Subscribe: Radio Open Source
http://www.radioopensource.org/feed/atom/
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade A rated
Language: English
Tags:
american  appeared open  appeared  christopher lydon  christopher  lydon  new  open source  open  source christopher  source 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: Radio Open Source

Open Source with Christopher Lydon



Christopher Lydon in conversation on arts, ideas and politics



Updated: 2017-11-23T15:41:54Z

 



The Coming Crisis in Opioid Nation

2017-11-23T15:41:54Z

This Thanksgiving, we’re replaying our episode on the issue of opioids. Their epidemic running rampant has a 30-year back story and a grisly punch-line for 2017: drug deaths this year alone are heading toward the US ... The post The Coming Crisis in Opioid Nation appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. This Thanksgiving, we’re replaying our episode on the issue of opioids. Their epidemic running rampant has a 30-year back story and a grisly punch-line for 2017: drug deaths this year alone are heading toward the US death toll in Vietnam over ten years. The damage has proportions of a plague, or a war that will stamp a generation: let it grow at this rate and in ten years it will be taking more American lives than AIDS at its peak; than breast cancer, than World War Two, than the US Civil War.  There’s a palpable near-panic at what can look like collective mass suicide.  There’s torpor, too, a post-war feeling, after the drugs won.  There’s dismay about a marketized industry in man-made drugs that manages somehow to kill its customers and keep growing.Here’s a short list of what’s strange and different about this opioid epidemic.  The poisons of choice and convenience are cheaper, laced with synthetics like fentanyl, much more powerful and more available than poppy heroin ever was.  The problem is everywhere – rustic New Hampshire a spike on the national map.  And the devastation is almost out of control: deaths on the order of 50-thousand a year, drug dependency for 2-million Americans, 10 percent of them getting treatment.  An aggressive, expanding marketplace is choking on a 30-year promotion of pain meds, like Percocet, addiction warnings long muffled and unheard.  For most new users of illegal opioids, the gateway is an array of prescription painkillers like Oxycontin.  The racial profile and the enforcement culture around drug abuse are markedly changed: opioids can be blamed for a shocking turn down in life-expectancy for white males in the US; but the stigma and the racialized rage around drugs are much reduced. We speak of drug addiction more realistically now, more humanely perhaps, as a disease, no longer a crime.And so our crash course begins this week, to feel the size and shape and hear the sound of a full-blown public health nightmare in a circle of purgatory or possibly hell, known as the opioid epidemic.[see Max Blau’s STAT forecast to understand just how bad this crisis could become] Dr. Jessie Gaeta is the medical doctor that addicts meet at the Boston Healthcare for the Homeless next to Boston Medical Center on Albany Street.  Her patients, she says, are the furthest “downstream” in the opioid crisis — literally collapsing from overdose — or in horrible fear of withdrawal.  They come back and back, needing a safe space or maybe emergency treatment, like oxygen and a drug called Nar-can, which revives people who are unconscious and at risk of death. Doctor Gaeta walked us around the block the main drag of the opioid crisis in Massachusetts. She calls it “Recovery Road”, but it’s better known as “Methadone Mile”.Kathleen FrydlKathleen Frydl is a political historian at the University of California, Davis and author of the The Drug Wars in America, 1940-1973. In conversation, she shares with us the genealogy of the opioid epidemic, chronicling how prescription painkillers became the gateway to what is now the gravest drug crisis in our history.As Frydl has written for Dissent, our national politics may be the ideology that has hijacked our political system over the last 40 years. Neoliberalism: government austerity, unrestrained free trade, and the deregulation of markets. All of these present dangers that have played a role in the opioid crisis, but none has been more pernicious than austerity, an obsession over government deficits and debt that favors the privatization of public assets and services—and one that has exacted steep costs from the institutional culture and operation of the nation’s drug safety watchdog, the [...]



The Future of Food

2017-11-17T05:11:55Z

It’s Thanksgiving season again, and the double shadow on our great American food holiday is feast and famine, both. A bounteous industrial food system is wasting the land and leaving a billion of us humans ... The post The Future of Food appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. It’s Thanksgiving season again, and the double shadow on our great American food holiday is feast and famine, both. A bounteous industrial food system is wasting the land and leaving a billion of us humans hungry, and another billion both overfed and undernourished.  As climate change kicks in, the food agenda’s changing too. Farm-to-table greens, slow food, local food don’t sound like answers anymore to the vast scale of modern food’s maldistribution; not to mention the depletion of farm soil, the desertification of the land, and the deluge of run-off pollution.In our search for solutions, we began looking around our own digital backyard. Over at the Media Lab, the Open Agriculture Initiative (OpenAg) has begun growing basil in “personal food computers.” Their big picture mission is building new tech tools to be used by a billion new farmers.Our guest Caleb Harper presides over the OpenAg project. The child of a farming family in Kansas, Harper now sees “open source” tech as the solution to the crisis in modern food production. He’s joined at our table by Dr. Walter Willett, the most cited nutritionist in the world, who’s waged a 30-year war on trans fats.For Raj Patel, co-author of the new book A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things, tech solutions are only effective when we examine the broader economic system embedded in our meals. To understand the big picture challenge, he says, all we have to do is consider the Chicken McNugget.Julie Guthman writes and teaches the whole food story, farm-to-table, past to present, at the University of California. Now in residence at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute, she studies modern strawberry farming as one the new frontiers for food justice and activism. Legendary French chef Jacques Pépin—who’s cooked for Charles de Gaulle and Jackie Kennedy, among others—offers us his own Proustian memories of past holiday meals, as well as a taste of what’s to come.  The post The Future of Food appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. [...]



Democracy After Facebook

2017-11-17T02:12:22Z

It’s Mark Zuckerberg’s world, and we are just scrolling through it: 2 billion of us now, a quarter of all humanity. We’re the unpaid production staff of the fourth most valuable company in Silicon Valley, ... The post Democracy After Facebook appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. It’s Mark Zuckerberg’s world, and we are just scrolling through it: 2 billion of us now, a quarter of all humanity. We’re the unpaid production staff of the fourth most valuable company in Silicon Valley, which means: in the US. And the whole idea, born in a Harvard dormitory, isn’t 15 years old yet. Mark Zuckerberg in his Harvard dorm roomFourteen years ago Facebook was a social network for college kids that became a mind-reading marketing tool, then an advertising engine, and now a main gateway to media, ideas, and politics. Add video, and it’s the new television, with a grip on our attention like nothing since television.  But Facebookers are, in truth, more used than users.  For the backstory to Facebook’s modern hegemony, we turn to our favorite historian of Silicon Valley, Fred Turner. He tracks the transformation of California counterculture in the Summer of Love into cyber culture and digital utopianism in modern San Francisco. He also sees the whole, pseudo-religious ethos of the techno-saviors ritualized annually at Burning Man.Siva Vaidhyanathan studies the foggy landscape of digital capitalism—an area marked by novelty, mystery, non-regulation, giant growth, amazing profits and compound social effects. He’s soon to publish a book on how all these themes play out in Facebook world, as well as the new threats they pose to American democracy. Moira Weigel co-founded a new magazine called LOGIC—centered on technology, but also covering, in the first three issues, the interrelated topics of intelligence, sex, and justice. Her recent piece in The Guardian calls for the rising “Tech Left” to unite and stand up against the “Big Tech” worldview, as represented by Facebook and others.  src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/353532644&color=%23ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true" width="100%" height="300" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"> Paul Budnitz, in Vermont, offers us another alternative to the Facebook model. He built the community site “Ello” for artists and their friends; their rule was no ads on the site and no collection of user data.  He marks the moment when Mark Zuckerberg took another path, and still worries about where that road will lead.    The post Democracy After Facebook appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. [...]



Trump Goes to China

2017-11-10T16:59:28Z

President Trump is on tour in Asia this weekend: relieved maybe to be “getting out of Dodge” as his campaign team is getting indicted in D.C.  But it’s awkward, and unprecedented over there, too, that our ... The post Trump Goes to China appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. President Trump is on tour in Asia this weekend: relieved maybe to be “getting out of Dodge” as his campaign team is getting indicted in D.C.  But it’s awkward, and unprecedented over there, too, that our president knows he’s meeting—as The Economist put it— “plausibly… the world’s most powerful leader” in China’s party chairman, Xi Jinping. The new power in China doesn’t come just from Chairman Xi. You can see the new order arranging itself around the other men now rushing to meet with the Chinese leader before Trump’s visit.That’s two tiers of almost 40 technologists and billionaires – ours and theirs: Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Ma, Elon Musk, Google, Apple – toeing the line in a photo op with Xi Jinping. Bill Kirby is the Harvard Business School’s eye on Chinese enterprise, old and new. In our conversation, Bill is pulling on the thread of his last book, Can China Lead??Donald Trump and Xi Jin Ping meet in China, 45 years down a road that opened in front of our guest Chas Freeman. He was the foreign service officer at the start of his own brilliant career, translating the breakthrough meetings with Henry Kissinger, Chou En Lai, President Richard Nixon and Chairman Mao, among others. He is giving us a tough-minded review of the needs and wants of the strongest Chinese leadership since Mao, running a “police state” at home and a vast “One Belt, One Road” infrastructure project “from Portugal to the Bering Straits.”We’re also interested in cultural puzzles and contradictions in modern “Chimerica.”  The bilingual, and profoundly bi-cultural Kaiser Kuo, the Chinese rocker and host of the Sinica Podcast, gives us his take from his new homebase in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.Ian Johnson, Pulitzer Prize winner for the Wall Street Journal, describes China’s spiritual crisis and revival over the the last decade in his book The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao. We continue our earlier discussion with Johnson on the evolving spiritual and moral values in modern China.The education reformer in Beijing, Jiang Xueqin — Chinese to the bone, with a Yale undergraduate degree as well — is telling us of his own work in the gap between China’s prodigious achievements in math and science, and the unmet goals in ’emotional intelligence’ and humanities. The post Trump Goes to China appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. [...]



The Scramble for Amazon

2017-11-03T04:51:05Z

Amazon, the online everything store with the arrow-headed smile in its logo, is ready to build its second headquarters (outside Seattle this time) in a post-industrial urban dreamscape.  And there’s barely an American city out ... The post The Scramble for Amazon appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. Amazon, the online everything store with the arrow-headed smile in its logo, is ready to build its second headquarters (outside Seattle this time) in a post-industrial urban dreamscape.  And there’s barely an American city out there that isn’t begging to be It. Fifty thousand ultra-smart tech jobs in the 100K pay range are the prize.  What’ll win the nod from CEO Jeff Bezos is some combination of a smart local workforce, an affordable standard of living and tax breaks galore.  So we squint our eyes over this coast-to-coast bidding contest, to see the outline, if we can, of jobs and the workplace coming next.  A raging hunger for work itself drives a race that most contestants will lose; that a master of monopoly has already won.  To get a sense of the spot cities are in we went north in the rain this week to Haverhill, Massachusetts. On the Merrimack River between Lowell and Lawrence, Haverhill was in on the first industrial boom in the US, making shoes. It was and is a working-class city, once governed by America’s first socialist mayor. Today’s mayor of Haverhill, Jim Fiorentini, made clear he wants in on a post-industrial boom with the new Amazon HQ, but there’s caution in his voice. Conor Gillies and Chris Lydon with Jim Fiorentini in Haverhill, MA Lester Spence teaches political science and Africana studies at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. In his newsletter, The Counterpublic Papers, Spence raised some concerns about the Amazon video pitch of this hometown, Detroit.  This is what stands for political imagination. In fact, this is what stands in for radical political imagination. They can easily offer the state’s tax coffers for a pie in the sky corporate project. But extending that political imagination in another direction? That’s crazy talk. And they can easily imagine Amazon helping the entire city, when in each of these cases and many others, the benefits Amazon bestows are only directly felt by a thin slice of the city’s residents. There are two reasons why you only see one black man in the Detroit Amazon pitch video. One reason is because black men generate a very different type of affect than the one marketers intend. Another reason is because they are the population least likely to fit in the modern economy. It’s not black people that suburbanites don’t want to have access, it’s young black men. src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N_p8QRHZvDs" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen">. Shirley Kressel, a longtime Boston housing activist and BRA-gadfly, holds a skeptical glance at the prospect of what Amazon could do to Boston. She’s also analyzed the damage already done in Seattle. As she put it The New York Times, Boston should offer Amazon “no tax breaks, no free public land and no environmentally harmful zoning favors.” ***We’re also doping the larger story of Amazon’s global ambitions this hour. Franklin Foer, the former New Republic editor, joins us to discuss his remarkable book, World Without Mind, on the existential risk  in tech billionaires schemes. At risk, he says, is nothing less than the fate of the civilization and the human species. More than any previous coterie of corporations, the tech monopolies aspire to mold humanity into their desired image of it. They believe that they have the opportunity to complete the long merger between man and machine—to redirect the trajectory of human evolution. How do I know this? Such suggestions are fairly commonplace in Silicon Valley, even if much of the tech press is too obsessed with covering the latest product [...]



Intelligence By Design

2017-10-27T00:19:59Z

The “intelligence explosion” foretold 50 years ago, could be here any minute. Artificial intelligence has now survived the “AI winter” — and is back in public conversation. It’s not just a Silicon Valley buzzword or a subject ... The post Intelligence By Design appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. The “intelligence explosion” foretold 50 years ago, could be here any minute. Artificial intelligence has now survived the “AI winter” — and is back in public conversation. It’s not just a Silicon Valley buzzword or a subject for speculative fiction, but a real possibility on the tech horizon, with real money backing it.As the machines move beyond just beating their masters’s in games like Chess and Go and start honing in on deep learning, neural networking, and “Big Data” sorting, we’re asking the Big Question: where’s this whole thing going?In the long-distance frame, there seem to be three general ways of thinking about our AI future:One view, advanced by tech evangelist and sympathetic investors, is that this could be a blessed utopia come to save us—rational, sensitive, error proof.  Another perspective—championed not just by alarmist Luddites but also many iPhone-dependent citizens—is that we’re headed towards a dystopian decline; a loss of the better parts of our “irrational” humanity.And then comes the third view: that this is mostly just entertainment either way—pure fantasy till we have a computer that can not only read a human face as well as any baby can, but also has the capacity for true creativity, empathy, and love.In our conversation on the subject, we’re trying to do away with conventional wisdom and find real intelligence in the AI conversation. width="640" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/rtik-9MOFB8?feature=oembed" frameborder="0" gesture="media" allowfullscreen>Max Tegmark, author of Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, is a Swedish-born physics professor at MIT with real enthusiasm for the next wave of AGI (“artificial general intelligence”) devices. But he’s not blind to the possible troubles on the horizon, as he writes in his book: “we have no idea what will happen if humanity succeeds in building such a thing.”Erik Brynjolfsson—director of MIT’s Initiative on the Digital Economy—also has a serious investment in the world of AI, but he still keeps a wary eye on the digital workplace, and on the march of technology, balancing intelligent skepticism with mindful optimism.Cathy O’Neil— a mathematician, data scientist and author of Weapons of Math Destruction— is a cutting critique of the Big Data revolution and the various biases and limitations which the AI branding tends to conceal. She warns that it isn’t a future crisis we need to think about, but a crises that is already here, and which we can see in the algorithms controlling our Facebook feeds as well as our credit scores. Yarden Katz, who works and writes at the intersection of AI and biology at the Harvard Medical School, is less worried about sci-fi dystopia and more concerned about the ideologies behind the AI hype. The new tech gold rush maybe be another symptom of neoliberalism (as Yarden has discussed with us before). It also may help revive older ideas and ideologies such as behaviorism—refuted by Chomsky as an inadequate model for human life, but now at the core of how we think about machine life.  The post Intelligence By Design appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. [...]



