What's Left of Philosophy

By Lillian Cicerchia, Owen Glyn-Williams, Gil Morejón, and William Paris

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In What’s Left of Philosophy Gil Morejón (@gdmorejon), Lillian Cicerchia (@lilcicerch), Owen Glyn-Williams (@oglynwil), and William Paris (@williammparis) discuss philosophy’s radical histories and contemporary political theory. Philosophy isn't dead, but what's left? Support us at patreon.com/leftofphilosophy

Episode Date
49 | Coming to Terms with Human Finitude w/ Prof. Martin Hägglund
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In this episode we are joined by Martin Hägglund to discuss the existentialist's argument for what makes human life meaningful—and why democratic socialism is the logical conclusion to reach after having considered the matter carefully. We also dig into the limits of social democracy, the need for the state, and the revaluation of value that is yet to come.

leftofphilosophy.com | @leftofphil

Follow Martin: @martinhaegglund | http://martinhagglund.se

References:

Martin Hägglund, This Life: Secular Life and Spiritual Freedom (New York: Penguin Random House, 2020)

What Is Democratic Socialism? Part I: Reclaiming Freedom - Los Angeles Review of Books (lareviewofbooks.org)

What Is Democratic Socialism? Part II: The Immanent Critique of Capitalism - Los Angeles Review of Books (lareviewofbooks.org)

What Is Democratic Socialism? Part III: Life After Capitalism - Los Angeles Review of Books (lareviewofbooks.org)

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Oct 03, 2022
48 | Gillian Rose: Speculative Thinking and Post-Kantian Sociology with James Callahan
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In this episode we are joined by James Callahan (aka Crane) to talk about Gillian Rose’s book Hegel Contra Sociology. We explore Rose’s critique of early twentieth-century sociology, which she argues was completely hampered by the limitations of its neo-Kantian framework. Looking to break out of this transcendental circle, Rose turns to Hegel and defends a highly original and sophisticated reading of his speculative political thinking, in order to develop a sociological analysis adequate for grasping and transforming our modern capitalist world. We also talk about why Hegel hated the starry skies above and thought slimes and rashes were way cooler.

leftofphilosophy.com | @leftofphil

Follow James on twitter: @gruidae_james
and check out his substack: https://jamescrane.substack.com/

References:

Gillian Rose, Hegel Contra Sociology (New York: Verso, 2009)

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Sep 19, 2022
47 | Guy Debord and the Society of the Spectacle
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In today’s episode we talk about Guy Debord’s critique of life under modern capitalism by looking at his scathing and provocative The Society of the Spectacle. Is it true that all that was once lived is now mere representation? That the whole of society is mediated by an endless proliferation of passifying images? That the fullness of life has been replaced by its bloodless negation in survival? Because it sure feels like it! We discuss what exactly he means by spectacle, reflect on whether and how it’s possible to maintain his distinction between real needs and pseudo-needs, and consider what a politics without representation would, ahem, look like. And we talk some real trash on North American suburbia, whose surface-level image of homogeneous conflictless positivity is the true legitimation mechanism of capitalism here in the dying imperial core. It's a lot of fun, actually!

leftofphilosophy.com | @leftofphil

References:

Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith (New York: Zone Books, 1994).

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Sep 06, 2022
46 Teaser | What is Dialectics? Part V: Adorno's Negative Dialectics
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In this patron-exclusive episode, we continue our series on the concept of dialectics by talking about Adorno’s Negative Dialectics. We reflect on what a non-closed dialectical system would look like, why Adorno is definitely not the defeatist he’s often caricatured as being, and what it means for us to hold onto utopian promises for a better world from within the administered nightmare of modern capitalism. Along the way we try to hone in on what’s special about Adorno’s negative dialectics, especially in comparison with what we get out of Kant and Hegel. And we give Heidegger an appropriately hard time for being just the worst.

This is just a small clip from the full episode, which is available to patrons:

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy

References:

Theodor Adorno, Negative Dialectics, trans. E.B. Ashton (New York: Continuum, 2007).

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com


Aug 22, 2022
45 | On Solidarity and Conflict with Nathan DuFord
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In this episode we are joined by Nathan DuFord to discuss their new book Solidarity in Conflict: A Democratic Theory. We unpack why they believe solidarity ought to be theorized as a political concept rather than moral injunction. For DuFord, we risk missing that solidarity is what the oppressed do with one another and that the oppressed will have disagreements within their solidary groups if we undertheorize the political dimensions of solidarity. We go on to discuss the relationships between trust and conflict, whether groups formed in solidarity can last forever, and contemporary questions concerning conflict in left organizations. If you believe in solidarity you won’t want to miss this episode!

leftofphilosophy.com | @leftofphil 

References:

Nathan DuFord [published under Rochelle DuFord], Solidarity in Conflict: A Democratic Theory (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2022).

Music:

Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com



Aug 08, 2022
44 | Karl Kautsky's Cooperative Commonwealth
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In this episode we talk about the most important Marxist thinker during the time of the Second International, Karl Kautsky. We talk about his infamous claim that the breakdown of capitalism is historically inevitable, what he thinks socialist praxis should look like in a liberal democracy, and what the concentration of large-scale capital means for your small business. Plus at some point we realize that almost all anti-socialist arguments are actually just confused anti-capitalist ones, which we find irresistibly delightful. We’re in old-school classical Marxist territory for this one, folks! 

leftofphilosophy.com | @leftofphil 

References: 

Karl Kautsky, “The Commonwealth of the Future,” in The Class Struggle (Erfurt Program), translated by William E. Bohn (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr, 1910). 

