Market fundamentalism and the militarization of public life mutually reinforce each other to displace the promise, if not the very idea, of the Great Society—with its emphasis on the common good, basic social provisions for all, social justice, and economic mobility.
Rather than reinventing and rethinking the challenge of an oppositional politics within a global public sphere, the academic Left appears to be withdrawing from the demands of civic engagement by retreating into..."theory-world," a space where the "academic freedom of critical theorists coincides with our lack of influence in public and political debate."
Hope, once embodied in the politics of persuasion, the drive for instituting critical education in a diverse number of public spheres, collective efforts to organize struggles within major institutions, and the attempt to build international social movements seems, at best, a nostalgic remnant of the 1960s. Public spaces on the domestic front are increasingly being organized around values supporting a bellicose, patriarchal, and jingoistic culture that is undermining 'centuries of democratic gains' (Giroux). The most rudimentary behavior must be determined both in relation to the real and present actors which condition it and in relation to a certain object, still to come, which it is trying to bring into being. This is what we call the project (Sartre). We cannot enter the struggle as objects later to become subjects (Freire). We are engaged in some very "serious games." The idea of the "game" is meant to capture simultaneously the following dimensions: that social life is culturally organized and constructed...; that social life is precisely social, consisting of webs of relationships and interactions between multiple, shiftingly interrealated subject possitions, none of which can be extracted as autonomous "agents"; and yet at the same time there is "agency," that is, actors play with skill, intention, wit, knowledge, intelligence. The idea that the game is "serious" is meant to add into the equation the idea that power and inequality pervade the game of life in a multitude of ways, and that, while there may be playfulness and pleasure in the process, the stakes of these games are often very high (Ortner). It is not blind action deprived of intentionality or of finality. It is action and reflection. Men and women are human beings of praxis, and in the process they have become capable of transforming the world, and giving it meaning (Freire).
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