In this interview, Henry Giroux argues that Trump’s popularity is both an expression of right wing populism and extremism with its long history of nativism, racism, xenophobia, right-wing organizations and religious fundamentalism. What is new however is that these anti-democratic forces have taken on a new distinctive form in combining with the protean elements of a 21st century version of totalitarianism, which herald a possible model for America’s future. The deep seated and historically sedimented forces of right-wing populism have combined with neoliberal ideology and its forms of structural violence to produce mass poverty, homelessness, the war on terror, a politics of disposability, a culture of fear, the concentration of power in the hands of the financial elite, the punishing state, and crucial role of corporate media in producing a depoliticized and civically illiterate public. Structures of terror and oppression have merged with cultural apparatuses that produces new and depoliticized forms of subjectivity, modes of identification wedded to consumerism, and a thoughtlessness associated with celebrity culture. The public spheres that produce people capable of thinking critically have been undermined and are disappearing – from schools to an informed and critical media.
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Giroux explores a number of emerging fundamentalisms – economic, military, political, religious, educational and authoritarian – and how they have produced a new historical conjuncture in which a savage form of neoliberalism governs all of social life; a militarism shapes both foreign and domestic policies; educational fundamentalism works to destroy public and higher education as critical public spheres; religious bigots wage an assault on reason and critical thought; and how the a new mode of authoritarianism merges the surveillance state with the mass incarceration state. The interview concludes with Giroux arguing for an increased emphasis on making education central to politics, a social movement capable of producing a comprehensive vision of politics, and the creation of a third party that constitutes a radically democratic new political formation.