The current crisis, looked upon from further east
This summer we stopped back in Latvia on our way to Russia.
During the week as we were waiting for visas, I overheard a lot of things along the lines of “they have completely broken away from the collective and become remote from their people.” But the main shock for me was a one-off attempt at reading the latest Russian-language press. The quotas of refugees for Latvia were being discussed just then, along with the great reluctance to take in these same refugees.
I scanned several newspapers. They all wrote about the “nightmare brewing in Europe” in a tone of aggressive and malicious ignorance that I found quite unfamiliar. I really had the feeling I had opened a neo-Nazi website. The only difference was the gloating at the Latvians, who had discriminated against “us,” the good guys, and now were going to end up with “them,” those awful people.
At first, I decided something had changed over the years, and then I realized it was I who had changed. I tried to remember how things had been before and realized these newspapers had always written in a similar tone. I just used to think this was normal. I had even considered the Russian-language press internationalistically minded in comparison with the already quite right-wing Latvian press.
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.
Transcribed from the 28 February 2015 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the full interview:
“This is the funny thing: when people don’t believe in anything, when they’re cynical about everything, they’re actually incredibly easy to manipulate.”