On the Hong Kong rebellion. Four months of protests is forcing a confrontation with the Hong Kong authorities and the Chinese state. The demands are for civil liberties and some more democracy – but what are the social conditions underlying the protests? How important is colonial nostalgia and Hong Konger chauvinism? How is this playing with mainland Chinese – and what will be the CCP’s response?
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On post-work. We discuss Anton’s review of David Graeber’s Bullshit Jobs and why it seems to have such appeal, even amongst elites. There is a crisis in the work ethic, but is it an error to counterpose work and leisure and simply opt for leisure? Is leisure even ‘ours’ anymore, or has it been fully colonised by capitalism? Ultimately, is the problem today more about bullshit in jobs, rather than bullshit jobs per se?
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Syriza lost the last Greek elections after 4 1/2 years in power. What happened to a party that, for a time, represented the European radical left’s hopes? Did it achieve anything in power? Many talk about Tspiras’ “betrayal” – is that the right way to look at it? And what are the wider consequences of this defeat: is time up for this wave of “left populists”?
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We discuss Paolo Sorrentino’s “Loro” (2018), a dreamlike cinematic depiction of Silvio Berlusconi. Does the film succeed in capturing Silvio, or does it glamourise him? What explains the appeal he had – and why was the left never able to properly dethrone him? What does it say about 2000s Italy, and its relevance to our times?
If you can’t find the film where you are, try this magnet link to torrent it:
Why hasn’t neoliberalism died? We talk to Rune Møller Stahl about his paper “Ruling the Interregnum” in which he examines previous interregnums, such as the 1920s or the 1970s, and the forces that led to the establishment of new orders. What points the way forward today: resilient neoliberalism, economic nationalism or left populism?
Ruling the Interregnum: Politics and Ideology in Nonhegemonic Times, Rune Møller Stahl
In our first Reading Club, we discuss Nancy Fraser’s The Old Is Dying and the New Cannot Be Born (Verso, 2019) and take readers questions and contributions.
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Scenario-planning for Bernie: what is success, what is productive failure? We attempt to “dream realistically” with Adam Proctor (Dead Pundits Society): how far can this wave of ‘democratic socialism’ go? Bernie will fail – he won’t bring in socialism, so how do we make that failure something to build on? How do we avoid the risk of demoralisation? And most dangerous of all, how to not interpret failure as success?
Plus bonus stuff on Syriza, Brexit and talking in platitudes.