Left Anchor

By Ryan Cooper & Alexi the Greek

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Philosophy, politics, and the left.

Episode Date
Episode 90 Preview: The Bernie-Warren Criminal Justice Reform Agenda

Subscribe now to hear the full episode!

Aug 23, 2019
Episode 89 - Brian Fallon on Stomping out BigLaw Corruption

Today former press secretary for Hillary Clinton and spokesman for Chuck Schumer Brian Fallon jumps into the Left Anchor lion's den to advocate for his proposal for all 2020 Dem candidates to promise the following: "[no] more corporate lawyers on the federal bench during the next Democratic administration."

We discuss the plague of corporate lawyer logrolling, how Brian came to believe in the need for stark reform to the Democratic Party (including breaking up its comfortable consultant monopoly), and the need for drastic restructuring of the U.S. courts to defend any possible progressive agenda, should Dems win full power in 2020.

We and Brian obviously do not see eye to eye on everything, but it was still a productive conversation.

Aug 22, 2019
Episode 88 - Chris Hooks on the The Texas Legislature Shitshow

Something is happening in the Texas legislature's Republican delegation ... but what it is ain't exactly clear. We bring on Chris Hooks to talk about his Texas Monthly article explaining how the state's GOP Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen punched himself directly in the dick through the medium of a loony right-wing crank, and how that bodes for the political future of Texas.

Aug 20, 2019
Episode 87 UNLOCKED - Adam Gaffney on Medicare for All

Adam Gaffney is the president of Physicians for a National Health Program and a doctor at the Harvard Medical School. He talks to us about the prospects for Medicare for All, whether moderate Democrats are serious about reform, and the best way to cut down America's ludicrously high health care costs.

Aug 15, 2019
Episode 86 - Atossa Araxia Abrahamian on the Arctic's Open Borders Island

Svalbard is a huge island about halfway between the north coast of Norway and the North Pole, which has the unusual characteristic of being accessible to anyone in the world without a visa (with some exceptions). Atossa Araxia Abrahamian joins us to talk about her trip there for an article in The Nation, as well as her book The Cosmopolites.

The article in The Intercept about the late Jimmy Aldaoud can be found here.

Aug 09, 2019
Episode 84 - Being a Socialist Judge with Franklin Bynum and Bryan LaVergne

Harris County (home of Houston, Texas) recently entered into a consent decree to overhaul the cash bail process in its courts -- which among other things makes it much harder to lock up poor people for minor offenses. Famed Judge of the Harris County Criminal Court No. 8 Franklin Bynum joins us for the second time, together with his friend, adviser, and fellow organizer Bryan LaVergne, to tell us what it all means and what being a judge is like after 6 months on the bench.

Watch Franklin give a speech advocating for the consent degree here.

Aug 03, 2019
Episode 83 Preview: Rob Larson on BS Economics

In this excerpt, we've got Professor Rob Larson on the podcast to talk about his new book Capitalism vs. Freedom: The Toll Road to Serfdom.

Subscribe now to hear all bonus episodes! 

Jul 30, 2019
Episode 82 - The Liar Josh Hawley

This time we have some actual breaking news on the podcast! After discussing the Pelosi/Squad dispute (TNR article here) and the Mueller testimony today (NR article here), we turn to Senator Josh Hawley's (R-Mo.) speech at the National Conservative Conference a few days ago. We discuss the deeply anti-Semitic overtones of singling out 3 Jewish academics (out of 4 mentioned) to blame for "cosmopolitan elites" who despise patriotism, have no national roots or identity, and sell out the working class to international business.

But then we actually looked up the quotes of the academics he mentioned, and discovered that he had wildly mischaracterized all but one of them. Indeed, one said basically the opposite of what Hawley accused him of.

The discussion of Hawley's deception starts at 40:15, but we'll also include the details below the fold. You can listen to our previous episode about patriotism here.----more----

In his speech, Hawley said the following:

According to the cosmopolitan consensus, globalization is a moral imperative. That’s because our elites distrust patriotism and dislike the common culture left to us by our forbearers.

The nation’s leading academics will gladly say this for the record.

MIT Professor Emeritus Leo Marx has said that the “planet would be a better place to live if more people gave [their] primary allegiance ‘to the community of human beings in the entire world.’”

