Some conservatives such as David Brooks have argued that the collapse of character and the rise of a form of political narcissism are producing deeply troubling forms of authoritarianism.[iii] That analysis is too facile, and ignores the underlying social, economic, and political conditions that concentrate power in very few hands, distribute wealth largely to the upper 1 percent, eliminate social services, and destroy those institutions capable of producing a culture of critique, empathy, and engaged citizenship. The old age of the social contract and social democracy is dead; the economic foundations that once supported large segments of the working class have been destroyed by the forces of globalization; and the promise of a collective ethical imagination has given way to the tawdry self-indulgence and self-interest that drives a consumer and celebrity culture. Not only have too many Americans become prisoners of their own experience, they also have become passive in the face of state violence, a culture of extreme violence, and a web of mainstream cultural apparatuses that trade in violence as sport and entertainment.
-- Henry Giroux