BILL MOYERS: This week on Moyers & Company…

HENRY GIROUX: What's at stake here is not just the fact that you have rich people who now control the economy and all the commanding institutions of society. What you have is basically a transgression against the very basic ideals of democracy. I mean, it's hard to imagine life beyond capitalism. You know, it's easier to imagine the death of the planet than it is to imagine the death of capitalism.

BILL MOYERS: And a farewell tribute to Nobel novelist Doris Lessing.

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BILL MOYERS: Welcome. A very wise teacher once told us, “If you want to change the world, change the metaphor.” Then he gave us some of his favorite examples. You think of language differently, he said, if you think of “words pregnant with celestial fire.” Or “words that weep and tears that speak.” Of course, the heart doesn’t physically separate into pieces when we lose someone we love, but “a broken heart” conveys the depth of loss. And if I say you are the “apple of my eye”, you know how special you are in my sight. In other words, metaphors cleanse the lens of perception and give us a fresh take on reality. In other words.

Recently I read a book and saw a film that opened my eyes to see differently the crisis of our times, and the metaphor used by both was, believe it or not, zombies. You heard me right, zombies. More on the film later, but this is the book: “Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism”. Talk about “connecting the dots” -- read this, and the headlines of the day will, I think, arrange themselves differently in your head -- threading together ideas and experiences to reveal a pattern. The skillful weaver is Henry Giroux, a scholar, teacher and social critic with seemingly tireless energy and a broad range of interests. Here are just a few of his books: America's Education Deficit and the War on Youth, Twilight of the Social, Youth in a Suspect Society, Neoliberalism's War on Higher Education.

Henry Giroux is the son of working class parents in Rhode Island who now holds the Global TV Network Chair in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University in Canada. Henry Giroux, welcome.

HENRY GIROUX: Pleasure. It’s great to be here.

BILL MOYERS: There's a great urgency in your recent books and in the essays you've been posting online, a fierce urgency, almost as if you are writing with the doomsday clock ticking. What accounts for that?

HENRY GIROUX: Well, for me democracy is too important to allow it to be undermined in a way in which every vital institution that matters from the political process to the schools to the inequalities that, to the money being put into politics, I mean, all those things that make a democracy viable are in crisis.

And the problem is the crisis, while we recognize in many ways is associated increasingly with the economic system, what we haven't gotten yet is that it should be accompanied by a crisis of ideas, that the stories that are being told about democracy are really about the swindle of fulfillment.

The swindle of fulfillment in that what the reigning elite in all of their diversity now tell the American people if not the rest of the world is that democracy is an excess. It doesn't really matter anymore, that we don't need social provisions, we don't need the welfare state, that the survival of the fittest is all that matters, that in fact society should mimic those values in ways that suggest a new narrative.

I mean you have a consolidation of power that is so overwhelming, not just in its ability to control resources and drive the economy and redistribute wealth upward, but basically to provide the most fraudulent definition of what a democracy should be.

I mean, the notion that profit making is the essence of democracy, the notion that economics is divorced from ethics, the notion that the only obligation of citizenship is consumerism, the notion that the welfare state is a pathology, that any form of dependency basically is disreputable and needs to be attacked, I mean, this is a vicious set of assumptions.

BILL MOYERS: Are we close to equating democracy with capitalism?

HENRY GIROUX: Oh, I mean, I think that's the biggest lie of all actually. The biggest lie of all is that capitalism is democracy. We have no way of understanding democracy outside of the market, just as we have no understanding of how to understand freedom outside of market values.

BILL MOYERS: Explain that. What do you mean "outside of market values?"

HENRY GIROUX: I mean you know, when Margaret Thatcher married Ronald Reagan--

BILL MOYERS: Metaphorically?

HENRY GIROUX: Metaphorically. Two things happened. 1) There was this assumption that the government was evil except when it regulated its power to benefit the rich. So it wasn't a matter of smashing the government as Reagan seemed to suggest, it was a matter of rearranging it and reconfiguring it so it served the wealthy, the elites and the corporate, of course, you know, those who run mega corporations. But Thatcher said something else that's particularly interesting in this discussion.

She said there's no such thing as society. There are only individuals and families. And so what we begin to see is the emergence of a kind of ethic, a survival of the fittest ethic that legitimates the most incredible forms of cruelty, that seems to suggest that freedom in this discourse of getting rid of society, getting rid of the social-- that discourse is really only about self-interest, that possessive individualism is now the only virtue that matters. So freedom, which is essential to any notion of democracy, now becomes nothing more than a matter of pursuing your own self interests. No society can survive under those conditions.

BILL MOYERS: So what is society? When you use it as an antithesis to what Margaret Thatcher said, what do you have in mind? What's the metaphor for--

HENRY GIROUX: I have in mind a society in which the wealth is shared, in which there is a mesh of organizations that are grounded in the social contract, that takes seriously the mutual obligations that people have to each other. But more than anything else-- I'm sorry, but I want to echo something that FDR once said,

When he said that, you know, you not only have to have personal freedoms and political freedoms, the right to vote the right to speak, you have to have social freedom. You have to have the freedom from want, the freedom from poverty, the freedom from-- that comes with a lack of health care.

Getting ahead cannot be the only motive that motivates people. You have to imagine what a good life is. But agency, the ability to do that, to have the capacity to basically be able to make decisions and learn how to govern and not just be governed--

BILL MOYERS: As a citizen.

HENRY GIROUX: As a citizen.

BILL MOYERS: A citizen is a moral agent of--

HENRY GIROUX: A citizen is a political and moral agent who in fact has a shared sense of hope and responsibility to others and not just to him or herself. Under this system, democracy is basically like the lotto. You know, go in, you put a coin in, and if you're lucky, you win something. If you don't, then you become something else.

BILL MOYERS: So then why when I talk about the urgency in your writing, your forthcoming book opens with this sentence, "America's descending into madness." Now, don't you think many people will read that as hyperbole?

HENRY GIROUX: Sometimes in the exaggerations there are great truths. And it seems to me that what’s unfortunate here is that's not an exaggeration.

BILL MOYERS: Well, madness can mean several things. It can mean insanity. It can mean lunacy. But it can also mean folly, foolishness, you know, look at that craziness over there. Which do you mean?

HENRY GIROUX: I mean, it's certainly not just about foolishness. It's about a kind of lunacy in which people lose themselves in a sense of power and greed and exceptionalism and nationalism in ways that so undercut the meaning of democracy and the meaning of justice that you have to sit back and ask yourself how could the following, for instance, take place?

How could people who allegedly believe in democracy and the American Congress cut $40 billion from a food stamp program, half of which those food stamps go to children? And you ask yourself how could that happen? I mean, how can you say no to a Medicaid program which is far from radical but at the same time offers poor people health benefits that could save their lives?

How do you shut down public schools and say that charter schools and private schools are better because education is really not a right, it's an entitlement? How do you get a discourse governing the country that seems to suggest that anything public, public health, public transportation, public values, you know, public engagement is a pathology?

BILL MOYERS: Let me answer that from the other side. They would say to you that we cut Medicaid or food stamps because they create dependency. We closed public schools because they aren't working, they aren't teaching. People are coming out not ready for life.

HENRY GIROUX: No, no, that's the answer that they give. I mean, and it's a mark of their insanity. I mean, that's precisely an answer that in my mind embodies a kind of psychosis that is so divorced-- is in such denial about power and how it works and is in such denial about their attempt at what I call individualize the social, in other words--

BILL MOYERS: Individualize?

HENRY GIROUX: Individualize the social, which means that all problems, if they exist, rest on the shoulders of individuals.

BILL MOYERS: You are responsible.

HENRY GIROUX: You are responsible.

BILL MOYERS: If you're poor, you're responsible if you're ignorant, you're responsible if--


BILL MOYERS: --you're sick?

HENRY GIROUX: That's right, that the government-- the larger social order, the society has no responsibility whatsoever so that-- you often hear this, I mean, if there--I mean, if you have an economic crisis caused by the hedge fund crooks, you know and millions of people are put out of work and they're all lining up for unemployment, what do we hear in the national media? We hear that maybe they don't know how to fill out unemployment forms, maybe it's about character. You know, maybe they're just simply lazy.

BILL MOYERS: This line struck me, "The ideology of hardness and cruelty runs through American culture like an electric current..."

HENRY GIROUX: Yeah, it sure does. I mean, to see poor people, their benefits being cut, to see pensions of Americans who have worked like my father, all their lives, and taken away, to see the rich just accumulating more and more wealth.

I mean, it seems to me that there has to be a point where you have to say, "No, this has to stop." We can't allow ourselves to be driven by those lies anymore. We can't allow those who are rich, who are privileged, who are entitled, who accumulate wealth to simply engage in a flight from social and moral and political responsibility by blaming the people who are victimized by those policies as the source of those problems.

BILL MOYERS: There's a new reality you write emerging in America in no small part because of the media, one that enshrines a politics of disposability in which growing numbers of people are considered dispensable and a drain on the body politic and the economy, not to mention you say an affront on the sensibilities of the rich and the powerful.

