“The roots of violence: wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, politics without principles.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Marcus Tullius Cicero, (106-43 B.C.)
Statesman, Philosopher and Orator:

“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely,  his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear.”

The present seen in the eyes of the past reveal a disturbing pattern of sameness,  who better to throw light on this other than the master of prediction himself – George Orwell. His seminal essay reproduced below sets the stage for what we discern around us today.

What is Fascism?

George Orwell

Of all the unanswered questions of our time, perhaps the most important is: ‘What is Fascism?’

One of the social survey organizations in America recently asked this question of a hundred different people, and got answers ranging from ‘pure democracy’ to ‘pure diabolism’. In this country if you ask the average thinking person to define Fascism, he usually answers by pointing to the German and Italian régimes. But this is very unsatisfactory, because even the major Fascist states differ from one another a good deal in structure and ideology.

It is not easy, for instance, to fit Germany and Japan into the same framework, and it is even harder with some of the small states which are describable as Fascist. It is usually assumed, for instance, that Fascism is inherently warlike, that it thrives in an atmosphere of war hysteria and can only solve its economic problems by means of war preparation or foreign conquests. But clearly this is not true of, say, Portugal or the various South American dictatorships. Or again, antisemitism is supposed to be one of the distinguishing marks of Fascism; but some Fascist movements are not antisemitic. Learned controversies, reverberating for years on end in American magazines, have not even been able to determine whether or not Fascism is a form of capitalism. But still, when we apply the term ‘Fascism’ to Germany or Japan or Mussolini’s Italy, we know broadly what we mean. It is in internal politics that this word has lost the last vestige of meaning. For if you examine the press you will find that there is almost no set of people — certainly no political party or organized body of any kind — which has not been denounced as Fascist during the past ten years. Here I am not speaking of the verbal use of the term ‘Fascist’. I am speaking of what I have seen in print. I have seen the words ‘Fascist in sympathy’, or ‘of Fascist tendency’, or just plain ‘Fascist’, applied in all seriousness to the following bodies of people:

Conservatives: All Conservatives, appeasers or anti-appeasers, are held to be subjectively pro-Fascist. British rule in India and the Colonies is held to be indistinguishable from Nazism. Organizations of what one might call a patriotic and traditional type are labelled crypto-Fascist or ‘Fascist-minded’. Examples are the Boy Scouts, the Metropolitan Police, M.I.5, the British Legion. Key phrase: ‘The public schools are breeding-grounds of Fascism’.

Socialists: Defenders of old-style capitalism (example, Sir Ernest Benn) maintain that Socialism and Fascism are the same thing. Some Catholic journalists maintain that Socialists have been the principal collaborators in the Nazi-occupied countries. The same accusation is made from a different angle by the Communist party during its ultra-Left phases. In the period 1930-35 the Daily Worker habitually referred to the Labour Party as the Labour Fascists. This is echoed by other Left extremists such as Anarchists. Some Indian Nationalists consider the British trade unions to be Fascist organizations.

Communists: A considerable school of thought (examples, Rauschning, Peter Drucker, James Burnham, F. A. Voigt) refuses to recognize a difference between the Nazi and Soviet régimes, and holds that all Fascists and Communists are aiming at approximately the same thing and are even to some extent the same people. Leaders in The Times (pre-war) have referred to the U.S.S.R. as a ‘Fascist country’. Again from a different angle this is echoed by Anarchists and Trotskyists.

Trotskyists: Communists charge the Trotskyists proper, i.e. Trotsky’s own organization, with being a crypto-Fascist organization in Nazi pay. This was widely believed on the Left during the Popular Front period. In their ultra-Right phases the Communists tend to apply the same accusation to all factions to the Left of themselves, e.g. Common Wealth or the I.L.P.

Catholics: Outside its own ranks, the Catholic Church is almost universally regarded as pro-Fascist, both objectively and subjectively;

War resisters: Pacifists and others who are anti-war are frequently accused not only of making things easier for the Axis, but of becoming tinged with pro-Fascist feeling.

Supporters of the war: War resisters usually base their case on the claim that British imperialism is worse than Nazism, and tend to apply the term ‘Fascist’ to anyone who wishes for a military victory. The supporters of the People’s Convention came near to claiming that willingness to resist a Nazi invasion was a sign of Fascist sympathies. The Home Guard was denounced as a Fascist organization as soon as it appeared. In addition, the whole of the Left tends to equate militarism with Fascism. Politically conscious private soldiers nearly always refer to their officers as ‘Fascist-minded’ or ‘natural Fascists’. Battle-schools, spit and polish, saluting of officers are all considered conducive to Fascism. Before the war, joining the Territorials was regarded as a sign of Fascist tendencies. Conscription and a professional army are both denounced as Fascist phenomena.

Nationalists: Nationalism is universally regarded as inherently Fascist, but this is held only to apply to such national movements as the speaker happens to disapprove of. Arab nationalism, Polish nationalism, Finnish nationalism, the Indian Congress Party, the Muslim League, Zionism, and the I.R.A. are all described as Fascist but not by the same people.

* * *

It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley’s broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else.

Yet underneath all this mess there does lie a kind of buried meaning. To begin with, it is clear that there are very great differences, some of them easy to point out and not easy to explain away, between the régimes called Fascist and those called democratic. Secondly, if ‘Fascist’ means ‘in sympathy with Hitler’, some of the accusations I have listed above are obviously very much more justified than others. Thirdly, even the people who recklessly fling the word ‘Fascist’ in every direction attach at any rate an emotional significance to it. By ‘Fascism’ they mean, roughly speaking, something cruel, unscrupulous, arrogant, obscurantist, anti-liberal and anti-working-class. Except for the relatively small number of Fascist sympathizers, almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’. That is about as near to a definition as this much-abused word has come.

But Fascism is also a political and economic system. Why, then, cannot we have a clear and generally accepted definition of it? Alas! we shall not get one — not yet, anyway. To say why would take too long, but basically it is because it is impossible to define Fascism satisfactorily without making admissions which neither the Fascists themselves, nor the Conservatives, nor Socialists of any colour, are willing to make. All one can do for the moment is to use the word with a certain amount of circumspection and not, as is usually done, degrade it to the level of a swearword.

1944

THE END

Misery for the Many, Benefits for the Few India: Growing Inequality and Destructive Development

by GRAHAM PEEBLES

Upon a foundation of deep spirituality and philosophical treasures, proclaiming unity, justice and service, New India, horns honking in violation of the good; is racing, no time to spare towards the Alter of Materiality and Market Fundamentalism.

Under the careful guidance of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) The Indian government has for the last twenty years or so, (during which time the BBC 7/12/11 found “inequality has doubled”), embraced market liberalization and the global market; garlanded corporations with all manner of subsidies and damned the poor to greater poverty, destitution, suffering and, suicide in the case of farmers: Who by inaccurate government figures, that exclude women, Adivasi and Dalit people among others, are, in deep despair, committing suicide at a rate of two an hour.

In a country of 1.2 billion and counting, all the numbers are mega. Seen through corporate tinted spectacles India is a marketplace unlike any other, and providing business doors stay open 24/7, the international community – meaning America and her bedmates, will allow India to occupy Kashmir, murder, rape and displace the needy, and marginalize the marginal: Growth and profit the mantra of the times chanted hourly to the market God, headless, heartless, all consuming.

Have-nots and Billionaires

There are, according to Arundhati Roy, around 450 million Indians living in dire poverty, a total equivalent to all the poor in all the countries of Africa combined. ‘Dire’ poverty, meaning just existing, 12 Rupees or 30 (US) cents a day or less does not allow for anything other than bare survival. Is it possible to be healthy on such a sum: To eat nutritiously – to eat at all, to drink clean water, sleep in clean clothes, on a clean bed, brush your teeth with toothpaste, wear shoes whilst working, rummaging through waste mountains, or digging drought-ridden land, is it possible to be happy and retain ones dignity as one begs for the 12 rupees. All ‘normal’, recognizable requirements of living are regarded as luxuries, the Divine seen as a fresh loaf of bread and men women and children, shrouded in anxiety and despair, condemned to a life of drudgery and exploitation.

