Neoliberal Dis-imagination, Manufactured Ignorance and Civic Illiteracy
In this paper, I explore the vital role that a culture of ignorance, illiteracy and dominant cultural apparatuses play in both undermining civic cultures and the institutions, such as higher education, that are crucial to the construction of critically engaged citizens. At the heart of this chapter is the claim that democracies cannot exist without informed citizens and that education itself must be about more than training and is vital to creating the formative cultures that sustain a radical democracy. Such an understanding is imperative at a time when democracy is under siege all over the globe. I focus on the election and presidency of Donald Trump and the plague of mid-twentieth-century authoritarianism that has returned not only in the menacing spectacle of populist rallies, fear-mongering, unchecked bigotry and humiliation, but also in an emboldened culture of manufactured illiteracy that exhibits a disdain for any notion of education wedded to the pursuit of the truth, science and the public good. I conclude with several recommendations that provide an alternative to some of the oppressive conditions now shaping institutions of higher learning, particularly in the United States.
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