Haven’t you heard? People are feeling socialism these days--almost as much as they’re feeling the crushing anxiety of mounting debt, climate catastrophe and the rising tide of bigotry and racism. But what exactly does socialism mean today? Jen Roesch and Danny Katch talk politics and protest with a range of guests to uncover the path to a better world from the wreckage of this dung heap. If the daily struggle with capitalism has you teetering on the edge of existential despair, then this is your indispensable dose of socialist wisdom and hope.
45: Women in tech talk organizing
In this episode, Kristen and Zakiya join us to talk about recent developments in technology worker organizing. From walkouts at Google over sexual harassment to demands that companies like Microsoft cancel their contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), tech workers are using their power to expose the abuses of that industry.
Kristen and Zakiya talk to us about some of that organizing. We talk about the role of racism and sexism and their experience of both in the industry and what role the new organizing is playing in pushing back against those conditions.
Kristen and Zakiya are both active socialists with an analysis of the role of technology in capitalism. They talk to us about the many ways in which technology is a “force for evil” in our society and why that is. But they also envision the ways in which technology could be different in a socialist society and how that inspires their vision and organizing.
Links for this episode:
*Lea Ramirez on tech complicity with ICE (http://bit.ly/2IVJqBc)
*Kristen Sheets on the #MeToo walkouts at Google (http://bit.ly/MeTooGoogle)
*Alexei Goldstein on the surveillance economy and its discontents (http://bit.ly/SWSurveillanceEconomy)
*Siddarth Patel on Are tech workers the problem? (http://bit.ly/TechWorkersSW)
Music for this episode:
The Boy & Sister Alma, “Lizard Eyes”(Dead Sea Captains Remix)
Cybotron, "Techno City"
Holly Herndon, “Home”
Kraftwerk, “Computer Love”
44: Here comes Bernie, Joseph Graves Jr. on the scientific fiction of race
We’re joined this week by Joseph Graves Jr., a genetics professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and author of The Emperor's New Clothes: Biological Theories of Race at the Millennium and The Race Myth: Why We Pretend Race Exists in America. Dr. Graves takes us through the science that proves the myth of biological notions of racial difference, and the political, economic and cultural reasons why these myths endure in our society, not only among ignorant white supremacists but liberal scientists like David Reich, who warns that if scientists continue to "stick their heads in the sand" in the face of emerging evidence that supposedly proves the validity of biological races, they will discredit themselves and provide ammunition to those with a racist agenda.
Dr. Graves is also a member of Science for the People and one of the organizers of the response of 67 scientists and researchers to Reich’s arguments published in Buzzfeed. Graves is as sharp on politics as he is on genetics, and he minces no words describing how many of his colleagues are blind to the ways that their work is impacted by the racism endemic to capitalist society and indifferent to how their work is used to promote the agendas of armies and corporations. It’s a terrific conversation.
Jen’s out this week, so Eric joins Danny in the opener to discuss Bernie Sanders’ long-anticipated presidential announcement, and the new dynamics he’ll face as a frontrunner facing a party that has gone from mocking his ideas to trying to coopt them.
Links for this episode:
Check out these books by Joseph Graves Jr.
• The Emperor's New Clothes: Biological Theories of Race at the Millennium (bit.ly/GravesJrEmperors)
• The Race Myth: Why We Pretend Race Exists in America (bit.ly/GravesJrPretend)
For more on the current debate about biological race check out
• David Reich’s New York Times article "How Genetics is Changing Our Understanding of 'Race'" (bit.ly/ReichRace)
• And then of course the response to Reich by Dr. Graves and others: “How Not to Talk about Race and Genetics” (bit.ly/Gravesresponse)
• Finally, find out more about Science for the People (http://bit.ly/Sci4Ppl), an organization that describes itself as dedicated to building a movement around radical perspectives on science and society.
43: Wyomia Tyus takes no prisoners; socialism is coming to the USA
In this episode, we talk to three-time gold medalist Wyomia Tyus about her memoir Tigerbelle: The Wyomia Tyus Story. We are also joined by her co-author Elizabeth Terzakis. In our intro, we discuss Trump’s State of the Union address, why he finds socialism so threatening and what we can do to make his worst nightmares come true.
