Sunday, June 20, 2021

Observations on Work

Part 1: New World Notes #694, 28:10 (June 22)
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Part 2: New World Notes #695, 28:19 (June 29) 
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A fine, newly (re)discovered audio collage by Virtual Renderings / Chazk. One of his earliest works (2006) and one of his best. 

Mixing serious commentary, parody and satire, corporate propaganda, and highly relevant music, it explores American jobs, working conditions, the increasing hours and decreasing pay, the myth of upward social mobility, and related topics.

Voices heard include those of Noam Chomsky, Michael Parenti, John Trudell, Barbara Ehrenreich, Utah Plillips, and others.

I have made some minor cuts in the original owing to time limitations. Also I bleeped a few racial/social epithets that many radio listeners will find offensive, The collage. is otherwise uncut.

New World Notes is produced under the auspices (Latin for "aegis") of WWUH-FM, a community service of that beacon of light in darkest Connecticut, the University of Hartford.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

The GOP and the Dems: Hypocrisy and Betrayal

New World Notes #693, 28:05 (June 15)
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Noam Chomsky in 2017

In a new talk, Noam Chomsky gives the history of the Republican Party's vote-getting strategies over the past 50 years. These included racism plus pretending to believe in positions held by many working-class Whites: pro-gun-rights, anti-abortion, climate-change denial. Party leaders' actual core values remain advancing the interests of corporations and the rich.

Not that the Democratic Party is much better. K.D. reads from Eve Ottenberg's article, "Biden's Broken Promises Spell Hard Times Ahead." 

Chomsky was interviewed by phone on June 1, 2021. Thanks to The David Packman Show for the recording, which I have edited and condensed. Eve Ottenberg's article, dated June 11, 2021, appears online at . My reading omits a substantial portion of the article.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Can Technology Save Us?

New World Notes #691 (June 8, 2021):
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Even though you know the answer
(no), you'll probably still enjoy the show, which features selections from two funny and intelligent talks.

Jello Biafra explains how the last supposedly revolutionary technological advances--cell phones and the Internet--have weakened real communities and increased alienation.

Then urban-design theorist James Howard Kunstler discusses our technology gurus' (at Google) inability to understand that technology cannot solve the problem of declining fossil fuel reserves. In a nutshell: you can make iPods out of petroleum (Dude,) but not vice versa.

Previously broadcast.

James Howard Kunstler

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

George Carlin at the National Press Club

New World Notes #691, 28:45  (June 1)
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George Carlin's address to the National Press Club, in Washington, D.C., on May 13, 1999.

A little more restrained and more unified than Carlin's concert routines, the speech is packed with wit. humor. and Carlin's trademark iconoclasm.

It's a 3-part satire on the degradation of language in America. Carlin targets first the b.s. of politicians, then the euphemisms loved by most citizens, and then the "politically correct" language of liberals.

This talk--highly relevant today--now appears for the first time on New World Notes. I have slightly condensed the speech, shortening Carlin's introductory remarks.

New World Notes is produced under the auspices (Latin for "suspicious gaze") of WWUH-FM, a community service of that beacon of light in darkest Connecticut, the University of Hartford.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Bitter Lake

Part 1: New World Notes #688, 29:15 (May 11)*
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Part 2: New World Notes #689, 29:00 (May 18)*
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Part 3: New World Notes #690, 28:12 (May 25)*
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Adam Curtis's lively and fascinating documentary, condensed and adapted to radio by KD.

It's about the history and politics of Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and the U.S. since the 1940s. It's about the repeated failures of reformers--American, Russian, and Afghan alike--to remake and modernize Afghanistan.

It's about shrewd and cynical calculations by Saudi and American leaders--who promoted development and stability in Saudi Arabia by exporting Saudi extremist Islam (Wahhabism) abroad--including to Afghanistan.

It's about Wall Street giants, fat with Saudi petrodollars, beyond the control of any government. About Western governments that don't want to govern, anyway.

