24 episodes

Essay Questions is the podcast in which your hosts, Joe & Josh, read an essay that's interesting to them and/or of historical importance, and then talk about it. Pretty simple, right? Well, we like to think we're using these essays as a starting point for conversations that end up going in strange and surprising directions. Nothing makes us happier than dragging luminaries like Mencken, Orwell, Adorno, and Didion into our own long-standing obsessions with conspiracy theories, the National Security State, media consolidation, high and low culture, and the meaning and purpose of religion. But this isn't a seminar, and we're not scholars or experts. Joe is a comic, Josh is a writer, and for them, this is just fun. So if you love to read but feel like you don't do enough of it, and you think you might enjoy hearing two ordinary guys shoot the s*** about things other than sports, politics, or pop culture, this is the podcast for you. Each episode, we choose a reading that's publicly available and encourage all our listeners to read it beforehand so you can follow along with our conversation. And of course, you can also always contact us with your thoughts, too!

Essay Questions Jester Radio Network

    • Philosophy

Essay Questions is the podcast in which your hosts, Joe & Josh, read an essay that's interesting to them and/or of historical importance, and then talk about it. Pretty simple, right? Well, we like to think we're using these essays as a starting point for conversations that end up going in strange and surprising directions. Nothing makes us happier than dragging luminaries like Mencken, Orwell, Adorno, and Didion into our own long-standing obsessions with conspiracy theories, the National Security State, media consolidation, high and low culture, and the meaning and purpose of religion. But this isn't a seminar, and we're not scholars or experts. Joe is a comic, Josh is a writer, and for them, this is just fun. So if you love to read but feel like you don't do enough of it, and you think you might enjoy hearing two ordinary guys shoot the s*** about things other than sports, politics, or pop culture, this is the podcast for you. Each episode, we choose a reading that's publicly available and encourage all our listeners to read it beforehand so you can follow along with our conversation. And of course, you can also always contact us with your thoughts, too!

    Who Went Nazi... And Who Will?

    Who Went Nazi... And Who Will?

    In this little wrap-up of Season 2, Joe & Josh discuss Dorothy Thompson's famous 1941 Harper's essay "Who Goes Nazi?" In it, Thompson asked readers to look around the room at their next dinner party and guess who would collaborate with a fascist government in the United States. This piece, and the grim parlor game it describes, made the rounds on social media immediately before and after Donald Trump's election, and it has a lot to say about the personality types that are attracted to far-right movements, and maps pretty well on to the profiles we've read this season of major Alt-Right figures.

    We also tease our topic for Season 3, which hopefully will get to record before the world actually ends.

    "Who Goes Nazi?" by Dorothy Thompson, Harper's, 1941
    https://harpers.org/archive/1941/08/who-goes-nazi/

    Let us know what you think: essayquestionspodcast@gmail.com

    • 49 min
    Virtue Shaming

    Virtue Shaming

    Mark Fisher (1968-2017), aka k-punk, was one of the most sensitive and original Leftist writers the internet age has yet produced. In both his major work, Capitalist Realism, and his many essays and blog posts, Fisher expounded on literature, technology, and pop culture from a class-conscious but undogmatic perspective. For his gentle but firm critique of the pseudo-progressive call-out culture that still dominates online spaces, "Exiting the Vampire Castle," he was viciously - but predictably - attacked by petulant children obsessed by a bourgeois sense of proprietary, disguised as liberal political sentiment. In this episode, Joe & Josh discuss his legacy and ask how his thought and writing offer an alternative to both the toxicity of the Alt-Right and the narcissism of the fake Left.

    “Exiting the Vampire Castle” by Mark Fisher, The North Star, 2013
    http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=11299

    “Mark Fisher, 1968-2017” by Alex Niven, Jacobin, 2017
    https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/01/mark-fisher-capitalist-realism-vampire-castle/

    “The Safety Pin and The Swastika” by Shuja Haider, Viewpoint, 2017
    https://www.viewpointmag.com/2017/01/04/the-safety-pin-and-the-swastika/

    Let us know what you think: essayquestionspodcast@gmail.com

    • 1 hr 33 min
    Nationalist Born Killer

    Nationalist Born Killer

    Dylann Roof's murder of nine people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC shocked the nation in 2015, the most appalling act of right-wing terrorism in the U.S. since the Oklahoma City bombing - and the first inspired by the proliferation of racist, neo-fascist, and Alt-Right ideas online. Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah's masterful 2017 essay for GQ captures the heroism of Roof's victims, the rage of their survivors, and the world of Roof himself, who emerges as both mentally unstable and also utterly earnest in his racist ideology. He was also clearly infatuated with a certain mythologized version of American history, which is what Joe & Josh spend most of this episode talking about. They also ask if the word "terrorism" has any value, discuss American gun culture, and return to the Confederate monuments debate.

