A Left For Itself, David Swift, Zer0 Books
How the Left lost all purpose, James Bloodworth, Unherd
How not to be a white anti-racist, David Swift, Unherd
We discuss the first of Perry Anderson's new essays on Europe published in the London Review of Books, which focuses on Luuk van Middelaar - described as the EU's first organic intellectual. We discuss what that means, as well as the role of the "coup" in forming the EU.
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On Richard Tuck's The Left Case for Brexit, a book composed of essays written throughout the Brexit process, providing a diary of Brexit of sorts, as well as political and historical arguments around sovereignty.
We also take the opportunity to debate its global implications - what are the possibilities for popular sovereignty in a globalised world?
On the final deal and its implications, see: The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement: Minimum Brexit
We discuss Gilles Deleuze's short essay, Postscript on the Societies of Control and ask whether his understanding, according to which society has changed from one where discipline is exercised in institutions to one where control is implemented across society, holds water.
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This month we discuss a book by leading German sociologist and public intellectual, Wolfgang Streeck. Critical Encounters is a compilation of book reviews, discussing neoliberal ideas, politics and economy.
We start off by discussing the value of reading books in today's noisy, social media-filled, locked-down climate, as well as what makes a good book review. Then we address five themes: the coming of post-industrial society; popular misconceptions about neoliberalism; German hegemony in Europe; Cosmopolitan delusions; and the future of capitalism.
Our interview with Wolfgang Streeck from November 2020 can be found here.
On freedom, authority and responsibility.
Theorist Todd McGowan joins us to talk about the End of History, what Hegel can teach us about emancipation, and why Slavoj Zizek’s reinterpretation of Hegel is so important. If contradiction is the basis of modern politics, what is its link to freedom? And what is the connection between freedom and authority? Are stable sources of authority even possible in modernity? We also put some listener questions to Todd, as we learn that the Right, just as much as the Left, evades authority and is unwilling to take responsibility.
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We round off the year by previewing The End of the End of History and responding to your questions and criticisms, including Strasserism or left-conservatism, revolutionary memories, more on Covid and lockdowns, and other bits.
CLR James’s electrifying 1938 history of the 1791-1804 Haitian Revolution, The Black Jacobins, has long been a staple of many radicals’ libraries. But we now know a lot more about the life of the Haitian revolutionary leader Toussaint L’Ouverture. How does this new knowledge impact our understanding of the Haitian Revolution, and on revolution in general? Sudhir Hazeeresingh, the author of a gripping new biography based on new archival research, ‘Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint L’Ouverture, talks with us about about revolutionary leadership and Atlantic history.
- Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint L’Ouverture
- ‘You never know when it is going to explode’, interview with CLR James, Marxist Internet Archive
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We re-evaluate Christopher Lasch's hugely influential and prescient The Culture of Narcissism. What conjunctural factors led Lasch to his insights, and to what extent are those still present? Lasch wrote during the collapse of postwar Fordist-Keynesian model – is it the collapse of neoliberalism today that makes the book so evocative? And if narcissism has only increased, does the book suggest any political ways-out?
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This month we discuss Todd McGowan's Emancipation After Hegel: Achieving a Contradictory Revolution - an introduction to, defence and radical re-interpretation of Hegel emphasising the importance of contradiction to thought and being. We try to tease out the political consequences of the book, focusing on authority, freedom, and identity.
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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
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On the Ehrenreich's re-evaluation of the Professional-Managerial Class.
We discuss Barbara and John Ehrenreich's "Death of a Yuppy Dream". Also attached are the Ehrenreichs' analyses from the late 70s, also referenced in the discussion.
Thanks again for all your questions!
On whether new tech can help build decentralised socialism.
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We discuss Evgeny Morozov's New Left Review essay, Digital Socialism? The Calculation Debate in the Age of Big Data. A useful companion to this (mentioned by George in the episode) is a lecture given by Morozov, that can be found at the bottom of this page.
Thanks for all the questions, they are addressed in the last third of the episode.