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)

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)

Martin Diamond, Ethics and Politics: The American Way

This is a piece of writing that is hard to find but really should be read by people interested in the critique of liberalism. It contrasts ancient and modern (bourgeois) virtue in a fairly quick trip across the history of political thought. Hopefully posting it here will get it in front of more eyes, because … More Martin Diamond, Ethics and Politics: The American Way

Summer Seminar Plans

Here’s what I’ve got so far on the Summer Seminar on Distributism. I’m still working on the plan, so this isn’t written in stone. I plan on charging $50 for the five sessions, and the proceeds for this one will benefit my favorite urban farm. I’m thinking about Saturdays in the early afternoon–trying to come … More Summer Seminar Plans

On Rousseau, Authenticity, Sincerity and Self-Deception: An Interview with John Warner (Video)

As a sequel to my series on Charles Taylor’s The Malaise of Modernity, I asked John Warner in to discuss Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s thoughts on the development of the modern self. Warner is an expert on Rousseau’s political thought. He is the author of Rousseau and the Problem of Human Relations (2018) and many articles on Rousseau. His most recent article deals with Rousseau on sincerity and self-deception. Charles Taylor’s book attempts to discern the original meaning of the concept of authenticity and invokes Rousseau as a source, arguing that along the way the concept of authenticity was corrupted into mere shallow narcissism. Warner’s views help us to understand to what extent Rousseau should be seen as contributing to the contemporary rendition of authenticity and how Rousseau can help shed light on the modern unsettled sense of self. … More On Rousseau, Authenticity, Sincerity and Self-Deception: An Interview with John Warner (Video)

Introduction to G.K. Chesterton and Distributism (Video)

This video introduces you briefly to GK Chesterton and then discusses his definitions of Capitalism, Socialism and Distributism. I point out that Aristotle’s views on property in The Politics may be the origin of distributist thought, and give some background information that may help understand why Chesterton defines Capitalism and Communism as he does. Chesterton criticizes Capitalism for really being “Proletarianism” or a system of wage dependency. He criticizes Socialism for being dangerous because it places all resources and decisions into the hands of the state. Both of them concentrate property into a few hands, whereas Distributism calls for spreading property ownership more evenly. Spain’s Mondragon corporation is used as an example of contemporary distributism at work. … More Introduction to G.K. Chesterton and Distributism (Video)

Charles Taylor on Divorce and Breakup: Why Do We Do This? (Malaise 4-Audio)

Using an all-too-familiar modern story of social media seduction, consequent marital breakup, and the futile search for validation in new romantic relationships, I traverse chapters 6 and 7 in Charles Taylor’ Malaise of Modernity. The story is sadly commonplace, which is ironic because breakups are often done in the quest for authenticity. But for that reason, this story is an analog for what generally ails us. I cover some systemic reasons Taylor mentions which help explain why people often make relationship mistakes over and over again in the search for an authentic life, but I offer a critique as well. … More Charles Taylor on Divorce and Breakup: Why Do We Do This? (Malaise 4-Audio)