In 1968, Wyomia Tyus became the first athlete -- man or woman -- to win gold medals in 100-meter events at consecutive Olympics, a record that stood for two decades. She wore non-uniform black shorts as part of a series of protests at that year’s Olympics. These protests were most famously symbolized by John Carlos and Tommie Smith. Wyomia dedicated her medals to them, but as a Black woman both her protest and her breakthrough accomplishment remained in the shadows for years.
We talk to Wyomia about her childhood growing up as a Black girl in the segregated deep South during the early days of the civil rights movement. She talks to us about her coach, Ed Temple, and the legendary Tigerbelles of Tennessee State. We discuss the protest organizing around the 1968 Olympics, her role in it and why it could have been stronger if the women athletes had been involved in the organizing from the beginning. And at the end Wyomia shares her thoughts on Black women in sports today and how far we’ve come -- but also where we need to go.
Links for this episode:
*You can get a copy of Wyomia’s memoir from Akashic Books (http://bit.ly/Tigerbelle)
*Listen to Wyomia Tyus, John Carlos and Dave Zirin talk about sports and resistance from 1968-2018 at the 2018 Socialism Conference (http://bit.ly/WyomiaS18)
*ESPN did a fantastic profile of Wyomia and her new memoir (http://bit.ly/WyomiaESPN)
Audio for this episode:
The Boy & Sister Alma, “Lizard Eyes”(Dead Sea Captains Remix)
Archie Bell and the Drells, “The Tighten Up”
James Brown, “Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud”
Sonny Charles and the Checkmates, “Black Pearl”
The Isley Brothers, “It's Your Thing”
42: Tacos 4 Teachers; Indigenous People’s March; Anand Gopal on troop withdrawals
In this episode, Eric talks to Anand Gopal about what’s behind the Trump administration’s plans — which have since been partially walked back — to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan. Anand explains how Trump’s “America First” priorities in the Middle East and Central Asia are in reality part of a longer process of extricating the U.S. from the disaster of its post-9/11 adventures under George W. Bush and Barack Obama — and have just as little regard for the people of the region.
Anand is an award-winning author and journalist who has traveled to Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan multiple times as an un-embedded journalist. His book No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes won the Ridenhour Prize and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award.
His journalism includes “Syria’s Last Bastion of Freedom”, an account in the New Yorker about the town of Saraqib in Idlib province and “The Uncounted”, an investigative report in the New York Times about the underreported civilian casualties of U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria (http://bit.ly/Uncounted).
For our opener, we first talked to Víctor Fernández and Héctor Rivera about how one of the key elements of the successful Los Angeles teachers’ strike was the support from the city’s Latinx community. Víctor and Héctor talked about how the school district and its billionaire backers tried to pit the community against educators as part of their privatizing agendas, and how socialist-initiated solidarity efforts like “Tacos for Teachers” (which Victor helped to organize) played a role in countering those efforts.
Then we spoke with Nick Estes of The Red Nation about the infamous viral video of MAGA-hat wearing high-school boys harassing Indigenous activist Nathan Phillips. Actually, Nick mostly talked to us about all the things obscured by that video — most notably the historic nature of the Indigenous People’s March that brought Phillips and thousands of others to Washington DC that day — and the issues like Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls that the march was meant to highlight.
Links for our interview with Anand Gopal
• Anand’s book No Good Men Among the Living (http://bit.ly/NoGoodMen)
• Anand’s New Yorker article “Syria’s Last Bastion of Freedom” (http://bit.ly/SyriaLastFreedom)
• Anand’s New York Times piece “The Uncounted” (http://bit.ly/Uncounted).