It's about how Afghanistan always seems to destroy the armies that invade it--and damage the invading countries. And it's about those two pillars of Western foreign policy: blowback and unintended consequences.

An original and interesting view of the world today and how we got here.

Russian troops leaving Afghanistan, late 1988 or 1989

Part 1 looks at the fateful postwar U.S.-Saudi alliance ... early attempts to modernize and Westernize Afghanistan ... and how, for decades, Saudi rulers achieved stability at home by exporting the reactionary, extreme form of Islam-Wahhabism--abroad.  And it looks at decades of political upheaval in Afghanistan, leading to a home-grown socialist revolutionary government--and Russian intervention when that fell apart.

Part 2 focuses on the failed Russian attempts to reform Afghanistan in the 1980s ... the failed American attempts to reform Afghanistan since 2001 ... the transfer of political power in the West from governments to defense industries and the banks ... the naive "Good vs. Evil" worldview shared by Washington, London, the Taliban, and Osama Bin Laden ... the vicious battle of the Afghan Mujahideen and the Russians ... and how the West aided the rise of Islamic extremism.

Part 3 shows the corruption, conflicts, complexity, warlordism, and ever-shifting local alliances of Afghan society today. And it shows the naivete and ignorance of the English and American occupying forces--and of the politicians who dispatched them. Armed with a simplistic "Good vs. Evil" worldview--and ignorant of the complexities and conflicts of modern Afghan society--the occupying troops are increasing death and destruction while moving Afghanistan farther away from the goal of stability and democracy.

Filmmaker Adam Curtis

More by Adam Curtis: New World Notes adapted Curtis's film Love and Power to radio, in two installments, in December 2013. For more information and links to the audio, see our Web page for that program.

*MP3s downloaded from these links are numbered as New World Notes #362, 363, and 364.

Friday, April 30, 2021

How to Ruin an Economy

New World Notes #687, 27:55  (May 4)
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Noam Chomsky concisely and brilliantly dissects the U.S. economic system. He shows that it operates exactly in accord with the principles of neoliberal capitalism. Its function is to increase the wealth and power of the plutocratic elite--"the Masters of Mankind," as Adam Smith called them--at the expense of everyone else. And he shows the role of the federal government in enabling and promoting the economic system's antidemocratic aims and results.

The U.S. economic system has changed scarcely at all in the past half-century. Hence this classic talk is every bit as timely, engaging, and important today as it was when Chomsky spoke (at Northeastern University, Boston, in February 2014).

Leigha Cohen produced and made available a video of Chomsky's talk. Many thanks. I have lightly edited the recorded audio.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Killing Us Softly

New World Notes #686, 27:42 (April 24)
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A smart, funny, and important talk on advertising's image of women.

With wit and humor, Jean Kilbourne shows the preposterous body images, emotional styles, sexuality, and attitudes towards violence that consumer advertising presents to women (and men) as desirable and normal. Kilbourne's critique is far from radical, but it is very sound, very interesting, and in places very funny. Both men and women (and everyone else) will find this talk well worth a listen.

Based on the video (Edition 3, year 2000). Condensed and adapted to radio by KD. This video is available on The Internet Archive (

This installment was previously broadcast, as NWN #144, in December 2010. MP3 files downloaded from the links, above, are identified as NWN #144.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Confronting the Authorities

New World Notes #685, 28:26  (April 20)
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Historian Jill Lepore

Two features connected by the belief that we need to organize, confront Authority, and radically change (not just "reform") the system.

First we'll hear Jordan Brown's short movie, Forget Shorter Showers. The film features a reading of a good essay by radical environmental activist Derek Jensen.

Then part 2 of Jill Lepore's article on the history of police forces, "The Long Blue Line." Lepore shows the police's roots in the control of Black slaves and in the military's imperial adventures abroad.

