This week Eric welcomes back to the show professor of economics, radio host, and author Richard Wolff to discuss unemployment, systemic failures, and the future of capitalism in the Age of COVID. Eric and Richard discuss his recent piece “Mass Unemployment Is a Failure of Capitalism” and why unemployment, and all the hardships it causes, is a choice made by capitalists. From there they explore the 2000, 2008, and 2020 crashes as a feature, not a bug, capitalism, and why a redistribution of labor has led to a generation of precarious gig workers and debt-ridden college graduates with little hope of a financial future. And what should the government be doing? Listen to this week’s show to find out.
This time Eric welcomes progressive Democratic candidate for the US House of Representatives from California’s 12th district, Shahid Buttar, who is challenging Nancy Pelosi in November’s general election. Eric and Shahid discuss his background and formative political experiences, his time in Washington and as an activist, and his reasons for running. From there, the conversation explores the Pelosi era in SF politics: gentrification, segregation, Pelosification. What are the power blocs in Bay Area politics? Which sectors of capital does Pelosi represent? How will his campaign overcome these institutional obstacles?
The second half of the show assesses Bernie’s campaign, his impact on American political life, and the possibility (or impossibility) of taking over the Democratic Party. Finally, Eric and Shahid examine the critical question: what role is there for the Left in US politics?
While we’re all stuck at home, there’s a world of films waiting to be seen. This week, we discuss ten films that every lefty must watch. Joining Eric is CounterPunch’s resident film critic Louis Proyect, and PhD student and author Shalon van Tine. Films discussed include:
Sansho the Bailiff (Mizoguchi, 1954)
Strike (Eisenstein, 1925)
Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein, 1925)
Salt of the Earth (Biberman, 1954)
Crimson Gold (Panahi/Kiarostami, 2003)
La Chinoise (Godard, 1967)
Ceddo (Sembene, 1977)
El Norte (Nava, 1983)
Seventh Seal (Bergman, 1957)
Sorry to Bother You (Riley, 2018)
Music: The Kinks – Celluloid Heroes
This time Eric welcomes to the show activist, unionist, and leading candidate for the Green Party nomination for President in 2020, Howie Hawkins. Eric and Howie discuss the importance of a left political alternative to the Democratic Party, and why arguments against it are disingenuous. Howie describes his background as a trade unionist, co-founder of the Green Party, and activist, and explains how that informs his politics today. Eric and Howie explore electoralism vs activism, the role of the Green Party with it shortcomings, and whether it can be a vehicle for the Left. Howie also provides some perspective on the Bernie Sanders campaign and explains why he wasn’t surprised to see Bernie do well in 2016. Finally, and most importantly, Howie answers the million dollar question: why bother with a third party in an undemocratic capitalist duopoly?
Music: David Rovics – “Failed State”
This time Eric welcomes back to the show CounterPunch contributor Paul Street to discuss capitalism and the pandemic, the Orange Antichrist, Bernie’s flame-out, and the shocking collapse of Truthdig. First, Eric and Paul go in depth on how the pandemic is a direct result of capitalist development and ecocide, and the fact that Trump’s base is only interested in white nationalism and authoritarianism. The second half of the show is a post-mortem of the Bernie Sanders campaign as Eric and Paul discuss what went wrong, and whether or not Bernie represents the final nail in the coffin of the “transforming the Democratic Party” mantra. Finally, Paul gives his inside perspective on what happened at Truthdig and why independent left media is so critical in these crazy times.
Music: The Mekons – “Simone”
This time Eric welcomes back to the show Marxist economist and author Michael Roberts to discuss the prospects for the global economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Eric and Michael begin by discussing whether the virus was an exogenous calamity or merely the tipping point for much deeper structural problems with global production and profitability. From there, Michael explains why Keynesians are wrong in describing “demand crises” when really it’s supply crises that drive economic downturns, and why comparisons of 2020 and 1987 fall flat. The second half of the episode explores the role of oil price collapse and corporate debt in exacerbating the coming depression, and the material reality of life for workers under the dire economic conditions we now face. Lots of ground covered with one of the best economists working today. Don’t miss it!
Music: Dean Wareham – Wayfaring Stranger
Counterpunch Radio returns with a conversation with philosopher Jason Stanley, author of “How Fascism Works” (2018). Eric and Jason explore the nature of contemporary fascism, its historical roots, and the connection between the politics and culture. They examine fascism as defined by Marxists versus that defined by liberal democrats and explore whether a single interpretation is insufficient. From there the interview touches on how Trump and fascists use language, the precarity of truth in a fascist era, and the question of whether Trump represents a unique threat or simply the removal of the white supremacist mask. Lots of ground covered in this great conversation.
Music: Audiobinger – Pumpkin Spice
This week Eric welcomes to the show activist and author Eric Blanc whose book Red State Revolt (Verso, 2019) documented the teachers strike wave across the country in 2018-2019. The conversation begins with a discussion of the nature of the strikes, the political context in which they happened, and the juxtaposition of labor activism in red versus blue states. From there, Eric explains how standardized testing, charter schools, and privatization broadly has decimated the teaching profession in recent decades, and how the recent labor uprising from teachers and education professionals is a backlash to those trends. The final part of the conversation focuses on the Bernie 2020 campaign, and the specifics of Bernie’s proposals on education and rolling back the Wall Street-financed privatization movement.
Music: Max Romeo – “Socialism Is Love”
This week Eric welcomes to the show investigative journalist and founder of Forensic News, Scott Stedman, along with Deutsche Bank whistleblower Val Broeksmit, to discuss the bombshell report from Forensic News confirming a direct link between Trump’s Deutsche Bank loans and the Russian bank VTB. The conversation begins with a deep dive into the story and Val’s background, including his father, a former Deutsche Bank executive who committed suicide in 2014. Val and Scott help lay out the connections between Trump, the US subsidiary of Deutsche Bank, and the Russian oligarch bank VTB. The conversation touches on numerous angles to this story including Val’s cooperation with the FBI, the main pieces of evidence, and a macro-level view of how this revelation fits into the broader Trump-Russia puzzle. Whether you’re a Russiagate enthusiast, skeptic, or somewhere in between, this week’s show is all about the evidence.
Music: Constantines – “Young Lions”
This week Eric welcomes to the show Iraq war veteran, antiwar activist, and filmmaker Mike Prysner to help us understand what’s going on in the minds of soldiers with the US on the brink of another war. Mike tells us about his journey from enlisting to finding himself on the ground in Iraq to coming home and organizing against the war and US imperialism. Eric and Mike discuss the reasons young people join, the myth versus reality, and the coercive nature of military recruitment. Mike also reminds us the history of war resisting, from the Philippines to Vietnam, and the historical tradition from which he comes. As we careen over the cliff into another war, it’s all the more important to listen to voices like Mike Prysner. Don’t miss this conversation.
Music: Minutemen – “The Big Stick”