Henry Giroux warns of a neoliberal fascism we must resist

In youth work circles [or at least in youth work academia] Henry Giroux is best known for a vision of critical pedagogy, which advocates for the need to make pedagogy central to politics itself, seeking to create the conditions necessary for the development of a formative culture that provides the foundation for developing critical citizens and a meaningful and substantive democracy. 


Henry Giroux – ta to thisishell.com

In recent years he has aimed his critical arrows at the curse of neoliberalism, exposing its anti-democratic and authoritarian character through such books as ‘Neoliberalism’s War Against Higher Education’ and ‘Education and the Crisis of Public Values’. Throughout his work, he is sensitive to the condition of young people under neoliberalism, going so far as to talk of ‘a war on youth’ – see ‘Youth in a Suspect Society: Democracy or Disposability?’ and a previous post on this site, ‘The War on Youth: ‘Twas ever thus.


In his latest book, ‘American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism’  he ups the stakes. The spectre now haunting society is an emerging neoliberal fascism. His argument is expressed in a new article, Neoliberal Fascism and the Echoes of History.

Perhaps you think he exaggerates. I’m minded of a phrase we used in our founding Open Letter about the need to wake from the slumber of decided opinion. I can but recommend that you engage with Henry’s analysis.


Ta to antifascistnews.net

A couple of excerpts to entice you:

The nightmares that have shaped the past and await return slightly just below the surface of American society are poised to wreak havoc on us again. America has reached a distinctive crossroads in which the principles and practices of a fascist past and neoliberal present have merged to produce what Philip Roth once called “the terror of the unforeseen.”

The war against liberal democracy has become a global phenomenon. Authoritarian regimes have spread from Turkey, Poland, Hungary and India to the United States and a number of other countries. Right-wing populist movements are on the march, spewing forth a poisonous mix of ultra-nationalism, white supremacy, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and xenophobia. The language of national decline, humiliation and demonization fuels dangerous proposals and policies aimed at racial purification and social sorting while hyping a masculinization of agency and a militarism reminiscent of past dictatorships. Under current circumstances, the forces that have produced the histories of mass violence, torture, genocide and fascism have not been left behind. Consequently, it has been more difficult to argue that the legacy of fascism has nothing to teach us regarding how “the question of fascism and power clearly belongs to the present.”

We live at a time in which the social is individualized and at odds with a notion of solidarity once described by Frankfurt School theorist Herbert Marcuse as “the refusal to let one’s happiness coexist with the suffering of others.” Marcuse invokes a forgotten notion of the social in which one is willing not only to make sacrifices for others but also “to engage in joint struggle against the cause of suffering or against a common adversary.”

One step toward fighting and overcoming the criminogenic machinery of terminal exclusion and social death endemic to neoliberal fascism is to make education central to a politics that changes the way people think, desire, hope and act. How might language and history adopt modes of persuasion that anchor democratic life in a commitment to economic equality, social justice and a broad shared vision? The challenge we face under a fascism buoyed by a savage neoliberalism is to ask and act on what language, memory and education as the practice of freedom might mean in a democracy. What work can they perform, how can hope be nourished by collective action and the ongoing struggle to create a broad-based democratic socialist movement? What work has to be done to “imagine a politics in which empowerment can grow and public freedom thrive without violence?” What institutions have to be defended and fought for if the spirit of a radical democracy is to return to view and survive?




A rare chance to converse with Henry Giroux – at a price


Ta to AZ Quotes

Insisting on the Indispensable: International Conference on Youth Futures
13 October 2016 9:00 AM – 16 October 2016 4:00 PM
Institute for Youth and Community Research, The University of the West of Scotland, Ayr Campus

Keynote Featuring: Distinguished Professor Henry A. Giroux*
Disposable Futures: The War on Youth in the Age of Spectacle www.henryagiroux.com/index.html

On Henry Giroux:

“Giroux’s creativity, his openness to questions, his curiosity, his doubt, his uncertainties, his courage to take risks, and his rigorous methodological and theoretical approaches to important themes characterize him as one of the great thinkers of his time not only in the United States, but also in many foreign countries. For Giroux, there is no hope without a future to be made, to be built, to be shaped.”
Paulo Freire, Educator and Philosopher

*Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department, and a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Ryerson University. His most recent books are: Disposable Futures; The Seduction of Violence in the Age of Spectacle; The Violence of Organized Forgetting; Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education; American’s Education Deficit and the War on Youth; and On Critical Pedagogy. He has been named by The Public Intellectuals Project as one of the top Canadians Changing the Way We Think.

