Critical Pedagogy in the Age of Neoliberal Globalization

  • Peter McLaren


Part of the problem faced by the educational Left today Is that even among the most progressive educators there appears to exist an ominous resignation produced by the seeming Inevitability of capital, even as financial institutions expand capacity in inverse proportion to a decline in living standards and job security. It has become an article of faith in the critical educational tradition that there is no viable alternative to capitalism. When class relations are discussed, they are not talked about in the Marxist sense of foregrounding the labor/capital dialectic, surplus value extraction, or the structure of property ownership, but Instead refers to consumption, lifestyle politics, theories of social stratification in terms of access to consumption, or job, income, and cultural prestige. The swan song for Marxist analysis apparently occurred during the intellectual collapse of Marxism in the 1980s after the Berlin Wall came crashing down and along with it a bipolar Imperialist world. Capitalism was loudly proclaimed to be the victor over socialism. The globalization of capital was to be the savior of the world’s poor and powerless. But as it is now known, its function, far from supplicatory or transitive, has been deadly alienating. Gobbling up the global lifeworld in the quest for an endless accumulation of surplus value, capital has produced some world-historical excretory excesses, turning the world into a global toilet of toxic waste while adding legions to Marx’s reserve army of labor. The cutbacks in government expenditure on health, education and housing Investment, the creation of shantytowns in urban industrial areas, the concentration of women in low-wage subcontracted work, the depletion of natural resources, the rampant de-unionization, the growth of labor discipline, the growth of temporary and part-time labor, the pushing down of wages and the steady decline of decent working conditions have proceeded apace but the rule of capital is not challenged, only its current “condition.”


Educational Reform Capitalist Society Multicultural Education Critical Pedagogy Class Struggle 
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© Peter Pericles Trifonas 2005

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  • Peter McLaren

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