HENRY GIROUX: If somebody had to say to me-- ask me the question, "What exactly is new that we haven't seen before?" And I think that what we haven't seen before is an attack on the social contract, Bill, that is so overwhelming, so dangerous in the way in which its being deconstructed and being disassembled that you now have as a classic example, you have a whole generation of young people who are now seen as disposable.

They're in debt, they're unemployed. My friend, Zygmunt Bauman, calls them the zero generation: zero jobs, zero hope, zero possibilities, zero employment. And it seems to me when a country turns its back on its young people because they figure in investments not long term investments, they can't be treated as simply commodities that are going to in some way provide an instant payback and extend the bottom line, they represent something more noble than that. They represent an indication of how the future is not going to mimic the present and what obligations people might have, social, political, moral and otherwise to allow that to happen, and we've defaulted on that possibility.

BILL MOYERS: You actually call it-- there's the title of the book, “America's Education Deficit and the War on Youth.”

HENRY GIROUX: Oh, this is a war. It's a war that endlessly commercializes kids, both as commodities and as commodifiable.


HENRY GIROUX: Example being that the young people can't turn anywhere without in some way being told that the only obligation of citizenship is to shop, is to be a consumer. You can't walk on a college campus today and walk into the student union and not see everybody represented there from the local banks to Disneyland to local shops, all selling things.

I mean, it's like the school has become a mall. It imitates the mall. And if you walk into schools as one example, I mean, you look at the buses, there are advertisements on the buses. You walk into the bathroom, there are advertisements above the stalls. I mean, and the curriculum is written by General Electric.

BILL MOYERS: We're all branded--

HENRY GIROUX: They're branded, they're branded.

BILL MOYERS: --everything is branded?

HENRY GIROUX: Where are the public spaces for young people other learn a discourse that's not commodified, to be able to think about non-commodifiable values like trust, justice, honesty, integrity, caring for others, compassion. Those things, they're just simply absent, they're not part of those public spheres because those spheres have been commodified.

What does it mean to go to school all day and just be taking tests and learning how to teach for the test? Their minds are numb. I mean--the expression I get from them, they call school dead time, these kids. Say it's dead time. I call it their dis-imagination zones.

BILL MOYERS: Dis-imagination?

HENRY GIROUX: Yeah, yeah, they rob-- it's a form of learning that robs the mind of any possibility of being imaginative. The arts are cut out, right, so the questions are not being raised about what it means to be creative.

All of those things that speak to educating the imagination, to stretching it, the giving kids the knowledge, a sense of the traditions, the archives to take risks, to learn about the world, they're disappearing.

BILL MOYERS: I heard you respond to someone who asked you at a public session the other evening--"What would you do about what you've just described?" And your first response was start debating societies in high schools all across the country.

HENRY GIROUX: That's right. One of the things that I learned quickly as a result of the internet is I started getting a ton of letters from students who basically were involved in these debate societies. And they're saying like things, "We use your work. We love this work.”

And I actually got involved with one that was working with-- out of Brown University's working with a high school in the inner cities right, and I got involved with some of the students. But then I began to learn as a result of that involvement that these were the most radical kids in the country.

I mean, these were kids who embodied what a critical public sphere meant. They were going all over the country, different high schools, working class kids no less, debating major issues and getting so excited about in many ways winning these debates but doing it on the side of-- something they could believe in.

And I thought to myself, "Wow, here's a space." Here's a space where you're going to have a whole generation of kids who could be actually engaging in debate and dialogue. Every working class urban school in this country should put its resources as much as possible into a debate team.

BILL MOYERS: My favorite of your many books is this one, “Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism.” Why that metaphor, zombie politics?

HENRY GIROUX: Because it's a politics that's informed by the machinery of social and civil death.


HENRY GIROUX: Death. It's a death machine. It's a death machine because in my estimation it does everything it can to kill any vestige of a robust democracy. It turns people into zombies, people who basically are so caught up with surviving that they have no-- they become like the walking dead, you know, they lose their sense of agency-- I mean they lose their homes, they lose their jobs.

And so this zombie metaphor actually operated at two levels. I mean, at one level it spoke to people who have no visions, who exercise a form of political leadership that extends the politics of what I call war and the machineries of death, whether those machineries are at home or abroad, whether they're about the death of civil liberties or they're about making up horrendous lies to actually invade a country like Iraq.

So this-- the zombie metaphor is a way to sort of suggest that democracy is losing its oxygen, you know, it's losing its vitality, that we have a politics that really is about the organization of the production of violence.

It's losing its soul. It's losing its spirit. It's losing its ability to speak to itself in ways that would span the human spirit and the human possibility for justice and equality.

BILL MOYERS: Because we don't think of zombies as having souls?

HENRY GIROUX: They don't have souls.

BILL MOYERS: Right. You--

HENRY GIROUX: They're driven by lust.


HENRY GIROUX: The lust for money, the lust for power.

BILL MOYERS: Well, that's, I guess, why you mix your metaphors. Because you talk about casino capitalists, zombie politics, which you say in the book shapes every aspect--

HENRY GIROUX: Every aspect.

BILL MOYERS: --of society .

HENRY GIROUX: Yeah, at the current moment. This is what--


HENRY GIROUX: Well, first, let's begin with an assumption. This casino capitalism as we talk about it, right, one of the things that it does that hasn't been done before, it doesn't just believe it can control the economy. It believes that it can govern all of social life. That's different.

That means it has to have its tentacles into every aspect of everyday life. Everything from the way schools are run to the way prisons are outsourced to the way the financial services are run to the way in which people have access to health care, it's an all-encompassing, it seems to me, political, cultural, educational apparatus.

And it basically has nothing to do with expanding the meaning and the substance of democracy itself. What it has to do is expanding-- what it means to get--a quick return, what it means to take advantage of a kind of casino logic in which the only thing that drives you is to go to that slot machine and somehow get more, just pump the machine, put as much money in as you can into it and walk out a rich man. That's what it's about.

BILL MOYERS: You say that casino capitalist, zombie politics views competition as a form of social combat, celebrates war as an extension of politics and legitimates a ruthless social Darwinism.

HENRY GIROUX: Oh, I mean, it is truly ruthless. I mean, imagine yourself on a reality TV program called “The Survivor”, you and I, we're all that's left. The ideology that drives that program is only one of us is going to win. I don't have any respect for you. I mean, all I'm trying to do is beat you. I just want to be the one that's left. I want to win the big prize.

And it seems to me that what's unfortunate is that reality now mimics reality TV. It is reality TV in terms of the consensus that drives it, that the shared fears are more important than shared responsibilities, that the social contract is the pathology because it basically suggests helping people is a strength rather than a weakness.

It believes that social bonds not driven by market values are basically bonds that we should find despicable. But even worse, in this ethic, the market has colonized pleasure in such a way that violence in many ways seems to be the only way left that people can actually experience pleasure whether it's in the popular medium, whether it's in the way in which we militarize local police to become SWAT teams that actually will break up poker games now in full gear or give away surplus material, equipment to a place like Ohio State University, who got an armored tank.

I mean, I guess-- I'm wondering what does it mean when you're on a campus and you see an armored tank, you know, by the university police? I mean, this is-- everything is a war zone. You know, Senator Graham--when Lindsey Graham, he said-- in talking about the terrorist laws, you know these horrible laws that are being put into place in which Americans can be captured, they can be killed and, you know--the kill list all of this, he basically says, "Everybody's a potential terrorist."

I mean, so that what happens here is that this notion of fear and this fear around the notion of security that is simply about protecting yourself, not about social security, not about protecting the commons, not about protecting the environment, turns everybody into a potential enemy. I mean, we cannot mediate our relationships it seems any longer in this culture in ways in which we would suggest and adhere to the notion that justice is a matter of caring for the other, that compassion matters.

BILL MOYERS: So this is why you write that America’s no longer recognizable as a democracy?

HENRY GIROUX: No. Look, as the social state is crippled, as the social state is in some way robbed, hollowed out and robbed of its potential and its capacities, what takes its place? The punishing state takes its place.

You get this notion of incarceration, this, what we call the governing through crime complex where governance now has been ceded to corporations who largely are basically about benefiting the rich, the ultra-rich, the big corporations and allowing the state to exercise its power in enormously destructive and limited ways.

And those ways are about militarizing the culture, criminalizing social--a wide swathe of social behavior and keeping people in check. What does it mean when you turn on the television in the United States and you see young kids, peaceful protestors, lying down with their hands locked and you got a guy with, you know, spraying them with pepper spray as if there's something normal about that, as if that's all it takes, that's how we solve problems? I mean, I guess the question here is what is it in a culture that would allow the public to believe that with almost any problem that arises, force is the first way to address it.

I mean, one has to recognize that in that kind of logic, something has happened in which the state is no longer in the service of democracy.

BILL MOYERS: Well, George Monbiot, who writes for “The Guardian,” wrote just the other day, "It's business that really rules us." And he says, "So I don't blame people for giving up on politics … When a state-corporate nexus of power has bypassed democracy and made a mockery of the voting process, when an unreformed political funding system ensures that parties can be bought and sold, when politicians of the main … parties stand and watch as public services are divvied up by a grubby cabal of privateers, what is left of the system that inspires us to participate?"