Links for our interview with Víctor and Héctor
• Socialist Worker’s account of the Tacos for Teachers initiative (http://bit.ly/TacosRoses)
• Strike leader Gillian Russom’s take on the significance of the UTLA victory (http://bit.ly/UTLAvictory)
• Héctor’s Socialist Worker article from October about a community forum in East LA to support the union (http://bit.ly/EastLAforUTLA)
Links for our interview with Nick Estes
• Nick’s article for the Intercept, “Portraying the MAGA Teens as Victims Is an Extension of Native American Erasure” (http://bit.ly/NativeErasure)
• The Urban Indian Health Institute report, “Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls” (http://bit.ly/MurderedMissing)
• Brian Ward’s Socialist Worker article, “The Ugly Facts about the MAGA hat kids” (http://bit.ly/UglyMAGAhat)
The Boy & Sister Alma, “Lizard Eyes”(Dead Sea Captains Remix)
Rage Against The Machine, “Killing In The Name”
Nataanii Means, “God Bless Amerikkka”
Shkoon, “Build Your Castles”
MC Abod, “Forget Your Difficulties”
41: LA Teachers’ Strike; Helen Scott on Rosa Luxemburg’s Legacy
In this episode, we talk to Helen Scott about the life and legacy of Rosa Luxemburg on the 100th anniversary of Luxemburg’s murder. We discuss her most essential works, The Mass Strike and Reform or Revolution, and talk about the historical context of Luxemburg’s political ideas as well as their relevance for today’s new socialist left. In our opening segment, we talk to LA teacher and strike leader Gillian Russom. This episode was recorded prior to the enormous victory won by the teachers, but it remains invaluable in its description of what a win would be, how they organized themselves and the community, and what the fight will look like after the strike ends.
Helen Scott is the editor of The Essential Rosa Luxemburg: Reform or Revolution and the Mass Strike (Haymarket Books, 2008) and co-editor, with Paul LeBlanc, of an anthology of Luxemburg’s writings, Socialism or Barbarism (Pluto Press, 2010). She is Associate Professor of English at the University of Vermont and a member of United Academics: AFT/AAUP. She has published articles on Rosa Luxemburg in International Socialist Review, Socialist Studies, and New Formations and is on the editorial board of the Verso Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg, for which she will be co-editing Volume 5 with Paul Le Blanc.
Gillian Russom has been a rank-and-file teacher activist in UTLA for 18 years. She is part of the Union Power caucus and has been a leader in the fight to transform her union into a social-justice union capable of waging a fight against the forces of public education reform.
Links for our opener on the LA teachers’ strike:
*Gillian Russom at Socialist Worker on the strike victory (https://socialistworker.org/2019/01/23/we-won-a-historic-victory-for-la-schools)
*Diana Macasa and Alex Schmaus on the inspiration behind Tacos for Teachers (https://socialistworker.org/2019/01/18/give-us-tacos-and-roses)
*Danny Katch gives 10 reasons to support the LA teachers (https://socialistworker.org/2019/01/14/ten-reasons-to-support-the-la-teachers)
*Melissa Rakestraw and Elizabeth Lalasz reporting from the picket lines on “Five days that stunned LA’s billionaires” (https://socialistworker.org/2019/01/22/five-days-that-stunned-las-billionaires)
*Video of a strike solidarity meeting featuring Gillian Russom and teachers from Chicago and Oakland (http://bit.ly/LASolidarity)
Links for our interview with Helen Scott:
*Helen Scott’s edition of The Essential Rosa Luxemburg (https://www.haymarketbooks.org/books/835-the-essential-rosa-luxemburg)
*Paul LeBlanc on Rosa Luxemburg’s revolutionary socialism (http://socialistworker.org/2019/01/15/rosa-luxemburgs-revolutionary-socialism)
*Paul LeBlanc on Rosa Luxemburg and the pathway to socialism (http://socialistworker.org/2014/06/05/luxemburg-and-the-path-to-socialism)
*Danny Katch explores modern takes on the historic debates around reform, revolution and the road to power (http://socialistworker.org/2014/06/05/luxemburg-and-the-path-to-socialism)
Music and audio clips in this episode
Excerpt of a speech by Alex Caputo-Pearl, the president of the United Teachers of Los Angeles, addressing a massive rally of LA teachers five days into the strike
Aryana Fields (5th grade student in LA public school), "This is a Strike Song”
ScHoolboy Q, “X” (with 2 Chainz and Saudi) from the Black Panther soundtrack
Pedro Pastor, “La Rosa de Luxemburgo” with Eva Sierra
The Laggan, “Rosa Luxembourg”
Purge, “Rosa Luxemburg”
40: LA Teachers; Women’s March; Holly Lewis on The Politics of Everybody
In this episode, we talk to Holly Lewis about her book the The Politics of Everybody: Feminism, Queer Theory and Marxism at the Intersection (http://bit.ly/LewisEverybody). We talk about what Holly means when she argues that “the politics of the fragment should be replaced by an inclusive politics of everybody.”
