Henry A. Giroux


On his book Youth in a Suspect Society: Democracy or Disposability?

Cover Interview of January 07, 2010


Youth in a Suspect Society attempts to provide readers with a language of critique with respect to the crisis facing young people.  But it does more.  It also offers readers a language of possibility, one that encourages them to analyze critically the role that education, power, and politics might play in providing an alternative and better future for both young people and an aspiring democracy.  It is difficult to imagine what it means to fight for the rights of children if we cannot at the same time imagine a different conception of the future, one vastly at odds with a present that can only portend the future as a repeat of itself. 

Within this current moment of economic uncertainty and political possibility it is necessary for educators, artists, intellectuals, and others to raise questions and develop rigorous modes of analyses in order to explain how a culture of domestic militarization and economic Darwinism—with its policies of commodification, containment, cruelty, and brutalization—has been able to develop and gain consent from so many people in the United States during the last three decades.  And, most importantly, such a challenge suggests developing a new mode of politics and empowering forms of education in which a future of hope and imagination is inextricably connected to the fate of all young people, if not democracy itself.

Under the current insufferable climate of repression and unabated exploitation, young people and communities of color have become the new casualties in an ongoing war against justice, freedom, social citizenship, and democracy.  I hope that Youth in a Suspect Society will provide a critical vocabulary by which to understand the current crisis of youth.  I also hope that the book convince readers to reject and collectively struggle against a form of biopolitics in which life is considered cheap, markets drive politics, and those who lack resources and opportunities can be considered redundant and ultimately disposable.

At stake here is a set of larger issues: How much longer can a nation ignore those youth who lack the resources and opportunities that were available, although perhaps in a partial and incomplete way, to previous generations?  What does it mean when a nation becomes frozen ethically and imaginatively so that it no longer provides its youth with a future of hope and opportunity?  And what might it mean for intellectuals who inhabit a wider variety of public spheres to take a stand and to remind themselves that collective problems deserve collective solutions?

What is at risk is not only a generation of young people and adults now considered to be a generation of suspects, but also the very possibility of deepening and expanding democracy.

© 2010 Henry Giroux