HENRY GIROUX: I mean, the real question is why aren't we more outraged?

HENRY GIROUX: Why aren't we in the streets?

HENRY GIROUX: I mean, that's the central question for the American public. I mean, and I think that question has to address something fundamental and that is what we have, while we have an economic system that in fact has caused a crisis in democracy. What we haven't addressed is the underlying consensus that informs that crisis. What you have is basically a transgression against the very basic ideals of democracy. We have lost what it means to be connected to democracy.

And I think that's coupled with a cultural apparatus, a culture, an educative culture, a mode of politics in which people now have gone through this for so long that it's become normalized. I mean, it's hard to imagine life beyond capitalism. You know, it's easier to imagine the death of the planet than it is to imagine the death of capitalism. I mean-- and so it seems to me--

BILL MOYERS: Well, don't you think people want to be capitalist? Don't you think people want capitalism? They want money?

HENRY GIROUX: I'm not sure if they want those things. I mean, I think when you--when you read all the surveys about what's important to people's lives, Bill, actually the things that they focus on are not about, you know, "I want to be about the Kardashian sisters," God forbid, right?

I mean, I think that what--they the same way we want--we need a decent education for our kids, we want, you know, real health care. I mean, we want the sense of equality in the country. We want to be able to control the political process so that we're not simply nameless and invisible and disposable.

I mean, they basically--they want women to be able to have the right to have some control over their own reproductive rights. I mean, they're talking about gay rights being a legitimate pursuit of justice.

And I think that what is missing from all of this are the basic, are those alternative public spheres, those cultural formations, what I call a formative culture that can bring people together and give those ideas, embody them in both a sense of hope, of vision and the organizations and strategies that would be necessary at the very least to start a third party, at the very least. I mean, to start a party that is not part of this establishment, to reconstruct a sense of where politics can go.

BILL MOYERS: Well, you write that the liberal center has failed us and for all of its discourse of helping the poor, of addressing inequality, it always ends up on the side of bankers and finance capital, right.

HENRY GIROUX: Are you talking about Obama?

BILL MOYERS: I'm talking about what you say.

HENRY GIROUX: I know, I know. I'm--

BILL MOYERS: But you do, I must be fair and say that you go on in that same chapter of one of these books to say isn't it time we forget trying to pressure Obama to do the right thing?

HENRY GIROUX: Obama to me is symptomatic to me of the liberal center. But the issue is much greater than him. I mean, the issue is in a system that is entirely broken. It's broken.

Elections are bought by big money. The political process is not in the hands of the people. It's in the hands of very few people. And it seems to me we have to ask ourselves what kind of formative culture needs to be put in place in which education becomes central to politics, in which politics can be used to help people to be able to see things differently, to get beyond this system that is so closed, so powerfully normalized.

I mean, the right since the 1970s has created a massive cultural apparatus, a slew of anti-public intellectuals. They've invaded the universities with think tanks. They have foundations. They have all kinds of money. And you know, it's interesting, the war they wage is a war on the mind.

The war on what it means to be able to dissent, the war on the possibility of alternative visions. And the left really has-- and progressives and liberals, we have nothing like that. I mean, we always seem to believe that all you have to do is tell the truth.

BILL MOYERS: You shall know the truth, the truth will set you free.

HENRY GIROUX: Yeah, and the truth will set you free. But I'm sorry, it doesn't work that way.

BILL MOYERS: Which brings me to the book you're now finishing and will be published next spring. You call it “The Violence of Organized Forgetting.” What are we forgetting?

HENRY GIROUX: We're forgetting the past. We're forgetting all those struggles that in fact offered a different story about the United States.

BILL MOYERS: How is it organized, this forgetting?

HENRY GIROUX: It's organized because it's systemic. It's organized because you have people controlling schools who are deleting those histories and making sure that they don't appear. In Tucson, Arizona they banished ethnic studies from the curriculum. This is the dis-imagination machine. That's the hardcore element.

BILL MOYERS: The suffocation of imagination?

HENRY GIROUX: The suffocation of imagination. And we kill the imagination by suggesting that the only kind of rationality that matters, the only kind of learning that matters is utterly instrumental, pragmatist.

So what we do is we collapse education into training, and we end up suggesting that not knowing much is somehow a virtue. And I'll and I think what's so disturbing about this is not only do you see it in the popular culture with the lowest common denominator now drives that culture, but you also see it coming from politicians who actually say things that suggest something about the policies they'd like to implement.

I mean, I know Rick Santorum is not-- is kind of a, you know, an obvious figure. But when he stands up in front of a body of Republicans and he says, the last thing we need in the Republican party are intellectuals. And I think it's kind of a template for the sort of idiocy that increasingly now dominates our culture.

BILL MOYERS: What is an intellectual, by the way? The atmosphere has been so poisoned, as you know, by what you've been describing, that many people bridle when they hear the term intellectual pursuit.

HENRY GIROUX: I mean, yeah, I think intellectuals are-- there are two ways we can describe intellectuals. In the most general sense, we can say, "Intellectuals are people who take pride in ideas. They work with ideas." I mean, they believe that ideas matter. They believe that there's no such thing as common sense, good sense or bad sense, but reflective sense.

That ideas offer the framework for gives us agency, what allows us to read the world critically, what allows us to be literate. What allows us to be civic literacy may be in some ways the high point of what it means to be an intellectual--


HENRY GIROUX: Because it suggests that how we learn what we learn and what we do with the knowledge that we have is not just for ourselves. It's for the way in which we can expand and deepen the very processes of democracy in general, and address those problems and anti-democratic forces that work against it. Now some people make a living as a result of being intellectuals. But there are people who are intellectuals who don't function in that capacity. They're truck drivers. They're workers.

I grew up in a working class neighborhood. The smartest people I have ever met were in that neighborhood. We read books. We went to the library together. We drank on Friday nights. We talked about Gramsci. We drove to Boston--

BILL MOYERS: Gramsci being the Italian philosopher.

HENRY GIROUX: The Italian philosopher. I mean--

BILL MOYERS: The pessimism of the--

HENRY GIROUX: Of the intellect, and optimism of the will.


HENRY GIROUX: Right? I mean, we--

BILL MOYERS: You see the world as it is, but then you act as if you can change the world.

HENRY GIROUX: Exactly. I mean, we tried to find ways to both enliven the neighborhoods we lived in. But at the same time, we knew that that wasn't enough. That one-- that there was a world beyond our neighborhood, and that world had all kinds of things for us to learn. And we were excited about that. I mean, we drank, danced and talked. That's what we did.

BILL MOYERS: And I assume there were some other more private activities.

HENRY GIROUX: And there was more private activity.

BILL MOYERS: You know, you are a buoyant man. And yet you describe what you call a shift away from the hope that accompanies the living, to a politics of cynicism and despair.


BILL MOYERS: What leads you to this?

HENRY GIROUX: What leads me to this is something that we mentioned earlier, and that is when you see policies being enacted today that are so cruel and so savage, wiping out a generation of young people, trying to eliminate public schools, eliminating health care, putting endless percentage of black and brown people in jail, destroying the environment and there's no public outrage.

There aren't people in the streets. You know, you have to ask yourself, "Has this market mentality, is it so powerful and that it's become so normalized, so taken for granted that the imagination, the collective imagination has been so stunted that it becomes difficult to challenge it anymore?" And I think that leads me to despair somewhat. But I've always felt that in the face of the worst tyrannies, people resist.

They're resisting now all over the world. And it seems to me history is open. I believe history is open. I don't believe that we have reached the finality of a system that is so destructive that all we have to do is look at the clock and say, "One minute left." I don't believe in those kinds of metaphors.

We have to acknowledge the realities that bear down on us, but it seems to me that if we really want to live in a world and be alive with compassion and justice, then we need educated hope. We need a hope that recognizes the problems and doesn't romanticize them, and also recognizes the need for vision, for social organizations, for strategies. We need institutions that provide the formative culture that give voice to those visions and those ideas.

BILL MOYERS: You've talked elsewhere or written elsewhere about the need for a militant, far-reaching, social movement to challenge the false claims that equate democracy and capitalism. Now, what do you mean "Militant and Far Reaching Social Movement?"

HENRY GIROUX: I mean, what we do know, we know this. We know that there are people working in local communities all over the United States around particular kinds of issues, whether it be gay rights, whether it be the environment, whether it be, you know the Occupy movement, helping people with Hurricane Sandy. We have a lot of fragmented movements.

And I think we probably have a lot more than we realize, because the press gives them no visibility, as you know. So, we don't really have a sense of the degree to which these-- how pronounced these really are. I think the real issue here is, you know, what would it mean to begin to do at least two things?

To say the very least, one is to develop cultural apparatuses that can offer a new vocabulary for people, where questions of freedom and justice and the problems that we're facing can be analyzed in ways that reach mass audiences in accessible language. We have to build a formative culture. We have to do that. Secondly, we've got to overcome the fractured nature of these movements. I mean the thing that plagues me about progressives in the left and liberals is they are all sort of ensconced in these fragmented movements that seem to suggest those movements constitute the totality of the system of oppression that we are facing. And they don’t.