NYU’s Richard Sennett has denounced what he called “the evil of shared national identity.”

The late Lloyd Rudolph of the University of Chicago said patriotism “excludes difference and speaks the language of hate and violence.”

And then there’s Martha Nussbaum, who wrote that it is wrong and morally dangerous to teach students that they are “above all, citizens of the United States.” Instead, they should be educated for “world citizenship.”

You get the idea. The cosmopolitan elite look down on the common affections that once bound this nation together: things like place and national feeling and religious faith.

In reality, Sennett was the only one whose writing actually fully fits this description (in a 1994 New York Times op-ed). Here's more context from the Nussbaum quote (in a 1994 Boston Review article):

As students here grow up, is it sufficient for them to learn that they are above all citizens of the United States, but that they ought to respect the basic human rights of citizens of India, Bolivia, Nigeria, and Norway? Or should they—as I think—in addition to giving special attention to the history and current situation of their own nation, learn a good deal more than is frequently the case about the rest of the world in which they live, about India and Bolivia and Nigeria and Norway and their histories, problems, and comparative successes?


Once again, that does not mean that one may not permissibly give one’s own sphere a special degree of concern. Politics, like child care, will be poorly done if each thinks herself equally responsible for all, rather than giving the immediate surroundings special attention and care.

Nussbaum is against nationalism and patriotism in general, but not to the sneering extent that Hawley says, and indeed allows that people can take special care for their own surroundings and communities. Nowhere does she disparage place or religious faith as such.

Leo Marx's quote comes from a roundtable response to Nussbaum's article. The quote above comes from the introduction -- but the entire remainder of his piece is dedicated to questioning the quote's premise:

It is one thing to establish the rational and moral superiority of cosmopolitanism, but quite another to get it adopted. If most people really chose their beliefs according to those criteria, nationalism would have disappeared long ago. Professor Nussbaum's case for cosmopolitanism would be a lot stronger if she acknowledged, and somehow dealt with, the deep non- or extra- or ir-rational roots of its triumphant rival, nationalism. As a result of the history of the two concepts of over some three millenia, cosmopolitanism has been -- still is -- associated with urban sophistication, learning, privilege, high status, and a quasi-aristocratic intellectuality and aestheticism; on the other hand, nationalism has been -- still is -- identified with the relatively straightforward, passionate, anti-elitist programs of land-oriented, populist mass movements. When we consider the roles the two actually have played in cultural history, choosing between them becomes a far more intractable problem than Professor Nussbaum suggests. It is bound to generate a deep, discomfitting ambivalence in left-wing intellectuals.

He then goes on to defend the better side of American identity in particular:

Her neglect of historical particularities also mars Professor Nussbaum's views of the American case. She seems to regard American nationhood as indistinguishable from other routine embodiments of nationalism. But the originating concept of the American republic was exceptional in at least two respects. First, unlike virtually all other nations, the United States was founded on precisely defined political principles; and second, those principles, as set forth by Jefferson and his committee, were not selected for their particular local, ethnic, racial, cultural, or geographic relevance, but rather for their putatively universal moral and rational validity. Whatever the record of actual American practices since 1776, the fact is that this nation initially was -- and in principle remains -- dedicated to an Enlightenment brand of cosmopolitanism. When Professor Nussbaum asks why we should think differently of Chinese people when they become Americans, the answer that the founders would have given is clear: these people of Chinese origin are different because they ostensibly have sworn allegiance to the universal principles of American republicanism. Unlike adherents of most forms of nationalism, we Americans have endorsed an exacting set of standards by which we would have our national behavior judged. (Those standards embodied in our founding documents and institutions, incidentally, provide a useful basis for repudiating the cruder, more jingoistic expressions of American patriotism of our constitution.) It is odd that Professor Nussbaum should ignore her own country's unique commitment to the kind of cosmopolitan, supra-nationalistic and eminently rational principles she would have humanity embrace.

One might quibble with that argument, but Hawley's representation of Marx here is simply rank dishonesty.

Worst of all is the treatment given to Lloyd Rudolph. His quote (from the same roundtable as Marx) straight-up does not say what Hawley says it does. On the contrary, Rudolph defends a certain notion of patriotism:

Patriotism is not always and everywhere the same. It lives in different histories and different narratives. Martha Nussbaum seems to neglect these differences: she detests patriotism and admires cosmopolitanism. Richard Rorty and Sheldon Hackney, she says, affirm patriotism. Patriotism for her is aggressive, exclusive, intolerant nationalism; it can lead to the kind of hatred and violence toward the other practiced by Hitler in his time and Slobodan Milosevic in ours.

