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. In other words, metaphors cleanse the lens of perception and give us a fresh take on reality. 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. More on the film later, but this is the book: “Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism”. 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. 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.
What you have is basically a transgression against the very basic ideals of democracy. 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. 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.
I mean, it's hard to imagine life beyond capitalism. The skillful weaver is Henry Giroux, a scholar, teacher and social critic with seemingly tireless energy and a broad range of interests. 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 Mc Master University in Canada. 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.
You know, it's easier to imagine the death of the planet than it is to imagine the death of capitalism. 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.
BILL MOYERS: And a farewell tribute to Nobel novelist Doris Lessing. Mac Arthur Foundation, committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. 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.
ANNOUNCER: Funding is provided by: Carnegie Corporation of New York, celebrating 100 years of philanthropy, and committed to doing real and permanent good in the world. Independent Production Fund, with support from The Partridge Foundation, a John and Polly Guth Charitable Fund. Park Foundation, dedicated to heightening public awareness of critical issues. 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.
The Herb Alpert Foundation, supporting organizations whose mission is to promote compassion and creativity in our society. BILL MOYERS: Are we close to equating democracy with capitalism?
And if I say you are the “apple of my eye”, you know how special you are in my sight.
And by our sole corporate sponsor, Mutual of America, designing customized individual and group retirement products. 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.
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.
HENRY GIROUX: Oh, I mean, I think that's the biggest lie of all actually. 1) There was this assumption that the government was evil except when it regulated its power to benefit the rich.
The biggest lie of all is that capitalism is democracy. " HENRY GIROUX: I mean you know, when Margaret Thatcher married Ronald Reagan-- BILL MOYERS: Metaphorically? 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. 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. When you use it as an antithesis to what Margaret Thatcher said, what do you have in mind?