Look, we have technologies in place now in which students all over the world are beginning to communicate with each other because they're realizing that the punishing logic of austerity has a certain kind of semblance that a certain normality that, in common ground, that is affecting students in Greece, students in Spain, students in France.

BILL MOYERS: And in this country?

HENRY GIROUX: And in this country. And it seems to me that while I may be too old to in any way begin to participate in this, I really believe that young people have recognized that they've been written out of the discourse of democracy. That they're in the grip of something so oppressive it will take away their future, their hopes, their possibilities and their sense of the future will be one that is less than what their parents had imagined.

And there's no going back. I mean, this has to be addressed. And it'll take time. They'll build the organizations. They'll get-- they'll work with the new technologies. And hopefully they'll have our generation to be able to assist in that, but it's not going to happen tomorrow. And it's not going to happen in a year. It's going to as you have to plant seeds. You have to believe that seeds matter.

But you need a different vocabulary and a different understanding of politics. Look, the right has one thing going for it that nobody wants to talk about. Power is global. And politics is local. They float. They have no allegiance to anyone. They don't care about the social contract, because if workers in the United States don't want to compromise, they'll get them in Mexico. So the notion of political concessions has died for this class. They don't care about it anymore. There are no political concessions.

BILL MOYERS: The financial class.

HENRY GIROUX: The financial class.

BILL MOYERS: The one percent.

HENRY GIROUX: The one percent. That's why they're so savage. They're so savage because there's nothing to give up. They don't have to compromise. The power is so arrogant, so over the top, so unlike anything we have seen in terms of its anti-democratic practices, policies, modes of governance and ideology.

That at some point, you know they feel they don't have to legitimate this anymore. I mean, it's because the contradictions are becoming so great, that I think all of a sudden a lot of young people are recognizing this language, this whole language, doesn't work. The language of liberalism doesn't work anymore.

No, let's just reform the system. Let's work within it. Let's just run people for office. My argument would be, you have one foot in and you have one foot out. I'm not willing to give up the school board. I'm not willing to give up all forms of electoral politics. But it seems to me at the local level we can do some of that thing, that people can get elected. They can make moderate changes.

But the real changes are not going to come there. The real changes are going to come in creating movements that are longstanding, that are organized, that basically take questions of governance and policy seriously and begin to spread out and become international. That is going to have to happen.

BILL MOYERS: But here's the contradiction I hear in what you're saying. That if you write about a turning toward despair and cynicism in politics. Can you get movements out of despair and cynicism? Can you get people who will take on the system when they have been told that the system is so powerful and so overwhelming that they've lost their, as you call it, moral and political agency?

HENRY GIROUX: Well let me put it this way. What we often find is we often find people who take for granted the systems that they live in. They take for granted the savagery-- the sort of things that you talked about. And it produces two kinds of rage. It produces an inner rage in which people blame themselves.

It’s so disturbing to me to see working class, middle class people blaming themselves when these bankers have actually caused the crisis. That's the first issue.

Then you have another expression of that rage, and that rage blames blacks. It blames immigrants. It blames young people. It says, "They're not--" it says about youth, it says, "Youth is not in trouble. They're the problem."

And so, all of a sudden that rage gets displaced. The question is not what do we-- the question is not just where's the outrage. The question is how do you mobilize the rage in ways in which it's not self-defeating, and in ways in which it doesn't basically scape-- be used to scapegoat other people. That's an educational issue. That should be at the center of any politics that matters.

BILL MOYERS: One of your intellectual mentors, the philosopher Ernst Bloch, said, "We must believe in the principle of hope." And you've written often about the language of hope. What does that mean, the principle of hope and the language of hope, and why are they important as you see it in creating this new paradigm, metaphor that you talk about?

HENRY GIROUX: Yeah, I mean, hope to me is a metaphor that speaks to the power of the imagination. I don't believe that anyone should be involved in politics in a progressive way if they can't understand that to act otherwise, you have to imagine otherwise.

What hope is predicated on is the assumption that life can be different than it is now. But to be different than it is now, rather than romanticizing hope and turning it into something Disney-like, right, it really has to involve the hard work of A) recognizing the structures of domination that we have to face, B) organizing collectively and somehow to change those, and C) believing it can be done, that it's worth the struggle.

That if the struggles are not believed in, if people don't have the faith to engage in these struggles, and that's the issue. I mean, that working class neighborhood that I talked to you about in the beginning of the program, I mean, it just resonates with such a sense of joy for me, the sense of solidarity, sociality.

And I think all the institutions that are being constructed under this market tyranny, this casino capitals is just the opposite. It's like that image of all these people at the bus stop, right. And they're all-- they're together, but they're alone. They're alone.

BILL MOYERS: If we have zombied politics, if we have as you say, metaphorically, zombies in the high levels of government, zombies in banks and financial centers and zombies in the military, can't you have a zombie population? I mean, you say the stories that are being told through the commercial corporate entertainment media are all the more powerful because they seem to defy the public's desire for rigorous accountability, critical interrogation and openness.

Now if that's what the public wants, why isn't the market providing them? Isn't that what the market's supposed to do? Provide what people want?

HENRY GIROUX: The market doesn't want that at all. I mean, the market wants the people, the apostles of this market logic, I mean, they actually the first rule of the market is make sure you have power that’s unaccountable. That's what they want.

And I think that, I mean, what we see for the first time in history is a war on the ability to produce meanings that hold power accountable. A war on the possibility of an education that enables people to think critically, a war on cultural apparatuses that entertain by simply engaging in this spectacle of violence and not producing programs that really are controversial, that make people think, that make people alive through the possibilities of, you know, the imagination itself.

I mean, my argument is the formative culture that produces those kinds of intellectual and creative and imaginative abilities has been under assault since the 1980s in a very systemic way. So that the formative culture that takes its place is a business culture. It's a culture run by accountants, not by visionaries. It's a culture run by the financial services. It's a culture run by people who believe that data is more important than knowledge.

BILL MOYERS: You paint a very grim picture of the state of democracy, and yet you don't seem contaminated by cynicism yourself.

HENRY GIROUX: No, I'm not.

BILL MOYERS: How do we understand that?

HENRY GIROUX: Because I refuse to become a part of it.

Become I refuse to become complicitous. I refuse to say--I refuse to be alive and to watch institutions being handed over to right wing zealots. I refuse to be alive and watch the planet be destroyed.

I mean, when you mentioned-- you talk about the collective imagination, you know, I mean that imagination emerges when people find strength in collective organizations, when they find strength in each other.

Believing that we can work together to produce commons in which we can share that raises everybody up and not just some people, that contributes to the world in a way that-- and I really don't mean to be romanticizing here, but a world that is we recognize is never just enough. Justice is never done. It's an endless struggle. And that there's joy in that struggle, because there's a sense of solidarity that brings us together around the most basic, most elemental and the most important of democratic values.

BILL MOYERS: Henry Giroux, thank you, very much for talking to me.

HENRY GIROUX: Thank you, Bill.

BILL MOYERS: Henry Giroux and I spoke of how zombies are an appropriate metaphor for a society whose political, media, and financial institutions are without a soul. They walk a world in which the lust for power and wealth corrupts absolutely and sucks away real life.

We know a lot about zombies here at Moyers & Company. Not that there are any on our production team -- that we know of -- but because one of our editors, our friend and colleague Rob Kuhns, has made a mesmerizing documentary about the creation of George A. Romero’s movie classic “Night of the Living Dead.” It's the granddaddy of all the zombie movies and TV shows so popular today.

What’s striking about the documentary, entitled “Birth of the Living Dead,” is how Rob Kuhns places the 1968 movie in its particular place and time, when civil unrest and violence gave the nation nightmares, and zombies were a metaphor for an American public deeply troubled and distressed.

GALE ANNE HURD in Birth of the Living Dead: In the time that “Night of the Living Dead” came out, you don't feel safe in your home anymore. There are things that are overtaking us over which we have no control and there's that fear and I think that the zombie apocalypse takes inspiration from that fear and it's why audiences connect with it in a way that is not quite obvious on the surface but is really in the subtext.

MARK HARRIS in Birth of the Living Dead: It’s an unsettling element of the movie that the people who seem most likely to be able to thwart this incursion of the living dead, it looked like a lynch mob. The resonance for people who would have spent the last 10 years watching, you know, white southerners vow to prevent the desegregation of schools, for instance, it would’ve been really pretty clear.

And dogs in Night of the Living Dead there’s a very specific cultural resonance. You know, black men being chased by dogs is one of the ugliest images of the civil rights movement, and was very much part of the national visual vocabulary of any moviegoer other than a very little kid who would have gone to see this movie. And again it connects to this idea that it’s not as simple as the good guys versus the undead. There are the good guys, the not good guys and the living dead.

LARRY FESSENDEN in Birth of the Living Dead: They seem to be getting a certain amount of pleasure out of putting down these monsters and being able to go out and hunt people and lynch people.

SAM POLLARD in Birth of the Living Dead: They seemed really real to me. They felt real, those guys. I wasn't sure they were actors.

