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Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism

Second Edition


Henry A. Giroux

In the second edition of Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism, Henry A. Giroux uses the metaphor of the zombie to highlight how America has embraced a machinery of social and civil death that chills any vestige of a robust democracy. He charts the various ways in which the political, corporate, and intellectual zombies that rule America embrace death-dealing institutions such as a bloated military, the punishing state, a form of predatory capitalism, and an authoritarian, death-driven set of policies that sanction torture, targeted assassinations, and a permanent war psychology. The author argues that government and corporate paranoia runs deep in America. While maintaining a massive security state, the ruling forces promote the internalization of their ideology, modes of governance, and policies by either seducing citizens with the decadent pleasures of a celebrity-loving consumer culture or by beating them into submission. Giroux calls for a systemic alternative to zombie capitalism through a political and pedagogical imperative to address and inform a new cultural vision, mode of individual subjectivity, and understanding of critical agency. As part of a larger effort to build a broad-based social movement, he argues for a new political language capable of placing education at the center of politics. Connecting the language of critique to the discourse of educated hope he calls for the reclaiming of public spaces and institutions where formative cultures can flourish that nourish the radical imagination, and the ongoing search for justice, equality, and the promise of a democracy to come.
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3. Zombie Language and the Politics of the Living Dead


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Chapter 3

Zombie Language and the Politics of the Living Dead

In a robust democratic society, language and critical thought have a liberating function. At best, they work together to shatter illusions, strengthen the power of reason and critical judgment, and provide the codes and framing mechanisms for human beings to exercise a degree of self-determination while holding the throne of governmental, military, and economic power accountable. Language in such a society is engaged, critical, dialectical, historical, and creates the conditions for dialogue, thoughtfulness, and informed action. Such a language refuses to be co-opted in the service of marketing goods, personalities, and sleazy corporations. Needless to say, it is a language that is troubling and almost always threatening to the guardians of the status quo. As Toni Morrison points out in another context, language that is troubling has a way of reading and writing the world, that “can disturb the social oppression that functions like a coma on the population, a coma despots call peace…[that makes visible] the blood flow of war that hawks and profiteers thrill to.”1

In authoritarian societies, language works to produce forms of historical and social amnesia, using the media, universities, and other sites of public pedagogy to cover the visual landscape with a coma-inducing ignorance. This political and moral coma allows the living dead to further experiment with those political mechanisms and social filters employed to freeze meaning, limit the discourses ← 52 | 53 → of...

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