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5 minutes | 2 years ago
The Future of the Show
An announcement regarding the future of the show. Hi all, So this is just a quick update to explain a little about the podcast, so that I don't just vanish without trace entirely. Autocracy Now! was the first show idea I had, way back at the end of 2016. I'd been a podcast fan for many years, and finally just decided to start podcasting for myself after listening to Mike Duncan of The History of Rome talk about it. Over the next few months, I wrote the first scripts - for Commodus, and then the huge behemoth that became the Stalin scripts, and then finally the scripts for Huey P Long. The Huey Long scripts were finished by the end of the summer of 2017, which means that it's been 18 months since I actually wrote anything for this show. Initially, my physics show - Physical Attraction - was going to be a very quick "test" podcast, before launching the longer-term history show. But I pretty quickly realised that I had an awful lot to say about physics, and I got into writing that, and now that show has over a hundred episodes and has taken up far more of my time than it was ever supposed to. It came to the point where I was worried that the history show, which I'd finished recording months ago, would never be released. So I decided - I can't let all those months of work go to waste - and I started releasing episodes of the show so that someone, somewhere might eventually hear them. But I never intended to run two shows at once: it's just too much work, alongside my PhD which is a full-time job on its own, and other writing committments that I have in my free time. I could probably try to juggle both of the shows, but I know that the quality of both would suffer, and I really don't want that to happen. At the same time, there are loads of stories on Autocracy Now that I never got the chance to tell - reading that I did that I never got to use. I was definitely going to do a show about Mao, and another about the Taiping Rebellion, and all manner of other things. And maybe, someday, I will get a chance to write and record all of those shows for you - I'd love to do it. But as things are, I have to, sadly, put the history show on an indefinite hiatus. If I ever get a chance, I will return and tell you all of those stories. But this isn't the end for me as a podcaster. As most of you probably already know, the physics show, Physical Attraction, is over at www.physicalattraction.libsyn.com or www.physicspodcast.com - and if you don't already listen to it, you're missing out. We have interviews with experts, we have interviews with historians, and we go through an awful lot of the history and philosophy of physics as well as going through breaking news about technology, speculation about the future - all that kind of thing. That show is going to continue, hopefully also indefinitely, and I already have episodes ready to go for the next few months at least. So what you should all do, as soon as this little announcement ends, is go and subscribe to Physical Attraction if you haven't already. Stay subscribed to this feed, too - if... let's say when - the show comes back, I will be releasing episodes here as normal. And, of course, if the history show comes back I will announce it on the physics feed, so it's worth being subscribed to that and keeping up with it as far as you can. Finally, I'd like to say. It's a strange game, this podcasting lark. I spend weeks researching and writing without knowing if anyone would ever listen. That was fine, because I liked doing it, and I liked having the project to work on, and telling people about them. I know that somewhere, out there, some of you are, and that makes me happy. And for now, it's done - just another thing someone created, living there in the ether, free for anyone who wants to access it. Tell anyone who might be interested to give it a whirl. Head on over to Physical Attraction. And until I return, or until next time: thanks for listening.
37 minutes | 2 years ago
Huey Long, Part VI: A Long Shot?
Could Huey Long's personality, travelling-salesman charm, and Share Our Wealth populism catapult him into the White House? In this episode, we find out. www.autocracynow.libsyn.com www.physicspodcast.com @physicspod @autocracynow
37 minutes | 2 years ago
Huey P. Long V: Kingfishers and Filibusters
The good people of the United States Senate were not prepared for Huey P. Long. www.autocracynow.libsyn.com www.physicspodcast.com @physicspod @autocracynow
33 minutes | 2 years ago
Huey P. Long, IV: Round Robin
“I would rather go down to a thousand impeachments than admit that I am the Governor of the state that does not dare to call the Standard Oil company to account so that we can educate our children and care for the destitute, sick, and afflicted.” Huey called mass rallies, warning his supporters to “beware the lying newspapers, pay no attention to what they say”. At the rallies, he quoted his favourite poem, Invictus: “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul!” This is the story of the impeachment of Huey Long.
35 minutes | 2 years ago
Huey P. Long III: Schoolbooks and Blood
In 1928, Huey Long was riding high. He'd beaten all opposition and achieved the second step in his life-plan. Get elected to minor public office, check. Get elected to the Governorship, check. There's little doubt given everything we know about him that he was already angling for a seat in the Senate - although in his early addresses he was already lying about "ridding the state of corruption and waste... without ambition for ever again holding another public office." A bold claim for a man who had "become President" on his to-do list. But in order to do that, he would have to deliver on his outlandish promises that he'd made in the campaign to be Governer. He had to keep his base onside and prove that he wasn't the lying demagogue that his hated media constantly portrayed him to be. In the meantime, the powers that be in the state of Louisiana dusted themselves off and began strategizing how they would manipulate the young and inexperienced Governor to keep their interests at heart. They had dealt with demagogues before; Huey was not unique in that respect, although few of them had made it to his lofty position. Confidence was probably high amongst the establishment that most of them could work with Huey, that things would continue more or less as they had before, and in a few years - promises largely broken - the political machines could wrestle back control. This was how many people thought it was going to go. A lot of them were mistaken.