Environmental activist Derek Jensen

Jill Lepore is David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History at Harvard University. Her article "The Long Blue Line"  appears in The New Yorker magazine, July 20, 2020.

Part 1 of "The Long Blue Line" is read in NWN #683.

Jordan Brown's film Forget Shorter Showers was released in 2015.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Peasant of the Dawn

New World Notes #684, 28:58  (April 13)
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Excellent  audio collage by Virtual Renderings, slightly condensed by me. It's a meditation on class warfare, the ruling elite's dislike of democracy, American exceptionalism, economic inequality, mind control, and the prescience of George Orwell.

Voices heard belong to Howard Zinn, Michael Parenti, Noam Chomsky, historian Morris Berman, and Ken Nordine (himself a master of audio collage), among others. Includes dramatic readings from Orwell's 1984 and some good music.

A musical highlight: a mashup duet of Harry Shearer and then-President Barack Obama titled "Yes We Can ... But."

Previously broadcast by New World Notes in 2011 and (with a new introduction) 2017.

114 audio collages by Virtual Renderings can be downloaded without charge at radio4all,net.

New World Notes is produced under the auspices (Latin for "radar") of WWUH-FM, a community service of that beacon of light in darkest Connecticut, the University of Hartford.

Monday, April 5, 2021


New World Notes #683, 28:46 (April 6)
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(Click to enlarge)

Various perspectives--all of them critical--on the police. The show includes a comedy sketch by Marlon Wayans, a song by David Rovics, and two recordings, from the 1960s, of Malcolm X.

KD reads from historian Jill Lepore's recent article, "The Long Blue Line" and also tells of a recent killing (of Jose Soto) by police in his own town.

Chicago, 1968: When my own understanding
of police forces began to change

Jill Lepore's article, "The Long Blue Line: Inventing the Police," appears in The New Yorker magazine, July 20, 2020.

New World Notes is produced under the auspices (Latin for "inflexible deadlines") of WWUH-FM, a community service of that beacon of light in darkest Connecticut, the University of Hartford.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Easter Season in America

New World Notes #682, 28:56 (April 30)
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Easter parade: Note "Torch of Freedom" in
the fashionable young lady's right hand.

In a humorous and satiric monologue, KD reflects on several current and past events, all somehow connected to Easter-time in America. Plus a song by David Rovics.

Topics include secularization and commercialization of holidays, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Mueller Report, John Brown, the supermarket strike, and how (on Easter, 1929), Edward Bernays got American women hooked on cigarettes.

This is a replay (with minor changes) of NWN #581, from April 2019. Some of the current events mentioned are now two years old. Because the discussion goes beyond the events to the larger issues the events illustrate, the show holds up well (IMHO).

"John Brown" is from David Rovics' "Big Red Sessions" album.

John Brown redefines the Easter parade. "Beecher's Bible" is in his right hand (left side of the painting).

New World Notes is produced under the auspices (Latin for "spreading chestnut tree") of WWUH-FM, a community service of that beacon of light in darkest Connecticut, the University of Hartford.

Friday, March 19, 2021

How the Internet Makes You Stupid

New World Notes #681, 28:24 (March 23)
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Nicholas Carr, in front of old-fashioned communications technology

Nicholas Carr--author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing To Our Brains--in a recent conversation with Ralph Nader.

They explore the bad effects of Internet use--especially popular sites such as Facebook, Google, & Instagram--on human learning, reasoning, knowledge retention, and critical thinking.

One bad effect is millions of Americans who are easily manipulated and who remain unaware that they are being manipulated.

The original audio--here edited by K.D.--courtesy of the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (August 8, 2020). . Thanks to Ralph.

The second edition of Carr's The Shallows was published in 2020. The first edition appeared in 2010.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

How Your Cell Phone Spies On You

New World Notes #680, 28:39 (March 16)
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Celebrated NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden explains the mass surveillance of Americans by means of their cell phones

He explains how both the government and Big Tech companies capture and use your data. How they record your every movement. And how they collude to prevent you from stopping all that data capture.

