Ferguson is Not Unique

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Transcribed from This is Hell! Radio’s 5 September 2014 episode and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the whole interview:

 

“It’s not so much a question of whether the media should be there or not. The media should just do a good job. We should be respectful of residents’ privacy and dignity and should practice basic research before writing something up.”

Chuck Mertz: One of the most recent additions to our team of irregular correspondents is Sarah Kendzior. We’re proud to have gotten her as a correspondent. Sarah, good morning!

Sarah Kendzior: Good morning, how are you?

CM: Good! Sarah Kendzior is a St. Louis-based columnist for Al Jazeera English and the Chronicle of Higher Education, but her writing is popping up everywhere, including her most recent work at Politico.com: After Ferguson, St. Louis’s Decaying Black Suburbs Are About to Be Forgotten. Again.

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You Are Not A Loan

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Transcribed from This is Hell! Radio’s 4 October 2014 episode and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the full interview:

“If the Department of Education is operating mostly like a debt collector it’s going to think mostly like a debt collector rather than somebody that supervises an education system.”

Chuck Mertz: The college school year has begun. What better time to tell incoming and returning students that university education can be a scam? And now the Too Big To Fail banks have done to colleges what they did to the subprime housing market. If you remember, that didn’t end up so great. Maybe it’s time to strike debt.

Third year NYU law student Luke Herrine is a member of Strike Debt, where he is part of the writing team. Good morning, Luke.

Luke Herrine: Hi, Chuck. Good to be here.

CM: Great to have you on the show. Luke co-wrote the piece The Public Option for Higher Education at Dissent magazine. His colleagues at Strike Debt, economic anthropologist and UCLA assistant professor Hannah Appel and past This is Hell! guest Astra Taylor posted the TomDispatch story this week Education With a Debt Sentence: For-Profit Colleges as American Dream-Crushers and Factories of Debt.Continue Reading

Zombie Prisons

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Transcribed from the 2 August 2014 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the whole interview:

 

“We’re going to see the rise of a mass detention and deportation system [for immigrants] that will very much rival mass incarceration, and could actually grow as mass incarceration shrinks.”

Chuck Mertz: Live from Berkeley, Jonathan Simon is author of Mass Incarceration on Trial: A Remarkable Court Decision and the Future of Prisons in America. Good morning, Jonathan.

Jonathan Simon: Morning, Chuck.

CM: You write, “Like a biblical flood, the age of mass incarceration is finally ebbing. After forty years, not forty days, a once-unstoppable tide of harsh sentencing laws, aggressive prosecution policies, and diminished opportunities for parole seems to be subsiding.”

Forty years is two whole generations of human beings. What do you think the cultural legacy of that mass incarceration is, or will be?

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“We Have to Understand the Game. We Are All Playing it.”

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Transcribed from the 11 October 2014 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the full interview:

“The level of brainwashing in America doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world.”

Chuck Mertz: Arundhati Roy is the author of Capitalism: A Ghost Story. The way Arundhati tells it, “capitalism has been a tale of horror for millions of people in India and tens of millions of people around the world. For many, capitalism is not a theory or an idea, but a frightening reality that tears apart their lives every day, and it’s getting worse.”

Good morning, Arundhati.

Arundhati Roy: Good morning.

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Long Way From Maidan: A Report from Donetsk

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Transcribed from This is Hell! Radio’s 27 September 2014 episode and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the full interview here (soundcloud available soon).

“There’s a lot of real old-fashioned class antagonism at the heart of this. When, on top of that class antagonism, you add an actual war with shooting, it becomes really ugly.”

Chuck Mertz: Our guest, live from New York City, is Keith Gessen, founding editor of n+1 magazine. Keith is co-editor of the new collection celebrating ten years of the cultural literary magazine n+1, Happiness: Ten Years of n+1. Keith also wrote the piece Why Not Kill Them All?” on Ukraine for the London Review of Books. Good morning, Keith.

KG: Good morning.

CM: You start your story about a Mikhail Mishin, who grew up in a large town next to Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, for several years playing football, rising to the Ukrainian second league. Eventually, as you write, “his father helped him find work in the sports section of city government, where he lobbied for money for sports facilities and attended their opening ceremonies, where he always gave a short speech about the moral and physical benefits of sport. No scholar of languages, he was never able to master Ukrainian fully, which perhaps would have kept him from climbing higher in politics if things hadn’t taken a strange turn for him in the Donbas region earlier this year.”

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Counterinsurgency in America

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Transcribed from This is Hell! Radio’s 6 September 2014 episode and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the whole interview:

 

“We face a state that treats black people as if we are about to rise up in an insurgency at any moment. They preemptively police us as if we are an insurgency.”

