My sympathies to my friends in the United States of America. Following is an extract from an essay I wrote in 2002. My concerns have not changed, just expanded to encompass many parts of the 'free' world. (Sorry would LJ cut, but LJ seems to be feeling unwell). ETA LJ cut now working.
The conservative forces, dominated by the Howard government, proponents of economic rationalism and globalisation, and mainstream media have effectively silenced the radical thought in Australia.They have created a conservative discourse through attacks on affirmative action, multiculturalism, feminism, academics, public broadcasting, public education, Aboriginal reconciliation and immigration.This conservative discourse has effectively positioned the majority of Australians for a compliant reading.Today the concerns of Australia are dominated by “neoliberal free-market economics and a new social contract based in private interest and competitive individualism” (Davis, 2002).This overwhelmingly dominant discourse is reinforced daily through the use of specific language, ideology and knowledge, to ensure that the discursive power is maintained.As Manne comments,
The public mood of contemporary Australia is dominated by the conservative homilies of John Howard and Tony Abbott; by the populist chatter of inflammatory talk-back radio hosts; by television current affairs programs preoccupied with law-and-order anxieties and by welfare dependency outrage; and by right-wing opinion columnists scoffing at the ideal of social justice on every other day (Manne, 2001:198).
Foucault was concerned with “how knowledge was put to work through discursive practices in specific institutional settings to regulate the conduct of others” (Hall, 1997: 47).The discourse of neo-conservatism has regulated and silenced the voices of radical thought by representing them as the cultural elite, out of touch with ‘ordinary Australians’.As Foucault has argued discourse “regulates not only what can be said under determinate social and cultural conditions but who can speak, when and where” (Barker, 2000: 79).