Music: 

Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Aug 01, 2022
43 | Transindividuality and Marxism with Jason Read
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In this episode we talk with the wonderful Jason Read about his work on the concept of transindividuality and what it means for critical social theory, Marxist notions like alienation and reification, and traditional conceptions of freedom and equality. It’s bad news for anyone who thinks politics can be directly derived from ontology, but incredibly productive theoretically and practically if you're willing to think social relations as processes. Also Will admits he’s almost ready to confess his Spinozism, so that’s a clear win.

follow us @leftofphil

References:

Jason Read, The Production of Subjectivity: Marx and Philosophy (Leiden: Brill, 2022)

Jason's blog: http://www.unemployednegativity.com/

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Jul 26, 2022
42 | Going Beyond the Pleasure Principle with Freud
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In this episode we talk psychoanalytic theory and practice. With Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle as our touchstone, we get speculative about human desire, the death drive, and the relationship between psychoanalysis and political struggle. We discuss the problem of scaling up from individual psychology to collective organizations, the opacity of the subject, and some of the psychosocial pathologies peculiar to the United States here in the twenty-first century. We could all use a bit more transference!

leftofphilosophy.com | @leftofphil

References:

Sigmund Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle, trans. and ed. James Strachey (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1989).

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com


Jul 12, 2022
41 | James Boggs and the Problem of Rights under Capitalism
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In this episode we discuss James Boggs’s 1963 The American Revolution: Pages from a Negro Worker’s Notebook. We talk about Boggs’s materialist conception of rights as “what you make and what you take.” In Boggs we find a novel conception of rights that are grounded in social power. We delve into the dangers automation and structural unemployment present to rights to life and happiness while wondering if a “workless” society would truly be a better one. In the end, we extend a figleaf to egalitarian liberals and offer to heal their psychic distress by showing them that they are already revolutionaries (comrades, join us: the water's fine!). 

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil 

References: 

James Boggs, The American Revolution: Pages from a Negro Worker’s Notebook, with a New Introduction by Grace Lee Bogs and Additional Commentary (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2009). 

James Boggs, “Toward a New Concept of Citizenship,” in Pages from A Black Radical’s Notebook: A James Boggs Reader, ed. Stephen M. Ward, with an Afterword by Grace Lee Boggs (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2011). 

C.L.R. James, “The Revolutionary Answer to the Negro Problem in the United States,” at https://www.marxists.org/archive/james-clr/works/1948/07/meyer.htm 

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Jun 27, 2022
40 Teaser | What is Liberalism? Part I. John Locke's Second Treatise of Government
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In this episode we kick off our new series called “What is Liberalism?” with private property, conquest, and a discussion about John Locke’s apologia for both. We appreciate the efforts of the left to civilize liberalism in the wake of its own civilizing efforts across the globe, but we ask whether it’s really possible to separate economic and political liberalism to make liberalism work for the left. Our experiences in DEI workshops suggest not, although many who are smarter than Locke have tried.

The full episode is available on our patreon!

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil

References:

John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, ed. C.B. Macpherson (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1980) 

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Jun 13, 2022
39 | Lukács: Social Totality and the Commodity Form
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In this episode we discuss the work of György Lukács, focusing on the reification essay from his seminal 1923 book History and Class Consciousness. We talk about why it’s not great that the commodity form has penetrated every aspect of social life, why we need to retain the category of totality in spite of loud protests from postmodernists, and what’s special about the standpoint of the proletariat. Welcome to capitalism, folks: real contradictions and necessary illusions abound. But it’s not over yet!

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil

References:

Georg Lukács, History and Class Consciousness, trans. Rodney Livingstone (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1972) 

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

May 30, 2022
38 | Liberal Democracy in Crisis: Carl Schmitt and the Present
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In this episode, we discuss the infamous Nazi jurist and political philosopher Carl Schmitt, with particular focus on his 1923 book The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy. We attempt to better understand the right-wing, Schmittian case against both liberal ‘parliamentarianism’ and ‘Marxist socialism’, while trying to discern his positive political vision. Doing so requires assessing his paradoxical claim that democracy and dictatorship are perfectly compatible, and that dictatorship is good, actually. We end by asking what the hell a ‘Left Schmittian’ is, asking what if anything he has to offer for leftist theory and practice today. 

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil 

References: 

Carl Schmitt, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, trans. Ellen Kennedy (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2000) 

Carl Schmitt, The Nomos of the Earth, trans. G.L. Ulmen (New York: Telos Publishing, 2003) 

Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, trans. George Schwab (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007) 

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

May 16, 2022
37 Teaser | What’s the ‘Structural’ in ‘Structural Injustice’?: Iris Marion Young and Political Philosophy
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What do we mean when we call something a ‘structural injustice’? In this episode, we take up some of Iris Marion Young’s work and ask what makes the difference between interpersonal injustice and structural injustice. Along the way, we investigate concepts such as political responsibility, social connection, and the character of global injustice. As an extra special treat listeners will find out what is preventing Gil from being a revolutionary (the answer may surprise you)! 

The full episode is available on our patreon!