Chuck Mertz: Live with us right now, executive editor of the Black Agenda Report, Glen Ford. Good morning, Glen.

Glen Ford: Good morning. Good to be here.

CM: Isn’t it great, this post-racial America? It looks great in Ferguson, Missouri!

GF: Oh, I’m just aglow. I’m bathed in it. Aren’t we all?

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The Quiet Counterrevolution of Human Rights Idealism

Transcribed from This is Hell! Radio’s 27 June 2014 episode and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the full interview:

 

“Human rights really only make sense when we think about them in a world after empire.”

Chuck Mertz: On the line with us right now is historian Samuel Moyn. Good morning, Samuel.

Samuel Moyn: Hi, thanks for having me.

CM: Samuel Moyn is author of Human Rights and the Uses of History and is the Bryce professor of European legal history at Columbia University, where he has taught since 2001. His previous books include 2012’s The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History. Samuel’s book Rethinking Modern European Intellectual History, which he co-wrote with Darren M. McMahon, was published in paperback earlier this year, and he co-authored two books last year: 2013’s Global Intellectual History, which he wrote with Andrew Sartori, and The Breakthrough: Human Rights in the 1970s with Jan Eckel.

Here’s how you describe your writings in your new book: “the emphasis of these essays falls on distinguishing the abuses from the uses of history for thinking about the present and future of one of the most central notions and one of the most illustrious political movements of our time: Human Rights.”

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Learning from “Informal” Urban Innovation

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Transcribed from This is Hell! Radio’s 4 July 2014 episode and printed with permission. Listen to the full interview:

“It’s not like we need to encourage bottom-up building and community building, because that’s happening without anyone asking or assisting.”

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The Failure of Nonviolence

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AntiNote: More and more people are beginning to notice and remark upon the rapidly intensifying nature of state authority in the United States, typified by the militarization of local police forces but also noticeable in related areas of the penal and immigration systems. Phrases like ‘prison-industrial complex,’ ‘school-to-prison pipeline,’ and ‘the carceral state’ are finding their way into mainstream discourse. More familiar terms like ‘political prisoners’ and ‘show trial’ appear to have regained some of the resonance they had lost through years of overuse or their near-exclusive application only to Other contexts.

Perhaps it is just a matter of my own perception, but I find it is becoming more common to encounter news stories and public figures—not to mention friends and family—looking askance at manifestations of state authority that in the past were, for most people, an unremarkable feature of an unremarkable status quo.

Of course, the authorities aren’t doing themselves any favors. The media is still hesitant to use appropriately critical terminology, but we are being ever more frequently confronted with concrete instances of obvious and frankly appalling overreach, misconduct, abuse, and illegality of authorities, from high profile police killings of unarmed black men to refugee internment camps to cruel experimental executions.

People are beginning to draw parallels and make unfavorable comparisons to historical systems of authority that we have been taught to despise and condemn out of hand. The Gulag. The Stasi. Jim Crow. It is no longer necessarily a violation of Godwin’s Law to refer to brownshirts.

This is a sign that many people are not merely calling into question previously accepted (or, more likely, ignored) aspects of the system—like solitary confinement, child prisoners, forced deportations, and the War on Drugs, to say nothing of surveillance—but also its fundamental underpinnings: most famously capitalism, but also prisons and borders as such, or the state monopoly on violence.

We are living in a crucial time. The American state’s legitimacy in the eyes of its people is in decline at the same time that its capacity for violence against these same people is increasing. Of course this is true of many states, currently, and has been true of the United States for longer than many of us more privileged (read: white) Americans may realize. But as dissent increases and also becomes increasingly dangerous, there needs to be a clear-eyed and open discussion about what to do when we inevitably come face to face with the terrible power we would try to dismantle.

Peter Gelderloos is not satisfied with the current boundaries of this discussion. In an interview with Tavis Smiley and Cornel West last fall, he explained why. Á propos of the current debate about ‘proper’ responses to state violence that was sparked by the police murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the ‘riots’ that continue, Antidote presents the second in our series of authorized Smiley and West transcripts. Enjoy!

—Ed

Source: Twitter

Source: Twitter

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Sadness and Hope: On the American Refugee Crisis

Transcribed from This is Hell! Radio’s 2 August 2014 episode and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the full interview:

“They’re searching for a way out of the violence that this whole system generates, and no matter where they go they’re treated as criminals. They’re treated as extraneous human beings.”

Chuck Mertz: On the line with us right now, live from Mexico City, I believe, is our irregular correspondent Laura Carlsen. Good morning, Laura, and where are you?

Laura Carlsen: Good morning! Yes, I am in Mexico City.

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