Photo Essay: Sochi, the $50 Billion ‘Ghost Town’

AntiNote: Freelance photographer Alexander Belenkiy posted these photographs* on his livejournal this month, after a trip to Sochi. This is the ghost town he encountered there, only six months after the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Alexander points out in his own commentary that the Olympic Village is not completely abandoned; indeed he took care to include photographs of people there. Ultimately this deepens the images’ chill by providing a sense of scale. Hearing that the Sochi Olympics were a $50 billion waste is somewhat stultifying; seeing the vastness of this crime in (literally) concrete terms really leaves an impression.

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On the Road in Late Capitalism

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AntiNote: The following is an extended excerpt of a radio interview, edited for readability. Transcribed and printed with permission.

Since this talk between host Chuck Mertz and author Iain Sinclair (from This is Hell! Radio’s 17 May 2014 episode) covered a lot of ground and went in many different directions, we have removed large portions of it for reasons of space and clarity. We therefore encourage you to listen to the whole thing right here!

 

Our ‘edition’ narrows the scope of the discussion, which centered on a latter-day exploration of the Beat Generation and their haunts, to just haunts. That is, we found the portions of Chuck and Iain’s conversation that centered on place, cities, and our place in cities to be most complementary to topics we cover on Antidote. Further, much of the discourse about the gentrification and commercialization of—and our alienation and expulsion from—urban landscapes lacks the poetic and emotional sensitivity that this conversation contains. We find this fresh, humane approach both affecting and appropriate to the real pain that underlies our objections to the neoliberal ‘development’ of cities we call home—a pain that can be expressed in the question, “Why doesn’t the city I love, love me?” Continue Reading

Know Your Enemy: Debunking Neoliberal Mythology

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AntiNote: The following is an extended excerpt of a radio interview, edited for readability.

In printing it, we are once again responding to explicit requests to do so. We find it noteworthy that This is Hell! interviews about which there is the most vocal enthusiasm are typically the ones that examine the nature of neoliberalism, its often unperceived effects on our daily lives and ways of seeing, and our tendency to misunderstand its origins and aims even as we rail against it. As Henry A. Giroux pointed out in just such an interview this past spring, this points to a very real thirst for more thorough analyses and a deeper understanding of the smilingly savage world order in which we find ourselves—a thirst which commercial media, generally speaking, refuses to quench on the grounds that it does not exist. Classic neoliberal denialism…

This interview, which host Chuck Mertz conducted with author and historian of economic philosophy Philip Mirowski on 31 May 2014, stirred up a good deal of discussion within our writers collective as well, touching as it does on so many topics of great concern to us. To name just a few: current deficiencies and disputes on the “Left;” the structure of philosophical revolutions (of which the rise of neoliberalism is one); the difficulties with using timeworn political descriptors in new contexts where they no longer apply; and the annihilation of the concept of a core moral self, which neoliberalism and fascism have in common…

Resisting the temptation to lengthily interpret Mirowski’s rejoinders (there will be plenty of time for that), we simply leave you with a link to further reading on the Mont Pelerin Society and the contentious origins of the “neoliberal thought collective” Mirowski describes:

Neoliberalism: the Revolution in Reverse by Chris Lehmann for The Baffler

Now, without further ado.

Chuck Mertz: On the line with us right now is author Philip Mirowski. Good morning, Philip.

Philip Mirowski: Good morning.

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Democracy Promotion at Face Value

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Transcribed from This is Hell! Radio’s 10 May 2014 episode and printed with permission. Listen to the full interview:

“Improving livelihoods and education among people never helps authoritarian regimes, which is why they don’t do it themselves. They know that their biggest threat is an empowered, educated populace that can read and feed itself.”

Chuck Mertz: On the line with us right now, live from Beirut, is journalist Thanassis Cambanis. Good morning, Thanassis; good afternoon in Beirut!

Thanassis Cambanis: Great to be with you.

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Intersecting Neoliberal Goals at the World Cup

AntiNote: the following is an extended excerpt of a radio interview, edited for readability.

On 19 April 2014, Chuck Mertz of This is Hell! Radio (Chicago) interviewed Brian Mier, an expatriate in Brazil who writes and podcasts about Brazilian society and politics from a critical, radical perspective.

Especially refreshing in Mier’s analysis—which preceded last month’s major flare-ups in the anti-World Cup protests in cities across Brazil—is his discussion of U.S. interests being subtly expressed (and served) in Western commercial media’s coverage of the current tumults. In this way, the separate aims of two massively influential neoliberal actors—FIFA and USAID—intersect, and Mier’s observations can be related directly to conversations we have been having on Antidote about other places, especially Ukraine.

Image: Gustavo Froner/Reuters via SCISSION blog

Image: Gustavo Froner/Reuters via SCISSION blog

“One of the reasons why media outlets like the New York Times are smearing Brazil right now is they’re trying to create a sense of instability that will favor the opposition, who they hope will privatize the state petroleum company in the future.”

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Entschuldigen Sie bitte – Wie weit ist es von Simferopol nach Grosny?

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Das Original auf Englisch ist hier einzusehen

Von Laurent Moeri für Antidote, übersetzt von K. H. W.

“Wenn der Kampf vorbei ist und die Märtyrer schlafen, erheben sich die Feiglinge aus den Gassen, um uns von ihrem Heldentum zu erzählen”  -Graffiti in Homs, Syrien

Vorwort – Mission Impossible

Was folgt, ist ein Versuch des Unmöglichen: eine kritische Überprüfung der Situation in der Ukraine, der Beteiligung von Putins Russland und der Fähigkeit (oder Unfähigkeit) der internationalen Linken auf soziale Aufstände ohne bereits vorgeschriebene Botschaften zu antworten. Ich schreibe auf Grundlage einer einzigen Prämisse: dass nämlich die Opfer einer möglichen militärischen Eskalation in der Ukraine überwiegend ethnische Minderheiten sein werden: die muslimischen Krimtataren, marginalisierte Gruppen wie die Sinti und Roma, sowie die Arbeiterklasse; während die Bürokraten in Brüssel und der Zar und sein Clan in Moskau ihre jeweiligen Interessen weiterverfolgen werden. Um die Wahrscheinlichkeit dieser Vorhersage zu unterstreichen, werde ich einen Vergleich zwischen den Ereignissen in Tschetschenien und denen auf der Krim anstellen.Continue Reading

Excuse Me Mister, How Far Is It from Simferopol to Grozny?

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by Antidote’s Laurent Moeri

“When the battle is over and the martyrs sleep, the cowards emerge from the alleys to tell us of their heroism.” – Graffiti in Homs, Syria
Prelude – Mission Impossible

What follows is an attempt at the impossible: a critical review of the situation in Ukraine, the involvement of Putinʼs Russia, and the international Leftʼs capacity (or lack thereof) to respond to social uprisings without repeating prescribed narratives. It is written on one sole premise: that the victims of an eventual military escalation in Ukraine will predominantly be ethnic minorities such as the muslim Crimean Tatars, marginalized groups such as the Sinti and Roma, and the working class—while bureaucrats in Brussels and the Czar and his clan in Moscow will continue to further their respective interests. To highlight the likelihood of this prediction, a comparison will be made between events in Chechnya and Crimea.Continue Reading