153 episodes

Weekly conversations on race, inequality, and more, with Glenn Loury. Bi-weekly appearances by John McWhorter.

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The Glenn Show Glenn Loury

    • Society & Culture
    • 5.0 • 2 Ratings

Weekly conversations on race, inequality, and more, with Glenn Loury. Bi-weekly appearances by John McWhorter.

glennloury.substack.com

    John McWhorter & Richard Wolff – Capitalism and Democracy in Post-Industrial America

    John McWhorter & Richard Wolff – Capitalism and Democracy in Post-Industrial America

    This week on The Glenn Show, John McWhorter and I are joined by Richard Wolff, Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Visiting Professor of International Affairs at the the New School. Richard is Marxian in his orientation and I am not, so we do some debating here. And while we may not agree on much as far as economics goes, we do share some concerns about the direction of the left in this country.

    Before the conversation, I make an important announcement: Beginning today, I’m partnering with the Manhattan Institute to bring you The Glenn Show and this newsletter. I lay out what this means in my introduction and in conversation with John at the end of the show, but here are two important takeaways. First, I will maintain full editorial independence over all the content on the podcast and at the newsletter. And second, we’re lowering the cost of the newsletter. For monthly subscribers, fees will drop from $7/month to $6/month. The price of an annual subscription will drop even more substantially, from $70/year to $50/year. For those of you who already have an annual subscription, we’ll extend it by three months to make up the difference. I’m having success here at TGS, and I want to share it with you.

    And with that, let’s get into it.

    Richard begins by describing his student days and early career, when he was relatively quiet about his Marxism, the post-Occupy Wall Street environment that made him into a public intellectual, and his origins in Youngstown, Ohio, where the flight of capital devastated the formerly thriving industrial city. He argues that capitalism is not only bad for democracy but inherently anti-democratic, since it allows unelected CEOs and boards of directors to determine the economic fate of huge swathes of the populace.

    I take some issue with this. First, I ask Richard to respond to Friedrich von Hayek’s claim that markets will always allocate information and resources more efficiently than centrally planned economies. Second, I raise the point that business owners are entering into a contract with employees. It’s a standard exchange of goods and services. Why should employees have any right to the business owner’s property beyond an agreed-upon wage or salary? There is also the matter of socialism’s historical track record, which Richard defends. Richard and I do find some common ground in our skepticism toward the contemporary left, which sometimes seems to have abandoned the working class in favor of identity politics.

    Once Richard departs, John and I discuss my new partnership with the Manhattan Institute. He and I both want to make clear that John himself is not employed by the Manhattan Institute, though he used to be, and he still respects what they do.

    There’s a lot happening in this episode and in TGS World. As always, I look forward to reading your comments.

    This post is free and available to the public. To receive early access to TGS episodes, an ad-free podcast feed, Q&As, and other exclusive content and benefits, click below.

    0:00 A special announcement from Glenn

    3:47 Richard’s journey from quiet Marxist to public intellectual

    9:08 Why Youngstown, Ohio was left behind 

    12:04 Richard: Capitalist ownership is inherently anti-democratic

    15:41 Richard’s critique of Hayekian libertarianism   

    21:44 Pecuniary externalities vs. objective externalities 

    23:49 Socialism’s historical track record 

    31:07 Employees as stakeholders 

    34:36 The rise of the right in the wake of the New Deal and WWII

    42:00 The Glenn Show’s new partnership with the Manhattan Institute

    Links and Readings

    The Manhattan Institute

    Richard’s book (with Stephen Resnick), Class Theory and History: Capitalism and Communism in the USSR

    Glenn and John on Herschel Walker

    Clifton Roscoe’s critique of Glenn and John on Herschel Walker

    John’s NYT column about Walker

    This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss t

    • 53 min
    Stephon Alexander – Fear of a Black Universe

    Stephon Alexander – Fear of a Black Universe

    This week, we’re getting into cosmic terrain here on The Glenn Show with my guest and Brown University colleague, theoretical physicist Stephon Alexander.

