Zero Squared # 88: Wikileaks, Bill Ivey, and Demeaned Politics


Former NEA Chairman Bill Ivey is the guest this week and we discuss his March 13th, 2016 email to Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta, an email that Wikileaks recently published along with thousands of other emails from the Clinton campaign.

Here’s a short excerpt from that email:

We’ve all been quite content to demean government, drop civics and in general conspire to produce an unaware and compliant citizenry. The unawareness remains strong but compliance is obviously fading rapidly.

Thanks again to all the members of the Zero Books club.

Zero Books Club members gain access to a weekly Inside Zero Books podcast which is a second hour of the Zero Books podcast every week. This second hour usually features conversations about the left and left publishing with members of the Zero Books editorial team. You’ll hear from Ashley Frawley, C Derick Varn, Alfie Bown and every once in awhile guests like my son Benjamin as we discuss political theory and the ups and downs of radical publishing within a clickbait culture. Inside Zero Books will also feature interviews with radical thinkers and authors from around the world. And the next Inside Zero Books podcast will feature clips from this conversation with Bill Ivey that ended up on the cutting room floor.

This episode of Zero Squared includes a clip from the 1997 film Bulworth, a computerized reading of Neera Tanden’s email to John Podesta that’s dated Januray 20th, 2016, an excerpt from MIA’s song Wikileaks, and a clip from a Karaoke version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop.”

Inside Zero Books #8: Culture and Capitalism


This episode of the Inside Zero Books podcast is being made available to all listeners to the Zero Books feed in order to tempt you into joining the Zero Books Club. It features a conversation between Douglas Lain (the publisher of Zero Books) and his eldest son Benjamin on the topic of Benjamin’s class “Culture, Capitalism, and Globalization.” This is the second conversation on the topic of this class and this time the thinker Karl Polanyi is discussed.

It’s Friday, the 21st of October, and I’m Douglas Lain the publisher of Zero Books.

Joining the Zero Books Club gives you access to this new Inside Zero Books Podcast which is our second Zero Books weekly podcast. The Inside Zero Books Podcast features conversations about the left and left publishing, usually with members of the Zero Books editorial team: Ashley Frawley, Douglas Lain, C Derick Varn, and Alfie Bown. A second Inside Zero Books podcast will be released this weekend, this time a conversation with Alfie Bown.

Click here to join the Zero Books Club.

Zero Squared #87: Sam Harris vs Noam Chomsky


C Derick Varn is the guest this week. Varn is a reader at Zero Books, poet, and teacher currently living in Cairo, and my co-host on the now defunct Pop the Left podcast. In this episode of Zero Squared we discuss last year’s online debate between Sam Harris and Noam Chomsky as well as our tendency on the left to avoid difficult arguments. The Motte and Bailey doctrine is mentioned and utilitarian and deontological/Kantian ethics are discussed.

Here’s a description of the Motte and Bailey doctrine from “Rational Wiki”:

Motte and Bailey is a snarl word purporting to describe a particular form of equivocation wherein one protects a desirable but difficult to defend belief or proposal by swapping it with a more defensible, perhaps trivially true interpretation when the former comes under scrutiny. The trivial version is only temporarily proposed to ward off critics and not actually held. The “difficult” (bailey) version always remains the desired belief, but is never actually defended. This gives the belief an air of being counter-intuitive yet somehow true.

In this episode you’ll hear clip from the online course “Law and Justice,” the song Telestar by the Tornados, a clip from the Waking Up podcast with Sam Harris, and a short clip from the film “Fight Club.” Right now you’re listening to Nmesh : Nu.wav Hallucinations, but in just a moment you’ll hear C Derick Varn and I discuss Sam Harris and Chomsky.

Zero Squared #86: Zen City


Eliot Fintushel is the guest this week as we discuss his novel Zen City which was published by Zero Books in June. The book received a starred review in publisher’s weekly:

Zen City succeeds brilliantly, deftly weaving a tragic romance that’s about all of us, and none at all.

Thanks goes out to Tom B, Nick M, Emanuel K, and Paul C, for becoming Zero Books Club members.

Zero Books Club members gain access to our new Inside Zero Books Podcast, are invited to participate in bi-monthly online workshops in critical theory or, get access to audio books from our Advancing Conversations book, and receive occasional promotional discounts on selected Zero Books.

This episode includes an explanation of Zen from Alan Watts along with some instructions on how to ride a bicycle. The music you’re listening to right now is Stereolab’s “Fried Monkey Eggs” but in just a moment you’ll be listening to Fintushel describing life in Zen City.