Against the Grain – August 17, 2020

Against the Grain

A radio and web media project whose aim is to provide in-depth analysis and commentary on a variety of matters — political, economic, social and cultural — important to progressive and radical thinking and activism.

Upcoming Episode

According to Margaret Hunter, growing numbers of white people are “shape shifting into Blackness”: they’re taking on or inhabiting aspects or characteristics of Blackness. Hunter discusses the emergence of three forms of Blackness tried on by whites in the post-civil rights era: cultural Blackness, political Blackness, and intellectual Blackness. Tamai, Dineen-Wimberly, and Spickard, eds., Shape Shifters: Journeys … Continued


Against the Grain

Weasel Words of 21st Century Capitalism

Innovation, grit, creativity, flexibility, choice — these words are ubiquitous in US society and yet, according to John Patrick Leary, they’re not neutral.  Leary weighs in on the language of 21st century capitalism and how certain keywords are a slippery way to avoid calling thing what they are. (Encore presentation.) Resources: John Patrick Leary, Keywords: … Continued


Is life worth living? Can believing in something help make it a reality? Do emotions generate actions, or is it the other way around? John Kaag describes how William James, the nineteenth-century philosopher and psychologist, approached and answered these questions. John Kaag, Sick Souls, Healthy Minds: How William James Can Save Your Life Princeton University … Continued


Is capitalism bad for your health? Gabor Maté thinks so. The acclaimed Canadian physician and Marxist discusses capitalism, stress, and chronic illness, inimitably combining profound humanism, dark wit, and extensive knowledge of science and social justice. He makes the compelling case that the psycho-social needs to be taken into account by both the medical establishment … Continued


Clarence Thomas is Donald Trump’s favorite Supreme Court justice, which might confirm the liberal view that Thomas is simply a toady of the right.  But scholar Corey Robin argues that Thomas is a complex thinker and skilled rhetorician, whose ideas originate in black nationalism.  Robin reflects on how Thomas’ pessimism about the intractability of racism … Continued


Helena Sheehan participated, as an activist, educator, and Marxist philosopher, in a great variety of radical movements and groupings, among them the New Left, the IRA, and the Communist Party of Ireland. She describes her engagements with many of the key ideas and debates around socialism and communism, both in the U.S. and abroad. Helena Sheehan, Navigating … Continued