Category: News & Politics

The global politics podcast at the end of the End of History. From a left perspective.

April 4, 2019

/67/ Legacies of Postmodernism ft. Catherine Liu

On whether we can salvage anything from postmodernism. Have we left postmodernity - and if so, can can we be properly dialectical about it: see it as progress and catastrophe all at once? Is there a moment of truth to postmodernism amidst all the falsity?

We discuss the left intelligentsia's abandonment of materialism; phoney cultural populism; the demolition of Pruitt-Igoe; Knausgaard's six volume 'Min Kamp'; and the end of cultural rebellion.

Readings:

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March 7, 2019

/65/ Bunga Gets Ultra-Real ft. Steve Hall

On crime and the far-right. Prof Steve Hall explains what 'ultra-realism' in criminology means - and why we need to get beyond liberal idealism. We also discuss the rise of the English far-right, the EDL - and how a narrative of betrayal coheres it. Why do middle-class liberals have such a horror of authority - and why it's essential that the Left reclaim it. How are so many contemporary ideologies no longer fit for purpose? Also: what is 'special liberty' and how does it differ from entitlement?

Readings:

Interview with Steve Hall, Injustice-Film

The Rise of the Right: English Nationalism and the Transformation of Working-Class Politics (book)

Steve Hall's academic writing

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January 17, 2019

/59/ Übermenschen of Capital Pt. 3 ft. Leigh Phillips & Michal Rozworski

On democratic planning. Leigh Phillips and Michal Rozworski propose we look at Walmart and other giant corporations as sites of planning, not of markets -- and that this fact proves planning works. Rather than rely on markets and market actors to manage production and distribution, we should it ourselves. Do advances in computing mean that the old problems of planning have been overcome? Does planning lead to authoritarianism -- or does authoritarianism lead to bad planning? Can we overcome the age of Capitalist Übermenschen?

Readings:

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January 10, 2019

/58/ Übermenschen of Capital Pt. 2 ft. Ishay Landa

On the links between economic liberalism and fascism. Ishay Landa talks to us about the "Apprentice's Sorcerer": how political liberalism enfranchises the masses, to the disgruntlement of economic liberals, who then have to turn to an authoritarian or fascist 'daddy' to save capitalism. What does the liberal divorce between economic and political liberalism tell us about the conflict between democracy and private property? How does the fascist "principle achievement" relate to today's fondness for entrepreneurial heroes? Also, a restatement of how the horseshoe theory is horeshit.

Readings:

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Bunga theme music: Jonny Mundey

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January 3, 2019

/57/ Übermenschen of Capital Pt. 1 ft. Alex Gourevitch

On the cult of the entrepreneur. Alex Gourevitch talks to us about the "special kinds of assholes we get in our economy" and the dangers of the heroic capitalist icon. How does the earlier ideal of meritocracy differ from entrepreneurship as an ethos? Does celebrating the special creative genius of the disruptor actually mean glorifying tyranny? 

Plus: the right to strike, domination in the workplace, and campy Trump.

Readings:

 

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Bunga theme music: Jonny Mundey

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December 20, 2018

/56/ Popular Not Populist ft. Anton Jaeger

The big 2018 populism discussion. We trash mainstream interpretations of populism (hiya, Cas Mudde) and debate the merits and demerits of 'left populism'. Thatcher, Clinton and Blair are today thought of as anti-populists, but what if they demonstrate many populist features? Is our future 'technopopulism'? And is the 'movement of movements' a dead end? 

Plus plenty of bonus stuff: debating the 20th Century disaster; Hillary as the tragic figure of our age; and José Mourinho as right-wing populist. 

Readings:

Anton's articles at Jacobin

Thea Riofrancos on Chantal Mouffe in n+1

Chris Bickerton on technopopulism

Cas Mudde on populism

The Guardian's stupid populism quiz

Phil Cunliffe on the 20th Century (Lenin Lives!)

November 22, 2018

/54/ Numbers Are Too Powerful ft. William Davies

We discuss Nervous States with its author: How has debate became so angery!1!! and fractious? Why don't we trust institutions any more -- or better, which institutions do we still trust and why? How has war increasingly encroached onto peace? And maybe believing in stats too much means that we now don't believe in anything...

 

Readings:

Nervous States (William Davies)

Postscript on the Societies of Control (Gilles Deleuze)

September 13, 2018

/47/ Woke Consumerism

In which we ask whether political consumerism is still a thing. We chart its course from 90s Adbusters-style anti-branding, to 2000s ethical consumerism, through to today's woke outrage economy. Has commodification and cynicism overwhelmed all consumer activism? 

Plus, we catch up with election results from Sweden and look forward to next month's Brazilian elections.

Readings:

Adbusted https://jacobinmag.com/2013/10/adbusted  

The Philanthropy Racket https://jacobinmag.com/2018/08/the-philanthropy-racket 

August 30, 2018

/46/ Exiting Capitalist Realism

The third in our Neoliberal Breakdown series. In which we discuss the late Mark Fisher's Capitalist Realism, 10 years on. Does his analysis still hold? The mood music of the time - the age of 'TINA' and the end of history - was acutely described by Fisher. But did it only really describe Britain? And has the world now entered a new period?

Readings:

Capitalist Realism http://www.zero-books.net/books/capitalist-realism 

'Exiting the Vampire Castle' https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/mark-fisher/exiting-vampire-castle 

Mark Fisher's k-punk blog https://k-punk.org/ 

 

Cover image: 📸 Stephanie Jung

August 16, 2018

/45/ Liberalism: A Counter-Podcast

In which we discuss the work of the late Domenico Losurdo, especially his brilliant Liberalism: A Counter-History. Part of an ongoing series on the contradictions of liberalism, we debate whether Losurdo is right to point to liberalism's complicity with slavery, racism and colonialism. Why were arguments for self-rule often accompanied by justifications for slavery? Why were some liberal abolitionist arguments in favour of despotism? 

We tie these discussions into contemporary paradoxes of liberalism and ask why liberalism is unable to realise its own values.

 

Reading: 
Liberalism: A Counter-History (book) https://www.versobooks.com/books/960-liberalism 

Obituary of Losurdo (Jacobin) https://jacobinmag.com/2018/07/domenico-losurdo-italian-marxism-counter-history