The “Suicidal State” and the War on Youth
Henry Giroux explores Paul Virilio’s notion of a “suicidal state”—defined as a government which “works to destroy its own defenses against anti-democratic forces”—and how the United States is moving ever closer to self-annihilation through the increasing alienation and isolation of its youth.
The suicidal state is one that has evolved from the forces of market fundamentalism and neoliberal ideology, which further empower the wealthy and erode the state’s ability to act as a defence on behalf of citizens. This is especially dire for society’s most vulnerable, who suffer disproportionately from inequality, unemployment, militarism, a harsh penal system, the shutting down of dissent and a lack of accessible, quality education, among other ruinous social and economic conditions. Capitulating to authoritarian tendencies, the state systematically disenfranchises its own youth, thus attacking “the very elements of a society that allow it to reproduce itself.”
The ongoing demonization of young people in the broader culture has escalated to violent attacks, evident in the homicides of Trayvon Martin and Rekia Boyd. In the United States, but increasingly everywhere, youth are subject to social conditions that are based on mistrust and fear; they are isolated by society and considered expendable or redundant. Giroux emphasizes the need for change and the duty that intellectuals have to reverse the pressures of the suicidal state and “develop social movements that can not only rewrite the language of democracy, but put into place the institutions and formative cultures that make it possible.” Read the article…
By Alexandra Epp