murderous shooting rampage in Norway, killing sixty-nine youths attending a Labor Party camp. The eruption of violent speech and racist rhetoric within US political discourse indicates a growing tolerance at the highest levels of government of extremist elements and the authoritarian views and racist hatred they deploy to advance their agenda—which includes dismantling the social state, legitimating a governing apparatus based on fear and punish­ment, undermining critical thought and education through ap­peals to conformity and authoritarian populism, and disposing of all populations deemed dangerous and threatening to the dominance of a white conservative nationalism. Bespeaking far more than a disturbing turn in US politics and the broader cul­ture, right-wing policymakers abetted by the dominant media are waging a campaign of domestic terrorism against children, the poor, and other vulnerable groups as part of a larger war against democracy and the democratic formative culture on which it depends for survival.

 

Continuing an exploration of the neoliberal mode of authori­tarianism that has infiltrated US politics, Chapter 4 discusses how anti-immigrant and racist political ideology couched in a discourse of patriotism is being translated into regressive educational policies and an attack on critical education. Remi­niscent of the book burnings conducted in Nazi Germany, the Arizona state legislature and school board in Tucson have systematically eliminated ethnic studies from elementary schools and banned books that: discuss racism and oppres­sion, including several books by Mexican American authors in a school district where more than 60 percent of the students are from a Mexican American background. Within a neoliberal regime that supports corporate hegemony, social and economic inequality, and antidemocratic forms of governance, racism is either privatized by encouraging individual solutions to socially produced problems or disavowed, appearing instead in the guise of a language of punishment that persecutes anyone who even raises the specter of ongoing racism. The censorship of ethnic studies in Arizona and of forms of pedagogy that give voice to oppression points to how ideas that engage people in a struggle for equality and democracy pose a threat to fundamentalist ideologues and their war against the bodies, histories, and modes of knowledge that could produce the critical conscious­ness and civic courage necessary for a just society.

 

Chapter 5 examines the politics of austerity in terms of how it releases corporations and the rich from responsibility for the global economic recession and instead inflicts vast amounts of pain and suffering upon the most vulnerable in society. As an extension of the culture of cruelty, austerity measures encode a fear and contempt for social and economic equality, leading not only to the weakening of social protections and tax breaks for the wealthy but also to the criminalization of social prob­lems. Austerity as a form of "trickle-down cruelty" symbolizes much more than neglect—it suggests a new mode of violence mobilized to address pervasive social ills that will only serve to hasten the emergence of punishing states and networks of global violence. Hope for preventing the escalation of human suffering must be situated in a concerted effort both to raise awareness about the damage wreaked by unchecked casino capitalism and to rethink the very nature of what democracy means and might look like in the United States. A capacity for critical thought, compassion, and informed judgment needs to be nurtured against the forms of bigotry, omission, and social irresponsibility that appear increasingly not only to sanction but also to revel in horror stories of inhumanity and destruc­tion.

 

Tracing the trajectory of class struggle and inequality in America up to the present day, Chapter 6 argues that a grow­ing concentration of wealth in the hands of the ruling elite means that the political system and mode of governance in the United States are no longer democratic, even as state power is subordinated to the interests of corporate sovereignty. In this chapter, an account of the political, social, and economic injus­tices confronting the vast majority of Americans—the result of a decades-long unchecked supremacy of corporate power, the reign of corrupt financiers, and a ruthless attack on the social state and social protections—sets the stage for what emerged as the Occupy Wall Street movement in September 2011. While making visible the ongoing significance of class as a political category, the Occupiers did much more than rehash the tired rhetoric of "class warfare" (marshaled by their opponents in an effort to position the ruling elites as victims of class resentment) Quite to the contrary, the Occupiers revealed the potential for a broad collective movement both to expose the material realities of inequality and injustice and to counter prevailing antidemocratic narratives while also fundamentally changing the terms of engagement by producing new images, stories, and memories that challenged the complacency of the public and the impoverished imagination of political and corporate leadership in America.

 

Chapter 7 concludes the book by reviewing the impact and legacy of the Occupy movement, particularly how it exposed the many ways in which US society has mortgaged the future of youth. The Occupiers have become the new public intellectu­als, and they are creating a newpedagogy and politics firmly rooted in democracy, social justice, and human dignity that increasingly occupies the terrain of public discourse and poses a fundamental challenge to the control of the public sphere by corporate elites and their teaching machines. At risk of losing ideological dominance, the authorities retaliated against Oc­cupy protesters by resorting to brutal forms of punishment. This police violence at once made visible the modes of au­thoritarianism and culture of cruelty that permeate American society—as was seen even at universities and colleges across the United States, institutions charged with contributing to the intellectual, social, and moral growth of society's youth.

 

As I complete the writing of this introduction, the Occupy struggle for social and economic justice continues on American university campuses—where the influence of austerity mea­sures is increasingly being felt, although the working conditions for faculty and the quality of education for students began to deteriorate under the neoliberal ascendancy decades ago. The issues impacting higher education are undoubtedly symptom­atic of the accelerated pace with which the withering away of the public realm is happening. The book finishes, however, by suggesting that the Occupy movement is far from over— despite the shrinking of physical space in which it can protest. As it expands and spreads across the globe, the movement is producing a new public realm of ideas and making important connections between the deteriorating state of education, an­tidemocratic forces, and the savage inequalities produced by a market society. The response of young people as the new generation of public intellectuals offers us both critique and hope. It is a call to work collectively to foster new modes of thought and action—one that should be actively supported by higher education and other remaining public spheres in the United States, if American democracy is to have a future at all.

 

Notes for Introduction

 

1.   Clearly, there are many reasons for the various youthful pro­tests across the globe, ranging from the murder of young people and anger against financial corruption to the riots against cuts to social benefits and the rise of educational costs.

2.   Christopher McMichael, 'The Shock-and-Awe of Mega Sports Events," OpenDemocracy (January 30, 2012), online at: http://www .opendemocracy.net/christopher-mcmichael/shock-and-awe-of-mega-sports-events.

3.  Zygmunt Bauman, Wasted Lives (London: Polity, 2004), p. 76.

4.   See Loic Wacquant, Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Govern­ment of Social Insecurity (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009).

5.  Amanda Peterson Beadle, "Obama Administration Ends Medicaid Funding for Texas Women's Health Program," Think-Progress (March 16, 2012), online at: http://thinkprogress.org/ health/2012/03/16/445894/funding-cut-for-texas-womens-health-program.

6.   Maureen Dowd, "Don't Tread on Us," New York Times (March 14, 2012), p. A25.

7.   See, for example, Daisy Grewal, "How Wealth Reduces Com­passion: As Riches Grow, Empathy for Others Seems to Decline," Scientific American (Tuesday, April 10, 2012), online at: http:// www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-wealth-reduces-compassion&print=true.

8.  Azam Ahmed, "The Hunch, the Pounce and the Kill: How Boaz Weinstein and Hedge Funds Outsmarted JPMorgan," New York Times (May 27, 2012), p. BUI.

9.  Anne-Marie Cusac, Cruel and Unusual: The Culture of Punish­ment in America (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009), p. 3.

10.   David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), p. 19.

11.   Stuart Hall, "The Neo-Liberal Revolution," Cultural Studies 25:6 (November 2011): 706.

12.   Ibid.

13.  Wendy Brown, Regulating Aversion (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008), p. 16.

14.   Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas, "Translators' Note," in Jean-Luc Nancy, The Truth of Democracy (New York: Fordham University Press, 2010), p. ix.

15.  Jean-Marie Durand, "For Youth: A Disciplinary Discourse Only," TruthOut (November 15, 2009), trans. Leslie Thatcher, online at: http://www.truthout.0rg/l 1190911.

16.   David Theo Goldberg, The Threat of Race: Reflections on Racial Neoliberalism (Maiden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), p. 347.

17.   Zygmunt Bauman, "Has the Future a Left?" Soundings 35 (Spring 2007): 5-6.

18.   Ibid.

19.   Goldberg, The Threat of Race, p. 331.

20.   Cited in Anson Rabinach, "Unclaimed Heritage: Ernst Bloch's Heritage of Our Times and the Theory of Fascism," New German Cri­tique (Spring 1997): 8.

21.   See OccupyArreste.com, http://occupyarrests.moonfruit.com.

22.   Durand, "For Youth."

23.   Kyle Bella, "Bodies in Alliance: Gender Theorist Judith Butler on the Occupy and SlutWalk Movements," TruthOut (December 15, 2011), online at: http://www.truth-out.org/bodies-alliance-gender-theorist-judith-butler-occupy-and-slutwalk-movements/1323880210.

24.   Richard Lichtman, "Not a Revolution?" TruthOut (Decem­ber 14, 2011), online at: http://www.truth-out.org/not-revolu-tion/1323801994.

25.   Arun Gupta, "Arundhati Roy: The People Who Created the Crisis Will Not Be the Ones That Come up with a Solution,'" Guard­ian (November 30, 2011), online at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/ world/2011 /nov/30/arundhati-roy-interview.

26.   Staughton Lynd, "What Is to Be Done Next?" Counter-Punch (February 29, 2012), online at: http://www.counterpunch .org/2012/02/29/what-is-to-be-done-next.