In amongst the agony and ugliness of such widespread poverty however, there is good news and billions of it: The fabulous Forbes list of money-men (what a brilliant world that such a list even exists), places India fourth in the world league table of the greatest number of billionaires – 61 at the last count. With a combined wealth of $250 billion: Billionaires incidentally who are rich billionaires, unlike the German or Japanese ones, who are poor by comparison. In addition to billionaires there are around 200,000 dollar millionaires; between them these billion million mega men, they are of course all men (worldwide women make up only 2% of billionaires), run the massive Indian corporations that in turn run India.

Middlemen and Women

At the same time as half a billion men women and children crawl through life on their 30 cents a day, a river of rupees flows ceaselessly into the judiciary, the body politic and corporate lakes, swelling stockholders assets. ‘Gush up’ as Arandhati Roy calls it in ‘Capitalism a ghost story’, concentrating she says: “wealth onto the tip of a shinning pin on which our billionaires pirouette”. That’s why in a nation of 1.2 billion, “India’s 100 richest people own assets equivalent to one-fourth of the GDP” (ibid). Power and rupees moving unceasingly into the pockets of the wealthy and mega rich, who are boosted by what Global Research (GR) 3/9/12 state is an “economic system that ensures the flow of wealth goes upwards via what academic David Harvey calls ‘accumulation by dispossession“. The overflow from ‘Gush Up’ feeding a new and marvelous middle class, estimated to be between 30 and 50 million, depending how we define this contemporary social gathering of credit card carriers and foreign holiday makers; according to India’s Economic Times (ET) 6/2/2011, an annual income of between $70 and $300 (quite a broad spectrum), puts one firmly within the comfort crease.

The population of a small to medium size country then; management, IT nerds, professional and semi professionals who have adapted very well thank you, to hallowed capitalist values. They shun the needy, shop and surf, happy to revel on their Harley’s, drink overpriced coffee and i-live on their i-phones and tablets. Is it fear one wonders or greed that consumes the aspiring revellers, content to watch as their countrymen burn on the Party Pyre.

To the utter delight of western corporations there is “a huge market being created for the white goods and automobile makers, [and] huge demand for the products.” Director Rajesh Shukla of the Centre for Macro Consumer Research (CMCR) excitedly proclaims, as reported by ET. Mention of such ‘demand’ sends tremors of excitement and anticipation through business small and large looking east from west; statements sufficient to silence western corporate politicians, happy to bury their heads in India’s eight to nine per cent GDP figures, and snuggle down; whilst the people of Orissa and Kashmir, Jharkhand and West Bengal, starve and are displaced, raped, and persecuted.

In an economic world that see’s all through the simplistic prism of markets and profits, Nation States are recognised as vast department stores, markets to be exploited until exhausted and returns maximised, the natural environment stripped of all that is of value, And what of the people; the rural poor who make up 70% of the population and those who crowd into the glowing, overcrowded filthy cities: Survive, swim if your fit, sink, drown and fade away if not, and quietly please, we’re shopping….

Growing Inequality Deepening Poverty

Hailed as the economic miracle nation of out deficit times, blessing the very few however, India is ranked by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) 129th of 146 countries on the adjusted Human development Index, that accommodates gender imbalance. The number of poor people in the country has barely fallen over a 30-year period, India Today (22/10/11) state “The Human Development Report released by the Planning Commission shockingly revealed that the poor in rural India were better fed about 30 years ago.” By the government’s own figures 50% of the rural population (836 million) live in poverty, surviving somehow on less than 20 rupees (50 cents) a day, 20 cents more than those in ‘dire poverty’, but still not what one would call comfortable. As I said the numbers are mega, even those supplied by the Government – which of course err on the side of flattery and must be taken with a generous helping of salt, however they still put child malnutrition at 46%, the highest in the world. GR state that tragically, criminally we could say, “Every second child is underweight and stunted”. A quarter of the population is, according to GR, “hungry. India was [listed] 73rd out of 88 countries in the annual Global Hunger Index” – six spots lower than the previous year. “The 2010 Multidimensional Poverty Index indicated that…. Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have 421 million poor people.” The miracle is that the people catching the crumbs from the 61 Club as they fall to earth survive at all.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) India has the BBC report, “the highest number of poor in the world,” with the top 10% earning 12 times that of the bottom 10%, “compared to six times twenty years ago, i.e. inequality under the economic miracle, a nightmare for the 99.9%, is growing and apace. A demographic democratic fact that is of course fundamentally unjust. There are sub divisions within the divisions as inequality stalks the land, the urban wealthy e.g. spending 221% more the BBC report than their rural rich cousins, the chasm between city comfortable and rural desperate is approaching cosmic proportions.

Such are the contradictions (and we have barely scratched the divisive surface), in a country where a mere 1 – 3% according to Palagummi Sainath have enjoyed ‘unprecedented success due to economic reforms’. The big growth story he maintains, is inequality: ‘It has grown faster than any time in the last 50 years’, promising to cause what Sainath describes as the ‘ death of democracy’. For inequality is fundamentally (socially) unjust and democracy professes, at least in principle if not in practice that justice is a founding father, held close to it’s battered heart. Diluted of meaning hijacked and perverted, social democracy once idealized now married off to become corporate democracy, has failed the 99.9%, in India as in the rest of the world, her roots torn out of the social ground in which she was sewn. “Democracy… who’s she when she’s at home”? asks Arundhati Roy ironically in Listening to Grasshoppers.  Attempts to build local democratic movements, to resist, to protest, to articulate grievances, formulate alternatives are crushed unmercifully by what Sainath terms “the most undemocratic global frameworks”, that bulldoze over demands for the observation of human rights, the manifestation of social justice and expressions of moral decency.

Still its not all bad news: the richest billionaires in the world are Indian and the world’s most expensive ‘house’ – Antilla, a twenty-seven story residential abomination, is in Mumbai, built for India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, whose personal wealth is said to be $20 billion. He holds a controlling share in Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), that has interests in businesses from oil to stem cell storage, supermarkets to schools and of course the media; utilized to create uninformed citizens conditioned into making irrational choices.

Everything Everyone Everywhere

Throughout India there is a systematic movement towards; the commercialization of the countryside, the raping of the land for its bounty and the commodification of each and every part of human existence, what Arundhati Roy calls “the era of privatization of Everything”, the hunt for profit the clarion call to action. And all impelled by government stimuli, the state happy to channel corporate propaganda, increase quarterly growth figures and expand the business model, the corporate democratic ideal into every corner of every mind in every village in India.

The inevitable albeit unfortunate consequences to market fundamentalism, say Mr.Tata, Mr. Vedanta and of course Mr.Ambani, being the displacement, death and destitution of obstacles: namely and mainly the Adivasi and Dalit people – conveniently demonized as Maoist terrorists, by a government waging war not on terror, that it is content to cause, but its own citizens, marginalized and disadvantaged, who constitute the poorest people in the world.

For nothing must stand in the way of the sacred cow of progress and gigantic growth, certainly not the uneducated troublesome poor; and to wish to obstruct such a noble quest with talk of human rights, social justice or environmental concerns is to talk humbug in the face of a capitalist crusade that has ‘right’ on its side, justifying expressions of might to enforce it.

An unchallengeable model, beyond alternatives and utopian ideas of sharing and justice, that is bathed in a misty glow of polished yet polluted uniformity, where the individual is absorbed into the consumer collective and told: Where to shop and what to buy, how to love and in which colour, what to think and when to think it, and, if in doubt tune into your local multinational media outlet for an update on corporate global acceptability.