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil 

References: 

Iris Marion Young, Responsibility for Justice (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011) 

Iris Marion Young, “Responsibility and Global Labor Justice”, The Journal of Political Philosophy 12:4 (2004): 365-388 

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

May 02, 2022
36 | What is Utopia? Part II. Plato's Republic (with Owen Alldritt)
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In this episode, we talk with Owen Alldritt about justice. We come to Plato’s defense against the Western philosophical canon, mostly in spite of ourselves, and insist on the True coinciding with the Good. What does this all have to do with utopia, you ask? As it turns out, Plato is a realist and he thinks we can know the Good in itself, organize our cities accordingly, and realize justice…or at least philosophers can. Good luck to everyone else! 

patreon to support | follow us @leftofphil 

References: The Republic, by Plato 

Owen Alldritt: moonbear.substack.com  | @AlldrittOwen 

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com 

Apr 20, 2022
35 | Moral Luck and Pedagogy (with Aaron Rabinowitz)
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In this episode, we talk with Aaron Rabinowitz of Embrace the Void and Philosophers in Space about the paradoxes of moral luck, the problematic nature of our everyday notions of responsibility, and what good pedagogy looks like when you’ve agreed – as you must – that spontaneous, volitional free will is merely an illusion. We do some Kantian maneuvering, form provisional alliances, and all things considered have as good a time as is possible given our total lack of freedom.

References:

Thomas Nagel, “Moral Luck” <https://rintintin.colorado.edu/~vancecd/phil1100/Nagel1.pdf>

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Apr 05, 2022
34 Teaser | What is Dialectics? Part IV: Dialectic of Enlightenment with Adorno and Horkheimer
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In this episode we talk about Adorno and Horkheimer's Dialectic of Enlightenment, focusing on their notion of reason as abstractive domination and their understanding of the culture industry as a means of producing mass complicity with the machinations of capital. The good news is that we've got a much better sense of humor than either of them, so it's not as miserable as all that might sound. The bad news is we're not sure if they're wrong to be so pessimistic. We also drag a fair bit of popular culture, admit we still love it, and call out the podcast form itself. But you don't need to worry: your media consumption habits are good. You're fine. You're one of the ones who gets it, definitely.

This is just a small clip from the full episode, which is available to patrons:

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy

References:

Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment, trans. Edmund Jephcott (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002).

Theodor Adorno, "Free Time", in Critical Models (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005).

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Mar 22, 2022
33 | (Un)Learning How to Do Politics with Hannah Arendt
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In this episode we discuss what distinguishes politics from other aspects of human existence by looking at Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition and “Reflections on Little Rock.” We question why Arendt is so concerned with defending the distinction between politics, the social, and the private realm and what useful insights can be drawn from these distinctions when analyzing real human history. In addition, we touch on Arendt’s controversial relationship to black politics around integration or as she thought of it black “social climbing.” This might be the one that gets us canceled! 

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil 

References: 

Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, second edition, with an Introduction by Margaret Canovan (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1998). 

Hannah Arendt, “Reflection on Little Rock” in The Portable Hannah Arendt, edited by Peter Baier, 231-247 (New York: Penguin Books, 2000). 

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Mar 07, 2022
32 | What is Equality? Disagreeing with Jacques Rancière
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In this episode we discuss the meaning of equality by delving into French political philosopher Jacques Rancière’s 1995 book, Disagreement. In a contentious conversation we unpack the core concepts of the book, including its expansive notion of the police and its highly restrictive definition of politics as foundationally egalitarian. Above all, we press Rancière (and each other!) on both the meaning and the political utility of equality as a presupposition or ‘axiom’ rather than a social goal. It’s a banger! 

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil 

References: 

Jacques Rancière, Disagreement: Politics and Philosophy, trans. Julie Rose (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999). 

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Feb 22, 2022
31 | Raymond Geuss: Realism in Political Theory
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In this episode we work through some of the ideas laid out in Part 1 of Raymond Geuss’ 2008 Philosophy and Real Politics. It’s a refreshingly clear-eyed argument for what he calls the realist approach in political philosophy, which tries to attend to the messiness of actually existing societies, the opaque and invested people who make them up, and the shifting, contradictory values they hold. We’re talking Hobbes meets Lenin meets Nietzsche here, folks. Leave your rational decision theory and normative idealism at the door. 

patreonn.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil 

References: 

Raymond Geuss, Philosophy and Real Politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008). 

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Feb 07, 2022
30 | What is Utopia? Part I. Thomas More: Critical Realism in a Time of Enclosure
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In this episode, we kick off a new series on the concept of utopia by taking a look at the guy who invented the word, Thomas More. We discuss how his wonderfully satirical 1516 book Utopia was written in response to the enclosures happening in England, which forced masses of peasants into unemployment and misery and created the conditions for early capitalist agriculture. His fictional island nation of Utopia thrives without private property, but More’s real trick is how he reveals the wildly utopian and fantastical nature of our own capitalist world order. Plus Owen invents the phrase ‘professional social improvement class’, which is just great. 

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil 

References: 

Thomas More, Utopia, trans. Robert M. Adams, ed. George M. Logan (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014). 

Karl Kautsky, Thomas More and his Utopia, trans. Henry James Stenning, accessed at the Marxist Internet Archive: <https://www.marxists.org/archive/kautsky/1888/more/index.htm>. 

Quentin Skinner, “Sir Thomas More’s Utopia and the language of Renaissance humanism,” in The Languages of Political Theory in Early Modern Europe, ed. Anthony Padgen (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987). 