27.   Stanley Aronowitz, "Notes on the Occupy Movement," Logos (Fall 2011), online at: http://logosjournal.com/201 l/fall_aronowitz.

28.   On the rise of the punishing state, see Cusac, Cruel and Unusual; Wacquant, Punishing the Poor, Angela Y. Davis, Abolition Democracy: Beyond Empire, Prisons, and Torture (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2005).

29.   Bill Moyers, "Discovering What Democracy Means," Tom-Paine (February 12, 2007), online at: http://www.tompaine.com/ articles/2007/02/12/discovering_what_democracy_means.php.

30.   Daniel Bell, The End of Ideology: On the Exhaustion of Political Ideas in the Fifties (New York: Free Press, 1966); and the more recent Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man (New York: Free Press, 2006).

31.   Stuart Hall, "The March of the Neoliberals," Guardian (September 12, 2011), online at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/poli-tics/201 l/sep/12/march-of-the-neoliberals/.

32.  Alex Honneth, Pathologies of Reason (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), p. 188.

33.   John Van Houdt, 'The Crisis of Negation: An Interview with Alain Badiou," Continent 1:4 (2011): 234-238, online at: http://con-tinentcontinent.cc/index.php/continent/article/viewArticle/65.

34.   See for instance, Noam Chomsky, Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy (New York: Holt Paperbacks, 2007).

35.   Andrew Bacevich, "After Iraq, War Is US," Reader Supported News (December 20, 2011), online at: http://readersupportednews. org/opinion2/424-national-security/9007-after-iraq-war-is-us.

36.   C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 222.

37.   See Gore Vidal, Imperial America: Reflections on the United States of Amnesia (New York: Nation Books, 2004); Gore Vidal, Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace (New York: Nation Books, 2002); Chris Hedges, War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (New York: Anchor Books, 2003); Chalmers Johnson, The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2004); Andrew Bacevich, The New American Militarism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); Chalmers Johnson, Nemesis: The Last Days of the Republic (New York: Metropolitan Books); Andrew J. Bacevich, Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2010); and Nick Turse, The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2008).

38.   Tony Judt, "The New World Order," New York Review of Books 11:2 (July 14, 2005): 17.

39.   Cusac, Cruel and Unusual, p. 2.

40.   Jim Garrison, "Obama's Most Fateful Decision," Huffington Post (December 12, 2011), online at: http://www.hufflngtonpost.com/ jim-garrison/obamas-most-fateful-decis_b_l 143005.html.

41.   Ibid.

42.   Stephen Graham, Cities under Siege: The New Military Urban-ism (London: Verso, 2010), p. xi.

43.  Andrew Becker and G. W. Schulz, "Cops Ready for War," Reader Supported News (December 21, 2011), online at: http:// readersupportednews.org/news-section2/316-20/9023-focus-cops-ready-for-war.

44.   Ibid.

45.   Glenn Greenwald, "The Roots of the UC-Davis Pepper-Spraying," Salon (November 20, 2011), online at: http://www.salon .com/2011/11 /20/the_roots_of_the_uc_davis_pepper_spraying.

46.   See, for instance, Steven Rosenfeld, "5 Freedom-Killing Tactics Police Will Use to Crack Down on Protests in 2012," AlterNet (March 16, 2012), online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/154577/5_freedom-killing_tactics_police_will_use_to_crack_down_on_protests_in_2012.

47.   Erica Goode, "Many in U.S. Are Arrested by Age 23, Study Finds," New York Times (December 19, 2011), p. A15.

48.   Goldberg, The Threat of Race, p. 334.

49.   Lauren Kelley, "Occupy Updates: Extreme Police Violence in Berkeley, with Calls for a Strike; Harvard Protesters Shut out of Harvard Yard," AlterNet (November 14, 2011), online at: http://www .alternet.org/newsandviews/article/728865/occupy_updates%3A_ex-treme_police_violence_in_berkeley,_with_calls_for_a_strike%3B_har-vard_protesters_shut_out_of_harvard_yard; Conor Friedersdorf, "UC Berkeley Riot Police Use Batons to Clear Students from Sproul Plaza," Atlantic (November 10, 2011), online at: http://www.theatlantic. com/national/print/2011/11 /uc-berkeley-riot-police-use-batons-to-clear-students-from-sproul-plaza/248228; Al Baker, "When the Police Go Military," New York Times (December 3, 2011), p. SR6; and Rania Khalek, "Pepper-Spraying Protesters Is Just the Beginning: Here Are More Hypermilitarized Weapons Your Local Police Force Could Employ," AlterNet (November 22, 2011), online at: http://www .alternet.org/story/153147/pepper-spraying_protesters_is_just_the_ beginning%3A_here_are_more_hypermilitarized_weapons_your_lo-caLpolice_force_could_employ.

50.   Philip Govrevitch, "Whose Police?" New Yorker (November 17, 2011), online at: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/com-ment/2011/11/occupy-wall-street-police-bloomberg.html.

51.   Phil Rockstroh, "The Police State Makes Its Move: Re­taining One's Humanity in the Face of Tyranny," CommonDreams (November 15, 2011), online at: http://www.commondreams.org/ view/2011/11/15.

52.   Michael Geyer, 'The Militarization of Europe, 1914-1945," in John R. Gillis, ed. The Militarization of the Western World (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1989), p. 79.

53.  Judt, "The New World Order," pp. 14-18.

54.   Geoff Martin and Erin Steuter, Pop Culture Goes to War: Enlisting and Resisting Militarism in the War on Terror (New York: Lexington Books, 2010).

55.   Carl Boggs and Tom Pollard, The Hollywood War Machine: U.S. Militarism and Popular Culture (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publish­ers, 2006).

56.   Kostas Gouliamos and Christos Kassimeris, eds., The Market­ing of War in the Age of Neo-Militarism (New York: Routledge, 2011).

57.   David Cole, "An Executive Power to Kill?" New York Review of Books (March 6, 2012), online at: http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/ nyrblog/2012/mar/06/targeted-killings-holder-speech.

58.   Steve Herbert and Elizabeth Brown, "Conceptions of Space and Crime in the Punitive Neoliberal City," Antipode (2006): 757.

59.   Davis, Abolition Democracy, p. 41.

60.   One classic example of this neoliberal screed can be found most recently in an unapologetic defense of social Darwinism by Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 (New York: Crown Forum, 2012). For a critique of this position, see David Garland, The Culture of Control: Crime and Social Order in Con­temporary Society (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001); Philip Jenkins, Decade of Nightmares: The End of the Sixties and the Making of Eighties America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006); and Jonathan Simon, Governing through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).

61.   Chris McGreal, 'The US Schools with Their Own Police," Guardian (January 9, 2012), online at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/ world/2012/jan/09/texas-police-schools.

62.   Daniel Tancer, "Student Punished for Refusing to Cite the Pledge," Psyche, Science, and Society (February 25, 2010), online at: http://psychoanalystsopposewar.org/blog/2010/02/25/student-punished-for-refusing-to-recite-the-pledge.

63.   McGreal, 'The US Schools with Their Own Police."

64.   Criminal Injustice Kos, "Criminal Injustice Kos: Interrupting the School to Prison Pipeline," Daily Kos (March 30, 2011), online at: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/03/30/960807/-Criminal-InJustice-Kos:-Interruptlng-the-School-to-Prison-Pipeline.

65.   "A Failure of Imagination," Smartypants (March 3, 2010), online at: http://immasmartypants.blogspot.com/2010/03/failure-of-imagination.html.

66.   See Mark P. Fancher, Reclaiming Michigan's Throwaway Kids: Students Trapped in the School-to-Prison Pipeline (Michigan: ACLU, 2011), online at: http://www.njjn.org/uploads/digitaljibrary/ resource_1287.pdf; and Advancement Project, Test, Punish, and Push Out: How "Zero Tolerance" and High-Stakes Testing Funnel Youth into the School-to-Prison Pipeline (Washington, DC: Advancement Project, March 2010), online at: http://www.advancementproject.org/sites/ default/flles/publications/rev_fln.pdf.

67.   Gilles Deleuze, "Postscript on the Societies of Control," October 59 (Winter 1992): 3-7.

68.  Alex Honneth, Pathologies of Reason (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), p. 188.

69.   Bauman, "Has the Future a Left?" p. 2.

70.   Barbara Ehrenreich, "How We Cured The Culture of Pov­erty,' Not Poverty Itself," Truthout (March 15, 2012), online at: http:// www.truth-out.org/how-we-cured-culture-poverty-not-poverty-itself/1331821823.

