- Salmon Rushdie is right in viewing thinking dangerously as a type of political necessity whose purpose is to “push boundaries and take risks and so, at times, to change the way we see the world.” As Hannah Arendt noted, thoughtfulness, the ability to think reflectively and critically is fundamental to radical change and a necessity in a functioning democracy. Put differently, formative cultures that make such thinking possible along with the spaces in which dialogue, debate, and dissent can flourish are essential to producing critically literate and actively engaged citizens.
- Related: I’m with stupid: The entire 2016 election has been an insult to our intelligence.
Henry Giroux, CounterPunch
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September 30, 2016 | What happens to a society when thinking is eviscerated and is disdained in favor of raw emotion?  What happens when political discourse functions as a bunker rather than a bridge? What happens when the spheres of morality and spirituality give way to the naked instrumentalism of a savage market rationality? What happens when time becomes a burden for most people and surviving becomes more crucial than trying to lead a life with dignity? What happens when domestic terrorism, disposability, and social death become the new signposts and defining features of a society? What happens to a social order ruled by an “economics of contempt” that blames the poor for their condition and wallows in a culture of shaming? What happens when loneliness and isolation become the preferred modes of sociality? What happens to a polity when it retreats into private silos and is no longer able to connect personal suffering with larger social issues? What happens to thinking when a society is addicted to speed and over-stimulation? What happens to a country when the presiding principles of a society are violence and ignorance? What happens is that democracy withers not just as an ideal but also as a reality, and individual and social agency become weaponized as part of the larger spectacle and matrix of violence?
The forces normalizing and contributing to such violence are too expansive to cite, but surely they would include: the absurdity of celebrity culture; the blight of rampant consumerism; state-legitimated pedagogies of repression that kill the imagination of students; a culture of immediacy in which accelerated time leaves no room for reflection; the reduction of education to training; the transformation of mainstream media into a mix of advertisements, propaganda, and entertainment; the emergence of an economic system which argues that only the market can provide remedies for the endless problems it produces, extending from massive poverty and unemployment to decaying schools and a war on poor minority youth; the expanding use of state secrecy and the fear-producing surveillance state; and a Hollywood fluff machine that rarely relies on anything but an endless spectacle of mind-numbing violence. Historical memory has been reduced to the likes of a Disney theme park and a culture of instant gratification has a lock on producing new levels of social amnesia.
Henry Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Ryerson University. His most recent books are America’s Education Deficit and the War on Youth (Monthly Review Press, 2013) and Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education (Haymarket Press, 2014).
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I’m with stupid: The entire 2016 election has been an insult to our intelligence, Sophia A. McClennen, Salon
- We are going to have to start asking ourselves if we want a nation of extremist thinkers incapable of critical reflection or we want to start recovering our collective brainpower. As Monbiot put it, “Ignorant politicians are elected by ignorant people.” Democracies are only as smart as the people in them. So the real question we have to face is: Are we with stupid or not?
- Related: The Arrogance of Ignorance