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Current Affairs

396 episodes - English - Latest episode: 4 months ago - ★★★★★ - 564 ratings

A podcast of politics and culture, from the editors of Current Affairs magazine.

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The Entirely Predictable Collapse of FTX and the Future of Crypto Cons (w/ Stephen Diehl)

November 29, 2022 23:18 - 47 minutes - 43.9 MB

One of the world's largest cryptocurrency exchanges, FTX, recently imploded spectacularly. Its CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried, had been called "the next Warren Buffett" and was a Democratic megadonor as well as a major funder of the "Effective Altruism" movement. Overnight, Bankman-Fried saw his fortune and his company wiped out, and he is now under criminal investigation.  To explain what happened, and why we keep seeing spectacular frauds in the crypto industry, we are joined today by Stephen Die...

Why Socialism and Trans Liberation Need Each Other (w/ Shon Faye)

November 29, 2022 23:16 - 51 minutes - 46.7 MB

Shon Faye is the author of the book The Transgender Issue: Trans Justice is Justice For All, available from Verso. The title of the book is meant slightly ironically, because part of Faye's argument is directed against talking about a "transgender issue" in the first place. Faye's book is a manifesto for a specifically socialist form of trans liberation, which she contrasts with the politics of liberal inclusion, which is often "inclusion within deeply unequal at best and at worse quite oppr...

How a Marine Became a Critic of U.S. Imperialism (w/ Lyle Jeremy Rubin)

November 29, 2022 23:13 - 43 minutes - 40.1 MB

Lyle Jeremy Rubin is a veteran of the U.S. Marines who served in Afghanistan. He is the author of the new memoir Pain is Weakness Leaving the Body: A Marine’s Unbecoming, which documents his evolution from a Young Republican patriot into a socialist critic of U.S. empire through direct exposure to the front-line realities of the U.S. “war on terror.” He shows how the “politics of overcompensation” convinces young men who want to feel secure and masculine to submit to oppressive hierarchical ...

Why The Market Is Not The Economy (w/ Nomi Prins)

November 29, 2022 23:12 - 36 minutes - 33.1 MB

Nomi Prins is one of the country's leading financial journalists, who has gone from working on Wall Street to exposing the inner workings of the economy and how it is rigged in favor of the powerful. Her books include Other People's Money: The Corporate Mugging of America, Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World, and most recently Permanent Distortion: How Financial Markets Abandoned the Real Economy Forever. Today Nomi joins Nathan to explain how the financial markets and the "real ...

What Happens When McKinsey Shows Up?

November 29, 2022 23:10 - 36 minutes - 33.3 MB

McKinsey & Co. is the world's leading consulting company. But it also does a lot of work that's, well, pretty downright sinister, and it's very secretive about that work. But in the new book When McKinsey Comes To Town: The Hidden Influence of the World's Most Powerful Consulting Firm,Walt Bogdanich and Michael Forsythe of the New York Times expose the hidden hand of McKinsey across the world. McKinsey has assisted opioid manufacturers, tobacco companies, fossil fuel companies, ICE, and auth...

The Editors Take a MasterClass: Anna Wintour Edition

November 29, 2022 23:08 - 47 minutes - 43.9 MB

The editorial team of Current Affairs is fascinated by the online learning platform MasterClass, on which A-list celebrities offer “classes” that are sometimes very cool but frequently of dubious educational value. We have previously taken and discussed the MasterClasses of Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. (We have not yet mustered the fortitude to sit through the Leadership Lessons From George W. Bush MasterClass.) Today we take and discuss the class offered by longtime Vogue editor-in-chi...

Why Our Wars Never End (w/ Chris Hedges)

November 29, 2022 23:05 - 41 minutes - 37.6 MB

Chris Hedges, who appeared on this program a few months back after the publication of his book Our Class, returns to discuss his powerful new book The Greatest Evil is War, which shows the true face of war and exposes the propagandistic narratives that help to sustain and escalate wars. Hedges, a veteran war correspondent, shows us the people who actually do the fighting and the dying, from those maimed and traumatized for life to those who must collect the corpses from the battlefield. He s...