The talk reveals Snowden to be, not only a brilliant technician, but a complex, humane and caring person.

Edward Snowden

Snowden's talk is taken from an interview with video blogger Joe Rogan (*The Joe Rogan Experience," #1368, October 2019). I have lightly edited the talk for radio. Many thanks to Rogan and Snowden both.

New World Notes is produced under the auspices (Latin for "benign neglect") of WWUH-FM, a community service of that beacon of light in darkest Connecticut, the University of Hartford.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Capitalism and its Discontents

New World Notes #679, 28:32 (March 9)
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Variations on a theme. KD explores why the Powers-That-Be try to suppress the word "capitalism." Economist Richard D. Wolff explores the public's disillusionment with the U.S. economic system and explores the prospects for change.

We'll hear also a song--intended to be apolitical--by the late Anne Feeney: "Winter, Go Away." One line of the song, though--which implies that winter is warmer in Texas--inspires a preface on this month's death toll from Texas' profit-driven, un-winterized electric system.

Finally, we read an article on the huge trade in Irish slaves shipped to the New World in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The Wolff segment is from his interview with video blogger Mexie, September 15, 2020. A different section of this interview (edited by KD) appears as NWN #663, in November 2020. Many thanks to both Mexie and Wolff.

John Martin's "The Irish Slave Trade" was published in Global Research in 2008 (rpt., ibid., March 15, 2015). I have edited and condensed this article for radio.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Naomi Klein on CIA Project MK-ULTRA

New World Notes #678, 29:19 (March 2)
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Psychiatrist and CIA collaborator Dr. Ewen Cameron (left) performed mind-control experiments on numerous patients.

For two decades, the CIA conducted secret experiments in torture and mind-control as Project MK-ULTRA. Among their experimental subjects were American and Canadian citizens--none of whom were aware of what was being done to them.

Naomi Klein tells the story of Gail Kastner, who discovered decades later that the CIA (via her psychiatrist) had permanently damaged her mind and body with drugs, sensory deprivation, and electroshock--all without her knowledge or consent.

Klein reads from her book, The Shock Doctrine. The recording--here slightly condensed by me--had previously been broadcast on "Unwelcome Guests." Thanks to Lyn Gerry and the Unwelcome Guests Collective.

This installment was previously broadcast, as NWN #279, in 2013.

Music added: The song "Short Memory" by Midnight Oil.

I chose "Short Memory" because of its theme--Americans' (and the American government's) habit of making the same mistakes over and over again. Later it dawned to me that my choice of song might be seen as mocking the memory loss that Kastner and other victims of MK-ULTRA had experienced. No such mockery is intended. --K.D.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

John Pilger

New World Notes #677, 28:48 (February 23)
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Documentary filmmaker John Pilger discusses the real story behind the U.S.'s opposition to Russia, China, North Korea, and Syria. Pilger's shrewd analysis of actual U.S. foreign policy naturally leads to a discussion of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the corruption of both Clinton and the Democratic Party, the propaganda served up by the mainstream media, and (in Pilger's view) Clinton's well-deserved loss in the 2016 election.

Pilger responds to questions from Cindy Sheehan, from a broadcast of May 23, 2017. Audio courtesy of The People Speak, with Cindy Sheehan. The original program is available on I have edited the audio slightly, mostly removing stumbles and hesitations.

Previously broadcast by NWN in 2017.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Where Does The Left Go After Trump?

Part 1: New World Notes #675, 28:05 (February 9)
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Part 2: New World Notes #676, 28:42 February 16)
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Noam Chomsky's new look

In a new interview, the eminent Progressive scholar and activist Noam Chomsky explores current political and economic conditions. And he explores what the American people should do next--with Trump out and Biden in--to begin restoring democracy and improving the lot of "the 99%."

