Against the Grain – September 21, 2021

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

Commodification is essential to capitalism: turning the necessities of life, including education, water, and healthcare, into products for sale. But even under capitalism there are periods when the drive to commodify is particularly intense and other periods when there is a push back against commodification. Political economist Christoph Hermann discusses the origins of the concept, … Continued

What is anarchism? Many have discovered that it’s not about breaking windows or planting bombs, but what are anarchism’s core tenets, and what has anarchism looked like in practice? Dana Ward considers anarchist theory, history, and practice. Anarchy Archives, an online research center Dana Ward and Paul Messersmith-Glavin, “Why Anarchism is Dangerous” Agency The Institute for Anarchist Studies

He’s one of the most important African American leaders you’ve probably never heard of: Ben Fletcher was a trailblazing anti-capitalist and labor leader, heading up the powerful multiracial Philadelphia-based dockworkers union, Local 8. Historian Peter Cole has made it his life’s work to unearth the contributions of Fletcher, who was jailed for his politics, and … Continued

Did the Freedmen’s Bureau, established in 1865, help or harm the formerly enslaved? Priya Kandaswamy traces the Bureau’s activities in relation to vagrancy legislation and the placement of Black domestic workers in white people’s homes. Labor discipline and white surveillance, she argues, took precedence over public assistance and meaningful forms of freedom for African Americans. … Continued

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

Trusted, impartial and independent? Or largely unaccountable and part of the Establishment? Sociologist Tom Mills considers the evidence on the enormously influential British Broadcasting Corporation or BBC, which is much revered by progressives in the United States and elsewhere. (Encore presentation.) Resources: Tom Mills, The BBC: Myth of a Public Service Verso, 2020 photo: Jones … Continued

Who is standing up to environmental plunder, land grabbing, and crony capitalism? On a southern Philippines island, indigenous people, migrant settlers, and NGOs have combined forces to resist the extractivist activities of commercial interests and political elites. Many environmental defenders, reports Wolfram Dressler, have been murdered by illegal operatives and hired hitmen. Critical Asian Studies … Continued