Graham Peebles is director of the Create Trust.

 

In light of India’s pursuit of nuclear power with its vast labyrinth of mega kickbacks, it is time to pause and reflect on what happens when these fallible reactors go up in smoke.

The Consequences of Chernobyl

By KARL GROSSMAN

Monday is the 24th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear plant accident. It comes as the nuclear industry and pro-nuclear government officials in the U.S. and other nations try to “revive” nuclear power. It also follows the just-released publication of a book, the most comprehensive study ever made, on the impacts of the Chernobyl disaster.
Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment has just been published by the New York Academy of Sciences. It is authored by three noted scientists: Russian biologist Dr. Alexey Yablokov, former environmental advisor to the Russian president; Dr. Alexey Nesterenko, a biologist and ecologist in Belarus; and Dr.Vassili Nesterenko, a physicist and at the time of the accident director of the Institute of Nuclear Energy of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus. Its editor is Dr. Janette Sherman, a physician and toxicologist long-involved in studying the health impacts of radioactivity.
The book is solidly based—on health data, radiological surveys and scientific reports—some 5,000 in all.
It concludes that based on records now available, some 985,000 people died of cancer caused by the Chernobyl accident. That’s between when the accident occurred in 1986 and 2004.
More deaths, it projects, will follow.
The book explodes the claim of the International Atomic Energy Agency—still on its website – that the expected death toll from the Chernobyl accident will be 4,000. The IAEA, the new book shows, is under-estimating, to the extreme, the casualties of Chernobyl.
Comments Alice Slater, representative in New York of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation: “The tragic news uncovered by the comprehensive new research that almost one million people died in the toxic aftermath of Chernobyl should be a wake-up call to people all over the world to petition their governments to put a halt to the current industry-driven ‘nuclear renaissance.’ Aided by a corrupt IAEA, the world has been subjected to a massive cover-up and deception about the true damages caused by Chernobyl.”
Further worsening the situation, she said, has been “the collusive agreement between the IAEA and the World Health Organization in which the WHO is precluded from publishing any research on radiation effects without consultation with the IAEA.” WHO, the public health arm of the UN, has supported the IAEA’s claim that 4,000 will die as a result of the accident.
“How fortunate,” said Ms. Slater, “that independent scientists have now revealed the horrific costs of the Chernobyl accident.”
The book also scores the position of the IAEA, set up through the UN in 1957 “to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy,” and its 1959 agreement with WHO.  There is a “need to change,” it says, the IAEA-WHO pact. It has muzzled the WHO, providing for the “hiding” from the “public of any information…unwanted” by the nuclear industry.
“An important lesson from the Chernobyl experience is that experts and organizations tied to the nuclear industry have dismissed and ignored the consequences of the catastrophe,” it states.
The book details the spread of radioactive poisons following the explosion of Unit 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear plant on April 26, 1986. These major releases only ended when the fire at the reactor was brought under control in mid-May. Emitted were “hundreds of millions of curies, a quantity hundreds of times larger than the fallout from the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” The most extensive fall-out occurred in regions closest to the plant—in the Ukraine (the reactor was 60 miles from Kiev in Ukraine), Belarus and Russia.
However, there was fallout all over the world as the winds kept changing direction “so the radioactive emissions…covered an enormous territory.”
The radioactive poisons sent billowing from the plant into the air included Cesium-137, Plutonium, Iodine-131 and Strontium-90.
There is a breakdown by country, highlighted by maps, of where the radionuclides fell out.  Beyond Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, the countries included Bulgaria, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The radiological measurements show that some 10% of Chernobyl poisons “fell on Asia…Huge areas” of eastern Turkey and central China “were highly contaminated,” reports the book. Northwestern Japan was impacted, too.
Northern Africa was hit with “more than 5% of all Chernobyl releases.” The finding of  Cesium-137 and both Plutonium-239 and Plutonium-240 “in accumulated Nile River sediment is evidence of significant Chernobyl contamination,” it says. “Areas of North America were contaminated from the first, most powerful explosion, which lifted a cloud of radionuclides to a height of more than 10 km. Some 1% of all Chernobyl nuclides,” says the book, “fell on North America.”
The consequences on public health are extensively analyzed. Medical records involving children—the young, their cells more rapidly multiplying, are especially affected by radioactivity—are considered. Before the accident, more than 80% of the children in the territories of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia extensively contaminated by Chernobyl “were healthy,” the book reports, based on health data.  But “today fewer than 20% are well.”
There is an examination of genetic impacts with records reflecting an increase in “chromosomal aberrations” wherever there was fallout. This will continue through the “children of irradiated parents for as many as seven generations.” So “the genetic consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe will impact hundreds of millions of people.”
As to fatal cancer, the list of countries and consequences begins with Belarus. “For the period 1900-2000 cancer mortality in Belarus increased 40%,” it states, again based on medical data and illuminated by tables in the book. “The increase was a maximum in the most highly contaminated Gomel Province and lower in the less contaminated Brest and Mogilev provinces.” They include childhood cancers, thyroid cancer, leukemia and other cancers.
Considering health data of people in all nations impacted by the fallout, the “overall [cancer] mortality for the period from April 1986 to the end of 2004 from the Chernobyl catastrophe was estimated as 985,000 additional deaths.”
Further, “the concentrations” of some of the poisons, because they have radioactive half-lives ranging from 20,000 to 200,000 years, “will remain practically the same virtually forever.”
The book also examines the impact on plants and animals. ”Immediately after the catastrophe, the frequency of plant mutations in the contaminated territories increased sharply.”
There are photographs of some of these plant mutations. “Chernobyl irradiation has caused many structural anomalies and tumorlike changes in many plant species and has led to genetic disorders, sometimes continuing for many years,” it says. “Twenty-three years after the catastrophe it is still too early to know if the whole spectrum of plant radiogenic changes has been discerned. We are far from knowing all of the consequences for flora resulting from the catastrophe.”
As to animals, the book notes “serious increases in morbidity and mortality that bear striking resemblance to changes in the public health of humans—increasing tumor rates, immunodeficiencies, decreasing life expectancy…”
In one study it is found that “survival rates of barn swallows in the most contaminated sites near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant are close to zero. In areas of moderate contamination, annual survival is less than 25%.” Research is cited into ghastly abnormalities in barn swallows that do hatch: “two heads, two tails.”
“In 1986,” the book states, “the level of irradiation in plants and animals in Western Europe, North America, the Arctic, and eastern Asia were sometimes hundreds and even thousands of times above acceptable norms.”
In its final chapter, the book declares that the explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear plant “was the worst technogenic accident in history.” And it examines “obstacles” to the reporting of the true consequences of Chernobyl with a special focus on “organizations associated with the nuclear industry” that “protect the industry first—not the public.” Here, the IAEA and WHO are charged.
The book ends by quoting U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s call in 1963 for an end of atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons.“The Chernobyl catastrophe,” it declares, “demonstrates that the nuclear industry’s willingness to risk the health of humanity and our environment with nuclear power plants will result, not only theoretically, but practically, in the same level of hazard as nuclear weapons.”
Dr. Sherman, speaking of the IAEA’s and WHO’s dealing with the impacts of Chernobyl, commented: “It’s like Dracula guarding the blood bank.” The 1959 agreement under which WHO “is not to be independent of the IAEA” but must clear any information it obtains on issues involving radioactivity with the IAEA has put “the two in bed together.”
Of her reflections on 14 months editing the book, she said: “Every single system that was studied—whether human or wolves or livestock or fish or trees or mushrooms or bacteria—all were changed, some of them irreversibly. The scope of the damage is stunning.”
In his foreword, Dr. Dimitro Grodzinsky, chairman of the Ukranian National Commission on Radiation Protection, writes about how “apologists of nuclear power” sought to hide the real impacts of the Chernobyl disaster from the time when the accident occurred. The book “provides the largest and most complete collection of data concerning the negative consequences of Chernobyl on the health of people and the environment…The main conclusion of the book is that it is impossible and wrong ‘to forget Chernobyl.’”
In the record of Big Lies, the claim of the IAEA-WHO that “only” 4,000 people will die as a result of the Chernobyl catastrophe is among the biggest.
The Chernobyl accident is, as the new book documents, an ongoing global catastrophe.
And it is a clear call for no new nuclear power plants to be built and for the closing of the dangerous atomic machines now running—and a switch to safe energy technologies, now available, led by solar and wind energy, that will not leave nearly a million people dead from one disaster.
Karl Grossman is professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury. He is author of Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power, Power Crazy and The Wrong Stuff: The Space Program’s Nuclear Threat To Our Planet and writer and narrator of television programs among them Nukes In Space: The Nuclearization and Weaponization of the Heavens (www.envirovideo.com).
oliver-todeath-big

