Maddalena Gretel Cammelli interviews Jonathan Friedman on his new book, PC Worlds. A version of this interview has also been published in Italian on Il Lavoro Culturale.
MGC: In your text, you describe “a moral regime” called Political Correctness (PC) that would be characterized by a “moralization” of social relations, and by a diffused “shame culture” that you consider symptomatic as a “mechanism of the protection of identities which does not recognize any rational argumentation.”
In the fall of 2008, the “shock doctrine” came home to roost in the form of what has been referred to as a financial meltdown in the American but also increasingly larger segments of the world economy. Many were quite surprised, and there was certainly a sense of moral indignation about the entire affair. With media support there has been an ongoing witch hunt for the culprits who “got us into this mess.” But the proliferation of discourses has reacted to this crisis as if it were quite unique. The vacuum with respect to a longer-term comprehension of the scale and dynamics of capital accumulation, the various cycles that are packed into it, from shorter business cycles to longer cycles (including what Giovanni Arrighi and others have referred to as hegemonic cycles), are not part of the immediate reaction to losing one’s savings, pension, house, or livelihood. Consciousness would seem to be a short-term phenomenon, and, in large parts of the Western world, it was for a time reinforced by a myth that somehow business cycles were over and that growth had become a permanent fixture.