MARK HARRIS in Birth of the Living Dead: It's a really interesting, squirmy, political aspect of the movie that's intentionally unsettling. I think Romero wants you to feel uncomfortable with the fact that the so-called victors at the end of the movie are exactly the kind of people you're inclined not to root for.

BILL MOYERS: You can find out how to see the entire Birth of the Living Dead, and learn more about it, at our website,

We end as we began this week, with a metaphor; in this case, the phoenix—that great bird of ancient Greek mythology—reborn and rising from its own ashes, a bright and colorful symbol of renewal. That’s how the Nobel Prize-winning writer Doris Lessing described the storyteller she believed is deep inside each one of us. “It is the storyteller, the dream-maker, the myth-maker that is our phoenix,” she said, “that represents us at our best, and at our most creative.” Doris Lessing died last Sunday, age 94. “There is no doubt fiction makes a better job of the truth,” she wrote, and so she proved in her master work, “The Golden Notebook,” and the many other novels written throughout a literary career that spanned six decades. She was an iconoclast. She didn’t suffer fools; she said what she meant and meant what she said, with no holds barred and no subject off limits. I spoke with her ten years ago as she described growing up in Africa and her one great love, the written word.

BILL MOYERS in NOW: Do you never stop writing?

DORIS LESSING in NOW: No. I'm compulsive. And I deeply think that it has to be something very neurotic. And I'm not joking. It has to be. Because if I've finished a book, and this wonderful release, which I'm now feeling. It's off, it's in a parcel, it's gone to a publisher. Bliss and happiness. I don't have to do anything. Nothing. I can just sit around. But, suddenly it starts, you see. This terrible feeling that I am just wasting my life, I'm useless, I'm no good. Now, it's a fact that if I spend a day busy as a little kitten, racing around. I do this, I do that. But I haven't written, so it's a wasted day, and I'm no good. How do you account for that nonsense?

BILL MOYERS in NOW: Was there what we call an ah-ha moment, a eureka moment, when you knew that you were going to spend your life writing, rather successfully or not. Was there such a moment?

DORIS LESSING in NOW: Well, I was writing all my childhood. And I wrote two novels when I was 17, which were terrible. And I'm not sorry I threw them out. So, I wrote. I had to write. You know, the thing was, I had no education.

BILL MOYERS in NOW: You left school at age 14, right?

DORIS LESSING in NOW: Fourteen. Yeah. And I wasn't trained for anything. BILL MOYERS in NOW: What was there in a young girl, you know, 12, 13, 14 or 15, that said "I want to write?"

DORIS LESSING in NOW: I was, at that time, being what we now called an au pair. I was a nursemaid. And it was pretty boring. So I thought, "Well, let's try and write a novel." I wrote two. I went back to the farm, and wrote two novels.

BILL MOYERS in NOW: In Africa.

DORIS LESSING in NOW: This was in Africa.

BILL MOYERS in NOW: Where did that idea come from? Had you read a lot? Had somebody--

DORIS LESSING in NOW: I never stopped reading. You know. I read and read and read. And it was what saved me. And educated me. So, writing a novel seemed to be a way out.

BILL MOYERS in NOW: As you talk I think of the traumatic century you lived through, all those events. You were born right at the end of the first Great War. You lived through the Great Depression. You lived through the Second World War. You lived through the nuclear era, the Cold War, genocide, the collapse of the British Empire. I mean, does anything remain of the world you knew when you were young?

DORIS LESSING in NOW: Nothing. Nothing at all. The World War I-- I'm a child of World War I. And I really know about the children of war. Because both my parents were both badly damaged by the war. My father, physically, and both, mentally and emotionally. So, I know exactly what it's like to be brought up in an atmosphere of a continual harping on the war.

BILL MOYERS in NOW: He couldn’t stop talking about it? Your father couldn't stop talking about it?

DORIS LESSING in NOW: No. He was obsessed with it. It was terrible, you know? These men were — had been so traumatized. Though, of course, outwardly, they were very civilized and good and kind and everything. But in actual fact, they were war victims.

BILL MOYERS in NOW: We keep having wars despite the fact that great novelists tell us the truth about wars.

DORIS LESSING in NOW: Well, we don't have much effect, do we? Do you know when I first recognized that horrible truth, I was standing in Southern Rhodesia. I was very young, and watching the night's bag of prisoners, the Africans who were being caught out without passes. Hand cuffed, walking down the street. With the jailers, white, in front and back. And I looked at that and I thought, “Right, well, this is described in Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky and all the others. So what have they achieved?” is what I thought. Didn't stop me writing novels, though. I think we might have a limited effect on a small number of people. I hope a good one.

BILL MOYERS in NOW: But you keep writing.

DORIS LESSING in NOW: Yes I do. I have to.

BILL MOYERS: You can see my entire conversation with Doris Lessing at our website, I’ll see you there and I’ll see you here, next time.

Watch By Segment

  • Film Preview: Birth of the Living Dead

    This week on Moyers & Company, scholar Henry Giroux connects the dots between our politics and “casino capitalism,” Bill previews a new documentary and a tribute to writer Doris Lessing.

    Film Preview: Birth of the Living Dead
  • Clip: A Tribute to Doris Lessing

    This week on Moyers & Company, scholar Henry Giroux connects the dots between our politics and “casino capitalism,” Bill previews a new documentary and a tribute to writer Doris Lessing.

    Clip: A Tribute to Doris Lessing
  • Segment: Henry Giroux on Zombie Politics

    This week on Moyers & Company, scholar Henry Giroux connects the dots between our politics and “casino capitalism,” Bill previews a new documentary and a tribute to writer Doris Lessing.

    Scholar Henry Giroux
    Segment: Henry Giroux on Zombie Politics

Zombie Politics and Casino Capitalism

November 22, 2013

This week on Moyers & Company, author and scholar Henry Giroux explains how our political system has turned people into zombies – “people who are basically so caught up with surviving that they become like the walking dead — they lose their sense of agency, they lose their homes, they lose their jobs.”

Also on the broadcast, Bill looks at Birth of the Living Dead, a mesmerizing new documentary that examines the singular time in which the classic 1968 film Night of the Living Dead was shot – when civil unrest and violence gave the nation nightmares and zombies were a metaphor for a troubled and distressed American public.

Bill also reflects on his 2003 interview with Nobel-prize winning novelist Doris Lessing who passed away earlier this week in London at the age of 94.

Learn more about the production team behind Moyers & Company.

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  • cgmcle

    Giroux stated that our culture is controlled by the financial industry, accountants, etc., people who care nothing at all about compromise.

    Our culture, our politics, our country are controlled to a significant extent by sociopaths and psychopaths. Controlled by people who not only don’t care about compromise, they don’t care about other people, they are incapable of feeling sympathy or empathy for other people, who are mere objects to them. They are out to win the game for themselves, regardless of the chaos and destruction they cause in the lives of other people, in our politics, our economy, or our country. They are our controlling class, they are our American aristocrats.

  • Dick

    An American talking about morality is like a cat walking on its hid legs. It may not be done well, but you’re amazed that it can be done at all, and is a constant source of amusement. Democracy is nothing but three wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for diner. Who will insure the rights of those who are not popular or pretty, etc., in the eyes of the great unwashed? Read Poncho Threetrees

  • Penn

    Zombie Politics and Casino Capitalism: A great interview with Henry Giroux and absolutely spot on on the issue….,referencing,… leaders mistaking and equating democracy with market driven capitalism! Simply GREAT! Riveting from start to finish.

  • Anonymous

    I applaud much of what Mr. Giroux says, but I think he indulges in the kind of sentimentalism that’s an ingrained part of what it means to be an American. We indulge ourselves by believing our own myths and calling them “history”. Looking at our history with the jaded eyes of a 70-year-old, I see a crass, individualistic society that becomes tribal during emergencies but has never welcomed “the outsider” unless it conveyed personal advantage or unless he first burned down our cities. A society that trusts the hypocrite and stones the moralist.
    We go through the exercise of democratic elections because, like religion, it’s a way of maintaining order and stability among competing narcissists who are members of the dominant tribe. The idea of natural selection didn’t come full blown from Darwin’s imagination, any more than “Lord of the Flies” is strictly fiction. They are mirrors of ourselves.
    Most Americans don’t read books or watch Bill Moyers, and I contend that, in principal, this is no different than it has been for most of the last 200 years. The true history of our nation is one fraught with competition, violence, and self promotion. That should be the starting point in any effort to understand American society today.

  • Anonymous

    Exactly. Our system of capitalism (what it has become) makes it far easier for those so afflicted to rise to the top. Of course there are exceptions but they, most certainly, are not the rule. These ‘new’ Ayn Rand devotees ala Paul Ryan are an example of the infection spreading into our political representatives…an ethos now with enough momentum to influence millions of Americans that the only value of society is that in which we are all competing against one another. It is tragic and so shall the consequences be…

  • Anonymous

    In effect, is that not what Giroux expressed? One might argue what the future will hold – after all it is the future – but, I do not think he denies our past nor views the world through some myopic rose colored glasses. You suggest a sentimentalism married to naivette and that simply does not have to be the case; for it can just as easily wed optimism.

  • Arianna_NL

    Helping Organize Progressives Everywhere=HOPE We CAN do this together, but only together, not with politicians, but with each person reaching out to another.

