Against the Grain – November 1, 2022

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

Many U.S. military establishment bigwigs are pushing the development of automated and autonomous weapons systems. Roberto González questions whether this robo-fanaticism, as he calls it, is justified. He also describes efforts to address human warfighters’ distrust of machines. (Encore presentation.) Roberto J. González, War Virtually: The Quest to Automate Conflict, Militarize Data, and Predict the Future University of … Continued

The movement of Chinese people – around 300 million of them – from rural areas to China’s cities has been called the largest mass migration in human history. Have the working-class migrants who’ve built China’s megacities been rewarded for their efforts? Eli Friedman describes the obstacles and injustices they’ve encountered, particularly when trying to get … Continued

It’s been described at the most turbulent period of global class struggle in history — the turn of the 20th century when revolutionaries around the world found common cause against capital and empire. Christina Heatherton discusses the revolutionary internationalism swirling around the Mexican Revolution and the remarkable intersection of radicals at that time. Resources: Christina … Continued

In arguing for the urgency of moving from anthropocentrism toward ecocentrism, Aaron S. Allen distinguishes between environmental crises and ecological change; argues against the “balance of nature” paradigm; differentiates between strong and weak forms of sustainability; and describes the role that expressive culture and the environmental liberal arts can play in driving awareness and activism. (Encore … Continued

They are among the biggest companies in the world: Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon have an outsized impact on the global economy and on our daily lives. Rob Larson examines the companies that have become synonymous with the glories and ills of contemporary capitalism. He makes the case for online socialism. (Encore presentation.) Resources: … Continued

Trotskyism played a key role in the development of the U.S. revolutionary left. Among American Trotskyists, James Cannon stood out. Bryan D. Palmer talks about Cannon’s beliefs, his engagement with radical left formations in the U.S., and his involvement in militant labor struggles in the early twentieth century. (Encore presentation.) Bryan Palmer, James P. Cannon and … Continued

Does it spark joy? That’s the criterion Marie Kondo has set for deciding which personal belongings to keep, and which to relinquish. Maureen Ryan considers Kondo’s decluttering method and her television show in the context of pervasive burnout and insecurity. (Encore presentation.) Richard Grusin, ed., Insecurity University of Minnesota Press, 2022 Maureen Ryan, Lifestyle Media in American Culture: Gender, … Continued

Against the Grain

Everyday Life and the Ecological Crisis of Capitalism

How should we understand the ecological crisis accelerating around us? In a book that has sparked debate on the European left, Ulrich Brand and Markus Wissen trace the origins of the Western mode of production and living, which is now spreading around the world. They connect such resource and emissions-intensive consumption to the political instability … Continued