Here Chomsky blends an encyclopedic knowledge of politics and economics, . . . an inclination to take "the long view" of current affairs, . . . and a surprisingly optimistic view of the future.

Part 2 ends with a memorial to labor activist / singer / songwriter Anne Feeney, who died February 3. We play her song from the early 1990s, "War on the Workers." The song nicely anticipates and complements the main points Chomsky makes in Part 2.
Chomsky spoke on January 12, 2021, I have edited the talk for radio. The unedited presentation, a remote interview, is available on the Jacobin channel on YouTube.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Work, Debt, and Crisis

Part 1: New World Notes #673, 29:11 (January 26)
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Part 2: New World Notes #674, 28:19 (February 2)
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A fine audio collage--originally titled Capital Games--by Chazk, a.k.a. Virtual Renderings. An intriguing and sometimes rocking blend of satire, music, and also analysis by several voices (among them Richard Wolff's).

The piece explores the economic problems of our time--fallling wages, consumer debt, overwork, unemployment, decline of manufacturing, corrupt politicians, crooked banks and bankers, soaring corporate profits, and stratospheric executive salaries ... among others.

More by Chazk. An extensive, free archive of Chazk's / Virtual Rendering's collages is available.  You'll find a link in this Web site's "Worth a Look" section, on the gray sidebar on your screen's right.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Advertising at the Edge of the Apocalypse

Part 1: New World Notes #670, 28:00 (January 5)
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Part 2: New World Notes #671, 28:18 (January 12)
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Part 3: New World Notes #672, 28:40 (January 19)
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An engaging and insightful documentary on corporate-sponsored advertising in the 21st century. It explores advertising's ubiquity; its insidiousness; its devastating social, psychological, and environmental effects--and its role in perpetuating the most harmful aspects of corporate capitalism.

Communications scholar and activist Sut Jhally narrates. The film is adapted to radio, and with introductions, by KD.

Part 1 focuses on the commercial takeover of our culture, the problem of industrial overproduction, and the development of the advertising industry to increase demand for products.

(Click to enlarge)

Part 2
explores the failure of "the Marketplace"--and of capitalism--to provide what people consider to be the real sources of happiness: good social relationships, love and romance, meaningful work, and the like. Capitalism--especially through advertising--quite falsely promises that buying consumer goods will lead to those sources of happiness.

Then Part 2 examines the devastating ecological and environmental effects of our culture's binge of consumption.

Part 3 further explores the ecological devastation wrought by the trio of neoliberal capitalism, rampant consumerism, and product advertising. It also explores the breakdown of social ties--and the celebration of rampant and live-for-today individualism--that this trio promotes.

But the film's conclusion is optimistic: many people are seeing through the trio's false promises and are rebelling.

Following the film are two complementary sketches: comedian Bill Hicks on advertising and marketing, and Janis Joplin's song, "Mercedes Benz."

Sut Jhally, at UMass, Amherst

Advertising at the Edge of the Apocalypse was produced, in 2017, by the Media Education Foundation.

Sunday, December 27, 2020


New World Notes #669, 27:31 (December 29)
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It's stressful; it's expensive; ir's bad for the environment; it's bad for the soul; and it's very hard to get rid of. No, not the Trump Administration (or bedbugs): I'm referring to clutter.

We explore the problem with true confessions by me, an article by Erica Layne, remarks by environmentalist Lloyd Alter, and music by Chumbawamba.

Alex Wise's interview with Lloyd Alter courtesy of Sea Change Radio (December 11, 2018). Erica Layne's "9 Hard Truths About Clutter You Need to Hear" courtesy of

Previously broadcast, in January 2019. Files downloaded from the links, above, may be identified as NWN #566.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Scooter's War on Christmas Kickstarter

New World Notes #668, 28:33 (December 22)
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The Church fights back

A fine audio collage on Christmas and America produced by Scooter. A blend of social satire, inspired nonsense, improbable music, serious debate, standup comedy, right-wing craziness, & great fun.

