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Know Your Enemy
104 minutes | 5 days ago
Did It Happen Here?
Matt and Sam take up the question that's dominating The Discourse: Is Donald Trump—and the movement he leads—fascist? To provide an answer, they turn to the rich historiography of fascism and some key essays on the subject published since Trump's election. Along the way, they break down different approaches and sets of criteria for evaluating fascism, consider the similarities—and differences—between the 1920s and '30s and today, and ponder whether or not the "fascist question" is the right one to be asking. Listen to the end to find out where Matt and Sam finally land!Further Reading: Robert O. Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism (Vintage, 2004)Friedrich Reck, Diary of a Man in Despair (New York Review of Books, 2013; originally published in 1947)Federico Finchelstein, From Fascism to Populism in History (University of California Press, 2017)Kathleen Belew, Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America Harvard University Press, 2019 Jason Stanley, How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them (Penguin, 2018)Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism (1950)George Jackson, Soledad Brother, (1970)Robert O. Paxton, "I've Hesitated to Call Donald Trump a Fascist. Until Now," Newsweek, Jan 11, 2021Richard Evans, "Why Trump Isn't Fascist," New Statesman, Jan 13, 2021Dorothy Fortenberry, "Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore" Commonweal, Nov 5, 2020Dylan Riley, "What is Trump?" New Left Review, Dec 1, 2018Gabriel Winant, "We Live in a Society," n + 1, Dec 12, 2020Alberto Toscano, "The Long Shadow of Racial Fascism," Boston Review, Oct 28, 2020Angela Davis, "Political Prisoners, Prisons and Black Liberation," Verso, Feb 21, 2018Jairus Banaji, "The Political Culture of Fascism," Historical Materialism, Feb 19, 2017.Richard Seymour, "Inchoate Fascism," Patreon, Nov 13, 2020. Samuel Moyn & David Priestland, "Trump Isn’t a Threat to Our Democracy. Hysteria Is," New York Times, Aug 11, 2017Corey Robin and David Klion, "Almost the Complete Opposite of Fascism," Jewish Currents, Dec 4, 2020. Peter Steinfels "The Semi-Fascist Candidate," Commonweal, May 16, 2016....and don't forget to subscribe at Patreon for access to all of our bonus episodes!
5 minutes | 15 days ago
TEASER: Storming the Capitol
Subscribe at https://www.patreon.com/knowyourenemy to hear this and all our bonus content. Matt and Sam analyze the Trumpist "siege" on the Capitol on our latest bonus episode.
84 minutes | 18 days ago
Masks Off: The Right in 2020
Matt and Sam—in a rare, just-the-two-of-them episode—look back at what a bad year revealed about a number of bad people, especially the coterie of rightwing intellectuals and politicians who have downplayed the pandemic, exacerbated anxieties about the uprising against police violence, and played along with Donald Trump's conspiracy-fueled attempts to steal the presidential election. What holds these efforts together, and what do they say about the state of conservatism? It turns out that 2020 confirmed the anti-democratic, revanchist character of the Right in the United States.Sources Cited:Matthew Sitman, "Why the Pandemic is Driving Conservative Intellectuals Mad," New Republic, May 21, 2020Matthew Sitman, "Time in the Eternal City," Commonweal, December 24, 2020Sam Adler-Bell, "Conservative Incoherence," Dissent, Summer 2020Bret Stephens, "America Shouldn't Have to Play by New York Rules," New York Times, April 24, 2020"Trump’s Focus as the Pandemic Raged: What Would It Mean for Him?" New York Times, December 31, 2020"Pence Welcomes Futile Bid by G.O.P. Lawmakers to Overturn Election," New York Times, January 2, 2021...and don't forget to sign-up on Patreon for all of our bonus episodes!
3 minutes | a month ago
TEASER: Trump the Dove? (w/ Stephen Wertheim)
Subscribe at https://www.patreon.com/knowyourenemy to hear this and all our bonus content.An excerpt from our latest bonus episode on Trump's 'non-interventionist militarism' and the future of American foreign policy — with Stephen Wertheim of the Quincy Institute.
86 minutes | a month ago
Why the Supreme Court Sucks (w/ the 5-4 podcast)
In this much anticipated crossover event, Matt and Sam take aim at the conservative legal movement with Rhiannon, Michael, and Peter—the brilliant and funny team behind the 5-4 podcast, a Know Your Enemy favorite. For those who are not yet fans of the show, it's "a podcast about how much the Supreme Court sucks" that offers "a progressive and occasionally profane take on the ideological battles at the heart of the Court’s most important landmark cases, and an irreverent tour of all the ways in which the law is shaped by politics." Topics discussed in this conversation include the origins of originalism, the founding of the Federalist Society, Robert Bork's disastrous confirmation hearings, the way the media covers the Supreme Court, and how the Left can fight back. Know Your Enemy listeners can check out 5-4 here. Follow @fivefourpod on Twitter for their latest episodes, along with hosts @AywaRhiannon, @_FleerUltra, and @The_Law_Boy. Special thanks to podcast guru Leon Neyfakh (@leoncrawl) for helping make this happen.Listeners, especially new ones, might want to revisit Know Your Enemy episode eight, "Koch'd Out," for a deep dive into some of the foundations and institutions mentioned in this conversation....and don't forget to support KYE on Patreon to listen to all of our bonus episodes!
