Dec 6, 2013
Zombie Politics: Dangerous Authoritarianism or Shrinking Democracy - Part II
Posted on May 4, 2012
By Henry A. Giroux, Truthout
This book is an attempt to understand critically both the political and pedagogical conditions that have produced this culture of sadism and death, attempting to mark and chart its visible registers, including the emergence of right-wing teaching machines, a growing politics of disposability, the emergence of a culture of cruelty, the ongoing war being waged on young people, and especially on youth of color. The book begins and ends with an analysis of authoritarianism and the ways it reworks itself, mutates, and attacks parasitically the desiccated shell of democracy, sucking out its life-blood. The focus on authoritarianism serves as both a warning as well as a call to critical engagement in the interest of hope—not as a political rhetoric emptied of context and commitment but one that seeks to resuscitate a democratic imaginary and energized social movements that is the one antidote to the zombification of politics.
In the first section of the book, elements of the new authoritarianism are analyzed as a death-dealing politics that works its way through a culture of deceit, fear, humiliation, torture, and market-driven desire for their ever more “extreme” expressions. Next it focuses on challenging the rise of a politics of illiteracy and the ongoing destruction of democratic public spheres, stressing how the values of casino capitalism are mobilized through the emergence of market-driven commercial spheres and public institutions such as schools. The third section of the book focuses on the figure of youth as a register of the crisis of public values, signaling the impending crisis of a democratic future. The merging of zombie politics and the increasing scale of suffering and hardship that young people have to endure in the United States points to the serious political and ethical consequences of a society mobilized and controlled by casino capitalism—a capitalism that in its arrogance and greed takes the side of death and destruction rather than siding with democracy and public life. The figure of the zombie signifies not just a crisis of consciousness but a new type of political power and “mad agency,” visible in the rituals of economic Darwinism that rule not just reality TV but everyday life. But such a politics is far from undefeatable, and surely it is not without the continued presence and possibility of individual and collective resistance. My hope is that this book will break through a diseased common sense that often masks zombie politicians, anti-public intellectuals, politics, institutions, and social relations and bring into focus the need for a new language, pedagogy, and politics in which the living dead will be moved decisively to the margins rather than occupying the very center of politics and everyday life.
39. Robert Reich, “Our Incredible Shrinking Democracy,” AlterNet (February 2, 2010).
This article may not be republished or reproduced without specific permission from Peter Lang Publishers.
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