May 18, 2013
Hurricane Sandy in the Age of Disposability and Neoliberal Terror
Posted on Dec 5, 2012
By Henry A. Giroux, Truthout
The late Tony Judt argued that the American public needs to open a new conversation about politics, the language of justice, popular rights and the rhetoric of public action. Judt feared that the most dangerous threat America faced was the corrosive “loss of conviction, a loss of faith in the culture of open democracy, a sense of skepticism and withdrawal which is probably already quite far advanced.” Judt argues that progressives need to move beyond single issue movements such as climate change in order to address and regroup such issues “into a conversation about society at large.” He rightly argued that what has “been lacking for social movements [is the need] to find a common ground beyond the fragmentation of particularized politics, to address the totality of systems steeped in authoritarian practices.” The politics of the wreckage produced by superstorm Sandy and disposability can only be understood within a broader view of society. Hurricane Sandy reminds Americans that they have to be vigilant about what populations are considered disposable, what lives are considered “unreal ... neither alive nor dead, but interminably spectral.” Sandy prompts the American public to be more than moved in a moment of crisis in order to become more responsible to what is happening within a larger constellation of political, historical, economic and cultural forces. If we ignore these warnings, not only will an increasing number of individuals and groups become disposable, but the very promise of democracy will be rendered unintelligible, cast outside of the realm of reason, hope, and struggle.
1. A number of important books have appeared addressing this financial crisis, some recent examples include: Jeff Marrick, The Age of Greed: The triumph of Finacne and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present (New York: Vintage, 2011); John Bellamy Foster and Robert W. McChesney, The Endless Crisis: How Monopoly-Finance capital Produces Stagnation and Upheaval from the USA to China (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2012); Charles H. Ferguson, Predator Nation: Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the Hijacking of America (New York: Crown Publishing, 2012); Christopher Hayes, Twilight of Elites: America After Meritocracy (New York: Crown Publishing, 2012); Richard Wolf, Occupy the Economy: Challenging Capitalism (San Francisco: City Lights, 2012).
2. Some of the more recent sources on the politics of inequality that are worth reading include: Joseph Stiglitz, The Politics of Inequality (New York: Norton, 2012) and Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, The Spirit Level: Why Equality is better for Everyone (New York: Penguin Press, 2010).
4. Joseph E. Stiglitz, “The Price of Inequality,” Project Syndicate, (June 5, 2012)
5. Sarah Seltzer, “Hurricane Sandy: Income inequality writ large,” Salon, (November 1, 2012).
6. Ibid., David Rohde, “The Hideous Inequality Exposed by Hurricane Sandy.” The Atlantic, (October 31, 2012).
7. John Leslie, “After Sandy: Political Storm Coming?” Socialist Organizer, (November 5, 2012).
8. On the politics of disposability, see  João Biehl, Vita: Life in A Zone of Social Abandonment, (Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 2005); Zygmunt Bauman, Wasted Lives, (London: Polity Press, 2004); Henry A. Giroux, Stormy Weather: Katrina and the Politics of Disposability (Boulder, Paradigm, 2006); Judith Butler, Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence, (London: Verso Press, 2004); Achille Mbembe, “Necropolitics”, translated by Libby Meintjes, Public Culture, 15:1 (2003), pp. 11-40.
9. Etienne Balibar, “Outline of a Topography of Cruelty: Citizenship and Civility in the Era of Global Violence,” We, the People of Europe? Reflections on Transnational Citizenship, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004), p. 128.
10. See, for example, Larry M. Bartels, Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded age (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008); John K. Galbraith, The Predator State (New York: Free Press, 2008); Jacob S. Hacker & Paul Pierson, Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Richer Richer—And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2010) and Juliet B. Schor, Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth (New York: The Penguin Press, 2010).
11. Corn, “Secret Video.
12. Ashley Parker, “Romney Blames Loss on Obama’s ‘Gifts’ to Minorities and Young Voters,” New York Times (November 14, 2012), p. A23.
13. Nsenga K. Burton, “Obama has not undermined welfare reform,” Star Telegram (September 19, 2012).
14. Cited in Amy Goodman, “Tavis Smiley, Cornel West on the 2012 Election & Why Calling Obama “Progressive” Ignores His Record,” Democracy Now, (November 9, 2012)
15. Chris Hedges, “Elites Will Make Gazans of Us All,” Truthdig, (November 19, 2012)
16. Cited in Naomi Klein, “Superstorm Sandy - a People’s Shock?” The Nation, (November 5, 2012).
17. Editorial “A Big Storm Requires Big Government,” The New York Times, (October 29, 2012).; Joan Walsh, “Mitt Blows it on Sandy: Did the Hurricane Just Cost Him the Election?” Alternet, (October 31, 2012).
18. Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco, Days of Destruction Days of Revolt (Toronto: Knopf Canada, 2012).
19. Bill Moyer Interviews Chris Hedges, “Capitalism’s ‘Sacrifice Zones,’” Moyer’s & Company (July 20, 2012).
20. Sarah Maslin Nir, “Helping Hands Also Expose a New York Divide,” The New York Times, (November 16, 2012), p. A1
23. Michael J. Sandel, What Money Can`t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012), p. 6.
24. See, for instance, Joe Soss, Richard C. fording, and Sanford F. Schram, Disciplining the Poor: Neoliberal Paternalism and the Persistent Power of Race (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011); Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New York: The New Press, 2010); Loic Wacquant , Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity, (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009) and Angela Y. Davis, Abolition Democracy: Beyond Empire, Prisons, and Torture, (Seven Stories Press, 2005).
25. Brent Staples, “California Horror Stories and the 3-Strikes Law,” New York Times (November 25, 2012), p. SR10.
26. Robert Jay Lifton, Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima (Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina Press, 199, p. 479; See Lynn Worsham’s brilliant use of Lifton’s work in her “Thinking With Cats (More to Follow), JAC 30, 3-4 (2010), pp. 405-433.
27. See Tony Judt, Ill Fares the Land, (New York, N.Y.: the Penguin Press, 2010).
28. See for example, Henry A. Giroux, Youth in Revolt: Reclaiming a Democratic Future (Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2013); Richard Wolff, Occupy the Economy (San Francisco, City Lights Books, 2012); Noam Chomsky, Occupy (New York: Succotti Park Press, 2012); Manuel Castells, Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age (Cambridge, Polity Press, 2012).
29. Teddy Cruz, “Democratizing Urbanization and the Search for a New Civic Imagination,” in Nato Thompson, ed. Living as Form: Socially Engaged Art from 1991-2011 (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2012), p. 57.
30. Zygmunt Bauman, Living on Borrowed Time: Conversations with Citlali Rovirosa-Madrazo, (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2010), pp. 6-7.
31. John Van Houdt, “The Crisis of Negation: An Interview with Alain Badiou,” Continent, 1.4 (2011): 234-238.
32. On this issue, see, in particular, Leo Lowenthal, “Atomization of Man,” False Prophets: Studies in Authoritarianism, (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books, 1987), pp. 181-91, and Judith Butler, Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence (London: Verso Press, 2004).
33. Tony Judt, “I am not pessimistic in the very long run,” The Independent, (March 24, 2010
34. Ibid., Tony Judt, “I am not pessimistic in the very long run.”
35. Ibid., Tony Judt, “I am not pessimistic in the very long run.”
36. Ibid., Judith Butler, Precarious Life, pp. 33-34.
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