Democracy & Nature, Vol. 9, No. 1
Utopian Thinking Under the Sign of Neoliberalism: Towards a Critical Pedagogy of Educated Hope
Henry A. Giroux
Abstract: As the vast majority of people become detached from public forums that nourish social critique, agency not only becomes a mockery of itself, it is replaced by market-based choices in which private satisfactions replace social responsibilities and private solutions become a substitute for systemic change. As the worldly space of criticism is undercut by the absence of public pedagogies and spaces that encourage the exchange of information, opinion, and criticism, the horizons of an inclusive and substantive democracy disappear against the growing militarization of public space, the attack on the welfare state, the ongoing commercialization of everyday life, and the growing isolation and depoliticization that marks the loss of a politically guaranteed public realm in which autonomy, political participation, and engaged citizenship make their appearance. Drawing upon the work of Cornelius Castoriadis, Zygmunt Bauman, and others the author addresses the current crisis of meaning, political agency, and pedagogy and the implications it has for developing a cultural politics that links utopian thinking not only to the complex nature of social agency and the importance of democratic public spheres, but also to the fact that active and critical political agents have to be formed, educated, and socialized into the world of politics.