Left Anchor

By Ryan Cooper & Alexi the Greek

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Philosophy, politics, and the left.

Episode Date
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