This week Eric welcomes journalist Sumedha Pal to the show to discuss how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting India and its 1.2 billion people. Sumedha explains the devastation of India’s health care system, the mismanagement of the crisis by the central government, and the impact COVID is having on the rural poor, indigenous people, urban sex workers, and other marginalized groups. In the second half of the conversation, Sumedha details her personal experience with the health care system during the pandemic, as well as providing updates on the situation in Kashmir one year after the lockdown, growing tensions with China, India’s far right ultra-nationalist forces, and more.
Break music: The Mekons – “Last Night on Earth”
This time Eric chats with journalist, author, and chef Arun Gupta about his recent investigation into the COVID pandemic in rural agriculture and its impact on migrant workers. Eric and Arun also discuss the ongoing #BLM protests, real journalism and the danger of spreading unverified rumors in times of social struggle, and Arun’s new Instagram cooking series, “Apocalypse Chow” As always, Arun Gupta on CounterPunch Radio is a must-listen!
Music: The Coup – Laugh/Love/F**ck
As the US erupts in protest in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, Eric chats with Kali Akuno, co-founder and co-director of Cooperation Jackson and organizer with People’s Strike. Kali gives his reactions to Trump’s quasi-martial law decree and some of the rhetoric he used in his disturbing “Law and Order” speech. Eric and Kali discuss the importance of Black and Brown youth leadership in this uprising, and how the level of political consciousness is much higher than previous uprisings. From there the conversation touches on everything from the formation of Trumpist brownshirts and how the Left must organize itself for defense to the understanding that Trump has brought the War on Terror home. Don’t miss the critical discussion on CounterPunch!
Music: Durand Jones and the Indications – “Morning in America”
This week Eric welcomes back to the show professor of economics, radio host, and author Richard Wolff to discuss unemployment, systemic failures, and the future of capitalism in the Age of COVID. Eric and Richard discuss his recent piece “Mass Unemployment Is a Failure of Capitalism” and why unemployment, and all the hardships it causes, is a choice made by capitalists. From there they explore the 2000, 2008, and 2020 crashes as a feature, not a bug, capitalism, and why a redistribution of labor has led to a generation of precarious gig workers and debt-ridden college graduates with little hope of a financial future. And what should the government be doing? Listen to this week’s show to find out.
This time Eric welcomes progressive Democratic candidate for the US House of Representatives from California’s 12th district, Shahid Buttar, who is challenging Nancy Pelosi in November’s general election. Eric and Shahid discuss his background and formative political experiences, his time in Washington and as an activist, and his reasons for running. From there, the conversation explores the Pelosi era in SF politics: gentrification, segregation, Pelosification. What are the power blocs in Bay Area politics? Which sectors of capital does Pelosi represent? How will his campaign overcome these institutional obstacles?
The second half of the show assesses Bernie’s campaign, his impact on American political life, and the possibility (or impossibility) of taking over the Democratic Party. Finally, Eric and Shahid examine the critical question: what role is there for the Left in US politics?
While we’re all stuck at home, there’s a world of films waiting to be seen. This week, we discuss ten films that every lefty must watch. Joining Eric is CounterPunch’s resident film critic Louis Proyect, and PhD student and author Shalon van Tine. Films discussed include:
Sansho the Bailiff (Mizoguchi, 1954)
Strike (Eisenstein, 1925)
Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein, 1925)
Salt of the Earth (Biberman, 1954)
Crimson Gold (Panahi/Kiarostami, 2003)
La Chinoise (Godard, 1967)
Ceddo (Sembene, 1977)
El Norte (Nava, 1983)
Seventh Seal (Bergman, 1957)
Sorry to Bother You (Riley, 2018)
Music: The Kinks – Celluloid Heroes
This time Eric welcomes to the show activist, unionist, and leading candidate for the Green Party nomination for President in 2020, Howie Hawkins. Eric and Howie discuss the importance of a left political alternative to the Democratic Party, and why arguments against it are disingenuous. Howie describes his background as a trade unionist, co-founder of the Green Party, and activist, and explains how that informs his politics today. Eric and Howie explore electoralism vs activism, the role of the Green Party with it shortcomings, and whether it can be a vehicle for the Left. Howie also provides some perspective on the Bernie Sanders campaign and explains why he wasn’t surprised to see Bernie do well in 2016. Finally, and most importantly, Howie answers the million dollar question: why bother with a third party in an undemocratic capitalist duopoly?
Music: David Rovics – “Failed State”
This time Eric welcomes back to the show CounterPunch contributor Paul Street to discuss capitalism and the pandemic, the Orange Antichrist, Bernie’s flame-out, and the shocking collapse of Truthdig. First, Eric and Paul go in depth on how the pandemic is a direct result of capitalist development and ecocide, and the fact that Trump’s base is only interested in white nationalism and authoritarianism. The second half of the show is a post-mortem of the Bernie Sanders campaign as Eric and Paul discuss what went wrong, and whether or not Bernie represents the final nail in the coffin of the “transforming the Democratic Party” mantra. Finally, Paul gives his inside perspective on what happened at Truthdig and why independent left media is so critical in these crazy times.
Music: The Mekons – “Simone”
This time Eric welcomes back to the show Marxist economist and author Michael Roberts to discuss the prospects for the global economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Eric and Michael begin by discussing whether the virus was an exogenous calamity or merely the tipping point for much deeper structural problems with global production and profitability. From there, Michael explains why Keynesians are wrong in describing “demand crises” when really it’s supply crises that drive economic downturns, and why comparisons of 2020 and 1987 fall flat. The second half of the episode explores the role of oil price collapse and corporate debt in exacerbating the coming depression, and the material reality of life for workers under the dire economic conditions we now face. Lots of ground covered with one of the best economists working today. Don’t miss it!
Music: Dean Wareham – Wayfaring Stranger