71.  This theme is taken up in great detail in Jonathan Simon, Governing through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Henry A Giroux

Henry A. Giroux currently holds the Global TV Network Chair Professorship at McMaster University in the English and Cultural Studies Department and a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Ryerson University. His most recent books include:  On Critical Pedagogy (Continuum, 2011), Twilight of the Social: Resurgent Publics in the Age of Disposability (Paradigm 2012), Disposable Youth: Racialized Memories and the Culture of Cruelty (Routledge 2012), Youth in Revolt: Reclaiming a Democratic Future (Paradigm 2013), and The Educational Deficit and the War on Youth (Monthly Review Press, 2013), America's Disimagination Machine (City Lights) and Higher Education After Neoliberalism (Haymarket) will be published in 2014). Giroux is also a member of Truthout's Board of Directors. His web site is www.henryagiroux.com. Truthout readers receive a 30% discount by clicking the link and inserting the Code: TOGIR (please note that this code is cap-sensitive) on the following books: Youth in Revolt: Reclaiming a Democratic Future, March 2013; The Twilight of the Social: Resurgent Politics in an Age of Disposability, April 2012; Hearts of Darkness: Torturing Children in the War on Terror, August 2010; Politics After Hope: Obama and the Crisis of Youth, Race, and Democracy, April 2010; and The University in Chains: Confronting the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex, June 2007.


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Criminalizing Dissent and Punishing Occupy Protesters: Introduction to Henry Giroux’s "Youth in Revolt"

Thursday, 31 January 2013 06:22 By Henry A Giroux, Truthout | Book Excerpt

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Military-style command and control systems are now be­ing established to support "zero tolerance" policing and urban surveillance practices designed to exclude failed consumers or undesirable persons from the new enclaves of urban consumption and leisure.

—Stephen Graham 

Youth in Revolt.(Image: Paradigm Publishers)Young people are demonstrating all over the world against a variety of issues ranging from economic injustice and massive inequality to drastic cuts in education and public services.1 In the fall of 2011, on the tenth anniversary of September 11, as the United States revisited the tragic loss and celebrated the courage displayed on that torturous day, another kind of commemoration took place. The Occupy movement shone out like flame in the darkness—a beacon of the irrepressible spirit of democracy and a humane desire for justice. Unfortunately, the peacefully organized protests across America have often been met with derogatory commentaries in the mainstream media and, increasingly, state-sanctioned violence. The war against society has become a war against youthful protesters and in­creasingly bears a striking resemblance to the violence waged against Occupy movement protesters and the violence associ­ated with the contemporary war zone.2 Missing from both the dominant media and state and national politics is an attempt to critically engage the issues the protesters are raising, not to mention any attempt to dialogue with them over their strate­gies, tactics, and political concerns. That many young people have become "a new class of stateless individuals ... cast into a threatening and faceless mass whose identities collapse into the language of debt, survival, and disposability" appears to have escaped the attention of the mainstream media.3 Matters of justice, human dignity, and social responsibility have given way to a double gesture that seeks to undercut democratic public spheres through the criminalization of dissent while also resorting to crude and violent forms of punishment as the only mediating tools to use with young people who are at­tempting to open a new conversation about politics, inequality, and social justice.

 

In the United States, the state monopoly on the use of violence has intensified since the 1980s and in the process has been di­rected disproportionately against young people, poor minorities, immigrants, women, and the elderly. Guided by the notion that unregulated, market-driven values and relations should shape every domain of human life, a business model of governance has eviscerated any viable notion of social responsibility and conscience, thereby furthering the dismissal of social problems and expanding cutbacks in basic social services.4 The examples are endless, but one in particular stands out. In March 2012, Texas governor Rick Perry7 joined eight other states in passing legislation to ban funding for clinics, including Planned Parent­hood facilities, affiliated with abortion services for women.5 As a result, the federal government has stopped funding the Texas Women's Health Program. Unfortunately, this attempt by Perry to punish all women because of his antiabortion stance means that more than 130,000 women in Texas will not have access to vital services ranging from mammograms to health care for their children. There is more at work here than a resurgent war on women and their children or "an insane bout of mass misogyny."8 There is also a deep-seated religious and political authoritarianism that has become one of the fundamental pil­lars of what I call a neoliberal culture of cruelty. As the welfare state is hollowed out. a culture of compassion is replaced by a culture of violence, cruelty, waste, and disposability.7 Banks, hedge funds, and finance capital as the contemporary registers of class power have a new visibility, and their spokespersons are unabashedly blunt in supporting a corporate culture in which "ruthlessness is prized and money is the ultimate measure."8 Collective insurance policies and social protections have given way to the forces of economic deregulation, the transformation of the welfare state into punitive workfare programs, the privatiza­tion of public goods, and an appeal to individual culpability as a substitute for civic responsibility. At the same time, violence—or what Anne-Marie Cusac calls "American punishment"—travels from our prisons and schools to various aspects of our daily lives, "becoming omnipresent ... [from] the shows we watch on television, [to] the way many of us treat children [to] some influential religious practices."9

 

David Harvey has argued that neoliberalism is "a political proj­ect to re-establish the conditions for capital accumulation and to restore the power of economic elites" through the implementation of "an institutional framework characterized by strong private property rights, free markets, and free trade."10 Neoliberalism is also a pedagogical project designed to create particular subjects, desires, and values defined largely by market considerations. National destiny becomes linked to a market-driven logic in which freedom is stripped down to freedom from government regulation, freedom to consume, and freedom to say anything one wants, regardless of how racist or toxic the consequences might be. This neoliberal notion of freedom is abstracted from any sense of civic responsibility or social cost. In fact, "neoliberalism is grounded in the idea of the 'free, possessive individual,'" with the state cast "as tyrannical and oppressive."11 The welfare state, in particular, becomes the archenemy of freedom. As Stuart Hall points out, according to apostles of free-market fundamentalism, 'The state must never govern society, dictate to free individuals how to dispose of their private property, regulate a free-market economy or interfere with the God-given right to make profits and amass personal wealth."12

 

Paradoxically, neoliberalism severely proscribes any vestige of social and civic agency through the figure of the isolated automaton for whom choice is reduced to the practice of end­less shopping, fleeing from any sense of civic obligation, and safeguarding a radically individualized existence. Neoliberal governance translates into a state that attempts to substitute individual security for social welfare but in doing so offers only the protection of gated communities for the privileged and incarceration for those considered flawed consumers or threats to the mythic ideal of a white Christian nation. Neoliberalism refuses to recognize how private troubles are connected to broader systemic issues, legitimating instead an ode to self-reliance in which the experience of personal misfortune becomes merely the just desserts delivered by the righteous hand of the free market—not a pernicious outcome of the social order being hijacked by an antisocial ruling elite and forced to serve a narrow set of interests. Critical thought and human agency are rendered impotent as neoliberal rationality "substitutes emotional and personal vocabularies for political ones in formulating solutions to political problems."13 Within such a depoliticized discourse, youths are told that there is no dream of the collective, no viable social bonds, only the ac­tions of autonomous individuals who must rely on their own resources and who bear sole responsibility for the effects of larger systemic political and economic problems.

 

Under the regime of neoliberalism, no claims are recognized that call for compassion, justice, and social responsibility. No claims are recognized that demand youths have a future better than the present, and no claims are recognized in which young people assert the need to narrate themselves as part of a broader struggle for global justice and radical democracy. Parading as a species of democracy, neoliberal economics and ideology cancel out democracy "as the incommensurable sharing of existence that makes the political possible."14 Symptoms of ethical, politi­cal, and economic impoverishment are all around us. And, as if that were not enough, at the current moment in history we are witnessing the merging of violence and governance along with a systemic disinvestment in and breakdown of institutions and public spheres that have provided the minimal conditions for democracy and the principles of communal responsibil­ity. Young people are particularly vulnerable. As Jean-Marie Durand points out, "Youth is no longer considered the world's future, but as a threat to its present. [For] youth, there is no longer any political discourse except for a disciplinary one."13

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

As young people make diverse claims on the promise of a radical democracy in the streets, on campuses, and at other occupied sites, articulating what a fair and just world might be, they are treated as criminal populations—rogue groups incapable of toeing the line, "prone to irrational, intemperate and unpredictable" behavior.16 Moreover, they are increasingly subjected to orchestrated modes of control and containment, if not police violence. Such youths are now viewed as the enemy by the political and corporate establishment because they make visible the repressed images of the common good and the impor­tance of democratic public spheres, public services, the social state, and a society shaped by democratic values rather than market values. Youthful protesters and others are reclaiming the repressed memories of the Good Society and a social state that once, as Zygmunt Bauman has pointed out, "endorsed collective insurance against individual misfortune and its consequences."17 Bauman explains that such a state "lifts members of society to the status of citizens—that is, makes them stake-holders in addition to being stock-holders, beneficiaries but also actors responsible for the benefits' creation and availability, individuals with acute interest in the common good understood as the shared institutions that can be trusted to assure solidity and reliability of the state-issued 'collective insurance policy.'"18 In an attempt to excavate the repressed memories of the welfare state, David Theo Goldberg spells out in detail the specific mechanisms and policies it produced in the name of the general welfare between the 1930s and 1970s in the United States. He writes,

 

From the 1930s through the 1970s, the liberal democratic state had offered a more or less robust set of institutional appara­tuses concerned in principle at least to advance the welfare of its citizens. This was the period of advancing social security, welfare safety nets, various forms of national health system, the expansion of and investment in public education, including higher education, in some states to the exclusion of private and religiously sponsored educational institutions. It saw the emer­gence of state bureaucracies as major employers especially in later years of historically excluded groups. And all this, in turn, offered optimism among a growing proportion of the populace for access to middle-class amenities, including those previously racially excluded within the state and new immigrants from the global south.19

