Sunday, November 2, 2014


Part 1: New World Notes #348, 28:54 (November 4)
Broadcast quality MP3 (40 MB)
Decent quality MP3 (13 MB)

Part 2: New World Notes #349, 28:53 (November 11)
Broadcast quality MP3 (40 MB)
Decent quality MP3 (13 MB)

Current events--Halloween, early Christmas ads, and a plutonium explosion in New Mexico--lead us to Kate Brown's history of two utopian factory towns created in the 1940s: Richland, WA; and Ozersk, Russia.

Both factories made plutonium. To ensure obedient workers, each government built a wonderful town, restricted freedom, controlled the press, kept out minorities, spied--and gave workers an amazingly high standard of living.

Through radioative poisoning of the environment, both factories also destroyed the lives of their workers and many other people in the region. Over four decades, each factory polluted the environment with twice the radiation released at Chernobyl.

It's quite a story. And it's still going on.

And maybe Richland is not just a place but also a metaphor for our whole consumer culture--and our willingness to give up liberty and even health in exchange for a luxurious lifestyle.

Kate Brown

Kate Brown is Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She spoke in Seattle on July 22, 2013.  Original recording (video) courtesy of Pirate TV. Audio (here lightly edited by KD) courtesy of

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