Alexandre Matheron, “Spinozism and the Breakdown of Thomist Politics: Machiavellianism and Utopia,” in Politics, Ontology, and Knowledge in Spinoza, trans. and ed. Filippo Del Lucchese, David Maruzzella, and Gil Morejón (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2020). 

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Jan 24, 2022
29 | Sartre and the Question of Philosophy
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In this episode, we read Jean-Paul Sartre's Search for a Method. We begin by working through Sartre’s puzzling claim that Marxism is this era’s one true philosophy and then branch out into broader questions concerning what it is we are trying to do when we philosophize and whether Sartre was right not to give up on capital-T “Truth.” Other topics include Sartre’s conception of freedom, the relationship of the individual to history, and the problems of dogmatic Marxism up to the present day. This one is sure to delight, and it's just the start for us with old J-P!

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil

References:

Jean-Paul Sartre, Search for a Method, trans. Hazel E. Barnes (New York: Vintage Books, 1963)

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Jan 10, 2022
28 | A Very Special Holiday Episode: Learning How to Give with Jacques Derrida
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Merry Christmas and happy holidays! In this surprise gift of an episode, we’re visited by the spectre of Jacques Derrida and his deconstruction of the gift. Like the Ghost of Christmas Past, he forces us to ask whether we have given enough, whether we know how to give without reciprocity, and why it is so hard to give in the first place. The gang reflects on the phenomenology of gift-giving and the insidious politics of philanthropy, and even takes shots at the big guy himself: Santa Claus. So sit back, grab your eggnog, and celebrate the holidays with your four favorite philosophers. ‘Tis the season!

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil

References:

Jacques Derrida, Given Time I. Counterfeit Money, trans. Peggy Kamuf (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1992)

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Dec 25, 2021
27 | Crisis and Utopian Consciousness
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In this episode we get together to discuss a new article by our very own Will Paris! We talk about Will’s critical and materialist conception of consciousness, the role of awareness and normative expectations in processes of social transformation, and why utopia is involved in knowledge production. We talk Bloch, we talk Hayek: you know, the usuals. It’s a classic original crew set, recorded live on stream!

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil

References:

William Paris, “Crisis Consciousness, Utopian Consciousness, and the Struggle for Racial Justice,” Puncta: Journal of Critical Phenomenology (forthcoming)

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Dec 21, 2021
26 | Wake Up and Choose Divine Violence: Walter Benjamin w/ Dr. Ashley Bohrer
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In this episode we welcome Dr. Ashley Bohrer to discuss Walter Benjamin’s 1921 essay “Critique of Violence”. We talk about the relationship between violence and the law, reflect on the limits of institutional power for emancipatory projects, and get really real about the spiritual dimension of justice. Keep your messianism weak, comrades.

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil

ashleybohrer.com

Pedagogies for Peace podcast: https://kroc.nd.edu/research/intersectionality/pedagogies-for-peace-podcast/

References:

Walter Benjamin, “Critique of Violence,” trans. Edmund Jephcott, in Selected Writings Volume I: 1913-1926, eds. Marcus Bullock and Michael W. Jennings (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996).

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com


Dec 04, 2021
25 | Reflections on Freedom and the Cold War w/ Dr. Lea Ypi
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This episode dives behind the Iron Curtain into socialist Albania in discussion with Lea Ypi on her new memoir “Free.” The crew explores what has been gained and what has been lost in the transition to capitalism. Lea explains why some of the symmetry may surprise us and why Marxism is a philosophy of human freedom.

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil

References:

Lea Ypi, Free: Coming of Age at the End of History (Penguin Random House, 2021)

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com 

Nov 19, 2021
24 Teaser | What's Left of Foucault?
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In this episode, the crew takes on a beloved figure of the academic ‘left’: Michel Foucault. The discussion gravitates around Foucault’s work in the early 1970’s on the ‘punitive society’, power as civil war, and popular rebellion. This post-‘68 period of his life and work is often seen as his most politically ‘radical’, both because of his activist involvement in the Prisons Information Group (GIP) and because he directly engages with Marxist discourse and thought. Nevertheless, the conversation quickly turns skeptical (to put it mildly). We question both the explanatory power and the political stakes of his historical studies: What is the principle of connection between the often remote historical discourses and events he examines and present conditions of life? What are the consequences of rejecting causal explanations of historical development? Above all, how salient and clarifying are his histories for emancipatory struggles in the present? We try to answer these questions, while poking a bit of fun at our Foucauldian friends and comrades. Oh and we talk about the CIA’s alleged awareness of the increasing hegemony of French theory in the academic left—apparently they loved that for us.

Listen to the full episode on our Patreon!

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy

Follow us @leftofphil

References:

Michel Foucault, Penal Theories and Institutions: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1971-1972, ed. Bernard E. Harcourt et. al., trans. Graham Burchell (New York: Picador)

Michel Foucault, The Punitive Society: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1972-1973, ed. Bernard E. Harcourt, trans. Graham Burchell (New York: Palgrave MacMillan)

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Nov 05, 2021
23 | How Does a Democracy Keep its Character? Lessons from the Black Radical Tradition w/ Prof. Melvin Rogers
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In this episode, we welcome Professor Melvin Rogers of Brown University to discuss his forthcoming book The Darkened Light of Faith: Race, Democracy, and Freedom in African American Political Thought. We focus on the often elided importance of character in social struggle and transformation, the tension between optimism and pessimism in African American political thought, and the centrality of rhetoric and persuasion in this tradition. It is not to be missed!