Economic Darwinism

by HENRY GIROUX With the advent of Neoliberalism, we have witnessed the production and widespread adoption within many countries of what I want to call the politics of economic Darwinsim. As a theater of cruelty and mode of public pedagogy, economic Darwinism removes economics and markets from the discourse of social obligations and social costs. The results are all around us ranging from ecological devastation and widespread economic impoverishment to the increasing incarceration of large segments of the population marginalized by race and class. Economics now drives politics, transforming citizens into consumers and compassion into an object of scorn. The language of rabid individualism and harsh competition now replaces the notion of the public and all forms of solidarity not aligned with market values. As public considerations and issues collapse into the morally vacant pit of private visions and narrow self-interests, the bridges between private and public life are dismantled making it almost impossible to determine how private troubles are connected to broader public issues. Long term investments are now replaced by short term profits while compassion and concern for others are viewed as a weakness. As public visions fall into disrepair, the concept of the public good is eradicated in favor of Democratic public values are scorned because they subordinate market considerations to the common good. Morality in this instance simply dissolves, as humans are stripped of any obligations to each other. How else to explain Mitt Romney’s gaffe caught on video in which he derided “47 percent of the people [who] will vote for the president no matter what”?[i] There was more at work here than what some have called a cynical political admission by Romney that some voting blocs do not matter.[ii] Romney’s dismissive comments about those 47 percent of adult Americans who don’t pay federal income taxes for one reason or another, whom he described as “people who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it,”[iii] makes clear that the logic disposability is now a central feature of American politics. As the language of privatization, deregulation, and commodification replaces the discourse of the public good, all things public, including public schools, libraries, transportation systems, crucial infrastructures, and public services, are viewed either as a drain on the market or as a pathology.[iv] The corrupting influence of money and concentrated power not only supports the mad violence of the defense industry, but turns politics itself into mode of sovereignty in which sovereignty now becomes identical with policies that benefit the rich, corporations, and the defense industry.”[v] Thomas Frank is on target when he argues that “Over the course of the past few decades, the power of concentrated money has subverted professions, destroyed small investors, wrecked the regulatory state, corrupted legislators en masse and repeatedly put the economy through he wringer. Now it has come for our democracy itself.”[vi] Individual prosperity becomes the greatest of social achievements because it allegedly drives innovation and creates jobs. At the same time, massive disparities in income and wealth are celebrated as a justification for a survival of the fittest ethic and homage to a ruthless mode of unbridled individualism. Vulnerable populations once protected by the social state are now considered a liability because they are viewed as either flawed consumers or present a threat to a right-wing Christian view of America as a white, protestant public sphere. The elderly, young people, the unemployed, immigrants, and poor whites and minorities of color now constitute a form of human waste and are considered disposable, unworthy of sharing in the rights, benefits, and protections of a substantive democracy. Clearly, this new politics of disposability and culture of cruelty represents more than an economic crisis, it is also speaks to a deeply rooted crisis of education, agency, and social responsibility. Under such circumstances, to cite C. W. Mills, we are seeing the breakdown of democracy, the disappearance of critical intellectuals, and “the collapse of those public spheres which offer a sense of critical agency and social imagination.”[vii] Since the 1970s, we have witnessed the forces of market fundamentalism strip education of its public values, critical content, and civic responsibilities as part of its broader goal of creating new subjects wedded to consumerism, risk-free relationships, and the destruction of the social state. Tied largely to instrumental purposes and measurable paradigms, many institutions of higher education are now committed almost exclusively to economic goals, such as preparing students for the workforce. Universities have not only strayed from their democratic mission, they seem immune to the plight of students who have to face a harsh new world of high unemployment, the prospect of downward mobility, debilitating debt, and a future that mimics the failures of the past. The question of what kind of education is needed for students to be informed and active citizens is rarely asked.[viii] Within both higher education and the educational force of the broader cultural apparatus– with its networks of knowledge production in the old and new media– we are witnessing the emergence and dominance of a powerful and ruthless, if not destructive, market-driven notion of education, freedom, agency, and responsibility. Such modes of education do not foster a sense of organized responsibility central to a democracy. Instead, they foster what might be called a sense of organized irresponsibility–a practice that underlies the economic Darwinism and civic corruption at the heart of American and, to a lesser degree, Canadian politics. The anti-democratic values that drive free market fundamentalism are embodied in policies now attempting to shape diverse levels of higher education all over the globe. The script has now become overly familiar and increasingly taken for granted, especially in the United States and increasingly in Canada. Shaping the neoliberal framing of public and higher education is a corporate-based ideology that embraces standardizing the curriculum, top-to-down governing structures, courses that promote entrepreneurial values, and the reduction of all levels of education to job training sites. For example, one university is offering a master’s degree to students who commit to starting a high-tech company while another allows career officers to teach capstone research seminars in the humanities. In one of these classes, the students were asked to “develop a 30-second commercial on their ‘personal brand.’”[ix] Central to this neoliberal view of higher education is a market-driven paradigm that wants to eliminate tenure, turn the humanities into a job preparation service, and reduce most faculty to the status of part-time and temporary workers, if not simply a new subordinate class of disempowered educators. The indentured service status of such faculty is put on full display as some colleges have resorted to using “temporary service agencies to do their formal hiring.”[x] Faculty in this view are regarded as simply another cheap army of reserve labor, a powerless group that universities are eager to exploit in order to increase the bottom line while disregarding the needs and rights of academic laborers and the quality of education that students deserve. There is no talk in this view of higher education about shared governance between faculty and administrators, nor of educating students as critical citizens rather than potential employees of Wal-Mart. There is no attempt to affirm faculty as scholars and public intellectuals who have both a measure of autonomy and power. Instead, faculty members are increasingly defined less as intellectuals than as technicians and grant writers. Students fare no better in this debased form of education and are treated either as consumers or as restless children in need of high-energy entertainment—as was made clear in the recent Penn State scandal. Nor is there any attempt to legitimate higher education as a fundamental sphere for creating the agents necessary for an aspiring democracy. This neoliberal corporatized model of higher education exhibits a deep disdain for critical ideals, public spheres, and practices that are not directly linked to market values, business culture, the economy, or the production of short term financial gains. In fact, the commitment to democracy is beleaguered, viewed less as a crucial educational investment than as a distraction that gets in the way of connecting knowledge and pedagogy to the production of material and human capital. Higher Education and the Crisis of Legitimacy In the United States, many of the problems in higher education can be linked to low funding, the domination of universities by market mechanisms, the rise of for-profit colleges, the intrusion of the national security state, and the lack of faculty self-governance, all of which not only contradicts the culture and democratic value of higher education but also makes a mockery of the very meaning and mission of the university as a democratic public sphere. Decreased financial support for higher education stands in sharp contrast to increased support for tax benefits for the rich, big banks, the Defense Budget, and mega corporations. Rather than enlarge the moral imagination and critical capacities of students, too many universities are now wedded to producing would-be hedge fund managers, depoliticized students, and creating modes of education that promote a “technically trained docility.”[xi] Strapped for money and increasingly defined in the language of corporate culture, many universities are now “pulled or driven principally by vocational, [military], and economic considerations while increasingly removing academic knowledge production from democratic values and projects.”