Thelonious Monk at 100

2017-10-20T00:40:44Z

At Thelonious Monk’s hundredth birthday, it’s our ears that have changed, not his sound.  Instead of odd angles and eccentricity we hear orchids in music, various and beautiful.  The truth of the man’s life is ...

The post Thelonious Monk at 100 appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon.

At Thelonious Monk’s hundredth birthday, it’s our ears that have changed, not his sound.  Instead of odd angles and eccentricity we hear orchids in music, various and beautiful.  The truth of the man’s life is clearer, too: drawn back from the ragged edge to the creative center of classically American music.  

The quirky story of Thelonious Sphere Monk made a new sort of sense in Robin Kelley’ grand biography in 2009.  Monk was one of the be-bop revolutionaries, it’s always said, uptown in Manhattan in 1941, but Robin Kelley revealed him as a child of Fats Waller stride piano and all the music of 1930s Harlem and well beyond it.

width="640" height="480" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/yHpB4lkgeN0?feature=oembed" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>

He mumbled at the piano and danced around it. He showed up late sometimes, sometimes disappeared, and did time for small drug offenses. But inside Robin Kelley’s biography is an unshakably original, purposeful musician, ever a generous genius, an attentive father, son, and husband, in triumph and in trouble.

What Monk did was take the oldest, rooted tradition of the piano, in Harlem, New York, all over the country. And then he combined it with a future we have yet to achieve. It’s collapsing space and time. And his whole approach to the piano is one that brings past and present and future together in one. And he had never ever left his roots as a stride pianist — all the way to the very last tune he ever played.

Monk wrote close to a hundred songs still being interpreted and reinvented. He was musician beyond category, or genre, or period, in Kelly’s persuasive account. It’s fun to see Monk now an African-American Emersonian. His line, for instance, that “the piano ain’t got no wrong notes,” resonates with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s war on conformity and consistency. “To believe your own sound,” paraphrasing Emerson’s line in Self Reliance, “that is genius.”  

(image)

Robin D. G. Kelley in conversation with Chris Lydon, December 18, 2009

The post Thelonious Monk at 100 appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon.




Adapting to Disaster

2017-10-12T21:44:41Z

An eerie suspense hangs over this Post-Puerto Rico moment.  Seas rising, spirits falling.  Awareness dawning, self-destruction by carbon, full-steaming ahead.  This week, we’re staring down climate dystopias with a motley crew of imaginative thinkers.The “cli-fi” novelist ... The post Adapting to Disaster appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. An eerie suspense hangs over this Post-Puerto Rico moment.  Seas rising, spirits falling.  Awareness dawning, self-destruction by carbon, full-steaming ahead.  This week, we’re staring down climate dystopias with a motley crew of imaginative thinkers.The “cli-fi” novelist Kim Stanley Robinson strikes a keynote this hour: that the future—and maybe a point of no return—have arrived way ahead of schedule.  He has scripted that future in vivid detail in a cult novel called New York 2140—Manhattan, half-drowned but re-gentrifying again, people surfing the waves between Herald Square and Central Park. In the novel Stan Robinson dated his picture more than a century out.  By now, it’s a plausible dystopia just a decade or two away.  Greg Lindsay is another sort of futurist: urban engineer, writer, born enthusiast. Greg tells us, the future is still populated with cities, but cities transformed.  As part of the 4C: Foreseeing the Region of the Future design competition, he’s dreamt up his own plausibly terrifying vision of the near future in a coastal region known as “The Bight.” Lindsay outlines the hypothetical future of the region on his blog: The near-destruction of Lower Manhattan by Hurricane Hermine in October 2022; the resulting Crash of ’23 as real estate values plunged along the East Coast; the subsequent creation of the Bureau of Coastal Management to create ironclad zoning and development guidelines; the dissolution of the Port Authority  by mutual agreement of Governors Cuomo and Bon Jovi; the election of President Mark Zuckerberg in 2024, who soon instituted universal basic income (“Zuckerbucks”) and housing (“Zuckerhuts”), while pushing a clean energy agenda that led to the merger of ExxonMonsanto. src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/6abdPC_0Xik" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen">Naomi Oreskes is a historian of science and policy skeptic. She’s known for her book Merchants of Doubt: about the corporate science that hid the truth about tobacco and global warming. But she’s also a “cli-fi” writer herself: her recent book The Collapse of Western Civilization, co-authored with Erik M. Conway, postulates another post-apocalyptic climate future:   The year is 2393, and the world is almost unrecognizable. Clear warnings of climate catastrophe went ignored for decades, leading to soaring temperatures, rising sea levels, widespread drought and—finally—the disaster now known as the Great Collapse of 2093, when the disintegration of the West Antarctica Ice Sheet led to mass migration and a complete reshuffling of the global order. Writing from the Second People’s Republic of China on the 300th anniversary of the Great Collapse, a senior scholar presents a gripping and deeply disturbing account of how the children of the Enlightenment—the political and economic elites of the so-called advanced industrial societies—failed to act, and so brought about the collapse of Western civilization. Outside the world of speculative fiction, we also spoke with experts about the ways the world is already adapting to the prospect of catastrophe. The Canadian journalist Chris Turner, author of Geography of Hope, introduced us this week to a Danish island in the Baltic where artists have always been drawn to the sunlight and technologists have now gone to capture it. And the MIT architect Rafi Segal reminds us that wh[...]



Karl Ove Knausgaard on Art and Loneliness

2017-10-04T21:43:49Z

Karl Ove Knausgaard wrote a 6-volume selfie that a lot of us can’t stop reading. My Struggle he called it, looking inward and talking to himself for thousands of pages. Autumn, his new book, is ... The post Karl Ove Knausgaard on Art and Loneliness appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. Karl Ove Knausgaard wrote a 6-volume selfie that a lot of us can’t stop reading. My Struggle he called it, looking inward and talking to himself for thousands of pages. Autumn, his new book, is a relief for him and us: It looks outward, in short pieces, letters to a new daughter before she was born, about Stubble Fields, Telephones, Wellington boots, chimneys, the painter Vincent Van Gogh. You name it, he’ll write it, a theme a day as in the college course we wish we’d taken.In conversation it’s not one guy introspecting, it’s two guys groping for a connection, sitting in the back of my house in Boston for most of an hour in the storm season of 2017. What’s the difference, I’m asking, between his narcissism and President Trump’s?We’re jumping from Russian novels to gene editing to the experience of loneliness, and I’m finding him wide open to engagement. He’s generous, transparent, in effect: innocent. Here’s an excerpt of the interview below:Karl Ove Knausgaard: The books I’d been writing before were so introspective and so analytic and so self-analyzing. That’s very much about relations, very much about psychology, and it’s basically all about the interior life. And this book is the opposite. I’m looking at something outside of myself, and it is the things themselves that should be in the center, basically yes removed from myself. But from thing to me was to see what happens if you write, you know in your own style personally, about something objective that happens with an encyclopedia thought of the world, you know. Everything becomes, in the end, very personal anyway somehow. It’s impossible to remove yourself. You never think of quality of writing in an encyclopedic text, you know, in a dictionary. It’s just like it’s a matter of fact: this is the world. But what you discover when you write about it that’s just not true. The objective world just doesn’t exist. It’s all a relationship between me and the world and you and the world. There is nothing else.Christopher Lydon: So why get out of yourself after so long inside? Was it for relief?KOK: Yeah, very much a relief. It was joyful to write this book, and it wasn’t joyful to write My Struggle, as my previous book was called. But a joyful part is, you know, because I am writing about joyful things. I’m writing about being alive in this world, which is joyful. We do forget it all the time, but it is. And this book is mainly set in a garden and a house, and that’s it. That’s where the world is. I mean, even when there are hurricanes and, you know, climate change and all the wars and hunger and all of this, this is still true. It does exist. Video: On Van Gogh and the Life of an Artist src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/MsE2BfMtGNk" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"> Video by Zach Goldhammer. Illustrations by Susan Coyne. The post Karl Ove Knausgaard on Art and Loneliness appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. [...]



Unnatural Disaster

2017-10-06T00:21:49Z

Puerto Rico, a territory of three-and-a-half million US citizens, is unplugged, de-sheltered and desperate for months to come. This tiny little island in the Caribbean, with more people than the Dakotas, Wyoming, Alaska and Vermont ... The post Unnatural Disaster appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. Puerto Rico, a territory of three-and-a-half million US citizens, is unplugged, de-sheltered and desperate for months to come. This tiny little island in the Caribbean, with more people than the Dakotas, Wyoming, Alaska and Vermont combined, now sits in the dark: lights out, refrigeration, too; hospitals closed; food crops destroyed; communication systems collapsed. In a fully foreseeable crisis, some combination of forces seems to have chosen unreadiness as the first response. It’s a man-made pattern of history that turns storms into unnatural disasters — empire, money and power sorting out who lives, who dies, and who pays for the destabilization of the human habitat.  A succinct and dignified case against the unfairness of this picture has been laid out before the United Nations by Roosevelt Skerrit, the prime minister of tiny Dominica. His island and his own home were smashed to bits by Hurricane Maria.   src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RTvYKAC4bi0" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen">Stuart Schwartz at Yale is our historian of the 500-year interaction of weather and people in the Caribbean. His remarkable book, Sea of Storms, reveals the various ways massive tropical storms haven been interpreted throughout the ages.  The European Christians who got to the West Indies in the 16th Century had never seen such weather before: and read it, first, as God’s hand, then as whimsical Nature; eventually as human failure. Kumi Naidoo is a global activist from South Africa who sees the fight for environmental justice as a natural extension of his own anti-apartheid struggles as a teenager. A former Rhodes scholar, Kumi Nadioo’s activist path led him from Durban to Oxford to Amsterdam where he served as the first African executive director of Greenpeace International from 2009 to 2015. Jason Moore is a social and environmental historian with a wake-up argument that the most critical combination in our world is carbon and capitalism. His book is Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital.  He’s joined in conversation by Christian Parenti, an investigative reporter with a Ph.D. in sociology and author of Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence.Roy Scranton came back from his Army service in Iraq with a grim take on the war.  It’s our condition now, he says, that we are moments away from death, all day every day, and we know it.  After Iraq, Roy Scranton earned a Ph.D. in Literature at Princeton and wrote two books that have made waves: first the novel War Porn, and then an extended essay titled: Learning to Die in the Anthropocene: Reflections on the End of a Civilization. He invited us this week to meditate on our fear that it’s “game over, ” not for the human species necessarily, but “over” as it was for the Sumerians or the Aztecs once upon a time. Climate change has sealed our collective fate.The Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat closes out the program with a poem and few words on the continuing crisis in the Caribbean. You can listen here, too: src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/344504333&color=%23ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=true&show_comments=false&show_user=true&show_reposts=false" width="100%" height="166" frameborder="no" scrolling="no">  The post Unnatural Disaster appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. [...]



Rethinking Schools in the DeVos Era

2017-09-29T01:07:41Z

Betsy Devos’s “Rethinking School” tour can feel like a mission to dismantle the whole system, public schools first. Choice, charters and change are DeVos’s keynotes, along with a call for more and more crushing competition. ... The post Rethinking Schools in the DeVos Era appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. Betsy Devos’s “Rethinking School” tour can feel like a mission to dismantle the whole system, public schools first. Choice, charters and change are DeVos’s keynotes, along with a call for more and more crushing competition. We wondered if this this just another race to the top that will ultimately leave most children behind, or if something new is happening.According to DeVos, her plan might be the only thing new thing in the last century of education history. On her school tour she likes to say schools haven’t changed in the last 100 years:For far too many kids, this year’s first day back to school looks and feels a lot like last year’s first day back to school. And the year before that. And the generation before that. And the generation before that. That means your parents’ parents’ parents .. It’s a mundane malaise that dampens dreams, dims horizons, and denies futures.We’re trying to offer a counter to DeVos’s vision of public education and it’s discontents. We got schooled on an alternative set of solutions by some educators we like a lot. Jack Schneider gets us started. He’s a school parent in Somerville, and professor of education at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. He’s on his own mission to “rethink schools,” particularly the metrics we use to measure their worth. He highlights Somerville High School as a case study: a diverse, working-class school thriving despite the odds, but still coming up short in the tests. Jennifer Berkshire—who, along with Jack, co-hosts the education podcast Have You Heard?—gives us the close-up on DeVos. In her reporting, she’s profiled DeVos as one of the leading crusaders in the “holy war against the welfare state” . But she still sees hope in the rising, grassroots resistance to DeVos’s program, which is now one of the most unpopular parts of the Trump platform, even in the red states. Malcolm Harris, the 29-year-old author of Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials, accounts for the new pressures placed on the millennial generation of students. “We are poorer, more medicated, and more precariously employed than our parents, grandparents, even our great grandparents,” he writes. The disease, he says, is neoliberalism and unfettered capitalism. It’s a deeper rot that cannot be solved simply through social democratic reform or technocratic tweaks, and it still needs something more than a political revolution to create real change.  Finally, Charles Petersen, an editor for N+1 and PhD candidate in the American Studies program at Harvard University, outlines a deeper history of competition in American education. His ideological frame is not neoliberalism, per se, but the myth of meritocracy itself. The post Rethinking Schools in the DeVos Era appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. [...]



