Challenging a “Disposable Future,” Looking to a Politics of Possibility

Victoria Harper interviews Brad Evans and Henry A. Giroux


In this interview with Brad Evans and Henry A. Giroux, the public intellectuals discuss their forthcoming book, what they mean by “disposable futures” and “dystopian realism,” and how the spectacle of violence has contributed to a mistaken societal view that there is no future except a brutal one under neoliberal capitalism.

Victoria Harper: Let’s begin the discussion of your book, Disposable Futures: The Seduction of Violence in the Age of Spectacle, by asking, what do you mean by “disposable futures”?

Brad Evans and Henry A. Giroux: Our start point for this book was to try and provide an incisive and timely critique of the state of global politics, especially the unequal distribution of power, wealth and opportunities most apparent in the world today. It is within this historical conjuncture and the current savagery of various regimes of neoliberal capitalism that we conceived the need to develop a paradigm that focused on the intensification of what we called the politics of disposability.

For us, this required taking our analysis beyond 20th century frames of analysis to look at the ways in which more and more individuals and groups are now considered excess by the onslaught of global forces that no longer offer the possibility of alternative futures. In the book, we advance an older Gramscian notion regarding the concept of historical conjuncture. We argue that the morbid anxieties of the age do not simply represent a fusion of mass violence, politics and power, but signify a new historical conjunction, in which violence takes on a defining political moment and framing device, which points to a historical shift and a new historical configuration.

Further to this, as the subtitle suggests, for us, this politics of disposability demanded new conceptual vocabulary and more important still, it demanded a fundamental rethinking of the problem of violence. Mass violence, we maintained, was poorly understood as it continued to be referred to as casualties on battlefields or framed through conventional notions of warfare. We understood the alternative need to interrogate the multiple ways in which entire populations are rendered disposable on a daily basis. This seemed crucial if we were to take seriously both the recourse to justice, along with the meaning of global rights and citizenship in the 21st century.

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