This is not how I read the Rorty and Hackney effort to recover a common American language, a language that can transcend and inform recognition of and respect for difference in America. Martin Luther King articulated and affirmed American patriotism in his inclusivist, non-violent pursuit of civil rights for African Americans. Today, his legacy helps gays and lesbians, single mothers, and new immigrants to claim civil rights and contributes to the discourse and practice of human rights in world arenas.

Hawley's quote from Randolph is specifically not referring to patriotism as such, but instead bigoted, violent, or criminal versions thereof:

Instead of going after Rorty and Hackney, who share many of her concerns, Martha Nussbaum might do better to go after the scoundrel patriots of our time, the Oliver Norths, Pat Buchanans, Pat Robertsons, and Jerry Falwells. Their patriotism excludes difference and speaks the language of hate and violence.

Emphasis mine. Randolph says patriotism can be a good thing if developed properly, just that it can also have some downsides. But admitting that would jam up Hawley's narrative about the conspiracy of all-powerful (((academics))) bent on destroying Jesus, baseball, apple pies, and America itself. What an abject liar.

Jul 25, 2019
UNLOCKED: (Episode 58): Ilhan Omar and the Patriotism Question

For the free episode this week, we are UNLOCKING a bonus episode from back in April on Ilhan Omar and Patriotism.  We are doing this for unfortunately timely reasons, in light of Trump's bigoted, xenophobic attacks that then were amplified by a chanting crowd at his rally soon thereafter. 

In this discussion from the bonus episode archives, we discuss the ongoing conservative hate campaign against Ilhan Omar, and then turn to the question of patriotism -- is there anything worth salvaging in the concept? Starting with this brilliant lecture "Is Patriotism a Virtue?" from Alasdair MacIntyre, we bring in Kant, Rawls, Charles Mills, and Kurt Vonnegut.

Jul 20, 2019
Episode 80 Preview: Chris Arnade on American Poverty, Part II

Subscribe now to hear the full second half of our interview!

Jul 09, 2019
Episode 79 - Chris Arnade on American Poverty

This time we've got Jeff Spross filling in as guest host to chat with Chris Arnade, author of Dignity, a Studs Terkel-style ethnography of American poverty. We talk about what inspired him to leave Wall Street and start writing about poverty, the varied characteristics of broke Americans, and the real problem with the top 20 percent (hint: it's not their incomes, but their politics).

The interview went long, so we'll be breaking it into two episodes. Stay tuned for part II tomorrow!

Note: Ryan makes an error in discussing the top 20 percent. The bottom half of this group did not experience an absolute income decline from 1980-2014, but rather growth slower than the national average.

Jul 08, 2019
Episode 78 preview - Robert Manduca on 1940s Business Propaganda

Subscribe here to hear the full episode, and you can find Tomorrow without Fear here.

Jul 02, 2019
Episode 77 - David Sessions on Milquetoast Liberalism

This time we've got David Sessions on to talk about the extraordinarily weak tea contained in Adam Gopnik's new book A Thousand Small Sanities. Are liberals responsible for all the good things that have happened in the last 300 years, or is penny-ante moderation the appropriate response to all problems? Tune in to find out!

(Read David's review of Gopnik here.)

Jun 29, 2019
Episode 76 UNLOCKED - Maximillian Alvarez on the Politics of Higher Ed

Max Alvarez joins us again to talk about his experience navigating the treacherous waters of higher education this time. We discuss how he came to end up in graduate school, how the logic of markets has penetrated the university, and the political function thereof. Find some of his writing on this here, here, or here.

Jun 24, 2019
Episode 75 - Carl Beijer on the Global Green New Deal

For once we've got a timely episode! Today we're talking with Carl Beijer, whose People's Policy Project paper on the international financing of climate change policy came out today. Tackling this problem is going to require an eye-watering quantity of international subsidies, and it's worth thinking about how that might happen.

Jun 19, 2019
Episode 74 Preview - The Neocons

Here we discuss a section of Jeane Kirkpatrick's famous essay on why America should support right-wing dictatorships. Subscribe now to hear the full episode!