Claire Messud: Best Friends…For Now

2017-09-20T18:45:40Z

Claire Messud is a novelist of social nuance, especially concerning the crushable inner lives of girls. You could say her new book The Burning Girl, is a suburban Boston version of Elena Ferrante’s Linu and Lena ... The post Claire Messud: Best Friends…For Now appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. Claire Messud is a novelist of social nuance, especially concerning the crushable inner lives of girls. You could say her new book The Burning Girl, is a suburban Boston version of Elena Ferrante’s Linu and Lena in 1960s Naples, or Zadie Smith’s Swing Time soul sisters in interracial London. But it would be unfair to not least acknowledge guy fixations on the same rough terrain back to Tom Sawyer: boy friendships at the brink. For me, The Burning Girl about Cassie and Julie coming apart became my own unwritten novel from 8th grade: what happened to Ronnie, Binker and Eddie?  What was going on in our families, our secret selves at age 12?  Claire Messud’s general answer is: you’ll never know for sure, and you’ll never stop wondering. We spoke on this point and more on the Brattle Theatre stage in Harvard Square. One of my preoccupations is the degree to which in fact we are uncertain about so much, and yet, it is a very uncomfortable thing to be. And so, we tell stories in order–in fact–to resolve and cover over our uncertainties… You have a constellation of points, and then you think, “I know. That girl who was caught giving blow jobs, I know that story; I know that girl.” Right? And we don’t ask further questions. We tell a story, and we simplify it. The story of a friendship between two girls coming unravelled, I know that story. I’ve heard that story a thousand times. But actually, you never know the story. The post Claire Messud: Best Friends…For Now appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. [...]



Mutually Assured Madness

2017-09-22T02:51:29Z

At the brink of who knows what with North Korea, we seem to be back on the scary ledge as in the old Cold War cartoon: enemy rock-climbers hanging off a cliff by the same ... The post Mutually Assured Madness appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. At the brink of who knows what with North Korea, we seem to be back on the scary ledge as in the old Cold War cartoon: enemy rock-climbers hanging off a cliff by the same ropes, ready to fight, though both go down to death if either one slips.  It’s a fog so far of “fire and fury” tweets from our President, threats of “ashes and darkness” for the US from Pyongyang.  We’re on notice that the nuclear age is not over: the age of bottomless anxiety, of crazy-making calculations of the advantage in a first shot, in what could turn to military murder in the millions.  At best it’s a game for so-called ‘rational actors.’ The players we’ve drawn seem to prefer the masks of madmen, but they’re still working well within the pocket of their respective political establishments. It’s already too easy to hear the war drums beating again in Washington as well in Pyongyang.  The alarmingly phallic cover of Mark Bowden’s North Korea cover story in the The Atlantic But what if the real problem is that we’re just not asking the right questions? The New Yorker‘s Evan Osnos is working to reframe the issues at hand through his recent on-the-ground report from the sealed city of Pyongyang. What he found there was not a crisis of derangement, but rather, a more deep seated failure of national imaginations:  These are not two ships without captains. These are actually two powers that are struggling to figure out a way to co-exist, but what leaves me with tremendous uncertainty is that so much of the problem of nuclear brinkmanship depends on matters of the mind. It depends on what we imagine of the other, and not only what we imagine of the other but what we imagine the other imagines of us. Eric Drooker’s “Warhead” cover for this week’s New Yorker, which also includes Osnos’s reportBut this psychoanalytic reading of conflict can only get us so far. As the Russian historian Greg Afinogenov reminded us in a recent essay for N+1, “remote diagnoses” of foreign countries and leaders too often obscure the real history of our own imperial follies. It is American foreign policy doctrine that continues to divide the world into rational actors, typically NATO countries, and irrational ones, typically not long for this world: Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, the Kims. In this worldview it is not a set of threats or behaviors that makes a leader a madman—it is the determination to maintain independence from American empire, often through the pursuit of nuclear weapons. In such a framework it is always the advocates of continual pressure, threats, and sanctions that appear the most rational, for they are the ones that maintain vigilance against uncontrollable madmen. A TIME magazine cover from 2002In studio, Barry Posen gives us the “realist” foreign policy view and helps us game out possible short term solutions to the crisis. On the other end, the nuclear abolitionists Beatrice Fihn and John Carl Baker give us a more utopian view: the vision of a revitalized, 21st century disarmament movement.Fihn, through her work as executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), hones us in on new demands for prohibition made in front of the UN.Baker, a research fellow at the Ploughshares Fund, talks about how we can bring these demands back home, building off the momentum of other millennial-led social justice movements. The 21st cen[...]



Let Us Now Praise John Ashbery

2017-09-15T13:22:05Z

John Ashbery seemed to lower, not raise, his voice when he spoke his poems. “Hammer and tongs, as it were, tended to drive ideas and meanings away,” he thought.  “They only come back in when ... The post Let Us Now Praise John Ashbery appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. John Ashbery seemed to lower, not raise, his voice when he spoke his poems. “Hammer and tongs, as it were, tended to drive ideas and meanings away,” he thought.  “They only come back in when one pretends not to be paying any attention to them, like a cat will rub against your leg.” One of his innumerable tricks was that “who, me?” question in his poems, as if to ask: “Why not you?” John Ashbery had the most imitated voice in American poetry through the second half of the 20th Century. What’s obscure in hindsight is the tag of obscurity on his work. Slippery, shape-shifting, elliptical–for sure. But clearly now: soulful, musical, funny, conversational and beautiful.  Just life, just poetry, he’d have said.   Frontispiece for Self-Portrait In A Convex Mirror shot by Richard AvedonThe poem is you, John Ashbery says, but our guard stays up. Ashbery is a by-word for difficulty, at least puzzlement in contemporary poetry—off limits, almost by definition. So our first question is: am I ready for this? Must we do poetry push-ups, or or take a course, first? Steph Burt says emphatically: No! Spoken with the authority of Harvard’s chief critic and guide to contemporary poetry: In Ashbury you almost never need to get the joke or get the reference. There is not one right answer; there are multiple answers. There is not a consistent situation where you need to decode the poem and realize that actually it’s about Spiro Agnew or actually it’s about this event in Scotland in 1750. The poem is supposed to slip away from you no matter where you start. The name John Ashbery will stand not only for poems but for a long era and an aesthetic sensibility touching all the arts. He had really intended to be a painter, he said, until he discovered that poetry was easier. After college, his first real job was writing reviews of the Paris art scene in the 1950s. He knew everything about music, old and new, serious and pop; and became a connoisseur of art films, and even wrote one. The avant-garde film-maker Guy Maddin, now teaching at Harvard, told us this week about Ashbery leaping into a project with him, to compose a new monolog for an old movie title from the 1930s, “How to Take a Bath.” Screenshot from Guy Maddin’s The Forbidden Room (2015) Elsewhere Ashbery said that his writing was not made for analysis; it is analogous, he said, to “an immersive experience like bathing.” So Ashbery was drawn to film, and filmmakers to him. Jim Jarmusch, for example: a hero of the independents since the 80s for movies like Stranger than Paradise, and Coffee and Cigarettes and last year for Paterson, about a working-class poet in the New Jersey hometown of medical doc and poet William Carlos Williams. Jim Jarmusch celebrated his Ashbery connection with us this week.                                        src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RnF5lEotKFY" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"> The flood tide of Ashbery imitations, and parodies, must have passed before the poet’s death last weekend, at 90. But young poets just finding their voices are still finding Ashbery inescapable and influential. Rickey Laurentiis is one of them: 28 years old, born in New Orleans, African-American, now living in New York.  In an essay recently, Laurentiis asked: “If a black poet opens a book of Ashbery in a forest,[...]



Amiri Baraka: Ennobled by Coltrane

2017-08-31T18:00:17Z

Amiri Baraka‘s death prompts me to repost a conversation we had about the music of John Coltrane, which inspired Baraka and ennobled the ambitions of his Black Arts movement. “Trane was our flag,” Baraka remembered ...

The post Amiri Baraka: Ennobled by Coltrane appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon.

(image) Amiri Baraka‘s death prompts me to repost a conversation we had about the music of John Coltrane, which inspired Baraka and ennobled the ambitions of his Black Arts movement. “Trane was our flag,” Baraka remembered back in 2007. “We could feel what he was doing. We heard our own search and travail in the opening of ‘Giant Steps.'”

In the summer of 1957 the poet then known as Leroi Jones chanced to live over the Five Spot in Manhattan when Coltrane and Thelonius Monk had a five-month learning-by-doing gig on the Bowery. Willem de Kooning and Jack Kerouac were also among the listeners and drinkers at the Five Spot. Baraka told me he missed barely a session of the music that culminated in the Monk-Coltrane Carnegie Hall concert in November, 1957 — a Blue Note best-seller only after the Library of Congress unearthed the tapes in 2005. This was early, lyrical Coltrane, at the dawn of the civil-rights era — “the rebellion” in Baraka’s phrasing, then and ever — for which Coltrane became a sort of soundtrack. For Baraka, Coltrane’s “My Favorite Things” planted a bomb inside the sentimentality of Richard Rodgers and “The Sound of Music.” The hostility in Baraka’s listening had softened a lot by 2007, but Coltrane was still perhaps his highest representation of black art with social traction. Baraka follows Coltrane to the yowling last recordings — Coltrane’s ultimate showdown with self and life — with a shudder of shared pain. But if that is what Coltrane wanted us to hear, serious devotees have no choice. “You have to listen to it.”

“Ironic thing is,” Baraka said, “when I was locked up in 1967 in the rebellion in Newark, I found I was listening all the time to Coltrane’s tunes. And then late one afternoon, the jailer came by — it was July 17, 1967 — and said ‘your man Coltrane died today.’ When I was locked up. That amazed me!”

The post Amiri Baraka: Ennobled by Coltrane appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon.




Akhil Sharma’s Life of Adventure and Delight

2017-08-24T20:35:09Z

Akhil Sharma is a magician with language, on the page and in what feels for me anyway like instantly intimate conversation. He walks into my living room and immediately he’s teaching me something about myself. ...

The post Akhil Sharma’s Life of Adventure and Delight appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon.

Akhil Sharma is a magician with language, on the page and in what feels for me anyway like instantly intimate conversation. He walks into my living room and immediately he’s teaching me something about myself. I find him mesmerizing, instructive, dear. We’re talking about three years’ worth of his New Yorker stories that all grow out of the shattered boyhood he detailed in his novelized memoir Family Life. It was all about Indian strivers in Queens in the dazed 30-year aftermath of a horrific accident. Watching and coping refined Akhil Sharma’s eye for lonely people in a lonely place.

(image)

In his stories there’s a wider canvas of Indian men and women in import-export businesses and creaky arranged marriages,liars, lovers, cheats among them, in dark places cut through with blazing laugh lines. Sexual obsession feels like the thematic symptom of a nameless distress – though there is pleasure in the stories and in Akhil Sharma’s presence, too. In my house in Boston he gave us a taste from “The Well,” one of eight stories in the collection titled A Life of Adventure and Delight.

The post Akhil Sharma’s Life of Adventure and Delight appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon.




The Plague of Fascism in America

2017-09-10T15:10:38Z

It’s plague time in America. We’ve reacquainted ourselves with the wannabe centurions of white supremacy: their faces, their weapons, their torches. We have a new notion of what homegrown American fascism could look like in the ... The post The Plague of Fascism in America appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. It’s plague time in America. We’ve reacquainted ourselves with the wannabe centurions of white supremacy: their faces, their weapons, their torches. We have a new notion of what homegrown American fascism could look like in the 21st century. We can see it all too clearly here in Vice‘s low-light reel from Charlottesville: style="position: absolute; width: 100%; height: 100%; left: 0;" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/P54sP0Nlngg?ecver=2" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"> The sense of a dreaded illness engulfs us, as the classic novel of Europe’s 20th century fascist breakdown warned us. Albert Camus’ Plague closes on the doctor’s note that the germ of our problem never dies or disappears:   it bides its time in bedrooms, cellars, trunks, and bookshelves; and that perhaps the day would come when, for the bane and the enlightening of men, it would rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city. A similar plague is testing us now, with no signs of hope or help coming from the White House. We know that those obnoxious nationalists of the alt-right with their klan and nazi banners feel comfortably in tune with the man in the White House. We also now see that Drumpf could happily serve as president of their confederacy. For guidance through this maelstrom, we turn first to Peniel Joseph—historian of black power and biographer of Kwame Ture (aka Stokely Carmichael)—to relearn the lessons of the Civil Rights Movement and later responses to the non-violent model of resistance. We’re looking for wisdom from Nikhil Pal Singh, the Indian-born scholar of black radicalism and the international dimensions of the struggle for liberation. He reads our current moment, in part, through the lens of a globalized economy: a desperate sense of loss inflaming racial tensions for working-class Americans, with the financial elites stoking the flames. What’s happened to the American working class as a whole during the period of the 1990s and 2000s is that there has been a dramatic kind of downscaling and the recognition has been belated by American elites who did not respond to this generational crisis. And Drumpf swoops and tells a certain kind of story about it that seems plausible because it plays to a sense of victimization — but, also, a sense that the enemies are these nefarious forces who have stolen their birthright. But, actually, the people who’ve stolen their birthright are very, very close to home. For a read on the new faces and forces in American fascism, Southern Poverty Law Center president Richard Cohen gives us his anatomy of the alt-right movement. In studio, we’re also joined by the staunch free-speech defender Wendy Kaminer, preacher Mariama White-Hammond, poet Adam Fitzgerald, and the novelist James Carroll. The post The Plague of Fascism in America appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. [...]



Harder, Better, Faster, CRISPR

2017-08-22T19:14:11Z

The dawn of a new age flashed across the news this summer – dateline Oregon: scientists from the US, China and South Korea together had tweaked the genes of a living human embryo to correct ... The post Harder, Better, Faster, CRISPR appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. The dawn of a new age flashed across the news this summer – dateline Oregon: scientists from the US, China and South Korea together had tweaked the genes of a living human embryo to correct an inherited flaw that has caused heart failure and sudden death in a lot of young athletes.  And so, finally, suddenly we enter the CRISPR age in bio-technology, when human science takes charge of the human genetic lifeline, to fix it here, tune it there, perhaps re-tailor it in useful ways.  We could be doing it soon with hundred-dollar DIY kits, at home. The Chinese are doing it, too.As the pioneer in the CRISPR breakthrough Jennifer Doudna says: we have the ability now to edit the DNA of every living person and future generations, too.  “In essence,” Doudna writes, it means the power “to direct the evolution of our own species.”  “Unprecedented in the history of life on earth,” she adds, “beyond our comprehension,” and raising “impossible but essential” questions for which as individuals and as a species, we are “woefully unprepared.”  Jennifer Doudna’s colleague at UC-Berkeley, Michael Eisen starts off our conversation this week. He’s a genetic biologist — who works mainly on fruit flies — and a member of the Berkeley team that epically battled against the MIT-Harvard-Broad Institute faction, over patent claims on CRISPR and its applications.  Online, Michael Eisen has eloquently argued against the whole idea of patenting a public resource.Ben Mezrich who dreamed up “The Social Network” about the making of Facebook and the IT billionaire class. He has a new block-buster in book form, soon to be a movie called “Woolly,” about the mammoth last seen as the Ice Age melted down. The human hero of the story is George Church —  the giant Harvard biologist who means to revive the woolly mammoth with its DNA and his own CRISPR tools. Imagine Indiana Jones in Jurassic Park.   Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA: “The Crossroads of the Biotech World”Antonio Regalado is a key journalist on the CRISPR beat, a minute-to-minute reporter online for the Tech Review, which is owned and managed by MIT.  Among the levels of his CRISPR coverage: the science, the people who do it, the motivations and the money. He tells us: People are getting rich. In the case of the CRISPR companies, I can see how many shares the scientific founders from around Cambridge have and the amounts are large: eight, nine million, ten million dollars. And yet when I interact with the scientists themselves—George Church, for instance with his sort of lumpy shoes, you know, does money motivate him? He doesn’t act like it. So I think fundamentally I’ve got to believe that people are motivated by the fact that they’re discovering stuff and the glory and that is worth more than the money. But I might be naive.There are agitated voices inside biology and outside it who want to be heard in the CRISPR conversation, and we invited two of them to speak up. Robert Pogue Harrison is humanities professor, a Dante specialist, at Stanford who podcasts on a great variety of civilized subjects.  Earlier this summer when the Templeton Foundation brought the superstars of CRISPR world to a weekend retreat in California, Robert Harrison was invited to sit in a[...]