This collage weaves together a debate on religion by the late Christopher Hitchens (atheist) and Catholic spokesman Bill Donahue, a parody musical-comedy Christmas movie, a parody war movie (climaxing in the death of all three Chipmunks), ravings by Bill O'Reilly and a few televangelists, heavy-metal Christmas carols, standup comedy by Lewis Black and Sam Kinison, and more.

Once again we present Scooter's tour-de-force almost uncut ... almost uncensored ... and almost unabridged!

This installment was previously broadcst--most recently in December 2018. The "broadcast quality" version has an extra bleep, making it all the more suitable for airplay.

Scooter, in a reflective moment

Scooter produced "The innerSide" radio program at KPFT-FM, Houston.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Robert Fisk and Chris Hedges

New World Notes #667, 28:14 (December 15)

Robert Fisk, who died on October 20, was one of the finest foreign correspondents writing in English. For decades his beat was the Middle East. To mark his passing, we reprise one of his few appearances on New World Notes, in this installment from February 2019. Also featured is former foreign correspondent Chris Hedges.

Different in style, the two reporters are alike in their hatred of lies and propaganda, their command of recent history--and their disdain for Trump's presidency.

Fisk discusses the war in Syria, Iran, Putin, Trump, and the flood of propaganda in the media. Hedges discusses how social justice requires economic justice and also effective means of nonviolently overturning established power.

With an updated introduction by KD. Plus a song by Yikes McGee.

Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges' recent book is America: The Farewell Tour (2018).

Many thanks to Jeff Blankfort, host of "Takes on the World," for these selections from his interview with Robert Fisk (June 13, 2018). Hedges' remarks are from the Q&A following his talk, "America: The Farewell Tour" (New York City, December 8, 2018), broadcast in NWN #571-572.

Thanks again to Wilton Vought--then of "Other Voices, Other Choices," currently of "Essential Dissent"--for re-engineering and making available the audio of Fisk's talk. "Essential Dissent" can be found at several places on the Web including YouTube, Facebook, iTunes, and .

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Pandemic Journal 3: Another Toilet Paper Shortage

New World Notes #666, 28:10 (December 8)
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Wry reflections by KD on American toilet-paper shortages current and past--including the original one of 1973. Plus capitalism's high-dollar solution to the current one: give bidets as Christmas presents to everyone on your list. Yes, they actually said this. And David Rovics' $1.98 alternative.

Plus a short, unusually upbeat talk by Chris Hedges and--to celebrate installment #666--a few words on the number of the beast.

"Automate your lifestyle" ?? Capitalism saves the day with a high-priced alternative to toilet paper. Don't forget to add the cost of that new electrical outlet behind your $5000 toilet-bidet combination.

Working-class alternative.

Monday, November 23, 2020

The Politics of Cultural Despair

Part 1: New World Notes #664, 28:41 (November 24)
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Part 2: New World Notes #665, 27:40 (December 1).
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Chris Hedges

A rousing, no-holds-barred new speech by the activist, essayist, and Pulitzer-winning journalist Chris Hedges, delivered in October 2020.

Hedges sees the engineering of public despair as a deliberate strategy of our country's real rulers, the corporate oligarchs. Alas, history shows that citizens in despair often turn to fascism, thereby only compounding their misery and the oligarchs' power.

In Part 1, Hedges surveys the misery in which tens of millions of Americans now find themselves--jobless, without savings, without health insurance, facing eviction, coping with a pandemic, and more. He denounces both major political parties--with special focus on the Democratic Party (including Joe Biden), which has faithfully served the oligarchy and worked to disempower the citizens for many decades,

In Part 2, Hedges focuses on the rise pf "Christian Fascism" (a.k.a. "the religious Right). This movement is drawn primarily from the White working class--people that have indeed been brutalized by the System. But these people's just anger has been cynically misdirected by the Elite--away from their real oppressors and towards the country's liberal and democratic institutions.

