On the meaning of Gorbachev.
 
 
Mikhail Gorbachev continues to be lauded in Western circles for overseeing the collapse of the Soviet Union without much bloodshed. But given the historic societal disaster that followed, is this status unmerited? How naive was Gorbachev about the wolves at the door? And to what extent was the writing on the wall by the late '80s – was there an alternative path not taken?
 
Readings:
 
Listenings:
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 Rojava and Ukraine.

We talk to Stefan Bertram-Lee, former volunteer fighter for the the YPG in Rojava, about whom a Hollywood movie is being made. We ask him about the type of person who volunteers, and how this compares to those who have gone to Ukraine. How does this stop you "being a teenage nihilist"? And who would win in a fight: ISIS, Azov or the YPG?

Part two of this episode is available at: https://www.patreon.com/posts/70597308 

Reading:

With European liberals waving Ukraine flags, how might the war and escalating geopolitical tensions between major power be prompting a return to nationalism and patriotism? Is it just a means for elites to extract sacrifices from the people? And how 'real' are nations anyway?

Articles:

On the end of the Cold War and the rise of neoliberalism.

Fritz Bartel talks to us about his new book in which the 1970s crisis and its aftermath takes centre-stage. How did the response to this global crisis differ in Western democratic capitalism versus Eastern state socialism? And why did this determine which side won the Cold War? How did the twin factors of global finance and energy emerge then, to the extent they still seem so determining today?

We discuss Bartel's striking claim that democracies, rather than authoritarian systems, were better able to 'break promises' – that is, impose economic discipline. And we conclude by discussing whether it could have been otherwise, whether neoliberalism and the collapse of the 'really existing socialism' were inevitable.


Readings
On the endgame to war in Ukraine.
 
Eminent Russian expert, Putin and Gorbachev biographer and ex-Sovietologist, Prof Richard Sakwa, joins us in advance of his imminent retirement from the University of Kent. We talk about the geopolitics of NATO expansion and the dynamics of the Ukraine war reaching back to 2014. How high is the risk of nuclear war now, and how might the Ukraine war play out?
Readings:
On US proxy wars, Russia's elite, Ukrainian neutrality.
 
'Three Articles' aims to provide serious political discussion on current affairs that we feel is lacking elsewhere, drawing out the logical conclusions of the three pieces' arguments.
 
Articles:

On energy, the material basis for all our politics?

Helen Thompson, podcaster and professor of political economy at Cambridge and author of Disorder: Hard Times in the 21st Century, joins us to talk about the geopolitics of oil, stretching from the 1956 Suez Crisis to the Fracking Revolution of today. How does US energy independence help explain shifting politics in Europe and the Middle East?

Plus, did the End of History stay afloat on a sea of cheap oil?  

Part 2 of the interview, plus our After Party, is here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/251-oil-disorder-64394535

Readings:

We take on Italy's election of a new president and what that tells us about permanent crisis, the EU and the curtailing of democracy; we ask how serious the risk of war in Ukraine actually is; and review a film we haven't seen.
 
The full episode is for subscribers only. Sign up at patreon.com/bungacast
 
3 Articles:
Others:
On Millennial homeowners, the USA falling apart, and restoration in the UK.

As better-off 30-somethings start to get on the property ladder, does this put paid to 'Generation Left'? Will American decline be accompanied by a second civil war - as China serenely watches on? And does Britain represent a return to the 'End of History'? Is everything becoming boring again?
 
This is an excerpt. For the full episode, subscribe at patreon.com/bungacast

Articles:

On Covid and the end of the end of history.

Adam Tooze joins us to discuss his new book, Shutdown. In 2020 everything changed... so that everything might remain the same.

What were the reasons behind the global shutdown? Was it a result of over-protection, a policy of repression, or the result of structural tensions? Has China been the winner of the pandemic? How have central banks been victims of their own success? And does this represent the end of neoliberalism?  

The latter part of the interview continues over on patreon.com/bungacast

On Chinese investment, Swiss democracy, and fleeing from Afghanistan.

In this Three Articles, we discuss flight or departure in various ways: China opening the gates for its huge savings to spill onto world markets; Switzerland leaving (or remaining outside) the EU; and the US's sudden departure from Afghanistan, without telling anyone. 

'Three Articles' episodes are normally for subscribers only - but this one's free. Sign up at patreon.com/bungacast for regular access.

London book launch/bunga party: Register here

Articles:

On atrocity and sovereignty.

This episode is for subscribers only. Sign up at patreon.com/bungacast
 
The disasters of Iraq, Libya, Syria and beyond are there for all to see. Why hasn't an emphasis on Human Rights led to fewer atrocities? How has Western intervention made the world a less safe place?

We discuss Philip's book Cosmopolitan Dystopia: International Intervention and the Failure of the West and discover that no one really defends sovereignty today. What's behind the concept of 'Responsibility to Protect' (R2P)? And should we understand it as a form of "liberal imperialism"? 

On liberal idealism and imperial overreach.

Why did the winners of the Cold War turn 'revisionist', undermining their own order? How has utopianism come to dominate the discipline of IR, such that we have lost the means to critique power?

We discuss Philip's recent book, The New Twenty Years’ Crisis 1999-2019: A Critique of International Relations, which is both a revisiting of EH Carr's international relations classic The Twenty Years' Crisis as well as an account of the contemporary crisis of the liberal international order. 

Reading:

The New Twenty Years’ Crisis 1999-2019: A Critique of International Relations, Philip Cunliffe, McGill-Queen's UP

On Latin America's progressive wave and its discontents.

A new book on Latin America argues that 'pink tide' governments tried to treat the symptoms of neoliberal capitalism while allowing the underlying situation to worse. We talk to the author, Fabio Luis, about cases across the region, including the election in Ecuador and Venezuela's disaster, to Bolivia's coup and Argentina's "path of least resistance". How important is regional integration and what does an alternative socialist vision entail? And we ponder a sad question: is the dream of development and modernisation over? 

Readings:

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