Radical critic Henry Giroux and scholar has been on my radar for a number of years. With Barbara Ehrenreich, the late Joe Bageant, Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky he has formed a part of a useful palliative for my fears that advocates for social justice were sinking into predictable and useless sloganeering.Giroux’s new book,The Violence of Organized Forgetting (City lights)should with any winds blowing in a favorable direction, garner him some new readers. Bill Moyers, no raving radical,opines, “Giroux refuses to give in or give up. The Violence of Organized Forgetting is a clarion call to imagine a different America–just, fair, and caring–and then to struggle for it.” Here is a citation from the last chapter, “Hope in Time of Permanent War”, of Giroux’s new opus, which after the events of the past few months resonates loudly…
Democratic hope is a subversive, defiant practice that makes power visible and interrogates and resists those events, social relations, and ideas that threaten democracy and the public spheres necessary to practice it. Hope at its best pro- vides a link, however transient, provisional, and contextual, between passion, vision, and critique, on the one hand, and engagement and transformation on the other. But for such a notion of hope to be consequential it has to be grounded in a pedagogical project that has some hold on the present. Hope becomes meaningful to the degree that it identifies agencies and processes, offers alternatives to an age of profound pes- simism, reclaims an ethic of compassion and justice, and struggles for those institutions in which equality, freedom, and justice flourish as part of the ongoing networks, strug- gles, and solidarities for democracy everywhere.
Yet such hopes do not materialize out of thin air. They have to be nourished, developed, debated, examined, and acted upon to become meaningful. And this takes time and demands what might be called an “impatient patience.” When outrage and conscience are rendered silent, crippling the mind, imagination, spirit, and collective will, it becomes almost impossible to fight the galloping forces
of authoritarianism that beset the United States and many other countries. But one cannot dismiss as impossible what is simply difficult, even if such difficulty defies hope itself. Bauman is right, once again, in arguing that “as to our hopes: hope is one human quality we are bound never to lose without losing our humanity. But we may be similarly certain that a safe haven in which to drop its anchor will take a very long time to be found.”26 The future of American society lies in opposition to the surveillance state at home and its seamless connection to waging constant war and acts of aggression abroad.
Here’s a illuminating conversation between Giroux and Bill Moyers: