The Globalization of Capital, Critical Pedagogy, and the Aftermath of September 11: An Interview with Peter McLaren

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This article is a revised version of an interview with Peter McLaren, a professor at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, conducted by Lucia Coral Aguirre Munoz of the Instituto de Investigation y Desarrallo Educativo of the Universidad Autonomy de Boja California that first appeared in Revista Electronics de Investigation Educativa, Vol 3, No. 2., http://redie.ens.uabc.mx/vol3no2/ contenido-coral.html, and subsequently appeared in The School Field (Slovenia), Vol. XII, No. 516 (Winter 2001), pp. 109-156.

Peter McLaren immigrated to the United States from his native Canada in 1985. Formerly Renowned Scholar-in-Residence at the School of Education and Allied Professions, Miami University of Ohio, where he also served as Director of the Center for Education and Cultural Studies, McLaren is now Professor at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles. Active as a critical social theorist and in local, national, and international political reform efforts, McLaren has published over thirty-five books and monographs in a variety of fields, including critical ethnography, cultural studies, critical literacy, the sociology of education, critical pedagogy, and multicultural education. His books and articles have been translated into seventeen languages.

McLaren lectures worldwide on the politics of liberation and Marxist social theory. His most recent books include Critical Pedagogy and Predatory Culture (Routledge), Revolutionary Multiculturalism (Westview Press), Schooling as a Ritual Performance (3rd edition, Bowman & Littlefield), Life in Schools (4th edition, Allyn & Bacon), Red Chalk (a pamphlet with Mike Cole, Dave Hill, and Glenn Rikowski) and Che Guevara, Paulo Freire, and the Pedagogy of Revolution (Bowman & Littlefield). His forthcoming book, Marxism Against Postmodernism in Educational Theory (coedited with Dave Hill, Mike Cole, and Glenn Rikowski) will be published in 2002 by Lexington Press. He is currently working on two volumes: Globalization and the

New Imperialism (with Ramin Farahmandpur) and The Critical Pedagogy Manifesto. McLaren is the recent inaugural recipient of the Paulo Freire Social Justice Award presented by Chapman University.

Lucia Coral Aguirre Munoz:Postmodern theorists have argued that the working class has largely disappeared in the United States and that what faces the US today is a new information economy in a new era of globalization. What would you say to this?

Peter McLaren: If the postmodernists-- those voguish brigands of the bourgeois salons and English Department seminar rooms-want to brag about the disappearance of the U.S. working-class and celebrate the new culture of lifestyle consumption, then they need to acknowledge that the so-called disappearing workingclass in the U.S. is reappearing again in the assembly lines of China, Brazil, Indonesia, and elsewhere, where there exist fewer impediments to U.S. profit-making. Of course, this observation actually confuses the issue somewhat, because there is a working-class in the United States. It has not disappeared, but has been reconfigured and resignified somewhat.

Back to your question about globalization, I think that globalization can be better understood as a form of imperialism, an intensification of older forms of imperialism. But I think it is important to recognize that we need to refigure the term 'imperialism' somewhat so that it does not come across as too economistic, so that we recognize along with William Robinson and others that while we do still have inter-state rivalries, we also have more and more consensual transactions among the global capitalist transnational elite.

Globalization represents an ideological facade that camouflages the manifold operations of imperialism. In fact, the concept of globalization has effectively replaced the term imperialism in the lexicon of the ruling elite for the purpose of exaggerating the global character of capitalism as an all encompassing and indefatigable power that apparently no nation-state has the means to resist or oppose. …