Reclaiming Public Values in the Age of Casino Capitalism
Henry Giroux @ Truthout - This is a difficult time in American history. The American people have every right to demand to live in peace, enjoy the comforts of economic security, have access to decent health care, be able to send their children to quality schools and live with a measure of security. And yet, at a time when public values are subordinated to the rationality of profits, exchange values and unbridled self interest, politics and the institutions and culture that support it become corrupt, devoid of agents and reduced to empty rituals largely orchestrated by those who control the wealth, income, media and commanding institutions of American society. As we have just witnessed in the debate on health care reform, the interests of the vast majority of American people for a public option and the extension of Medicare have been totally lost on a Congress that has been corrupted by power and its comfortable and shameful relations with those who control the military-industrial-academic complex. Public values, public spheres and the notion of the common good are viewed by politicians of both major parties as either a hindrance to the goals of a market-driven society or they are simply treated as a drain on the society, viewed as a sign of weakness, if not pathology. Ethical considerations and social responsibility are now devalued, if not disdained, in a society wedded to short term investments, easy profits and a mode of economics in which social costs are increasingly borne by the poor while financial and political benefits are reaped by the rich. Unchecked self-interest and ruthless, if not trivial, modes of competition now replaces politics or at least become the foundation for politics as complex issues are reduced to a friend/enemy, winner/loser dichotomies. The crass social Darwinism played out on reality television now finds its counterpart in the politics of both the Democratic and Republican Parties. For instance, the Republican Party's only identifying ideology is that it is against anything that supports the common good and undercuts the profits of corporations and the rich. At the same time, Democrats have given up any vestige of a progressive politics and vision, aligning their ideals to conform to the interests of the lobbyists who now represent the not-so-invisible shadow government. Read more.