Labor Day Theory....

In keeping with the previous post that mentioned Eisenhower, I present a short book description today. The author is theorist and U.S. cultural critic Henry A. Giroux, and his latest book is titled The University in Chains: Confronting the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex, published by Paradigm Publishers in 2007. From the publisher:
President Eisenhower originally included "academic" in the draft of his landmark, oft-quoted speech on the military-industrial-complex. Giroux tells why Eisenhower saw the academy as part of the famous complex--and how his warning was vitally prescient for 21st-century America. His newest book details the sweeping post-9/11 assault being waged on the academy by militarization, corporatization, and right-wing fundamentalists who increasingly view critical thought itself as a threat to the dominant political order. Giroux argues that the university has become a handmaiden of the Pentagon and corporate interests, it has lost its claim to independence and critical learning and has compromised its role as a democratic public sphere. And yet, in spite of its present embattled status and the inroads made by corporate power, the defense industries, and the right wing extremists, Giroux defends the university as one of the few public spaces left capable of raising important questions and educating students to be critical and engaged agents. He concludes by making a strong case for reclaiming it as a democratic public sphere.
Giroux seemingly hits on some interesting points here concerning the transformation of the university from a place of critical thinking and exploration to an entity that pumps out 'good' citizens.
I might argue for virtual space to be taken over as the truly democratic public sphere. While computers are not available to everyone, they are becoming more and more common not only in the U.S., but even in resource poor areas of the world. In short, access is greater than ever, and only improving. I wonder what potential the blog has - perhaps something like community blogs or topical blogs that are open to public input and discussion. There are of course versions of these ideas already out there - but we have once again seemingly hit a plateau. Could a combination of the idea behind social networking sites with the blog and chat-room type space for discussion and distribution of news and ideas work? Of course the most difficult part would be to then re-transfer out of the virtual world and into our everyday realities with steps taken toward action, activism, and movement toward real change.
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