This is Your Brain on Trump

2017-08-22T19:17:57Z

If you can believe your eyes, and ears, your screens, your Twitter feed, this is your mind, your country, our very public American life, “on Trump.”  There is no following this story, this confounding condition, this ... The post This is Your Brain on Trump appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. If you can believe your eyes, and ears, your screens, your Twitter feed, this is your mind, your country, our very public American life, “on Trump.”  There is no following this story, this confounding condition, this inescapable event called Trump.  In a sort of 6-months checkup, we’re just taking impressions from near and far: what does it mean for a country, a culture, for our sleep cycles, our sanity, to be “on Trump,” for so long now? And what is it doing to us, alone or together?Emmett Rensin is a young counter-commentator, still in his 20s.  His vision of the new culture war jumped off the page of the Los Angeles Review of Books.  It’s a fight in our collective soul between the raging Id – the fantasy desires  — of the new power center; and the Blathering Super Ego – the No-impulse in the technocratic center. He tells us that the Establishment-aligned Super Ego is: A collective of human beings who have absorbed and internalized very deeply this whole notion of like what politics is; what are adult politics; what are the standards of behavior; what can win, what can’t win; how to behave. And they’re watching that just get blown up.This week, the subject is the unavoidable You Know Who, and what a two-year fixation on a single tragi-comic anti-hero is doing to the mind and spirit of the Great Republic. Laurie Penny is a young English writer who emerged — as Christopher Hitchens did many years ago — as a columnist with the New Statesman in London.  She calls herself a feminist and “social justice bard.” In our conversation, she shares how the culture wars of today are being fought on the battlefield of our collective imagination. She believes that storytelling — liberated from old models based around heroic white masculinity — will prove decisive. Angela Nagle was born American in Houston of Irish parents, then grew up in Dublin, where she writes for The Irish Times and a host of hot online sites.  She is known as an astute tracker of the big trends and hidden nooks in the Alt-Right online culture. Her new book Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars From 4Chan And Tumblr To Trump And The Alt-Right chronicles her intrepid journey through these dark, shadowy digital worlds.We asked David Bosworth, our seer in Seattle, for the long view of the Trump moment in the history of our culture, our tech, our economy. He’s a critic who writes novels, too, and a celebrated teacher at the University of Washington.  He tells us that we’re looking at the birth of something as big and complex as the birth of modernity in the time of Shakespeare and Cervantes.  The future is unforeseeable, he says, but it was made in our time in America.And some advice: People write their headaches to Liza Featherstone at The Nation Magazine under the heading: “Asking for a Friend.”  If you want your Trump-addled brain to come back to life, Liza has a life tip for you.See a full transcript of this show on Medium. The post This is Your Brain on Trump appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. [...]



Billy Bragg’s Guide to the Music of Dissent

2017-08-22T19:21:33Z

Billy Bragg has been the premier troubadour for British radicalism for more than thirty years: a democratic socialist with a guitar and a steadfast commitment to fighting fascism, racism, and homophobia.He was the voice of the ... The post Billy Bragg’s Guide to the Music of Dissent appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. Billy Bragg has been the premier troubadour for British radicalism for more than thirty years: a democratic socialist with a guitar and a steadfast commitment to fighting fascism, racism, and homophobia.He was the voice of the striking miners in the 80s—reminding us that there is power in a union, despite what Thatcher & Reagan might have told you.In the 90s, he tapped into a well of forgotten American lyricism, singing and writing music for hundreds of unreleased Woody Guthrie songs, and reminding us that all those fascists were always bound to lose.   width="640" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UV714TBmLQU?feature=oembed" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>Today, Bragg, like the British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders in the U.S. , stands out as a survivor—someone who carried the torch for socialist ideas and sentiments through the Clinton/Blair years and the long age of acquiescence. Theres’s a new audience of young people carrying his ideas forward now, but with a different tune: hip-hop and grime are the soundtrack of today’s resistance—not white guys with guitars—but the sentiment remains the same. Their history, as well as their lyrics, rhymes with Bragg’s own. src="https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/1232884200/playlist/4fMYphJqxnIRgMgS1263Fo" width="300" height="380" frameborder="0">[A playlist of our favorite Bragg songs, curated by Zach Goldhammer, Susan Coyne, Pat Tomaino, Becca DeGregorio, and Conor Gillies]As an elder statesman for youthful rebellion, Bragg wants to remind us how this whole subculture began. In his new book, Roots, Radicals, and Rockers, Bragg brings us back to 1950s England, where a new form of music called skiffle helped invent the first generation of true teenagers in England. In his story, it’s the working-class English kids who picked up guitars in the playground and started singing American blues songs—like Leadbelly’s “Rock Island Line”—and who kicked off a 60- year tradition of dissenting music in the Anglophone world. It was not political music per se, but it was the first rumblings of an anti-conformist rebellion in the UK.We pick-up Bragg’s story with the first skiffle superstar, Lonnie Donegan, width="640" height="480" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/wI4nRD-DRpk?feature=oembed" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>That spirit of rebellion continued to echo through the British Invasion in the 60s, the first wave of punk in the late 70s, and of course, in Bragg’s own thirty year career.But today, Bragg says it’s a new sound carrying this rebellious tradition forward. Now, Britain’s music of dissent is being made by Grime artists, blending high-speed English rap with West Indian dancehall beats. These were the musicians who also formed an unlikely alliance with Jeremy Corbyn in the last election. style="position: absolute; width: 100%; height: 100%; left: 0;" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/mbI4oXL23ek?ecver=2" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"> We’ll be listening carefully and trying to figure out where this new musical momentum will carry us next. You can also keep listening  with us—there̵[...]



The Coming Crisis in Opioid Nation

2017-08-22T19:26:07Z

The opioid epidemic running rampant this summer has a 30-year back story and a grisly punch-line for 2017: drug deaths this year alone are heading toward the US death toll in Vietnam over ten years. ... The post The Coming Crisis in Opioid Nation appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. The opioid epidemic running rampant this summer has a 30-year back story and a grisly punch-line for 2017: drug deaths this year alone are heading toward the US death toll in Vietnam over ten years. The damage has proportions of a plague, or a war that will stamp a generation: let it grow at this rate and in ten years it will be taking more American lives than AIDS at its peak; than breast cancer, than World War Two, than the US Civil War.  There’s a palpable near-panic at what can look like collective mass suicide.  There’s torpor, too, a post-war feeling, after the drugs won.  There’s dismay about a marketized industry in man-made drugs that manages somehow to kill its customers and keep growing.Here’s a short list of what’s strange and different about this opioid epidemic.  The poisons of choice and convenience are cheaper, laced with synthetics like fentanyl, much more powerful and more available than poppy heroin ever was.  The problem is everywhere – rustic New Hampshire a spike on the national map.  And the devastation is almost out of control: deaths on the order of 50-thousand a year, drug dependency for 2-million Americans, 10 percent of them getting treatment.  An aggressive, expanding marketplace is choking on a 30-year promotion of pain meds, like Percocet, addiction warnings long muffled and unheard.  For most new users of illegal opioids, the gateway is an array of prescription painkillers like Oxycontin.  The racial profile and the enforcement culture around drug abuse are markedly changed: opioids can be blamed for a shocking turn down in life-expectancy for white males in the US; but the stigma and the racialized rage around drugs are much reduced. We speak of drug addiction more realistically now, more humanely perhaps, as a disease, no longer a crime.And so our crash course begins this week, to feel the size and shape and hear the sound of a full-blown public health nightmare in a circle of purgatory or possibly hell, known as the opioid epidemic.   [see Max Blau’s STAT forecast to understand just how bad this crisis could become] Dr. Jessie Gaeta is the medical doctor that addicts meet at the Boston Healthcare for the Homeless next to Boston Medical Center on Albany Street.  Her patients, she says, are the furthest “downstream” in the opioid crisis — literally collapsing from overdose — or in horrible fear of withdrawal.  They come back and back, needing a safe space or maybe emergency treatment, like oxygen and a drug called Nar-can, which revives people who are unconscious and at risk of death. Doctor Gaeta walked us around the block the main drag of the opioid crisis in Massachusetts. She calls it “Recovery Road”, but it’s better known as “Methadone Mile”. Kathleen FrydlKathleen Frydl is a political historian at the University of California, Davis and author of the The Drug Wars in America, 1940-1973. In conversation, she shares with us the genealogy of the opioid epidemic, chronicling how prescription painkillers became the gateway to what is now the gravest drug crisis in our history.As Frydl has written for Dissent, our national politics may be the ideology that has hijacked our polit[...]



The Concord Circle & the Birth of American Philosophy

2017-08-22T19:29:50Z

Henry David Thoreau on his 200th birthday has invited us back to his woodsy, watery old town of Concord, Massachusetts where crystalline American prose was born and grew up.  “The biggest little place in America,” ... The post The Concord Circle & the Birth of American Philosophy appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. Henry David Thoreau on his 200th birthday has invited us back to his woodsy, watery old town of Concord, Massachusetts where crystalline American prose was born and grew up.  “The biggest little place in America,” Henry James said later.  Strangely: it was a collective of mismatched eccentrics: some complained that Ralph Waldo Emerson, the sun god in Concord, could see no evil in man or nature; but then Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter man, could be all sin, all darkness in his novels.  It was a guys’s world where Margaret Fuller came to power and glory; where the sexual non-conformist Walt Whitman got critical affirmation.  The bond in all the diversity was Emerson: not just his star power but his attachment to a universal soul in nature and in every person.  Emerson, without trying, it was said, “brought you face to face with the infinite in humanity.”  So we’re listening again to the Concord circle for help in the perplexities of 2017, and wondering why the brave free spirit of Thoreau in particular sounds ripe for revival. We’re lucky to have the Yale English professor David Bromwich serving as our tour guide to the town this hour; in part three of our series on Thoreau and his contemporaries. He also helps us extend the comparison between the Concord circle and the original Duke Ellington orchestra.  style="position: absolute; width: 100%; height: 100%; left: 0;" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/2dHSq4qUQt8?ecver=2" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen">What kick-started our own focus on the Thoreau bicentennial, most of a year ago, was a young man’s memoir that had striking reviews and an unlikely title—American Philosophy: A Love Story.  The author turned out to be a 38 year old professor at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, John Kaag.  His book is a candid account of his troubles and a devout thank you to the Concord philosophers of the 19th Century and their descendants — notably Emerson, Thoreau and William James — who had come to his rescue.  Last month John Kaag canoed with us on Thoreau’s Concord River, and walked us around Walden Pond (as you can hear in part two of our series).  In this episode, he gives us the personal side of his philosophical love story.  John Kaag (Photo by Michael Lutch)Lydia Moland is a philosophy professor at Colby College in Maine, a specialist in German idealist philosophy of the 19th Century.  In her distress over American politics last year and this, she found herself casting around for help in the Concord philosophers, specially their fixation on slavery and freedom.  And among the first things she found was that not all the bright lights in New England were in Concord, and not all of them were guys. Lydia Maria Child (Wikimedia Commons)Pico Iyer has made himself a writerly embodiment of the world spirit — not just by having Indian parents, an English upbring, an American university education and a Japanese wife; but because he inhales the fumes of global cultures in incessant, humble travel.  It says a lot about the spirit of Emerson, Thoreau and Concord that [...]



Walden & the Natural World of Transcendentalism

2017-08-22T19:32:23Z

Henry David Thoreau, our specimen of American genius in nature, wrote famously short, and long.  “Simplify,” in a one-word sentence of good advice.  But then 2-million words on 7-thousand pages in his quotable lifetime journal. ... The post Walden & the Natural World of Transcendentalism appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. Henry David Thoreau, our specimen of American genius in nature, wrote famously short, and long.  “Simplify,” in a one-word sentence of good advice.  But then 2-million words on 7-thousand pages in his quotable lifetime journal.  It’s one of many odd points to notice about Thoreau at his 200th birthday: that the non-stop writer was equally a man of action, a scientist and a high-flying poet whose imagination saw that “the bluebird carries the sky on his back;” and still a workman with callused hands, at home in the wild, a walker four hours a day on average, in no particular direction.  His transcendentalism was all about the blossoming intersection of nature-study and introspection, fact and idea, detail and ideals.  In his pine grove, on his river, at his pond, the outdoor Thoreau. N. C. Wyeth (1882-1945) Walden Pond Revisited, 1942What does a Transcendentalist do, we were asking in the first of three bicentennial Thoreau shows?  All the answers are to be found in the canoe trip that became a masterpiece, titled: A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers. What the Transcendentalist does is soar – between water below and sky above; between this day and eternity, between Nature, and human society.We start our journey at the South Bridge Boat House near Thoreau’s house on Main Street in Concord, just upstream from the Concord River itself.  A naturalist philosopher in the Thoreau lineage, Alex Strong from Maine, is one of our guides.  During our trip down Thoreau’s “little Nile”,  Alex tells us about what the strapping, young 22 year old was learning on his voyage:  He was learning about big-N Nature when he was studying the Perch, studying when flowers bloomed, where the bees were. The notes he took, the meticulous notes, weren’t just about the little details; they’re about understanding the whole picture and keeping nature sacred while understanding it, in all its finite mundane details.Next up, the still-water Walden, a pond in Concord, Massachusetts where Henry Thoreau wrote his great book in a cabin by the shore. In 1845 Walden was a woodlot next to the new railway where the 28-year-old poet went to “suck out the marrow of life,” whatever it turned out to be. Our guide to the pond and the book, the young philosopher John Kaag had been in and out of the Walden water the other morning before we got there.   Photo by Michael J. Lutch While we’re here, at Walden, we decided to stop and consider the statuesque, very tall, dark-green, almost black, pine trees all around Walden Pond, trees that Thoreau came to consider cousins, virtually human.  Richard Higgins, widely traveled in Concord today, has written a book on Thoreau and the Language of Trees, and he has no doubt that Thoreau spoke it fluently, from the heart. Finally, we conclude with a Thoreauvian meditation on walking. Real walkers are born, not made, Thoreau liked to say.  “If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again, — if you have paid your debts, and made your[...]