Jun 16, 2019
Episode 73 - Greg Grandin on the American Frontier

This time we've got historian Greg Grandin on to talk about his new book The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America, about the history of the American frontier, how it has functioned politically over the years, and how Trump is drawing on that legacy today. (Also listen for an interlude about whether it was appropriate for Bernie Sanders to oppose Reagan's death squad policy in Central America.)

Jun 15, 2019
Episode 72 - Elizabeth Warren Policypalooza Preview

In this excerpt we talk about some strengths and blind spots in Warren's foreign policy ideas. Subscribe here to hear the full episode!

Jun 14, 2019
Episode 71 - Astra Taylor on Democracy

We bring on Astra Taylor to talk about her twinned book and documentary on democracy (What Is Democracy and Democracy May Not Exist, But We'll Miss It When It's Gone). We discuss the theory and practice of self-government, how she developed her film and book, and what lessons she learned in the process.

Jun 07, 2019
Episode 70 Preview - Karl vs. Karl

Subscribe now to hear the full bonus episode (as well as all previous ones)!

Jun 04, 2019
Episode 69 - Natasha Lennard on Violence and Anti-Fascism

Did you know Vidal Sassoon was a committed anti-fascist who brawled with Oswald Mosley's followers after the Second World War? Today we learn that and more from Natasha Lennard, author of the recent essay collection Being Numerous: Essays on Non-Fascist Life. We talk about the psychological and economic roots of fascism, the role of violence in defeating it, and how society might be changed to allow people to live better lives.

May 30, 2019
Episode 68 Preview - EU Elections and Politico's (((Bernie Sanders))) Article

Subscribe now to hear the whole premium episode (as well as all previous ones)! 

May 27, 2019
Episode 67 - Bernie Policypalooza

Today we take a partial look at Bernie's policy platform -- his anti-usury bill, his agriculture policy, his ideas to desegregate education, Medicare for all, his plan to fix Puerto Rico, and more! 

May 25, 2019
Episode 66 Preview: Jeff Spross on the Job Guarantee

Subscribe now to hear this (and all previous) bonus episodes, plus a clean feed including all free ones as well!

May 21, 2019
Episode 65 - Jeff Spross on MMT

We've got all-time champion returning guest Jeff Spross on to talk about Modern Monetary Theory -- what does it say, what are its implications, and does it provide better policy guidance than other theoretical economic frameworks? Tune in to find out!

May 18, 2019
Episode 63 - Corey Robin on Freedom and Clarence Thomas

This time we've got Corey Robin, author of The Reactionary Mind and professor of political science at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, on to talk about freedom and his excellent upcoming book The Enigma of Clarence Thomas (pre-order now!). We talk about how most workers experience a severe lack of freedom in the workplace, and then move on to discuss Clarence Thomas's history and peculiar brand of black nationalism.

May 10, 2019
Episode 61 - Interview with Manu Saadia ( @trekonomics) on Macron and the Yellow Vests

This time we've got a real live Frenchman on the pod! Manu Saadia, author of the book Trekonomics, comes on to discuss two scholarly analyses of the Yellow Vests protests, their complicated class and racial politics, and how Emmanuel Macron's presidency is playing out. Is he the Mayor Pete of France? Listen to find out!

May 03, 2019
Episode 59 - Interview with @Econ_Marshall on Elizabeth Warren's Free College Proposal

This time we bring on economist Marshall Steinbaum to talk about his article praising Elizabeth Warren's free college/student debt cancellation proposal, plus his previous articles discussing ending segregation in higher education, and a broader theory of why college should be considered a public good, not a method of building up "human capital." Enjoy!

Apr 27, 2019
Episode 58 Preview: Ilhan Omar and the Patriotism Question

Check out this preview of our latest bonus episode, available here

Apr 22, 2019
Episode 57 - Interview with @EmmaCaterineDSA on Criminal Punishment Reform

This time we bring on lawyer and activist Emma Caterine to talk about her article analyzing the feminist aspects of the wretched 2005 bankruptcy reform bill, and her article endorsing Queens DA candidate Tiffany Cabán on prison abolition grounds. (The book The Communist Horizon we mention can be found here as well.) Enjoy!

