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.
Movements and Migrants in Central Asia*
Movements in Central Asia have become large-scale and permanent, involving all social groups, rich and poor, women and men, young and old. They move around their own countries and among countries. Some go for several weeks or months and come back, while others live far from their place of birth for years, only occasionally visiting their homelands. Still others leave forever, breaking all ties. Some travel in search of a new homeland, so to speak. Others go to make money, study or receive medical treatment. Still others go for fun and excitement.
All this movement has come as a surprise to experts and politicians. I still remember the debates in the Soviet Union in the 1980s as to why the people of Central Asia were reluctant to travel outside their region. Even then officials and academics in Moscow, observing the beginnings of the demographic decline in Russia itself, were planning to relocate people from borderlands with an excess labor force to the central regions of the then still-unified country.
These plans failed, because few people wanted to leave their homes. Only organized and, in fact, involuntary labor recruitment and military labor brigades partly solved the increased need for labor power. The weak affinity that Uzbeks, Tajiks, and Kyrgyz felt for voluntary mobility was proclaimed, on their part, an inherent and incorrigible attachment to family, community, and the hot climate.
However, all these explanations were put to shame only a decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when millions of people from the titular Central Asian nations felt an irresistible urge to hit the road, leaving and, sometimes, literally abandoning their homes.
Let us try and make sense of these circumstances, to understand why movement in the region has suddenly become a vital life strategy among a considerable number of people.