Surviving neoliberalism

by Henry A. Giroux Public education is under assault by a host of religious, economic, ideological and political fundamentalists. The most serious attack is being waged by advocates of neoliberalism, whose reform efforts focus narrowly on high-stakes testing, traditional texts and memorization drills. At the heart of this approach is an aggressive attempt to disinvest in public schools, replace them with charter schools, and remove state and federal governments completely from public education in order to allow education to be organized and administered by market-driven forces.[1] Schools would “become simply another corporate asset bundled in credit default swaps,” valuable for … Continue reading Surviving neoliberalism

Academic freedom and the purposes of universities

(Reflections on a talk by Stanley Fish) by Patrick Colm Hogan Academic freedom is an important concept in the United States. Indeed, it is a concept fundamental to our system of higher education. The basic idea of academic freedom is that the purposes of universities are not served if faculty members are intellectually subservient to state or religious doctrine or to public opinion. For example, if physics has to conform to the beliefs of Stalin or biology has to conform to the dictates of Hitler, then neither field will advance intellectually. Academic freedom is therefore of particular concern to faculty … Continue reading Academic freedom and the purposes of universities

The end of American Democracy?

by Henry A. Giroux “For we already know that a worthwhile society will not be less but more free than our own. More instruction, more — and more precise — information, more concrete criticism, publicity given to the actual functioning of society and politics, all problems put in the most offensive terms — as offensive as suffering and as all true reasoning — here are the preliminary conditions for ‘transparent’ social relations.” — Merleau Ponty “It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” — James Baldwin Four decades of … Continue reading The end of American Democracy?

The relevance of Lenin today

by Chris Cutrone If the Bolshevik Revolution is — as some people have called it — the most significant political event of the 20th century, then Lenin must for good or ill be considered the century’s most significant political leader. Not only in the scholarly circles of the former Soviet Union, but even among many non-Communist scholars, he has been regarded as both the greatest revolutionary leader and revolutionary statesman in history, as well as the greatest revolutionary thinker since Marx. — Encyclopedia Britannica 2011 — year of revolution?  [1] Time magazine nominated “the protester,” from the Arab Spring to … Continue reading The relevance of Lenin today

Beyond the politics of the Big Lie

by Henry A. Giroux “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” — Martin Luther King, Jr. The American public is suffering from an education deficit.  By this I mean it exhibits a growing inability to think critically, question authority, be reflective, weigh evidence, discriminate between reasoned arguments and opinions, listen across differences, and engage the mutually informing relationship between private problems and broader public issues. This growing political and cultural illiteracy is not merely a problem of the individual, one that points to simple ignorance. It is a collective and social problem that goes … Continue reading Beyond the politics of the Big Lie

Anarchism, protest and utopianism

by Ruth Kinna The recent explosion of popular energy made manifest in the Occupy movement was described by Adbusters as a shift in global revolutionary tactics, for democracy and against corporatocracy, inspired by a desire to fuse ‘Tahrir with the acampadas of Spain’.[1]  Like the movements for social justice that preceded it, it brought defiant protest together with an openly utopian politics but it captured public attention in ways that the earlier, more conventional protests had not. As the former canon chancellor of St. Paul’s Cathedral (the site of the London camp), Giles Fraser was well positioned to monitor the … Continue reading Anarchism, protest and utopianism

Capitalism and the problem of collective action

by Gavin Kitching The central argument of this article[1] is that humankind is now creating collective action[2] problems of such enormous complexity and scale that it is very difficult for individual people, on the basis of their ordinary everyday experience alone, to even grasp them as problems, let alone see how to solve them. Such problems include: chronic global economic instability, anthropogenic global warming and climate change, increasingly ineffective governments, traffic jams, and rising health care costs. All of these problems are ‘mass’ or ‘collective’ outcomes of individual actions, actions motivated by intentions quite different from those outcomes. In other … Continue reading Capitalism and the problem of collective action

Marxism, the 21st century and social transformation

by Bill Fletcher, Jr. A discussion of the future of socialism and social transformation must be grounded in two realities.  The first reality is the broader economic, environmental and state-legitimacy crises in which humanity finds itself.  In other words, the convergence of these three crises means that the necessity for a genuine Left capable of leading masses of people is more pressing than ever.  It means that while one cannot sit back and wait for the supposed “final” crisis of capitalism to open up doors to freedom — since capitalism is largely defined by its continual crises — it is … Continue reading Marxism, the 21st century and social transformation

Insurgent democracy

by John Schwarzmantel This article has three aims: in the first place it seeks to offer some reflection on the role of political theory, and its relationship to what could simplistically be called events in the real world. Should political theory in the broadest sense be concerned with analysing and interpreting these events, or is it an exercise of a different kind, primarily concerned with the analysis of texts and with developing a specialised language of inquiry into such texts, whether historical or contemporary, that offer generalised reflection on concepts like power and authority, freedom and justice, to name only … Continue reading Insurgent democracy