America's Education Deficit and the War on Youth

By Henry A. Giroux | Go to book overview

5.
The “Suicidal State” and the War on Youth

IN SPITE OF BEING discredited by the economic recession of 2008, unfettered free-market capitalism has once again become a dominant force in American society. This pervasive regime of neoliberalism is producing unprecedented inequalities in wealth and income, runaway environmental devastation, egregious amounts of human suffering, and what Alex Honneth has called an “abyss of failed sociality.”1 The Gilded Age is back with big profits for the ultra-rich and large financial institutions, and increasing impoverishment and misery for middle and working classes. Political illiteracy and religious fundamentalism have cornered the market on populist rage, providing support for a country in which, as Robert Reich points out, “the very richest people get all the economic gains [and] routinely bribe politicians” to cut their taxes and establish policies that eliminate public goods.2 At the same time, students are being assaulted by the police for engaging in peaceful protests against the harshest elements of the neoliberal order while low-income and poor minority youth are placed increasingly under the authority of the criminal justice system. Everywhere we look, the rich and powerful use their authority to undermine the

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