With two new books coming out, Luc Boltanski, author of the sweeping New Spirit of Capitalism, recently sat down for an interview with Books & Ideas to discuss the intellectual trajectory of his career and the possibilities of critique in contemporary society. Placing a particular emphasis on the two major preoccupations of his oeuvre, the sociology of critique and critical sociology, the interview goes on at length about his research with Bourdieu, social class as a viable theoretical concept, and the various presuppositions of his earlier writings.
Pointedly, he highlights the importance of understanding the past political horizon for a cogent re-formulation of critical sociology in the present. Referring to the recent republication of an article he co-wrote with Bourdieu a few years after May 68, he notes that:
it also struck me as useful to shed light on the political era in which we presently find ourselves. The texts that it analyzes-those of Giscard, Poniatowski, or of contemporary economists-lie at the frontier of two outlooks: between, on the one hand, what at the time was called "technocracy," which was still deeply statist, still deeply tied to the idea of economic planning, rationality, and industrialization; and, on the other, neoliberal forms of governance. It is very illuminating to return to the middle of the seventies if one wants to undertake the archaeology of the Sarkozian political universe, which has considerably expanded neoliberal policies while dressing them up, at times, in so-called "republican" rhetoric.
To say nothing of the larger trends dominating the rest of the Eurozone and the United States! To read the rest of the interview in full, please visit Books & Ideas.
Our Climate, Ourselves...
I'm with the Bears was reviewed by Ben Kupstas in L Magazine:
These ten stories avoid the sort of didactic, righteous preaching that elsewhere grates. … any reader with an interest in environmental issues will appreciate these different angles on the most pressing of our many current crises.
Read the full review here.
Jensen also offers a review of the book:
The Imperial Messenger is as much about the cultural and political crises in the United States as it is about Friedman's flaws. This larger focus transforms what could have been a sarcastic hit piece that took easy shots at Friedman's most mangled prose into a thoughtful meditation from a young journalist willing to state the obvious: the emperor's messenger has no clothes.
Visit Truthout to read the full review.
On WBAI 99.5 in New York, The Asia Pacific Forum hosted a special two-hour show on the Occupy movement, featuring in-studio interviews with the editors and contributors of Verso's own collection Occupy! Scenes From Occupied America. Discussing everything from what it's like to attend a General Assembly meeting to the larger questions about organized labor and left politics, the show was a valuable occasion for a wide set of reflections on a number of the most pressing issues of the movement.
Among the participants were Astra Taylor and Sarah Resnick, who discussed the genesis of the book; Kung Li, who elaborated about her experience on 'Occupy Atlanta' and considered the role of race in the Occupy movements; Nikil Saval addressed the relationship between trade unions and the possibility for new forms of solidarity with older institutions; and Sarah Leonard spoke about the importance of citizen journalism and the presence and effects of progressive media since the movements first began. As well, Manissa Maharawal discussed the People of Color Caucus, and the show's host, Verso editor and member of the APF Collective, Audrea Lim, discussed her contribution to the collection on gentrification and Chinatown.
Full audio of the interviews is now available online. Please visit the Asia Pacific Forum for a listen.
In a fiery critical call for solidarity, rich with the language of class war, a number of European academics and artists call for a campaign of solidarity with the Greek people and a launch against the dehumanising and aggressive ideology of technocratic austerity.
"[T]he future of democracy and the fate of European nations are in question" under the restructuring of Greek debt and the "endless, devastating bailouts", according to the authors, who include French academics Alain Badiou, Etienne Balibar, Jacques Ranciere and more. Public assets are being carved up for privatisation under the oversight of the troika, producing vast wealth for the international buyers but failing to address the sovereign debt crisis at all: "it has literally exploded into free fall in approaching 170% of GDP, while in 2009 it represented more than 120%".