[xii] College presidents are now called CEOs and speak largely in the discourse of Wall Street and corporate fund managers while at the same time moving without apology or shame between interlocking corporate and academic boards. Venture capitalists scour colleges and universities in search of big profits to be made through licensing agreements, the control of intellectual property rights, and investments in university spinoff companies. In this new Gilded Age of money and profit, academic subjects gain stature almost exclusively through their exchange value on the market. It gets worse as exemplified by one recent example. BB&T Corporation, a financial holdings company, gave a $1 million gift to Marshall University’s business school on the condition that Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand [Paul Ryan’s favorite book] be taught in a course. What are we to make of the integrity of a university when it accepts a monetary gift from a corporation or rich patron demanding as part of the agreement the power to specify what is to be taught in a course or how a curriculum should be shaped? Some corporations and universities now believe that what is taught in a course is not an academic decision but a market consideration. Not only does neoliberalism undermine both civic education and public values and confuse education with training, it also treats knowledge as a product, promoting a neoliberal logic that views schools as malls, students as consumers, and faculty as entrepreneurs. It gets worse. As Stanley Aronowitz points out, [t]he absurd neoliberal idea that users should pay for every public good from parks and beaches to highways has reached education with a vengeance”[xiii] as more and more students are forced to give up attending college because of skyrocketing tuition rates. In addition, thousands of students are now saddled with debts that will bankrupt their lives in the future. Unfortunately, one measure of this disinvestment in higher education as a public good can be seen in the fact that many states such as California are spending more on prisons than on higher education.[xiv] Educating low income and poor minorities to be engaged citizens has been undermined by an unholy alliance of law and order conservatives, private prison corporations, and prison guard unions along with the rise of the punishing state, all of whom have an invested interest in locking more people up, especially poor minority youth, rather than educating them. It is no coincidence that as the U.S., and Canada to a lesser degree, disinvests in the institutions fundamental to a democracy, it has invested heavily in the rise of the prison-industrial complex, and the punishing-surveillance state. The social costs of prioritizing punishing over educating is clear in one shocking statistic provided by a recent study which states that “by age 23, almost a third of Americans or 30.2 percent have been arrested for a crime…that researches say is a measure of growing exposure to the criminal justice system in everyday life.”[xv] Questions regarding how education might enable students to develop a keen sense of prophetic justice, utilize critical analytical skills, and cultivate an ethical sensibility through which they learn to respect the rights of others are becoming increasingly irrelevant in a market-driven and militarized university. As the humanities and liberal arts are downsized, privatized, and commodified, higher education finds itself caught in the paradox of claiming to invest in the future of young people while offering them few intellectual, civic, and moral supports. If the commercialization, commodification, and militarization of the university continue unabated, higher education will become yet another one of a number of institutions incapable of fostering critical inquiry, public debate, human acts of justice, and public values. But the calculating logic of the corporate university does more than diminish the moral and political vision and practices necessary to sustain a vibrant democracy and an engaged notion of social agency. It also undermines the development of public spaces where matters of dissent, critical dialogue, social responsibility, and social justice are pedagogically valued– viewed as fundamental to providing students with the knowledge and skills necessary to address the problems facing the nation and the globe. Such democratic public spheres are especially important at a time when any space that produces “critical thinkers capable of putting existing institutions into question” is under siege by powerful economic and political interests.[xvi] Higher education has a responsibility not only to search for the truth regardless of where it may lead, but also to educate students to make authority and power politically and morally accountable while at the same time sustaining “the idea and hope of a public culture.”[xvii] Though questions regarding whether the university should serve strictly public rather than private interests no longer carry the weight of forceful criticism they did in the past, such questions are still crucial in addressing the purpose of higher education and what it might mean to imagine the university’s full participation in public life as the protector and promoter of democratic values. What needs to be understood is that higher education may be one of the few public spheres left where knowledge, values, and learning offer a glimpse of the promise of education for nurturing public values, critical hope, and a substantive democracy. It may be the case that everyday life is increasingly organized around market principles; but confusing a market-determined society with democracy hollows out the legacy of higher education, whose deepest roots are moral, not commercial. This is a particularly important insight in a society where the free circulation of ideas are not only being replaced by ideas managed by the dominant media, but where critical ideas are increasingly viewed or dismissed as banal, if not reactionary. Celebrity culture and the commodification of culture now constitute a powerful form of mass illiteracy and increasingly permeate all aspects the educational force of the wider cultural apparatus. But mass illiteracy does more than depoliticize the public, it also becomes complicit with the suppression of dissent. Intellectuals who engage in dissent and “keep the idea and hope of a public culture alive,”[xviii] are often dismissed as irrelevant, extremist, or un-American. Moreover, anti-public intellectuals now dominate the larger cultural landscape, all too willing to flaunt co-option and reap the rewards of venting insults at their assigned opponents while being reduced to the status of paid servants of powerful economic interests. At the same time, there are too few academics willing to defend higher education for its role in providing a supportive and sustainable culture in which a vibrant critical democracy can flourish. These issues, in part, represent political and pedagogical concerns that should not be lost on either academics or those concerned about the purpose and meaning of higher education. Democracy places civic demands upon its citizens, and such demands point to the necessity of an education that is broad-based, critical, and supportive of meaningful civic values, participation in self-governance, and democratic leadership. Only through such a formative and critical educational culture can students learn how to become individual and social agents, rather than merely disengaged spectators, able both to think otherwise and to act upon civic commitments that “necessitate a reordering of basic power arrangements” fundamental to promoting the common good and producing a meaningful democracy. Dreaming the Impossible Reclaiming higher education as a democratic public sphere begins with the crucial project of challenging, among other things, those market fundamentalists, religious extremists, and rigid ideologues who harbor a deep disdain for critical thought and healthy skepticism, and who look with displeasure upon any form of education that teaches students to read the word and the world critically. The radical imagination in this discourse is viewed as dangerous and a dire threat to political authorities. One striking example of this view was expressed recently by former Senator Rick Santorum who argues that there is no room for intellectuals in the Republican Party. Needless to say, education is not only about issues of work and economics, but also about questions of justice, social freedom, and the capacity for democratic agency, action, and change, as well as the related issues of power, inclusion, and citizenship. These are educational and political issues, and they should be addressed as part of a broader effort to re-energize the global struggle for social justice and democracy. If higher education is to characterize itself as a site of critical thinking, collective work, and public service, educators and students will have to redefine the knowledge, skills, research, and intellectual practices currently favored in the university. Central to such a challenge is the need to position intellectual practice “as part of an intricate web of morality, rigor and responsibility” that enables academics to speak with conviction, use the public sphere to address important social problems, and demonstrate alternative models for bridging the gap between higher education and the broader society. Connective practices are key: it is crucial to develop intellectual practices that are collegial rather than competitive, refuse the instrumentality and privileged isolation of the academy, link critical thought to a profound impatience with the status quo, and connect human agency to the idea of social responsibility and the politics of possibility. Connection also means being openly and deliberately critical and worldly in one’s intellectual work. Increasingly, as universities are shaped by a culture of fear in which dissent is equated with treason, the call to be objective and impartial, whatever one’s intentions, can easily echo what George Orwell called the official truth or the establishment point of view. Lacking a self-consciously democratic political focus, teachers are often reduced to the role of a technician or functionary engaged in formalistic rituals, unconcerned with the disturbing and urgent problems that confront the larger society or the consequences of one’s pedagogical practices and research undertakings. In opposition to this model, with its claims to and conceit of political neutrality, I argue that academics should combine the mutually interdependent roles of critical educator and active citizen. This requires finding ways to connect the practice of classroom teaching with the operation of power in the larger society and to provide the conditions for students to view themselves as critical agents capable of making those who exercise authority and power answerable for their actions. Such an intellectual does not train students solely for jobs, but also educates them to question critically the institutions, policies, and values that shape their lives, relationships to others, and myriad connections to the larger world. I think Stuart Hall is on target here when he insists that educators also have a responsibility to provide students with “critical knowledge that has to be ahead of traditional knowledge: it has to be better than anything that traditional knowledge can produce, because only serious ideas are going to stand up.”