A Merciless Intellectual Brawl Between a YIMBY and a "Left NIMBY"

November 29, 2022 23:01 - 1 hour - 65.6 MB

For some time, Nathan has been critical of the "YIMBY" (Yes In My Backyard) movement, which takes stances on housing policy that are sometimes classified as "market fundamentalist" or "trickle-down." Nathan's article "The Only Thing Worse Than a NIMBY is a YIMBY" is scathing, and Current Affairs has published a public service announcement discouraging people from letting their friends become YIMBYs. For their part, online YIMBYs generally do not care for Nathan, and he has been branded a lea...

How Billionaires Plan To Escape The World They've Destroyed

November 04, 2022 20:59 - 49 minutes - 45 MB

Douglas Rushkoff is a media and tech critic who has been called "one of the world's ten most influential intellectuals" by MIT. He has hosted PBS Frontline documentaries and written many books including Life Inc., Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, and most recently Survival of the Richest: Escape Fantasies of the Tech Billionaires. Today we talk about how Silicon Valley's elite are trying to shield themselves from the consequences of inequality and climate destruction.  Douglas' new book bu...

How Giant Corporations Squeeze Every Last Penny Out of Writers and Musicians

November 04, 2022 20:54 - 49 minutes - 45.5 MB

Rebecca Giblin is a professor at the University of Melbourne and the co-author (with Cory Doctorow) of Chokepoint Capitalism: How Big Tech and Big Content Captured Creative Labor Markets and How We'll Win Them Back. The book is about how corporations that act as gatekeepers between the creators of creative work and the public are able to use their power to extract huge amounts of wealth from workers. From YouTube to Amazon to LiveNation concerts to news conglomerates to Spotify, Giblin and D...

How to Save Sick Piglets While Avoiding Jail Time (w/ Wayne Hsiung and Matt Johnson)

November 04, 2022 20:51 - 45 minutes - 41.6 MB

Wayne Hsiung is a former law professor who was recently acquitted by a Utah jury after being charged with stealing two piglets from a factory farm, in a story that made national news. In 2017, animal liberation activist group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) released a video showing the horrifying conditions of pigs in a facility run by Smithfield Foods, and showing the rescue of two dying piglets from the farm. The activists, including Hsiung, were pursued relentlessly for the next five years...

How To Be A Smart Media Critic Who Knows Propaganda When They See It

November 04, 2022 20:48 - 59 minutes - 54.2 MB

Norman Solomon is one of the foremost progressive media critics, having founded the Institute for Public Accuracy and authored or co-authored many books on media including Unreliable Sources: A Guide to Detecting Bias in News Media, War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, and The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media.  Today Norman joins to give us a crash course in how to be an informed and careful consumer of news media who can spot bias and buzzwords. Norman expla...

How Do You Create A Leftist Animated Cartoon That Is Actually Funny?

November 04, 2022 20:45 - 51 minutes - 46.7 MB

Shawn Vulliez and Aaron Moritz are the creators and hosts of the utopian leftist comedy podcast Srsly Wrong and also the creators of the new animated series Papa and Boy, currently making its debut on the worker-owned streaming platform Means TV.  Papa and Boy is an absurdist comedy, but it's rich with political and social commentary. It's set in a dystopian world where fathers tyrannize over sons and justify their rule with a spurious ideology. Today Sean and Aaron join to discuss how they...

Why You Don't Need To Worry About "Superintelligent AI" Destroying The World (But Artificial Intelligence Is Still Scary)

November 04, 2022 20:41 - 48 minutes - 44.6 MB

Some, including both geniuses like Stephen Hawking and nongeniuses like Elon Musk, have warned that artificial intelligence poses a major risk to humankind's future. Some in the "Effective Altruist" community have become convinced that artificial intelligence is developing so rapidly that we could soon create "superintelligent" computers that are so much smarter than us that they could take over and pose a threat to our existence as a species. Books like Nick Bostrom's Superintelligence and ...

