22 Mar 2017, 6:24pm
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Zero Squared #103: Norman Finkelstein on Academic Freedom

Norman Finkelstein is a controversial figure on the left and he’s the guest this week. However, while Finkelstein is famous for his books about the Israel/Palestine conflict, we don’t discuss that topic, but instead discuss a book he’s working on entitled On Academic Freedom.

Finkelstein has taught political theory for years. A for
mer Maoist he has, perhaps surprisingly, become an admirer of John Stuart Mill and this admiration informed our conversation and informs the book he’s working on.

Thanks should go out to members of the Zero Books Club. Zero Books Club members receive access to the Inside Zero Books which sometimes consists of unedited or full length interviews from the Zero Squared podcast, sometimes features conversations with Zero Books readers about the state of the left, and sometimes features public lectures from Zero Books authors or staff. This week the Inside Zero Books podcast will feature the second half of this conversation with Norman Finkelstein wherein we discuss his former Maoism, how he thinks Obama was overrated, and Bertrand Russell.

I should also take a moment to ask you to stop by the Zero Books website and purchase a book on critical theory. The title I’d most recommend is Uncertain Futures by Edmund Berger. Berger explains how understanding Marx’s theory of value can help us understand the rise of the far right. Also of interest would be Alfie Bown’s interview with Srecko Horvat and Stephen Lee Naish’s Deconstruction of the 80s film Dirty Dancing in his book Deconstructing Dirty Dancing.

16 Mar 2017, 3:52am
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Zero Squared #102: When Insurrections Die

C. Derick Varn is a reader at Zero Books, a poet, blogger and podcaster. His podcasts have included Symptomatic Redness and Former People and he is a frequent guest on Zero Squared. This week we discuss Gilles Dauve’s essay “When Insurrections Die” and discuss the relevancy of Dauve’s ideas in the Trump era.

Here’s an excerpt from that essay:

The essence of anti-fascism consists in resisting fascism by defending democracy: one no longer struggles against capitalism but seeks to pressure capitalism into renouncing the totalitarian option…Thus reduced to anti-fascist resistance, social critique is enlisted in dithyrambs to everything it once denounced, and gives up nothing less than that shop-worn affair, revolution, for gradualism, a variant on the “peaceful transition to socialism” once advocated by the CPs, and derided, thirty years ago, by anyone serious about changing the world. The retrogression is palpable.

We won’t invite ridicule by accusing the left and far left of having discarded a communist perspective which they knew in reality only when opposing it. It is all too obvious that anti-fascism renounces revolution. But anti-fascism fails exactly where its realism claims to be effective: in preventing a possible dictatorial mutation of society.

Thanks goes out to members of the Zero Books Club. Zero Books Club members receive access to the Inside Zero Books which sometimes consists of unedited or full length interviews from the Zero Squared podcast, sometimes features conversations with Zero Books readers about the state of the left, and sometimes features public lectures from Zero Books authors or staff. This week the Inside Zero Books podcast will feature the second half of this conversation with C Derrick Varn.

Zero Squared #101: Musicology

Joanna Demers is the guest this week and next week she will lead a Zero Books Club workshop on youtube. You are invited to join the Zero Books club and to join Demers as she explains the interpretive strategies of contemporary musicology and how these strategies informed her books for Zero Books: Drone and Apocalypse and Anatomy of Thought Fiction.

Focused on music, but with implications that extend to just about everything, Anatomy of Thought-Fiction explores the role of false ideas in our intellectual and emotional life. – Simon Reynolds, Author of Retromania

Thanks goes out to members of the Zero Books Club. Zero Books Club members receive access to the Inside Zero Books which sometimes consists of unedited or full length interviews from the Zero Squared podcast, sometimes features conversations with Zero Books readers about the state of the left, and sometimes features public lectures from Zero Books authors or staff.

2 Mar 2017, 6:09pm
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Zero Squared #100: On Antifa

Peter Berard is a doctoral candidate in history at Boston College. He is also a writer for publications such as Jacobin and the LA Review of books. Berard and I discuss the Black Bloc and Antifa tactics in an effort to take a more sympathetic look at these anarchist tacticians, although the conversation here is not entirely uncritical.

Topics covered in this podcast include how we should go beyond the rigid definition of Fascism that comes from Trotsky and that was repeated by Brendan O’Neill on the punching Nazis podcast, the Kurt Vonnegut novel Mother Night, an now mostly defunct assessment of Milo Yiannopoulos’ career, and many other pertinent questions.

This is the 100th episode of the Zero Books podcast and my thanks goes out to Kevin Dole who sent me a congratulatory email. Kevin Dole is the inventor of Bizarro fiction, the author of Tangerinephant, and at this point, a long time friend.

Thanks goes out to members of the Zero Books Club. Zero Books Club members receive access to the Inside Zero Books which sometimes consists of unedited or full length interviews from the Zero Squared podcast, sometimes features conversations with Zero Books readers about the state of the left, and sometimes features public lectures from Zero Books authors or staff.

The music you’re listening to is a vaporwave version of Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence, but in just a moment you’ll be listening to Peter Berard and I discuss the ins and outs of Antifa.