On Empire of Conspiracy and agency panics.
 
 
We focus our discussion on the notion of 'agency panic' that is at the centre of Timothy Melley's account of conspiracy theories in postwar America. Does it apply to the Great Reset and Russiagate equally?
 
Melley's approach is a useful way of understanding what conspiracy theories give voice to – but is Melley defending or attacking the liberal humanist subject? We disagree amongst ourselves.
 
We then discuss how apathy and paranoia coexist, and wonder whether paranoia characterises the End of the End of History. And does Enlightenment scepticism reside somewhere between these two states?
 
Finally, we discuss jealous cuck husbands and Obama's idea of an epistemological crisis.
 
Additional reading: An extensive list of works on conspiracy theory can be found here
On Communism's historic role.
 
We talk to renowned Serbian-American economist Branko Milanovic about growing up in Yugoslavia and how, in much of the world, History never ended. We then dedicate much of the episode to discussing Branko's claim that communism was essentially an engine of economic convergence, allowing developing countries to haul themselves into the industrial age.
 
We also talk about Branko's work on inequality and why growth still matters. 
 
Readings:

On Anthony Giddens' The Consequences of Modernity (ch.3)

[Patreon Tier 2&3 Exclusive]

In the second episode of the Cynical Ideology section of the 2022 Reading Club, we look at what trust is and why it has declined so precipitously in recent decades, especially in relation to institutions. 

Is the opposite of trust mistrust, or is it existential angst? What's the link between the absence of trust and a sense of impending apocalypse? Is money or the market the only abstract entity we still trust? And what about the state?

Reading:

The Consequences of Modernity, Anthony Giddens (1990), ch. 3

 
On Zizek's "How Marx Invented the Symptom" from The Sublime Object of Ideology.
 
We kick off the second phase of the 2022 Reading Club, on Cynical Ideology, with this selection from Slavoj Zizek's landmark first book in English. How does he supplement Marx's conception of ideology? Are we post-ideological or trapped in cynical ideology? How would we go about breaking free of it?
 
Reading:
The Sublime Object of Ideology (ch. 1), Slavoj Zizek 
On reviews of our book, The End of the End of History
 
 
A year since the book came out, and two years since we finished writing it, we take a look at published reviews the book has received and respond to them.
 
Questions addressed include: have we overstated our case? Do we ignore the importance of the 1970s in favour of the 1990s? Might war matter more than class struggle? Is it useful to understood History in the metaphysical/Hegelian sense? Should we be less modernist and dispense with the politics inherited from 1848-1980s? And are we too critical of left-populism?
 
Reviews
On neoliberalism and biopolitics.
 
In the fifth session of the "Emergency Politics & Control" theme of the 2022 Reading Club, we take on The Birth of Biopolitics, Michel Foucault's 1978-9 lectures at the College de France (no's 4-6, 9-10).
 
How does Foucault trace a line between German ordo- and American neo-liberalism to biopolitics? What role does human capital play? Is 'biopolitics' a critique or a manual? And how useful a tool is it to understand the management of the Covid pandemic?

[Patreon Tier 2 Exclusive]

On Frank Furedi's How Fear Works.

Following on from last month's discussion of Corey Robin's Fear, we examine a differing attempt to demystify the politics and culture of fear. 

To join a local Reading Club where you are, email info@bungacast.com 

On Marxism & the Left.

We talk to Elena & Joshua about their new edited collection, The Conformist Rebellion: Marxist Critiques of the Contemporary Left. Who or what is "the Left" today – merely the left wing of Capital? And what distinguishes a specifically Marxist critique of the Left? How has Marxism and the question of exploitation been sidelined in favour of a libera concern with discrimination?

Over on Patreon you can hear the second part of the interview, plus our After Party debating the contemporary Left's connection to Marxism, the history of social democracy, and moral versus materialist critique. 

Readings:

[Patreon Tier 2 Exclusive]

On Corey Robin's Fear: The History of a Political Idea

This is March's Reading Club, the third in the Emergency Politics section of the 2022 Syllabus.

On class & material self-interest.

We talk to Vivek Chibber about his new book, The Class Matrix: Social Theory After the Cultural Turn, which seeks to answer why capitalism has proven remarkably stable. Vivek explains why classical Marxism does not need 'ideological supplements' to explain why there hasn't been revolution; instead, structural class theory already provides the answers. 

We go back to basics, looking at the role of interests, debate what the real role of ideology is (not 'false consciousness'), and look at why particularism, rather than the universal collectivism of class, now dominates. 

Part two of the interview, plus the After Party, is available over at patreon.com/bungacast

On Giorgio Agamben's State of Exception (2005). 

How did a darling of the left during the War on Terror become a resource for the right during Covid? Is Agamben right to blur the boundary between fascism and liberal democracy? And if we are in a 'permanent state of exception', what is the right response?

And we discuss your questions.

The full episode is for $10+ subscribers. Sign up at patreon.com/bungacast

Other links:

On Carl Schmitt's Political Theology (1922).

We ask why people are scared of sovereignty – as opposed to state power per se, and analyse what is significant about the way in which Schmitt defines sovereignty. And what is the meaning of 'political theology'?

And we discuss your questions. 

This is an extended excerpt of the first 30 mins of the episode. For the full thing, go to patreon.com/bungacast

Other links:

 

 

How has the cold and hard world of bureaucratic, instrumental rationalism penetrated the intimate sphere of love and relationships? And how has open communication and emotional understanding been used to advance economic interests?
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This is a free sample. For the full episode, sign up at patreon.com/bungacast
 
On modernity's contradictions.
 
In this month's Reading Club, we discuss the introduction to Marshall Berman's marvellous All That Is Solid Melts Into Air.
 
This is an excerpt. For the full episode, subscribe for $10/mo at patreon.com/bungacast
 
Can we revive, as Berman intends, the truly dialectical, 19th century attitude to modernity? What value is there in talking about "modernity" rather than “capitalism”? And how to we recognise possibilities for transcending today's impasses, where the question of "modernity" isn't even on the table?
 
The final Reading Club of 2021 will be on Eva Illouz's Cold Intimacies.
This month we discuss GM Tamas' essay "Telling the Truth About Class" published in the Socialist Register. Is Tamas' division between Marxist and Rousseauian socialism useful? Does it help us to understand the Left today? And is Tamas right that "authentic proletarian revolution... has never occurred in its anti-capitalist purity anywhere"?
 
Reading Clubs are for patrons $10+, sign up at patreon.com/bungacast
 
Additional readings:

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