The Exciting Rise of the New U.S. Leftist Movement (w/ Raina Lipsitz)

November 04, 2022 20:38 - 40 minutes - 36.8 MB

Raina Lipsitz is a journalist whose book The Rise of a New Left: How Young Radicals Are Shaping the Future of American Politics profiles the young leftists who are bringing socialism back to American politics. Raina looks at high-profile campaigns like those of AOC and Bernie Sanders, but also at the left political victories that fly under the radar, occurring on city councils and in state legislatures. To anyone who wants to feel hopeful that a new generation of political leaders is rising ...

Why We Have To Teach Kids to Analyze and Debunk Propaganda

November 04, 2022 20:37 - 41 minutes - 38.4 MB

Sam Shain is a public school teacher whose book Education Revolution: Media Literacy for Political Awareness argues that K-12 students need to be equipped with the ability to analyze media and spot misinformation. This crucial skill, which helps them become informed participants in democracy and resist demagogues, is not actually widely taught. Shain explains how he teaches his students critical thinking, including playing "spot the fallacy" with Ben Shapiro videos and having students write ...

How the "Economic Style of Reasoning" Came to Dominate Social Policy

November 04, 2022 20:35 - 44 minutes - 40.6 MB

Prof. Elizabeth Popp Berman is the author of Thinking like an Economist: How Efficiency Replaced Equality in U.S. Public Policy, which documents how a style of reasoning that heavily emphasizes efficiency over equality came to dominate U.S. social policy. In our conversation we discuss the rise of "cost-benefit analysis" and how applying the economists' favored framework excludes important values from being taken into account. We talk about what the "economic style" misses and the solutions ...

Vietnam Veteran W.D. Ehrhart on What Americans Still Don't Know About the War (Part II)

October 04, 2022 18:02 - 34 minutes - 31.7 MB

Today we return to our interview with Dr. W.D. Ehrhart, for the second part of a conversation on what Americans should know about the war in Vietnam. The photograph is of Dr. Ehrhart himself in Vietnam. It appears accompanying his 2017 New York Times article "God, Jesus, and Vietnam."  Edited by Tim Gray.

Vietnam Veteran W.D. Ehrhart on What Americans Still Don't Know About the War (Part I)

October 04, 2022 17:59 - 31 minutes - 28.9 MB

Dr. W.D. Ehrhart is a Vietnam veteran, poet, teacher, and essayist who was active in Vietnam Veterans Against The War and has written multiple volumes of memoirs about his observations of the war and his return to civilian life afterwards, beginning with Vietnam-Perkasie. He has been hailed as "the dean of Vietnam war poets" and "one of the major figures in Vietnam War literature." His work offers a blunt and often haunting look at the realities of war. His collected poems, on Vietnam and ma...

How to Spot Copaganda (w/ Alex Karakatsanis)

October 04, 2022 17:56 - 41 minutes - 38.3 MB

Alec Karakatsanis is one of the country's most forceful and persuasive critics of the criminal punishment system. Alec is the founder and executive director of Civil Rights Corps, and as a civil rights lawyer he has fought against the vicious punishment system that cages the poor and plunges them into debt. Alec's work as a lawyer has been covered in the New York Times and he was recently a guest on the Daily Show. Alec's book Usual Cruelty: The Complicity of Lawyers in the Criminal Injustic...

Can The Minions Tell Us Anything?

September 23, 2022 15:37 - 59 minutes - 54.4 MB

"I will never again spend money on a Minion movie. ... I surprised myself. I went into this a huge fan of the Minions. And I thought 'Oh, they're so popular, we should talk about them on the left.' And I don't regret this conversation at all. It has deepened my understanding. But I have come out of it as an anti-fan." — Yasmin Nair  Current Affairs podcasts have been deadly serious lately, with many shows devoted to U.S. foreign policy, including episodes on Palestine (Part I, Part II), Af...

