Henry Giroux on Violence, Humiliation, Spectacle, and Fascism

Transcribed from the 1 August 2015 episode of This is Hell! Radio (Chicago) and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the whole interview:

“We have an elite that now floats in global flows. It could care less about the nation-state, and it could care less about traditional forms of politics. Hence, it makes no political concessions whatsoever.”

Chuck Mertz: We’ve talked about so many ways that neoliberalism adversely affects us and our world on This is Hell! that you’d think we would have touched on them all by now. Nope! That’s the thing. Neoliberalism is the disaster that keeps on destroying.

Here to tell us about the violence unleashed on society by neoliberalism: one of our very favorite guests, educator and public intellectual Henry Giroux. Henry is co-author of the new book Disposable Futures: The Seduction of Violence in the Age of Spectacle.

Henry, let’s start with this: you write, “Under the interlocking regimes of neoliberal power, violence appears so arbitrary and thoughtless that it lacks the need for any justification, let alone claims to justice and accountability. It is truly as limitless as it appears banal.”

What’s an example of neoliberalism’s unjustified, unaccountable, arbitrary, thoughtless yet limitless violence that appears banal?

Henry Giroux: Hi Chuck, good to hear your voice.

I think we can see it in a whole range of realms. We certainly see it in the media, where extreme violence is now so pervasive that people barely blink when they see it, and certainly raise very few questions about what it means pedagogically and politically. Violence is the DNA, the nervous system of this system’s body politic. Continue reading Henry Giroux on Violence, Humiliation, Spectacle, and Fascism

For a Global Campaign of Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution

By the undersigned
Global Campaign of Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution
12 July 2015

CALL TO ACTION: August 21st is a Global Day of Solidarity with the Syrian People and the Syrian Revolution. Break the siege on the revolution! Organize an event in your city!

After four years since the start of the revolution, the population of Syria has already paid a severe price for their fight for freedom. More than 300,000 people have been killed, of whom 95% were murdered by Assad’s forces. The numbers of injured, arrested and missing are still unknown, though it could be at least half a million in total. Moreover, the number of detainees is estimated to be more than 200,000, with the fate of most still yet to be discovered. Thousands of towns and villages have been destroyed and more than 11 million people have been forced to leave their homes, including over four million refugees who have sought safety outside the country.

These atrocious figures show the suffering caused by this bloody regime, which uses the entire deadly arsenal in its possession to repress its own people. Assad does this solely in order to remain in power. Moreover, it is important to remember that the same regime had imposed various neoliberal policies on workers, youth and poor peasants; this imposition only intensified under Bashar’s rule.

The immense determination of the people’s struggle is nevertheless proven by the ongoing resistance against this state machine of class and sectarian hatred. Continue reading For a Global Campaign of Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution

Why I Left Crimea

By Andrei Nechayevsky
Translated from the Russian by The Russian Reader (original post)

“I would like to live in a province near the sea, but not in a place where ‘unreliable elements’ are purged.”

I am from Donetsk myself. My wife and I moved to Crimea ten years ago. We built a house outside of Kerch, in the backcountry. There isn’t a soul there in winter.

Suddenly, in February 2014, Russian choppers were flying over us every night. Then troops marched through Kerch. I saw it with my own eyes.

There was this fabulous thing: Russian religious pilgrims, columns of buses filled with people who were supposedly traveling en masse to worship Crimea’s Orthodox relics. I watched them change into army uniforms in a church yard.

Kerch was inundated with completely atypical characters: there were a huge number of Cossacks. I was getting hassled in town on the street, something that had never happened before. Drunken, fairly strong men would come up to me and ask, “Where you from, lad?” And this “lad” is fucking forty-five years old!

I got the feeling that everyone had lost their minds. Continue reading Why I Left Crimea

Democratic Self-Administration Also For Iran

AntiNote: The following is a speech delivered two months ago in the European Parliament by Haj-Ahmadi Rahman (PJAK) at the First International Conference on the Crisis in the Middle East, Iran and the Kurds.