    “A Most American Terrorist” by Rachel Khaadzi Ghansah, GQ, 2017
    https://www.gq.com/story/dylann-roof-making-of-an-american-terrorist

    “Racism, Medievalism, and the White Supremacists of Charlottesville” by Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, 2017
    https://newrepublic.com/article/144320/racism-medievalism-white-supremacists-charlottesville

    “The War on White Heritage,” by Samuel Francis, American Renaissance, 2000
    https://www.amren.com/news/2015/06/the-war-on-white-heritage/

    Let us know what you think: essayquestionspodcast@gmail.com

    • 2 hrs 12 min
    Wild Broodmares Can’t Be Broken

    Wild Broodmares Can’t Be Broken

    As this season's readings have already made clear, male grievance and organized misogyny are a crucial feeder into the fevered swamps of the Alt-Right. So why would an otherwise sane, smart, independent woman want to make common cause with the Nazi contingent of the #gamergate and MGTOW crowd? In this episode, Joe & Josh discuss what motivates right-wing women, starting with the portrait of Lana Lokteff and her fascist sorority sisters in "Rise of the Valkyries" by Seyward Darby, from the September 2017 issue of Harper's. They also examine conservative sexism, the link between biology and gender roles, mis-pronounce "Hindutva," and ask once again how much attention to the Alt-Right is too much.

    “Rise of the Valkyries” by Seyward Darby, Harper’s, 2017
    https://harpers.org/archive/2017/09/the-rise-of-the-valkyries/

    Optional:
    “The Alt-Right Doesn’t Know What to Do With White Women” by Hannah Gais, The New Republic, 2017
    https://newrepublic.com/article/145325/alt-right-doesnt-know-white-women

    “This book in the marriage bible for alt-right women” by Laura Smith, Timeline, 2017
    https://timeline.com/fascinating-womanhood-andelin-feminism-509dfe538de7

    Let us know what you think: essayquestionspodcast@gmail.com

    • 1 hr 35 min
    Gaslighting Chambers

    Gaslighting Chambers

    The road from paranoid conspiracy theorist to out-and-out Nazi is a well-trod one, but no one has followed that road further than Andrew Anglin, the 5'4" American Goebbels of internet fascism. Founder of The Daily Stormer, perpetuator of long-discredited anti-Semitic canards, Filipino child bride-seeker, and man who is maybe 5'7" in his skinhead boots, Anglin is the big (but not tall) fish of the Alt-Right. In this episode, Joe & Josh break down why anti-Semitism has such staying power, whether or not no-platforming works, and how media outlets can best report on the likes of well-under-average-height hatemonger Anglin. Our discussion ranges from Luke O'Brien's December 2017 cover story in The Atlantic to Anglin's own short (get it?) Alt-Right explainer for normies.

    “The Making of an American Nazi” by Luke O’Brien, The Atlantic, 2017
    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/12/the-making-of-an-american-nazi/544119/

    Optional:
    “My Journey to the Center of the Alt-Right” by Luke O’Brien, Highline, 2016
    http://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/alt-right/

    “A Normie’s Guide to the Alt-Right” by Andrew Anglin, The Daily Stormer, 2016


    Let us know what you think: essayquestionspodcast@gmail.com

    • 1 hr 32 min
    Dearth of a Nation

    Dearth of a Nation

    It seems like "traditionalist" neo-Nazi organizer Matt Heimbach has reached the end of his ignoble career, facing accusations of vicious assault in the wake of a sordid affair with the wife of his top deputy, who is also Heimbach's wife's stepfather. (Good work on keeping the family sacred, Heimbach clan.) That story is bonkers, but in this episode, Joe & Josh catch Matt at the inauspicious start of his white nationalist campaign, as the founder of a "White Student Union" on his college campus in 2013. Wes Enzinna's profile captures a group of dough-faced youths more silly than sinister, though the days of streetfighting with AntiFa were just around the corner. Also discussed: Is the free speech crisis on college campuses real? How should journalists write about Nazis? Are there any Jews in Ohio? Read all about it - (and look, the essays are short this time! You damn slackers...):
    “Here Comes the White Power Safety Patrol” by Wes Enzinna, Vice, 2013
    https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/5gw75k/here-comes-the-white-power-safety-patrol-000985-v20n5
    Optional:
    “The Coddling of the American Mind” by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff, The Atlantic, 2015
    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/09/the-coddling-of-the-american-mind/399356/
    “A Voice for Hate in America’s Heartland” by Richard Fausset, The New York Times, 2017
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/25/us/ohio-hovater-white-nationalist.html


    Let us know what you think: essayquestionspodcast@gmail.com

    • 1 hr 52 min

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