    Steph takes his inspiration not just from other physicists but from artists and musicians as well. And I can report from personal experience that he is a tremendous jazz saxophonist. For him, there’s nothing superficial about the relationship between science and art. His first book, The Jazz of Physics, explores the connection between music and the elemental forces that hold our universe together. Steph’s project reminds me of one of my favorite books, Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, which explores the role of self-reference in science, art, and music. Apparently I’m on the money, and Steph explains the central role of self-reference in his books.

    Steph and I both work in quantitative fields that demand measurable excellence of their participants, so I ask Steph what he thinks of racial and ethnic disparities in math-heavy areas of study. He describes his own experience as a teacher and as an undergrad, and how he learned that he would not only have to master the material but overcome lowered expectations that would only have held him back. Steph takes us through his latest book, Fear of a Black Universe: An Outsider’s Guide to the Future of Physics, which looks at the role of innovative “outsiders” (among whom Steph counts himself).

    Blacks may be “outsiders” in physics now, but the same was once true of Jews, and Steph talks about the inspiration he takes from the great Jewish physicists. This leads us to discuss some of my own ideas about stigma, and we have a good laugh about the times when stigma has led people to underestimate us. And finally, the question you’ve all been waiting for: What exactly is the Higgs boson, and why is its discovery such a big deal?

    I’ve learned a ton from talking to Steph, and I hope you will, too. I’m sure this isn’t the last time you’ll see him on TGS.

    This post is free and available to the public. To receive early access to TGS episodes, an ad-free podcast feed, Q&As, and other exclusive content and benefits, click below.

    0:00 Glenn and Steph’s jam session

    2:29 Steph’s adventures in the multiverse

    6:40 The parallels between black art and physics

    12:34 The centrality of self-reference in Steph’s work

    18:26 Is there a racial dimension to how excellence reveals itself in students?

    32:34 How Steph learned to level up

    41:04 Steph’s new book, Fear of a Black Universe: An Outsider’s Guide to the Future of Physics

    48:50 Steph’s admiration for prior generations of Jewish physicists

    56:48 How Glenn and Steph navigate stigma

    1:10:43 What is the Higgs boson?

    Links and Readings

    Steph’s first book, The Jazz of Physics: The Secret Link between Music and the Structure of the Universe

    Steph’s latest book, Fear of a Black Universe: An Outsider’s Guide to the Future of Physics

    Ultramagnetic MCs’ “Watch Me Now”

    Douglas Hofstadter’s book, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid

    Glenn’s book, The Anatomy of Racial Inequality

    This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit glennloury.substack.com/subscribe

    • 1 hr 16 min
    John McWhorter – Race and Conservatism: Walker, Thomas, and Wax

    John McWhorter – Race and Conservatism: Walker, Thomas, and Wax

    John McWhorter is back again for one of our twice-monthly conversations. This is a hot one, so let’s get into it.

    In this week’s episode, we discuss three controversial figures: Herschel Walker, Clarence Thomas, and Amy Wax. We begin with John’s outstanding column about Walker, the Republican candidate for Senate in Georgia. John pulls no punches. He sees Walker as an insultingly underqualified contender meant solely to attract Georgia’s sizable black vote. John argues that Walker seems to have no meaningful knowledge of any relevant policy issue, and he’s apparently uninterested in trying to make it seem like he does. I do my best to present the case for Walker, but John does have a point.

    Robert Woodson and I wrote an open letter decrying recent ugly, racist (let me say again, racist) attacks on Justice Clarence Thomas, and John has signed on. I argue that, no matter what you think of Thomas’s conservatism, he is undeniably a towering figure in American jurisprudence. His influence and ideas will be felt for generations, and his life story as an African American born under Jim Crow who has risen to the pinnacle of the legal system is iconic. The attempt to write him out of black history just because he’s a conservative is disgraceful.

