a philosophy podcast from zero books
Zero Squared #98: A Red Worker in a Red State
February 15, 2017 08:27 AM PSTTerry 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 PSTFredrick 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 PSTJosie 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 PSTSlavoj 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 PSTAmber 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. Zero Squared #93: Shouting at Marxists
December 22, 2016 08:49 PM PST
This week’s episode of Zero Squared features a conversation with Anne Jaclard from the Marxist Humanist Initiative and activist Ravi Bali. The Marxist Humanist Initiative have published a number of statements on the dangers of Donald Trump in their journal “With Sober Senses” and in this conversation I attempt to test their ideas and seek out inconsistencies. You’ll hear that this is a more contentious conversation than is the norm. The reason for that is simple: I respect these obscure Marxists, want them to win, and so I find it necessary to critique them ruthlessly.
That said you’ll find that the conversation ends rather suddenly. I’ve edited out a bit of the more contentious part of the conversation, a bit where I find myself suddenly changing the subject. Regular listeners of the podcast will miss that bit as I think I go off the rails, but I will include it in this week’s members only Inside Zero Books podcast.
On that subject, thanks goes out to Zero Books Club members and we encourage you to join. Zero Books Club members gain access to a second podcast each week. The Inside Zero Books podcast sometimes features a second hour from this podcast, and sometimes features conversations about the left and left publishing with members of the Zero Books editorial team.Zero Squared #92: Margaret Kimberley takes on Trump
December 09, 2016 04:39 PM PST
Margaret Kimberley discusses the rise of Donald Trump on this week’s episode. A regular columnist for the Black Agenda Report, Margaret Kimberley is also a regular guest on the podcast, and she does her best to talk me through the trauma of this last election.
Thanks goes out to Zero Books Club members and we encourage you to join. Zero Books Club members gain access to a second podcast each week. The Inside Zero Books podcast sometimes features a second hour from this podcast, and sometimes features conversations about the left and left publishing with members of the Zero Books editorial team.
On Monday, December 12th, Daniel Coffeen will participate our first Zero Books workshop on Youtube. We will discuss his book "Reading the Way of Things."
In this episode you’ll hear clips from Michael Parenti on Fascism, demographic analysis from MSNBC, Russian propagandist Vladimir Zhirinovsky talking to Reuters and endorsing Trump, and a collage of all the supposedly compromised US leftist whose relationship with Russia Today makes them guilty by association.Zero Squared #91: Trump, an Insider’s View
November 30, 2016 08:47 PM PSTFormer NEA Chairman Bill Ivey returns this week and we discuss the unexpected election of Trump. Ivey made the news recently when his March 13th, 2016 email to Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta was published by Wikileaks and he’s returning to in order to give us an insider’s perspective on the election. Here’s a short excerpt from that infamous email: We've all been quite content to demean government, drop civics and in general conspire to produce an unaware and compliant citizenry. The unawareness remains strong but compliance is obviously fading rapidly. Thanks goes out to Zero Books Club members and encourage you to join. Zero Books Club member gain access to a second podcast each week. The Inside Zero Books podcast sometimes features a second hour from this podcast, and sometimes features conversations about the left and left publishing with members of the Zero Books editorial team. And the next Inside Zero Books podcast will feature something of a shouting match between myself and a couple of Portland State University philosophy students as we discuss Judith Butler, Edward Said, and the whiteness of philosophy and scientific reason. In this episode you’ll hear a clip from the @Midnight debate between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders impersonators as well as a jazz version of hail to the chief. Zero Squared #90: From 4Chan to the White House?
November 23, 2016 08:55 PM PST
Angela Nagle is a writer based in Ireland. Her work has appeared in the Irish Times, the Dublin Review of Books, and the Atlantic. Her article “The New Man of 4Chan” for the Baffler was the basis for a book coming out from Zero Books next year tentatively titled “Kill All Normies: The online culture wars from 4chan to Trump.” We discuss her book and research in this episode.