In our interview, we explore some of the debates and discussions around homonormativity, how to build a trans-inclusive feminism, and queer theory. We revisit social reproduction theory and talk about its implications for gender politics and trans liberation. Holly gives a clear overview about the different theoretical approaches to gender politics in Marxism, queer theory and feminist theory and explores the connections between them.
Before that, we talk to LA teacher and strike leader Gillian Russom about the LA teachers’ strike. And in our intro, we talk about the controversy surrounding this year’s Women’s March.
Most of our discussions barely scratched the surface, so we’ve got lots and lots of links for this episode.
Holly Lewis and The Politics of Everybody
— Buy Holly’s book: The Politics of Everybody: Feminism, Queer Theory and Marxism at the Intersection (http://bit.ly/LewisEverybody)
— We talk a lot about social reproduction theory. For an accessible introduction, you can check out this article by Tithi Bhattacharya in Socialist Worker (http://bit.ly/TithiSW). If you would like to go deeper, Lise Vogel’s book, Marxism and the Oppression of Women: Towards a Unitary Theory, developed this theory and has been re-published by Haymarket Books (http://bit.ly/VogelHaymarket). Tithi Bhattacharya has also edited a collection of essays exploring this topic: Social Reproduction Theory: Remapping Class, Recentering Oppression (http://bit.ly/TithiBook).
— Heather Brown’s Marx on Gender and the Family delves more deeply into Marx’s approach to gender and is available from Haymarket Books (http://bit.ly/BrownHaymarket)
— Jules Gleeson has written an article on Transition and Abolition: Notes on Marxism and Trans Politics for Viewpoint Magazine (http://bit.ly/GleesonViewpoint).
The LA Teachers’ Strike
— Socialist Worker is providing ongoing coverage throughout the strike (http://bit.ly/SWLAStrike)
— Gillian Russom recently spoke at a solidarity panel in NYC along with an Acero Charter School striker from Chicago and a wildcat striker from Oakland (http://bit.ly/LASolidarity)
The Women’s March
—Elizabeth Schulte wrote an article for Socialist Worker about the prospects for a new women’s movement as we approach the third annual women’s marches (http://bit.ly/SchulteSW)
— Rosalind Petchesky has written a defense of Linda Sarsour and the Women’s March organizers against smears of anti-semitism (http://bit.ly/PetcheskyBOR)
The Boy & Sister Alma, “Lizard Eyes” (Dead Sea Captains Remix)
LUTHI, “Every Body"
Roy Ayers Ubiquity, “Everybody Loves The Sunshine”
R.E.M., “Everybody Hurts”
Dean Martin, “Everybody Loves Somebody”
Chance the Rapper, “Everybody’s Something” (feat. Saba and BJ The Chicago Kid)
Tears For Fears, “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”
Customer ReviewsSee All
I’m a labour scholar, and can’t say enough good things about the program. I love that it has interviews with labour organizers AND with scholars and authors about recent books. I tell all my friends, and will be using the podcast as a teaching tool in my courses. Devai!! In solidarity, Shae
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I absolutely love this podcast!
In a world where facts are so often skewed and the truth is difficult to come by I find better off red extremely refreshing. They analyze issues from the heart of them - whether it be indigenous people, class struggle or capitalism - they approach the issue not from a right or left wing perspective but from a human one. We need information like this disseminated. I hope this podcast will be successful in creating change!
One small critique guys - sometimes, like in the gilet jaunes epdisode - the music is too loud in the background when people are speaking and I can’t hear what you are saying. Love the pod!!
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If you’re looking for a podcast that talks about socialism, what is means to be in solidarity, and why socialism should be the way of the world AND a podcast that talks about socialism history, and how we can bring it to modern day life, then this is for you!
I started listening to BOR out of curiosity and frustration for the current world situation. The conversation at the beginning of each episodes are very thoughtful and great to hear other perspectives. What I love most about the episodes are that they are current and relevant to the world situation and what is happening right now. The guest that they bring on are very good and knowledgeable, and talk about things from many different perspectives.
I think everyone should listen to a few of these podcasts even if they are not socialist. The word socialist, for lack of better terms, has a very negative stigma. What this podcast is trying to do, in my opinion, it is spreading the truth about what socialism is and how we can have a socialist world.
What is also great is that Dave listen to their listeners and respond to the many facets of socialism a.m. trying to cover various topics. Keep up the good work and I look forward to each weeks episode.