Diet Soap Podcast #224: Pop the Imperialism

Imperialism is the subject this week as C Derrick Varn and I bring back Pop the Left and discuss Lenin’s pamphlet “Imperialism: The Highest Form of Capitalism.”This was to be a discussion of the notion of the labor aristocracy, but we decided to start slow and see if we could understand Imperialism first.

From Lenin’s pamphlet, here’s the definition:

[Imperialism features]

(1) the concentration of production and capital has developed to such a high stage that it has created monopolies which play a decisive role in economic life
(2) the merging of bank capital with industrial capital, and the creation, on the basis of this “finance capital”, of a financial oligarchy
(3) the export of capital as distinguished from the export of commodities acquires exceptional importance
(4) the formation of international monopolist capitalist associations which share the world among themselves
(5) the territorial division of the whole world among the biggest capitalist powers is completed.

Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed.

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Pop the Program #1: Waking Life

This week marks the death of the podcast “Pop the Left” and the birth of a new podcast called “Pop the Program.” Varn has grown tired of the left, profoundly tired of it, but he enjoys conversing about all manner of subjects with me, and in an effort to keep the conversation going we’ve renamed our joint effort. What you can expect in the future are conversations about literature, art, music, philosophy, and perhaps even conversations about dead white dudes like Marx or Guy Debord, but “the Left” will no longer be our primary subject.

This week, at the outset, we discuss the revolutionary ideas in Richard Linklater’s 2001 film “Waking Life,” and as such this first episode is a transitional podcast. It was recorded for “Pop the Left” but edited as the first episode of “Pop the Program.”

Back in 2001 Roger Ebert celebrated Linklater’s film and its release: “Waking Life” could not come at a better time. Opening in these sad and fearful days after Sept. 11, it celebrates a series of articulate, intelligent characters who seek out the meaning of their existence and do not have the answers. At a time when madmen think they have the right to kill us because of what they think they know about an afterlife, which is by definition unknowable, those who don’t know the answers are the only ones asking sane questions.

Pop the Left #10: From Henry Flynt to an Electric Ant

This month’s Pop the Left features a conversation about Henry Flynt’s lecture “An Autopsy of the Left.” The conversation, as is typical, wanders, and in the end Varn and I end up mentioning the difficulty of escaping from our current ideology.

Henry Flynt is a musician, a member of Fluxus, and the last Communist standing. I wrote to him and asked him onto the podcast, but this email met with scorn and ridicule, which was really too bad. If you know Henry Flynt please tell him that I did not mean to insult him when I called him a commie.

For your edification here is a definition of Fluxus as lifted from wikipedia:

Fluxus—a name taken from a Latin word meaning “flow, flux” (noun); “flowing, fluid” (adj.)[1]—is an international network of artists, composers and designers noted for blending different artistic media and disciplines in the 1960s. They have been active in Neo-Dada noise music and visual art as well as literature, urban planning, architecture, and design. Fluxus is sometimes described as intermedia.

In this episode you’ll here a song inspired by the Philip K. Dick story “The Electric Ant” and a clip from “The Thirteenth Floor.” Here’s an essay I wrote for about both the short story and the movie.

Pop the Left #9: Is Žižek Dreaming Dangerously?

This week I’m presenting the latest Pop the Left Special wherein C Derick Varn and I discuss Slavoj Žižek’s little book “The Year of Dreaming Dangerously.” Neither of us found the book to be either coherent or useful. My main complaint would be Žižek’s failure to take Marx’s critique of Capitalist political economy seriously and his abandonment of the Labor Theory of Value. The conclusion we reach is that Žižek is a worthwhile philosopher, but that his philosophy is not a firm foundation for the development of a politics or a movement. What Žižek does deliver is an imperative: “THINK!” It turns out that this imperative will require us to think beyond him.

In this episode you’ll hear clips from the movie trailer for The Spectacular Now, a youtube mash-up of Zizek’s lectures, Zizek at Occupy Wall Street, and a bit of a Diet Soap interview with the art historian TJ Clark.