Apr 19, 2019
Episode 55 - American Labor History with @yeselson

This time we bring on famed labor activist and writer Rich Yeselson to talk about Eric Loomis's new book A History of American in Ten Strikes (see Rich's review in The Nation here). We discuss the timid politics and continuing decline of the American labor movement, how it was organized in the past, and how it might be revitalized.

Apr 12, 2019
Episode 53 - Adorno on the Psychology of Fascism

This time, we talk about Theodor Adorno's essay "Freudian Theory and the Pattern of Fascist Propaganda," and the Public Seminar roundtable discussing it. We hit on the fake image of fascist vigor and efficiency, and the utterly moronic consequences of fascist governance. 

Apr 06, 2019
Episode 52 UNLOCKED - Polkapalooza with @maximillian_alv and @ambientGillian
This paid episode is unlocked for 48 hours! Enjoy!
This time we're breaking new ground with 2 guests simultaneously -- Maximillian Alvarez of The Baffler and the Working People podcast, and Aisling McCrea of Current Affairs! We talk about why there is no good conservative comedy, the madness of valuing history for history's sake, why James K. Polk is a badly overrated president, and several other topics.
Check out Max's piece on Francis Fukuyama here.
Apr 03, 2019
Episode 51 - Interview with @mehdirhasan on Mueller and White Nationalist Terrorism

This time we bring on special guest Mehdi Hasan, a columnist at The Intercept where he also hosts the fantastic "Deconstructed" podcast. We discuss the media circus around the Mueller report, and what to do about the worldwide plague of white supremacist terrorism. (Mehdi also gives us a lesson in how a real radio pro sounds, enjoy!) 

Mar 29, 2019
Episode 50 Preview - Frantz Fanon on Political Violence

In this excerpt from our latest bonus episode, we talk the imperial politics of the film Black Panther.

Mar 24, 2019
Episode 49 - Billionaire Boondoggles with @Pat_Garofalo

This time we bring on Pat Garofalo to talk about his new book The Billionaire Boondoggle: How Our Politicians Let Corporations and Bigwigs Steal Our Money and Jobs. It's a great read, digging into the wretched practice of corporations extracting bribes to move factories to communities -- which surprisingly doesn't even change the business decision most of the time. Enjoy!

Remember if you'd like an extra episode per week, you can subscribe to our Patreon here!

Mar 22, 2019
Episode 47 - Gothic Marxism with @TheLitCritGuy

This time we bring on Jon aka "The Lit Crit Guy" to talk about the concept of Gothic Marxism, how horror can reveal underlying social pathologies, and the use (or lack thereof) of theory in politics writ large. You can find his Horror Vanguard podcast here.

We had a couple unfortunate technical snags, but the audio is mostly fine. Enjoy!

Mar 14, 2019
Episode 45 - Varieties of Left Ideology and You Might be a Neoliberal If ...

This time we explore the differences between neoliberalism, Brandeisianism, social democracy, and democratic socialism, and which presidential candidates represent each tradition (if any). In the process we inexpertly riff on Jeff Foxworthy's signature comedy bit, so send in your submissions if you can think of better examples.

The FDR biography Ryan mentions is this two-part work by Roger Daniels.

Mar 10, 2019
Episode 43 - Interview with @DavidKaib on MLK and Iris Marion Young

This time we bring on activist and scholar David Kaib to discuss Martin Luther King's famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail, and Iris Marion Young's essay "Activist Challenges to Deliberative Democracy." We talk about the intersection between democratic theory and practice, and the conditions under which it may become necessary to set aside debate and break the law to achieve justice.

(Also note that while Ryan's audio sounds bad at the start, it was only a temporary glitch for the first couple minutes.)

Mar 02, 2019
UNLOCKED: Episode 42 - Interview with @AOC Adviser @rch371, Part II

We're taking this one out from behind the paywall for a special occasion (and a sample of what you can find as a paying customer). This time we continue our discussion from the last episode with Cornell Law professor Robert Hockett, Green New Deal adviser to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. We talk more broadly about climate change, politics, and moral philosophy.

Feb 25, 2019
Episode 41 - (Part I): Interview with @AOC Green New Deal Adviser Robert Hockett @rch371

This time we talk about the Green New Deal with Robert Hockett, a Cornell law professor and policy adviser of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. We discuss the basic objectives of aggressive climate policy, the policy mechanics thereof, and the political foundations of climate policy. This interview went long, so we'll be breaking it up into two parts -- stay tuned for the next episode!

