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The ‘Suicidal State’ and the War on Youth
Posted on Apr 11, 2012
By Henry A. Giroux, Truthout
At the same time, the bloated financial class and their lobbyists do their magic by buying off politicians who are all too willing to squander the public coffers on wars abroad, while attempting to establish across the globe what can be called death zones inhabited by drones, high-tech weaponry and increasingly private armies.(8) Andrew Bacivich captures the expanding parameters of this militarized death march in the following commentary. He writes:
Empire now provides the salutes, spectacles and high drama to overlook the predatory violence that shapes domestic politics. Unfortunately, despite our knowledge of the corrupt profiteering practices that instigated a global financial meltdown, free-market fundamentalism appears to be losing neither its claim to legitimacy nor its claims on democracy. On the contrary, in this new era in which we live, consumerism and profit-making are defined as the essence of democracy, while freedom has been reconceived as the unrestricted ability of markets to govern economic relations free from government regulation or moral considerations.
As the principle of economic deregulation gradually merges with a notion of unregulated self-interest, one consequence is that people eager to protect what they believe is their freedom are all too willing to relinquish their power, civil rights and social protections to unaccountable and unchecked forms of authoritarian corporate and state control. Of course, since September 2011, the paralyzing fog of depoliticization has been ruptured by the Occupy movement, the roar of angry workers and of young people who refuse to cede their future to the new oligarchs, bankers, the Koch brothers, hedge fund managers, Christian extremists and the corporate-controlled liberal and conservative media apparatuses.(10)
As a result of the triumph of corporate power over democratic values - made visible recently in the Citizens United Supreme Court case that eliminated all controls on corporate spending on political campaigns - the authority of the state does more than defend the market and powerful financial interests, it also is expanding its disciplinary control over the rest of society. There is more at work here than, as David Harvey points out, a political project designed “to re-establish the conditions for capital accumulation and to restore the power of economic elites”(11); there is also a reconfiguration of the state into what might be called a merging of the warfare and punishing state, or what I am calling, borrowing a Virilio term, “a suicidal state.”(12)
Lending muscle to corporate initiatives, the “suicidal state” becomes largely responsible for managing and expanding mechanisms of control, containment and punishment over a vast number of public institutions. As a weakened social contract comes under sustained attack, the model of the prison, along with its accelerating mechanisms and practices of punishment, emerges as a core institution and mode of governance under the suicidal state - a hyper mode of punishment creep now seeps into a variety of institutions.(13)
Agencies and public services that once offered relief and hope to the disadvantaged are now being replaced with a police presence along with other elements of the criminal justice system.(14) The brutal face of the emerging police state is also evident in the attack on young black people, youthful protesters and “stop and frisk” policies initiated in major urban cities which contain a large black, brown and immigrant populations. In Bloomberg’s New York City, a “Clean Halls” program allows the police to conduct repressive search policies in private apartment buildings, stopping people in hallways and demanding an ID, and in too many cases harassing and arresting people needlessly. The extent of the brazenly illegal legalities have prompted Matt Taibbi, writing in Rolling Stone, to state that he has just discovered that the punishing state is as much as a threat to democracy than the threat of white-collar corruption. He writes:
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