A Wild & Disobedient Life

2017-08-22T19:33:59Z

Henry David Thoreau, on his 200th birthday, is an American immortal who got there the hard way – against the grain of his town and his times.  By now he’s the heroic non-conformist who modeled ... The post A Wild & Disobedient Life appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. Henry David Thoreau, on his 200th birthday, is an American immortal who got there the hard way – against the grain of his town and his times.  By now he’s the heroic non-conformist who modeled his brief life on religious convictions: that every human being has an original relation with divine spirit, and that on earth a man must become a majority of one.  So he made a dissenting record living apart, and walking the woods more like a Native American, he felt, than a Yankee.  Never to church, never married, never voted and didn’t pay his taxes.  He talked to the trees as almost-people, and he caressed the fish in his stream like almost-children. Manly and able “but rarely tender,” he won Emerson’s obituary praise that flatters us, too: “no truer American existed,” Emerson said, than Henry Thoreau.  The prophet of Concord is our subject this hour on Open Source.  We begin with Thoreau’s bicentennial biographer Laura Dassow Walls, visiting this week from the University of Notre Dame.  There’s news and insight in her book that’s drawing high praise already.  She shares with us how her life first intersected with Thoreau’s: I was a teenager. I was learning girl culture of 1970 and conformity and trying to figure out how to get along and worried about future and what college to go to what kind of job I could have — what kind of a job could a woman have. And they were limited. So, for instance, secretarial work was still something we were encouraged to think about. We took home Ec classes and thought of ourselves as homemakers. And here was this voice who said maybe you could go to the woods, maybe you could confront life, maybe you could figure out what it is to be alive.  The polymath and writer Lewis Hyde is a thoroughly modern transcendentalist, author of a treasured book-length essay, titled The Gift, about the making of art in a commercial society.  In conversation this week we asked Lewis Hyde to speak of form and language—the almost King-James-Version Biblical rhythms in Walden—and whatever they tell the world about the scope of the project Thoreau set for himself: So every time you can reduce your necessities you increase your freedom. And so, I think, it’s worth in any life to pause and think which of the things you feel you have to do you really have to do because to the degree that you can discard some of them you increase the range of your own freedoms. Susan Gallagher helps us examine the ways in which the issue of slavery underlies everything Thoreau’s writing about: freedom, conscience and the crime inside the US Constitution. Just as historians once underestimated the power of slavery in shaping American society, I think that they’ve underestimated the power of slavery in shaping Thoreau. He described slavery as an existential threat. He says ‘right we are now in hell. We are losing our lives. And then John Brown comes along in 1859 and he says this is the best news that America has ever heard. John Brown is the first man who ever lived. And how did he live? By dying. You die for a purpose and you die because you refuse to wrestl[...]



Philip Roth

2017-06-21T21:48:44Z

This is an archive broadcast from May 12, 2006.Philip Roth [David Miller] This Memorial Day weekend we’re talking with Philip Roth about everything. It’s a free-range conversation that gets us beyond the books and into ...

The post Philip Roth appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon.

This is an archive broadcast from May 12, 2006.

(image)

Philip Roth [David Miller]

This Memorial Day weekend we’re talking with Philip Roth about everything. It’s a free-range conversation that gets us beyond the books and into the mind, heart and soul of the Tolstoy of our times. In his latest work, Everyman, the hero bids farewell to vigor, lust and life but Roth himself remains as vital and persistent a writer as ever. With nearly 30 books under his belt, Roth’s approach to writing hasn’t changed:

If I can emerge from my studio with a page, I’m not downhearted. If I emerge with less, I’m pretty frustrated. If I emerge with nothing, then I want to slit my throat. I haven’t yet, but sometimes you can’t go any further. It’s not writer’s block, that’s not the right phrase to describe it — it’s that you are not penetrating the material in a way that will release whatever is strongest in you.

Philip Roth on Open Source

In Everyman, Roth paraphrases artist Chuck Close, “Amateurs look for inspiration; the rest of us just get up and go to work.” Part of the secret Roth offered, in an aside, may be his birth year 1933, the early depression. He’s conscious of entering the world at virtually the same moment with prolific writers he still admires: Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike and Reynolds Price. We dropped many other names along the way: David Riesman, Sarah Vaughan, Norman Mailer, James Baldwin, the several Henrys (Miller, James, Aaron, and Kissinger) and, yes, Tolstoy.

Don’t miss this—it is an hour to remember.

Update, 5/15/06, 11:25pm

On our comment thread Allison writes “I’m confused. Did you already have the conversation with him?” Yes, we did. Earlier this month Roth graciously invited us into his home, in rural Connecticut. We recorded over two hours of remarkable tape that we are now editing for Memorial Day.

The post Philip Roth appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon.




Something’s Happening Here

2017-06-30T00:53:52Z

In the first summer of Trump, 2017, there’s something happening and it feels bigger than the Comey hearings, even Russia-gate. Who knew that a British election with an inconclusive photo finish could re-channel the anger ... The post Something’s Happening Here appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. In the first summer of Trump, 2017, there’s something happening and it feels bigger than the Comey hearings, even Russia-gate. Who knew that a British election with an inconclusive photo finish could re-channel the anger that drives the global mood?  The unheralded Jeremy Corbyn at the left end of the Labor Party is the mouse that roared, and turned the ‘age of anger’ in a different direction. Corbyn takes a moment to stop and smell the roses in the UK, 2017Corbyn didn’t play the bellowing populist, but he spoke the part.  How about a government “for the many, not the few,” Corbyn asked.  And millions of new UK voters said, “Yes!” In the face of terrorist outrages in Manchester, then London, just before the voting, Corbyn said: “we must be brave enough to admit the war on terror is simply not working.”  It is now Corbyn’s moment to be the standard of unconventional talk that resonates far and wide.   Naomi Klein protesting police arrests at the G20 summit in Toronto, 2010Our show begins with Naomi Klein.  Among book-writers on the left, from Michelle Alexander to Bill McKibben to Michael Moore, the line on Naomi Klein is that nobody faster is better, and nobody better is faster. No Is Not Enough is her quick handbook for the Trump era.  Her line since No Logo has been that corporate and consumer culture are both hazardous for people and the planet. And Donald Trump? He’s to be seen not as cause of the problem but as evidence of it:   “I am not interested in looking at Trump as just like an aberrant personality and psychoanalyzing of him. He is a symptom. I see him as dystopian fiction come to life, you know, and you read dystopian fiction–whether it’s 1984 or The Handmaid’s Tale or whether you go see a film like The Hunger Games or Elysium–and inevitably we see a story of a bubble of ultra-rich big winners and hordes of locked out losers. What this entire genre is doing and has always done is take the trends and the culture and follows them to their logical conclusion. They hold up a mirror and say: Do you like what you see? I mean, this is not supposed to be a system that’s telling us to go to this dangerous future. It’s telling us to get off that road. That’s the idea. It’s supposed to be holding up a mirror and telling society to swerve. So, you know, I want to look at the roads that lead to Trump much more than I want to look at Trump himself.” David Graeber at Occupy Wall Street, 2011David Graeber, a Yale-trained cultural anthropologist, emerged as something of a cult writer behind the Occupy movement of six years ago — meaning, in his case, a tracker of the invisible stitching around matters of debt and wealth from ancient times.   width="640" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/2VY02MH3Bk8?feature=oembed" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>He has prophesied at different times a standard 15-hour work week and the dissolution of the US empire.  In the matter of Tory rule in England,  David Graeber has [...]



The Chomsky Effect With Robert Barsky

2017-06-16T00:59:58Z

Noam Chomsky had two giant careers: one in the science of language, another in the rough and tumble of anti-war politics, beckoning the question is it one Chomsky or two? In our two weeks of interviewing, ... The post The Chomsky Effect With Robert Barsky appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. Noam Chomsky had two giant careers: one in the science of language, another in the rough and tumble of anti-war politics, beckoning the question is it one Chomsky or two? In our two weeks of interviewing, reading and discussing the man, I was searching for the larger idea or human impulse that drives the stubborn peacenik and the father of modern linguistics.You can feel some of the answer in Chomsky’s voice and presence, but we got outside clarification too from his biographer Robert Barsky, who’s puzzled through the Chomsky links for years – and talked with Chomsky about them. I asked Robert Barsky to lay out the foundational principles of Chomsky’s thought – first about language acquisition, and then about power: At the end of the day, so much of Noam Chomsky’s work is about power. If power is in the business of teaching us how to be good consumers, if power is in the business of keeping us down, if power is in the business of teaching us how to vote against our own best interests, then what is the opposite? The opposite is: how do you promote creativity? How do you promote people’s ability to think for themselves? How do promote people’s understanding of their connection to the people around them in ways that are going to benefit themselves and their environment as opposed to just allow them to have more power.That I think is at the very heart of Noam Chomsky linguistically, in terms of academics and in terms of his social thought.Noam Chomsky’s student and friend Robert Barsky teaches law and literature at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Twenty years ago he wrote Noam Chomsky: A Life of Dissent and after that: The Chomsky Effect: A Radical Works Beyond the Ivory Tower.Listen to our full hour on (and with) Noam Chomsky here. The post The Chomsky Effect With Robert Barsky appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. [...]



American Socrates: The Life and Mind of Noam Chomsky

2017-06-08T20:50:12Z

Noam Chomsky for 50 years has been America’s Socrates, our public pest with questions that sting … not the city-square of Athens but a vast global village in pain and now, it seems, in danger.The ... The post American Socrates: The Life and Mind of Noam Chomsky appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. Noam Chomsky for 50 years has been America’s Socrates, our public pest with questions that sting … not the city-square of Athens but a vast global village in pain and now, it seems, in danger.The world in trouble today still beats a path to Noam Chomsky’s door, if only because he’s been forthright for so long about a whirlwind coming.  Not that the world quite knows what do with Noam Chomsky’s warnings of disaster in the making. Remember the famous faltering of the patrician TV host William F. Buckley Jr., meeting Chomsky’s icy anger about the war in Vietnam, in 1969.It’s a strange thing about Noam Chomsky: the New York Times calls him ‘arguably’ the most important public thinker alive, though the paper seldom quotes him, or argues with him, and giant pop media stars on network television almost never do. And yet the man is universally famous and revered in his 89th year: he’s the scientist who taught us to think of human language as something embedded in our biology, not a social acquisition; he’s the humanist who railed against the Vietnam war and other projections of American power, on moral grounds first, ahead of practical considerations.  He remains a rock-star on college campuses, here and abroad; yet he’s still an alien in the places where policy gets made.  On his home ground at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he is a notably accessible old professor who answers his email and receives visitors like us with a twinkle.  Last week, we visited Chomsky with an open ended mission in mind: We were looking for a non-standard account of our recent history from a man known for telling the truth. We’d written him that we wanted to hear not what he thinks, but how. He’d  written back that hard work and an open mind have a lot to do with it, also, in his words, a “Socratic-style willingness to ask whether conventional doctrines are justified.” In the opening moments of our conversation, recorded and captured in the video below, Chomsky lays out a succinct demonstration of his method that might be applied to our present-day political crisis: width="640" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/xi63Hd5ELDI?feature=oembed" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>  “I think the fate of the species depends on it because, remember, it’s not just inequality, stagnation. It’s terminal disaster. We have constructed a perfect storm. That should be the screaming headlines every day. Since the Second World War, we have created two means of destruction. Since the neoliberal era, we have dismantled the way of handling them. That’s our pincers. That’s what we face, and if that problem isn’t solved we’re done with.”Over the years Noam Chomsky has defended his heavyweight debating title against all comers: YouTube has him in the ring with Michel Foucault on the nature of human nature; with Alan Dershowitz on Israel; with John Silber on Central America. But looking beyond his intellectual pugilism, Chomsky’s life m[...]



Return of the Prophet: Baldwin in the 21st Century

2017-05-26T00:27:55Z

James Baldwin was the prophetic voice of an era that isn’t over. Fifty years ago, he was a young, bug-eyed man from Harlem who wrote, in essays and novels, his own version of the civil-rights movement. Now his words ... The post Return of the Prophet: Baldwin in the 21st Century appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. James Baldwin was the prophetic voice of an era that isn’t over. Fifty years ago, he was a young, bug-eyed man from Harlem who wrote, in essays and novels, his own version of the civil-rights movement. Now his words have become the rallying cries for a new rising generation—in film, in music, and in the press.Raoul Peck, the Haitian-born director of the Oscar-nominated Baldwin documentary I Am Not Your Negro, sees Baldwin as a mirror on American life: He went really deep into what the society is, you know, and he was the only one who was able to formulate it in a way that a scholar of course would understand it but also the man in the streets would understand it in a way where he could be very critical to the white liberal but without pushing them away. But he found a way to put every one of us, whether black or white, in front of the reality. He put a mirror in front of us in a way that you can’t look away. style="position: absolute; width: 100%; height: 100%; left: 0;" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/rNUYdgIyaPM?ecver=2" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen">Teju Cole views the Baldwin of today as a master aphorist: a pithy prophet well-suited to the twitter age and “the go-to quote factory of those who are woke”. On a deeper level, Cole finds kinship in Baldwin’s transnational sense of self.  Cole guides us through his own pilgrimage to Leukerbad, Switzerland—the remote town where Baldwin composed his seminal essay “Stranger in the Village”: The essay I ended up writing about this journey to Leukerbad became also a kind of exercise in Baldwinian form … I deeply love the essay that he wrote about being there, and in my essay, which I call “Black Body,” I wanted to think about what it meant to inhabit somebody else’s space. I was inhabiting his space and, in a sense in the essay, I was inhabiting his prose style. … it was conscious to allow that to happen, to allow the visceral effect of being there as he was there, walking the streets as he walked the streets, to let all of that come through and still have it be analytical.Cornel West reminds us of Baldwin’s unpopularity, and his nagging truth-telling habit that alienated him, in later years, from the white liberal media professional who first popularized his work, as well as from the radical black nationalists. But for Brother West, this outsider truth-teller “was really a kind of Democratic saint, if you define a saint as a sinner who looks at the world through the lens of the heart.”“He was heartbroken.” Cornel says, “America broke his heart, day in and day out.”And Ed Pavlic, author of Who Can Afford to Improvise?: James Baldwin and Black Music, the Lyric and the Listener, hears in Baldwin’s words echoes of the black musicians Baldwin dearly loved – Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Mahalia Jackson et al. Above all e[...]



