Public-Private Partnership in Your Pocket

Transcribed from the 7 March 2015 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the whole interview:

 

“We all talk about freedom, but most people can accommodate totalitarian societies. The real threat is the one that Orwell and Huxley warned about. It’s a totalitarian society that seduces you, that blinds you, that subtly frightens you with external enemies, and tells you that giving up freedom is necessary to preserve your freedom.”

Chuck Mertz: There’s a military intelligence complex that is threatening our democracy, and it will scare the hell out of you—at least it did me while I was researching for this interview. With us right now is Bob Scheer. He is the editor of Truthdig, and is the author of They Know Everything About You: How Data-Collecting Corporations and Snooping Government Agencies are Destroying Democracy. Good morning, Robert.

Robert Scheer: Hi!

CM: So I got the Chicago Tribune on my doorstep this morning, and the headline was, “CIA sweeping change to focus on digital dust: massive overhaul planned to replace old divisions and emphasize cyber-espionage.”

Whenever I see these stories, they always conflate CIA espionage and Korean hackers and my ATM card and—there’s not really much about mass surveillance in there. Is cyber-security and my bank card really what the CIA is concerned about?

RS: No, it isn’t.

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Hungary: Social Catastrophe in the Making

AntiNote: This article first appeared in December 2014 on the Böll Foundation website, with link citations that we have not reproduced. It is reprinted here with the permission of the author.

Social Catastrophe In the Making
by Bálint Misetics

It is not only constitutional democracy that Viktor Orbán’s regime treats as its enemy; the Hungarian government has also launched a forceful attack on the welfare state, with predictable consequences: rising poverty and social inequality. No pro-democratic political opposition movement can continue to ignore the immense state-induced suffering of millions of Hungarians; to succeed, we must learn to transgress class boundaries.

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Meet a Syriza Candidate: Yanis Varoufakis

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

Last Saturday, 17 January 2015, host Chuck Mertz of Chicago’s This is Hell! Radio spoke with Yanis Varoufakis, a political economist and candidate with the SYRIZA party running in this weekend’s parliamentary elections in Greece.

With the Left blogosphere tying itself in knots either celebrating or denouncing SYRIZA’s broadening political success, we at the Antidote Writers Collective—as is our habit, and since Greece is a context very close to our hearts—are still gathering ourselves and preparing a take which does neither, or both. In that spirit, we simply wish to disclaim that our publication of this interview, just as with any of the material we share, should not be interpreted as an unquestioning endorsement of the views expressed within it.

That said, we find Yanis’s statements worthy of considered attention, especially with regard to the (still) rising threat of neo-fascism in Europe. Expect much more on this topic in the near future.

Transcribed and printed with permission. Listen to the whole interview:

 

“We borrowed the largest sum in human history. As an insolvent nation. On condition that we would shrink our income! That’s not austere.”

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Neoliberalism Eats Its Own Children

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Transcribed from the 10 January 2015 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the full interview:

 

“We have a responsibility to make power in its most oppressive forms—and in all of its forms—visible.”

Chuck Mertz: Neoliberalism has made you a disposable human being. Here to tell you how: Henry Giroux, who posted his article Authoritarianism, Class Warfare, and the Advance of Neoliberal Austerity Policies at Truthout.org this week.

Good morning, Henry.

Henry Giroux: Hi, how are you? It’s always a pleasure to be on your show.

CM: Always great to have you on.

While we were gone for the holidays, anti-austerity protests erupted in Ukraine. Several thousand rallied against austerity in front of the parliament in Kiev on December 23rd, while inside, politicians were debating slashing the state budget, cutting social and economic spending.

Your article, again, is headlined Authoritarianism, Class Warfare, and the Advance of Neoliberal Austerity Policies. But is neoliberalism under attack? Is austerity under attack? These protests haven’t stopped the tide of neoliberalism so far—is it even vulnerable to protest?

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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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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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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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