There is a growing sense in American life that politics has become corrupt. Those traditional public spheres in which people could exchange ideas, debate, and shape the conditions that structured their everyday lives increasingly appear to have little relevance or political importance. Within the increasing corporatization of everyday life, market values replace social values and people appear more and more willing to re treat into the safe, privatized enclaves of the family, religion, and consumption. The result is not only silence and indifference, but the terrible price paid in what Zygmunt Bauman calls the “hard currency of human suffering.”
When Jimmy Carter was inaugurated, he said that he would spend every day of his presidency thinking about how to reduce the threat of nuclear war. Four years later, the United States and the former Soviet Union possessed more nuclear weapons in their arsenals than before Carter’s arrival in the White House. What was Carter thinking about on those long afternoons in the Oval Office?