Lessons from Nixonland

2017-05-24T19:40:11Z

Welcome back to Nixonland: After four decades, the Oval Office is once again the seat of empire, occupied by a paranoid pilot hellbent on an unremittingly personal fight, and no holds are barred. Between US Presidents ... The post Lessons from Nixonland appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. Welcome back to Nixonland: After four decades, the Oval Office is once again the seat of empire, occupied by a paranoid pilot hellbent on an unremittingly personal fight, and no holds are barred. Between US Presidents 37 and 45, Richard Nixon and Donald Trump, the links of language and temperament are getting uncannily close—their political predicaments, too. Even beyond the Saturday Night Massacre parallels and the rising calls for impeachment, there are other points of comparisons.Both Trump and Nixon, for instance, refer to their stalwart base using the same title: the silent majority. Both presidents also share a certain adversarial view of the political press. Trump has called the media his opposition.  Nixon made them his enemies.  For the benefit of Henry Kissinger and others on his staff, Nixon—inadvertently taping himself—turned his sentiments into a sort of prose poem: The press is the enemy The press is the enemy The press is the enemy The establishment is the enemy The professors are the enemy The professors are the enemy Write that on a blackboard 100 times And never forget it…. To understand how and why the ambient fears of the Nixon presidential years are now resurfacing in the Trump White House, we talk to the man who might be the missing link: Patrick J. Buchanan. Buchanan is one man who’s not just looking at a movie he’s seen before. He was, after all, a major player in the prequel: writing some of Richard Nixon’s most famous fighting lines. You could say he anticipated the movie playing now in his own right-wing populist “America First” presidential campaigns in the 90s and then 2000—first as a Republican, then as an independent. John Aloysius Farrell, the esteemed biographer of Tip O’Neill in the Congress, and Clarence Darrow in the courtroom, joins us. He’s spiced up the Nixon legend in a big one-volume life full of fresh letters and tapes and lines we’d almost forgotten—to David Frost, famously, when he spelled out the ultimate executive privilege: “When the president does it,” Nixon said, “that means that it is not illegal.” Beverly Gage—historian at Yale working on a new biography of J. Edgar Hoover, the founding G-man of the FBI—discusses another set of parallels: from Nixon-Hoover to Trump-Comey. She tells a broader story about the culture of an institution that has always chafed against the presidential leash. Glenn Greenwald—co-founder of The Intercept and one of the main journalists who broke the Snowden story—draws out the parallels between Daniel Ellsberg‘s Pentagon Papers and today’s Wikileakers, including Snowden and recently released Chelsea Manning. We’re asking Glenn, of the latest flurry of Trump scandals: “Do you ever feel like we’re in a game of distraction—to keep our eyes off the ball?” While he may not have admitted to being a crook, President Richard Nixon would have certainly admitted t[...]



JFK Turns 100

2017-05-22T15:57:16Z

In John F. Kennedy’s hundredth birthday spring, we’re looking again at the family portrait we all know, by the painter Jamie Wyeth.His canvas summoned the late president as a ruddy sort of ghost, face aglow against deep brown ... The post JFK Turns 100 appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. In John F. Kennedy’s hundredth birthday spring, we’re looking again at the family portrait we all know, by the painter Jamie Wyeth.His canvas summoned the late president as a ruddy sort of ghost, face aglow against deep brown shadows, beefy hand in front of his chin, eyes all alert but just out of alignment, one looks into you, one past you. He’s returned from another place, mouth open a crack, not quite smiling. The mind of an A student, hesitating, kindling a wise-crack, maybe hiding something, pain of injury perhaps, or illness. He looks not combative exactly but forceful, open to the fun of teasing or an argument, open to the pleasure of his own company. style="position: absolute; width: 100%; height: 100%; left: 0;" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/wcHgM9VChQk?ecver=2" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"> We’re taking fresh impressions of John Fitzgerald Kennedy on his hundredth birthday. The historian Fredrik Logevall, who’s working on a new one-volume JFK biography, was born in Sweden in 1963, the year Kennedy was assassinated. A year later, Wyeth undertook his most noted portrait at the age of 18. He’s 70 now, and his iconic portrait of JFK (beloved by Jackie, besmirched by Bobby) now calls the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston home. Illustration by Susan Coyne Poet laureate of Open Source, Eileen Myles tells us about how President Kennedy shaped her childhood as a young, scrappy Catholic kid growing up in a Kennedy worshipping family.  Here, she reads us her complicated ode to the Kennedys in a An American Poem. width="640" height="400" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?visual=true&url=https%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F322193127&show_artwork=true&maxwidth=640&maxheight=960">Also on the phone with us: a chorus of Kennedy watchers, family members, and journalists, including Marty Nolan, Richard Reeves, Sally Fay, Caitlin Flanagan, and Bobby Shriver.  The post JFK Turns 100 appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. [...]



The ‘Pivot to Asia’ Continued

2017-05-12T04:55:49Z

What did we learn in Vietnam? The post The ‘Pivot to Asia’ Continued appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. On the threshold of trouble in Asia, have a look around the Western Pacific and especially back at US history there.  It’s several thresholds actually, and different risks of trouble: Rewriting trade and banking rules is one thing, compared to policing empty islands in the South China Sea, a far cry from the clear and present chance of nuclear missiles flying out of a desperate regime in North Korea that has no good relations with anybody.When anxiety about Asia rises, it can be our memory that gets knocked out first.  Barack Obama as president four years ago announced a ‘pivot to Asia,’ barely noting that we’d been there before, in Vietnam, in his lifetime. But even principals in the Vietnam War had a way of forgetting not just the facts but what they’d said about them. Illustrations by Susan CoyneThe Swedish-born American historian Fredrik Logevall reminds us of past escapades in Southeast Asia. His Pulitzer Prize-winning work, Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam, traces forty years of folly—from the 1919 peace conference in Versailles up to the first American casualties in Saigon, 1959—that served as the French prequel to our own devastating war.Graham Allison, veteran foreign policy analyst at Harvard’s Kennedy School, warns us about the dangers of new power players caught in an old game. The so-called “Thucydides Trap,” Allison explains, is a predictable pattern of conflict that crops up when rising and declining powers meet on the staircase of international hierarchy. Whether it’s Athens and Sparta in Thucydides’s day, or the U.S. and China today, the conflicts in these scenarios seem almost inevitable.Financial Times columnist Gideon Rachman diagnoses the origins of Western anxieties about China. Rachman locates our present fears somewhere in the Obama years — when the president announced his original “pivot to Asia.” It may have marked a desperate flight from the intractable troubles in the Middle East. It promised confrontation with China rather than any real process of reconciliation and compromise. In Rachman’s story, there’s also a play of instinct as much as policy in our foreign affairs. The post The ‘Pivot to Asia’ Continued appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. [...]



Ian Johnson and the Souls of China

2017-05-03T15:58:55Z

Ian Johnson won a Pulitzer Prize covering China for the Wall Street Journal–mostly economics–but then discovered what felt like a bigger story: a full-blown spiritual crisis inside a frenzied money culture.  In Chinese villages and ... The post Ian Johnson and the Souls of China appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. Ian Johnson won a Pulitzer Prize covering China for the Wall Street Journal–mostly economics–but then discovered what felt like a bigger story: a full-blown spiritual crisis inside a frenzied money culture.  In Chinese villages and booming big cities alike, what he came to see unmistakably over 6 years on the road was a restoration taking place across the peculiar mix of Chinese religion: Buddhist meditation, Daoist exercises, Confucian moral discipline.In his new book The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao, Johnson says the spiritual revival in modern China is centered not so much on the God questions as on how to organize Chinese life again around communities of belief, ritual and practice.  What Confucianist advice do you want before you invest? Do we head for a cave together for peace and quiet? What Johnson sees is a vast identity search in a people tossed and tussled by outsiders and now by a century of their own modern  revolutions, people still fiercely hungry in an historic boom time: Theology does not play a huge role in Chinese religion… Using the tools of Greek logic to prove or disprove a proposition is not something you find too much in Chinese religion. Most people are happy to participate because they feel it gives structure to their lives, and ritual. Though we often think of ritual being empty or unimportant, it’s really the profound question of how you act in a certain situation. Like, what’s the proper way to mourn a dead person? What’s the proper way to behave in relation to other people in society? Those are pretty important questions. Those are actually quite profound. I think what also I found is that there’s a great exuberance in the religious life of China. If you think of a pilgrimage outside of Beijing to Myao Fung Shin, there’s a whole lot of people drinking and smoking cigarettes and cursing and yelling. It’s not all sitting, quietly meditating and saying, “Ohmm.” – Ian Johnson in conversation with Christopher Lydon 4/10/17. The post Ian Johnson and the Souls of China appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. [...]



Building the People’s Party

2017-05-05T15:21:09Z

100 days of Donald Trump in the White House, 100 days of Democrats in the wilderness, 100 dumbfounded days of dismay at the New York Times, 100 days for a lot of white America to ... The post Building the People’s Party appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. 100 days of Donald Trump in the White House, 100 days of Democrats in the wilderness, 100 dumbfounded days of dismay at the New York Times, 100 days for a lot of white America to see their government with a certain black American disbelief.  But it can seem that the people pretty much know what to do when the political order is coming apart: and not ‘run in circles, scream and shout,’ but meet a dazed immigrant at the airport, march for science, run for something, drop the Ivanka line from your shoe store, just declare a divided country ‘indivisible’ and go about acting as if a People’s Party might be possible, if not necessary, to speak some strong common sense about who we are and where we’re hurting.For some trenchant liberals, the goal might just be to reform the Democratic Party and open up a bigger tent; to retain the same old message of hope, and saber rattle against the meddling Kremlin and other forms of foreign interference. But for many Americans, something more may be needed.What if the greatest accomplishment of President Trump’s first 100 days happens to be our dawning awareness that a new kind of politics is needed — one that unites in a chorus the many voices of protest. To help us imagine just such a scenario, we’ve assembled an all-star panel of activist guests.Marshall Ganz, a player-coach in the big leagues of organizing since he dropped out of Harvard in the 1960s offers us a primer on what it takes to mobilize effective social movements. He tells us that: “Protests are not enough. Protests need to change into power.”Clint Smith—teacher, New Yorker contributor, and slam poetry champ—gives us his an angle on Black Lives Matter and the broader movements reshaping our demonstration-driven politics.Listen to an excerpt of Smith’s poetry here: width="640" height="400" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?visual=true&url=https%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F319832618&show_artwork=true&maxwidth=640&maxheight=960">And Lisa Randall, the most cited theoretical physicist in the wide world of science, fill us in on her view of the stakes in a changing universe. According to Randall, scientists are “by nature not marchers” but she finds public demonstrations in support of science to be essential when held in regions of our country where science is under attack.    The post Building the People’s Party appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. [...]



Robert Lowell and the Poetry of a Suffering Mind

2017-04-28T02:13:57Z

Robert Lowell was the last of his kind: a New England aristocrat of Olympian thunder and civic weight, dead-set from boyhood on artistic greatness, “the pure air of the mountain peak,” he said.  All the ... The post Robert Lowell and the Poetry of a Suffering Mind appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. Robert Lowell was the last of his kind: a New England aristocrat of Olympian thunder and civic weight, dead-set from boyhood on artistic greatness, “the pure air of the mountain peak,” he said.  All the while he was beset by certifiable madness: crippling peaks of mania and depression.  He knew the humiliation of the straight jacket and the padded cell: 20 hospital stays in 20 years, he counted at one point.  And through it all the man of grizzly-bear force and delicate nerves, of Puritan constraint and manic recklessness, kept writing.  The turn underway in Robert Lowell’s reputation is not the wheel of fashion at work; it’s a creative insight that lets all of us see Lowell’s art and suffering in the context of his character.  In dread and terror, remorse and courage, this is Lowell’s hour on Open Source. *** Kay Redfield Jamison is the muse of this hour – doctor, writer, psychoanalyst and teacher, who lives with the same manic-depressive illness that afflicted Lowell.  In her recent book, Setting the River on Fire, she’s written a biography of Lowell’s “simmering brain,” what the poet called his “triple conflict of madness, death and life.”  She stopped by our home studio to discuss Lowell’s life, both the personal history of his illness and its treatments. Kay Redfield Jamison (Illustration by Susan Coyne)  Dan Chiasson is a poetry critic for the New Yorker and professor of English at Wellesley College, walks us through the modern day reconsideration of Lowell: not just as poet of tremendous privilege but also of suffering. Stephen Burt, similarly, asks that we remember Lowell as “our great American poet of self-reproach, of violently mixed feelings, of disowning power, which he knew that he had sonically, rhetorically and also of course socially.” But of course, Lowell’s legacy was not made by him alone. One of the key figures buoying his spirits and his work was his friend and fellow poet, Elizabeth Bishop. Bishop’s reputation in recent years has soared, while Lowell’s has, for many, been lowered. Megan Marshall—who wrote the new Bishop biography, A Miracle for Breakfast —helps us understand the divergent paths of these two closely matched poetic competitors.    Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop in Brazil, 1962 (Illustration by Susan Coyne)We also include a reading of one of Bishop’s poems by the great Irish author Colm Tóibín, recorded earlier this year. (You can also listen to the full podcast with Tóibín here).And finally, we should also remember Lowell as a poet of place, particularly his place in the heart of Boston. Lowell’s greatest testament to his own complex relationship with his hometown comes in the poem, “For the Union Dead.” That poem, arguably L[...]



An American Sickness

2017-04-22T21:47:07Z

With Barack out of the White House, Obamacare now looks something like a 7-year-old orphan: the unwanted child of yesterday’s Washington; a needy patchwork mega law with holes in its coverage.  Strange part is that Obamacare ... The post An American Sickness appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. With Barack out of the White House, Obamacare now looks something like a 7-year-old orphan: the unwanted child of yesterday’s Washington; a needy patchwork mega law with holes in its coverage.  Strange part is that Obamacare is still on its feet, doing pretty much what it was told to do: extending breaks to some poor people, to 20-somethings, 20 million formerly uninsured.  Stranger still is that the reform legislation that Democrats are having to defend left so much of a broken system in place: hospitals, doctors and drugs at twice the world price, way underperforming Europe, Japan, Singapore, Colombia in healthy results. We know there’s been genius in American medicine, but it seems to have been lost while we were arguing over it and taken over by money and big business.  Elisabeth Rosenthal, author of the recent tell all on our national disease—An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back—is our main guide for the hour. She gives us a tour of the rickety foundations of today’s health care system, its responsible architects, and the fixable future. via Adam Gaffney / The Lancet  Adam Gaffney, writer and pulmonary doc, thinks we need to put up a more radicalized fight – a single payer plan—to deal to with the serious inequality in health care today. While we can recognize the gains made by the ACA, we shouldn’t settle for the system we have. Jonathan Bush, CEO of the cloud-based service company Athenahealth, is our disruptive “data geek” and technoutopian in Watertown, MA. He’s also the nephew of one President Bush, the first cousin of another, and the poster child of the rising force of markets in medicine. He gives us what might be a considered a more optimistic view of the future. Along the way, we’ll have drop-ins from one of the major economic minds behind both Romneycare and Obamacare (Jonathan Gruber) as well as one of the ACA’s more wonk-ish critics on the left (Matt Bruenig). We’ll also get a short course on the influence of capitalism in medicine—via Prof. Nancy Tomes, recipient of the 2017 Bancroft Prize — as told through a historical tour of your favorite local drugstore: style="position: absolute; width: 100%; height: 100%; left: 0;" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/A6y9e0BukDs?ecver=2" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen">  [Video by Zach Goldhammer, lead illustration by Susan Coyne] The post An American Sickness appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. [...]