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil

References

Rogers, Melvin. Forthcoming. The Darkened Light of Faith: Race, Democracy, and Freedom in African American Political Thought (Princeton: Princeton University Press).

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Oct 22, 2021
22 | The Meaning of Disability (with Dr. Joel Michael Reynolds)
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In this episode we are joined by Joel Michael Reynolds for a wide-ranging discussion about disability theory. We dig into the relationship between disability and white supremacy, the idea of politics as differential capacitation, genomics and medicalization, justice as equity, and more. Naturally we put full-bore social constructivism on blast. Leftists gotta be materialists, you know?

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil

References:

Joel Michael Reynolds, “The Meaning of Ability and Disability.” Journal of Speculative Philosophy 33.3 (2019).

Joel Michael Reynolds, “Genopower: On Genomics, Disability, and Impairment.” Foucault Studies 31 (forthcoming).

Joel Michael Reynolds, “Disability and White Supremacy.” Critical Philosophy of Race (forthcoming).

Joel has also graciously compiled a comprehensive list of literature related to disability theory and politics, which you can find here.

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Oct 08, 2021
21 | What is Critical Theory Doing? w/ Dr. Prof. Robin Celikates
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In this episode we are joined by Professor Robin Celikates to discuss the big “method” question in critical theory: What is it doing, and why? Since Marx, this tradition has had a special connection to emancipatory struggles, so we talk about how that works (or doesn’t) in relation to contemporary debates about civil disobedience and migration.  

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil

References:

Robin Celikates, 2019. “Constituent Power Beyond Exceptionalism: Irregular migration, disobedience, and (re-)constitution,” Journal of International Political Theory 15(1): 67-81.

Robin Celikates. 2018. “Slow Learners? On Moral Progress, Social Struggle, and Whig History,”  "Forms of Life, Progress, and Social Struggle", in Amy Allen/ Eduardo Mendieta (eds.), From Alienation to Forms of Life, University Park: Penn State University Press, 137-155. 

Robin Celikates, “Radical Civility. Social Struggles and the Domestication of Dissent," in: Julia Christ et al. (eds.), Debating Critical Theory, London: Rowman & Littlefield 2020, 83-94.

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Aug 28, 2021
20 | David Walker and the Politics of Judgment
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For this episode we discuss David Walker’s 1830 radical anti-slavery tract An Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World and Melvin Rogers’s 2015 article “David Walker and the Political Power of the Appeal.” We explore Walker’s political philosophy of judgment and its relationship to normativity, solidarity, and reconstructing civic society. Walker offers an insightful critique of the insidious pathologies race introduces into Western political formations. We cover questions of universalism, the contentious role of violence in political change, and what it means to inherit a political tradition.   

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil

References:

David Walker. 1830. An Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World. Found at https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/zeaamericanstudies/15/

Melvin Rogers. 2015. “David Walker and the Political Power of the Appeal.” Political Theory 43(2): 208-233.

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Aug 13, 2021
19 | Machiavelli: Cunning, Fortune, and Republican Virtue
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In this episode we talk through the work of one of the most infamous figures in the history of political thought, Niccolò Machiavelli. Looking both at the Prince and some passages from the Discourses, we ask ourselves what the Florentine can teach us about strategy, the need for vision and flexibility, and the virtues of leaders and citizens in a world of duplicity and chance. Is he a ruthless lover of cruelty, a clear-eyed political scientist, or a partisan defender of freedom as non-domination?

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil

References:

Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince, eds. Quentin Skinner and Russell Price (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2019).

Niccolò Machiavelli, Discourses on Livy, trans. Harvey C. Mansfield and Nathan Tarcov (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998).

Antonio Gramsci, The Modern Prince, in Selections from the Prison Notebooks, ed. and trans. Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith (New York: International Publishers, 1971).

Louis Althusser, Machiavelli and Us, ed. François Matheron, trans. Gregory Elliott (New York: Verso, 2000).

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Aug 01, 2021
18 | Spinoza: Necessity, Ethics, Joy
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In this episode we finally get around to talking about Spinoza. It turns out normativity is kind of complicated when you think everything is strictly determined and there’s no such thing as contingency! We discuss the relationship between affect and power, the inherently social nature of knowledge, and why you should want joy for others as much as for yourself. Along the way we also manage to work in a needless and slanderous dig against Heidegger, just for good measure.

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil

References:

Benedict de Spinoza, Ethics, trans. and ed. Edwin Curley (New York: Penguin, 1996)

Benedict de Spinoza, Political Treatise, trans. Samuel Shirley (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2000)

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Jul 16, 2021
17 Teaser | What is Dialectics? Part III: What's the Deal with Marx, Anyway?
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In this Patron exclusive episode, we move to the third part of our mini-series “What is Dialectics?” and take on the works of Karl Marx. The WLOP crew investigates what Marx took and rejected from Hegelian dialectics while defending why Marx remains deeply relevant in our contemporary moment. We cover the role of mystification under capitalism, Marx’s moral and political critique of value, and the future of Marxism in the context of ecological crisis. There’s even a mention of spectres for you Derrida fans out there! It’s a can’t miss episode for sure.