[xix] At the same time, he insists on the need for educators to “actually engage, contest, and learn from the best that is locked up in other traditions,” especially those attached to traditional academic paradigms.[xx] It is also important to remember that education as a utopian project is not simply about fostering critical consciousness but also about teaching students to take responsibility for one’s responsibilities, be they personal, political, or global. Students must be made aware of the ideological and structural forces that promote needless human suffering while also recognizing that it takes more than awareness to resolve them. This is the kind of intellectual practice that Zygmunt Bauman calls “taking responsibility for our responsibility,”[xxi] one that is attentive to the suffering and needs of others. Education cannot be decoupled from what Jacques Derrida calls a democracy to come, that is, a democracy that must always “be open to the possibility of being contested, of contesting itself, of criticizing and indefinitely improving itself.”[xxii] Within this project of possibility and impossibility, education must be understood as a deliberately informed and purposeful political and moral practice, as opposed to one that is either doctrinaire, instrumentalized, or both. Moreover, a critical pedagogy should be engaged at all levels of schooling. Similarly, it must gain part of its momentum in higher education among students who will go back to the schools, churches, synagogues, and workplaces in order to produce new ideas, concepts, and critical ways of understanding the world in which young people and adults live. This is a notion of intellectual practice and responsibility that refuses the insular, overly pragmatic, and privileged isolation of the academy. It also affirms a broader vision of learning that links knowledge to the power of self-definition and to the capacities of students to expand the scope of democratic freedoms, particularly those that address the crisis of education, politics, and the social as part and parcel of the crisis of democracy itself. In order for critical pedagogy, dialogue, and thought to have real effects, they must advocate the message that all citizens, old and young, are equally entitled, if not equally empowered, to shape the society in which they live. This is a message we heard from the brave students fighting tuition hikes and the destruction of civil liberties and social provisions in Quebec and to a lesser degree in the Occupy Wall Street movement. If educators are to function as public intellectuals, they need listen to young people all over the world who are insisting that the relationship between knowledge and power can be emancipatory, that their histories and experiences matter, and that what they say and do counts in their struggle to unlearn dominating privileges, productively reconstruct their relations with others, and transform, when necessary, the world around them. Simply put, educators need to argue for forms of pedagogy that close the gap between the university and everyday life. Their curricula need to be organized around knowledge of those communities, cultures, and traditions that give students a sense of history, identity, place, and possibility. More importantly, they need to join students in engaging in a practice of freedom that points to new and radical forms of pedagogies that have a direct link to building social movements in and out of the colleges and universities. Although there are still a number of academics such as Noam Chomsky, Angela Davis, Stanley Aronowitz, Slavoj Zizek, Russell Jacoby, and Cornel West who function as public intellectuals, they are often shut out of the mainstream media or characterized as marginal, even subversive figures. At the same time, many academics find themselves laboring under horrendous working conditions that either don’t allow for them to write in an accessible manner for the public because they do not have time—given the often almost slave-like labor demanded of part-time academics and increasingly of full-time academics as well—or they retreat into a highly specialized, professional language that few people can understand in order to meet the institutional standards of academic excellence. In this instance, potentially significant theoretical rigor detaches itself both from any viable notion of accessibility and from the possibility of reaching a larger audience outside of their academic disciplines. Consequently, such intellectuals often exist in hermetic academic bubbles cut off from both the larger public and the important issues that impact society. To no small degree, they have been complicit in the transformation of the university into an adjunct of corporate and military power. Such academics have become incapable of defending higher education as a vital public sphere and unwilling to challenge those spheres of induced mass cultural illiteracy and firewalls of jargon that doom critically engaged thought, complex ideas, and serious writing for the public to extinction. Without their intervention as public intellectuals, the university defaults on its role as a democratic public sphere capable of educating an informed public, a culture of questioning, and the development of a critical formative culture connected to the need, as Cornelius Castoriadis puts it, “to create citizens who are critical thinkers capable of putting existing institutions into question so that democracy again becomes society’s movement.”[xxiii] Before his untimely death, Edward Said, himself an exemplary public intellectual, urged his colleagues in the academy to directly confront those social hardships that disfigure contemporary society and pose a serious threat to the promise of democracy. He urged them to assume the role of public intellectuals, wakeful and mindful of their responsibilities to bear testimony to human suffering and the pedagogical possibilities at work in educating students to be autonomous, self-reflective, and socially responsible. Said rejected the notion of a market-driven pedagogy, one that created cheerful robots and legitimated organized recklessness and illegal legalities. In opposition to such a pedagogy, Said argued for what he called a pedagogy of wakefulness and its related concern with a politics of critical engagement. In commenting on Said’s public pedagogy of wakefulness, and how it shaped his important consideration of academics as public intellectuals, I begin with a passage that I think offers a key to the ethical and political force of much of his writing. This selection is taken from his memoir, Out of Place, which describes the last few months of his mother’s life in a New York hospital and the difficult time she had falling to sleep because of the cancer that was ravaging her body. Recalling this traumatic and pivotal life experience, Said’s meditation moves between the existential and the insurgent, between private pain and worldly commitment, between the seductions of a “solid self” and the reality of a contradictory, questioning, restless, and at times, uneasy sense of identity. He writes: ‘Help me to sleep, Edward,’ she once said to me with a piteous trembling in her voice that I can still hear as I write. But then the disease spread into her brain—and for the last six weeks she slept all the time—my own inability to sleep may be her last legacy to me, a counter to her struggle for sleep. For me sleep is something to be gotten over as quickly as possible. I can only go to bed very late, but I am literally up at dawn. Like her I don’t possess the secret of long sleep, though unlike her I have reached the point where I do not want it. For me, sleep is death, as is any diminishment in awareness. ..Sleeplessness for me is a cherished state to be desired at almost any cost; there is nothing for me as invigorating as immediately shedding the shadowy half-consciousness of a night’s loss than the early morning, reacquainting myself with or resuming what I might have lost completely a few hours earlier. I occasionally experience myself as a cluster of flowing currents. I prefer this to the idea of a solid self, the identity to which so many attach so much significance. These currents like the themes of one’s life, flow along during the waking hours, and at their best, they require no reconciling, no harmonizing. They are ‘off’ and may be out of place, but at least they are always in motion, in time, in place, in the form of all kinds of strange combinations moving about, not necessarily forward, sometimes against each other, contrapuntally yet without one central theme. A form of freedom, I like to think, even if I am far from being totally convinced that it is. That skepticism too is one of the themes I particularly want to hold on to. With so many dissonances in my life I have learned actually to prefer being not quite right and out of place.