  • Patrick Hickey

    I could not believe it when I heard the Giroux’s speaking! Oh what a shot-in-the-arm! Thanks so very much!

  • Donna Lee

    I don’t believe that the situation Giroux tries to describe is a political one, but a psychological one. I don’t know what books Giroux is reading nor have I read any of the ones he has written, however, I am poor and have been all my life, although I didn’t know this until I left my mother’s home in my 20s, and from my vast experience of poor people, they are not noble victims!

    I have achieved a lot of my goals including competing for the Pulitzer, but not because the people around me helped me to do so, although my neighbor suggested I compete for the Pulitzer and I took it from there. She has since devolved into a castle in the air life where she never leaves her apartment and watches and talks about TV only. She has no other life except her household duties and her beer, which she has also lately taken to drinking again! I told her that I couldn’t talk with her last night because I hadn’t eaten all day and I am diabetic and for about the hundredth time, she told me never to bother HER again! Like most of the people I know, she is an over-grown adolescent psychologically although she just turned 63 years old!

    As Judith Martin aka “Miss Manners,” whose books I’ve been reading with great relish since I was 16, said in her book, Star Spangled Manners, to paraphrase, everyone wants as much freedom for him/herself as possible and to deprive others of as much of their freedom as they can. Thomas Szasz said the same in his books, The Second Sin and The Untamed Tongue. Further in Miss Manners’ book mentioned above, she also said, again to paraphrase, that it is only those at the bottom of a hierarchy who hate hierarchies and they also wish they were on top. Orwell said the same in his tome, 1984. I can name endless examples of this and it is mostly true in my experience. Almost all the people I know envy my accomplishments as one of their number, and instead of achieving their own accomplishments, try their damndest in whatever way they can do so so that I can’t openly confront them about their behavior to ACTIVELY block me from achieving any more and/or to try to subtly make me feel as miserable about myself as I KNOW they feel about themselves! At the risk of being tiresome, I will quote Jesus who purportedly said in the Bible that “they want to stop those who want to enter in and do not want to enter in themselves!”

    Further, as the great thinker, Carl Jung, said in his book, The Undiscovered Self, a country’s rulers can institute any political or market system they want as long as they are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to maintain it and there are sacrifices no matter what system a nation has, there are no unmitigated goods or evils in this world, and that the individual must be as well organized in her individuality as are the powers ranged against her in order to resist those powers successfully, which unfortunately most people don’t seem to want to understand even if they could. However, this seems to be the nature of the human psyche and society and has been so all throughout recorded human history and probably always will be so in the future, although the form it will take will probably be different

    I believe that each adult is responsible for him or herself and that includes getting any help s/he needs by asking for it and being resourceful, which again, most people are not. Most people could not give a reasonable definition of what logic is and wouldn’t be able to see a logical fallacy if it was a snake poised to bite them in the heart, which said fallacies, indeed, metaphorically are! It is no one’s responsibility to teach us things we didn’t learn when we were in school except ours! The information is there!

    Further yet, there are plenty of jobs available but not plenty of competent people with the right attitudes to work them well. I know that is heresy to say but I speak only as I find! I have available very many of these job opportunities which I’ve been trying to help people access FOR FREE (!) for over a year with 0, Zip, Zilch, takers! I’ve advertised heavily, everything!; not one taker! People whom I’ve approached PERSONALLY about this have avoided me like the plague! So much for the “Noble Poor Victims” of our country! Any interested parties may write to me here or Google my “Free Church of the Divine Marriage!”

    Finally, just because people SAY they want something, it ain’t necessarily so that they do! You have to look at what they actually DO about the things they complain about. Complaining is how most people get their attention and vampirize your energy when you sympathize with them. It has been my experience that most people want the Status Quo whatever that might be, REGARDLESS of what they SAY they want.

  • Donna Lee

    I hate to seem petty, but I just had to say, as I thought I made clear below, rather eloquently, and way more so than Giroux, if I say so myself, that I didn’t think that Giroux was eloquent at all nor really correct in his assessments of the situation in our country of it’s leaders or its people. it sounded like more useless bellyaching to me. But thanks Moyers and Company for giving me yet another chance to voice the opinions I’ve been voicing for decades in this country only to be heartily ignored or to receive subtle dissimulations as Bill W. comments if he even read my post!

  • Patrick Hickey

    This is the sort of high-impact material that impels me to listen to it once a day for several days, despite the fact that somehow I already have considerable understand of Zombie Politics.
    Considering the extent of my “outside-the-box” explorations and discoveries, maybe I might well consider joining the throng of writers and write a book myself — not for money or acclaim as much as to provide insight and knowledge for younger people.
    Here I am 71 years old and sitting on my treasure-chest discoveries that have enriched my quality-of-life so much. Here in Sedona, AZ, most people rebuff me if I bring up anything outside their comfort zone, though my comments are graciously received by the NYT, Moyers, AlterNet and others.
    Perhaps I could find a collaborator from the forgotten generation to help clue me in to sharing and inspiring them?
    P.S. I’m developing a “new way of living” that retains and even restores more youthful states of health. This is too radical for most older people who feel that genetics determine their golden years. By up-leveling to a Paleolithic diet, natural exercising, and mindful yoga, among other things, unlike most people my age, I have flawless health, so I feel great, and save a lot since I haven’t the need for visits to doctors, or their pills, for over five years.
    Medicare should be paying me!
    Younger people might be interested in learning how to maintain peak, but comfortable lifestyle. An unexpected bonus is 20/20 vision, as well as clear and inspired thinking. Creativity and motivation do pay off in many unexpected ways!

  • craig in vt.

    Great interview Bill with Henry Giroux. Each one of us should send it to everyone we know. Pass it around the country, to people who have never watched Bill Moyer’s Journal. When people speak out like this, we must all learn to pass it along. Thank you.

  • Danny Cardwell

    I think that your comments could only come from an interesting person. I agree with some of what you say, but I do have a fundamental difference with your chastising of the “poor”. I know many people who have suffered economically due to no fault of their own. to judge all of the “poor” through the same lense seems naive. Maybe, I’ve misunderstood your position on this, but it seems rather callous to the suffering of people. I know people who have seen their assets lose value due to no fault of their own. Most equate wealth with income, but jobs come and go; a real measure of wealth is the acquisition of assets and property. I congratulate you on accomplishing so much in your life. I wish you the best. If I could give you one thing it would be the ability to understand the plight of my contemporaries. I have a slew of college educated, responsible, drug-free friends who are drowning in a pool of debt tied to their education. This attitude that I got mine and forget everybody else is the easier position to take. Siding with the mighty against the weak (almost always) insures you won’t feel the tangible suffering of those being crushed by the disparity in the economic system. Eventually there won’t be enough capital to flow through the system to get to the top. The default position is to say, I never got a job from a poor person.” I would also add that a poor person has never sent the manufacturing base of this country to the developing world. There’s no doubt in my mind you are my superior at every level of life, but there is another way of looking at things. I value your life and experiences, but your experiences aren’t the totality of information available. I know people who are working to the bone and are barely getting by. Peace!

  • Anonymous

    Tell us more about this “self-reliant and independent streak” not found in other cultures. I seem to recall learning that the colonists of what became the US were entirely dependent on one another. So from where where does this characteristic come, and when did it develop?

    I find the people of the United States to be no more nor less self-reliant and independent than many other cultures I’ve experienced.

  • ss

    I wonder what it will take to wake Americans from their zombie attitude to the state we find ourselves in. When I talk to people they tend to give a standard answer ” why should I worry about it there is nothing I can do to change it”. Somhow I can not look at America that way, I care to much about the world my children and grandchildren will live in to have that atitude! I can live threw almost any hell that you want to impose on me but how can I stand by and watch these things being imposed on my decendants. Further more our charitable nature keeps the moral outrage in check, if the food pantry feeds our fanily and the local shelter gives us a place to stay we do not have it so bad. And is it not considered almost un-american to tell the news of decline and loss of hope, so we go threw life blaming our spouse our comunity our education our employer ect. we think somthing better is out there some where, its not unless you are lucky enough to be a stuffed shirt and I wonder what their vision of america is when they use the “Media” to say things like “we lack educated people so we are no longer competive”?

  • Anonymous

    I agree with the guest’s comments about our system being defined for accumulating wealth. Our usury based dollars value speculation too heavily at the expense of people who wish to pursue other interests. Those who enjoy the game of wealth building and speculatively leveraging their money are well served by this system. The problem is we are all captive to this winner take all game & the currency is rigged against those who would prefer to put their energies to other purposes (without the aid of a good financial adviser). We can’t opt out of the casino system for fear of not having enough money from the wall street (or some other ponzi scheme) to meet the inflationary costs we’ll be facing in our later years. It’s time to recognize there are ways to put an end to this unsustainable growth. We’ll never have a truly democratic government that respects all people until we learn to democratize the credit commons.

