a turning-point, toward darkness

Henry A. Giroux Talks President-Elect, Authoritarianism, and More on CTV News

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Abandon All Despair Ye Who Enter Here

The City Lights Booksellers & Publishers Blog

by Kennedy Petersen Posted on November 17, 2016

Author Henry A. Giroux appeared on CTV News last week, to discuss American democracy in the shadow of our new President-Elect. Giroux published his book, America at War with Itself, in September through City Lights. Describing America’s radical division as a conflict between “those who want to live in a democracy and those who don’t,” Giroux explains the rise of American authoritarianism, the key subject of this book. He points to the media, and its chasing after ratings, as a key factor in the creation of this unfortunate political climate which champions both celebrity culture and “emotion over reason.”

Watch below as Giroux offers his analysis on the historically unprecedented election, and what this means for America moving forward:


Additionally, Robin D. G. Kelley mentions Giroux’s new book in a recent (and excellent) Boston Review piece which offers paths of resistance in the aftermath.

This election was, among other things, a referendum on whether the United States will be a straight, white nation reminiscent of the mythic “old days” when armed white men ruled, owned their castle, boasted of unvanquished military power, and everyone else knew their place. Henry Giroux’s new book America at War with Itself made this point with clarity and foresight two months before the election. The easy claim that Trump appeals to legitimate working-class populism driven by class anger, Giroux argues, ignores both the historical link between whiteness, citizenship, and humanity, and the American dream of wealth accumulation built on private property.”


My Transcript of above video: Dr. Henry Giroux interview with Marcia MacMillan on CTV (Canadian Television) News Channel  November 9, 2016:

CTV:  I want to bring in Henry Giroux, he’s author of American at War with Itself and professor of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University. He’s joining me this morning from Hamilton, Ontario. And I am struck by the title of your book, American at War with Itself,—very fitting on this day, when we see that there is a clear dividing line, Henry, between those who supported Trump and those who supported Hillary Clinton. How much healing needs to be done?

HG: I think there’s an enormous dividing line. I don’t particularly think it’s between simply the supporters of Clinton and the supporters of Donald Trump. I think the dividing line is between those who, basically, want to live in a democracy, and those who don’t. Because I think that what we’re dealing with here is the rise of an extremist element in politics that has moved from the fringes to the center of politics. And it strikes me there’s an enormously dangerous move. I mean, I think that what we’re witnessing here is a turning point in American history, and that turning point suggests something very dark.

I mean, democracies are fragile. And I think that when you have a candidate come to power who’s been waging war against some of the most basic principles of American democracy, and actually is able to mobilize huge amounts of anger on the part of the American public, and to transform that anger, basically, into the most sordid language, the most reprehensible forms of misogyny, and racism, and sexism, and ultra-nationalism, while at the same time, mobilizing policies that speak very clearly to what I would call a move into authoritarian society, I think we have a great deal to worry about.

CTV: …A great deal to worry about. Yet, other analysts that I’ve spoken with this morning say, “He can’t do most, Trump can’t do most of those things that he made, those were lofty promises, in the heat of the campaign,” and that, “watch for him to move more to the center.”

HG: Oh, I think that’s—I don’t buy that argument at all. I mean, I think this is a guy who lies. I think he’s intransigent. I think he’s ignorant. I think he represents the triumph of emotion over reason. I mean, I think that he comes out of a celebrity culture in which questions of rationality don’t matter at all.  I mean, I think that Trump will do everything he can to basically avenge the people who criticized him. I think he’ll put enormous numbers of repressive policies in power.

Remember, the Republican Party created him. And I think, in many ways, while they first repudiated him because he exposed the deep, dire, and it seems to me utterly horrible sort of sentiments that they’ve been nourishing since the 1980s, they’ll support the policies that he puts into place. Because those policies are really not at odds, in many ways, with their own policies. I mean, they’ll turn back voting rights, they’ll put a clamp on immigration. They may not build a wall, which would cost thirty billion dollars, and they may not basically export all ‘illegal’ Mexicans. But they”ll move towards creating a police state. I mean, this morning I hear this, I heard his followers and his spokespersons talking about how we really need to beef up law and order in the country. This will happen at the same time, of course, that they undo Roe v. Wade, and basically start punishing women for having abortions.

CTV: What role do you think the media played in creating, not Donald Trump the reality TV star, but Donald Trump the presidential nominee?

HG: Oh, I think that’s a terrific question. And I think it speaks directly to the power of not only celebrity culture to confer enormous amount of authority, but it speaks to the supine nature of the mainstream press, which is always chasing after ratings, and hence, elevates performance over questions of substance and truth. So, you know, what they did was, they gave him two billion dollars worth of air time! This guy could spew out anything he wanted, he could mobilize all kinds of misery out of misfortune, and they treated him like he was on The Apprentice! They basically gave him as much air time as they could, and that helped to reinforce endlessly a message that people heard over and over again. And it was only near the end of the campaign, when people really thought that he might win this campaign, that the press actually started investigating him in ways that did justice to many of the contradictions, the lies, and the policies that he’s advocated.

CTV: Henry Giroux, author of American at War with Itself, I wish we had more time with you. I thank you so much for joining us this morning from McMaster University, in Hamilton.

HG: Thank you for having me on.

CTV: You’re welcome.

See more interviews with Dr. Giroux at his webpage:







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