The Corruption of Ethos in Fortress America

Billionaires, Bureaucrats, and Body Slams

Christopher Carter

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Geisteswissenschaften, Kunst, Musik / Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft


The Corruption of Ethos in Fortress America: Billionaires, Bureaucrats, and Body Slams argues that authoritarian strains of U.S. governance violate the idea of ethos in its ancient, collectivist sense. Christopher Carter posits that this corrupts the cultural “dwelling place” through public relations strategies, policies on race and immigration, and a general disregard for environmental concerns. Donald Trump’s presidency provides a signal instance of the problem, refashioning the dwelling place as a fortress while promoting sweeping forms of exclusion and appealing to power for power’s sake. Carter’s analysis shows that, emboldened by the purported flexibility of truth, Trump’s authoritarian rhetoric underwrites unrestrained policing, militarized borders, populist nationalism, and relentless assaults on investigative journalism. These trends bode ill for human rights and critical education as well as progressive social movements and the forms of life they entail. Worse yet, the corruption of ethos threatens life in general by privileging corporate prerogatives over ecological attunement. In response to those tendencies, Carter highlights modes of activism that merge antiracist and labor rhetoric to offer a more fluid, unpredictably emergent vision of social space, allying with ecofeminism in ways that make that vision durable. Scholars of rhetoric, political science, history, ecology, race studies, and American studies will find this book particularly useful.

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