22 Mar 2017, 6:24pm
Zero Squared


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.

yer zero book video mashups are getting quite good.


What then are the limits to speech? Are there any? Words can have consequences beyond “illuminating truth.” Fascism is hate. Advocating hate means that people can get hurt killed? Collateral damage in the cause absolute devotion to absolute free speech? Even if we put aside the physical harm that words can directly cause, do we want to live in a word in which, to use Zizek’s example, whether rape is okay, is an acceptable topic for continual debate? Speech does to some extent shape the parameters of society. Isn’t some speech therefore beyond the pale?

speaking of “illuminating truth”

Q: How many words does it take to change a light bulb, or change a 12.5kilivolt fuse at 3am in the pouring rain, of put an IV in the arm of a child in the oncology ward?

A: Fascism is hate

24 Mar 2017, 7:52pm
by Mike Robinson


Disappointing to hear Finkelstein sounding so off-base — and downright kooky.


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