Call for Papers:

Papers/Symposia Submissions are now sought on the Conference Strands listed below:

Paper/Symposium Strands:

Cultural Studies of Youth
Youth and Community Work
Critical Youth Pedagogy
Youth: Arts and Digital Media
Politics, Empowerment and Youth

Please submit the following information:
· Strand selected
· Presentation format (Paper, Symposium, Performance (format can be varied. Performance or art-based research is welcome as are traditional paper presentations.)
· Title of Proposal
· Name(s)
· Affiliation(s)
· Contact email address
· 250 Word abstract
· Proposals should be submitted as an attachment to: youthfutures@uws.ac.ukQ
· Abstract submission NOW OPEN (due to limited space, abstracts will be reviewed weekly. Submissions will be closed when maximum acceptances/registration have been reached)
· Symposia will include 4-6 participants.
· Paper presentations should reflect a 15 minute presentation with question and answer period.

Registration Information:

Thursday 13th October – pre-conference event held at the Burns Museum http://www.burnsmuseum.org.uk
Cost £20.00 includes Welcome reception and entry to Burns museum

Full Conference Rates 14th – 16th inclusive:
Special Rate £225.00
On site Rate £270.00
Postgraduate Students £100.00
CLD and/or Youth Worker £100.00
Book your place here.

These rates include:
· Conference pack and programme booklet (issued at the registration desk)
· Lunch and Dinner (Saturday), coffee and snacks during breaks, Fri – Sun
· Welcome Reception and In Conversation with Henry Giroux on 14th October

Sadly the expense will put many folk off.

Weekend Blog Mix – Emotional Labour in the Workplace, Domestic Terrorism and Youth plus War on the Aboriginal People

Ta to vanderbilt.edu

Ta to vanderbilt.edu

I thought I’d test out doing a weekend post of blogs/links that are perhaps of interest to IDYW followers. The mix is unashamedly critical of neo-liberalism and austerity.

1. Following this post, Perverting our lives and our institutions, including youth work – neo-liberal culture, Emily Hewson offers these further thoughts on how  ‘individualism, selfishness, ruthlessness and bullying have become commonplace’ in What has changed us?


2. Continuing the theme of what really goes in the workplace Paul Mason suggests, for many, work is a world of stress, bullying, arbitrary and unappealable decisions, and – at the extreme – sexual harassment and casual racism. In his Politicians love dressing up in hi-vis vests, but they ignore what’s really happening to modern workers he talks of  the hollowing out of what labour means. It was workers in the Soviet Union who coined the adage: “We pretend to work, they pretend to pay us”, but in large sectors of modern capitalism that is the deal. To many young people, stuck in jobs with no career progression, no security and no pension, work’s status is diminished. It’s a tendency amplified by the free flow of information about our private lives on social media: few people write about their work in detail; their social and leisure time dominates their life stories. On many people’s Facebook page it is as if their work existed in a barely significant, parallel world.


3. In this latest piece, Domestic Terrorism, Youth and the Politics of Disposability, Henry Giroux argues,

Education is no longer a public good but a private right, just as critical thinking is no longer a fundamental necessity for creating an engaged and socially responsible citizenship. Neoliberalism’s disdain for the social is no longer a quote made famous by Margaret Thatcher. The public sphere is now replaced by private interests, and unbridled individualism rails against any viable notion of solidarity that might inform the vibrancy of struggle, change, and an expansion of an enlightened and democratic body politic.

