What country best captures 20th and 21st century history? 

For our 200th episode special, we posed the question: "If you had to study the history of only one country from 1900-2020, and thereby understand the history of the whole world, which would you pick?"

You voted on the ten submissions and now we invited the top 3 back on the pod to discuss in more depth: Dominik Leusder on Germany; David Broder on Italy; and David Adler on India.

Then Phil and Alex choose a winner (it's a "managed democracy").

 

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On Chinese investment, Swiss democracy, and fleeing from Afghanistan.

In this Three Articles, we discuss flight or departure in various ways: China opening the gates for its huge savings to spill onto world markets; Switzerland leaving (or remaining outside) the EU; and the US's sudden departure from Afghanistan, without telling anyone. 

'Three Articles' episodes are normally for subscribers only - but this one's free. Sign up at patreon.com/bungacast for regular access.

London book launch/bunga party: Register here

Articles:

On world history, 1900-2020.

For our 200th episode special, we pose the question: "If you had to study the history of only one country from 1900-2020, and thereby understand the history of the whole world, which would you pick?"

We invited 10 contributors to each pitch one country, whose particularities capture the universal sweep of world history from the start of the 20th century till now.

Vote for which you think is best, and we'll have the top 3 back on to discuss in more depth: Link to voting page

Running order:

  • (18:20) Germany - Dominik Leusder
  • (23:02) Greece - Jonas Kyratzes
  • (27:57) India - David Adler
  • (33:46) Indonesia - Vincent Bevins
  • (38:25) Iraq - Liam Meissner
  • (44:03) Italy - David Broder
  • (49:19) Mexico - Roger Lancaster
  • (54:01) Taiwan - Nic Johnson
  • (59:44) Turkey - Arash Azizi
  • (01:04:32) Yugoslavia - Lily Lynch

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On secularism, nationalism and identity politics. 

India is held up as a model developing country: liberal, democratic, multicultural. Renowned Indian writer and activist Achin Vanaik joins us to examine how India has turned away from universalism and secularism. 

How did Gandhi, Nehru and the Congress as a whole lay the seeds for today's Hindu chauvinism? What are the consequences of defining secularism as merely 'tolerance'? And how has caste come to function a bit like identity politics in relation to the state?

Readings:

On China, economic reform, and the future.

While Russia famously succumbed to destructive neoliberal "shock therapy", China managed to avoid it. How and why? Isabella Weber, author of How China Escaped Shock Therapy, tells us about China's opting for gradual reform instead. 

What did reform mean for understandings of socialism? Do communists make the best capitalists? And is the pursuit of growth and development at any cost China's own version of the End of History?

On Covid state failure + responses to listeners. 
 
The full episode is for subscribers only. Sign up at patreon.com/bungacast
 
We start off by discussing listener points and criticisms – e.g. is PMC a useful category? Is a counterculture a terrible idea? Were we wrong on Deleuze? More on the lockdown debate... – before featuring the second part of our discussion with Lee Jones on the coronavirus and state failure (from 45:30).
 
We look in depth at what went wrong in Western state responses to the pandemic, why they didn't follow their own plans, and compare this to South Korea's relative success.
 
Readings:

On the uprising in Myanmar, plus Covid state failure.

Southeast Asia scholar (and Bunga recidivist) Lee Jones joins us to talk about the coup in Myanmar (and why the word “coup” can be misleading), and explains the nature of the forces opposing the military, in the context of the country’s recent transition to civilian rule.

Then, from 40mins, we discuss how the UK failed in dealing with the pandemic, and how this applies across the West. Lee's recent work looks at the neoliberal "regulatory state" and its incapacities, so we compare the UK's failure with Korea's relative success.

Readings:

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 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:

 

Singapore is held up as a free-market utopia: rich, orderly and clean. But the reality is quite different. Why does Singapore exert such a magnetism for neoliberals, when its reality strays from orthodox prescriptions? What and who made this model 'global city', and how does its communist and anti-colonial past lead to its hyper-capitalist present?

This is a sample. For the full episode, sign up at patreon.com/bungacast 

The three of us discuss some of the themes that emerged from our interview with Krithika Varagur (ep.133) - the entanglement of the US state with Islamism, the Americanisation of the Middle East, and especially the Gulf States, and Wahhabism as religious justification for the Saudi state project.

On Saudi religious proselytism.

Saudi Arabia has actively sought to export Salafism. How has it done this - and what have been its effects, in countries like Indonesia, Nigeria and Kosovo? Why was fighting against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s such a formative experience for jihadists? And why has appeal of secularism faded?

Readings:

On The Jakarta Method.

We're joined by Vincent Bevins to discuss his new book on the 1965-66 mass killings in Indonesia, Cold War anti-communism, and the destruction it wrought around the world. The mid-60s proved pivotal, with US-backed coups in Indonesia and Brazil setting the template. What was their effect on the Left worldwide? How did it alter developmental trajectories across the Third World? What lessons can we take from these historical experiences?

Running Order:

  • Indonesia - (10:43)
  • Brazil & application of Jakarta Method - (36:14)
  • Themes of anticommunism - (43:55)
  • Global consequences - (53:03)
  • Anticommunism today - (01:14:39)
  • Bonus stuff - (1:21:18)

Reading:
The Jakarta Method: Washington's Anticommunist Crusade and the Mass Murder Program that Shaped Our World

This is a sample. The full episode is available by subscribing at patreon.com/bungacast

Singapore is held up as a free-market utopia: rich, orderly and clean. But the reality is quite different. Why does Singapore exert such a magnetism for neoliberals, when its reality strays from orthodox prescriptions? What and who made this model 'global city', and how does its communist and anti-colonial past lead to its hyper-capitalist present?

On pandemics, panics, and China.

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus is yet another new epidemic to appear on the scene this century. What accounts for their increasing frequency, and who decides if an epidemic is classed as a pandemic? More importantly, what governs that choice? The WHO and the whole intergovernmental management of health has 'securitised' these questions. Are they privileging the free flow of capital over public health? And what of China's draconian response and lockdown of Wuhan - is it effective? And who will bear the blame if things go wrong? Might Coronavirus become a threat to Xi Jingping and the Chinese regime?

Readings

Guests' books:

Mark Honigsbaum: The Pandemic Century: One Hundred Years of Panic, Hysteria and Hubris

Lee Jones (& Shahar Hameiri): Governing Borderless Threats: Non-Traditional Security and the Politics of State Transformation

Running order:

  • (00:44) Introduction
  • (06:21) Mark Honigsbaum
  • (38:48) Lee Jones

 

 

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