101 episodes

Upstream is a documentary and interview podcast series that invites you to unlearn everything you thought you knew about economics. Blurring the line between economic analysis and storytelling, we look beyond the numbers to explore a wide variety of themes pertaining to our tumultuous 21st century economy.

Upstream Upstream

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.9 • 356 Ratings

Upstream is a documentary and interview podcast series that invites you to unlearn everything you thought you knew about economics. Blurring the line between economic analysis and storytelling, we look beyond the numbers to explore a wide variety of themes pertaining to our tumultuous 21st century economy.

    The Problem with Economic Thinking with Jonathan Aldred and Elizabeth Popp Berman (In Conversation)

    The Problem with Economic Thinking with Jonathan Aldred and Elizabeth Popp Berman (In Conversation)

    The logic of orthodox economic thinking has come to dominate and permeate every aspect of our lives, from the deeply internalized capitalism which shapes our thoughts and hopes and dreams, to policy decisions that shape our lives, constrain our possibilities, and steal public goods out from under our noses.

    How did we get here? How did economic rigidity gain such supremacy? Are the principles of orthodox economics really value neutral, as its champions claim? And if not, what moral philosophies underpin them? What are their origins? And how have they come to dominate policymaking in the last several decades?

    In the first half of this Conversation, we’ve brought on Jonathan Aldred, a Fellow and Director of Studies in Economics at Emmanuel College, Lecturer in the Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge, and author of the book License to be Bad: How Economics Corrupted Us. Jonathan will walk us through the philosophical foundations of orthodox and neoliberal economics. And then in the second half we’ve brought on Elizabeth Popp Berman, an economic sociologist, associate professor of organizational studies at the University of Michigan, and author of the book Thinking like an Economist: How Efficiency Replaced Equality in U.S. Public Policy. We’ll talk with Elizabeth about the policy implications of dogmatic economic thinking.

    Thank you to Galaxie 500 for the intermission music in this episode. Upstream theme music was composed by Robert Raymond.
    Support for this episode was provided by the Guerrilla Foundation and by listeners like you. Upstream is a labor of love — we couldn't keep this project going without the generosity of our listeners and fans. Please consider chipping in a one-time or recurring donation at www.upstreampodcast.org/support
    Also, if your organization wants to sponsor one of our upcoming episodes, we have a number of sponsorship packages available. Find out more at upstreampodcast.org/sponsorship
    For more from Upstream, visit www.upstreampodcast.org and follow us on social media:
    twitter.com/UpstreamPodcast
    Instagram.com/upstreampodcast
    You can also subscribe to us on Apple Podcast and Spotify:
    Apple Podcast: podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/upst…am/id1082594532
    Spotify: spoti.fi/2AryXHs

    • 1 hr 18 min
    A Socialist Perspective on Abortion with Diana Moreno & Jenny Brown (In Conversation)

    A Socialist Perspective on Abortion with Diana Moreno & Jenny Brown (In Conversation)

    The US Supreme Court has just overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling on abortion rights which had set the precedent for almost 50 years, throwing authority over abortion down to the states to decide. As of now, a dozen or so states have trigger laws which will outlaw abortion fairly rapidly, and many others will likely follow suit in the coming weeks and months.

    In light of this, we're interrupting our regular 2 week episode release schedule to bring you a special extra episode.

    There’s a lot of media coverage on the Roe decision, of course, but a lot of it is lacking in its analysis, and that’s why we’ve brought on two guests to provide a much needed perspective.

    Diana Moreno is an immigrant rights activist and Democratic Socialists of America organizer in Queens, and Jenny Brown is an organizer with National Women's Liberation and the author of several books on feminism, reproductive rights, and labor, including Without Apology: The Abortion Struggle Now and Birth Strike: The Hidden Fight Over Women's Work.

    Both Diana and Jenny approach their feminism with a socialist analysis that provides a strong materialist grounding, a deep understanding of the dynamics around immigration, and an orientation that challenges traditional liberal and oftentimes white, heteronormative feminism that dominates most mainstream discussions.

    In this Conversation we explore the history of abortion in the United States, a class analyses on abortion and reproductive justice, the ideologies of liberal versus socialist feminisms, the abject failure of the Democratic Party, possible paths forward, and much more.

    Thank you to Against Me! for the intermission music in this episode. Upstream theme music was composed by Robert Raymond.

    Support for this episode was provided by the Guerrilla Foundation and by listeners like you. Upstream is a labor of love — we couldn't keep this project going without the generosity of our listeners and fans. Please consider chipping in a one-time or recurring donation at www.upstreampodcast.org/support

    Also, if your organization wants to sponsor one of our upcoming episodes, we have a number of sponsorship packages available. Find out more at upstreampodcast.org/sponsorship

    For more from Upstream, visit www.upstreampodcast.org and follow us on social media:

    twitter.com/UpstreamPodcast
    Instagram.com/upstreampodcast

    You can also subscribe to us on Apple Podcast and Spotify:
    Apple Podcast: podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/upst…am/id1082594532
    Spotify: spoti.fi/2AryXHs

    • 1 hr 5 min
    The Limitations of Black Capitalism with Francisco Perez (In Conversation)

    The Limitations of Black Capitalism with Francisco Perez (In Conversation)

    There’s a broad conflation within our present day capitalist society between the success of individual members of certain oppressed and marginalized groups and their collective success and liberation. This is particularly true when it comes to Black people and their liberatory struggles. Too often, the successes of individual people — Oprah, or LeBron James, for example — or their rise to certain leadership positions, take Barack Obama — are seen as collective successes, whereas, when it comes to the material conditions of all Black people, these individual successes don’t have a significant impact.

