300 episodes

Ezra Klein brings you far-reaching conversations about hard problems, big ideas, illuminating theories, and cutting-edge research. Want to know how Stacey Abrams feels about identity politics? How Hasan Minhaj is reinventing political comedy? The plans behind Elizabeth Warren’s plans? How Michael Lewis reads minds? This is the podcast for you. Produced by Vox and the Vox Media Podcast Network.

The Ezra Klein Show Vox

    • Philosophy

Ezra Klein brings you far-reaching conversations about hard problems, big ideas, illuminating theories, and cutting-edge research. Want to know how Stacey Abrams feels about identity politics? How Hasan Minhaj is reinventing political comedy? The plans behind Elizabeth Warren’s plans? How Michael Lewis reads minds? This is the podcast for you. Produced by Vox and the Vox Media Podcast Network.

    If God is dead, then … socialism?

    If God is dead, then … socialism?

    Hello! I’m Sean Illing, Vox’s interviews writer filling in for Ezra while he’s on book tour. My guest today is Martin Hägglund, a philosopher at Yale and the author of This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom, which I consider to be one of the most ambitious and important books in the last several years.
    We begin by discussing what it means to live a free and purposeful life without regret or illusion. For Hägglund, this life is all we have. There is no heaven, no afterlife, no eternal beyond. We live and we die and that means that the most important question any of us can possibly ask is, “What should we do with our time?” 
    We end by talking about the limits of capitalism, namely why it doesn’t really allow us to own our time in the way we ought to. And thus why, for Hägglund, democratic socialism is the only political project that takes the human condition seriously. 
    This is an unusual conversation, but, I have to say, I loved it. I appreciate and admire Hägglund’s willingness to tackle the biggest questions any us can ever ask, and I think by the end of it you will, too.
    Book recommendations:
    Fellow Creatures: Our Obligations to the other animals by Christine Korsgaard
    On the Soul (De Anima) by Aristotle 
    Phenomenology of Spirit by G.W.F Hegel 

    Follow Sean Illing at Vox or on Twitter @seanilling
    New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide.
    Ezra's book is available at www.EzraKlein.com.
    The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule!
    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Credits:
    Guest host - Sean Illing
    Producer - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 1 hr 5 min
    Tim Urban on humanity’s wild future

    Tim Urban on humanity’s wild future

     I’ve been a fan of Tim Urban and his site Wait But Why for a long time. Urban uses whimsical illustrations, infographics, and friendly, nontechnical language to explain everything from AI to space exploration to the Fermi Paradox. 
    Urban's most recent project is an explainer series called “The Story of Us." It began as an attempt to understand what is going on in American politics today, and quickly turned into a deep exploration into humanity's past: how we evolved, the history of civilization, and the way our psychologies have come to interact with the world around us. 
    My initial theory of this conversation was that Urban’s work has interesting points of convergence and divergence with my book. But once we got to talking, something more interesting emerged: Based on his reading of human history, psychology, and technological advancement, Urban has come to believe we are at an existential fork-in-the-road as a species. A hundred years from now, Urban thinks, our species will either advance so significantly that we will no longer be recognizable as human beings, or we will so lose control of our progress that the human story will end in a destructive apocalypse. I’m less convinced, but open to the idea that I’m wrong.
    So this, then, isn’t just a conversation about politics and polarization in the present. It’s more fully a conversation about whether the politics of the present are distracting us from the forces that are, even as we speak, deciding our future.
    References: 
    Dave Robert’s piece on Tim Urban’s aversion to politics 
    My conversation with Andrew Yang
    Book recommendations: 
    A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich 
    The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu 
    Atomic Habits by James Clear

    New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide.
    My book is available at www.EzraKlein.com.
    The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Portland, Seattle, Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule!
    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Credits:
    Producer - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 1 hr 30 min
    Jill Lepore on what I get wrong

    Jill Lepore on what I get wrong

    Jill Lepore is a Harvard historian, a New Yorker contributor, the author of These Truths, and one of my favorite past guests on this show. But in this episode, the tables are turned: I’m in the hot seat, and Lepore has some questions. Hard ones.
    This is, easily, the toughest interview on my book so far. Lepore isn’t quibbling over my solutions or pointing out a contrary study — what she challenges are the premises, epistemology, and meta-structure that form the foundation of my book, and much of my work. Her question, in short, is: What if social science itself is too crude to be a useful way of understanding the political world?
    But that’s what makes this conversation great. We discuss whether all political science research on polarization might be completely wrong, why (and whether) my book is devoid of individual or institutional “villains,” and whether I am morally obliged to delete my Twitter account, in addition to the missing party in American politics, why I mistrust historical narratives, media polarization, and much more.
    This is, on one level, a conversation about Why We’re Polarized. But on a deeper level, it’s about different modes of knowledge and whether we can trust them.