One outcome is that we live at a time in which institutions that were designed to limit human suffering and indignity and protect the public from the boom and bust cycles of capitalist markets have been either weakened or abolished. (3) Free market policies, values and practices, with their now unrestrained emphasis on the privatization of public wealth, the denigration of social protections and the deregulation of economic activity, influence practically every commanding political and economic institution in North America. Finance capitalism now drives politics, governance and policy in unprecedented ways and is more than willing to sacrifice the future of young people for short-term political and economic gains, regardless of the talk about the need to not burden future generations “with hopelessly heavy tuition debt.” (4) It gets worse.


4. In the The secret country again wages war on its own people John Pilger begins,

Australia has again declared war on its Indigenous people, reminiscent of the brutality that brought universal condemnation on apartheid South Africa. Aboriginal people are to be driven from homelands where their communities have lived for thousands of years. In Western Australia, where mining companies make billion dollar profits exploiting Aboriginal land, the state government says it can no longer afford to “support” the homelands.


The Madness of Militarism : What’s that got to do with Youth Work and Young People?

Ta to convergence

Ta to convergence


The refrain that we should keep politics out of youth work is familiar, if jaded. Both politicians and senior managers are often to be heard talking sentimentally about ‘young people being the future’. Yet the moment we raise the inextricable relationship between the prospects for young people and the spectres of unemployment, poverty, environmental catastrophe- and to acknowledge two recent posts, the lack of social housing in the UK and the violent carnage in Gaza – these apologists for the status quo scuttle back into a compartmentalised existence. Theirs is a self-centred world, within which young people are to blame for their precarious predicament, lacking skills, failing to match up to requirements. The solution is that age-old cliche. Young people must pull their socks up and stand on their own two feet, be ‘resilient’. And this weary exhortation is from folk, who claim to be new and innovative in their thinking!  Evidently the dilemmas faced by young people [and indeed most of us in one way or another] have nothing to do with what the Pope calls ‘a savage capitalism’. Evidently young people’s hopes float free from a society in which schools and hospitals are closed in the name of austerity or under a hail of mind-numbingly expensive bombs.

In an article,

Killing Machines and the Madness of Militarism: From Gaza to Afghanistan

Henry Giroux focuses on the impact of a militarist ideology on  American culture and society.

Informed by a kind of primitive tribalism, militarism enshrines a deadly type of masculinity that mythologizes violence and mimics the very terrorism it claims to be fighting. Militarism and war have not only changed the nature of the political order but the nature and character of American life.

We live in a time in which political illiteracy and moral tranquilization work in tandem to produce the authoritarian subject, willing to participate in their own oppression and the oppression of others. Thus, the silence over filling our prisons with poor people of color, treating desperate immigrant children as if they were vermin, and allowing elected officials to replace reason with forms of militant religious fundamentalism. What kind of moral arrangements does a society give up when there is no outrage over the fact that the United States supplies billions of dollars in armaments to other states and thus is complicit in the killing of young children and others through acts of state terrorism?

Militarism is a new form of illiteracy and psychosis, symptomatic of the failure of civic courage because it demands obedience and punishes people who are critical, capable of questioning authority, and are willing to address important social issues.

Of course you do not need to share Henry Giroux’s analysis. To what extent is it applicable to the UK and so on? But it seems to me he poses unavoidable questions for anyone, who claims to be committed to social justice, to peace, to democracy, to a future. For my part I don’t think this is a time for youth workers to bury their heads in the suffocating sands of  imposed conformity and prescribed outcomes, to do as they are told. It is a time to look outwards, to embrace collective thinking and activity, to gain strength from solidarity. It is time to be – what we claim to be – critically reflective practitioners.