    What are the dangers of this conflation between individual and collective success? Can Black liberation be achieved through individual successes within capitalism — through Black capitalism? And what would it mean to truly build Black wealth in the United States and beyond?

    In today’s Conversation, we’ve brought on someone to help unpack these questions. Francisco Pérez is the Executive Director of the Center for Popular Economics and author of the recent piece in Nonprofit Quarterly, “How Do We Build Black Wealth? Understanding the Limits of Black Capitalism.”

    Thank you to Tracy Chapman for the intermission music in this episode. Upstream theme music was composed by Robert Raymond.

    Support for this episode was provided by the Guerrilla Foundation and by listeners like you. Upstream is a labor of love — we couldn't keep this project going without the generosity of our listeners and fans. Please consider chipping in a one-time or recurring donation at www.upstreampodcast.org/support

    Also, if your organization wants to sponsor one of our upcoming episodes, we have a number of sponsorship packages available. Find out more at upstreampodcast.org/sponsorship

    For more from Upstream, visit www.upstreampodcast.org and follow us on social media:

    twitter.com/UpstreamPodcast
    Instagram.com/upstreampodcast

    You can also subscribe to us on Apple Podcast and Spotify:

    Apple Podcast: podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/upst…am/id1082594532
    Spotify: spoti.fi/2AryXHs

    • 51 min
    Decolonizing Conservation with Prakash Kashwan (In Conversation)

    Decolonizing Conservation with Prakash Kashwan (In Conversation)

    What if what we thought we knew about environmental conservation is wrong and it’s not the ethical and regenerative movement we thought it was? Turns out the philosophy and practices of conservation — pioneered by the likes of Teddy Roosevelt, Henry David Thoreau and John Muir — are intimately intertwined with colonialism, imperialism, and racialized capitalism. And, unfortunately, this isn’t just a historical analysis — it’s a legacy that has continued well into the movement’s modern day configurations. In fact, things may have even gotten worse.

    This is according to a recent paper in the journal Environment titled "From Racialized Neocolonial Global Conservation to an Inclusive and Regenerative Conservation." In the paper, the authors outline the problems with mainstream conservation methods and policies — policies that impose artificial binaries between Indigenous communities and the lands they have stewarded, perpetuating patterns of extractivism and greenwashing and leading to countless harms inflicted onto these communities all in the name of 'wildlife preservation.'

    In this Conversation we’ve brought on the paper’s lead author, Prakash Kashwan, an Associate Professor of Political Science and Co-Director of the Research Program on Economic and Social Rights at the Human Rights Institute at the University of Connecticut. Prakash is the author of the widely reviewed and acclaimed book "Democracy in the Woods" and a Co-Editor of the journal Environmental Politics. He also serves on the editorial advisory boards of Earth Systems Governance, Progress in Development Studies, Sage Open, and Humanities & Social Sciences Communications.

    How is much of the modern conservation movement still steeped in its racist, colonial, imperial past? And what might an inclusive and regenerative conservation look like? Join us to explore these questions and more.

    You can request a full-text version of the paper From Racialized Neocolonial Global Conservation to an Inclusive and Regenerative Conservation at Research Gate (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/352971729_From_Racialized_Neocolonial_Global_Conservation_to_an_Inclusive_and_Regenerative_Conservation). You can also write to Prakash to request a pdf copy of the paper at kashwan@gmail.com.

    Thank you to The Breeders for the intermission music and to Bethan Mure for the cover art. Upstream theme music was composed by Robert Raymond.

    Support for this episode was provided by the Guerrilla Foundation and by listeners like you. Upstream is a labor of love — we couldn't keep this project going without the generosity of our listeners and fans. Please consider chipping in a one-time or recurring donation at www.upstreampodcast.org/support

    Also, if your organization wants to sponsor one of our upcoming episodes, we have a number of sponsorship packages available. Find out more at upstreampodcast.org/sponsorship

    For more from Upstream, visit www.upstreampodcast.org and follow us on social media:

    twitter.com/UpstreamPodcast
    Instagram.com/upstreampodcast

    You can also subscribe to us on Apple Podcast and Spotify:
    Apple Podcast: podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/upst…am/id1082594532
    Spotify: spoti.fi/2AryXHs

    • 1 hr 5 min
    Fully Automated Luxury Communism with Zarinah Agnew and Eric Wycoff Rogers (In Conversation)

    Fully Automated Luxury Communism with Zarinah Agnew and Eric Wycoff Rogers (In Conversation)

    Fully automated luxury communism. Fully automated luxury gay space communism..? Fully automated, queer, neo-decadent, meta-modern communism?

