Can You Be Both Anti-Capitalist and Anti-Communist? (Seminar 1-Rerum Novarum)

This is a segment from the first session of the Summer Seminar on Distributism (2021), part of an hour and a half long session on the origins of Distributism in Aristotle’s Politics and various Catholic encyclicals (the one mainly mentioned here is Rerum Novarum, Pope Leo XIII, 1891, in the wake of the Industrial Revolution). Distributism is a line of thought that opposes both capitalism and socialism/communism as equally materialistic and destructive of freedom and proposes a third way–more widespread ownership of private property. It is separable from religion, because it is primarily a proposal about how to deal with property, but this session covers its roots in Ancient Greek and Christian thought. … More Can You Be Both Anti-Capitalist and Anti-Communist? (Seminar 1-Rerum Novarum)

Basic Income vs. Gaslighting the Precariat (Podcast)

This episode deals with some of the ideas from the concluding chapters of Guy Standing’s book The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class–A Politics of Inferno and A Politics of Paradise. He warns that without major changes we will be facing more and more interest in what he calls neofascism, or the populist and nationalist right. In the last chapter he outlines some solutions, the most discussed being a universal basic income. I spend time on that, but also on the guilt trip societies put on precariat workers, as though it is all their fault. A huge government apparatus exists to encourage the existence of a lot of precarious workers to provide cheap just in time labor, and a huge apparatus exists that employs thousands, if not millions, in administering paternalistic and judgmental programs to the “poor.” When you think about it, that’s sick, and a basic income sounds rational by comparison. … More Basic Income vs. Gaslighting the Precariat (Podcast)

Multitasking Ourselves to Death (Precariat 6-Audio)

Guy Standing’s chapter on “tertiary time” in his book The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class” deals with some important (and very recognizable) evils of our current work environment. The loss of control over our time is the main theme, and the harm that comes from this is sometimes very obvious and sometimes not at all. This video deals with the hidden cost of maintaining what it takes to work in the precariat, including time to maintain themselves and the personal equipment they use, and dealing with constantly changing schedules which means they have to constantly think about how to take care of children and elderly. Hidden traps having to do with taxes and contracts make it harder for the precariat to ever leave their condition. … More Multitasking Ourselves to Death (Precariat 6-Audio)

Migrants and Underemployment in Context: What’s Really Going On? (Precariat 5-Audio)

In this video, I discuss Ch. 4 of Guy Standing’s The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class, which is on migration. Many in developed countries with large numbers of migrant laborers blame these laborers for taking jobs and reducing their economic prospects. Looking deeper, though, we see that they are there because globalized economic interests want the ultimate flexible and vulnerable labor pool and governments make sure they get them. Many leaders and parties talk about wanting their citizens to have good jobs but their actions and the results of their policies say otherwise. Ultimately no one wins in the current system, certainly not illegal migrants living in serfdom to survive. To get to the heart of the problem, we have to look at who/what benefits from large numbers of legal and illegal migrants. … More Migrants and Underemployment in Context: What’s Really Going On? (Precariat 5-Audio)

WWMD? New Talk

On March 27 I will begin an adventure with Heygo, a platform developed for live tours that is expanding into other content. My first topic will be What Would Machiavelli Do? Check out that and a lot of cool tours (which helps out tour guides who have been adversely impacted by the pandemic) by searching for Heygo! … More WWMD? New Talk

Why is My University Degree Not Enough? (4-Audio)

Guy Standing, author of The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class answers this question this way: because there just aren’t enough stable, well paying jobs in the new economy. In this video I discuss some of the realities of university education today, especially the trend towards trying to sell education as a commodity with a promise of being qualified for specific jobs. The watering down of education is a serious concern of Standing. This education saddles students with debt, can’t necessarily deliver the job they were trained for, and meantime has not encouraged them to think critically and creatively but to keep their heads down and do what’s required, even if it’s not at all what they wanted. The Precariat is therefore deprived of a key element in achieving some sort of political influence and the ability to push back–a good education. … More Why is My University Degree Not Enough? (4-Audio)

Why Can’t I Find a Good Job? (Guy Standing, The Precariat 3-Audio)

I discuss some of the many important points made in Ch. 2 of Guy Standing’s The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class, entitled “Why the Precariat is Growing.” Standing details what happened in OECD countries when emerging market countries started to out-compete them in terms of production and availability of low-cost labor. He shows how globalization, smoothed by government policies, led to the ultimate “flexible” labor force, with subsequent insecurity and strain on individuals, families and communities. Being ultimately flexible means not having any hope for a career, not identifying with an employer, and not being rewarded for the development of skills, among many other effects. People are most often blamed (and blame themselves) for their difficulty in finding a good job, but the deck is stacked against them like never before, and Standing does not think there is any way to turn back the clock. … More Why Can’t I Find a Good Job? (Guy Standing, The Precariat 3-Audio)

Intro to The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class by Guy Standing (Audio)

To start this series, I introduce the author Guy Standing and discuss a few prominent themes in his book The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class. Standing writes in the 2017 preface: “Those in the precariat have lives dominated by insecurity, uncertainty, debt and humiliation. They are denizens rather than citizens, losing cultural, civil, social, political and economic rights built upper generations. The precariat is the first class in history to labour and work at a lower level than the schooling it typically acquires.” … More Intro to The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class by Guy Standing (Audio)

G.K. Chesterton on Work, Play and Empire (6-Audio)

In this concluding video in the series on The Outline of Sanity, I hit on some big themes in the last few chapters including the shallowness of mass entertainment and what makes work worthwhile. He again defends the peasant, this time as the true “settler” unlike the British colonialists who dominated parts of the world but never really settled down and cherished where they were. Writing not long before the collapse of the Empire, Chesterton mounts an argument for staying home and creating (or re-creating) tradition based on a occupation of space considered sacred. … More G.K. Chesterton on Work, Play and Empire (6-Audio)

Distribute the Machinery (GK Chesterton 6-Audio)

In the fourth part of The Outline of Sanity, GK Chesterton deals with “Some Aspects of Machinery” in his usual ironic and witty way, making some solid points. I try to update his points and apply them to our current state of technology, noticing with Chesterton along the way that capitalist practices are not the most efficient or equitable way to go. Chesterton proffers his ideas on when to let go of technology and how the machinery we do want (or more accurately the fruits thereof) could be distributed. … More Distribute the Machinery (GK Chesterton 6-Audio)