The War on Youth : Hasn’t it Ever Been Thus? Ruskin Seminar, March 19


War on Youth Ruskin


Further reading – an interview with Henry Giroux, The Educational Deficit and the War on Youth

Low-income and poor minority youth, in particular, are no longer the register where society reveals its dreams for a just and equitable future. On the contrary, such youth increasingly symbolize a space where neoliberal society reveals its nightmares and invokes a culture of cruelty that appears more savage than its full embrace of the ethos of greed. Within neoliberal narratives, youth are either defined as a consumer market, advertisements for such a market, or they symbolize trouble – a generation who do not have problems but are the problem.

Engaging Critically : Dates for your diaries




The desire to redefine what we mean by youth work continues unabated. Of course it is crass to claim that definitions of an idea or a body of practice should be fixed and eternal. Circumstances and perspectives change. This has clearly been the case across the last three decades of neo-liberalism – see Henry Giroux’s explanation. However any process of change in a supposed democratic society ought to be transparent and contested. Within youth work such an open and pluralist exchange of opinion has been largely absent. In the main the senior management of the sector has sought compliance rather than criticism.

Take the National Youth Agency, it heads up the drive to an Institute of Youth Work, but fudges within the consultation the direct dilemma of what constitutes youth work in 2013. Meanwhile it sets up a Commission into the relationship between youth work and formal education, which determines beforehand that all manner of in-school interventions are to be deemed youth work. Its ‘independent’ Chair, Tim Loughton, is on record as being utterly comfortable with the rebranding of what youth workers do – so long as it suits the agenda of privatisation and commissioning. Furthermore the NYA hails the unremarkable addition of fund-raising skills and working with families modules to a revamped Derby University course as illustrating that the institution is ‘ahead of the field’. The Leader of the course warns, “we’re not saying we have to wave goodbye to traditional youth work, but we’re saying good youth work has to happen where young people are.” At the very least the seductive notion of ‘where young people are’ needs some serious exploration.

Against this background our Campaign reaffirms its commitment to encouraging the widest possible argument about what’s happening to youth work today. Thus, alongside the continuing relevance of our Stories Workshops, we are embarking on a series of seminars, ‘Engaging Critically’, whilst at the same time giving our wholehearted support to other initiatives bent on questioning the status quo. We do so in the spirit of youth work’s claim to be reflective and self-critical in theory and practice.


Introducing – The Spark: Learn. Connect. Create. June 10-15th at the 3space Hub, Blackfriars

Susanna Hunter-Darch, Fionn Greig and Derek Oakley are running two workshops – on Wednesday afternoon, June 12, Creating space for young people in economic crisis and on Friday morning, June 14, Youth Worker Activists! Learn, Share, Collaborate! https://www.facebook.com/events/192666474217458/?ref=3

Community Sector Coalition Starfish Event in Manchester’s Bridge 5 Mill, Tuesday, June 11 from 12.00 – 2.00 p.m.

Led by Matt Scott speaking to the new NCIA pamphlet, ‘Here We Stand’. http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/event/3581657835/?ref=enivtefor001&invite=MzQ2NjU0OS96YWlrb25pa0Bza3kuY29tLzA%3D&utm_source=eb_email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=inviteformalv2&utm_term=attend&ref=enivtefor001#

IDYW Engaging Critically – Threatening Youth Work : The Illusion of Outcomes at Bolton University on Friday, June 14 from 1.30 – 3.30 p.m.

To book a place, contact P.Connaughton@bolton.ac.uk

IDYW Engaging Critically – Advancing Youth Work in Times of Austerity : A Transatlantic conversation with Dana Fusco at the UNISON Centre, London on Wednesday, June 19 from 1.30 – 4.30 p.m.

To book a place contact Tony Taylor at tonymtaylor@gmail.com

Cooperative Education against the Crises at the Manchester Metropolitan University Didsbury Campus on Thursday, July 4 from 9.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.

Co- hosted by the Education and Social Research Institute and the Cooperative College this event will see Prof. Mike Apple present his ‘Interrupting the Right’ thesis – that the Right wasn’t always so powerful and the left could learn from its rise to dominance and take practical action.  Then Mervyn Wilson from the Co-op College will ask whether the Co-operative school movement provides a vehicle for interrupting the right and developing an education system that will be adequate to meet the crises we face.