American (De)generations

2017-04-14T01:11:41Z

Is American history a cyclical thing; a series of concentric circles endlessly repeating? Are its contours defined by temporary revivals of old hopes and old fears, inevitably renewed and repeated every 80 years or so? Or ... The post American (De)generations appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. Is American history a cyclical thing; a series of concentric circles endlessly repeating? Are its contours defined by temporary revivals of old hopes and old fears, inevitably renewed and repeated every 80 years or so? Or is it something else, something closer to a straight line evolution; a curve that we sometimes bend towards justice and later let slope down into recession and depression. This hour, we’re testing these two competing models of history against each other, and trying to find where the Trump generation fits into these larger historical frames.  The generational model of history, in which each 80 year cycle is divided into four generational “turnings,” was popularized by William Strauss and Neil Howe. These two hobby historians are best known for their bestselling pop history books  Generations: The History of America’s Future and The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy.  They also gave us a new, broad label for a diverse and widely-varied set of people. “Millennial” was and is their term for today’s rising generation. Finally, they may have also given our political leaders a new ideology with a dark twist: Steve Bannon, who’s played navigator on the Trump ship, credits Strauss and Howe as his masterminds. Some believe he’s steering us into the skid; embracing the “fourth turning” crisis that Strauss and Howe predicted and that Obama somehow missed. style="position: absolute; width: 100%; height: 100%; left: 0;" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/IEsYy01HWt4?ecver=2" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen">To help us breakdown our current turn, we brought in a mix of generational theory enthusiasts, skeptics, and critics.David Kaiser is a prolific academic with Ph.D in history from Harvard. He’s also one of the few historians who takes the Strauss-Howe thesis seriously. He’s made a fighting case for why others should too on his History Unfolding blog. While Kaiser doesn’t share Trump’s politics, he was interviewed by Steve Bannon several years ago as a Strauss & Howe expert in his film, Generation Zero.John Stauffer, professor of English and African-American studies at Harvard, sees cycles of history swirling in his field of 19th century history, from Frederick Douglass to Abraham Lincoln. Princeton historian Sean Wilentz, similarly, finds connections between the generational model and the cyclical view of history advanced by the preeminent 20th century liberal historian, Arthur Schlesinger Jr.Arianne Chernok argues that these cycles interfere with our sense of history’s broader continuities. In particular, they overlook the persistence of activist movements fighting for more sustained f[...]



The Russian Riddle

2017-04-07T04:15:39Z

"Conspiracy thinking is our response to the unimaginable." The post The Russian Riddle appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. For many Americans, Russia once more is the name of the riddle: a mystery wrapped in an enigma that may or may not be deciphered in an FBI investigation. The faithful detectives in Washington and in much of the media want to believe that this is the story of how our President got his job, and how he could lose it. But for us, the exact relationship between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump is less interesting than the broader narrative of how these two respective nations developed in tandem; and why they are now, once again, butting heads.The dynamic today, we believe, is framed by trauma: their loss in ‘89 of both empire and ideology; our 9/11 loss of imperial immunity.  This national insecurity unfolds in the form of  a new chess game—not quite a Cold War—being played out by strong men and bullies, plutocrats and oligarchs, small-time hired hackers and big-time Big Data collectors.  The result is not only the spread of so-called fake news (a new name for the old propaganda) but also a broader eclipse of truth.  Masha Gessen in conversation with Nicco Mele at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center (Illustration by Susan Coyne)We began this week by attending a talk given by Masha Gessen at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center. The Russian-American journalist and trenchant Putin critic warned that while their Vladmir might offer some behavioral insight into our Donald, we shouldn’t try to explain the election of the former solely through the influence of the latter. While both men may try to dominate and distort our sense of what is real, we shouldn’t indulge in conspiracy theories. If we want to understand the seemingly unimaginable transformation of politics in both countries, we need to understand their citizens: America in the context of Americans; Russia in the context of Russians.Taking up Gessen’s challenge, we’re trying to understand life in the Slavic slice of the political scene, with help from some of the smartest Russophiles (and -phobes) we know.Richard Lourie has given voice to Russian dissent and dissidents—in a Boston accent, no less—for many years. The Mattapan-born Russian translator helped bring the words and works of nuclear physicist / heroic activist Andrei Sakharov into English. More recently, he’s taken on the Russian president’s fatalistic politics in the forthcoming book, Putin: His Downfall and Russia’s Coming Crash.  On our program, Lourrie helps us understand how Russia’s leadership created a disaster during a time of great national promise and potential. Robin Hessman—director of the 2010 Peabody Award-winning film, My Perestroika—sees a more complicated situation. Her film documents the lives of Russians who grew up in the Soviet Union and came of age in the 90s, in a radically altered country. Through her work and her friendships abroad, Hessman found many competing visions of what Ru[...]



A Survivor’s Guide to Tyranny

2017-03-29T17:37:55Z

Yale historian Timothy Snyder has 20 pills he wants us to take, and keep taking, perhaps to save our country. The stark premise that he laid out for us a month ago is that the ... The post A Survivor’s Guide to Tyranny appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. Yale historian Timothy Snyder has 20 pills he wants us to take, and keep taking, perhaps to save our country. The stark premise that he laid out for us a month ago is that the real project of Donald Trump and Company is “regime change.” When they mock the legal restraints of “so-called judges” and call journalism “the opposition,” we should understand that they’re test-marketing their contempt for the rule of law and the constitutional protection of critical freedom. So Tim Snyder has written out his pocket-size get-real manual, called: On Tyranny, Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century.These are warnings Europe didn’t hear in the 1930s, that grate on American ears today, but try them out: Take responsibility for the face of the world. Make eye contact and small talk. Hinder the one-party state. Investigate. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives, and more… The sidelight that fascinates here is on President Trump’s Russia-gate. Snyder is not much worried that Vladimir Putin’s hacking tipped our presidential race. But steeped in the horrible history of 1930s Europe, Snyder is alarmed about every tolerant gesture President Trump makes toward Putin and his Russia. “The way the Russian system has worked,” Snyder says, “since Putin’s elevation to power in 1999, is that… episodes of terrorism have been used at every step to do away with democratic and liberal institutions and to replace them with an ever harsher and more effective authoritarian regime.” When Donald Trump sweet-talks Vladimir Putin, Tim Snyder is telling us, we should be seeing his Russia as “a possible negative future for the United States.”P.S. – Timothy Snyder’s call-to-action manual is back in the news this week, with On Tyranny’s Amazon page being hacked. As reported in The Guardian, Snyder responded, “The hack basically confirms several of the lessons in On Tyranny, such as [No] 14, on the importance of digital privacy.” The post A Survivor’s Guide to Tyranny appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. [...]



The American Experiment

2017-04-06T17:38:16Z

We’re looking for big answers from big thinkers this week, in the first episode of our series on the American Condition.Pick one: the American Experiment (A) has run its course, (B) is catching its breath ... The post The American Experiment appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. We’re looking for big answers from big thinkers this week, in the first episode of our series on the American Condition.Pick one: the American Experiment (A) has run its course, (B) is catching its breath after a half-century of agitation and much liberation, (C) it ran aground overseas as an empire of chaos in wars we weren’t supposed to win, and didn’t, or maybe (D) the long shot, that in 2017 the American Experiment has gone deeply, desperately improvisational to shake a losing streak, maybe to find a reinvented self.  Nobody’s got a simple name for our disorder, this dysfunctional funk in the confident old crucible of “freedom, opportunity, power.” Our guests this week—the philosopher and lay preacher Cornel West and Brazilian legal theorist  Roberto Mangabeira Unger—have been co-conspirators for over 20 years . This year, they’ve been tinkering in the laboratory of Harvard University, where they’re teaching a blockbuster class on American democracy. But neither man is willing to limit himself to the constraints of his academic field (“fields are for cows,” they say.) Unger & West in the classroom at Harvard (illustration by Susan Coyne) Instead, they’re asking big questions about “how to revitalize the Democratic possibilities within the empire” as Cornel West puts it. For him, the possibilities are, unfortunately, rather limited. West takes Bernie Sanders’s view, that ” the Democratic Party elites [just] want first class seats on the Titanic.” Outside mainstream electoral politics, the threat of violent repression—the kind that led to the assassinations of Martin, Malcolm and Medgar—is still all too real for West.But Unger, on the other hand, has a more utopian take. The Brazilian theorist, not unlike the Frenchman de Tocqueville, believes that “the most important attribute of the United States is its extraordinary vitality. It seethes with human energy and hope.”Unger thinks that we need more than just equality of conditions. He thinks the left needs to emphasize— in pseudo-Trumpian terms—”bigness” in its political vision. The historical objective is bigness, what I call a shared bigness. It’s our ascent. It’s the bringing up of human life, of the life of the ordinary man and woman, to a higher plane of intensity, scope, and capability and the method is change in the structure of society in its institutions and in particular in the institutions of the market economy and of Democratic politics.Unger’s own political project can seem a bit unwieldy on first listen, so producer Frank Horton helped us break it down into a handy four point [...]



Mohsin Hamid and the ‘Unwritten Constitution’

2017-03-21T17:31:24Z

The Pakistani fictionist Mohsin Hamid is acutely expert on our American hang-ups about others who look something like him. His new novel, Exit West, is a very modern sort of love story about a thoughtful ... The post Mohsin Hamid and the ‘Unwritten Constitution’ appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. The Pakistani fictionist Mohsin Hamid is acutely expert on our American hang-ups about others who look something like him. His new novel, Exit West, is a very modern sort of love story about a thoughtful young man and driven young woman, on the run together from their exploding homeland – through tunnels to Greece and Africa and then Bay Area California.For American readers, part of his drift is: get used to these people—it’s going be another long century of massive migrations, no matter what. Then further: We’re not going to want Canada to take the title that has served the US so well, as the ‘nation of all nations.’ And third, maybe: deal with it, people. In the dark night of our souls, we know deep down that we’re all lonely migrants, eternal strangers in strange lands. And then, relax about it; migrant-ness is part of the human condition.We’re in my house in Boston for this second podcast round with Mohsin Hamid; the first was in his writing room at home in Lahore in the ancient Punjab: that about his hit novel that became a major movie, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, about what the shock of 9/11 could do to a Princeton-educated, mostly Americanized Asian, like Mohsin Hamid himself. This time I asked him to begin with a sample of his surreal new novel about the blank, dark doors that deliver frantic refugees to their next home far away: It was said in those days that the passage was both like dying and like being born, and indeed Nadia experienced a kind of extinguishing as she entered the blackness and a gasping struggle as she fought to exit it, and she felt cold and bruised and damp as she lay on the floor of the room at the other side, trembling and too spent at first to stand, and she thought, while she strained to fill her lungs, that this dampness must be her own sweat. Saeed was emerging and Nadia crawled forward to give him space, and as she did so she noticed the sinks and mirrors for the first time, the tiles of the floor, the stalls behind her, all the doors of which save one were normal doors, all but the one through which she had come, and through which Saeed was now coming, which was black, and she understood that she was in the bathroom of some public place, and she listened intently but it was silent, the only noises emanating from her, from her breathing, and from Saeed, his quiet grunts like those of a man exercising, or having sex…Make room for Mohsin Hamid on the long shelf of Indian and Pakistani writers who’ve been tuning our taste: among them Salman Rushdie, Pico Iyer, Akhil Sharma, Daniyal Mueenuddin, and Mohammed Hanif. The post Mohsin Hamid and the ‘Unwritten Constituti[...]



Welcome to Our Neoliberal World

2017-03-24T01:16:20Z

In recent weeks, our comments section has been filled with request to define a term we use constantly on this show: neoliberalism. For people who like buzzwords parsed and spelled out, this hour’s for you.There ... The post Welcome to Our Neoliberal World appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. In recent weeks, our comments section has been filled with request to define a term we use constantly on this show: neoliberalism. For people who like buzzwords parsed and spelled out, this hour’s for you.There are countless avenues that neoliberalism can lead us through: from the dismal science of efficiency and austerity to the dismal politics in Washington on both sides of the aisle. In our neighborhoods, neoliberalism may mean the defunding of our public schools as well as the deregulation of our public services. It’s driving impulse may be the ruthless privatization of everything in existence: from parking meters to prisons. It’s affective influence can transform our personal relationships, both intimate and platonic; gamifying our everyday relationships and turning the dating pool into a competitive market. Through the co-option of feminist and anti-racist struggle, it can disguise class enemies as “woke” allies. Through the commercialization of our artistic works and the corruption of our scientific research, it can convert our greatest human achievements into metrics on a spreadsheet.So, instead of pursuing a single definition in this show, we’ve enlisted an all-star cast of public thinkers to discuss where they see neoliberalism creeping into their daily life and work.Corey Robin—professor of political science at CUNY, author of The Reactionary Mind and a formidable blogger on the left—sees a specific evolutionary chain in the American political system. Against journos like Jonathan Chait, Robin has argued that neoliberalism is not just a pejorative synonym for “liberalism.” Its political use, in the U.S. at least, refers to a specific transformation within the Democratic party elite as well as their allied beltway outlets. The formal outlines of neoliberalism were drafted in the pages of the Washington Monthly—most notably  Charles Peters’s 1983 “Neo-Liberal Manifesto,” but its influence extended well beyond this journalistic clique. Free-market friendly policies of the so-called “Atari Democrats” culminated in Bill Clinton’s election in 1992, but its deregulating drive began, as Robin reminds us, with the administration of Jimmy Carter: style="position: absolute; width: 100%; height: 100%; left: 0;" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/cNbAFVhsvMA?ecver=2" width="480" height="360" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"> Writer, editor, and queer activist Yasmin Nair—reporting from the grounds of American neoliberalism’s birthplace and de facto capital: Hyde Park, Chicago —track[...]