    Consider the comment by the Malaysian Forestry minister when he wryly noted that it made more economic sense to cut down all the trees in the country since the interest on money grows faster than the trees. Then consider a money that depreciates in value. It’s been shown that depreciating money is put into circulation to make sure we do things like growing trees & enhancing the environment & social infrastructure to meet our future needs. The store of value is no longer in building an ever increasing pile of money to act as a claim check against what’s left of a degraded environment ~ rather our store of value is focused on enhancing the living ecosystems to met our real future needs.

    A demmurage currency is a money with a small holding fee ~ or a monetary system that puts the tax on money storage rather than taxing money flows (like income or consumption). With a demurrage currency the store of value not in accumulating large sums of money, but rather in ensuring people are busy building the infrastructure and environmental enhancements to meet future needs.

    Money that commands positive interest rate returns amounts to preferring short term gains since returns on long term projects are exponentially discounted by lost speculative ‘opportunities’. Demurrage currencies have the opposite effect, it’s much more profitable to spend them on fruitful long term investments. Money then properly acts as a catalyst for human exchange/engagement and does not support leveraged speculation as directly.

  • Donna Lee

    Thanks for your response Allan. I don’t agree that I’ve painted the majority of poor people, per se with such a broad brush. I HAVE, however, painted the majority of poor people whom I know PERSONALLY with that brush because that is how I experience their attitudes and behavior.

    Believe me, I am a compassionate person! I express this by having helped almost all of the 80 or so neighbors living in my building over the 22 years I’ve been living here in one way or another at least once and many over and over again, e..g., with their technology problems, including two men I’ve known well for a long time, one with his TV after the digital switch, and one with connecting his cable, which latter I immediately, just upon looking at the situation, knew how to do, if I may say so, even though I am not always so canny, like this summer when my sister helped me install my air conditioner, she could see exactly how to do it when I couldn’t, as well as another woman whose kitchen appliances wouldn’t work because her outlet needed to be reset by pushing the reset button and she asked me to look at it rather than the Super! Sometimes my neighbors have paid me small amounts in gratitude for my help and I have accepted them because, as I think I said, I am poor, too, although I don’t believe I am so for the same reasons as many of the people around me. Further, I always grant that I may be mistaken about just about anything!

    That being said, I think it is unwise, and as rule, I never do this myself not to learn valuable information from ANYONE who is offering it, especially when it is free and I need it to help further me. I have done so even from people I have positively detested many times! I’ve even written a short story about this! And yes, I feel strong negative emotions just like everyone else. However, I also realize that even though I feel these emotions, that how I deal with them, as everything else in my life, is somehow MY responsibility; even if someone “pushed my buttons,” as the saying is, I realize that they are NOT the cause of my emotions; I AM!

    I don’t know if you’re familiar with my way of thinking or if you agree, but I just wanted to try to make myself clear that I am not bashing the poor in their person’s per se just their attitudes, which bad attitudes I once also shared!

    Finally, in this vein, to give an example and Mr. Giroux, I believe said something to this effect, that if you can’t even CLEARLY IMAGINE OR ENVISION AND ARTICULATE a different/better reality for yourself, then it is highly unlikely you’re going to get one. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it’s unlikely. The example I wanted to give is one from one of those supposedly “demonic” Republican’s books, P.J. O’Rourke’s, Parliament of Whores.

    To paraphrase, he visited what he ultimately called a “sewer in the sky” housing project, with which assessment the tenants of it seemed to agree. One of the tenants said that the landlord’s treat them “like a dog,” a direct quote. The landlord doesn’t do repairs on time, etc. Then Mr. O’Rourke asked this erstwhile poor woman WHAT IF, just WHAT IF (CAN YOU IMAGINE A SITUATION WHERE) YOU could own your apartment PAYING EXACTLY THE SAME PRICE YOU DO FOR IT NOW (!!!!), YOU could order the repairs, YOU could control what happens? Mr. O’Rourke reported, and I don’t know if this is true, but I can believe it because of the people I have to deal with daily, INCLUDING those who DO have jobs, that the woman looked at the building, then she looked at him, and replied, and I quote, “I ain’t havin’ none of that!” Do you get my point?

    Another thing he did in that book is the math on the amount of money allotted to our Congresspeople to pay their staff and the number of hours said Congresspeople work per day and compared that ratio to a private company that has the same amount of customers that said Congresspeople has constituents, AND we expect our elected officials to be saints and do all we want with no self-interest at all and he stated that out of 700 letters per week of that particular Congressman’s that Mr. O’Rourke read, of people fuming and complaining and asking for things, all of which correspondence needed to be answered and BEING answered with a polite reply, there were exactly two “Thank You” notes out of the 700 in the bunch! Again, I don’t know if this is true, but I can believe it; I don’t get much thanks from my erstwhile neighbors either, although I am tireless in my efforts to aid them even though I often need help myself which is usually not forthcoming from anyone, or given grudingly although I am astounded at how very fortunate I have been in my life! Almost everyone I know wants more than they are willing to give, whether they are able to or not.

    Finally, in this vein, what I am trying to say is that ATTITUDE is everything in life! All your actions will flow from it. Thank you for your attention to this post and your understanding of it!

  • Donna Lee

    Dear Mr. Campbell, and Allan, I am about $50,000 in debt in Student Loans! I lived very well while I was running up that debt and I also got no degrees because of what I believe were unfair practices by the college that I attended which threw me out on a technicality from which I was, according to the school’s rules, entitled to reapply for readmittance the next semester, which I did, and the administrators said they would never let me attend again just as I was about to achieve my Associate Degree.

    When I tried to reason with the administrator in charge of my situation, she admitted that she thought that I was probably wiser than all the administrators at the college, but she wrung her hands and did nothing to help me in the end. I brought suit with the EOC (Equal Opportunity Commission) but my case was summarily thrown out because the statute of limitations had expired by the time I thought of making that move.

    However, I believe this happened for a good reason, as I believe EVERYTHING does, no matter how it may seem at the time, because my life is on a much firmer footing now that I may not have achieved had I continued in Academia. Finally, opportunity does guarantee success in ANY arena. You have to work like crazy to achieve it and you need a lot of other qualities besides, like resourcefulness, and the ability to retain what you learn or remember it!

    Finally, I have never claimed bankruptcy although I’ve been in and out of debt for about two decades, paying off what I could and borrowing again when I needed to. And, I fully intend to pay off all my debt. I keep my student loan status current and up to date, and my present payments are $0 and have been for several years. That’s one of the things I can help poor people who may be in student loan debt to do with my Church (again Google the term “Free Church of the Divine Marriage”) to find out more about what I do. The interest adds up on my student loans, but that is the price I have to pay for the luxury of not having to pay them while I’m this poor and I TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY for that because I am benefiting from it in my eyes.

    Finally, in this vein, and this may not seem like sound thinking, but Donald Trump and people like him have been down and out, although maybe not poor. He HAS claimed bankruptcy several times, as has a neighbor of mine who will be 100 years old (!) on December 6th and whom I think DOES like me, or so she tells me, and who has claimed bankruptcy three times (!) with the judge telling her the final time that he is not going to grant it to her if she comes again. I’ve known this woman and her family for almost 20 years and I have several such people in my life of even longer acquaintance! However, she DOESN’T like living within her means, which is hard for most people, even the rich and famous, look at Spike Lee and Mary J. Blige! However, we have to be responsible for ALL of our lives, and try to control them, not just the parts we like, is my belief! And my erstwhile 100-year-old friend gets some $3,000 or $4,000 per month to live on and her rent is only $1,000 per month, which she gripes about assiduously.

    I hope I have made myself clear about all I’ve said here. People can thrive in almost ANY economy in America is also my belief, again, if YOUR ATTITUDE IS CORRECT! And I’ve read some of the things Donald Trump has said about his attitude, i.e., like how when he was in debt, everyone thought he was finished, but HE DIDN’T think so! And i think the Bible says, “As a man thinketh, so is he!” I have to deal with people not believing that I’m going to ultimately succeed against ANY AND ALL odds against me, even some of my closest family members! But that’s life. And I which I fully intend to continue to try to succeed as long as I have breath (!) I hope you will too!

    In closing may I say,

    “May you have the future of your choice and FIND a thousand reasons to rejoice.” It’s like the lyrics to the Beatles’ song, “The love you take is the love YOU MAKE!”

  • Anonymous

    loved Giroux needed to hear what he said,everything said was so true.I have hated all the fighting on talk and reality shows and have often thought if people like arguing ,or watching people fight so much, maybe we should have a show with real substanent debate. Lots tuned into last debates. Why not get those high school kids on a weekly show to debate the important issues of the day. Think it would fly on the networks?

  • Anonymous

    you can’t be for real. You sound like a right wing infiltrator.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for introducing me to Giroux. Everything he said was right on, and he speaks the truth so well. Would love to see his high school kids on a weekly debate show. It would be more worth while than those reality shows where people make fools of themselves fighting. Lots tuned in for the last debates maybe people would enjoy some real issues debated. Think the networks would go for it?

  • Donna Lee

    Yes, I am for real and calling names, as Heidi Boghosian’s people chose to do to me may discredit me, but that doesn’t mean they’re the truth as isn’t most of what you see on TV, but which most people don’t understand or believe either. You’re also posting here incognito with no photo. I won’t be answering any more of your replies, either, so fire away! Any objective person can judge for him/herself!

