"Civic literacy in the United States is also in decline, and has become the object of scorn and derision. Corporate media have abandoned even the pretense of holding power accountable and now primarily serve as second-rate entertainment venues spouting the virtues of consumerism, greed, and U.S. exceptionalism. The signs of extremism are everywhere. Instead of being educated, schoolchildren are handcuffed and punished for trivial infractions, or are simply taught how to take tests and give up on any vestige of critical thinking. Celebrity culture now works in tandem with neoliberal values to represent extreme forms of solipsism and a cultivated ignorance. Such ignorance is widespread on American television and also in the bestselling books designated by The New York Times. According to the Times, for the week of October 25, 2015, the best-selling books included works by TV Fox News host Bill O'Reilly and the truly ignorant Republican Ben Carson. Serious non-fiction books dealing with issues outside of corporate, liberal, and conservative discourse are increasingly banished to that irrelevant outpost, the public library. A form of manufactured ignorance now constitutes the modus operandi of a society that privatizes and kills the imagination by poisoning it with falsehoods, consumer fantasies, data loops, and the need for instant gratification. This is a mode of manufactured ignorance and education that has no language for relating the self to public life, social responsibility, or the demands of citizenship.
"The rise of dystopian politics and cultural mystification must be exposed and challenged on the local, national, and global planes. What is crucial is that the mechanisms, discourses, policies, and ideologies that inform authoritarianism must become part of any analysis that is willing to challenge the anti-democratic forces metastasizing within the United States today. This means, in part, focusing on the ongoing repressive systems that have been developing in American society for the last forty years. It also means drawing connections between historical forms of racial, ethnic, and economic violence that have been waged against indigenous communities, people of color, and the economically disadvantaged since the days George and Martha Washington enslaved hundreds of people while flying flags of freedom. It means finding a common ground on which various elements of an ethical society can be mobilized under the banner of multicultural democracy in order to challenge the interconnected forms of oppression, incarceration, mass violence, exploitation, and exclusion that now define the militant self-interest of corporatized American politics. It means taking seriously the educational nature of politics and recognizing that public spheres must be advanced in order to educate citizens who are informed, socially responsible, and willing to fight collectively for a future in which democracy is sustainable at all levels. This suggests an anti-fascist struggle that is not simply about remaking economic structures but also about refashioning identities, values, and social relations as part of a democratic project that reconfigures what it means to desire a better and more democratic future – a struggle we can see manifesting in the Black Lives Matter movement, the Fast Food Workers campaign, strikes called by the Chicago Teachers Union, Walmart workers, and other spontaneous responses to the impunity with which the financial and corporate elite abuse workers and reproduce oppressive practices."