In this edition of Forthright Radio, originally broadcast on June 6, 2018, our guest is McMaster University Professor, Henry Giroux, who has been our guest numerous times over the years. His latest book, which just came out from City Lights Publishing, is American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism. It is A far-ranging critique of the rise of authoritarianism and white nationalism in the US, and the consequences for democracy.
Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest. He is a prolific writer of books, sometimes more than one a year, and articles which appear in numerous online and print publications, as well as scholarly journals. His books include: AMERICA AT WAR WITH ITSELF; DISPOSABLE FUTURES: VIOLENCE IN THE AGE OF SPECTACLE; Hearts of Darkness: Torturing Children in the War on Terror (Paradigm, 2010); Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism, THE VIOLENCE OF ORGANIZED FORGETTING and many, many others.
“The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists.” Hannah Arendt
“What happens to democracy when the president of the United States labels critical media outlets as ‘enemies of the people,’ and disparages the search for truth with the blanket term ‘fake news’? What happens to democracy, when individuals and groups are demonized on the basis of their religion? What happens to a society, when critical thinking becomes an object of contempt? What happens to a social order ruled by an economics of contempt, that blames the poor for their condition, and subjects them to a culture of shaming? What happens to a polity, when it retreats into private silos, and becomes indifferent to the use of language deployed in the service of a panicked rage — language that stokes anger, but ignores issues that matter? What happens to a social order, when it treats millions of undocumented immigrants as disposable, potential terrorists and “criminals”? What happens to a country, when the presiding principles of its society are violence and ignorance?”
We discuss these and other questions, and it may surprise you to learn that Henry Giroux’s analysis, although clear-sighted in the face of the forces of dystopia, leads to an energized, engaged vision of collective agency and action.
Henry Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest. He is the author of more than 65 books, has published more than 400 papers, in addition to hundreds of chapters in the books of others, as well as many essays and articles in such journals as Truthout, Truthdig, and CounterPunch. His works have been translated into numerous languages.
He is particularly interested in what he calls the war on youth, the corporatization of higher education, the politics of neo-liberalism, the assault on civic literacy and the collapse of public memory, public pedagogy, the educative nature of politics, and the rise of various youth movements across the globe.
His latest book is America at War With Itself, published by City Lights Books. His forthcoming book, The Public in Peril: Trump and the Menace of American Authoritarianism, is to be published in 2018 by Routledge.
White supremacists clash with counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, August 12, 2017. (Sipa via AP Images)
With us for the hour is Mark Bray, whose book, ANITFA: THE ANTI-FASCIST HANDBOOK, published by Melville House Publishing, came out on August 22, 2017 – one week after the incidents in Charlottesville, VA, in which Neo-Nazis, KKK, and other white supremacists, wreaked havoc, including the death of Heather Heyer and the injury of 19 others, when one of them drove his car into a crowd of counter demonstrators at high speed. White nationalist demonstrators use shields as they guard the entrance to Lee Park in Charlottesville, Virginia. Photograph: Steve Helber/AP
As has been happening since the inauguration of Donald Trump in January, 2017, media attention has been focusing on a formerly obscure network, Anti-fa, or Anti-fascist Action, and in particular their tactics of property damage, physical violence and what some consider un-American interference with free speech on college campuses. But beyond the sound bites, disturbing photos and videos taken out of any meaningful historical context, just what IS Anti-fa?
Neo-Nazis and white supremacists march in Charlottesville on 11 August. The rally and subsequent death of a counter-protester were decried as real-world consequences of far-right online movements. Photograph: Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Mark Bray is an historian of human rights, terrorism, and political radicalism in Modern Europe. He completed his PhD in Modern European and Women’s and Gender History at Rutgers University in 2016, and is currently finishing his manuscript “The Anarchist Inquisition: Terrorism and the Ethics of Modernity in Spain, 1893-1909.” “The Anarchist Inquisition” explores the emergence of groundbreaking human rights campaigns across Europe and the Americas in response to the Spanish state’s brutal repression of dissent in the wake of anarchist bombings and assassinations. He teaches at Dartmouth College, where his recent statements about Anti-fa have generated a good deal of controversy, with Dartmouth’s president denouncing them and more than 100 professors denouncing the denouncing. Mark Bray is the author of Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook (Melville House, 2017) and Translating Anarchy: The Anarchism of Occupy Wall Street (Zero Books, 2013), as well as the co-editor of the forthcoming Francisco Ferrer and the Modern School (PM Press, 2018).
From left: Rev. Osagyefo Sekou, Lisa Sharon Harper, Rev. Carlton Smith, Cornel West, and others (including Seth Wispelwey wearing a white robe and red stole) protesting white supremacy in Charlottesville. CREDIT: Heather Wilson, @aNomadPhotog / Dust & Light Photo