 

Young people today are protesting against a strengthening global capitalist project that erases the benefits of the welfare state and the possibility of a radical notion of democracy. They are protesting against a neoliberal project of accumulation, dispossession, deregulation, privatization, and commodification that leaves them out of any viable notion of the future. They are rejecting and resisting a form of casino capitalism that has ushered in a permanent revolution marked by a massive project of depoliticization, on the one hand, and an aggressive, if not savage, practice of distributing upward wealth, income, and op­portunity for the 1 percent on the other. Under neoliberalism, every moment, space, practice, and social relation offers the possibility of financial investment, or what Ernst Bloch once called the "swindle of fulfillment."20 Goods, services, and targeted human beings are ingested into its waste machine and dismissed and disposed of as excess. Flawed consumers are now assigned the status of damaged and defective human beings. Resistance to such oppressive policies and practices does not come easily, and many young people are paying a price for such resistance. According to OccupyArrests.com, "there have been at least 6705 arrests in over 112 different cities as of March 6, 2012."21

 

Occupy movement protests and state-sponsored violence "have become a mirror"—and I would add a defining feature—"of the contemporary state."22 Abandoned by the existing political system, young people in Oakland, California, New York City, and numerous other cities have placed their bodies on the line, protesting peacefully while trying to produce a new language, politics, and "community that manifests the values of equality and mutual respect that they see missing in a world that is structured by neoliberal principles."23 Well aware that the spaces, sites, and spheres for the representation of their voices, desires, and concerns have collapsed, they have occupied a number of spaces ranging from public parks to college campuses in an effort to create a public forum where they can narrate themselves and their visions of the future while representing the misfortunes, suffering, and hopes of the unemployed, poor, incarcerated, and marginalized. This movement is not simply about reclaiming space but also about producing new ideas, generating a new conversation, and introducing a new political language.

 

Rejecting the notion that democracy and markets are the same, young people are calling for the termination of corporate control over the commanding institutions of politics, culture, and economics, an end to the suppression of dissent, and a shutting down of the permanent warfare state. Richard Lichtman is right to insist that the Occupy movement should be praised for its embrace of communal democracy as well as an emerging set of shared concerns, principles, and values articulated "by a demand for equality, or, at the very least, for a significant lessening of the horrid extent of inequality; for a working democracy; for the elimination of the moneyed foun­dation of politics; for the abolition of political domination by a dehumanized plutocracy; for the replacement of ubiquitous commodification by the reciprocal recognition of humanity in the actions of its agents."24 As Arundhati Roy points out, what connects the protests in the United States to resistance move­ments all over the globe is that young people "know that their being excluded from the obscene amassing of wealth of U.S. corporations is part of the same system of the exclusion and war that is being waged by these corporations in places like India, Africa, and the Middle East."25 Of course, Lichtman, Roy, and others believe that this is just the beginning of a movement and that much needs to be done, as Staughton Lynd argues, to build new strategies, a vast network of new institutions and public spheres, a community of trust, and political organiza­tion that invites poor people into its ranks.26 Stanley Aronowitz goes further and insists that the Occupy movement needs to bring together the fight for economic equality and security with the task of reshaping American institutions along genuinely democratic lines.27

 

All of these issues are important, but what must be addressed in the most immediate sense is the danger the emerging police state in the United States poses not just to the young protesters occupying a number of American cities but to democracy itself. This threat is particularly evident in the results of a merging of neoliberal modes of discipline and education with a warlike mentality in which it becomes nearly impossible to reclaim the language of obligation, compassion, community, social re­sponsibility, and civic engagement. And unless the actions of young protesters, however diverse they may be, are understood alongside a robust notion of the social, civic courage, com­munal bonds, and the imperatives of a vital democracy, it will be difficult for the American public to challenge state violence and the framing of protest, dissent, and civic engagement as un-American or, worse, as a species of criminal behavior.

 

Although considerable coverage has been given in the pro­gressive media to the violence being waged against the Occupy protesters, these analyses rarely go far enough. I want to build on these critiques by arguing that it is important to situate the growing police violence within a broader set of categories that both enables a critical understanding of the underlying social, economic, and political forces at work in such assaults and al­lows us to reflect critically on the distinctiveness of the current historical period in which they are taking place. For example, it is difficult to address such state-sponsored violence against young people and the Occupy movement without analyzing the devolution of the social state and the corresponding rise of the warfare and punishing state.'2b The notion of historical conjunc­ture is important here because it both provides an opening into the diverse forces shaping a particular moment and allows for a productive balance of theory and strategy to inform future interventions. That is. it helps us to address theoretically how youth protests are largely related to and might resist a histori­cally specific neoliberal project that promotes vast inequalities in income and wealth, creates the student-loan debt bomb, eliminates much-needed social programs, privileges profits and commodities over people, and eviscerates the social wage.

Within the United States, the often violent response to non­violent forms of youth protest must also be analyzed within the framework of a mammoth military-industrial state and its commitment to war and the militarization of the entire society. The merging of the military-industrial complex and unchecked finance capital points to the need for strategies that address what is specific about the current warfare state and the neo­liberal project that legitimates it. That is, what are the diverse practices, interests, modes of power, social relations, public pedagogies, and economic configurations that shape the poli­tics of the punishing state? Focusing on the specifics of the current historical conjuncture is invaluable politically in that such an approach makes visible the ideologies, policies, and modes of governance produced by the neoliberal warfare state. When neoliberal mechanisms of power and ideology are made visible, it becomes easier for the American public to challenge the common assumptions that legitimate these apparatuses of power. This type of interrogative strategy also reclaims the necessity of critical thought, civic engagement, and democratic politics by invoking the pedagogical imperative that humans not only make history but can alter its course and future direction.

For many young people today, human agency is denned as a mode of self-reflection and critical social engagement rather than a surrender to a paralyzing and unchallengeable fate. Likewise, democratic expression has become fundamental to their existence. Many young people are embracing democracy not merely as a mode of governance, but more importantly, as Bill Moyers points out, as a means of dignifying people "so they become fully free to claim their moral and political agency."29 Human agency has become a vital force to struggle over as part of an ongoing project in which the future remains an open horizon that cannot be dismissed through appeals to the end of history or end of ideology.30 But to understand how politics refuses any guarantees and resistance becomes possible, we must first understand the present. Following Stuart Hall. I want to argue that the current historical moment, or what he calls the "long march of the Neoliberal Revolution,"31 has to be understood not only through the emergent power of finance capital and its institutions but also in terms of the growing forms of authoritarian violence that it deploys and reinforces. I want to address these antidemocratic pressures and their relationship to the rising protests of young people in the United States and abroad through the lens of two interrelated crises: the crisis of governing through violence and the crisis of what Alex Honneth has called "a failed sociality"32—which currently conjoin as a driving force to dismantle any viable notion of public pedagogy and civic education. If we are not to fall prey to a third crisis—"the crisis of negation"33—then it is imperative that we recognize the hope symbolized and embodied by young people across America and their attempt to remake society in order to ensure a better, more democratic future for us all.

The Crisis of Governing through Violence

 

The United States is addicted to violence, and this dependency is fueled increasingly by its willingness to wage war at home and abroad.34 As Andrew Bacevich rightly argues, "war has be­come a normal condition [matched by] Washington's seemingly irrevocable abandonment of any semblance of self-restraint regarding the use of violence as an instrument of statecraft."35 But war in this instance is not merely the outgrowth of policies designed 'to protect the security- and well-being of the United States. It is also, as C. Wright Mills pointed out. part of a "mili­tary metaphysics"36—a complex of forces that includes corpora­tions, defense industries, politicians, financial institutions, and universities. The culture of war provides jobs, profits, political payoffs, research funds, and forms of political and economic power that reach into every aspect of society. War is also one of the nation's most honored virtues. Its militaristic values now bear down on almost every aspect of American life.37 Similarly, as the governing-through-violence complex becomes normalized in the broader society, it continually works in a variety of ways to erode any distinction between war and peace.

 

Increasingly stoked by a moral arnd political hysteria, war­like values produce and endorse shared fears and organized violence as the primary registers of social relations. The con­ceptual merging of war and violence is evident in the ways in which the language of militarization is now used by politicians to address a range of policies as if they are operating on a battlefield or in a war zone. War becomes the adjective of choice as policymakers talk about waging war on drugs, poverty, and the underclass. There is more at work here than the prevalence of armed knowledge and a militarized discourse; there is also the emergence of a militarized society in which "the range of acceptable opinion inevitably shrinks."38 And this choice of vocabulary and slow narrowing of democratic vision further enable the use of violence as an instrument of domestic policy.