Palestine Part II: Rights and Crimes in the Conflict Today

September 23, 2022 15:34 - 42 minutes - 38.8 MB

In our previous episode on Palestine with Rashid Khalidi, we discussed the early history of the conflict. Today we speak with Noura Erakat, human rights lawyer and professor at Rutgers University, whose book Justice For Some: Law and the Question of Palestine (Stanford University Press) examines how international law does and doesn't apply in Israel and Palestine. We discuss why a two-state solution has not been implemented, and how international law has treated Palestinians over time.

The Enduring Moral Insight and Satirical Power of Charlie Chaplin and The Twilight Zone

September 23, 2022 15:32 - 56 minutes - 51.9 MB

Today we dive into old cinema and television, looking at the films of Charlie Chaplin and the television show The Twilight Zone, both of which have recently been the subject of essays in Current Affairs by Ciara Moloney. Ciara has written for Current Affairs on subjects ranging from the 2020 Democratic candidates' range of merch to Hollywood's depictions of George W. Bush. Her essays on Chaplin's films and The Twilight Zone make the case that while both have become enduring cultural tropes a...

Sensible Thinking About U.S. Foreign Policy: Russia, China, and the Threat of World War

September 23, 2022 15:30 - 45 minutes - 41.5 MB

Branko Marcetic is a staff writer for Jacobin and the author of Yesterday's Man: The Case Against Joe Biden. He is also a leading heterodox commentator on U.S. foreign policy, and has written critically about the U.S. approach to China and the war in Ukraine. Branko recently wrote an article for Current Affairs arguing that the Eisenhower administration's cautious response to Soviet aggression, prompted by the risk of nuclear escalation, offers an important set of lessons for us today. Today...

How Does the U.S. Exercise Power Around the World?

September 23, 2022 15:28 - 51 minutes - 47.1 MB

Vijay Prashad is a leading historian on the Global South and U.S. empire. His books include Washington Bullets, The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World and most recently The Withdrawal: Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and the Fragility of U.S. Power, which features Prashad in dialogue with Noam Chomsky. Today, he joins editor in chief Nathan J. Robinson for a spirited conversation on U.S. foreign policy. The discussion covers, among other things: Why the U.S. left has an obligat...

Why Is There an Israel-Palestine Conflict in the First Place?

September 23, 2022 15:26 - 56 minutes - 51.3 MB

Today, we see children killed in Gaza by Israeli airstrikes, but anyone who gets their understanding of the Israel-Palestine conflict from news reports lacks the context necessary to make sense of the horrors they are seeing. To understand why there is an Israel-Palestine conflict today, we have to go back a hundred years to see what Palestine was like before the state of Israel was established and how things changed.  Joining us to explain the background of the conflict is one of the leadi...

Afghanistan Through Western Eyes

September 23, 2022 15:21 - 51 minutes - 47.2 MB

Current Affairs editor at large Yasmin Nair and editor-in-chief Nathan J. Robinson have both written articles that deal with the country of Afghanistan. Yasmin's Evergreen Review piece, "Sharbat Gula Is Not Lost" is about the woman pictured in the iconic "Afghan Girl" photo that appeared on the cover of National Geographic. Nathan's essay "What Do We Owe Afghanistan?" (co-authored with Noam Chomsky) appears in Current Affairs and is a history of the American war from 2001 to 2021, looking at...

How Can We Deal With America's Gun Problem?

August 25, 2022 22:05 - 42 minutes - 38.7 MB

David Hemenway is a professor of public health at the Harvard School of Public Health. He is the author of Private Guns, Public Health which argues that there are many practical ways to significantly reduce the epidemic of American gun deaths. In his book While We Were Sleeping Success Stories in Injury and Violence Prevention, David provides case studies of previous efforts at reducing injuries and deaths, showing 60 different success stories that have made us all safer. David previously w...

The Moral Atrocity of Factory Farming and Why We Can't Look Away

August 19, 2022 12:27 - 45 minutes - 41.6 MB

Current Affairs is proud to be a publication that takes animal rights seriously. From our lighthearted looks at manatees, ants, and cats, to our more serious pieces on the Orwellian language of the factory farming industry, the reason animal communication shouldn't be the justification for animal rights, and the need for "Veticare For All," we have always believed that left politics and animal welfare go together. Today on the podcast we are joined by Marina Bolotnikova, a freelance journal...