The event website is available at: http://www.coopedagainstthecrises.org

IDYW Engaging Critically – Ethics and Politics in Youth Work to be held in Birmingham, Tuesday, November 5.

By the Autumn it is likely that a Code of Ethics will emerge from the move to an Institute of Youth Work. However, whilst there is much talk about what constitutes ethical practice, to speak of politics is to raise many a furrowed brow. And yet, how can ethics float free of politics? More information soon.

The Federation for Detached Youth Work Annual Conference, Skills from the Street, at the High Leigh conference centre, Hoddesden from November 15 – 17.

Further details at http://www.detachedyouthwork.info/conference.htm

We look forward to being involved with you in a lively dialogue in the coming months. And please let us know if you are organising events consistent with the critical spirit expressed here.


Writing to members of the Choose Youth Alliance, Doug Nicholls comments,

The alienation and discontent that leads to rioting has a record in British history over hundreds of years. We have warned over the last few years that the circumstances in which young people now find themselves are different from anything previously and that a positive approach to their care and support and development needs to be adopted as a matter of policy. Henry Giroux’s book, ‘Youth in a Suspect Society’ well outlines this predicament. As it happens the government has taken a different view about the welfare of our young people and has been entirely negative for youth. Cuts to children’s and young people’s services coupled with outrageous youth unemployment figures have created a new situation which in both rural areas and in large conurbations is leading to new difficulties.

It would be fascinating to study how youth policy historically followed the Notting Hill riots in 1959 then the early 1980’s riots. But the situation has become very urgent indeed and the manifesto of Chooseyouth and our Lobby of Parliament on October 25th take on a new significance. I hope that you will be able to assist the campaign in publicising and promoting both events with renewed urgency. Our campaign remains positive for youth in a real way.

As a member of the Campaign we will be doing everything within our power to build for the Lobby.

Speaking of Henry Giroux, Doug has contributed a succinct introduction to his life and thought on the INFED site, Neo-liberalism’s Nemesis

And if you’ve a moment or two, this article by Giroux, Youth in a Suspect Society: Coming of Age in an Era of Disposability, is well worth investigating. Within it he argues that in the USA there is a war on Youth.

The War Against Youth

The intensifying assault on young people today can be understood through the related concepts of “soft war” and “hard war.” The idea of soft war considers the changing conditions of youth within the relentless expansion of a global market society. Partnered with a massive advertising machinery, the soft war targets all children and youth, devaluing them by treating them as yet another “market” to be commodified and exploited and conscripting them into the system through creating a new generation of consuming subjects. This low intensity war is waged by a variety of corporate institutions through the educational force of a culture that commercializes every aspect of kids’ lives, using the Internet and various social networks along with the new media technologies such as cell phones to immerse young people in the world of mass consumption in ways more direct and expansive than anything we have seen in the past. The influence of the new screen and electronic culture on young peoples’ habits is disturbing. For instance, a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that young people ages 8 to 18 now spend more than seven and a half hours a day with smart phones, computers, televisions, and other electronic devices, compared with less than six and a half hours five years ago.(4) When you add the additional time youth spend texting, talking on their cell phones and doing multiple tasks at once, such as “watching TV while updating Facebook – the number rises to 11 hours of total media content each day.”(5) There is a greater risk here than what seems to be emerging as a new form of attention deficit disorder, one in which youth avoid the time necessary for thoughtful analysis and engaged modes of reading. There is also the issue of how this media is conscripting an entire generation into a world of consumerism in which commodities and brand loyalty become the most important markers of identity and primary frameworks for mediating one’s relationship to the world.