Hedges sees reform of our corrupt system as impossible. That leaves only two possible outcomes: popular rebellion leading to some form of humane, democratic socialism ... or else tyranny. The Elite--and the institutions they control, such as the police--much prefer the latter.

Following Hedges' speech, we lighten the mood a bit with a new song by David Rovics, "Vaccine."

Hedges' speech, which he delivered remotely, was sponsored by GCAS College in Dublin. I have shortened a few pauses and snipped out the occasional stumble.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

COVID-19 and the End of Capitalism

New World Notes #663, 28:40 (November 17)
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Richard D. Wolff

Capitalism is a fatally flawed economic system that cannot be made to work well, argues economist Richard D. Wolff. One fatal flaw is its instability: for the past 300 years, capitalist economies have crashed every 4-7 years

We are now in the third crash of the 21st century, the worst since the 1920s. The COVID pandemic--and the right-on-schedule crash it triggered--make the system's failures undeniable, Wolff argues.

Wolff is in fine form in these selections from an interview (of September 15, 2020) with the Progressive Canadian video blogger, Mexie.

First, though: brief eulogies for Connecticut radio program producer and political activist Mike DeRosa and for veteran Middle-East correspondent Robert Fisk. And a funny song on President Trump by satirist Roy Zimmerman and friends.

Mexie's video programs are available on YouTube. I have borrowed the title of her interview with Wolff (as well as a fair amount of the audio). Many thanks.

Richard D. Wolff--Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst--has written or co-authored 16 books on economics and economic theory.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Life and Times of Howard Zinn

Part 1: New World Notes #660, 28:38 (October 27)
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Part 2: New World Notes #661, 27:56 (November 3)
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Part 3: New World Notes #662, 27:29 (November 10)
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The celebrated Progressive historian, political activist, and professor Howard Zinn is profiled in this radio adaptation of the documentary film, You Can't Be Neutral On a Moving Train.

Speakers including Alice Walker, Daniel Ellsberg, Marian Wright Edelman, Staughton Lynd, Noam Chomsky, Fr. Daniel Berrigan, Tom Hayden, and Zinn himself offer interesting perspectives on Zinn's times and his work. Narrator Matt Damon reads passages from Zinn's writings.

The film, directed by Deb Ellis and Denis Mueller, was released in 2004.

Howard Zinn (1922-2010) published more than 20 books including the influential A People's History of the United States (1980).

Selma, Alabama, 1963: Zinn (center) and James Baldwin (right)

Part 1 covers Zinn's impoverished early life in NYC; his early disillusionment with the police; and his experiences as a shipyard worker, Air Force bombardier in WWII, graduate student, and left-leaning white professor in a conservative Black college in the South as the Civil Rights movement took hold.

All these events profoundly shaped Zinn's views on politics, democracy, freedom, history, and historiography.

Part 2 covers Zinn's firing by Spelman College, move to Boston University, Vietnam-era antiwar activities, trip to Hanoi to return American POWs, his views on civil disobedience, and his targeting by the police and FBI. 

Of particular interest in Part 2: extensive reflections by antiwar activist Fr. Daniel Berrigan (d. 2016).

Boston Progressive activists Howard Zinn (BU) and Noam Chomsky (MIT), ca. 1970

Part 3 includes the favorable public reaction to Zinn's People's History, especially by school students and teachers; scenes from Zinn's play, Marx in Soho; and Zinn's public opposition, post-9/11, to going to war against Iraq.

First, though, we'll hear President Trump's public denunciation of Zinn for destroying the patriotism of schoolchildren (September 17, 2020)--and then part of a 2009 interview of Zinn, by Amy Goodman, in which Zinn explains what he would like young people to learn about American History. (Thanks to for the audio in this segment.)