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?

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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)

 

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On Brexit negotiations and state aid; on pandemic policies and confirmation bias; and on Beethoven and access to high culture.
 
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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:

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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 It’s been replaced by conflicts between generations and transcended by more up-to-date identities linking people together through common experiences of victimhood and inequality,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).

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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. 

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