Americans are watching more media than ever before, but trusting it less. Why and how is that possible? Journalist Matt Taibbi reflects on those questions in a piercing analysis of the mainstream media system, drawing on the work of Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman, as well as many decades of experience in the trenches of … Continued
Against the Grain
12:00 PM Pacific Time: Mondays to Wednesdays
In-depth analysis and commentary on a variety of matters — political, economic, social, and cultural — important to progressive and radical thinking and activism. Against the Grain is co-produced and co-hosted by Sasha Lilley and C.S. Soong.
William Morris’s designs are still admired and revered, but his radical politics and utopian inclinations are less well known. Michael Robertson discusses the nineteenth-century Englishman’s insistence on craftsmanship, his critiques of industrialism, his turn toward socialism, and his utopian novel News From Nowhere. Michael Robertson, The Last Utopians: Four Late Nineteenth-Century Visionaries and Their Legacy … Continued
We expect to find strawberries in the supermarket all year round. But geographer Julie Guthman argues that for strawberries to be produced throughout the year — which used to be harvested a few weeks in spring — has required an enormous marshaling of chemical fumigants, pesticides, workers’ labor, and land. And that effort is now … Continued
What can we learn from Pierre Bourdieu’s critique of Marxism? Why did the influential French sociologist reject Marx’s emphasis on labor and class struggle? Michael Burawoy lays out Bourdieu’s famous troika of interrelated concepts: habitus, field, and capital. He also points out some of the key differences between how Bourdieu and Marx thought about politics, … Continued
If we look back over the 20th century and even into the 19th, we can see a series of historical periods that shaped how food was produced and consumed. And we can see how periods of relative stability alternated with periods of crisis. Sociologist Harriet Friedmann discusses her theory of food regimes and what they … Continued
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 … Continued
Belief conjures up political fanaticism and blind religiosity. But evolutionary anthropologist Agustín Fuentes argues that belief is also connected to our capacities to imagine, create, and change the world for the better. He reflects on why the ability to commit passionately and wholeheartedly to an idea is a central part of what makes us human. … Continued
Do fictional narratives, like those found in novels, plays, and films, promote empathy? Does emotion-based empathy spur people to alleviate suffering in the real world? Namwali Serpell calls into question much of the conventional thinking about empathy in relation to art. Drawing on thinkers like Arendt and Brecht, Serpell points to fiction’s capacity to enlarge … Continued
Within the left, debates rage over whether we should focus on race, class, or gender as the primary form of oppression today. Josh Fattal points to the writings of CLR James and Raya Dunaevskaya as a way out of the conundrum: they saw the struggles of one oppressed group acting as spores for spreading revolt … Continued
The spiritual pioneer, writer, and teacher Ram Dass on how to embrace aging and changing.