Athar Jaber

Brad Evans:
Disposable Futures (2015)

Chapter Two - The Politics of Disposability

Contemporary neoliberal societies are defined by their waste. Their productive output is complemented by what Zygmunt Bauman identifies as “waste management” (of people and communities) for social order.

As the idea of progress requires the setting aside of those who are unable to perform, the production of “waste” increases the productivity of the whole system.

Nowadays, technological progress provides the benchmark for determining human progress. Targeting entire communities for disposal has become a privatized industry. Angela Y. Davis calls it the prison-industrial complex.

A critique of power is a theoretical and political necessity, since it is committed to expose and challenge the normalization of subjugation in all its forms. The operation of power is evident in the increasing use of violence by the state as it divests from social welfare in favor of corporate welfare in service of a small financial elite.

The authors privilege the term disposability instead of waste. As the latter might imply unintentionality while they claim that the regimes of power are actively engaged in the production of wastefulness.

Criticism towards the doctrine of resilience, which forces us to partake in a world that is presented as fundamentally insecure and denies us the possibility of conceiving that a world beyond unending catastrophe is possible.

Terrorism, climate change and everything in between have industrialized the potential for catastrophe and the profitability of disaster management while increasingly fostering obedience and despair.

Under the regime of neoliberalism, was has become an extension of politics. All spheres of society have been transformed into a combat zone. Examples of Ferguson, Missouri or the killing of Eric Garner. War as a “state of exception” has become normalized.

The practice of disposability has intensified. Individuals and groups are now considered dispensable, consigned to zones of abandonment, containment, surveillance, and incarceration.

Citizens are reduced to market and surveillance data, consumers and commodities. They inhabit unknowable identities, deprived of human rights and with no one accountable for their condition.

We are living in a new Gilded Age in which matters of violence, survival, and trauma now infuse everyday life.

Sectors of civilian society find themselves inhabiting “zones of total social exclusion”.
Capitalist expropriation, dispossession, and disinvestment have reached a point where life has become unbearable for many.

Earlier promises of modernity regarding progress, freedom, and political affirmation have not been eliminated but they have been reconfigured and subordinated to a predatory market and privatized society.