Breathing Secondhand Smoke: Gatekeeping for “Good Education," Passive Democracy, and the Mass Media. An Interview with Noam Chomsky

Zane C. Wubbena


Noam Chomsky and I dialogue about various topics grounded in the context of the mass media, democracy, and the neoliberal privatization of education. The topics discussed were understood in terms of dichotomies (i.e., at ends of a spectrum) related to paradigms with different purposes of education, different conceptions and functions of democracy, and different types of thinking that are ingrained in our patterns of thought. These patterns serve the function of gatekeeping by imposing constraints on thinking that is “supportive of power that just becomes second nature. Just like the air you breathe, so you can’t question it.” Thus, this dialogue works to clear the air of secondhand smoke clogging our potential to reach what it might do to think about “bad education”—that is, to maximizing the air (advantage) of the least advantaged in society.


Critical Educational Theory; Neoliberalism; Democracy; Mass Media; Gatekeepers; Good Education; Bad Education; Critical Pedagogy; Noam Chomsky

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ISSN 1920-4175 Critical Education