 

How else to explain that the United States has become the punishing state par excellence, as indicated by the hideous fact that while it contains "5 percent of the Earth's population, it is home to nearly a quarter of its prisoners"?39 Senator Lindsay Graham made this very clear in his rhetorical justification of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act by stating "that under this Act the U.S. homeland is considered a 'battlefield.'"40 The ominous implications behind this statement, especially for Oc­cupy movement protesters, became obvious in light of the fact that the act gives the US government the right to detain "U.S. citizens indefinitely without charge or trial if deemed necessary by the president.... Detentions can follow mere membership, past or present, in 'suspect organizations.'"41

 

Since 9/11, the war on terror and the campaign for home­land security have increasingly mimicked the tactics of the enemies they sought to crush and as such have become a war on democracy. A new military urbanism has taken root the United States as state surveillance projects proliferate, signaling what Stephen Graham calls "the startling militariza­tion of civil society—the extension of military ideas of tracking, identification, and targeting into the quotidian spaces and circulations of everyday life."42 This is partly evident in the ongoing militarization of police departments throughout the United States. Baton-wielding cops are now being supplied with the latest military equipment imported straight from the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan. Military technologies once used exclusively on the battlefield are now being supplied to police units across the nation: drones, machine-gun-equipped armored trucks, SWAT-type vehicles, "digital communications equipment, and Kevlar helmets, like those used by soldiers used in foreign wars."43 The domestic war against "terrorists" (code for young protesters) provides new opportunities for major defense contractors and corporations to become "more a part of our domestic lives."44 As Glenn Greenwald points out, the United States since 9/11

has aggressively paramilitarized the nation's domestic police forces by lavishing them with countless military-style weapons and other war-like technologies, training them in war-zone mili­tary tactics, and generally imposing a war mentality on them. Arming domestic police forces with paramilitary weaponry will ensure their systematic use even in the absence of a terrorist attack on U.S. soil; they will simply find other, increasingly permissive uses for those weapons.45

 

These domestic paramilitary forces also undermine free speech and dissent through the sheer threat of violence while often wielding power that runs roughshod over civil liberties, human rights, and civic responsibilities.46 Given that "by age 23, almost a third of Americans are arrested for a crime," it is not unreason­able to assume that in the new militarized state the perception of young people as predators, threats to corporate governance, and disposable objects will intensify, as will the growth of a punish­ing state that acts out against young protesters in increasingly unrestrained and savage ways.47 Young people, particularly poor minorities of color, have already become the targets of what David Theo Goldberg calls "extraordinary power in the name of securitization ... [viewed as] unruly populations ... [who] are to be subjected to necropolitical discipline through the threat of imprisonment or death, physical or social."4

 

Shared fears and the media hysteria that promotes them pro­duce more than a culture of suspects and unbridled intimidation. Fear on a broad public scale serves the interests of policymakers who support a growing militarization of the police along with the corporations that supply high-tech scanners, surveillance cameras, riot extinguishers, and toxic chemicals—all of which are increasingly used with impunity on anyone who engages in peaceful protests against the warfare and corporate state.49 Im­ages abound in the mainstream media of such abuses. There is the now famous image of an eighty-four-year-old woman looking straight into a camera, her face drenched in a liquid spray used by the police after attending a protest rally. There is the image of a woman who is two months pregnant being carried to safety after being pepper-sprayed by the police. By now, the images of young people being dragged by their hair across a street to a waiting police van have become all too familiar.50 Some protesters have been seriously hurt, as in the case of Scott Olsen. an Iraq War veteran who was critically injured in a protest in Oakland in October 2011. Too much of this violence is reminiscent of the violence used against civil rights demonstrators by the enforcers of Jim Crow in the 1950s and 1960s.51

 

No longer restricted to a particular military ideology, the celebration and permeation of warlike values throughout the culture have hastened the militarization of the entire society. As Michael Geyer points out, militarization can be defined as "the contradictory and tense social process in which civil society organizes itself for the production of violence."52 As the late Tony Judt put it, "The United States is becoming not just a militarized state but a military society: a country where armed power is the measure of national greatness, and war, or planning for war, is the exemplary (and only) common project."55 But the prevailing intensification of American society's permanent war status does more than embrace a set of unifying symbols that promote a survival-of-the-fittest ethic, conformity over dissent, the strong over the weak, and fear over responsibility. Such a move also gives rise to a "failed sociality" in which violence becomes the most important tool of power and the mediating force in shaping social relationships.

A state that embraces a policy of permanent war needs willing subjects to abide by its values, ideology, and narratives of fear and violence. Such legitimation is largely provided through people’s immersion in a market-driven society that appears increasingly addicted to consumerism, militarism, and the spectacles of violence endlessly circulated through popular culture.54 Examples of the violent fare on offer extend from the realm of high fashion and Hollywood movies to extreme sports, video games, and music concerts sponsored by the Pentagon.55 The market-driven celebration of a militaristic mind-set de­mands a culture of conformity, quiet intellectuals, and a largely passive republic of consumers. It also needs subjects who find intense pleasure in spectacles of violence.56

 

In a society saturated with hyperviolence and spectacular representations of cruelty, it becomes more difficult for the American public to respond politically and ethically to the violence as it is actually happening on the ground. In this in­stance, previously unfamiliar violence such as extreme images of torture and death become banally familiar, while familiar violence that occurs daily is barely recognized, relegated to the realm of the unnoticed and unnoticeable. How else to explain the public indifference to the violence inflicted on nonviolent youth protesters who are raising their voices against a state in which they have been excluded from any claim on hope, pros­perity, and democracy? While an increasing volume of brutal­ity is pumped into the culture, yesterday's spine-chilling and nerve-wrenching displays of violence lose their shock value. As the demand for more intense images of violence accumulates, the moral indifference and desensitization to violence grow, while matters of savage cruelty and suffering are offered up as fodder for sports, entertainment, news media, and other pleasure-seeking outlets.

 

As American culture is more and more marked by exag­gerated aggression and a virulent notion of hard masculinity, state violence—particularly the use of torture, abductions, and targeted assassinations—wins public support and requires little or no justification as US exceptionalism becomes accepted by many Americans as a matter of common sense.57 The social impacts of a "political culture of hyper punitiveness"58 can be seen in how structures of discipline and punishment have in­filtrated the social order like a highly charged electric current. For example, the growing taste for violence can be seen in the criminalization of behaviors such as homelessness that once elicited compassion and social protection. We throw the home­less in jail instead of building houses, just as we increasingly send poor, semiliterate students to jail instead of providing them with a decent education. Similarly, instead of creating jobs for the unemployed, we allow banks to foreclose on their mortgages and in some cases put jobless people in debtors' prisons. The prison in the twenty-first century7 becomes a way of making the effects of ruthless power invisible by making the victims of such power disappear. As Angela Davis points out, "According to this logic the prison becomes a way of disappearing people in the false hope of disappearing the underlying social problems they represent."39 As the notion of the social is emptied out. criminality is now defined as an essential part of a person's identity. As a rhetoric of punishment gains ground in American society, social problems are reduced to character flaws, insuf­ficient morality, or a eugenicist notion of being "born evil."60

 

Another symptomatic example of the way in which violence has saturated everyday life and produced a "failed sociality" can be seen in the growing acceptance by the American pub­lic of modeling public schools after prisons and criminalizing the behavior of young people in public schools. Incidents that were traditionally handled by teachers, guidance counselors, and school administrators are now dealt with by the police and the criminal justice system. The consequences have been disastrous for young people. Not only do schools increasingly resemble the culture of prisons, but young children are being arrested and subjected to court appearances for behaviors that can only be called trivial. How else to explain the case of the five-year-old student in Florida who was put in handcuffs and taken to the local jail because she had a temper tantrum, or the case of Alexa Gonzales in New York, who was arrested for doodling on her desk? Or twelve-year-old Sarah Bustamatenes, who was pulled from a Texas classroom, charged with a crimi­nal misdemeanor, and hauled into court because she sprayed perfume on herself?61 How do we explain the arrest of a thirteen-year-old student in a Maryland school for refusing to say the pledge of allegiance?62 Or the case of a sixteen-year-old student with an IQ below 70 being pepper-sprayed because he did not understand a question asked by the police officer in his school? After being pepper-sprayed, the startled youth started swinging his arms and for that was charged with two counts of assault on a public servant and faces a possible prison sentence .63 In

The most extreme cases, children have been beaten, Tasered, and killed by the police.

 

These examples may still be unusual enough to shock, though they are becoming more commonplace. What must be recognized is that too many schools have become combat zones in which students are routinely subjected to metal detectors, surveillance cameras, uniformed security guards, weapons searches, and in some cases SWAT raids and police dogs sniffing for drugs.64 Under such circumstances, the purpose of school­ing becomes to contain and punish young people, especially those marginalized by race and class, rather than educate them. "Arrests and police interactions ... disproportionately affect low-income schools with large African-American and Latino populations."65 For the many disadvantaged students being funnelled into the "school-to-prison pipeline," schools ensure that their futures look grim indeed as their educational experiences acclimatize them to forms of carceral treatment.66 There is more at work here than a flight from responsibility on the part of educators, parents, and politicians who support and maintain policies that fuel this expanding edifice of law enforce­ment against youth. Underlying the repeated decisions to turn away from helping young people is the growing sentiment that youths, particularly minorities of color and class, constitute a threat to adults and the only effective way to deal with them is to subject them to mind-crushing punishment. Students being miseducated, criminalized, and arrested through a form of pe­nal pedagogy in prison-type schools provides a grave reminder of the degree to which the ethos of containment and punishment now creeps into spheres of everyday life that were largely im­mune in the past to this type of state and institutional violence.