Jeffrey Sachs On Why He Concluded COVID-19 Probably Came From a Lab (And Why Nobody Wants to Talk About It)

August 19, 2022 12:25 - 31 minutes - 29.3 MB

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs is the Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University and the President of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. He has also served as the chair of the COVID-19 commission for leading medical journal The Lancet. Through his investigations as the head of the COVID-19 commission, Prof. Sachs has come to the conclusion that there is extremely dangerous biotechnology research being kept from public view, that the United States was suppor...

Why Children Make Such Good Philosophers

August 19, 2022 12:24 - 44 minutes - 40.3 MB

In this episode, we discuss the strange creatures known as children. Scott Hershovitz is a professor of philosophy and law at the University of Michigan and the author of Nasty, Brutish, and Short: Adventures in Philosophy With My Kids, which chronicles (hilariously) his philosophical conversations with his sons Rex and Hank. The book is a great primer on some basic philosophical questions for adult readers, but it also shows that children are more profound philosophers than they are often a...

The Life of Murray Bookchin / Revolution in Rojava

August 19, 2022 12:23 - 54 minutes - 50.2 MB

Janet Biehl is one of the leading libertarian socialist writers in the country. For several decades, she was the partner and collaborator of the late political theorist Murray Bookchin, who stood, in the words of the Village Voice, "at the pinnacle of the genre of utopian social criticism." In bracing works like "Listen, Marxist!" and The Ecology of Freedom, Bookchin laid out the basis for an anti-capitalist, ecologically-oriented, and anti-authoritarian left. Bookchin's analysis was often p...

How Much Is a Whale Worth? (w/ Adrienne Buller)

August 19, 2022 12:22 - 46 minutes - 42.7 MB

In our last episode, we took a break from the depressing facts of the ecological crisis to simply marvel at the immense variety of experiences and sensations in the animal kingdom. Today we return to the tough stuff, although we begin with 30 seconds of whalesong to relax our spirits.  Nathan's guest is Adrienne Buller of the progressive UK think tank Common Wealth, whose book The Value of a Whale: On The Illusions of Green Capitalism (Manchester University Press) is a thorough, devastating...

The Wonderful World of Animal Senses and How They Expand Our View of The Universe (w/ Ed Yong)

August 19, 2022 12:20 - 41 minutes - 38.1 MB

Ed Yong of The Atlantic is the author of the new bestselling book An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us, which is about all of the fascinating ways in which animal senses differ from our own, and how they show the immense amount of information in the universe that is inaccessible to human beings. Ed's book gives us a glimpse of what the subjective experiences of other species are like, and they are incredible. Today we discuss how mind-expanding it is to empa...

Have the Suburbs Ruined Everything? (w/ Bill McKibben)

July 31, 2022 18:01 - 42 minutes - 38.7 MB

Bill McKibben is a legendary activist and writer whose 1989 book The End of Nature introduced the problem of global warming to a general audience. Since then, he has been one of the world's leading environmental activists, taking major roles in the fossil fuel divestment movement and the campaign against the Keystone pipeline. In his latest book, The Flag, The Cross, and The Station Wagon: A Graying American Looks Back at His Suburban Boyhood and Wonders What the Hell Happened, McKibben look...

A Set of Progressive Economic Principles That Can Actually Win Elections

July 31, 2022 17:59 - 50 minutes - 46.5 MB

Things do not look good for Joe Biden and the Democratic Party right now. Polls show that nearly 3/4 of Americans, including a staggering 94% of people under 30, do not want Biden to run for reelection. Biden's prospects look slightly better when people are asked if they prefer him or Donald Trump, and for Biden that's apparently enough. The New York Times says the president has a favorite aphorism: "Don't compare me to the Almighty, compare me to the alternative." (This is the worst aphoris...