Feb 21, 2019
Episode 40 preview - The Butcher Elliot Abrams

Here's a preview of our latest episode -- available now on Patreon!

Feb 17, 2019
Episode 39 - Interview with @ProfPeterCole on Dockworker Unions

This time we bring on Peter Cole, a historian at Western Illinois University, to talk about his new book Dockworker Power: Race and Activism in Durban and the San Francisco Bay Area. We discuss the fascinating history of militant dockworker labor unions in the U.S. and South Africa, and how they have pushed for a truly international and egalitarian politics.

(Unfortunately due to a technical glitch, Peter has a bit of reverb going on. Just pretend as if he's presenting in Carnegie Hall.)

Feb 13, 2019
Episode 37 - W.E.B. Du Bois and Reconstruction

For the second episode in our Black History Month series, we look at W.E.B. Du Bois, and especially his groundbreaking history of Reconstruction.

Feb 08, 2019
Episode 35 - #HandsOffVenezuela - Interview with @PatrickIber

This time we bring on Patrick Iber, a historian specializing in Latin America. We discuss the dismal internal situation in Venezuela, Trump's proposed imperialist aggression, and how the American left should think about it all. It's a tricky but still worthwhile topic.

Feb 01, 2019
Episode 34 Preview - "Debt: The First 5,000 Years" & Trump-Russia Update

Here's an excerpt of our latest bonus episode, available now on Patreon!



Jan 27, 2019
Episode 33 - MLK Day Special: Interview with @dolladollabille on the Wages of Whiteness and Kamala Harris

This time we have on Vanessa Bee, a writer, editor, and podcaster for Current Affairs. We discuss the contrasting perspectives of the nature of white privilege with Martin Luther King, Jr and James Baldwin on one side, and Ta-Nehisi Coates on the other. Then we turn to the presidential candidacy of Kamala Harris, and her checkered record as both a fierce prosecutor of small-time criminals (even the parents of truant children) -- but who somehow lost her crusading spirit when it came to Trump Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's foreclosure fraud business.

The Current Affairs crew is doing a live show this weekend in Washington DC, you can find details here!

Apologies for being a bit behind schedule this time, we had to arrange this interview a bit later than usual. Onward!

Jan 24, 2019
Episode 32 preview - Henry George and Populism

Here's a quick excerpt of our latest bonus episode, available right now on Patreon!

Jan 19, 2019
Episode 31 - Interview with @DanteAtkins

This time we talk to longtime Democratic Party activist, political writer, and current congressional staffer Dante Atkins. We discuss the evolution of the party's internal thinking, how it actually functions on the inside, whether or not the new crop of Democratic lefty freshmen are learning the ins and outs of congressional procedure. He also teaches us how to speak the first line of the Odyssey in ancient Greek!

Jan 15, 2019
Episode 29 - Imperial Accounting, the Theory of Labor Aristocracy, and AOC's Tax Extravaganza

In this episode we discuss how profitable America's imperial machinery really is for the average American schlub (using import statistics from the Federal Reserve and the Census, h/t Matt Bruenig), related articles on the myth of the labor aristocracy, and finally AOC's amusing tax policy weekend.


Jan 08, 2019
Episode 27 — Judith Butler and the Yellow Vests

In our holiday special, we delve into Judith Butler's Adorno Prize Lecture from September 11, 2012 entitled "Can One Lead a Good Life in a Bad Life?" as a framework for better understanding the significance and political function of social movements such as the Yellow Vests, #BlackLivesMatter, and Occupy.  

Dec 30, 2018
Episode 25 - WASP Unbound with @jeffspross

In this episode, we bring back world champion guest Jeff Spross to discuss Ross Douthat's argument against meritocracy, Bernard Yack's review of Bernard Manin's book The Principles of Representative Government, and finally Helen Andrews' case for aristocracy.

Dec 24, 2018
Episode 23 - Interview with @ThePlumLineGS

This time we interview the Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent, who has a new book out called An Uncivil War. We discuss how to save American democracy, the fecklessness of Democratic Party elites, and much more.