32 minutes | 2 years ago
Huey P Long II: The Campaign Trail
Huey Long pulled a man aside once, and, conspiratorially, explained his plans for 1924. "I'm gonna run for governer, and let me tell you how I'm going to win. In every parish, there is a boss, usually the sheriff. He has 40% of the votes, 40% are opposed to him, and the other 20% are in-betweens. I'm going to go into every parish and cuss out the boss. That gives me 40% of the votes, and I'll hoss trade 'em out of the inbetweens." So said Huey Long. www.autocracynow.libsyn.com www.physicspodcast.com
34 minutes | 2 years ago
Huey Long Part I: The Whirlwind
Imagine, for a moment, that there was a politician in the United States very unlike the others. One who was willing to promise all things to all people, who had no qualms about changing his position on a daily basis. One who viciously attacked the establishment, made personal attacks on his opponents and gave them derogatory nicknames and violated every democratic norm in the book. One who fought against freedom of the press, and constantly denounced the 'lying newspapers', when they reported on the corruption that he was steeped in. A politician who was perfectly happy to tear up the constitution, and anyone who stood in his way, in order to achieve his ends. A demagogue whose rise and rise to power seemed absurd to the establishment, but made sense to the people, many of whom loved him and believed that he was the only one on their side. And, on this wave of popular support and crazy promises, and with a complete disregard for the way things should be done, a politician who set himself up as a ruthless, corrupt, kleptocratic dictator. Now imagine there was a politician in the US who fought against vested interests, big corporations, and argued tirelessly and energetically for redistribution of the wealth. A politician who was never afraid to speak his mind, and to speak truth to power: who had contempt for Washington because it was contemptible. A man of the people who was frustrated with being blocked and slandered at every turn, and the ineffective methods of his fellows at dealing with crisis, and subverted a corrupt and contemptible democracy on behalf of the ordinary people. He destroyed a system that needed destroying, and sought power in order to do the good that he knew other politicians couldn't do. A man with a sense of destiny, who was unfairly slandered and maligned by the vested interests and the wealthy elite that he sought to undermine. He would argue he was only doing openly what everyone else had done covertly for years. A man who said: 'A demagogue is someone who doesn't keep his promises to the people, and I kept every one of mine' - and many went along with him, and refused to believe any of the attempts to smear him, because they knew he was on their side. Both men existed in the manic, whirlwind frame of Huey P Long, who cut such a dramatic figure in Louisiana politics, and later national politics, in the 1920s and 30s. The man and the methods make him an irresistible figure for politicised histories. There are always two Hueys: the straight-talking man of the people who sought power to make things better, and the vicious demagogue who exploited lies and popular support to dominate the state and enrich himself. Now, more than ever - when there seem to be two of every major political figure floating around, depending on your stripes - we should examine such a life. It helps that it's also a quite incredible story, and Huey himself is as quotable a politician as has ever lived.
39 minutes | 2 years ago
Stalin Episode XIII: The Fall of the Red Tsar
In 1953, in a final convulsion of paranoid violence, Stalin suffered a massive stroke. As his underlings jockeyed and vied for position, alternating between their lust for power and fear that the man who had dominated their lives for decades might recover, he passed from the world's stage. In this episode, we will discuss that passing, talk briefly about what happened afterwards, and attempt to get some kind of a handle on the legacy of Stalin - the leader who brutally butchered his own people and saved Europe from the Nazis, and who presided over a state founded in idealism and run on blood, violence, and terror. Following this, the Autocracy Now podcast will take a short break, before returning with our (shorter) series on Huey P Long, the Louisiana politician who changed the course of history. In the meantime, you can find us on Twitter @autocracynow and keep up to date with everything I'm up to via www.physicspodcast.com, the sister podcast about physics. Be kind to each other.
118 minutes | 2 years ago
Simon Ings on Stalin and the Scientists
As we bring our series on Stalin to its conclusion, I'm posting the full and unedited interview with Simon Ings, author of Stalin and the Scientists, about Stalin's impact on the sciences. This originally appeared on the www.physicspodcast.com Physical Attraction feed - so on the off-chance that there's someone out there who listens to Autocracy Now but doesn't yet listen to my main show, go and check it out!
41 minutes | 2 years ago
Stalin, Episode XII: The Red Tiberius and the Game of Thrones
Towards the end of Stalin's life, he became ever more paranoid, embittered, isolated, and vengeful. As his various ministers and members of the Politburo jockeyed for power and position around him, using his fits of paranoia to exact revenge on one another, the only thing that united them all was fear: fear that they would not outlive the dying old man, and instead, die at his hand. Autocracy Now can be found at www.autocracynow.libsyn.com and our sister podcast can be found at www.physicspodcast.com, along with various ways to contact and support the show. One more episode on Stalin to go to follow this.