A Neuroscientist Critiques the Dangerous "Populist" Pseudoscience of Yuval Noah Harari

July 31, 2022 17:56 - 55 minutes - 50.5 MB

Yuval Noah Harari is an Israeli historian whose books have been major bestsellers, praised by Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Barack Obama. Harari not only offers a sweeping chronicle of the human past, but makes confident predictions about the human future. His visions of a future in which technology creates godlike humans has turned him into a kind of prophet, especially in Silicon Valley, though Harari insists he is a mere objective chronicler.  Darshana Narayanan is a neuroscientist an...

Cory Doctorow on The Wondrous World of the Early Internet & How To Destroy Surveillance Capitalism

July 31, 2022 17:54 - 44 minutes - 40.5 MB

Pioneering blogger and science fiction writer Cory Doctorow has been an activist for online freedom since the early days of the history of the internet. He has long been one of the major voices opposing restrictive copyright and corporate domination, and a visionary defending a pluralistic online world where eccentricity and individuality are allowed to flourish. In books like Content: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright and the Future of the Future (which, like all of his b...

Debunking The Right's Bad History of Abortion Laws w/ Leslie Reagan

July 20, 2022 00:19 - 44 minutes - 40.9 MB

Prof. Leslie Reagan is the probably the country's leading expert on the history of abortion laws. Her award-winning book When Abortion Was a Crime: Women, Medicine, and Law in the United States, 1867-1973 is the most comprehensive available history of the era of criminalized abortion before Roe v. Wade, and Prof. Reagan is quoted regularly in the press for her knowledge of US abortion history. Her book on abortion law is distinguished by the fact that it focuses not just on the text of laws,...

Robin D.G. Kelley on the Importance of Utopian Visions for Social Movements

July 20, 2022 00:10 - 46 minutes - 43 MB

Robin D.G. Kelley is a professor of American History at UCLA. His classic study Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination is about to be re-released in a 20th Anniversary Edition. The book looks at how, throughout Black history, movements against oppression have been inspired by (and produced) grand visions of alternate possibilities for what life could be. Kelley shows how radicals have, in circumstances of grinding oppression, managed to expand our minds as to what is possible. Kelley'...

The 20-Year Catastrophe of the War In Afghanistan

July 20, 2022 00:07 - 45 minutes - 41.6 MB

The war in Afghanistan was a calamity from the start and four US presidents (Bush, Obama, Trump, Biden) have deceived the American public about it as they wrecked the country. This is the inescapable conclusion one gets from reading Washington Post reporter Craig Whitlock's bestselling book The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War (Simon & Schuster). Whitlock obtained internal government records showing that U.S. officials at every level knew that the war lacked coherent objective...

Oxford and the Making of the British Ruling Class

July 07, 2022 12:50 - 38 minutes - 35.4 MB

Financial Times journalist Simon Kuper's book Chums: How a Tiny Caste of Oxford Tories Took Over the UK argues that in order to understand how power works in the UK, you have to examine Oxford University, where most of its prime ministers are educated. The university has long functioned as the springboard to power for aspiring UK politicians, and Kuper takes us inside this insidious clubhouse, delivering a "searing critique of the British ruling class." Kuper argues that Brexit, far from bei...

Why Web3 Is Going Just Great (w/ Molly White)

July 07, 2022 12:48 - 41 minutes - 38.3 MB

Molly White is the world's foremost critic of cryptocurrency, according to a recent profile in the Washington Post. A veteran Wikipedia editor and software developer, White documents the frauds and catastrophes in the so-called "Web3" space on her website Web 3 Is Going Great. Molly actually drafted the Web3 Wikipedia entry, and joins today to explain whether it is anything more than a buzzword and how we can make sense of the bizarre ecosystem of cryptocurrency, Web3, blockchain, etc.  We ...

Thinking About Police After Uvalde and the San Francisco Prosecutor Recall (w/ Alex Vitale)

July 07, 2022 12:45 - 45 minutes - 41.8 MB

Alex Vitale is one of the country's foremost experts on policing and criminal punishment. He is a professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, where he coordinates the Policing and Social Justice Project. His book The End of Policing is a comprehensive critique of U.S. police and argues that nearly everything useful done by police can be done better by other institutions. (The book was published in 2017 but recently got an unexpected boost from U.S. senator Ted Cr...