 

The era of failed sociality that Americans now inhabit reminds us that we live in a time that breaks young people, devalues justice, and saturates the minute details of everyday life with the constant threat, if not reality, of violence. The medieval turn to embracing forms of punishment that inflict pain on the psyches and bodies of young people is part of a larger immersion of society in public spectacles of violence. The control society67 is now the ultimate form of entertainment in America, as the pain of others, especially those considered disposable and pow­erless, is no longer a subject of compassion but one of ridicule and amusement. High-octane violence and human suffering are now considered consumer entertainment products designed to raise the collective pleasure quotient. Brute force and savage killing replayed over and over in the culture function as part of an anti-immune system that turns the economy of genuine pleasure into a mode of sadism that saps democracy of any political substance and moral vitality, even as the body politic appears engaged in a process of cannibalizing its own young. It is perhaps not far-fetched to imagine a reality TV show in which millions tune in to watch young kids being handcuffed, arrested, tried in the courts, and sent to juvenile detention centers. No society can make a claim to being a democracy as long as it defines itself through shared hatred and fears rather than shared responsibilities.

 

In the United States, society has been reconfigured to eliminate many young people's access to the minimal condi­tions required for living a full, dignified, and productive life as well as the conditions necessary for sustaining and nurturing democratic structures and ideologies. The cruelty and violence infecting the culture are both a symptom and a cause of our collective failure to mobilize large-scale collective resistance against a growing police state and the massive suffering caused by the savagery of neoliberal capitalism. Unfortunately, even as expressions of authentic rage against Wall Street continue in the Occupy movement, the widespread hardship that young people and other marginalized populations face today "has not found resonance in the public space of articulation. "fs With the collapse of a market economy into a market society, democracy no longer makes a claim on the importance of the common good. As a mode of diseased sociality, the current version of market fundamentalism has turned the principle of freedom against itself, deforming a collective vision of democracy and social justice that once made equality a viable economic idea and political goal in the pursuit of one's own freedom and civil liberties. As Zygmunt Bauman insists, one of the consequences of this market-driven sovereignty is "the progressive decomposi­tion and crumbling of social bonds and communal cohesion."6

Neoliberalism creates a language of social magic in which the social either vaporizes into thin air or is utterly pathologized. Shared realities and effects of poverty, racism, inequality, and financial corruption disappear, but not the ideological and institutional mechanisms that make such scourges possible.70 And when the social is invoked favorably, the invocation is only ever used to recognize the claims and values of corporations, the ultrarich, banks, hedgefund managers, and other privileged groups comprising the 1 percent. Self-reliance and the image of the self-made man cancel out any viable notion of social relations, the common good, public values, and collective struggle.

The Occupy movements have recognized that what erodes under such conditions is not only an acknowledgment of the historical contexts, social and economic formations, relations of power, and systemic forms of discrimination that have pro­duced massive inequalities in wealth, income, and opportunity but also any claim to the promise of a substantive democracy. Increasingly, as both the public pedagogy and economic dic­tates of neoliberalism are contested by the Occupiers, the state responds with violence. But the challenges to militarism, in­equality, and political corruption with which young people have confronted American society are being met with a violence that encompasses more than isolated incidents of police brutality. It is a violence emanating from an ongoing wholesale transfor­mation of the United States into a warfare state, from a state that once embraced the social contract—at least minimally—to one that no longer has even a language for community, a state in which the bonds of fear and commodification have replaced the bonds of civic responsibility and democratic commitment. As a result, violence on the part of the state and corporations is not aimed just at youthful protesters. Through a range of visible and invisible mechanisms, an ever-expanding multitude of individuals and populations has been caught in a web of cruelty, dispossession, exclusion, and exploitation.

The predominance of violence in all aspects of social life suggests that young people and others marginalized by class, race, and ethnicity have been abandoned as American soci­ety's claim on democracy gives way to the forces of militarism, market fundamentalism, and state terrorism. We must ad­dress how a metaphysics of war and violence has taken hold of American society, and the savage social costs it has entailed.

It is these very forms of social, political, and economic violence that young people have recognized and endured against their own minds and bodies, but they are using their indignation to inspire action rather than despair. The spreading imprint of violence throughout society suggests the need for a politics that riot only critiques the established order but imagines a new one—one informed by a radical vision in which the future does not imitate the present. Critique must emerge alongside a sense of realistic hope, and individual struggles must merge into larger social movements.

 

Occupy Wall Street surfaced in the wake of the 9/11 memori­als and global economic devastation rooted in market deregu­lation and financial corruption. It also developed in response to atrocities committed by the US military in the name of the war on terror, violent and racist extremism spreading through US politics and popular culture, a growing regime of discipline and punishment aimed at marginalized youth, retrograde edu­cation policies destructive of knowledge and critical learning, and the enactment of ruthless austerity policies that serve only to increase human suffering. With the democratic horizon in the United States increasingly darkened by the shadows of a looming authoritarianism and unprecedented levels of social and economic inequality, the Occupy movement and other global movements signify hope and renewal. The power of these movements to educate and act for change should not be under­estimated, particularly among youths, even as we collectively bear witness to the violent retaliation of official power against democratic protesters and the growing fury of the punishing state. In the book that follows, I present chapters that move from negation to hope, from critique to imagining otherwise in order to act otherwise.

 

The first chapter provides a retrospective on 9/11 that ac­knowledges the way in which the tragic events of 2001 were used to unleash brutal violence on a global scale and legitimate the expansion of the warfare state and unthinkable forms of torture against populations increasingly deemed disposable. In particular, the traumatic aftermath of 9/11 in the United States was distorted into a culture of fear: heightened domes­tic security; and accelerated disciplinary forces that targeted youth, particularly the most vulnerable marginalized by race and class, as potential threats to the social order. This chapter exposes some of the widespread impacts of an unchecked pun­ishing state and its apparatuses—most notably the escalating war on youth, the attack on the social state, and the growth of a "governing through crime" complex—while also paying tribute to the resilience and humanity of the victims of the 9/11 at­tacks and their families. It asserts that public recollection in the aftermath of those traumatic events—particularly the sense of common purpose and civic commitment that ensued—should serve as a source of collective hope for a different future than the one we have seen on display since September 2001.71

 

Chapter 2 discusses in further detail the cultural shift in the United States that has led to the inscription and normalization of cruelty and violence. In spring 2011, the role of the domi­nant media in sanctioning this culture of cruelty extended to its failure to provide a critical response when the "Kill Team" photographs were released. Even as young people around the world demonstrated against military power and authoritarian regimes, soldiers in the US military fighting in the "war on ter­ror" gleefully participated in horrifying injustices inflicted upon helpless others. The "Kill Team" photos—images of US soldiers smiling and posing with dead Afghan civilians and their des­ecrated bodies—serve as but one example signaling a broader shift in American culture away from compassion for the suffer­ing of other human beings toward a militarization of the culture and a sadistic pleasure in violent spectacles of pain and torture. Further discussion of American popular culture demonstrates how US society increasingly manifests a "depravity of aesthetics" through eagerly consuming displays of aggression, brutality, and death. Connecting this culture of cruelty to the growing influence of neoliberal policies across all sectors, I suggest that this disturbing new enjoyment of the humiliation of others—far from representing an individualized pathology—now infects US society as a whole in a way that portends the demise of the social state, if not any vestige of a real and substantive democ­racy. Recognizing the power of dominant culture to shape our thoughts, identities, and desires, we must struggle to uncover "instants of truth" that draw upon our compassion for others and rupture the hardened order of reality constructed by the media and other dominant cultural forces.

 

The third chapter suggests that even as US popular culture increasingly circulates images of mind-crushing brutality, American political culture in a similar fashion now functions like a theater of cruelty in which spectacles and public policies display gratuitous and unthinking violence toward the most vulnerable groups in the country, especially children. Despite persistent characterizations of terrorists as "other," the greatest threat to US security lies in homegrown, right-wing extremism of a kind similar to that espoused by Anders Behring Breivik who in July 2011 bombed government buildings in Oslo, kill­ing eight people, and then went on a murderous shooting rampage in Norway, killing sixty-nine youths attending a Labor Party camp. The eruption of violent speech and racist rhetoric within US political discourse indicates a growing tolerance at the highest levels of government of extremist elements and the authoritarian views and racist hatred they deploy to advance their agenda—which includes dismantling the social state, legitimating a governing apparatus based on fear and punish­ment, undermining critical thought and education through ap­peals to conformity and authoritarian populism, and disposing of all populations deemed dangerous and threatening to the dominance of a white conservative nationalism. Bespeaking far more than a disturbing turn in US politics and the broader cul­ture, right-wing policymakers abetted by the dominant media are waging a campaign of domestic terrorism against children, the poor, and other vulnerable groups as part of a larger war against democracy and the democratic formative culture on which it depends for survival.