    It’s hard to find someone who has been the subject of more controversy than Thomas, but my friend Amy Wax has got to be in the running for second place. John is disturbed by reports that Amy allegedly brings some of her edgier ideas about race into the classroom when she teaches. I certainly don’t endorse all of Amy’s positions, and I think that one must be especially thoughtful when speaking in front of a classroom. But I can’t abide the idea that Amy would be punished simply for holding views that some people don’t like. That’s why I’m inviting her back to The Glenn Show.

    I’m sure everyone’s going to have a lot to say about this one. I can’t wait to read your comments, so fire away!

    This post is free and available to the public. To receive early access to TGS episodes, an ad-free podcast feed, Q&As, and other exclusive content and benefits, click below.

    0:00 John: Republicans’ elevation of Herschel Walker is an insult

    9:43 If Walker is so inept, why does he have so much support? 

    15:16 Where’s the outrage over racist attacks on Clarence Thomas?

    24:55 Thomas’s historical significance 

    36:03 The Clarence Thomas (and Al Sharpton) we don’t see

    41:31 Are Amy Wax’s views beyond the pale? 

    53:59 John: “Amy should know better”

    1:09:13 Amy Wax’s return to The Glenn Show 

    Links and Readings

    John’s NYT column, “When Republicans Backed Herschel Walker, They Embraced a Double Standard”

    Glenn and Robert Woodson’s open letter on Clarence Thomas

    Thurgood Marshall’s Bicentennial Speech 

    Gerald Early’s Common Reader essay, “Black Conservatives Explain It All! or Princes and Powers 2.0”

    Glenn’s most recent conversation with Amy Wax

    Amy Wax’s book, Race, Wrongs, and Remedies: Group Justice in the 21st Century

    Glenn’s Daily Pennsylvanian column in support of Amy Wax

    This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit glennloury.substack.com/subscribe

    • 1 hr 22 min
    Rajiv Sethi – Our Gun Problem

    Rajiv Sethi – Our Gun Problem

    My guest this week is my friend Rajiv Sethi. Rajiv is Professor of Economics at Barnard College, Columbia University and External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute, and he writes an occasional newsletter at Imperfect Information. He’s published widely on problems of crime and segregation, among many other topics, and as you’ll hear in this conversation, he’s done some deep thinking about an area that is sadly pertinent to our society today: gun violence.

    I first ask Rajiv to catch me up on how economists are thinking about the state of financial markets today, and in short, things aren’t looking good. You don’t need a PhD in economics to know that. Just look at your stock portfolio. But Rajiv makes an interesting connection between the economist John Kenneth Galbraith’s analysis of the stock market crash of 1929 and the ongoing, much-publicized cryptocurrency crash. Rajiv talks about his blogging and his Substack, including his critique of Sundhil Mullainathan’s analysis of bias and police violence. We move on to the recent Supreme Court gun ruling and attempts by gun control advocates to float policies intended to reduce gun violence. Rajiv is critical of many of these policies, not because he doesn’t want to reduce gun violence but because he thinks the policies won’t be consequential enough. Much gun violence takes place amongst African Americans, but Rajiv wants to separate, to de-essentialize, race and violence. He draws on some of my own work on these issues to ask how we can look at the conditions that render acts of violence in high-crime areas, in some sense, rational. Certain conditions must make violence seem like the right solution to a given problem. Rajiv argues that we’re all—all Americans—involved in creating those conditions, and so we cannot simply say that the problems of high-crime black communities are their problems and not ours. I’m very much against racial essentialism, but we see it everywhere, including in our school with CRT-influenced policies and practices. While Rajiv acknowledges the excesses, he sees an equal threat coming from the anti-CRT backlash, and points to the case of Cecilia Lewis as an example. Along the same lines, he thinks that many critiques of the 1619 Project miss something important about the true depth and length of American history. And finally, we return to the problem of gun violence and bias in policing. Rajiv’s got an interesting idea to disincentivize illegal gun sales and some theories about why we see such stark racial disparities in the commission of gun crimes.

