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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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9. Town Hall Politics as Zombie Theater: Rethinking the Importance of the Public Sphere


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Chapter 9

Town Hall Politics as Zombie Theater


The bitter debate that unfolded over Obama’s health care plan garnered a great deal of media attention. The images were both familiar and disturbing—members of Congress being shouted down, taunted, hanged in effigy, and in some instances receiving death threats. In some cases, mob scenes produced violence and resulted in a number of arrests. Increasingly, people were showing up with guns at these meetings, revealing an intimate connection between an embrace of violence, politics, and a disturbing hatred of both the public sphere and the conditions for real exchange, debate, and dialogue over important social issues. Rowdy, zombie-like crowds, many of whom read from talking points made available to them by right-wing groups and legitimated by conservative television pundits, embraced a politics reminiscent of the Brown Shirts, whose task in Germany in the 1930s was to disrupt oppositional meetings, beat up opponents of the Nazi or Fascist Parties, and intimidate those individuals and groups that criticized authoritarian ideology.

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