 

Continuing an exploration of the neoliberal mode of authori­tarianism that has infiltrated US politics, Chapter 4 discusses how anti-immigrant and racist political ideology couched in a discourse of patriotism is being translated into regressive educational policies and an attack on critical education. Remi­niscent of the book burnings conducted in Nazi Germany, the Arizona state legislature and school board in Tucson have systematically eliminated ethnic studies from elementary schools and banned books that: discuss racism and oppres­sion, including several books by Mexican American authors in a school district where more than 60 percent of the students are from a Mexican American background. Within a neoliberal regime that supports corporate hegemony, social and economic inequality, and antidemocratic forms of governance, racism is either privatized by encouraging individual solutions to socially produced problems or disavowed, appearing instead in the guise of a language of punishment that persecutes anyone who even raises the specter of ongoing racism. The censorship of ethnic studies in Arizona and of forms of pedagogy that give voice to oppression points to how ideas that engage people in a struggle for equality and democracy pose a threat to fundamentalist ideologues and their war against the bodies, histories, and modes of knowledge that could produce the critical conscious­ness and civic courage necessary for a just society.

 

Chapter 5 examines the politics of austerity in terms of how it releases corporations and the rich from responsibility for the global economic recession and instead inflicts vast amounts of pain and suffering upon the most vulnerable in society. As an extension of the culture of cruelty, austerity measures encode a fear and contempt for social and economic equality, leading not only to the weakening of social protections and tax breaks for the wealthy but also to the criminalization of social prob­lems. Austerity as a form of "trickle-down cruelty" symbolizes much more than neglect—it suggests a new mode of violence mobilized to address pervasive social ills that will only serve to hasten the emergence of punishing states and networks of global violence. Hope for preventing the escalation of human suffering must be situated in a concerted effort both to raise awareness about the damage wreaked by unchecked casino capitalism and to rethink the very nature of what democracy means and might look like in the United States. A capacity for critical thought, compassion, and informed judgment needs to be nurtured against the forms of bigotry, omission, and social irresponsibility that appear increasingly not only to sanction but also to revel in horror stories of inhumanity and destruc­tion.

 

Tracing the trajectory of class struggle and inequality in America up to the present day, Chapter 6 argues that a grow­ing concentration of wealth in the hands of the ruling elite means that the political system and mode of governance in the United States are no longer democratic, even as state power is subordinated to the interests of corporate sovereignty. In this chapter, an account of the political, social, and economic injus­tices confronting the vast majority of Americans—the result of a decades-long unchecked supremacy of corporate power, the reign of corrupt financiers, and a ruthless attack on the social state and social protections—sets the stage for what emerged as the Occupy Wall Street movement in September 2011. While making visible the ongoing significance of class as a political category, the Occupiers did much more than rehash the tired rhetoric of "class warfare" (marshaled by their opponents in an effort to position the ruling elites as victims of class resentment) Quite to the contrary, the Occupiers revealed the potential for a broad collective movement both to expose the material realities of inequality and injustice and to counter prevailing antidemocratic narratives while also fundamentally changing the terms of engagement by producing new images, stories, and memories that challenged the complacency of the public and the impoverished imagination of political and corporate leadership in America.

 

Chapter 7 concludes the book by reviewing the impact and legacy of the Occupy movement, particularly how it exposed the many ways in which US society has mortgaged the future of youth. The Occupiers have become the new public intellectu­als, and they are creating a newpedagogy and politics firmly rooted in democracy, social justice, and human dignity that increasingly occupies the terrain of public discourse and poses a fundamental challenge to the control of the public sphere by corporate elites and their teaching machines. At risk of losing ideological dominance, the authorities retaliated against Oc­cupy protesters by resorting to brutal forms of punishment. This police violence at once made visible the modes of au­thoritarianism and culture of cruelty that permeate American society—as was seen even at universities and colleges across the United States, institutions charged with contributing to the intellectual, social, and moral growth of society's youth.

 

As I complete the writing of this introduction, the Occupy struggle for social and economic justice continues on American university campuses—where the influence of austerity mea­sures is increasingly being felt, although the working conditions for faculty and the quality of education for students began to deteriorate under the neoliberal ascendancy decades ago. The issues impacting higher education are undoubtedly symptom­atic of the accelerated pace with which the withering away of the public realm is happening. The book finishes, however, by suggesting that the Occupy movement is far from over— despite the shrinking of physical space in which it can protest. As it expands and spreads across the globe, the movement is producing a new public realm of ideas and making important connections between the deteriorating state of education, an­tidemocratic forces, and the savage inequalities produced by a market society. The response of young people as the new generation of public intellectuals offers us both critique and hope. It is a call to work collectively to foster new modes of thought and action—one that should be actively supported by higher education and other remaining public spheres in the United States, if American democracy is to have a future at all.

 

Notes for Introduction

 

1.   Clearly, there are many reasons for the various youthful pro­tests across the globe, ranging from the murder of young people and anger against financial corruption to the riots against cuts to social benefits and the rise of educational costs.

2.   Christopher McMichael, 'The Shock-and-Awe of Mega Sports Events," OpenDemocracy (January 30, 2012), online at: http://www .opendemocracy.net/christopher-mcmichael/shock-and-awe-of-mega-sports-events.

3.  Zygmunt Bauman, Wasted Lives (London: Polity, 2004), p. 76.

4.   See Loic Wacquant, Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Govern­ment of Social Insecurity (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009).

5.  Amanda Peterson Beadle, "Obama Administration Ends Medicaid Funding for Texas Women's Health Program," Think-Progress (March 16, 2012), online at: http://thinkprogress.org/ health/2012/03/16/445894/funding-cut-for-texas-womens-health-program.

6.   Maureen Dowd, "Don't Tread on Us," New York Times (March 14, 2012), p. A25.

7.   See, for example, Daisy Grewal, "How Wealth Reduces Com­passion: As Riches Grow, Empathy for Others Seems to Decline," Scientific American (Tuesday, April 10, 2012), online at: http:// www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-wealth-reduces-compassion&print=true.

8.  Azam Ahmed, "The Hunch, the Pounce and the Kill: How Boaz Weinstein and Hedge Funds Outsmarted JPMorgan," New York Times (May 27, 2012), p. BUI.

9.  Anne-Marie Cusac, Cruel and Unusual: The Culture of Punish­ment in America (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009), p. 3.

10.   David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), p. 19.

11.   Stuart Hall, "The Neo-Liberal Revolution," Cultural Studies 25:6 (November 2011): 706.

12.   Ibid.

13.  Wendy Brown, Regulating Aversion (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008), p. 16.

14.   Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas, "Translators' Note," in Jean-Luc Nancy, The Truth of Democracy (New York: Fordham University Press, 2010), p. ix.

15.  Jean-Marie Durand, "For Youth: A Disciplinary Discourse Only," TruthOut (November 15, 2009), trans. Leslie Thatcher, online at: http://www.truthout.0rg/l 1190911.

16.   David Theo Goldberg, The Threat of Race: Reflections on Racial Neoliberalism (Maiden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), p. 347.

17.   Zygmunt Bauman, "Has the Future a Left?" Soundings 35 (Spring 2007): 5-6.

18.   Ibid.

19.   Goldberg, The Threat of Race, p. 331.

20.   Cited in Anson Rabinach, "Unclaimed Heritage: Ernst Bloch's Heritage of Our Times and the Theory of Fascism," New German Cri­tique (Spring 1997): 8.

21.   See OccupyArreste.com, http://occupyarrests.moonfruit.com.

22.   Durand, "For Youth."

23.   Kyle Bella, "Bodies in Alliance: Gender Theorist Judith Butler on the Occupy and SlutWalk Movements," TruthOut (December 15, 2011), online at: http://www.truth-out.org/bodies-alliance-gender-theorist-judith-butler-occupy-and-slutwalk-movements/1323880210.

24.   Richard Lichtman, "Not a Revolution?" TruthOut (Decem­ber 14, 2011), online at: http://www.truth-out.org/not-revolu-tion/1323801994.

25.   Arun Gupta, "Arundhati Roy: The People Who Created the Crisis Will Not Be the Ones That Come up with a Solution,'" Guard­ian (November 30, 2011), online at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/ world/2011 /nov/30/arundhati-roy-interview.

26.   Staughton Lynd, "What Is to Be Done Next?" Counter-Punch (February 29, 2012), online at: http://www.counterpunch .org/2012/02/29/what-is-to-be-done-next.

27.   Stanley Aronowitz, "Notes on the Occupy Movement," Logos (Fall 2011), online at: http://logosjournal.com/201 l/fall_aronowitz.

28.   On the rise of the punishing state, see Cusac, Cruel and Unusual; Wacquant, Punishing the Poor, Angela Y. Davis, Abolition Democracy: Beyond Empire, Prisons, and Torture (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2005).

29.   Bill Moyers, "Discovering What Democracy Means," Tom-Paine (February 12, 2007), online at: http://www.tompaine.com/ articles/2007/02/12/discovering_what_democracy_means.php.

30.   Daniel Bell, The End of Ideology: On the Exhaustion of Political Ideas in the Fifties (New York: Free Press, 1966); and the more recent Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man (New York: Free Press, 2006).