  • Donna Lee

    I’m not sure what you mean by your question, Allan. Care to explain further?

  • Donna Lee

    I have to apologize for my angry reactions here; they are inappropriate and do not reflect the truth of the situation which I would also like to try to clarify about what I think is going on between myself and the posters here and has been consistently going on but, which I’ve never been able to see or state quite so clearly here, although I have done elsewhere; these feelings seem to be going on between the rich and the poor, as well.

    The fact is that we are all feeling hurt by what each other is saying and doing and are tending to demonize each other because of those hurt feelings: you and me, and the rich and the poor, regardless of whether our feelings reflect the facts of the matter and hence we are lashing out at each other. I think that is sad and I really don’t plan to participate in continuing such behavior.
    However, I believe that that is the truth of all our hearts and underlies all our words here.

    If anyone here would like to speak truthfully with good will and good faith and to be vulnerable about the truth of his/her heart, I am willing to listen. Anything else, I will not respond to. Thanks!

  • Donna Lee

    “The person who yells at you in traffic is using the only way he knows to vent his frustration and try to feel better. The person who deceives you believes she has to in order to survive in a world she perceives as confusing and untrustworthy.

    “We invite you to experiment with taking on the assumption that each of us always has positive intent. Notice how you feel and act differently if you assume that a person who had been annoying to you has some positive purpose for his behavior. Even if you don’t know what it is, you can assume there is one. And do the same for yourself. Each of your feelings and behaviors also has a positive purpose for you to welcome and turn into an ally.”

    I value my relationships with all of you or I wouldn’t communicate with you. May you find the positive intentions in your actions and learn greater love for yourselves!



  • Anonymous

    That statement,”I never got a job from a poor person.” is one of the untruths the right would like us to believe. I feel actually a rich man never became so with out the work of the poor ie. we make them rich buying their stuff they need us. We make them rich paying high interest on credit card, and pay day loans, and don’t get me started on the free slave labor this country was built on, and granted low paying jobs are never as ruthless as slavery, but it is the only kind of sugar coated slavery that can be excepted today.Every time you buy a burger you are giving someone a job and making someone at the top rich. Every time you believe the hype of the commercial world and buy something you yourself could make you are creating a job and making someone other than yourself rich. Every time you take out a loan for an education from a unrepretable collage you are making some rich and creating a job. Never believe the poor do not create jobs.

  • Anonymous

    I hate zombie shows, but here I really see the analegy. Sorry to be an old hippy,but if we really tried to be more selfsaficent we could get rid of the chains that corporate world has on us. I actually am looking to Detroit for hope. They could with the new advancements in solor and wind, and their renewed community gardens, and spirit be the answer to all this consumerism that has consumed us, made us poor, and caused consumption. ( sorry lots of red lines I am recovering dislectic. poor speller)

  • Anonymous

    Or not. It is all of the above that has been dismantled that has gotten us in this mess. The role back of banking regulations and the role back of tax laws. How is it that a big company like wall mart can get tax breaks to locate in a city also get all kinds of other corporate tax breaks then pay so poorly that their employees qualify for food stamps.

  • Anonymous

    Strongly agree. And don’t forget how we built this economy on slave labor. I just found out the big eastern collages got all their money to create those institutions of higher learning for their prodigy on the backs of slave labor. Cotton to England was a big money maker.How self-reliant of our colonists to find someone else to do the work for them.

  • Anonymous

    Could it be all the glitz and glitter or consumerism the new opiate of the masses combined with untruths spread by some cleaver sound bite folks. Talking point guys. Once it was said Americans had such inventive ideas because we were so free to think. But now we don’t even teach kids to think freely. We want to teach to the test. What is on those tests. Maybe only what some zombie makers want us to think. Ever think who is making lots of money on creating those tests. If a dentist in Texas who does not believe in science and tries to downplay slavery, and what we did to Native Americans is in charge of writing the text books for many of the US school districts we are in deep dodo. I too am very interested in the evolution of culture and worry that Madison Ave. has figured out long time ago how to control us and turn us into zombies.

  • Anonymous

    sad but true. could a true history of america be what we should be teaching

  • Anonymous

    Really like that

  • Anonymous

    Americans have a self-reliant and independent streak, that’s true [ Along with a need to be like everyone else and the Kim Kardashians.] However, Michael Moore couldn’t have said it better when,upon being asked what he thought of his fellow Americans, He replied ” They are, perhaps, the dumbest people on the planet”. Just a thought here.

  • Anonymous

    As a non-traditional student and one dependent upon those ” entitlements” John Boehner wishes to cut, I must say that, in the College Life Skills course I’m currently taking [ ” Student Success”] that is one of the things we’re being taught. That a degree in women’s studies and/or English is but a waste of time and will only place one deeper into student loan debt.

  • Anonymous

    Everything Henry Giroux talked about seems true, especially what he said about the “Dumbing down of society”, especially at the university [ or even community college] level. As a non-traditional student on one of those government ” entitlement programs”, as Paul Ryan says, one who never really matured according to the terms of Erikson’s Generativity vs. Stagnation [ job, family,house with mortgage], I look around me at those 18-26 year-olds I know here on the campus of New Mexico State University [ including Dona Ana CC] and ask ” Is playing Pokemon online and watching Glee all these students care about?” That and yes, that elusive ” professional job” that’s supposedly waiting for them after graduation. Granted that some are majoring in ” Community Health” or psychology ” With a minor in drug and alcohol rehabilitation” and the like, all the while acting politically correct with this ” We’re supposed to accept everybody even those we disagree with” attitude. However, looking at things from my well-developed attitude of cynicism, it seems as if we’re all expected to accept the status quo. Stuff like ” Police officers and the NSA are good because they keep us safe” and, when asked why professors are forcing us to use ” APA Citation format” [ American Psychological Assn.] even in humanities and English courses, they’ll simply reply ” That’s what’s required in college by most professors”. WHY? Having attended several Aggie Solidarity [ our ” campus left” that’s more ” academic” than Occupy] debates and other functions, I’ve heard the term “EDUCATION FACTORIES” being used for today’s universities and colleges. The window display in Dona Ana Community College emphasizes the “right” and ” wrong” way to dress for business success. The urban gangster crap spewing MTV-U [ university] station on TV in Corbett Student Union warns of how using profanity, or protest language on your Facebook Page can affect a future employer’s decision whether or not to hire, or later on, fire you. All around you see Sodexo operating nearly every campus food venue [ Taco Bell, Chick-Fil-A, etc.]. And yes,something Aggie Solidarity brought up, Barnes & Noble operates our ” B&N University Bookstore” as well as the two at DACC. Add to that NMSU’s borrowing of $4.2 million annually from ACADEMICS to fund ATHLETICS, mostly the failing football team because ” A university without a good sports program will hurt recruitment”. However, like Henry Giroux stated, nobody cares, everybody wants to please everyone else so they will not feel alienated. That and to have something to put down on their resume. The emphasis seems to be more on ” Encouraging students to participate in their communities both on and off-campus”. However, it seems as if we’re being taught to not think for ourselves if doing so will alienate the whole of society, both on and off-campus; to become future ” drones” [ or zombies] for the professional corporate culture.

  • Edward Moriarty

    Henry Giroux presents one of the most refreshing and clear explanations of what is happening to our democracy under the lash of oligharical economic warfare against ordinary people. Thank you for bringing his voice to the attention of us all.

  • William W Haywood

    I wonder if, because you have your riches made, and much money and power in your pocket, if you just think what Mr. Giroux thinks is a silly thing. I use to watch you a lot Bill, but lately I think you have become a member of the Zombie vulture culture.

  • smitty70

    I think they might mimic Fox and CNN

  • Anonymous

    do they have real debates on fox and cnn. like using the real rules as in high school or college debates. Thought they just have glammor reporters sounding uninformed. only see clips of fox and cnn on daily show or colbert

  • Anonymous

    I became aware that college was just big business when one day in 84, as I was walking through the union and saw tons of adds for Spring break. I started thinking ,they changed it from Easter Break,not for religious reasons, but because they could get more kids to travel and spend and have more room for all of them if they spreed the holiday out for several weeks rotating it between collages. I agree with all you post here 123, as I also do with Giroux.

  • Anonymous

    I agree about controlling societies attacking education as the book burning in the past. But I feel Giroux is trying to show a weakness in our once free thinking about education. Some attack educated as elite. These attackers are more sneaky than the book burners. They don’t believe in science,and want to hide the atrocities our country did to Native Americans and Africans They have changed the lingo of capitalism to free market they brain wash with corporation think, and think integrity,honesty and open minds are for the weak. They believe the strong survive and don’t care about those left behind.And many religious right who will not except science or humanism can be swayed to go along with those trying to rewrite history. Many who believe they are religious and patriotic write our school books and try to staff our universities with more conservative thinkers. They are stealthily brainwashing.

  • Donna Lee

    Dear Montaigne Lover, I quoted de Tocqueville in my Pulitzer Contender entitled Nowheresville, Everywhere, Earth, which is where a lot of people seem to find themselves!

  • Anonymous

    Excellent interview, as usual. Bill, your interviews, articles, links, etc. are invaluable.