On the left case for freedom.  

We talk to Corey Robin about how the left has sacrificed the realm of freedom to the right. And why the Left's weakness is also the Right's. Plus, why is it clear that Trump is not a fascist? And insight into the BLM protests in NYC and responses to the pandemic. 

Reading:

On culturally conservative critics of capitalism. 

Neoliberalism’s fragmentary and atomising tendencies have gone too far. In response, some right-wingers have turned against the market. At the same time, there’s a (marginal) tendency on the left turning against cultural liberalism. Are we witnessing a major political realignment underway? What is the substance of these "culturally conservative" critiques, and do they offer anything new, beyond what people like Christopher Lasch advanced decades ago?  

Readings:

On the end of Left Populism.
 
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Friend of the podcast Anton Jäger joins us to discuss the fate of Left Populism, investigate the response of the Left to the ongoing Coronacrisis, and question whether we're really witnessing the end of neoliberalism. We refer to his recent piece in Damage magazine, in the readings below.
 
Did Left populism ask the right questions but get the wrong answers? Are the next three years going to see the blossoming of the 'Well, Actually' Left? Or is the stage set for the triumph of covid corporatism?
 
Readings:

On freedom in coronavirus times.

John McAfee joins us to address the lockdown, privacy and armed insurrection. Plus: why he prefers Fidel to Che, and how it came to be that his US presidential campaign HQ is in Havana, Cuba.

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On the end of the Age of Imitation.

We discuss Ivan Krastev and Stephen Holmes' The Light That Failed: A Reckoning and their arguments for why liberal democracy stopped being the model to follow - in Eastern Europe, Russia and even the USA.

Thanks for all the questions, they are addressed in the last third of the episode. 

On political conflict over the next decade

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We debate what ideological contestation is going to look like in the next 2/5/10 years. Will liberalism adopt Silicon Valley solutionism? Does the centre-right become fully nationalist? And the far right have a future if that happens? And where does the left go next?

In this latest Three Articles, we discuss American democracy and those who pretend to save it or undermine it. 

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Readings:

This is a sample. For the full episode, subscribe at patreon.com/BungaCast

On ecofascism.

Both the shooters in the Christchurch and El Paso massacres were declared 'ecofascists'. Now, a new governing coalition in Austria brings together Greens and the hard right in an unconventional union.

How does Malthusianism link the far right and ecology? What are the dangers of 'lifeboat politics', and how can the Left resist this logic? Is the Green New Deal a solution?

Readings:

On The Economist and the contradictions of global liberalism.

Alexander Zevin joins us to discuss his work on the 176 year history of the magazine that has accompanied liberalism's global expansion. Has it just reflected the world or has it actually influenced politics? How has The Economist balanced democracy against the interests of finance and the needs of empire? And is the magazine suffering from N.O.B.S.? 

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Running order:

  • (06:02) Overview & early days
  • (29:52) 19th century & empire
  • (34:18) 20th century, esp 1930s and '40s
  • (48:08) End of the Cold War and NOBS
  • (01:02:19) Liberalism & its enemies

 

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On forecasts for the next decade.

 
In this month's 'Three Articles' - in which we each bring to the table a key article to unpick and unpack - we take apart mainstream predictions of the future, over the next decade, the next couple of years, and 2020.
Readings:

On the 30 years since 1989.

For our 100th episode, we invited our favourite guests to reflect on the question: “What one event, personal or political, most captures for you the past thirty years, since 1989?” 

Are we still living in the death throes of the 20th century, or is something new emerging?

Guests:

  • (00:07:42) - Maren Thom
  • (00:14:14) - David Broder
  • (00:21:33) - Ashley Frawley
  • (00:26:11) - Catherine Liu
  • (00:33:05) - Angela Nagle
  • (00:40:49) - Benjamin Fogel
  • (00:46:25) - Alex Gourevitch 
  • (00:51:31) - BungaCast hosts
  • (00:59:22) - David Adler
  • (01:04:05) - Amber A’Lee Frost
  • (01:08:48) - James Heartfield
  • (01:16:17) - Anton Jaeger
  • (01:23:24) - Leigh Phillips
  • (01:30:25) - Lee Jones
  • (01:36:03) - Karl Sharro

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On environmental protest politics. Extinction Rebellion and the Climate Strike have brought eco protest back to the front pages. But it all seems a bit of a flashback to the 2000s. We examine the protests' alarmism and post-political positioning. After inequality and class have been put on the agenda again, do these protests represent a step back? We also ask what might be done about climate change if we don't go along with these groups' interpretations and demands. 

On UBI and social reproduction.
 
Following on from ep. 88 where we discussed post-work with Anton Jäger, we have Amber on to talk about her recent article in Jacobin on Andrew Yang's proposals for a Universal Basic Income. Is a citizen under a UBI regime really assimilable to a mid-century American housewife? How free is either? Does fully automated luxury communism put too much emphasis on luxury and not enough on communism? And would UBI lead to a more or less alienated society?
 
Reading:
Andrew Yang and the Failson Mystique, Amber A'Lee Frost, Jacobin
 
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On post-work. We discuss Anton's review of David Graeber's Bullshit Jobs and why it seems to have such appeal, even amongst elites. There is a crisis in the work ethic, but is it an error to counterpose work and leisure and simply opt for leisure? Is leisure even 'ours' anymore, or has it been fully colonised by capitalism? Ultimately, is the problem today more about bullshit in jobs, rather than bullshit jobs per se?

Readings:

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Why hasn't neoliberalism died? We talk to Rune Møller Stahl about his paper "Ruling the Interregnum" in which he examines previous interregnums, such as the 1920s or the 1970s, and the forces that led to the establishment of new orders. What points the way forward today: resilient neoliberalism, economic nationalism or left populism?

Reading:

Ruling the Interregnum: Politics and Ideology in Nonhegemonic Times, Rune Møller Stahl

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