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.”
This post is part of a series on migration and the refugee crisis moderated and edited by Prem Kumar Rajaram (Central European University).
The “economic migrant” must leave. From Berlin’s widening of the definition of “safe country” zones and the fast execution of deportation orders, to hunters of economic migrants along the Bulgarian–Turkish border, our memory is persistently being pressed on the idea that the European space is reserved for “genuine refugees” only. Refugees are welcome. Their counterpoint—the economic migrant—is not. In the second post of this series, Manuela Bojadzijev and Sandro Mezzadra write, “One can see … a ‘difference machine’ at work, which discriminates between ‘first-class’ refugees of brutal war (the Syrians) and potential seekers of political asylum (the Iraqis) while branding people from the Balkans as ‘economic migrants.’” We see, however, that this “difference machine” works in a complete oscillation; it moves back and forth from one extreme to the other and it feeds on the contradictions it breeds. It produces unstable categories and where “first class” qualities could be sensed ostensible for a moment, they quickly retreat to previously engendered anxieties. The temporal protection that is currently being distributed to Syrians is precisely this: a temporal protection from being labeled an “economic migrant.” What does it mean, however, to accept one’s refugee-ness but not one’s economic migrant-ness? How does the so-called “refugee crisis” articulate the economy, the labour market, and humanitarianism?
Part 2. Breaking windows and broken windows policing:
“Do we have the same level of outrage when a young black person gets killed as we do when a window gets broken? And if not, then why is that?”
—Alicia Garza, co-founder of #blacklivesmatter
In Berkeley, California, on a warm night in mid-December 2014, I stood in stalled traffic and watched as protestors smashed the windows of the Trader Joe’s grocery store on University Avenue—part of the ongoing protests in the aftermath of the NYPD’s murder of Eric Garner and the non-indictment of Darren Wilson, the officer who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.