Unearthing Queer History in America

July 07, 2022 12:43 - 41 minutes - 38.4 MB

Hugh Ryan is a writer and curator who unearths and preserves lost queer history. His books When Brooklyn Was Queer and The Women's House of Detention both tell stories of LGBTQ life before Stonewall, showing the vibrant and diverse lives of queer people in the United States in the early 20th century that have been left out of history textbooks. The New York Times calls When Brooklyn Was Queer "a boisterous, motley new history… an entertaining and insightful chronicle.” Writer Kaitlyn Greenid...

Destroying Democracy in Education: The Case of New Orleans

July 07, 2022 12:42 - 52 minutes - 48.4 MB

Celeste Lay is a professor of political science at Tulane University and the author of Public Schools, Private Governance: Education Reform and Democracy in New Orleans, which discusses the New Orleans charter school experiment. Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, New Orleans has switched to an all-charter system, essentially abolishing public schools, as part of one of the most radical experiments in "education reform" anywhere. Prof. Lay discusses the politics that made this change possible, ...

How To Create Beautiful Places - A guide to the work of the late Christopher Alexander

July 07, 2022 12:39 - 56 minutes - 52.1 MB

The architect Christopher Alexander died recently. As the (surprisingly good) New York Times obituary described him:  [Alexander] believed that ordinary people, not just trained architects, should have a hand in designing their houses, neighborhoods and cities, and proposed a method for doing so in writing that could be poetically erudite, frustratingly abstract and breathtakingly simple... Mr. Alexander was a fierce anti-modernist who found traditional and indigenous structures — the beehi...

Current Affairs Book Club: The Novels of Sally Rooney

July 07, 2022 12:38 - 1 hour - 56.8 MB

The bestselling novels of Sally Rooney have been subject to endless chatter. She has been hailed as the great millennial novelist by some, her work called "extraordinarily lucid, gorgeous and nuanced." (Washington Post) On the other hand, there are those who say that "Rooney and her readers hope to bask in the self-congratulatory glow of their supposed egalitarianism without ceding any of their accolades." Current Affairs editors Yasmin Nair, Lily Sánchez, and Nathan J. Robinson decided to s...

How Can We Plan a Viable Eco-Socialist Future That Everyone Likes?

July 07, 2022 12:36 - 57 minutes - 52.5 MB

One of the most fascinating and thought-provoking books of our time is Half-Earth Socialism: A Plan to Save the Future from Extinction, Climate Change and Pandemics (Verso) by Troy Vettese and Drew Pendergrass. The book asks the question: how could we actually have a future for Earth that is both green and socialist? The authors dive into the history of attempts to plan the economy, unearthing useful insights from neglected thinkers like Otto Neurath (developer of the very cool Isotype syste...

Inside the Real World of Union Organizing

July 07, 2022 12:34 - 46 minutes - 42.2 MB

Daisy Pitkin has been in the labor movement for two decades and is the author of the new book On the Line A Story of Class, Solidarity, and Two Women's Epic Fight to Build a Union, which tells the story of an effort to unionize an industrial laundry in Arizona. It's a moving account of the difficult grinding work of putting together a labor union under the most hostile imaginable conditions. In this episode, we discuss: The world of industrial laundries—hot, dangerous places hidden from pu...


Daniel Walden
2 Episodes
Ezra Klein
2 Episodes
Noam Chomsky
2 Episodes
Ryan Grim
2 Episodes
Ana Kasparian
1 Episode
Barbara Ehrenreich
1 Episode
Bill Gates
1 Episode
Ed Yong
1 Episode
Glenn Greenwald
1 Episode
Grace Blakeley
1 Episode
Ilhan Omar
1 Episode
Johann Hari
1 Episode
Mallory Ortberg
1 Episode
Philip K. Howard
1 Episode
Thomas Frank
1 Episode
Yanis Varoufakis
1 Episode


The Power of Art
1 Episode

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