[Also, check out Ryan's review of Greg's new book] 

Dec 15, 2018
Episode 21a: Patreon Announcement

Folks have been asking about this, and here it is: patreon.com/leftanchor.

We'll be publishing two episodes per week, one for patrons and one for free. If you feel like that's worth $5 a month, or want to support ad-free lefty media in a dark time for journalism, we'd be much obliged if you could pitch in to support the show.

The first Patreon episode is already here, so you can check it out right now! Also feel free to send us feedback at leftanchorpodcast @ gmail, or on Twitter or Facebook.

Again, thanks to everyone for listening and for the support!

Dec 12, 2018
Episode 21 - Interview with Brad Evans ( @HistofViolence ), Part II: Fascism

In the second part of our interview with University of Bath philosopher Brad Evans (don't miss part I!) we discuss the characteristics and functions of fascism, and how it may or may not apply to current political developments.

Dec 10, 2018
Episode 20 - Interview with Brad Evans ( @HistofViolence ) Part I: Political Violence & Neoliberalism

This is the first of a two-part interview of Brad Evans, a philosopher and critical theorist who specializes in violence at the University of Bath. We discuss the politics and the spectacle of violence, and how they have evolved under neoliberalism. Stay tuned for the second part, coming soon!

Dec 04, 2018
Episode 19 - Is Democratic Socialism TOO Democratic or Not Democratic Enough?

In this episode from the archive, we discuss dueling takes on whether the rise of democratic socialism in DSA and elsewhere is Taking Democracy Too Far (from friend of the pod Conor Friedersdorf) or is Actually, Harming Democracy (from other friend of the pod Sheri Berman).

Apologies for the holiday break, but we've got another special interview coming up this weekend, keep your eyes peeled!

Nov 30, 2018
Episode 18 - Interview with @franklinbynum

Today we have a very special episode! It's entirely dedicated to an interview with Franklin Bynum, the Judge-elect of Harris County Criminal Court #8, a Houston DSA member who walloped his Republican opponent in the 2018 midterms. We discuss how he came to run for the office, what it's like being a socialist in Houston, how leftists can use elected office to improve the country, and his tips for people considering following in his footsteps.

This is probably our best episode to date, and even pretty funny, so please tune in and share!

Find Franklin on his website, on Twitter @franklinbynum, and on Instagram @franklinforjudge.

Nov 20, 2018
Episode 17 - Kant, Jonathan Haidt, & Feckless Liberalism

In this episode, we discuss Immanuel Kant's views about the Enlightenment, how they have come down to us today in a bastardized form with Jonathan Haidt's atrocious book The Righteous Mind, and the ongoing relevance of Robert Frost's quote "A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel."

Nov 18, 2018
Episode 16 - Immigration, Open Borders, & Rights, feat @jeffspross

This time we bring back Jeff Spross to talk about immigration, why conservatives and capitalists whip up anti-immigrant paranoia, the value of open borders as a policy and as a utopian demand, and close up by discussing Hannah Arendt's ideas about the right to have rights.

Image credit: Haskell Border Library

Nov 14, 2018
Episode 15 - 2018 Midterms

This episode we discuss the midterms. We start off with Ryan flagrantly botching the state Claire McCaskill is from (Missouri, not Iowa), then move into a broader discussion on What It All Means: live, unfiltered, raw insight from start to finish. 

Nov 10, 2018
Episode 14 - Anand Giridharadas on Big Philanthropy & Antonio Gramsci

This time we discuss Anand Giridharadas's book Winners Take All about the ideological underpinnings and functions of elite philanthropy. Then (about 30:00) we discuss how the book illustrates the basic insights of the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci on ideology, hegemony, and the role of intellectuals in politics.

Nov 06, 2018
Episode 13 - Karl Polanyi

In this episode (recorded some time ago) we discuss the ongoing insight and relevance of Karl Polanyi, whose brilliant work The Great Transformation continues to shed light on modern political economy.

Nov 03, 2018
Episode 12 - Fascist Violence, David Hume, & Judith Butler

In this episode, we consider the grim news of the #MAGABomber, the synagogue shooting, the election of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, and what Hume and Butler might teach us about this.

Unfortunately, Alexi had a technical malfunction, so the audio quality is somewhat below par on his end.