    Yesterday, I posted a conversation with John McWhorter that addressed civil and constructive disagreement. Rajiv and I certainly disagree about some things, but his arguments can’t simply be brushed aside. I’m quite interested to know what you all think of this one. Let me know!

    This post is free and available to the public. To receive early access to TGS episodes, an ad-free podcast feed, Q&As, and other exclusive content and benefits, click below.

    0:00 The cryptocurrency bezzle 

    6:52 Rajiv’s critique of the contact hypothesis

    12:53 Will popular proposed gun control measures meaningfully reduce homicides? 

    19:08 Can we talk about culture without becoming essentialists?

    30:19 Rajiv: I find self-censorship and anti-CRT mobs equally disturbing

    43:28 Debating the 1619 Project

    51:00 Rajiv’s idea to reduce illegal firearm sales: gun insurance 

    1:02:35 Why do we see such racial disparities in gun violence? Rajiv has some theories

    1:11:02 What did we learn from the second Justice Department investigation in Ferguson? 

    Links and Readings

    John Kenneth Galbraith’s book, The Great Crash 1929

    Rajiv’s Substack, Imperfect Information

    Rajiv’s post about The Anatomy of Racial Inequality

    Sendhil Mullainathan’s NYT piece, “Police Killings of Blacks: Here Is What the Data Say”

    Rajiv’s post about Mullainathan’s claims

    Rajiv and Brendan O’

    • 1 hr 24 min
    Bonus Episode: Glenn and John at Heterodox Academy

    Bonus Episode: Glenn and John at Heterodox Academy

    Last month, John McWhorter and I participated in Heterodox Academy’s 2022 conference in Denver, Colorado. We spoke in front of an audience and discussed how to model constructive disagreement. But before that, we had a bit of a warm-up session with Zach Rausch, host of the Heterodox Out Loud podcast. Zach had us in to talk about our long relationship as conversation partners, civil discourse, and the purpose of the university. Newer listeners may be interested to hear about my “origin story” with John. While we’re good friends now, that wasn’t always the case. We’ve had our ups and downs, and we’ve switched sides on some issues. (Here’s our first recorded conversation, from November 2007.) But we keep coming back because we enjoy talking to each other too much to quit, and because we believe if we don’t have the kind of conversations we have, they might not happen at all.

    This post is free and available to the public. To receive early access to TGS episodes, an ad-free podcast feed, Q&As, and other exclusive content and benefits, click below.

    JOHN MCWHORTER: There's another thing actually, which is, you should distrust if you can look into yourself, a feeling that you're arguing for a point because doing so is what makes you a good person. You should strive to get away from the belly and stick with the head.

    GLENN LOURY: We come to the university as black or white or Latino or gay or trans. That's not who we are. Our essence is much broader and finer and deeper and richer and human than that.

    ZACH RAUSCH: Glenn Loury and John McWhorter on Heterodox Out Loud. I'm Zach Rausch. Today, a special conversation with both of them. This was recorded at Heterodox Academy's 2022 Conference in Denver. For those who could not be at the conference, we got your back. We recorded a few exclusive conversations with our featured speakers to give you a taste of the extraordinary conversations that were had.

    Our guests today are Glenn Loury, professor of the Social Sciences and Economics at Brown University, and John McWhorter, professor of Linguistics at Columbia University. John has authored over 20 books on issues of race and language and writes a widely read biweekly newsletter for the New York Times. Glenn has published numerous influential books on race, inequality, and economics. He's also the well-known host of the podcast The Glenn Show on BloggingheadsTV, where John is a regular guest.

    In our interview, we discuss the future of higher education and how we can improve our collective discourse. It was recorded on the morning of their talk at the conference. I asked Glenn what they'd be discussing.

    GLENN LOURY: I haven't got any idea. All I know is that the subject matter is how do you have productive conversations? I take it that John and I, in our podcast practice, model productive conversation. And so we're going to be reviewing the nuts and bolts and the foundation of how it is that we're able to discuss contentious matters with one another productively. In 2007, a guy called Josh Cohen, a philosopher at Stanford, invited me onto Robert Wright's platform Bloggingheads to discuss some lectures that I had given on mass incarceration at Stanford that year. That was my first exposure to any kind of podcasting. I came on. I had a couple of conversations with Josh. They were well received.

