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(77,421 posts)
Mon Feb 29, 2016, 10:48 AM Feb 2016

Henry Giroux on State Terrorism and the Ideological Weapons of Neoliberalism

Henry Giroux on State Terrorism and the Ideological Weapons of Neoliberalism

Sunday, 28 February 2016 00:00
By Leslie Thatcher, Truthout | Interview


Leslie Thatcher: Henry, thank you so much for taking the time to talk about America's Addiction to Terrorism. Could you start our discussion by defining what you mean by "terrorism," "addiction" and "America?"

Henry A. Giroux: When I wrote this book, one of the things I was very concerned about was the way the United States since 9/11 was appropriating the notion of terrorism in a very limited and self-serving, if not dangerous, way. Terrorists were officially defined as people who target and attack Western societies. In this case, a terrorist is an outsider, generally imagined as a Muslim, who poses a threat or commits an act of violence associated with a foreign enemy. What was lost in this definition, one largely reproduced and legitimated in the media, was how the American government used terrorism to extend the power of the state, principally what I call the punishing-surveillance state. As the "war on terror" developed, the very character of American life changed.

The "war on terror" morphed into a war on democracy and civil liberties - functioning largely as an act of domestic terrorism. Under such circumstances, not only has the notion of the future been canceled out, but the very idea of democracy has been fractured. At the same time, the "war on terror" has been used to mobilize a culture of fear in order to accelerate both the militarization of everyday life and further concentrate economic and political power in the hands of the financial elite. As the "war on terror" began to mimic the terroristic practices it claimed it was fighting against, the shadow of an authoritarian state emerged as evidenced in the celebration of spectacles of violence and a hyper-masculinity, the militarization of policing, the attack on the social state, the rise of the surveillance state, unapologetic justifications for state torture, a state-supported assassination list, drone warfare, the war on immigrants, the expansion of the incarceration state and the war on whistleblowers. All this barely touches the growing illegalities that emerged under the banner of the "war on terror." These are some of the overt ways the West manipulates terrorism to extend its power over every aspect of American life. Discourses of terrorism are also used to justify the creation of new markets: the defense industries, the arms industries, private security companies and a range of commanding economic spheres that profit enormously from the "war on terrorism."

The United States is now addicted to violence because the "war on terror" relies on an extreme fear and hatred of those considered enemies. As a result, it feeds the machinery of permanent warfare by constantly inventing a demonized Other. I think basically that terror is now such a central part of the political nervous system in the United States that it's become the major organizing principle of society. The discourse of war, violence and fear now largely mold our conception of ourselves, our relations to others and the larger world. The defining vocabularies of American life undercut the possibility of challenging the assumption that violence is the most important tool for addressing social problems. In this instance, the "war on terrorism" has created a war culture that works through various cultural apparatuses from the schools to the mainstream media to produce what amounts to a society steeped in violence. The United States is a country saturated in the discourse of war and violence, and this is partly evident in the widespread use of metaphors of war, extending from the wars on drugs and crime, to the "war on terror" and the so-called war on Christmas.

The "war on terror" not only transforms politics into a pathology to paraphrase Susan Sontag, but it also serves to up the collective pleasure quotient by making extreme violence enjoyable to watch. Americans appear to indulge obsessively in watching violence. Violence is now the essence of how we solve our problems and how we enjoy our pleasure in the absence of genuine and more ethical pleasures - solidarity, community, compassion - that we'd find in an actual democracy.


Although you address structural violence, regularly, I continue to find that people do not understand what that means. Can you explain structural violence, its impact on all our lives and its relevance to the thesis of this book?

Where structural violence really tends to manifest itself is in the massive reorganization of the basic structures of the welfare state, especially since the late 1970s in the United States. Hence, the attack on social welfare, the dismantling of public goods, the privatization of schools, the rise of the national insecurity state and surveillance, the increasing power of money in driving politics, the increase in poverty and homelessness, and a whole gamut of policies implemented to change the structure of the United States from a social state to a punishing state. These are all structural phenomena. When Trump talks about building a wall to keep out immigrants, that's an infrastructure put in place to support a specific racist ideology.

Structural violence refers to those policies that weaken some institutions (such as public schools) and strengthen others (such as policing). Moreover, the ways in which these structures operate reflect highly racist and class-specific policies - not just the militarization of policing, but also the criminalizing of Black social behaviors. What we see happening in poor cities such as Ferguson, Missouri, all across the United States is not just bad policing, but also the implementation of ideological, political and economic structures and policies designed to exercise a form of state violence. Think about how the police and judicial system in Ferguson basically was used to extort money from its residents by imposing on them daily fines for trivial infractions such as the grass being too high. .............(more)


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Henry Giroux on State Terrorism and the Ideological Weapons of Neoliberalism (Original Post) marmar Feb 2016 OP
"Violence is now the essence of how we solve our problems" snagglepuss Feb 2016 #1
Violence has been the go-to solution since the first cave men argued about who got to eat first. cleanhippie Feb 2016 #2
Giroux is talking about a country governed by laws, created to resolve problems rationally not by snagglepuss Feb 2016 #3
I sound like a fascist? You sound like an ass. cleanhippie Feb 2016 #4
Why is it surprising that we here in the USA JEB Feb 2016 #5


(19,705 posts)
2. Violence has been the go-to solution since the first cave men argued about who got to eat first.
Mon Feb 29, 2016, 12:33 PM
Feb 2016

That's not a revelation, and it's not new.


(12,704 posts)
3. Giroux is talking about a country governed by laws, created to resolve problems rationally not by
Mon Feb 29, 2016, 01:17 PM
Feb 2016

knee jerk reactions to violence. You frankly sound like a fascist.


(19,705 posts)
4. I sound like a fascist? You sound like an ass.
Mon Feb 29, 2016, 11:48 PM
Feb 2016

Wtf? I'm not endorsing violence, simply making an observation about the history of violence.

Get a grip. Your projector is working overtime.



(4,748 posts)
5. Why is it surprising that we here in the USA
Mon Feb 29, 2016, 11:57 PM
Feb 2016

have so many outbreaks of violence when our country uses violence so often?

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