As public spheres are replaced by commercialized spheres and public time is replaced by corporate time through the use of fast-paced technologies that penetrate every aspect of kids’ lives, many young people are commercially carpet bombed endlessly and feel like they are caught on a consumerist treadmill that speeds up and never slows down. The stark reality here is that the corporate media are being used to reshape kids’ identities into that of consumers rather than citizens. And as Bauman points out, “life and politics are now shaped after the likeness of the means and objects of consumption.” Young people are not being invited to participate in a dialogue of what ails society; they are bombarded with images and messages that multimedia corporate giants want them to see and hear – and go to the great lengths and expense conducting all kinds of marketing and psychological research to ensure that kids will accept them. Kids may think they are immune to the incessant call to “buy, buy, buy” and to think only about “me, me, me,” but what is actually happening is a selective elimination and reordering of the possible modes of political, social and ethical vocabularies made available to youth. Corporations have hit gold with the new media and can inundate young people directly with their market-driven values, desires and identities, all of which fly under the radar, escaping the watchful eyes and interventions of concerned parents and other adults.

The hard war is more serious and dangerous for certain young people and refers to the harshest elements of a growing crime-control complex that increasingly governs poor minority youth through a logic of punishment, surveillance and control. The youth targeted by its punitive measures are often the young people who, like their parents, are viewed as failed consumers and can only afford to live on the margins of a commercial culture of excess that eagerly takes in anybody with money, resources and leisure time to spare. Or they are young people considered to be troublesome and often disposable by virtue of their ethnicity, race and class. The imprint of the youth crime-control complex can be traced in the increasingly popular practice of organizing schools through disciplinary practices that subject students to constant surveillance through high-tech security devices, while imposing on them harsh and often thoughtless zero-tolerance policies that closely resemble the culture of the criminal justice system. In this instance, the corporate state is transformed into a punishing state and vulnerable segments of the youth population become the object of a new mode of governance based on the crudest forms of disciplinary control.

Poor minority youth are not just excluded from “the American dream,” but become utterly redundant and disposable, waste products of a society that no longer considers them of any value. Such youth, already facing forms of racial- and class-based exclusion, now experience a kind of social death as they are pushed out of schools, denied job training opportunities, subjected to rigorous modes of surveillance and criminal sanctions and viewed less as chronically disadvantaged than as flawed consumers and civic felons. No longer tracked into either high- or low-achievement classes, many of these youth are now tracked right out of school into the juvenile criminal justice system. Under such circumstances, matters of survival and disposability become central to how we think about and imagine not just politics, but the everyday existence of poor white, Aboriginal, immigrant and minority youth. Too many young people are not completing high school, but are instead bearing the brunt of a system that leaves them uneducated and jobless, and ultimately offers them one of the few options available for people who no longer have available roles to play as producers or consumers – either poverty or prison.

Not only have social safety nets and protections unraveled in the last 30 years, but the suffering and hardships many children face have been greatly amplified by both the economic crisis and the austerity policies that are being currently implemented, with little justification, in the current historical moment. What is happening among the marginalized and socially disadvantaged people in the United States should serve as a dire warning to policymakers. Current statistics paint a bleak picture for young people in the United States: 1. 5 million are unemployed, which marks a 17-year high; 12.5 million are without food; and a number of unsettling reports indicate that the number of children living in poverty will rise to “nearly 17 million by the end of the [2011].”(6) The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth reported that there are over a million homeless students in the United States.(7) A 2009 study counted nearly 6. 2 million high school dropouts.(8) Increasingly, kids are forced to inhabit a rough world where childhood is nonexistent, crushed under the heavy material and existential burdens they are forced to bear.

In what amounts to a national disgrace, one out of every five American children lives in poverty. At the same time, 60 percent of all corporations paid no taxes last year. These figures become even more alarming when analyzed through the harsh realities of economic deprivation and persistent racial disadvantage. Nearly half of all US children and 90 percent of black youngsters will be on food stamps at some point during childhood.(9) Nearly one in every ten male high school dropouts in the United States is in either jail or juvenile detention.(10) For African-American male youth, the incarceration rate jumps to one in four high school dropouts ending up in prison.(11) What becomes clear is that social marginalization, poverty, low levels of education and high unemployment are increasingly driving staggering incarceration rates for young people, with some youth clearly being affected more than others.