Full episode available at  patreon.com/leftofphilosophy

Follow us @leftofphil

References:

Karl Marx, “Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right: Introduction,” in The Marx-Engels Reader, Second Edition, ed. Robert C. Tucker (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1978), 53-66.

Karl Marx, “Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844,” in The Marx-Engels Reader, Second Edition, ed. Robert C. Tucker (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1978), 67-77.

Karl Marx, “Introduction to the Preface of the 1859 Critique,” at Economic Manuscripts: A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy 1859 (marxists.org)

Karl Marx, “Appendix to the 1859 Critique,” at Economic Manuscripts: A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy 1859 (marxists.org)

Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Volume 1, trans. Ben Fowkes (New York: Penguin Books, 1982).

music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Jul 02, 2021
16 | Erik Olin Wright: Utopia and Social Science
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In this episode, we discuss Erik Olin Wright’s 2010 book Envisioning Real Utopias. We excavate the relationship between social scientific investigation and normative claims concerning how we ought to structure our society. We ask what a theory of social transformation ought to entail and figure out why we don’t live in the best of all possible worlds yet. So sit back and relax while we pour one out for a real one: Comrade Erik Olin Wright.

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil

References:

Erik Olin Wright, Envisioning Real Utopias, (New York: Verso, 2010).

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Jun 18, 2021
15 | What is Dialectics? Part II: We Need to Talk about Hegel
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In this episode, we continue our series on dialectics by completely losing our minds talking about Hegel. We break through Kant’s critical prohibition on speculative metaphysics and grasp the in-itself as the movement of dialectical negativity. We realize the unity of opposites. We are seized by the necessity of the absolute Idea in history. It’s a banger, folks. In retrospect, it couldn’t have been any other way.

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil

References:

G.W.F. Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, trans. H.B. Nisbet, ed. Allen W. Wood (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011).

G.W.F. Hegel, Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in Basic Outline, trans. and ed. Klaus Brinkmann and Daniel O. Dahlstrom (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Jun 04, 2021
14 | Thomas Hobbes Hates Your Book Club
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In this episode, we go back to the seventeenth century to talk about Thomas Hobbes’ hugely influential political philosophy. Focusing mostly on De Cive, we dive into his hilariously bleak anthropology, his totalitarian absolutism, and his uncomfortable fit within the modern tradition of political liberalism. But things are a little more complicated than they first appear: maybe old Bishop Bramhall was right when he said that Hobbes’ ideas are ‘a rebel’s catechism’.

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil

References:

Thomas Hobbes, On the Citizen, ed. and trans. Richard Tuck and Michael Silverthorne (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016).

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, ed. Edwin Curley (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1994).

Thomas Hobbes and Bishop Bramhall, Hobbes and Bramhall on Liberty and Necessity, ed. Vere Chappell (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999).

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

May 22, 2021
13 | What is Dialectics? Part I. The Crew Gets Kant-Pilled
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In this episode, we start our series on dialectics with a conversation about Kant. If you’ve ever wondered what the hell this term means, then the WLOP crew is here for you. We talk about what human beings can know, what we can’t know but need to think, and introduce ourselves to the philosophy of history.

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil

References:

Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, ed. and trans. Paul Guyer and Allan Wood (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009).

Immanuel Kant, Critique of the Power of Judgment, ed. Paul Guyer, trans. Paul Guyer and Eric Matthews (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

May 07, 2021
12 Teaser | Gustav Landauer: Anarchism, Utopia, Community
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In this episode, we explore the work of German anarchist Gustav Landauer. We work through the utility of utopia in political transformations and what is required to create richer communities and social life. In the end, we discover the one vibe we’re cool with: joy. Come on through for wild mysticism and learn what Meister Eckhart can do for you while in prison!

The full episode is available on our Patreon page.

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil

References:

Gustav Landauer, “Anarchism and Socialism,” in Revolution and Other Writings, edited and translated by Gabriel Kuhn (Oakland: PM Press, 2010), 70-75.

Gustav Landauer, “Anarchic Thoughts on Anarchism,” in in Revolution and Other Writings, edited and translated by Gabriel Kuhn (Oakland: PM Press, 2010), 84-94.

Gustav Landauer, “Through Separation to Community” in Revolution and Other Writings, edited and translated by Gabriel Kuhn (Oakland: PM Press, 2010), 94-110.

Gustav Landauer, “Revolution” in Revolution and Other Writings, edited and translated by Gabriel Kuhn. 110-188. (Oakland: PM Press, 2010).

Adolph Reed, Jr., Class Notes (New York: The New Press, 2000).

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Apr 23, 2021
11 | Climate Politics and Global Justice (with Dr. Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò)
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In this episode, we are joined by Professor Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò (@OlufemiOTaiwo) (Georgetown University) to discuss his work on the politics surrounding climate change and generative frameworks for global justice. In this wide-ranging discussion we address the urgency of climate politics for the African continent, what it means to connect the local to the global, and how we can move towards richer forms of collaborative security. We also offer a theory of “vibes” in politics and theory.