[xxiv] It is this sense of being awake, displaced, caught in a combination of diverse circumstances that suggests a pedagogy that is cosmopolitan and imaginative–a public affirming pedagogy that demands a critical and engaged interaction with the world we live in mediated by a responsibility for challenging structures of domination and for alleviating human suffering. As an ethical and political practice, a public pedagogy of wakefulness rejects modes of education removed from political or social concerns, divorced from history and matters of injury and injustice. Said’s notion of a pedagogy of wakefulness includes “lifting complex ideas into the public space,” recognizing human injury inside and outside of the academy, and using theory as a form of criticism to change things.[xxv] This is a pedagogy in which academics are neither afraid of controversy or the willingness to make connections that are otherwise hidden, nor are they afraid of making clear the connection between private issues and broader elements of society’s problems. For Said, being awake becomes a central metaphor for defining the role of academics as public intellectuals, defending the university as a crucial public sphere, engaging how culture deploys power, and taking seriously the idea of human interdependence while at the same time always living on the border — one foot in and one foot out, an exile and an insider for whom home was always a form of homelessness. As a relentless border crosser, Said embraced the idea of the “traveler” as an important metaphor for engaged intellectuals. As Stephen Howe, referencing Said, points out, “It was an image which depended not on power, but on motion, on daring to go into different worlds, use different languages, and ‘understand a multiplicity of disguises, masks, and rhetorics. Travelers must suspend the claim of customary routine in order to live in new rhythms and rituals … the traveler crosses over, traverses territory, and abandons fixed positions all the time.’”[xxvi] And as a border intellectual and traveler, Said embodied the notion of always “being quite not right,” evident by his principled critique of all forms of certainties and dogmas and his refusal to be silent in the face of human suffering at home and abroad. Being awake meant refusing the now popular sport of academic bashing or embracing a crude call for action at the expense of rigorous intellectual and theoretical work. On the contrary, it meant combining rigor and clarity, on the one hand, and civic courage and political commitment, on the other. A pedagogy of wakefulness meant using theory as a resource, recognizing the worldly space of criticism as the democratic underpinning of publicness, defining critical literacy not merely as a competency, but as an act of interpretation linked to the possibility of intervention in the world. It pointed to a kind of border literacy in the plural in which people learned to read and write from multiple positions of agency; it also was indebted to the recognition forcibly stated by Hannah Arendt that “Without a politically guaranteed public realm, freedom lacks the worldly space to make its appearance.”[xxvii] For public intellectuals such as Said, Chomsky, Bourdieu, Angela Davis, and others, intellectuals have a responsibility to unsettle power, trouble consensus, and challenge common sense. The very notion of being an engaged public intellectual is neither foreign to nor a violation of what it means to be an academic scholar, but central to its very definition. According to Said, academics have a duty to enter into the public sphere unafraid to take positions and generate controversy, functioning as moral witnesses, raising political awareness, making connections to those elements of power and politics often hidden from public view, and reminding “the audience of the moral questions that may be hidden in the clamor and din of the public debate.”[xxviii] At the same time, Said criticized those academics who retreated into a new dogmatism of the disinterested specialist that separates them “not only from the public sphere but from other professionals who don’t use the same jargon.”[xxix] This was especially unsettling to him at a time when complex language and critical thought remain under assault in the larger society by all manner of anti-democratic forces. The view of higher education as a democratic public sphere committed to producing young people capable and willing to expand and deepen their sense of themselves, to think the “world” critically, “to imagine something other than their own well-being,” to serve the public good, and to struggle for a substantive democracy has been in a state of acute crisis for the last thirty years.[xxx] When faculty assume, in this context, their civic responsibility to educate students to think critically, act with conviction, and connect what they learn in classrooms to important social issues in the larger society, they are often denounced for politicizing their classrooms and for violating professional codes of conduct, or, worse, labelled as unpatriotic.[xxxi] In some cases, the risk of connecting what they teach to the imperative to expand the capacities of students to be both critical and socially engaged may costs academics their jobs, especially when they make visible the workings of power, injustice, human misery, and the alterable nature of the social order. What do the liberal arts and humanities amount to if they do not teach the practice of freedom, especially at a time when training is substituted for education? Gayatri Spivak provides a context for this question with her comment: “”Can one insist on the importance of training in the humanities in [a] time of legitimized violence?”[xxxii] In a society that remains troublingly resistant to or incapable of questioning itself, one that celebrates the consumer over the citizen, and all too willingly endorses the narrow values and interests of corporate power, the importance of the university as a place of critical learning, dialogue, and social justice advocacy becomes all the more imperative. Moreover, the distinctive role that faculty play in this ongoing pedagogical project of democratization and learning, along with support for the institutional conditions and relations of power that make it possible, must be defended as part of a broader discourse of excellence, equity, and democracy. Despite the growing public recognition that market fundamentalism has fostered a destructive alignment among the state, corporate capital, and transnational corporations, there is little understanding that such an alignment has been constructed and solidified through a neoliberal disciplinary apparatus and corporate pedagogy produced in part in the halls of higher education and through the educational force of the larger media culture. The economic Darwinism of the last thirty years has done more than throw the financial and credit system into crisis; it has also waged an attack on all those social institutions that support critical modes of agency, reason, and meaningful dissent. And yet, the financial meltdown most of the world is experiencing is rarely seen as part of an educational crisis in which the institutions of public and higher education have been conscripted into a war on democratic values. Such institutions have played a formidable, if not shameless role, in reproducing market-driven beliefs, social relations, identities, and modes of understanding that legitimate the institutional arrangements of cut-throat capitalism. William Black calls such institutions purveyors of a “criminogenic environment”—one that promotes and legitimates market-driven practices that include fraud, deregulation, and other perverse practices.[xxxiii] Black claims that the most extreme pedagogical expression of such an environment can be found in business schools, which he calls “fraud factories” for the elite.[xxxiv] There seems to be an enormous disconnect between the economic conditions that led to the current financial meltdown and the current call to action by a generation of young people and adults who have been educated for the last several decades in the knowledge, values, and identities of a market-driven society. Clearly, this generation will not solve this crisis if they do not connect it to the assault on an educational system that has been reduced to a lowly adjunct of corporate interests and the bidding of the warfare state. Higher education represents one the most important sites over which the battle for democracy is being waged. It is the site where the promise of a better future emerges out of those visions and pedagogical practices that combine hope, agency, politics, and moral responsibility as part of a broader emancipatory discourse. Academics have a distinct and unique obligation, if not political and ethical responsibility, to make learning relevant to the imperatives of a discipline, scholarly method, or research specialization. But more importantly, academics as engaged scholars can further the activation of knowledge, passion, values, and hope in the service of forms of agency that are crucial to sustaining a democracy in which higher education plays an important civic, critical, and pedagogical role. If democracy is a way of life that demands a formative culture, educators can play a pivotal role in creating forms of pedagogy and research that enable young people to think critically, exercise judgment, engage in spirited debate, and create those public spaces that constitute “the very essence of political life.”