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February 12 2012

Stuart Hall interviewed by Zoe Williams in the Guardian | 2012-02-11

// oAnth:


(W)e arrive at the riots of the summer, the place where the austerity, these so-called "failures" of multiculturalism, the absence of politics, all meet, in Foot Locker, of all places. "The riots bothered me a great deal, on two counts. First, nothing really has changed. Some kids at the bottom of the ladder are deeply alienated, they've taken the message of Thatcherism and Blairism and the coalition: what you have to do is hustle. Because nobody's going to help you. And they've got no organised political voice, no organised black voice and no sympathetic voice on the left. That kind of anger, coupled with no political expression, leads to riots. It always has. The second point is: where does this find expression in going into a store and stealing trainers? This is the point at which consumerism, which is the cutting edge of neoliberalism, has got to them too. Consumerism puts everyone into a single channel. You're not doing well, but you're still free to consume. We're all equal in the eyes of the market."

And this is the most pessimistic of all his ideas: that three decades of neoliberalism have got into people's consciousness and infected the way young people respond to poverty just as they have neutered the way politicians express themselves. "I got involved in cultural studies because I didn't think life was purely economically determined. I took all this up as an argument with economic determinism. I lived my life as an argument with Marxism, and with neoliberalism. Their point is that, in the last instance, economy will determine it. But when is the last instance? If you're analysing the present conjuncture, you can't start and end at the economy. It is necessary, but insufficient."

In this present conjuncture, though, he sees everywhere the hangover – indeed, the ongoing orgy of an essentially economic agenda. The left is faltering because it can't realistically say it didn't continue what Thatcher started. The institutions of the old welfare state have already been "hollowed out. This is what Blair discovered – you don't need to have a fight about privatisation, you just have to erode the distinction between public and private."


Reposted from02mysoup-aa 02mysoup-aa
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