    New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide.
    My book is available at www.EzraKlein.com.
    The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Portland, Seattle, Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule!
    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Credits:
    Producer - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 1 hr 25 min
    Is Tom Steyer the solution to our dysfunctional politics?

    Is Tom Steyer the solution to our dysfunctional politics?

    Tom Steyer has worked for Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. He made his billions running a hedge fund for decades before moving into progressive activism on causes like democratization, climate change, and impeaching Donald Trump. Now, he is running for president of the United States. 
    Steyer’s primary message on the campaign trial is that we need to get money, lobbyists and corporate influence out of politics. At the same time, he is the living embodiment of much of what he thinks is broken about our system. He used his wealth as a shortcut onto the presidential debate stage and, in doing so, essentially wrote the playbook for any future billionaire who decides they want a shot at winning the highest office in the land. 
    So, is Steyer the solution to our dysfunctional politics -- or is he part of the problem? That question is a lot bigger than Steyer himself. It is about the kinds of people we think will best represent the interests of non-billionaires. It is about the sort of influence we think wealth should have in our society. It is about whether, in our current political moment, we want to trust the arsonists to put out the fires they helped create.
    I’ll let you decide the answer.
    Book recommendations:
    The Holy Bible
    War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
    Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
    The Good Assassin by Paul Vidich

    New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide.
    My book is available at www.EzraKlein.com.
    Also, we’ve announced more tour dates! Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for all the details.
    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Credits:
    Engineer - Cynthia Gil
    Producer - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 1 hr 6 min
    Why We're Polarized, with Jamelle Bouie (live!)

    Why We're Polarized, with Jamelle Bouie (live!)

     The Why We’re Polarized book tour kicked off this week with a wonderful event at Sixth and I in Washington, DC. My conversation partner for this one was New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie. Our interview was great, and then the audience questions were so good we had to keep them in as well. We discuss:  
    • Why things were far worse in the “golden age” of the 1950s and ’60s than they are today
    • Why the key question isn’t so much “why are we polarized?” as “why weren’t we polarized?”
    • Why “moderate” Republicans end up losing to conservatives
    • Why demographic change is the core cleavage of American politics today
    • How polarization makes bipartisanship irrational and political dysfunction the norm
    • Why Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell are not the causes of polarization but rather the most clear manifestations of it
    • That more information doesn’t rescue politics
    • Why America today is not functionally a democracy (and why I hate when people claim it is a “republic” to justify our current system)
    • Why the most underrated divide in American politics is not that between left and right but between the informed and the uninformed
    • Why we can’t reverse polarization and instead need to reform our political system so that it can function amid polarization

    New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide.
    Also, we’ve announced more tour dates! Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for all the details.
    My book is available at www.EzraKlein.com.
    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app.
    Credits:
    Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 1 hr 16 min
    Antisemitism now, antisemitism then

    Antisemitism now, antisemitism then

    “The bad days are back” wrote Batya Ungar-Sargon in the Forward in December, “Orthodox Jews are living through a new age of pogroms. This week, as we celebrated the Festival of Lights, there were no fewer than 10 anti-Semitic attacks in the New York area alone.” 
    Antisemitism is occasionally called “the oldest hatred.” It thrums across continents and eras, finding new targets for old prejudices. But where, exactly, does it come from? Why is it such a hardy weed? And why does this era feel so thick with it? 
    Deborah Lipstadt, a professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, is the author of Antisemitism: Here and Now. We discuss the earliest forms, tropes, and rationales for antisemitism, and the cultural reasons for their persistence. Lipstadt explains the way right- and left-wing antisemitism differ, and examines the charges of antisemitism levied against some modern politicians, like Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn. We talk about antisemitism in the age of social media and rising party polarization. And we talk about the convergence and divergence of antisemitism and anti-Zionism: what distinguishes a legitimate critique of Israel from an antisemitic slur towards it?
    This episode airs on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It’s a reminder that the very worst days lie in living memory, in an age more similar our own than we like to admit. 
    References: 
    “Why No One Can Talk About The Attacks Against Orthodox Jews” by Batya Ungar-Sargon
    Book recommendations: 
    If This is Man by Primo Levi 
    Still Alive by Ruth Kluger 
    The Unwanted by Michael Dobbs

    New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide.
    My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com.
    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app.
    Credits:
    Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld
    Engineer- Cynthia Gil
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 1 hr 31 min

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