[xxxv] Finally, I want to suggest that while it has become more difficult to imagine a democratic future, we have entered a period in which young people all over the world are protesting against neoliberalism and its pedagogy and politics of disposability. Refusing to remain voiceless and powerless in determining their future, these young people are organizing collectively in order to create the conditions for societies that refuse to use politics as an act of war and markets as the measure of democracy. They are taking seriously the words of the great abolitionist Frederick Douglas who bravely argued that freedom is an empty abstraction if people fail to act, and “if there is no struggle, there is no progress.” Their struggles are not simply aimed at the 1% but also the 99 percent as part of a broader effort to get them to connect the dots, educate themselves, and develop and join social movements that can rewrite the language of democracy and put into place the institutions and formative cultures that make it possible. Stanley Aronowitz is right in arguing that “The system survives on the eclipse of the radical imagination, the absence of a viable political opposition with roots in the general population, and the conformity of its intellectuals who, to a large extent, are subjugated by their secure berths in the academy. [At the same time,] it would be premature to predict that decades of retreat, defeat and silence can be reversed overnight without a commitment to what may be termed ‘a long march’ though the institutions, the workplaces and the streets of the capitalist metropoles.”[xxxvi] The current protests in the United States, Canada, Greece, and Spain make clear that this is not–indeed, cannot be–only a short-term project for reform, but a political movement that needs to intensify, accompanied by the reclaiming of public spaces, the progressive use of digital technologies, the development of public spheres, the production of new modes of education, and the safeguarding of places where democratic expression, new identities, and collective hope can be nurtured and mobilized. A formative culture must be put in place pedagogically and institutionally in a variety of spheres extending from churches and public and higher education to all those cultural apparatuses engaged in the production and circulation of knowledge, desire, identities, and values. Clearly, such efforts need to address the language of democratic revolution rather than the seductive incremental adjustments of liberal reform. This suggest not only calling for a living wage, jobs programs, especially for the young, the democratization of power, economic equality, and a massive shift in funds away from the machinery of war and big banks but also a social movement that not only engages in critique but makes hope a real possibility by organizing to seize power. There is no room for failure here because failure would cast us back into the clutches of authoritarianism–that while different from previous historical periods–shares nonetheless the imperative to proliferate violent social formations and a death-dealing blow to the promise of a democracy to come. Given the urgency of the problems faced by those marginalized by class, race, age, and sexual orientation, I think it is all the more crucial to take seriously the challenge of Derrida’s provocation that “We must do and think the impossible. If only the possible happened, nothing more would happen. If I only I did what I can do, I wouldn’t do anything.”[xxxvii] We may live in dark times as Hannah Arendt reminds us, but history is open and the space of the possible is larger than the one on display. Henry A. Giroux holds the Global TV Network chair in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University in Canada. His most recent books include: “Take Back Higher Education” (co-authored with Susan Searls Giroux, 2006), “The University in Chains: Confronting the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex” (2007) and “Against the Terror of Neoliberalism: Politics Beyond the Age of Greed” (2008). His latest book is Twilight of the Social: Resurgent Publics in the Age of Disposability,” (Paradigm.) ——————————————————————————– Notes. [i] David Corn, “Secret Video: Romney Tells Millionaire Donors What He Really Thinks of Obama Voters,” Mother Jones (September 17, 2012). Online: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/secret-video-romney-private-fundraiser [ii] Naomi Wolf, “How the Mitt Romney Video Killed the American Dream,” The Guardian (September 21, 2012). Online: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/21/mitt-romney-video-killed-american-dream?newsfeed=true [iii] Corn, “Secret Video,” http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/secret-video-romney-private-fundraiser [iv] George Lakoff and Glenn W. G Smith, “Romney, Ryan and the Devil’s Budget,” Reader Supported News, (August 22, 2012). Online: http://blogs.berkeley.edu/2012/08/23/romney-ryan-and-the-devils-budget-will-america-keep-its-soul/ [v] João Biehl, Vita: Life in a Zone of Social Abandonment (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005). These zones are also brilliantly analyzed in Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt (New York: Knopf, 2012). [vi] Thomas Frank, “It’s a rich man’s world: How billionaire backers pick America’s candidates,” Harper’s Magazine (April 2012). Online: http://harpers.org/archive/2012/04/0083856 [vii]. C. Wright Mills, The Politics of Truth: Selected Writings of C. Wright Mills, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), p. 200. [viii]. Stanley Aronowitz, “Against Schooling: Education and Social Class,” Against Schooling, (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2008), p. xii. [ix]. Ibid, Kate Zernike, “Making College ‘Relevant’,” P. ED 16. [x] Scott Jaschik, “Making Adjuncts Temps—Literally,” Inside Higher Ed (August 9, 2010). Online: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/08/09/adjuncts [xi] Martha C. Nussbaum, Not For Profit: Why Democracy Needs The Humanities, (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2010), p. 142. [xii] Greig de Peuter, “Universities, Intellectuals, and Multitudes: An Interview with Stuart Hall”, in Mark Cote, Richard J. F. Day, and Greig de Peuter, eds.,Utopian Pedagogy: Radical Experiments against Neoliberal Globalization, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007), p. 111. [xiii]. Ibid., Aronowitz, Against Schooling, p. xviii. [xiv] Les Leopold, “Crazy Country: 6 Reasons America Spends More on Prisons Than On Higher Education,” Alternet, (August 27, 2012). Online http://www.alternet.org/education/crazy-country-6-reasons-america-spends-more-prisons-higher-education?paging=off. On this issue, see also the classic work by Angela Davis: Are Prisons Obsolete? (New York: Open Media, 2003) and Michelle Alexander, New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New York: New Press, 2012). [xv] Erica Goode, “Many in U.S. Are Arrested by Age 23, Study Finds,” New York Times (December 19, 2011), p. A15. [xvi]. Cornelius Castoriadis, “Democracy as Procedure and democracy as Regime,” Constellations 4:1 (1997), p. 5. [xvii] George Scialabba, What Are Intellectuals Good For? (Boston: Pressed Wafer, 2009) p. 4. 17. Ibid. . [xix]. Greig de Peuter, Universities, Intellectuals and Multitudes: An Interview with Stuart Hall,” in Mark Cote, Richard J. F. Day, and Greig de Peuter, eds. Utopian Pedagogy: Radical Experiments Against Neoliberal Globalization (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007), p. 113-114. [xx]. De Peuter, Ibid. P. 117. [xxi]. Cited in Madeline Bunting, “Passion and Pessimism,” The Guardian (April 5, 2003). Available online: http:/books.guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,4640858,00.html. [xxii]. Giovanna Borriadori, ed., “Autoimmunity: Real and Symbolic Suicides–A Dialogue with Jacques Derrida,” in Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jurgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004). P. 121. [xxiii]. Cornelius Castoriadis, “Democracy as Procedure and Democracy as Regime,” Constellations 4:1 (1997), p. 10. [xxiv]. Edward Said, Out of Place: A Memoir (New York: Vintage, 2000), pp. 294-299 [xxv]. Said, Out of Place, p. 7. [xxvi]. Stephen Howe, “Edward Said: The Traveller and the Exile,” Open Democracy (October 2, 2003). Online at: http://www.opendemocracy.net/articles/ViewPopUpArticle.jsp?id=10&articleId=1561. [xxvii]. Hannah Arendt, Between Past and Future: Eight Exercises in Political Thought (New York: Penguin, 1977), p. 149. [xxviii]. Edward Said, “On Defiance and Taking Positions,” Reflections On Exile and Other Essays (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001), p. 504. [xxix]. Edward Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004), p. 70. [xxx]. See, especially, Christopher Newfield, Unmaking the Public University: The Forty-Year Assault on the Middle Class (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008). [xxxi]. See Henry A. Giroux, “Academic Unfreedom in America: Rethinking the University as a Democratic Public Sphere,” in Edward J. Carvalho, ed., “Academic Freedom and Intellectual Activism in the Post-9/11 University,” special issue of Work and Days 51–54 (2008–2009), pp. 45–72. This may be the best collection yet published on intellectual activism and academic freedom. [xxxii] Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Changing Reflexes: Interview with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak,” Works and Days, 55/56: Vol. 28, 2010, p. 8. [xxxiii]. Bill Moyers, “Interview with William K. Black,” Bill Moyers Journal (April 23, 2010). Online at: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04232010/transcript4.html [xxxiv]. Moyers, “Interview with William K. Black.” [xxxv]. See, especially, H. Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 3rd edition, revised (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1968); and J. Dewey, Liberalism and Social Action [orig. 1935] (New York: Prometheus Press, 1999). 35. Ibid, Aronowitz, “The Winter of Our Discontent,” p. 68. [xxxvii] Jacques Derrida, “No One is Innocent: A Discussion with Jacques About Philosophy in the Face of Terror,” The Information Technology, War and Peace Project, p. 2 available online: http://www.watsoninstitute.org/infopeace/911/derrida_innocence.