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Zero Squared #103: Norman Finkelstein on Academic Freedom
March 22, 2017 11:32 AM PDT
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Norman Finkelstein is a controversial figure on the left and he’s the guest this week. However, while Finkelstein is famous for his books about the Israel/Palestine conflict, we don’t discuss that topic, but instead discuss a book he’s working on entitled On Academic Freedom. Finkelstein has taught political theory for years. A for mer Maoist he has, perhaps surprisingly, become an admirer of John Stuart Mill and this admiration informed our conversation and informs the book he’s working on. Thanks should go out to members of the Zero Books Club. Zero Books Club members receive access to the Inside Zero Books which sometimes consists of unedited or full length interviews from the Zero Squared podcast, sometimes features conversations with Zero Books readers about the state of the left, and sometimes features public lectures from Zero Books authors or staff. This week the Inside Zero Books podcast will feature the second half of this conversation with Norman Finkelstein wherein we discuss his former Maoism, how he thinks Obama was overrated, and Bertrand Russell. I should also take a moment to ask you to stop by the Zero Books website and purchase a book on critical theory. The title I’d most recommend is Uncertain Futures by Edmund Berger. Berger explains how understanding Marx’s theory of value can help us understand the rise of the far right. Also of interest would be Alfie Bown’s interview with Srecko Horvat and Stephen Lee Naish’s Deconstruction of the 80s film Dirty Dancing in his book Deconstructing Dirty Dancing.
Zero Squared #102: When Insurrections Die
March 15, 2017 08:51 PM PDT
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C. Derick Varn is a reader at Zero Books, a poet, blogger and podcaster. His podcasts have included Symptomatic Redness and Former People and he is a frequent guest on Zero Squared. This week we discuss Gilles Dauve’s essay “When Insurrections Die” and discuss the relevancy of Dauve’s ideas in the Trump era. Here’s an excerpt from that essay: The essence of anti-fascism consists in resisting fascism by defending democracy: one no longer struggles against capitalism but seeks to pressure capitalism into renouncing the totalitarian option...Thus reduced to anti-fascist resistance, social critique is enlisted in dithyrambs to everything it once denounced, and gives up nothing less than that shop-worn affair, revolution, for gradualism, a variant on the “peaceful transition to socialism” once advocated by the CPs, and derided, thirty years ago, by anyone serious about changing the world. The retrogression is palpable. We won’t invite ridicule by accusing the left and far left of having discarded a communist perspective which they knew in reality only when opposing it. It is all too obvious that anti-fascism renounces revolution. But anti-fascism fails exactly where its realism claims to be effective: in preventing a possible dictatorial mutation of society. Thanks goes out to members of the Zero Books Club. Zero Books Club members receive access to the Inside Zero Books which sometimes consists of unedited or full length interviews from the Zero Squared podcast, sometimes features conversations with Zero Books readers about the state of the left, and sometimes features public lectures from Zero Books authors or staff. This week the Inside Zero Books podcast will feature the second half of this conversation with C Derrick Varn.
Zero Squared #101: Musicology
March 10, 2017 02:49 PM PST
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Joanna Demers is the guest this week and next week she will lead a Zero Books Club workshop on youtube. You are invited to join the Zero Books club and to join Demers as she explains the interpretive strategies of contemporary musicology and how these strategies informed her books for Zero Books: Drone and Apocalypse and Anatomy of Thought Fiction. Focused on music, but with implications that extend to just about everything, Anatomy of Thought-Fiction explores the role of false ideas in our intellectual and emotional life. - Simon Reynolds, Author of Retromania Thanks goes out to members of the Zero Books Club. Zero Books Club members receive access to the Inside Zero Books which sometimes consists of unedited or full length interviews from the Zero Squared podcast, sometimes features conversations with Zero Books readers about the state of the left, and sometimes features public lectures from Zero Books authors or staff.
Zero Squared #100: On Antifa
March 02, 2017 05:34 PM PST
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Peter Berard is a doctoral candidate in history at Boston College. He is also a writer for publications such as Jacobin and the LA Review of books. Berard and I discuss the Black Bloc and Antifa tactics in an effort to take a more sympathetic look at these anarchist tacticians, although the conversation here is not entirely uncritical.

