America's Education Deficit and the War on Youth

By Henry A. Giroux | Go to book overview

2.
The Scorched-Earth Politics of America’s
Four Fundamentalisms

AMERICANS SEEM CONFIDENT in the mythical notion that the United States is a free nation dedicated to reproducing the principles of equality, justice, and democracy. What has been ignored in this delusional view is the growing rise of an expanded national security state since 2001,1 and an attack on individual rights that suggests the United States has more in common with authoritarian regimes like China and Iran “than anyone may like to admit.”2 I want to address this seemingly untenable notion that the United States has become a breeding ground for authoritarianism by focusing on four fundamentalisms: market fundamentalism, religious fundamentalism, educational fundamentalism, and military fundamentalism. This is far from a detailed and exhaustive list, but it does raise serious questions about how the claim to democracy in the United States has been severely damaged, if not made impossible.

The broader contours of the attack on democratic freedoms have become obvious in recent years. Whereas the Bush administration

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