    Okay so, what does all of that mean? You’ve probably heard the phrase fully automated luxury communism before, whether in a podcast like this, or in a meme maybe, but what exactly does it mean? Maybe the phrase conjures up images of a utopian, moneyless society where all of our jobs have been taken by robots and we just frolic and play all day? Perhaps it evokes ideas of a Starship Enterprise tech utopian world marked by adventures and quests. Maybe it's something in between.

    In this conversation we’ve brought on two guests to explain what fully automated luxury communism is, what some different iterations of it might look like, why it's an important Northstar for the left to reach for, and how we might get there. Zarinah Agnew is a trained neuroscientist formerly at University College London, and then UCSF, a self-described guerrilla scientist, and part of the Beyond Return organization. And Eric Wycoff Rogers is a scholar, organizer, designer, artist, and currently PhD student in American history at Cambridge and also part of the Beyond Return organization.

    This episode’s cover art was designed and illustrated by Instagram’s @ radleftdad and @ adorable_communism_too. Thank you to Archie James Cavanaugh for the intermission music. Upstream theme music was composed by Robert Raymond.

    Support for this episode was provided by the Guerrilla Foundation and by listeners like you. Upstream is a labor of love — we couldn't keep this project going without the generosity of our listeners and fans. Please consider chipping in a one-time or recurring donation at www.upstreampodcast.org/support

    Also, if your organization wants to sponsor one of our upcoming episodes, we have a number of sponsorship packages available. Find out more at upstreampodcast.org/sponsorship

    For more from Upstream, visit www.upstreampodcast.org and follow us on social media:

    twitter.com/UpstreamPodcast
    Instagram.com/upstreampodcast

    You can also subscribe to us on Apple Podcast and Spotify:

    Apple Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/upstream/id1082594532
    Spotify: spoti.fi/2AryXHs

    • 59 min
    When Work Becomes Religion in Silicon Valley with Carolyn Chen (In Conversation)

    When Work Becomes Religion in Silicon Valley with Carolyn Chen (In Conversation)

    More than just a region, Silicon Valley has also become a concept — and what that concept represents means a lot of different things to different people. Some might think of it as a techno-utopian dreamland where billionaires are made. Others, perhaps a soul-sucking dystopia driven by a never ending rat race — also where billionaires are made.

    Whatever you may think, one thing that's hard to disagree with is the idea that work dominates Silicon Valley, and while some here are simply working to live, a certain privileged class of society actually lives to work.

    It's this class of workers that are the main characters in Carolyn Chen’s new book: Work Pray Code: When Work Becomes Religion in Silicon Valley. Carolyn Chen is an Associate Professor of Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies and Comparative Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley.

    How has work become the new religion in Silicon Valley? What material and historical conditions led to the spiritualization of work? What strategies do workplaces deploy to ensure workers find meaning and purpose in work — and what other realms of life does this impact? What happens when work takes over the institutions that shape our souls? These are just some of the questions we’ll explore in this conversation with Carolyn Chen.

    Thank you to Beck for the intermission music. Upstream theme music was composed by Robert. If you’re interested in learning more about how spirituality is being deployed to create more docile, pliant workers, check out our conversation with Ron Purser on his book McMindfulness: How Mindfulness Became the New Capitalist Spirituality.

    Support for this episode was provided by the Guerrilla Foundation and by listeners like you. Upstream is a labor of love — we couldn't keep this project going without the generosity of our listeners and fans. Please consider chipping in a one-time or recurring donation at www.upstreampodcast.org/support

    Also, if your organization wants to sponsor one of our upcoming episodes, we have a number of sponsorship packages available. Find out more at upstreampodcast.org/sponsorship

    For more from Upstream, visit www.upstreampodcast.org and follow us on social media:

    twitter.com/UpstreamPodcast
    Instagram.com/upstreampodcast

    You can also subscribe to us on Apple Podcast and Spotify:
    Apple Podcast: podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/upst…am/id1082594532
    Spotify: spoti.fi/2AryXHs

    • 1 hr 9 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
356 Ratings

356 Ratings

Toonstar17 ,

So important!!!

Love this podcast and the perspective they give. So important for everyone to listen. Literally everyone!!!! Economics is the most important and more underrated social science there is. If more people understood it, we’d have a better world.

AndrewNeel ,

A brilliant way to unlearn bad economics

I was raised and taught by people to believe a U.S.-centric and wealthy-approved version of economic theory, which in turn was viewed as a way to make sense of the world we inherited.
“Upstream” has been a vital source for a new paradigm of economic thought, one that encourages me to ask tough questions and seek hard, complex answers rather than simple narratives that align with those in power,m.
In short, this podcast challenges the assumptions of the economic status quo, and I’m so personally grateful it has. I’m better for having listened, and I continue to learn from their thoughtful engagement with the pressing issues of modern life.

The Epp ,

A Breath of Fresh Air

A thought provoking podcast concerning the issues we face today and alternative approaches to tackling how we organize ourselves and move forward.

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