Democracy is on life support in the United States. Throughout the social order, the forces of predatory capitalism are on the march. Their ideological and material traces are visible everywhere — in the dismantling of the welfare state, the increasing role of corporate money in politics, the assault on unions, the expansion of the corporate-surveillance-military state, widening inequalities in wealth and income, the defunding of higher education, the privatization of public education, and the war on women’s reproductive rights. As Marxist geographer David Harvey, political theorist Wendy Brown, and others have observed, neoliberalism’s permeation is achieved through various guises that collectively function to undercut public faith in the defining institutions of democracy.

As market mentalities and moralities tighten their grip on all aspects of society, public institutions and public spheres are first downsized, then eradicated. When these important sites of democratic expression — from...

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