American dream but have become utterly redundant and disposable waste prod ucts

American dream but have become utterly redundant and

This preview shows page 70 - 72 out of 181 pages.

American dream” but have become utterly redundant and disposable, waste prod- ucts of a society that no longer considers them of any va1ue.2 How else to explain the zealousness with which social safety nets have been dismantled, the transition from welfare to workfare (offering little job training programs and no child care), and the now infamous acrimony over health care reform’s failed public option? What accounts for the passage of laws that criminalize the conduct of millions of home- less people in the United States, often defining sleeping, sitting, soliciting, lying down, or loitering in public places as a criminal offense rather than a behavior in need of compassionate good will and public assistance? Or, for that matter, the expulsions, suspensions, segregation, class discrimination, and racism in the public schools as well as the more severe beatings, broken bones, and damaged lives endured by young people in the juvenile justice system? Within this type of zombie politics, largely filelled by a market fundamental- ism-one that substitutes the power of the social state with the power of the cor- porate state and only values wealth, money, and consumers-there is a ruthless and hidden dimension of cruelty, one in which the powers of life and death are increas- ingly determined by punishing apparatuses, such as the criminal justice system for poor people of color and/ or market forces that increasingly decide who may live and who may die. The growing dominance of right-wing media forged in a pedagogy of hate has become a crucial element providing numerous platforms for a culture of cruelty and is fimdamental to how we understand the role of education in a range of sites out- side of traditional forms of schooling. This educational apparatus and mode of pub- lic pedagogy are central to analyzing not just how power is exercised, rewarded, and contested in a growing culture of cruelty, but also how particular identities, desires, and needs are mobilized in support of an overt racism, hostility toward immi- grants, and Utter disdain coupled with the threat of mob violence toward any polit- ical figure supportive of the social contract and the welfare state. Citizens are increasingly constructed through a language of contempt for all non-commercial public spheres and a chilling indifference to the plight of others that is increasing-
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EVERYDAY VIOLENCE AND THE CULTURE OF CRUELTY | 59 ly expressed in vicious tirades against big government and almost any form of social protection, however necessary There is a growing element of scom on the part of the American public for those human beings caught in a web of misfortune, human suffering, dependency, and deprivation. As Barbara Ehrenreich observes, “The pattem is to curtail fmancing for services that might help the poor while ramp- ing up law enforcement: starve school and public transportation budgets, then make truancy illegal. Shut down public housing, then make it a crime to be home- less. Be sure to harass street vendors when there are few other opportunities for
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