Thanks goes out to our Zero Books Club members. Now is a good time to support Zero Books and left publishing in general and one way to do it is to sign up to be a Zero Books Club member and receive our weekly Inside Zero Books podcast.
Also featured in this episode is an email from a listener following last week's interview with Michael Rectenwald, some thoughts on transgender politics and intersectionality, an excerpt from Norman Mailer's film Maidstone, a quick definition of the word "cuck," and an instrumental version of the Trololo song.Zero Squared #89: Deplorables
November 17, 2016 05:51 PM PST
NYU professor Michael Rectenwald is the guest this week. Rectenwald was recently at the center of a small controversy at NYU because, after being called out on Facebook for posting a link to an article mocking the need for alternative pronouns for all the various genders, he decided to create an alt-right persona and critique SJWs on twitter. When he announced the results of this “experiment” in an interview for the Washington Square News a slightly larger controversy erupted. His colleagues signed a collective letter criticizing his illogical rhetoric, finishing with the line “the cause of Professor Rectenwald’s guilt is certainly no, in our view, his identity as a cis, white, straight male. The cause of his guilt is the content and structure of his thinking.”
His story went somewhat viral. He was interviewed for various publications and penned an opinion piece for the Washington Post with the headline: “Here’s what happened when I challenged the PC campus culture at NYU.” He wrote, “I was strongly encouraged to take a paid leave of absence [and told] that it had nothing to do with my recent media posture. That’s not exactly how I see it.”
"For us to be clear on your needs, we require you to state unequivocally and in a direct, unambiguous response whether you still need the leave you requested. I expect that answer—whichever you give—to be henceforth the same in all settings. If you cannot do that, at this point, I think I have no choice but to make a decision based on your public utterances, and the leave you requested—apparently under false pretenses—is withdrawn, and you are expected to meet your classes as assigned."
I do not know if Rectenwald is now back at NYU and teaching or if his leave was extended, but I do know that all of this went on while the possibility of his promotion was being determined and that he eventually was promoted to the level of full professor.
From the outside, and with the facts that I have so far, it looks to me like Rectenwald pulled this stunt in order to create a context wherein his being passed over for promotion would have negative political consequences for the university. That isn’t a demonstrable fact, and if Rectenwald wants to return to the podcast in order to explain his side of the story more fully I’d be glad to talk to him again.
At the time this was recorded Trump had not been elected and I was very sympathetic to his cause.
I should take a moment to talk about that last fact. The fact that Donald Trump was elected is a game changer. The notion of safe spaces, for instance, has an entirely different connotation now that Stephen Bannon has been selected to be Trump’s chief of staff in the oval office. That said, the need for overcoming racial divides, for creating alliances and struggling together as a people regardless of race is the only way to amass enough political power to effectively fight back.
Rectenwald’s claim that identity politics on the left feeds and strengthens identity politics on the alt-right is worthy of consideration outside the context of Rectenwald’s shenanigans. Standing in solidarity with all the different people who Trump is scapegoating, making sure we protect and defend each other from attack, is necessary. Combating racism is an immediate priority even as we return to the task of changing the economic foundation that generates racism and divides us.
Zero Squaredis a philosophy podcast from Zero Books. Zero publishes radical philosophy, aesthetics, film theory, experimental fiction, and anything else that smells faintly of the avant-garde. Our books aim not only to demonstrate how philosophical ideas are relevant to every day life, but also to change the terms of it. Douglas Lain is the host of this podcast and the publisher of Zero Books. He hosted the Diet Soap podcast out of this feed for five years. Zero Squared will continue the tradition of Diet Soap while giving Zero Books authors a chance to talk about their work.
Douglas Lain is the publisher of zero books. He is also a novelist and podcaster. His novel “Billy Moon” tells the story of Christopher Robin Milne’s fictional involvement with the French general strike in May of 1968, and was published by Tor Books in 2013.
Subscribe to this Podcast