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil

References:

Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò, “Who Gets to Feel Secure?” https://aeon.co/essays/on-liberty-security-and-our-system-of-racial-capitalism

Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò, “Crisis, COVID-19, and Democracy” https://blog.apaonline.org/2020/06/02/crisis-covid-19-and-democracy/

Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò, “Climate Colonialism and Large Scale Land Acquisitions” https://www.c2g2.net/climate-colonialism-and-large-scale-land-acquisitions/

Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò, “Climate Apartheid is the Coming Police Violence Crisis” https://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/climate-apartheid-is-the-coming-police-violence-crisis

Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò, “Want to Abolish the Police? The First Step Is Putting Them Under Democratic Control.” https://inthesetimes.com/article/abolition-communitycontrol-police-abolition-safety-power-whitesupremacy

Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò, “Being-in-the-Room Privilege: Elite Capture and Epistemic Deference” https://www.thephilosopher1923.org/essay-taiwo

Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò, “Identity Politics and Elite Capture” http://bostonreview.net/race/olufemi-o-taiwo-identity-politics-and-elite-capture 

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Apr 09, 2021
10 | Donna Haraway: Socialist Cyborg Affinities
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In this episode, we discuss Donna Haraway’s distinctive socialist cyberfeminism. We talk through the virtues and vices of her version of postmodern feminism and leftism, the ambivalent character of scientific knowledge production and new technologies, and the strange material powers of metaphor. Ask yourself: would you rather be a cyborg or a goddess?

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil

References:

Donna Haraway, “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century,” in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York: Routledge, 1991).

Donna Haraway, “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective,” in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York: Routledge, 1991).

Donna Haraway, “The Biopolitics of Postmodern Bodies: Constitutions of Self in Immune System Discourse,” in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York: Routledge, 1991).

Sophie Lewis, “Cthulhu plays no role for me,” Viewpoint Magazine, 2017 <https://viewpointmag.com/2017/05/08/cthulhu-plays-no-role-for-me/

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Mar 28, 2021
9 | C.L.R. James: Leadership, Organization, Mass Politics (with Dr. William Clare Roberts)
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Episode 9 explores the antinomies of autonomy and self-emancipation in the thought of C.L.R. James. Dr. William Clare Roberts joins us to discuss James’ legacy and how it fits into his book project on the history of “history from below.” Please be advised that a side-effect of this episode may be republicanism. (No, you Yanks, not the GOP. It’s the Black Jacobins, get it?)

References:

CLR James, The Black Jacobins, (New York: Vintage Books, 1989).

CLR James, World Revolution 1917-1936: The Rise and Fall of the Communist International (Durham: Duke University Press, 2017)

CLR James. Radical America, vol. IV, no. 4 (May 1970): https://repository.library.brown.edu/storage/bdr:89210/pdf/

Selma James, “The Perspective of Winning,” (1973); in Sex, Race, and Class: A Selection of Writings, 1952-2011 (Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2012).

“CLR James talking to Stuart Hall,” Channel 4, dir. Mike Dibb (1984): https://youtu.be/_Gf0KUxgZfI

William Clare Roberts, “Centralism is a dangerous tool: Leadership in CLR James’ history of principles,” forthcoming in The CLR James Journal (2021).

William Clare Roberts, Marx’s Inferno: The Political Theory of Capital (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017).

W.E.B. Du Bois, Black Reconstruction in America: 1860-1880 (New York: The Free Press, 1998).

Cedric J. Robinson, Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2000).

Music: "Vintage Memories" by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Mar 12, 2021
8 | (Neo)colonialism and Anticolonialism
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In episode 8, we look to the writings of Aimé Césaire to guide a conversation about colonialism, neocolonialism, and anti-colonial thought and struggle. Focusing especially on his 1950 Discourse on Colonialism and his 1956 letter to Maurice Thorez—in which he explains his resignation from French Communist Party—we discuss the subjective and objective ‘boomerang effects’ of colonialism on colonizing countries, the tensions between particularism and universalism in putatively global left politics, the relationship between colonialism and capitalism, and the state of neocolonial domination and exploitation.

Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism. Ed. Robin D.G. Kelly. Monthly Review Press, 2000.

Aimé Césaire, “Letter to Maurice Thorez”, trans. Chike Jeffers, Social Text 28.2 (2010): 145-52.

Silvia Federici, "War, Globalization, and Reproduction," in Revolution at Point Zero. PM Press, 2012.

Paul Gilroy, Against Race: Imagining Political Culture beyond the Color Line. Harvard University Press, 2002.

Music: "Vintage Memories" by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Feb 26, 2021
7 | Why Does Class Matter?
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Episode 7 dives into class theory as we discuss why it’s important to make a normative case for class politics, misconceptions about who the working class is, and why the labor market dominates. We also ruminate on why workers don’t always organize and why solidarity is a counterculture. Plot twist: Lillian accuses everyone except herself of class reductionism. 

Lillian Cicerchia, "Why Does Class Matter?", Social Theory and Practice 47:4 (2021): 
https://philpapers.org/go.pl?id=CICWDC&proxyId=&u=https%3A%2F%2Fdx.doi.org%2F10.5840%2Fsoctheorpract2021916136

Claus Offe and Heimut Weisenthal. “Two Logics of Collective Action.” In Disorganized Capitalism. The MIT Press, 1985.

Cedric Johnson. Revolutionaries to Race Leaders: Black Power and the Making of African American Politics. University of Minnesota Press, 2007. 

Music: "Vintage Memories" by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Feb 12, 2021
6 | What's Left of Positivism (with Dr. Liam Kofi Bright)
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In this episode, we heal the divide between analytic and continental philosophy by finally giving logical positivism its due. Dr. Liam Kofi Bright (London School of Economics, @lastpositivist) explains the socialist roots of some of the positivists, details their views on the role of science and knowledge in projects of social betterment, and defends the political importance of clarity.

