Henry A. Giroux is Paulo Freire Distinguished Scholar in Critical Pedagogy and Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest at McMaster University. He has written more than 56 books since his first book, Ideology, Culture and the Process of Schooling, was published in 1981, and he has been generous with his time over the years as he published books such as Zombie Politics in the Age of Casino Capitalism; Disposable Youth: Racialized Memories, and the Culture of Cruelty; The Violence of Organized Forgetting: Thinking Beyond America’s Disimagination Machine; Disposable Futures: The Seduction of Violence in the Age of Spectacle; America at War with Itself; American Nightmare: The Challenge of US Authoritarianism; and The Terror of the Unforeseen. On the day that Henry Giroux finished his latest book, Race, Politics, and Pandemic Pedagogy: Education in a Time of Crisis, he graciously joined us for an interview.
In this interview, Giroux looks at the COVID-19 crisis as both a new kind of crisis and as a historical turning point. He discusses this crisis as both a window of opportunity for the progressive left and as a potential threat to democracy as many authoritarian governments might and can use it as a pretext for limiting civil liberties, implementing regressive policies and silencing dissent. In an intersectional analysis, Giroux covers the centrality of education to politics, the pros and cons of current struggles of resistance, youth as a political category, the importance of culture as a force for education, the meaning of pandemic pedagogy as a propaganda tool used by right-wing forces and the increasing rise of fascist politics in the United States.
Connecting the crucial issues of globalization, racism, inequality, militarism and ultra-nationalism, Giroux also talks about higher education and the politics of a militant hope. The COVID-19 pandemic, which spread rapidly across the globe in March, unleashed both a dystopian nightmare and the opportunity to rethink matters of politics, ethics, power and social change. Giroux also examines in some detail what it means to take seriously the fact that a new political horizon opened up that points to a growing rebellion against the lethal merging of racism, class divisions and the punishing registers of inequality — and how this demands that we rethink the very notion of politics itself. Finally, Giroux notes he is hopeful that the growing rebellion will breathe new life into a transformed social order, forged within the crucible of a radical demand that a socialist democracy will emerge and fulfill its promises and ideals.