31.   Stuart Hall, "The March of the Neoliberals," Guardian (September 12, 2011), online at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/poli-tics/201 l/sep/12/march-of-the-neoliberals/.

32.  Alex Honneth, Pathologies of Reason (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), p. 188.

33.   John Van Houdt, 'The Crisis of Negation: An Interview with Alain Badiou," Continent 1:4 (2011): 234-238, online at: http://con-tinentcontinent.cc/index.php/continent/article/viewArticle/65.

34.   See for instance, Noam Chomsky, Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy (New York: Holt Paperbacks, 2007).

35.   Andrew Bacevich, "After Iraq, War Is US," Reader Supported News (December 20, 2011), online at: http://readersupportednews. org/opinion2/424-national-security/9007-after-iraq-war-is-us.

36.   C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 222.

37.   See Gore Vidal, Imperial America: Reflections on the United States of Amnesia (New York: Nation Books, 2004); Gore Vidal, Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace (New York: Nation Books, 2002); Chris Hedges, War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (New York: Anchor Books, 2003); Chalmers Johnson, The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2004); Andrew Bacevich, The New American Militarism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); Chalmers Johnson, Nemesis: The Last Days of the Republic (New York: Metropolitan Books); Andrew J. Bacevich, Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2010); and Nick Turse, The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2008).

38.   Tony Judt, "The New World Order," New York Review of Books 11:2 (July 14, 2005): 17.

39.   Cusac, Cruel and Unusual, p. 2.

40.   Jim Garrison, "Obama's Most Fateful Decision," Huffington Post (December 12, 2011), online at: http://www.hufflngtonpost.com/ jim-garrison/obamas-most-fateful-decis_b_l 143005.html.

41.   Ibid.

42.   Stephen Graham, Cities under Siege: The New Military Urban-ism (London: Verso, 2010), p. xi.

43.  Andrew Becker and G. W. Schulz, "Cops Ready for War," Reader Supported News (December 21, 2011), online at: http:// readersupportednews.org/news-section2/316-20/9023-focus-cops-ready-for-war.

44.   Ibid.

45.   Glenn Greenwald, "The Roots of the UC-Davis Pepper-Spraying," Salon (November 20, 2011), online at: http://www.salon .com/2011/11 /20/the_roots_of_the_uc_davis_pepper_spraying.

46.   See, for instance, Steven Rosenfeld, "5 Freedom-Killing Tactics Police Will Use to Crack Down on Protests in 2012," AlterNet (March 16, 2012), online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/154577/5_freedom-killing_tactics_police_will_use_to_crack_down_on_protests_in_2012.

47.   Erica Goode, "Many in U.S. Are Arrested by Age 23, Study Finds," New York Times (December 19, 2011), p. A15.

48.   Goldberg, The Threat of Race, p. 334.

49.   Lauren Kelley, "Occupy Updates: Extreme Police Violence in Berkeley, with Calls for a Strike; Harvard Protesters Shut out of Harvard Yard," AlterNet (November 14, 2011), online at: http://www .alternet.org/newsandviews/article/728865/occupy_updates%3A_ex-treme_police_violence_in_berkeley,_with_calls_for_a_strike%3B_har-vard_protesters_shut_out_of_harvard_yard; Conor Friedersdorf, "UC Berkeley Riot Police Use Batons to Clear Students from Sproul Plaza," Atlantic (November 10, 2011), online at: http://www.theatlantic. com/national/print/2011/11 /uc-berkeley-riot-police-use-batons-to-clear-students-from-sproul-plaza/248228; Al Baker, "When the Police Go Military," New York Times (December 3, 2011), p. SR6; and Rania Khalek, "Pepper-Spraying Protesters Is Just the Beginning: Here Are More Hypermilitarized Weapons Your Local Police Force Could Employ," AlterNet (November 22, 2011), online at: http://www .alternet.org/story/153147/pepper-spraying_protesters_is_just_the_ beginning%3A_here_are_more_hypermilitarized_weapons_your_lo-caLpolice_force_could_employ.

50.   Philip Govrevitch, "Whose Police?" New Yorker (November 17, 2011), online at: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/com-ment/2011/11/occupy-wall-street-police-bloomberg.html.

51.   Phil Rockstroh, "The Police State Makes Its Move: Re­taining One's Humanity in the Face of Tyranny," CommonDreams (November 15, 2011), online at: http://www.commondreams.org/ view/2011/11/15.

52.   Michael Geyer, 'The Militarization of Europe, 1914-1945," in John R. Gillis, ed. The Militarization of the Western World (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1989), p. 79.

53.  Judt, "The New World Order," pp. 14-18.

54.   Geoff Martin and Erin Steuter, Pop Culture Goes to War: Enlisting and Resisting Militarism in the War on Terror (New York: Lexington Books, 2010).

55.   Carl Boggs and Tom Pollard, The Hollywood War Machine: U.S. Militarism and Popular Culture (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publish­ers, 2006).

56.   Kostas Gouliamos and Christos Kassimeris, eds., The Market­ing of War in the Age of Neo-Militarism (New York: Routledge, 2011).

57.   David Cole, "An Executive Power to Kill?" New York Review of Books (March 6, 2012), online at: http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/ nyrblog/2012/mar/06/targeted-killings-holder-speech.

58.   Steve Herbert and Elizabeth Brown, "Conceptions of Space and Crime in the Punitive Neoliberal City," Antipode (2006): 757.

59.   Davis, Abolition Democracy, p. 41.

60.   One classic example of this neoliberal screed can be found most recently in an unapologetic defense of social Darwinism by Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 (New York: Crown Forum, 2012). For a critique of this position, see David Garland, The Culture of Control: Crime and Social Order in Con­temporary Society (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001); Philip Jenkins, Decade of Nightmares: The End of the Sixties and the Making of Eighties America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006); and Jonathan Simon, Governing through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).

61.   Chris McGreal, 'The US Schools with Their Own Police," Guardian (January 9, 2012), online at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/ world/2012/jan/09/texas-police-schools.

62.   Daniel Tancer, "Student Punished for Refusing to Cite the Pledge," Psyche, Science, and Society (February 25, 2010), online at: http://psychoanalystsopposewar.org/blog/2010/02/25/student-punished-for-refusing-to-recite-the-pledge.

63.   McGreal, 'The US Schools with Their Own Police."

64.   Criminal Injustice Kos, "Criminal Injustice Kos: Interrupting the School to Prison Pipeline," Daily Kos (March 30, 2011), online at: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/03/30/960807/-Criminal-InJustice-Kos:-Interruptlng-the-School-to-Prison-Pipeline.

65.   "A Failure of Imagination," Smartypants (March 3, 2010), online at: http://immasmartypants.blogspot.com/2010/03/failure-of-imagination.html.

66.   See Mark P. Fancher, Reclaiming Michigan's Throwaway Kids: Students Trapped in the School-to-Prison Pipeline (Michigan: ACLU, 2011), online at: http://www.njjn.org/uploads/digitaljibrary/ resource_1287.pdf; and Advancement Project, Test, Punish, and Push Out: How "Zero Tolerance" and High-Stakes Testing Funnel Youth into the School-to-Prison Pipeline (Washington, DC: Advancement Project, March 2010), online at: http://www.advancementproject.org/sites/ default/flles/publications/rev_fln.pdf.

67.   Gilles Deleuze, "Postscript on the Societies of Control," October 59 (Winter 1992): 3-7.

68.  Alex Honneth, Pathologies of Reason (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), p. 188.

69.   Bauman, "Has the Future a Left?" p. 2.

70.   Barbara Ehrenreich, "How We Cured The Culture of Pov­erty,' Not Poverty Itself," Truthout (March 15, 2012), online at: http:// www.truth-out.org/how-we-cured-culture-poverty-not-poverty-itself/1331821823.

71.  This theme is taken up in great detail in Jonathan Simon, Governing through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Henry A Giroux

Henry A. Giroux currently holds the Global TV Network Chair Professorship at McMaster University in the English and Cultural Studies Department and a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Ryerson University. His most recent books include:  On Critical Pedagogy (Continuum, 2011), Twilight of the Social: Resurgent Publics in the Age of Disposability (Paradigm 2012), Disposable Youth: Racialized Memories and the Culture of Cruelty (Routledge 2012), Youth in Revolt: Reclaiming a Democratic Future (Paradigm 2013), and The Educational Deficit and the War on Youth (Monthly Review Press, 2013), America's Disimagination Machine (City Lights) and Higher Education After Neoliberalism (Haymarket) will be published in 2014). Giroux is also a member of Truthout's Board of Directors. His web site is www.henryagiroux.com. Truthout readers receive a 30% discount by clicking the link and inserting the Code: TOGIR (please note that this code is cap-sensitive) on the following books: Youth in Revolt: Reclaiming a Democratic Future, March 2013; The Twilight of the Social: Resurgent Politics in an Age of Disposability, April 2012; Hearts of Darkness: Torturing Children in the War on Terror, August 2010; Politics After Hope: Obama and the Crisis of Youth, Race, and Democracy, April 2010; and The University in Chains: Confronting the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex, June 2007.


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