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil

References:

Hans Hahn, Otto Neurath, and Rudolf Carnap, “The Scientific Conception of the World: The Vienna Circle,” at https://www.manchesterism.com/the-scientific-conception-of-the-world-the-vienna-circle/

Otto Neurath, “Personal Life and Class Struggle.” In Empiricism and Sociology. Edited by Marie Neurath and Robert S. Cohen (Dordrecht-Holland: D. Reidel Publishing Company), 283-297.

Rudolf Carnap, Lecture notes from “Philosophy-Opium for the Well-Educated.” Translated by Chris Lembeck.

Rudolf Carnap, 1932/33. “Psychology in Physical Language.” In Erkenntnis 3: 107-142.

Liam Kofi Bright, 2017. “Logical Empiricists on Race.” In Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 65: 9-18.

Stuart Jeffries, “Bilston's revival: the pursuit of happiness in a Black Country town” at https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/aug/02/pursuit-happiness-black-country-town-bilston

Liam Kofi Bright, “Schlick’s Utopia” at http://sootyempiric.blogspot.com/2016/12/schlicks-utopia.html

Music: "Vintage Memories" by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Jan 29, 2021
5 Teaser | Beauvoir: Existentialism and Liberation
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Full episode on the Patreon: patreon.com/leftofphilosophy

In this episode, we talk about Simone de Beauvoir's masterful book The Ethics of Ambiguity. We spend some time with her typology of inadequate ethical positions, focusing on the subhuman, the serious person, and the nihilist, and discuss what it means to say that freedom is only possible as a liberatory movement. Oh and we make fun of the abstract negation of revolt, the absolute value of the Target corporation, and Ayn Rand's 'epistemology'.

follow us @leftofphil

References:

Simone de Beauvoir, The Ethics of Ambiguity, trans. Bernard Frechtman (New York: Open Road, 2018)

Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism is a Humanism, trans. Carol Macomber, ed. John Kulka (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007)

Jean-Paul Sartre, Anti-Semite and Jew, trans. George J. Becker (New York: Schocken Books, 1976)

Wolfgang Streeck, How Will Capitalism End? Essays on a Failing System (New York: Verso, 2017)

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Jan 15, 2021
4 | Security, Supreme Concept of Bourgeois Society?
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In our fourth episode we talk about security, digging into Mark Neocleous' argument, following Marx, that security rather than liberty is 'the supreme concept of bourgeois society'. But we also ask the thorny question of how the left can speak to everyone's desire to feel safe while critically highlighting the racialized violence and ruling-class utility of existing security regimes. It's, uh, more fun than that probably sounds.

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil

References:

Mark Neocleous, Critique of Security (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2008)

Mark Neocleous & George Rigakos (eds.), Anti-Security (Ottawa: Red Quill Books, 2011)

Anonymous, A World Without Police (2016), at aworldwithoutpolice.org

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Jan 01, 2021
3 | Laclau and Mouffe, or How we learned to hate class and love Derrida
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In our third episode, we talk about Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe’s Hegemony and Socialist Strategy, the landmark text of post-Marxism. Both serious arguments and slam dunks ensue.

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil

References:

Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics. Second Edition (New York: Verso, 2001)

Karl Marx, “Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy.” In Selected Writings. Ed. Lawrence H. Simon. (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1994)

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Dec 18, 2020
2 | Stuart Hall: What are the politics of culture?
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In this episode we discuss the work of cultural theorist Stuart Hall and his politics of culture. We focus on his relationship to Althusser and Gramsci with a detour through contemporary Black politics in the United States.

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil

References:

Stuart Hall, Cultural Studies 1983: A Theoretical History. Edited by Jennifer Daryl Slack and Lawrence Grossberg (Durham: Duke University Press, 2016)

Stuart Hall, “Political Commitment, 1966.” In Selected Political Writings: The Great Moving Right Show and Other Essays. Edited by Sally Davison, David Featherstone, Michael Rustin, and Bill Schwarz (Durham: Duke University Press, 2017)

Stuart Hall, “Gramsci’s Relevance for the Study of Race and Ethnicity [1986].” In Essential Essays Volume Two: Identity and Diaspora. Edited by David Morley (Durham: Duke University Press, 2019)

Stuart Hall, “What is this ‘Black’ in Black Popular Culture? [1992].” In Essential Essays Volume Two: Identity and Diaspora. Edited by David Morley (Durham: Duke University Press, 2019)

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Dec 18, 2020
1 | Althusser: Marxism and Philosophy
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In our inaugural episode, we talk about Louis Althusser’s pathbreaking work on philosophy and Marxism from the 1960s. Targets of reckless slander include Sartre and post-structuralist theories of agency.

patreon.com/leftofphilosophy | @leftofphil

References:

Louis Althusser, Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays. Translated by Ben Brewster (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2001)

Louis Althusser, Philosophy and the Spontaneous Philosophy of the Scientists. Translated by Ben Brewster, James H. Kavanagh, Thomas E. Lewis, Grahame Lock, and Warren Montag. Edited by Gregory Elliott (New York: Verso, 2011)

Louis Althusser, Machiavelli and Us. Translated by Gregory Elliott. Edited by François Matheron (New York: Verso, 2000)

Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com

Dec 18, 2020