We consider this speech of interest because of the evidence it provides of political cross-pollination across contexts among various branches of the not at all homogeneous Kurdish movement. We have published other material describing and comparing approaches to democratic self-administration and democratic confederalism in predominantly Kurdish areas of Syria and Turkey, but this is the first we heard of the phenomenon in Iran, where conflict and government repression in Kurdish-majority regions has also been escalating of late.

As with any of the testimony we present at Antidote, this speech should be understood as just that, testimony, and not as our endorsement of any particular party or perspective. That said, we do not distance ourselves from Haj-Ahmadi Rahman’s political proposals or their liberatory, collaborative spirit but rather declare our solidarity with Iranian Kurds and all people struggling under and against domination and deprivation.

4 June 2015

First of all, on behalf of the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), hello and warm regards to all conference participants. We hope that this conference will be used as a point of departure for dedicated activity.

All gathered,

As we hold this conference, a new political process is being developed in the Middle East, against the backdrop of what might be called the third world war.  But against that backdrop, both crises and potential escape routes are becoming visible. As a consequence of conflicts among widely varying socio-political forces, a new Middle East is taking shape, for better or worse.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is quietly becoming a focal point in these red-hot transformations, as its own striving for regional dominance confronts and comingles with the interventionist policies of capitalist world powers as well as the broad spectrum of democratic movements in Iran itself. Continue reading Democratic Self-Administration Also For Iran

Adapt or Die: The Flexible Future of Protest

Transcribed from the 25 July 2015 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the whole interview:

“Whenever we see ourselves repeating a tactic nostalgically, whether it’s mass marches in the streets like in the sixties or occupying like in 2011, then we know we’re making a mistake.”

Chuck Mertz: Occupy Wall Street was a failure. Okay, it was a constructive failure. But are we looking at the end of protest as we know it? Let’s hope so. Here to tell us what we can learn from Occupy and the potential future of protest: Micah White, who is credited with being the co-creator and the only American creator of the original idea for the Occupy Wall Street protest.

An honor to have you on This is Hell!, Micah.

Micah White: Thank you for having me, Chuck.

CM: Micah’s new book The End of Protest: A New Playbook for the Revolution comes out next March. His writing will cover the future of activism, global social movements, the paradigms of protest, and the influence of media on the mental environment. Micah is the co-founder of Boutique Activist Consultancy, a social change consultancy specializing in impossible programs. Their motto is “We win lost causes.” Continue reading Adapt or Die: The Flexible Future of Protest

Stop the Killings in Calais!

Source: Calais Migrant Solidarity blog, an invaluable resource. Please visit them.

26/30 July 2015

One recent death here in Calais was that of a young Eritrean woman hit by a car on the A16 while trying to cross the road. While this is being reported in the news as a terrible accident, information we have been getting from those who witnessed the tragedy shows otherwise. Witnesses say that immediately before this young woman lost her life she had been in contact with the police. They say that she, along with a group of five other people, had been caught by police and then sprayed in their faces with CS gas. Afterward the people then fled across the highway, one by one. However, because the gassing had irritated her eyes so much, the young woman could not see when she went to cross the highway. She did not see and could not avoid the car speeding towards her, which hit her.

While in this case the police’s actions directly led to one woman losing her life, every day they are putting people in extremely dangerous situations. Continue reading Stop the Killings in Calais!

Ai Weiwei – So Sorry/ 深表遗憾

Fei chang yi han or So Sorry (Mandarin, English Subtitles, 55 minutes)

As a sequel to Ai Weiwei’s film Lao Ma Ti Hua, the film “So Sorry” shows the beginnings of the tension between Ai Weiwei and the Chinese Government. In Lao Ma Ti Hua, Ai Weiwei travels to Chengdu, China to attend the trial of the civil rights advocate Tan Zuoren, as a witness.

In So Sorry, you see the investigation led by Ai Weiwei studio to identify the students who died during the Sichuan earthquake as a result of corruption and poor building constructions leading to the confrontation between Ai Weiwei and the Chengdu police.

Continue reading Ai Weiwei – So Sorry/ 深表遗憾

A tale of blind doctors and good illnesses

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