American Vertigo

2017-03-10T14:26:42Z

It wasn’t a war of ideas that produced Donald Trump, but his election surprise has produced a war of ideas to define Trumpism. In our program, the battle will be waged by ambitious, 20-somethings hungry ... The post American Vertigo appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. It wasn’t a war of ideas that produced Donald Trump, but his election surprise has produced a war of ideas to define Trumpism. In our program, the battle will be waged by ambitious, 20-somethings hungry for ideas worth fighting about. The new blood in the chattering class this hour comes from two magazine editors who seem to be living parallel lives right here in Boston.Nathan Robinson, a Yale Law JD now working on his second advanced degree in sociology at Harvard, is the founder of the left-swinging magazine, Current Affairs. His glossy pages first caught our attention last February, in high primary time with a provocative prediction: “Unless Democrats run Sanders, a Trump nomination means a Trump presidency.” His hot take proved prophetic, and he’s become a regular on our program, providing side-eyed skepticism of both political and media establishments and giving voice to the millennial view of the rising Trump resistance. His polemics against the president have developed into a book-length attack in Trump: Anatomy of a Monstrosity.Julius Krein, meanwhile, is trying to give voice to a rather different millennial set. Coming from the world of finance, he last month debuted his own prosaically named magazine, American Affairs, at the Harvard Club in Midtown Manhattan — an odd setting for a publication that champions Trumpian populism and trafficks in Žižek and Hegel citations.  A recent profile in Politico points out, Krein is “coincidentally” the same age that William Buckley was when he founded The National Review and set the tone for the mid-20th century conservative movement in America. But Krein is now seeking to distance himself from these conservatives past: “We hope not only to encourage a rethinking of the theoretical foundations of ‘conservatism’ but also to promote a broader realignment of American politics.”Krein told the New York Times that he thinks “our politics, like Barthes’s wrestling, has become “a spectacle of excess which has no sense of time, and no logic of the future.” It’s a point that our final guest, Chris Hedges, struck way back in 2009, his book Empire of Illusion, in which he argued  that”wrestling works from the popular and often unarguable assumption that those in authority are sleazy.” With the sleaziest authorities in our country now occupying the White House, the wrestling mat analysis may be more relevant than ever. The question is, who will win this round in the ring? The post American Vertigo appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. [...]



‘Deportation Nation’

2017-03-27T17:29:05Z

The ICE age: ICE for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Federal agents that will swoop down if they think your citizenship is irregular. Suspense, surprise, and a certain arbitrary striking power are essentials in the ... The post ‘Deportation Nation’ appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. The ICE age: ICE for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Federal agents that will swoop down if they think your citizenship is irregular. Suspense, surprise, and a certain arbitrary striking power are essentials in the ICE process. It’s the hallmark of the early Trump Era in police work, though it’s not exactly new.  President Obama deported more migrants than all the presidents before him: locking many thousands of people up for nothing worse than lacking ‘papers.’ But in the Trump era, there’s now a special emphasis on the fear of “crimmigration”: the supposed overlap between illegal acts and an illegal status in the U.S. Why put that criminal brand on mostly hard-working, tax-paying family people who get in much less trouble, in fact, than U.S..-born citizens? And why now, when the tide of migration is mostly going out? We’re joined this week by Daniel Kanstroom, author of Deportation Nation: Outsiders in American History, tracks the story of how a supposed nation of immigrants decides who stays and who’s gotta go. He says we’ve reached a crisis point under Trump, but the crisis has been building for thirty years.Mary Waters, sociologist at Harvard, is increasingly concerned by the parallels between mass deportation and mass incarceration. She termed the phenomenon “crimmigration.” In order to resist this system, she writes, “we need a model of a social movement that is not based in civil rights, because we have defined millions of people living in this country as being outside of civil society.“Roberto Gonzales spent 12 years following the lives of undocumented teenagers in Los Angeles. His heart-breaking account in Lives in Limbo paints a tragic portrait of squandered potential and unrealized dreams. For undocumented teenagers, adulthood marks a transition to illegality — a period of ever-narrowing opportunities. One teenager named Esperanza lamented to  Roberto: “I would have been the walking truth instead of a walking shadow.”We also spent sometime digging into the stories of undocumented immigrants here in Boston. You can here some their voices in our Soundcloud playlist list below: src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/304537222&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="450" frameborder="no" scrolling="no">You can also read the transcript of our conversation with “Amber”—a longtime WBUR caller and undocu[...]



George Saunders in the Afterlife

2017-02-28T22:45:04Z

The story master George Saunders is widely revered as the nicest guy in the writing game, but it’s sweeter and deeper than that. I met him in the Boston Public Library the other day to gab about ...

The post George Saunders in the Afterlife appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon.

The story master George Saunders is widely revered as the nicest guy in the writing game, but it’s sweeter and deeper than that. I met him in the Boston Public Library the other day to gab about his spooky transcendental first novel — about Abraham Lincoln in limbo with the son that died in the White House; immediately I was reminded of what Maxim Gorki noticed about Anton Chekhov, a Saunders idol: “In Anton Chekhov’s presence,” Gorki said, “every one involuntarily felt in himself a desire to be simpler, more truthful, more one’s self…”

And so it went for us with George Saunders. He’s famous for writing: “Stay open, forever, so open it hurts,” and he talks that way about everything – about his and his wife’s version of Tibetan Buddhism, for example; about his very complicated feelings inside Trump campaign rallies; about the notion he teaches that “if death is in the room,” as it is in throughout his new novel, the writing and the reading get pretty interesting. The book in question is titled Lincoln in the Bardo – using the Tibetan word for a mysterious space underground for lost souls after death, but not quite dead. He gave me a feeling it’s a zone we all might well get to know better.

The post George Saunders in the Afterlife appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon.




The Fog of Trump

2017-02-24T02:58:01Z

Should Donald Trump have spelled it out that what he really had in mind for Washington was regime-change?  The darkest truth about the squalling Trump administration is that nobody knows what’s happening.  Old-time news guy ... The post The Fog of Trump appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. Should Donald Trump have spelled it out that what he really had in mind for Washington was regime-change?  The darkest truth about the squalling Trump administration is that nobody knows what’s happening.  Old-time news guy Dan Rather says it’s worse than Watergate.  Mr. Putin has almost certainly has lost his dream of a grand bargain, but he’s won perhaps a larger goal in making the US government look like a joke.The best reporters say the real theme in the capital is chaos—authoritarian intent veering toward anarchy, inside the White House and out.  The historically minded say the uncertainty and the stakes are without precedent in this Republic.Timothy Snyder—eminent historian of the bloody conflicts in Europe—sees authoritarianism rising through the American fog. “The moment you say it couldn’t happen here,” Snyder warns, “is the moment you are ignoring history. And you’re taking a huge risk.” Sally Quinn gives us the inside scoop on Washington’s  chattering class, fearing something they’ve never seen before. Michael Glennon, the man who previously warned us about the perils of double government, tells us what happens when the Deep State strikes back. Heather Cox Richardson gives us the historian’s take of Steve Bannon’s worldview. The post The Fog of Trump appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. [...]



Going Nativist

2017-02-17T02:16:07Z

The battle over the travel ban echoes our history from the founding, slicing deep into the heart of American sympathies: Are refugees and migrants coming ashore to be seen as humble ‘guests of the nation?’ or ... The post Going Nativist appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. The battle over the travel ban echoes our history from the founding, slicing deep into the heart of American sympathies: Are refugees and migrants coming ashore to be seen as humble ‘guests of the nation?’ or as American as anyone, just for getting through the gate? George Washington said he was building an “asylum for the oppressed” of all nations.  And so the Statue of Liberty, the Mother of Exiles, with her world-wide welcome.  Italian Immigrants at Ellis Island Kansan-Kenyan Barack Obama embodied the whole dream: an America for searchers, strivers, migrants like his father: the polyglot nation-of-all-nations, not the world’s master but the world’s story. And now the counter-story from the man who doubted that Obama was born American, much less that he belonged in the White House.  The ‘who we are’ question, between Immigration Nation and Fortress America, is one that all our show guests have explored deeply and widely, traversing all sorts of social, political and historical terrains. Neil Swidey, a staff writer for the Globe, brings back to life the story of the anti-Immigration movement in Boston at the turn of the 20th century. It’s a story of Brahmins and ‘barbarians’; a story of privilege, of savage inhumanity, and of unenlightened righteousness. Francis Fukuyama reframes the argument in ideological terms, arguing that to be an American is to espouse a particular political creed. In his own words: You have political values that define what it means to be American. It’s not tied to religion, to ethnicity, to race. So that anyone who espouses those values can be an American. Aziz Rana partly agrees with Fukuyama, that a kind of American creed rests at the foundation of American identity. Or at least it did, at one particular period of time. From the mid-20th century on through to the end of the Cold War, a form of American identity was manufactured as a weapon to be used in ideological warfare with the Soviet Union. Prior to WWII, American identity was inextricably bound up with race. Nadeem Mazen, brings in local politico perspective to our immigration debate here in Greater Boston. In 2013, Mazen became the first Muslim city councilor in Cambridge, Massachussetts, and was recently re-elected after running a Bernie-esque hyperprogressive grassroots campaign. His position on the city council and his work with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) inspired the Bannon-led newsroom at Breitbart to label him “Hamas on the [...]



Stephen Kinzer: America’s Empire State of Mind

2017-02-07T19:29:42Z

Why are we everywhere in the world, so often with guns drawn? The provocative reporter Stephen Kinzer has covered a number of our “regime-change” interventions in the world, from Guatemala to the Middle East. And ...

The post Stephen Kinzer: America’s Empire State of Mind appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon.

Why are we everywhere in the world, so often with guns drawn? The provocative reporter Stephen Kinzer has covered a number of our “regime-change” interventions in the world, from Guatemala to the Middle East. And in book after book, he’s sharpened the question: how did our country that was born in proud rebellion against the British Empire become the mightiest empire of them all — taking on the sorrows and burdens and expenses that come with most of a thousand military bases around the world. And how has the instinct to intervene persisted through so many bitter mistakes and losses, from the first de-stabilization of democratic Iran in the 1950s to Vietnam in the 60s to Iraq yesterday and Afghanistan today?

(image)

In Kinzer’s new book, called The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire, the short answer to the big question is a conflict in our blood: We are isolationists to the bone, and incurably drawn to trouble, both. Once upon a time, the biggest names in the country — President Teddy Roosevelt and his arch enemy Mark Twain — argued the difference at the top of their lungs. Steve Kinzer surfaces their argument again.

The post Stephen Kinzer: America’s Empire State of Mind appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon.




The Great Trump Debate: Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader

2017-02-10T02:07:58Z

On Super Bowl weekend, we’ve lined up a couple of hall of fame political players who run outside Establishment lines to help us watch the game that’s unfolding so far in the Trump White House.  Pat ... The post The Great Trump Debate: Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. On Super Bowl weekend, we’ve lined up a couple of hall of fame political players who run outside Establishment lines to help us watch the game that’s unfolding so far in the Trump White House.  Pat Buchanan was the pit-bull strategist in Richard Nixon’s White House; he’s a Latin-Mass Catholic, a cultural conservative and America First nationalist who’s turned sharply anti-Empire, calmly post-Cold War with Russia and flat-out anti-war in the Middle East.  Ralph Nader was Mr. Citizen as auto-safety crusader, then first among the relentless Raiders against corporate power, and a prickly third-party candidate in three presidential campaigns.It was this left-right pair that practically called the game for Trump way back in August 2015. Both said that a man backed by his own billionaire funds and showbiz glam could run the ball all the way to the White House. Buchanan and Nader on NBC’s Meet the Press, October 1, 2000.After the election, though, both men are turning their eyes to the man who may be quarterbacking the presidency: Steve Bannon.Buchanan—a “paleoconservative” who coined the term “America First,” essentially drafting the Bannon playbook—now hopes that Trump doesn’t drop the ball after his executive order blitz. “Republicans have waited a long time for this,” Buchanan says. “[Trump] ought to keep moving on ahead, take the hits he’s gonna take.” If he keeps it up, Bannon might bring the political right “very close to a political revolution.”Nader, as a green-tinted independent on the left, understands the enthusiasm that his longtime sparring partner has for Trumpism. Yet he also sees the contradictions and challenges Trump presents, not only for Buchanan’s vision of America, but also for Nader’s own: Both men share a strong, anti-corporate stance and are worried about the  Goldman Sachs and Wall Street executives Trumped has packed his cabinet with. What Buchanan and Nader fear most is that a thin-skinned president, egged on by his hawkish advisors, could spark a war with Iran if provoked. Illustration by Susan Coyne.Strategically, Nader thinks the Republican team does have the chemistry they need to pull of their so-called political revolution: “You’re gonna get very very serious early-year conflicts here that are going to be very, very destabilizing,” he says. “Rep[...]



Just Say No!

2017-02-28T20:35:24Z

Millions of people marched over the weekend, showing the outlines of a global, feminist, anti-racist, anti-Trump resistance… maybe. The question on our minds this week is whether the protesters can sustain and direct their dissent to create real ... The post Just Say No! appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon. Millions of people marched over the weekend, showing the outlines of a global, feminist, anti-racist, anti-Trump resistance… maybe. The question on our minds this week is whether the protesters can sustain and direct their dissent to create real political and economic change.Nobody can predict exactly how Trump’s agenda will play out, and the first days haven’t been good — the non-stop volley of tweets, executive orders, appointments, and headlines. Attention has been paid, Mr President. Now what? Without the institutional structures of old — party, unions, media, and churches — what’s the path of most resistance?Our guest L.A. Kauffman helped organize the New York anti-war protests in 2003 and 2004, and has written a new book for Verso called Direct Action: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism. She traces U.S. movements after the 1960s, from Earth First to ACT UP to the Seattle WTO protests to Occupy and beyond. She is euphoric about the possibilities of “upbeat unruliness” to transform our current, dismal political reality. Protesters in in D.C., where an estimated 500,000 people marched, and New York, where 400,000 people came out. Hundreds of thousands more marched around the world, including at least 750,000 in Los Angeles. Photos by Zach Goldhammer and Conor Gillies.Still, we wonder how a huge array of ordinary folks, of every political stripe — from Hillary Clinton fans to the antifa Black Bloc (a.k.a. the folks burning limos and punching Nazis) — with nothing more in common than their dislike of Trump, can mobilize within the current structure of electoral politics (and a Democratic party already failing to “present a united front to defend human rights and civil liberties in the Trump era”). Some wonder if it’s even worthwhile working within institutions that have brought us continued war, poverty, and inequality.Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Princeton professor, socialist organizer, and author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, offers a broad-tent vision of grassroots resistance mixed with a healthy dose of cynicism about traditional political leadership. In a widely-shared statement this week, Taylor encouraged Americans to build social movements outside of existing party politics. She disregards the Democrats as revisionists, who throughout the 20th centur[...]