This episode is the first in an occasional ‘book club’ series of podcasts we will be doing, in an around the topic of fully automated luxury communism. This episode’s book is Four Futures, by Peter Frase (which is part of the Jacobin series, from Verso Books).
My guests on the show are Laura Horn and Phil Davis. Laura is a political economist working at the University of Roskilde, just outside of Copenhagen in Denmark. While her own research has mainly focused on dimensions of capitalist restructuring in the European Union, she has a strong political and personal interest in the nexus between political economy and science fiction. Four Futures is one of the texts she uses in her course ‘Repoliticising Capitalism: Contradictions, critique and alternatives’.
Phil Davis is a molecular biologist working in the Biodefense sector in the Washington DC area. He’s currently working towards a master’s degree in Bioinformatics from University of Maryland University College. Four Futures sits at the intersection of his enthusiasm for both left-wing politics and futurology. His hobbies also include music.
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Kelly has weighed in a number of recent ‘Foucault’ controversies, including the question of whether Foucault was a neoliberal. In this interview, we get into that debate. But I think for most listeners, the interesting stuff will be towards the end, where Kelly talks about Biopolitical Imperialism, and addresses the conflict in Syria.
The podcast was recorded on Wednesday, April 5, 2017. In the interview, you’ll hear Kelly comment on Donald Trump’s pivot a few days previous, on Syria. Two days after the recording, on April 7, the US military launched a cruise missile attack on a Syrian airfield. The attack was carried out in response to a chemical weapons incident in Idlib province, perpetrated allegedly by Syrian state forces. It would be hard to imagine a stronger confirmation of Kelly’s arguments about Biopolitical Imperialism.
On this week’s show we talked about the New McCarthyism with our guest Dr Tara MacCormack, a Lecturer at University of Leicester. Tara writes on security, foreign policy, and legitimacy. Among other things, she is interested in how traditional conceptions of military and territorial security have been displaced in the last few decades, by the concept of human security. In 2010, Tara published a book with Routledge entitled ‘Critique, Security and Power: The Political Limits to Emancipatory Approaches.’
Our conversation this episode addressed a number of topics, including the allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, reaction to the resignation of Lt. General Michael Flynn as national security advisor, the role of the the “pro-war left” in promoting the New McCarthyism, and the question of left strategy in the aftermath of the protests against Milo Yiannopoulos, at the University of Berkeley.