    Bob Wright invited me to be a regular contributor to his platform, hosting a variety of people of my choosing, and John was one of those people. This is 2007, at the height of the Democratic Party primary contest, which Barack Obama ultimately won. So John and I started having conversations prompted by the events of the day around questions of race. And my association with Bloggingheads developed such that I was doing a post once a week or so at Bloggingheads, and John would be a guest once a month or so on the platform that I was developing with Robert Wright at Bloggingheads. And that went on from 2007 continuously unti

    • 22 min
    Glenn and John Live at the Comedy Cellar

    Glenn and John Live at the Comedy Cellar

    A couple weeks ago, The Glenn Show returned to New York’s Comedy Cellar. This time I was joined by John McWhorter and a trio of fantastic comics: Sherrod Small, Jon Laster, and Nimesh Patel. There were a lot of laughs and a lot big questions addressed, so let’s get into it.

    John and I begin with a comment left on one of our previous conversations from an economically disadvantaged white man who recounted his frustrated attempts to get into law school. Affirmative action helps elevate women and racial minorities, but shouldn’t it focus more on socioeconomic factors than “diversity”? John and I are always trying to move the needle on issues like this, and it’s sometimes hard to tell whether our conversations are having an effect. The crowd seems to think they are! John brings up charter schools, and I advance an argument in favor of more school choice. We then move onto racial disparities. I think that most people know on some level that “systemic racism” is not really the cause of racial disparities in the commission of violent crimes, and yet it’s so hard to have an honest conversation about it in casual circumstances. John argues that the real core of the race debate in America has to do with the relationship between black people and the police, at which point Sherrod, Nimesh, and Jon come out to join us. Laster tells us about the Jon Laster Challenge, in which he asked black men he knew to recount bad run-ins with the police and his app, which promotes black-owned businesses. Next, Sherrod shows off his crowd work chops and riffs with the audience. One audience member asks what draws the people who become police to the job, and I ask Jon what he really thinks we should do about violent crime in black communities. Finally, we end the event with some questions from the audience.

    I had a a lot of fun up there onstage, and I was so happy to meet the subscribers who came up to say hello afterward. If you missed us this time around, don’t worry. You’ll have another chance. Watch this space for more.

    Note: There were some slight technical difficulties with the recording. As a consequence, the first minute or so of the conversation is missing. Many apologies.

    This post is free and available to the public. To receive early access to TGS episodes, an ad-free podcast feed, Q&As, and other exclusive content and benefits, click below.

    0:00 Why do race and gender trump socioeconomics in affirmative action considerations? 

    9:03 Are Glenn and John making a difference in the race debate? 

    11:30 The argument for charter schools

    19:54 Glenn: Nobody really believes that racism is the cause of racial disparities in crime

    23:05 The difficulty of having an honest conversation about race and crime

    28:15 Seizing the possibilities of our freedom 

    38:22 John: The race debate is about the cops

    40:02 The Jon Laster Challenge

    45:00 Sherrod talks to the crowd 

    47:27 Why do cops become cops? 

    54:41 Jon: Money is the biggest problem in black communities 

    1:03:16 Can poverty account for violence in black communities? 

    1:08:49 Q&A: Do we need more black police?

    1:10:45 Q&A: Have Glenn and John gotten credit for highlighting The Trayvon Hoax?

    1:16:59 Q&A: John clarifies his position on the Georgia voting law 

    Links and Readings

    Ian Rowe’s book, Agency: The Four Point Plan (F.R.E.E.) for ALL Children to Overcome the Victimhood Narrative and Discover Their Pathway to Power

    Jon’s app, Blapp

    Sherrod’s podcast, Race Wars

    This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit glennloury.substack.com/subscribe

    • 1 hr 21 min

Customer Reviews

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