KPFA: Against the Grain [Program Feed]


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  • Fund Drive Special: Slavery’s Long Shadow
    “The Long Shadow,” a documentary film written and directed by Frances Causey, investigates the history and legacies of slavery and anti-Black racism in the U.S.
  • Fund Drive Special: Ram Dass on “Polishing the Mirror”
    “Polishing the Mirror,” by the influential spiritual seeker and teacher Ram Dass, has been turned into an audiobook.
  • Fund Drive Special: Ram Dass and Timothy Leary
    A look at the ideas, adventures, and life trajectories of cultural icons Timothy Leary and Ram Dass.
  • Fund Drive Special: Challenging Authority
    I.F. Stone was one of the greatest American journalists of the 20th century. His newsletter I. F. Stone’s Weekly, which he published from 1953 to 1971, was guided by the idea that journalists must defend the weak against the strong and always challenge authority. And while Stone’s legacy has largely been ignored by the mainstream, he inspired legions of muckraking investigative reports. A documentary film made by a team of reporters themselves influenced by his journalism aims to both remind the public of Stone’s important work and celebrate the journalism of his successor.
  • Marxism, Anarchism, and the Russian Revolution
    What did anarchism and Marxism look like in the nineteenth century, and in the years leading up to the Russian Revolution? Were Marxists and anarchists always at loggerheads? And how did the Bolshevik Revolution affect the dynamics and development of these two great idea systems? Anthony D’Agostino [1] weighs in on these and other questions. Anthony D’Agostino, The Russian Revolution, 1917-1945 [2] Praeger/ABC-CLIO Anthony D’Agostino, The Rise of Global Powers: International Politics in the Era of the World Wars [3] Cambridge University Press, 2011 [1] https://history.sfsu.edu/people/faculty/anthony-dagostino [2] https://www.abc-clio.com/ABC-CLIOCorporate/product.aspx?pc=A3054C [3] http://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/history/diplomatic-and-international-history/rise-global-powers-international-politics-era-world-wars?format=PB
  • Fear Itself
    Fear is a central part of American life — and has been so at least since the early Cold War, according to historian Elaine Tyler May.  She argues that while there are many things that Americans should be deeply concerned about, including climate change and vast wealth inequality, we are obsessed with threats like crime, which has been falling for decades. May discusses our displaced anxieties and their political ramifications. Resources: Elaine Tyler May, Fortress America: How We Embraced Fear and Abandoned Democracy [1] Basic Books, 2017 [1] https://www.basicbooks.com/titles/elaine-tyler-may/fortress-america/9780465093007/
  • Literature, Modernism, and the CIA
    What did the CIA do in the arena of literature? What did literary modernism have to do with colonialism? And how and why have foundations actively collaborated with U.S. intelligence agencies? Juliana Spahr [1] considers the impact of politics and cultural diplomacy on literary production and on the ability of certain writers to achieve canonical status. Juliana Spahr, Du Bois’s Telegram: Literary Resistance and State Containment [2] Harvard University Press, 2018 [1] https://inside.mills.edu/academics/faculty/eng/jspahr/jspahr.php [2] http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674986961
  • May 1968 and the Situationist International
    Half a century ago, revolt broke out around the world, making the year 1968 synonymous with left-wing rebellion. In France, students and workers paralyzed the country during a heady month of massive wildcat strikes and factory occupations, during which the government feared it would be toppled. Donald Nicholson-Smith discusses May ’68 and the Situationist ideas that helped fuel the upheaval.
  • Graeber on Inequality and Human History
    Open any world history book and you’ll read that the Neolithic Revolution was the key turning point in human history, when hunter gatherers gave up roaming in small egalitarian tribes and settled down to farm. Out of that, civilization was born, with all the benefits and ills connected to it: the rise of cities, the emergence of the state, inequality, and class society. But, according to anthropologist David Graeber, that tale is not based on fact. Graeber interrogates this chronicle of paradise lost — and much more. (Encore presentation.)
  • Credit-Seeking, Ratings-Obsessed
    What happens when financial markets take over, when Uberization replaces traditional employment, and when credit ratings become crucial to the well-being of people and governments? According to Michel Feher, these transformations have affected labor markets, the promises governments make to their citizens, and opportunities and arenas for social struggle. Michel Feher, Rated Agency: Investee Politics in a Speculative Age [1] Zone Books, 2018 [1] https://www.zonebooks.org/books/132-rated-agency-investee-politics-in-a-speculative-age
  • Mass Surveillance and Drone Warfare
    In 2013, Edward Snowden’s revelations of mass surveillance by the National Security Agency pointed to spying on a mind-bending scale. Journalist Pratap Chatterjee weights in on the connection between that mass data collection and drone warfare – and the state of surveillance and drone attacks five years on. (Encore presentation.) Resources: Pratap Chatterjee and Khalil, Verax: The True History of Whistleblowers, Drone Warfare, and Mass Surveillance: A Graphic Novel [1] Metropolitan Books, 2017 Drone, Inc. [2] [1] https://us.macmillan.com/verax/pratapchatterjee/9781627793551/ [2] http://www.killchain.org/
  • Left Theory and Practice
    “Revolution in the Air [1]” author Max Elbaum gave a talk about radical left organizing in the 1960s and ’70s and lessons for today. Rachel Herzing and Isaac Ontiveros co-direct the Center for Political Education [2], which works, via the dissemination of theoretical and historical insights, to inform and inspire people and organizations on the left. CPE’s People Get Ready II conference [3] on November 17 [1] https://www.versobooks.com/books/2707-revolution-in-the-air [2] https://politicaleducation.org/about/mission/ [3] https://politicaleducation.org/event/people-get-ready-ii/
  • Torture and the Third Degree
    Was the post-9/11 use of torture by U.S. personnel unprecedented, as many have claimed? Alexa Koenig [1] reveals that in the early decades of the twentieth century, police in the U.S. routinely employed torture during interrogations. Koenig draws parallels between those abuses, which were part of a cluster of practices known as “the third degree,” and the coercive interrogation techniques used after 9/11. Anderson and Nussbaum, eds., Confronting Torture: Essays on the Ethics, Legality, History, and Psychology of Torture Today [2] University of Chicago Press, 2018 The Human Rights Center [3] Stover, Peskin and Koenig, Hiding in Plain Sight: The Pursuit of War Criminals from Nuremberg to the War on Terror [4] University of California Press, 2017 [1] https://www.law.berkeley.edu/research/human-rights-center/about-hrc/faculty-staff/alexa-koenig/ [2] http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/C/bo27949151.html [3] https://www.law.berkeley.edu/research/human-rights-center/ [4] https://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520278059/hiding-in-plain-sight
  • Marx and Freedom
    What does Karl Marx’s masterwork Capital have in common with Dante’s Inferno? And more importantly, what can the book — which was partly written in debate with the socialist movements of its time — teach us today? William Clare Roberts reflects on Capital, Marx, and the importance of the idea of freedom for him. Resources: William Clare Roberts, Marx’s Inferno: The Political Theory of Capital [1] Princeton University Press, 2016 [1] https://press.princeton.edu/titles/10892.html
  • Socialist Technology
    Every society has a technological dimension. So what does, or should, a socialist technology look like? What ends would such a technology serve, and who would decide which products or devices get deployed, and for what purposes? Victor Wallis [1] sketches the contours of what he calls an authentically socialist technology. Victor Wallis, Red-Green Revolution: The Politics and Technology of Ecosocialism [2] Political Animal Press, 2018 [1] https://www.victorwallis.com/ [2] https://politicalanimalmagazine.com/product/red-green-revolution-the-politics-and-technology-of-ecosocialism/

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