This 2010 book by Henry Giroux capitalizes upon the popularity of zombies, exploring the relevance of the metaphor they provide for examining the political and pedagogical conditions that have produced a growing culture of sadism, cruelty, disposability, and death in America.
The zombie metaphor may seem extreme, but it is particularly apt for drawing attention to the ways in which political culture and power in American society now operate on a level of mere survival. This book uses the metaphor not only to suggest the symbolic face of power: beginning and ending with an analysis of authoritarianism, it attempts to mark and chart the visible registers of a kind of zombie politics, including the emergence of right-wing teaching machines, a growing politics of disposability, the emergence of a culture of cruelty, and the ongoing war being waged on young people, especially on youth of color. By drawing attention to zombie politics and authoritarianism, this book aims to break through the poisonous common sense that often masks zombie politicians, anti-public intellectuals, politics, institutions, and social relations, and bring into focus 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.
“In this timely and compelling critique of U.S. political culture, Henry Giroux makes clear how it is that Americans are living through what Hannah Arendt once called ‘dark times’, times in which the violence and cruelty of human disposability remains hidden in the black light of an increasingly authoritarian public realm. Passionately and incisively argued, Giroux’s critique offers insight into the political and pedagogical conditions that have produced a ‘zombie politics’ and its associated forms of authoritarianism. In this respect, Giroux illuminates what we need to see in order to reconstitute a lost social democratic imagination.”
-Roger I. Simon, University of Toronto
“Henry Giroux offers his most passionate defense yet of democracy and civic values in his new book. This volume is a must-read in dark times like these. Giroux has for decades been an outstanding tribune for democracy, an advocate for civic values and for questioning the unequal status quo. In this new book, he takes up more vigorously than ever the threats to the public sphere from reactionary forces gaining momentum. For Giroux, these threats to humane democracy fit the ‘zombie aesthetic’ now pervading television, film, and popular culture. Politics has become a monstrous caricature of public deliberation with wild propositions and charges spreading fear and division. Giroux explores the hostile forces sucking the blood out of our constitutional rights as well as the vitality out of ordinary families. We have become a society of monopolized wealth and distributed poverty, a culture of endless war, legalized torture, detention without trial, bursting prisons, and schools that turn our bright children into data. These intolerable conditions require the outrage and insight Giroux offers in his new book. He has written a volume inviting us to democratic action and civic restoration before these dark times grow even darker.”
-Ira Shor, Professor, City University of New York
Henry A. Giroux holds the Global TV Network Chair in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University in Canada. His most recent books include The University in Chains: Confronting the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex (2007), Youth in a Suspect Society: Democracy or Disposability? (2009), Politics Beyond Hope (2010), and Hearts of Darkness: Torturing Children in the War on Terror (2010).