On Covid and the end of the end of history.

Adam Tooze joins us to discuss his new book, Shutdown. In 2020 everything changed... so that everything might remain the same.

What were the reasons behind the global shutdown? Was it a result of over-protection, a policy of repression, or the result of structural tensions? Has China been the winner of the pandemic? How have central banks been victims of their own success? And does this represent the end of neoliberalism?  

The latter part of the interview continues over on patreon.com/bungacast

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 atrocity and sovereignty.

This episode is for subscribers only. Sign up at patreon.com/bungacast
 
The disasters of Iraq, Libya, Syria and beyond are there for all to see. Why hasn't an emphasis on Human Rights led to fewer atrocities? How has Western intervention made the world a less safe place?

We discuss Philip's book Cosmopolitan Dystopia: International Intervention and the Failure of the West and discover that no one really defends sovereignty today. What's behind the concept of 'Responsibility to Protect' (R2P)? And should we understand it as a form of "liberal imperialism"? 

On liberal idealism and imperial overreach.

Why did the winners of the Cold War turn 'revisionist', undermining their own order? How has utopianism come to dominate the discipline of IR, such that we have lost the means to critique power?

We discuss Philip's recent book, The New Twenty Years’ Crisis 1999-2019: A Critique of International Relations, which is both a revisiting of EH Carr's international relations classic The Twenty Years' Crisis as well as an account of the contemporary crisis of the liberal international order. 

Reading:

The New Twenty Years’ Crisis 1999-2019: A Critique of International Relations, Philip Cunliffe, McGill-Queen's UP

On Latin America's progressive wave and its discontents.

A new book on Latin America argues that 'pink tide' governments tried to treat the symptoms of neoliberal capitalism while allowing the underlying situation to worse. We talk to the author, Fabio Luis, about cases across the region, including the election in Ecuador and Venezuela's disaster, to Bolivia's coup and Argentina's "path of least resistance". How important is regional integration and what does an alternative socialist vision entail? And we ponder a sad question: is the dream of development and modernisation over? 

Readings:

This episode is for subscribers only. Sign up at patreon.com/bungacast
 
If liberal democracy has been dethroned, what next?
 
Francis Fukuyama famously declared the "end of history" in 1989. Has he been misunderstood? Should we understand the declaration in a geopolitical sense - liberal democracy triumphant - or in a more philosophical sense? We discuss what capital-H History means and what Fukuyama's career trajectory can tell us about our times. Is it capitalism realism or the end of history?

On censorship, platform capitalism and the Left.

We talk to Douglas Lain of Zer0 Books about YouTube taking down their video as a result of the algorithm flagging its content – and what this means for free speech.

Then, this month's Three Articles on war, conspiracy theory, and Covid (patrons only - sign up at patreon.com/bungacast

Links for part 1:

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:

 

On US foreign policy.   

Following on from our episode on the political-economy of dollar hegemony (no. 139), we turn to look at how the dollar underpins American empire. Is 'permawar' a product of structural factors, rather than merely the result of poor policy decisions? And how is this related to the global financial architecture? 

We also discuss how the current period fits into US history, how US foreign policy might evolve over the next four years, and what a left-wing alternative foreign policy might look like.

Readings:

The full episode is for patrons only. Sign up at patreon.com/bungacast

In this latest Three Articles, we discuss the durability or otherwise of right-populism in the UK, US and Brazil.

Reading:

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 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 episode is for our $10 and up patrons. Go to patreon.com/bungacast for access.

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 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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