Internationalism used to be a defining characteristic of the Left. Globalism is a defining characteristic of neoliberal capitalism. Both seem to be characteristic of Islamist jihadism. How did Islamist reaction become globalised? How far does Islamist globalism connect to radical legacies of Third Worldism, internationalism and radical solidarity? Political anthropologist Darryl Li, author of The Universal Enemy: Jihad, Empire, and the Challenge of Solidarity joins us to discuss the transnational history of jihad over the last 30 years. 

Reading:

The Universal Enemy - Book Forum, The Immanent Frame, Various Authors

On the Covid election. 

Trump has made himself deeply unpopular while the Democrats have tried to demobilise the electorate. What, if anything, are the two parties selling? Are they coherent entities? And what is likely to happen? Plus: we discuss a potential political realignment in process and what foreign policy would look like under a Biden presidency.

Full episode for subscribers only. Go to patreon.com/bungacast 

We start off by discussing the beheading of a French teacher for having shown his pupils the Mohammed cartoons in a class on free speech. Then we discuss your points, questions and criticisms from September and October (on class politics, antifa, Covid, unemployment and more). Finally, 25 minutes of bonus content from our chat with Sontag biographer Benjamin Moser on the 1619 Project, identity politics, literature, and cosmopolitanism and empire. 

For the rest of the original episode with Moser, that's number 147: Podbean / Patreon 

Full episode is for subscribers only. Sign up at patreon.com/bungacast 

On the Covid election. 

Trump has made himself deeply unpopular while the Democrats have tried to demobilise the electorate. What, if anything, are the two parties selling? Are they coherent entities? And what is likely to happen? Plus: we discuss a potential political realignment in process and what foreign policy would look like under a Biden presidency.

On the country of the future.

Italy has stagnated for 30 years, becoming a neoliberal gerontocracy with crumbling infrastructure (sound familiar?). Worse, it's a country without a Left. How did the populist right come to triumph? What is the relationship between high emigration and hostility to immigration? And how were the seeds sown 30 years ago with the collapse of the First Republic, Europeanisation, and Berlusconi's rise? Is there now a possibility of 'Italexit'?

Readings:
First They Took Rome: How the Populist Right Conquered Italy, David Broder, Verso

Full episode is for subscribers only. Sign up at patreon.com/bungacast 

On why anti-fascism is a problem. 

 
The Trump presidency and the current protests in the US have led many to argue this is just like the 1930s. The implication is that fascism is rising and the Left must join up with liberals to oppose this evil. Why is this historical analogy so wide of the mark? Was the Left really culpable for the fascists rise to power? And anyway, our age is vastly different to interwar Europe. So what is the real function of calls to anti-fascism?
 
Readings:

On class.

Class as an idea and an identity is now supposedly redundant. It’s been replaced by conflicts between generations and transcended by more up-to-date identities linking people together through common experiences of victimhood and inequality, rather than along lines related to production or power. Or is it? We discuss these questions with Ben Tippett, author of Split: Class Divides Uncovered to find out whether class still has any place in society and theory (spoiler: it does).

Reading:

Episode for patrons $10+. Subscribe at patreon.com/bungacast

This month we discuss Polish economist Michal Kalecki's landmark essay, "Political Aspects of Full Employment". This follows on from our recent free episode, 'It's Not Robots, It's Capitalism' (ep 149) focusing on unemployment.

Kalecki anticipated both the Keynesian postwar settlement as well as its undoing, and the neoliberalism that followed. We focus on how Kalecki introduces the question of political authority into economics.

For reference, the next five Reading Clubs have already been announced: https://www.patreon.com/posts/41524278 

On Iran at the End of History.

When the US assassinated Iran's 'shadow commander', Qassem Soleimani, everyone thought WW3 would break out. What happened instead? We talk to the author of a new book on Soleimani about the "local boy who made it", and look at how Soleimani masterminded Iran's interventions all over the region. 

We also discuss how the Iranian Revolution represented a degradation of universalism, as it marginalised secular nationalism, socialism and communism. Would the Shia-Sunni conflict, with Iran as leader of the Shia faction, therefore be yet another step away from universalism? And what role did the US play in fomenting sectarian conflict?

Readings:

 

On unemployment.

The Covid crisis has led to millions out of work - but the situation was none too rosy before, either. Post-crisis recoveries seem increasingly 'jobless', while the overall labour force participation rate keeps falling as people drop out entirely. 

We interview to Liz Pancotti of Employ America for a picture of what's driving US unemployment.

Then we talk to Aaron Benanav about his new book and learn that it's not robots who are stealing jobs, but rather capitalism's own stagnation. Why are both radical Keynesian ideas and UBI proposals no real solution? And, finally, what is the working class to do in a world with depressed demand for labour?

Running order:

  • Liz Pancotti - (04:09)
  • Aaron Benanav - (53:09)

 

Readings:

Full episode is for subscribers only. Sign up at patreon.com/bungacast
 
On Brexit negotiations and state aid; on pandemic policies and confirmation bias; and on Beethoven and access to high culture.
 
Readings:
Additional referenced pieces:

On modernism and its end. 

We're joined by 2020 Pulitzer Prize winner Benjamin Moser to discuss the tensions between hating your national culture and wanting to leave it behind, and the effacement of national culture by postmodern homogenisation.

We talk about his biography of Susan Sontag, plus a range of other questions: Brazil, USA, literature, architecture, sex, imperialism, Freud, the image and representation, and contemporary wokeness.

Moser's Books:

This is an excerpt. For the full episode, sign up at patreon.com/bungacast

On class.

Class as an idea and an identity is now supposedly redundant. It’s been replaced by conflicts between generations and transcended by more up-to-date identities linking people together through common experiences of victimhood and inequality, rather than along lines related to production or power. Or is it? We discuss these questions with Ben Tippett, author of Split: Class Divides Uncovered to find out whether class still has any place in society and theory (spoiler: it does).

Reading:

 

On political decline and realignment.

The editor of American Affairs joins us to discuss the decay of conservatism and we ask whether this decay doesn't apply to other parts of the political spectrum too. Is today's 'class struggle' really just between the upper-middle class and the elite? And we discuss the 'late-Soviet' USA - the sense of decline embodied in the gerontocracy of the ruling class. 

Readings:

 
This episode is for patrons only. Subscribe at patreon.com/bungacast 
 
We discuss a chapter taken from James Heartfield's "The 'Death of the Subject' Explained", which was recently republished in Damage Magazine as The New Social Movements Against the Old Left
 
Thanks for all your questions and points, we address them in the last third of the episode.

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