43 minutes | 2 years ago
Stalin, Episode XI: The Big Three, Beria, and the Bomb
As World War Two wound down to a close, Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill held several meetings to carve up the world. After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Stalin realised that nuclear weapons would be the main factor in the post-war balance of power - and ordered Beria, his sadistic head of the NKVD, to obtain one by any means necessary.
35 minutes | 2 years ago
Stalin X: Stalin's City
The Second World War was an incredibly complex conflict, fought on multiple fronts between various aggressors. It's difficult to pinpoint an individual moment and describe it as the conclusive "turning point". But more historians will point to the Battle of Stalingrad than any other single event as the moment when the probabilities shifted, and the outcome of the war moved towards a Nazi defeat. In this episode, we'll describe Stalin's role in the war - including the brutality with which he treated his own soldiers. Some slight concessions may have been made to fighting for patriotism rather than Communism in the "Great Patriotic War" - but the Communists would deem who was sufficiently patriotic. You can follow us on Twitter @autocracynow, our sister show @physicspod, and you can download all the archival episodes of both on www.autocracynow.libsyn.com or www.physicspodcast.com . On the latter site, you'll find the option to donate to the show if you want to help us out, or contact with any questions, comments, or concerns.
37 minutes | 2 years ago
Stalin, Episode IX: Barbarossa
The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact could only keep the peace for so long. Both the Nazi and the Soviet dictators knew that a bloody confrontation between them would likely determine the future fate of Europe. But when the moment came, on 22nd June 1941, and the Nazis invaded with the largest force ever mobilised in the history of warfare... Stalin wasn't ready. You can follow the show on www.autocracynow.libsyn.com and subscribe to us on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts. The back episodes are all available for free, and will be for as long as possible. You can contact us via our sister podcast, www.physicspodcast.com, where you'll find a contact form and donate button if you want to help keep the show afloat.
33 minutes | 2 years ago
Stalin, Episode VIII: Before the Storm
Stalin's Great Terror took place in the 1930s, with its most bloodthirsty peak in 1937. Two years later, Nazi Germany would invade Poland and the Second World War would begin. But before the storm of war, there was a most remarkable peace treaty. You can listen to our sister podcast, Physical Attraction, at www.physicspodcast.com where you'll also be able to donate to the show; you can listen to all back episodes at www.autocracynow.libsyn.com or where-ever you listen to podcasts.
35 minutes | 2 years ago
Stalin, Episode VII: The Common Enemy of Humanity
Stalin's "Great Terror" was not limited to eliminating his political rivals. Soon enough, detentions and executions were occurring according by quota. In 1937, the killing and persecution rose to its virtually indiscriminate peak. www.autocracynow.libsyn.com www.physicspodcast.com @autocracynow @physicspod
34 minutes | 3 years ago
Stalin Episode VI: Devouring the Children
After the death of Kirov, Stalin would turn his wrath towards the Old Bolsheviks that remained as key revolutionary figures in his own right. His fellow Communists could remember a time when Stalin was not Lenin's divinely appointed successor; and for that, they had to be destroyed. Visit the website at www.autocracynow.libysn.com, or our sister podcast at www.physicspodcast.com, where you can contact me with any concerns, questions, comments and so on.
32 minutes | 3 years ago
Stalin Episode V: Nadya and Kirov
In the early 1930s, two mysterious (at the time) deaths occurred to people who were close to Stalin as he consolidated power as the supreme leader of the USSR. Follow the show @autocracynow and don't forget to subscribe and listen to the physics show at www.physicspodcast.com, where you'll also find a contact form and the opportunity to donate if you like what we're doing.
33 minutes | 3 years ago
Stalin Episode IV: Revolution in the Economy
After consolidating power over his Bolshevik rivals, Stalin dispensed with Lenin's pseudo-capitalist NEP and replaced it with the top-down bureaucratic nightmare that was the Five-Year Plans. Follow us on Twitter @autocracynow, our sister podcast @physicspod, and subscribe to the show where-ever you listen to podcasts. Visit our online home at www.autocracynow.libsyn.com. If you want to support independent podcasters and enjoyed this show, consider donating to help keep us going, or buying a bonus episode of the physics show - details on the website at www.physicspodcast.com
34 minutes | 3 years ago
Stalin Episode III: Taking Control
As Lenin's health declined, Stalin sought to outmanouver his rivals in the Bolshevik party and consolidate single-handed, dictatorial control over Russia. Follow us on Twitter @autocracynow, our sister podcast @physicspod, and subscribe to the show where-ever you listen to podcasts. Visit our online home at www.autocracynow.libsyn.com. If you want to support independent podcasters and enjoyed this show, consider donating to help keep us going, or buying a bonus episode of the physics show - details on the website at www.physicspodcast.com
31 minutes | 3 years ago
Stalin, Episode II: Revolution and Civil War
In this episode, we'll track Stalin's life and career through one of the most tumultuous times in Russian history: the Revolutions of 1917 and the Civil War that would follow. In these early days, we see Stalin's autocratic and ruthless nature beginning to be exposed; and we also try to answer the question: how did a fringe group of fanatics and radicals seize control of one of the most powerful nations of Europe?
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