Oct 30, 2018
Episode 11 - Leftist Foreign Policy & Francis Fukuyama

In this episode, we welcome new guest Emma Steiner to talk about Bernie Sanders' recent foreign policy speech, how leftists should think about the issue, David Klion's recent review of Obama adviser Ben Rhodes' new book, and finally the group blog Fellow Travelers (which just published a piece by Representative Ro Khanna). 

Then at about 31:00, we turn to Mr. End of History Francis Fukuyama's surprising support for socialism in a recent interview, and an atrocious apologia for the bank bailout he gave on another podcast.

Keep your ears open for a special guest appearance from Ellie the cat at about 34:00.

Finally, as listeners pointed out, we made a factual error in the last episode. It was not Franz von Papen who supported Hitler only to be assassinated in the Knight of the Long Knives, it was actually Kurt von Schleicher.

Oct 23, 2018
Episode 10 - Fascism & Capitalism

The Republican Party has basically developed a quasi-paramilitary wing in the form of the Proud Boys, which went on a violent rampage in New York City after celebrating the 58th anniversary of the assination of Inejiro Asanuma at the Metropolitan Republican Club. Worse brawls happened in Portland, Oregon.

So for this episode we discuss the links between the business class and the extreme right, and how the dysfunctions of capitalism can enable the rise of violent fascism. 

Oct 17, 2018
Episode 9 - Champagne Ecosocialism & Jon Chait Join DSA, feat @jeffspross

This time we discuss the structural requirements of de-carbonizing the world economy, and whether it will be necessary as a practical matter to live an austere lifestyle or stop economic growth. Then (37:30) we turn to Jonathan Chait's latest pro-socialism manifesto

Image credit: Leaflet - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Oct 14, 2018
Episode 8 - How Should the Left Think about the Judiciary? Feat. Bajeera McCorkle

For this episode we have our first guest, legal and political theory scholar Bajeera McCorkle. We discuss the abysmal history of the Supreme Court, the rise of neo-Lochnerism on the right, and try to work out how the left should think about the legal system.

Oct 11, 2018
Episode 7 - Saudi Arabia & Machiavelli

This time we discuss the astonishing news that Saudi Arabia may have sent assassins to murder a Washington Post journalist, and how that illustrates the (often misunderstood) thinking of Machiavelli.

Oct 09, 2018
Episode 6 - #MeToo, Hierarchy, & Inequality

In this shorter episode (also recorded some time ago) we take a look at the unusual case of Avital Ronell, the female critical theory professor who was credibly accused of sexual harassment, as well as the case of Asia Argento, who was allegedly both victim and perpetrator. We also discuss how hierarchy and inequality enable sexual harassment and abuse generally.

Oct 05, 2018
Episode 5 - Kavanaugh, Kennedy, & Aristotle

For once we have a timely episode! We dedicate the whole thing to Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation controversy, especially the late-breaking news from Monday evening. But towards the end we still sneak in a discussion of Aristotle's views on aristocracy and the healthiness of political cultures.

Oct 02, 2018
Episode 4a - Housekeeping

This is just a quick housekeeping episode, detailing how to subscribe to the podcast and how to contact us. Thanks for listening everyone! We're delighted at the response so far.

Check the links on the right side of the site for links to those things as well.

Oct 02, 2018
Episode 4 - Russia, Hobbes, and Locke

In this episode (which was recorded some time ago), we discuss the Trump-Russia story. Then at about 32:00, we discuss Hobbes and Locke, especially their theories of property.

Sep 28, 2018
Episode 3 - Jon Chait, socialist semiotics, and political demographics

This time we discuss democratic socialism versus social democracy, Jon Chait's slippery definitions thereof, and how political coalitions might be constructed.

Sep 26, 2018
Episode 2 - New York state primaries, Hurricane Florence, and climate change

Here we discuss the controversies around Andrew Cuomo, the IDC in the New York State Senate, and the successful Julia Salazar campaign.

Then at about 37:00, we turn to the self-harming North Carolina legislature, and why they passed a pro-flooding bill six years ago.

Sep 19, 2018
Episode 1 - Steven Pinker & Rousseau

Here we discuss the panglossian psychologist Steven Pinker, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and how their clashing perspectives influence modern politics. 

Sep 16, 2018
Episode 0 - Introduction

In this short introductory episode, we briefly explain the idea of the podcast.

Sep 16, 2018