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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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12. Zero Tolerance Policies and the Death of Reason: Schools and the Pedagogy of Punishment


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Chapter 12

Zero Tolerance Policies and the Death of Reason


The shift to a society now governed through crime,1 market-driven values, and the politics of disposability has radically transformed the public school as a site for a civic and critical education. One major effect can be seen in the increasingly popular practice of organizing schools through disciplinary practices that closely resemble the culture of the prisons.2 For instance, many public schools, traditionally viewed as nurturing, youth-friendly spaces dedicated to protecting and educating children, have become one of the most punitive institutions many young people now face on a daily basis. Educating for citizenship, work, and the public good has been replaced with models of schooling in which students, especially poor minority youth, are viewed either as a threat or as perpetrators of violence. When not viewed as potential criminals, they are positioned as infantilized potential victims of crime (on the Internet, at school, and in other youth spheres) who must endure modes of governing that are demeaning and repressive. Jonathan Simon captures this transformation of schools from a public good to a security risk in the following comment:

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