Topics covered in this podcast include how we should go beyond the rigid definition of Fascism that comes from Trotsky and that was repeated by Brendan O’Neill on the punching Nazis podcast, the Kurt Vonnegut novel Mother Night, an now mostly defunct assessment of Milo Yiannopoulos’ career, and many other pertinent questions.

This is the 100th episode of the Zero Books podcast and my thanks goes out to Kevin Dole who sent me a congratulatory email. Kevin Dole is the inventor of Bizarro fiction, the author of Tangerinephant, and at this point, a long time friend.

Thanks goes out to members of the Zero Books Club. Zero Books Club members receive access to the Inside Zero Books which sometimes consists of unedited or full length interviews from the Zero Squared podcast, sometimes features conversations with Zero Books readers about the state of the left, and sometimes features public lectures from Zero Books authors or staff.

The music you’re listening to is a vaporwave version of Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence, but in just a moment you’ll be listening to Peter Berard and I discuss the ins and outs of Antifa.

Zero Squared #99: America Stalled
February 22, 2017 01:35 PM PST
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Kris Saknussemm is a novelist and a multimedia artist. He has published ten books including Zanesville, Sea Monkeys, and Private Midnight. As a short story writer he has won First Prize in the Boston Review and River Styx Short Fiction Contests, and received the Fiction Collective 2 Award for Innovative Writing, in addition to publishing in a wide range of journals such as Opium Magazine, Hotel Amerika, The New England Review, The Hudson Review, Gargoyle and so on and so on. Kris is a worldly type who recently returned to the United States and we discuss his culture shock, the decline of the US, the rise of Trump and the liberal response.

Thanks goes out to members of the Zero Books Club. Zero Books Club members receive access to the Inside Zero Books which sometimes consists of unedited or full length interviews from the Zero Squared podcast, sometimes features conversations with Zero Books readers about the state of the left, and sometimes features public lectures from Zero Books authors or staff.
The music you’re listening to right now is Rhapsody in Blue performed by Paul Whiteman and George Gershwin and recorded on a cylinder. Thanks goes out to the internet archive.

Zero Squared #98: A Red Worker in a Red State
February 15, 2017 08:27 AM PST
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Terry Tapp is a red worker from a red state. He’s also an artist and a writer. His book, "A Serf’s Journal: The Story of the United States’ Longest Wildcat Strike" is coming out from Zero Books in 2017. Micah Uetricht of Jacobin Magazine blurbed the book this way: Every day, millions of people grind their way through miserable work. And every day, a few of them decide the status quo cannot stand — they have to fight back. Very few of either of those stories ever get told, particularly by the heroic people who lived them. Terry Tapp does both in a tale of unbelievably miserable, dangerous work and courageous, fed-up workers up against incredibly tall odds. Anyone who has worked a terrible job should read it. Anyone who has dreamed about fighting back should study it. Thanks goes out to the Zero Books Club members and to Zero Books club readers. Join today for a second podcast called Inside Zero Books, and look for the Zero Books youtube channel.
Zero Squared #97: Punching Nazis?
February 07, 2017 10:37 PM PST
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Fredrick DeBoer are the guests this week as we dedicate this week’s episode to the question of punching Nazis. Brendan O’Neill is the editor of Spiked Online, a publication that I would describe as having an attitude that is both socialist and libertarian in the American sense of the word. They advocate both expanding the range of human freedom and capitalist economic growth, despite being smart enough to know why capitalist economic growth can only occur when the mass of humanity is fettered. Frederik DeBoer is a writer for publications such as Jacobin, the Observer, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy and other publications. He is a professor at Brooklyn College and describes himself as having conventionally leftist views. A socialist he is something of a mixer and has engaged in many twitter battles with (neo)liberals like Jonathan Chait and Sady Doyle. This episode is something of a mash-up. It is the result of cutting down two interviews into a single polyphonous episode. Two otherwise disparate voices have been brought together here, not because they agree, but because they both have opinions and were willing to share them. To underline the point further, let me say again, there are two people in this episode and two different opinions. DeBoer is the man with the American accent, O’Neill is the Brit. It’s Wednesday, February 8th, 2017, and I’m Douglas Lain the publisher of Zero Books and the host of this podcast. Thanks goes to members of the Zero Books club. Zero Books Club members receive access to the Inside Zero Books which sometimes consists of unedited or full length interviews from the Zero Squared podcast, sometimes features conversations with Zero Books readers about the state of the left, and sometimes features public lectures from Zero Books authors or staff. The music you’re listening to right now is Smash Things Up by ¡TchKung!, but in just a moment you’ll be listening to Brendan O’Neil and Frederik DeBoer.
Zero Squared #96: The Busybody State
January 26, 2017 12:56 PM PST
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Josie Appleton is the guest this week and we discuss her book Officious: Rise of the Busy Body State. The book argues that the Busy Body State is defined by an attachment to bureaucratic procedures for their own sake: the rule for the sake of a rule; the form for the sake of a form. James Heartfield author of The European Union and the End of Politics blurbed the book this way: An intellectually gripping analysis of what its author Josie Appleton characterises as a new kind of state power, one that is arbitrary and encroaching on what is left of our unregulated lives. Overall this is a subtle and intelligently argued essay. Its reconstruction of the essential trajectory of the officious state will be a valuable weapon for those keen to argue for greater freedom in everyday life. It’s Wendesday, January 26th, 2016 and I’m Douglas Lain the publisher of Zero Books and the host of this podcast. Thanks goes out to our Zero Book Club members. Zero Books club members gain access to the Inside Zero Books Podcast and are invited to participate in online workshops in critical theory. Now is always a good time to join. In the last episode with Slavoj Zizek we claimed that Against the Double Blackmail was his latest book. That was an error. Zizek also published a book entitled Disparities and a book entitled Antigone in 2016.
Zero Squared #95: Žižek and the Double Blackmail
January 10, 2017 07:03 PM PST
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Slavoj Žižek is the guest this week as we discuss the flak he’s received for a few of his Lacanian interventions into politics recently, Marx’s Labor Theory of Value, and his most current book Against the Double Blackmail. "[A]n urgent and entertaining diagnosis of the ongoing refugee crisis and global terror threat, highlighting the glaring contradictions in our attitudes and actions." —Mother Jones "Slavoj Žižek’s compellingly persuasive insights into the current refugee explosion...could not arrive at a more urgent time."—CounterPunch Thanks goes out to our Zero Books Club members. Zero Books club members gain access to the Inside Zero Books Podcast and are invited to participate in online workshops in critical theory. Now is always a good time to join. This episode does not feature any sound collages or clips, except for one clip from a youtube video called "Slavoj Zizek Reacts," and the song Raggle Taggle by A Hawk and a Hacksaw.
photo credit goes to Ellis Christopher
Zero Squared #94: Free Speech for Dickheads
December 28, 2016 09:36 PM PST
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Amber A'Lee Frost is a writer living in Brooklyn, who has written for such publications as Jacobin, the Baffler, and Current Affairs, where she is an editor at large. She is a host on the always funny dirtbag left podcast Chapo Trap House, and this week she pays a visit to this podcast in order to discuss professor George Ciccariello-Maher’s “white genocide tweet” and her essay at Current Affairs entitled “Not Here to Make Friends: A Statement of Support for George Ciccariell-Maher.” Thanks goes out to Yousaf for emailing in a response to a few of the recent Zero Books youtube videos. Yousaf said he enjoyed the videos on the Liar’s Paradox, Vaporwave and Mr. Robot. Yousaf also sent me a link to Levi Bryant’s post “What Badiou Meant to Us.” Thanks also go out to Zero Books Club members. There will be another workshop with Andy Marshall next week, on January 5th, and if you're a member of the secret club you'll get an email with a link to that workshop tonight. In this episode you’ll hear clips from the youtube stars the Amazing Atheist and Coppercab, you’ll hear an excerpt from the Christian youtube channel Life Teen Inc., and a 8bit version of the Normcore standard Kiss Me from Sixpence None the Richer.

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