5 minutes | 2 months ago
TEASER: A Working Class GOP? (w/ Aaron Sibarium)
Subscribe at https://www.patreon.com/knowyourenemy to hear this and all our bonus content.An excerpt from our latest bonus episode on "the limits of realignment" with Aaron Sibarium of The Washington Free Beacon.
84 minutes | 2 months ago
Talking Trump (w/ David Roth)
Who is Donald Trump? The great David Roth, co-owner of Defector Media and a columnist at the New Republic, joins Matt and Sam to answer that harrowing question. From Trump's odd lies about his baseball talents to creepy White House Christmas decorations, this conversation was the perfect opportunity to unpack the neuroses, self-protective measures, cruelty, humor, and sheer weirdness of a terrible president on his way out of office. Also: Sam finally gets to do his Melania "impression"!Sources Cited:Leander Schaerlaeckens, "Was Donald Trump Good at Baseball?" Slate, May 5, 2020David Roth, "I Made Up a Fake Donald Trump Quote, and He Retweeted It," SBNation, June 10, 2014 David Roth, "A Unified Theory of Trump's Creepy Aesthetic," New Republic, December 19, 2019David Roth, "The Littlest Prince," New Republic, November 17, 2020For more of David's writing on Trump, check out his author archives at the New Republic...and don't forget to support Know Your Enemy on Patreon to listen to our extensive catalogue of bonus episodes!
2 minutes | 2 months ago
TEASER - What Happened? (w/ Eric Levitz and Dan Sherrell)
Subscribe at https://www.patreon.com/knowyourenemy to hear this and all our bonus content!An excerpt from our election recap bonus episode with New York magazine's Eric Levitz and Daniel Sherrell, director of the the #VoteTrumpOut campaign.
87 minutes | 3 months ago
Suburban Woman (w/ Dorothy Fortenberry)
Matt and Sam are joined by Dorothy Fortenberry for a wide-ranging conversation about women and politics. Topics include growing up in Washington, D.C; her experiences writing women characters in Hollywood; why the left should take over existing institutions; the complicated Catholic motherhood of Amy Coney Barrett; and much, much more. For those not familiar with her work, Fortenberry is a writer and producer on Hulu’s award-winning adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, and her plays include Species Native, Partners, Mommune, and Good Egg. She's a regular contributor to Commonweal, among other publications, though for her latest political takes you should follow her on Twitter (@Dorothy410berry).READ: Dorothy Fortenberry, "One of Those Serious Women: Andrea Dworkin's Radical Feminism," Commonweal , April 29, 2019Dorothy Fortenberry, "A Plea to My Fellow Warren Moms," Commonweal, March 6, 2020Dorothy Fortenberry, "Why I Stay," Commonweal, November 18, 2018LISTEN:Highwomen, "Highwomen"Highwomen, "Redesigning Women"Dar Williams, "The Pointless, Yet Poignant, Crisis of a Co-Ed" ...and don't forget to support Know Your Enemy on Patreon to hear all Matt and Sam's bonus episodes.
78 minutes | 3 months ago
On the Road to Reaganland (w/ Rick Perlstein and Leon Neyfakh)
Matt and Sam talk to two esteemed guests, Rick Perlstein and Leon Neyfakh, about why U.S. politics took a right turn in the 1970s. “We organize discontent,” as one New Right activist put it—and they did. Fierce battles over desegregation, gay rights, abortion, and the meaning of America itself all paved the way for Ronald Reagan's smashing victory in 1980.Over four books and two decades, historian Rick Perlstein has chronicled the rise of movement conservatism in America, starting with its renegade beginnings in the 1950s and '60s. Now, with Reaganland (2020), his extraordinary tetralogy is complete—taking readers on a journey through Jimmy Carter's doomed administration, the culture wars of the 1970s, and Ronald Reagan's campaign for the presidency. Perlstein's sweeping narrative is paired in this episode with the brilliant work of journalist Leon Neyfakh, who just finished the third season of his podcast Fiasco. It's a deep-dive into the battle over integration in Boston public schools during the 1970s (colloquially but inaccurately known as the Boston "busing crisis")—a vivid and compulsively listenable portrait of a pivotal episode in recent American history.In this conversation, Rick and Leon disinter forgotten figures from a decade crucial to the rise of conservatism—the 1970s—while discussing how they tell stories we know the ending to, the problem of contingency and political agency, and issues such as American innocence, white backlash, right-wing rhetoric, and more. Don't miss this one!Further Reading: Rick Perlstein, "I Thought I Understood the American Right. Trump Proved Me Wrong," NYTimes, April 11, 2017Richard Sennett & Jonathan Cobb, The Hidden Injuries of Class, (1972)Jesse Curtis, "'Will the Jungle Take Over?' National Review and the Defense of Western Civilization in the Era of Civil Rights and African Decolonization," Journal of American Studies, November 2019Jefferson Cowie, "Is Freedom White?" Boston Review, Sept 23, 2020 Tom Wicker, One of Us: Richard Nixon and the American Dream (1995) ... and don't forget to support Know Your Enemy on Patreon to hear all of Matt and Sam's bonus episodes!
67 minutes | 3 months ago
How to Be Depressed
We released this bonus episode on depression and politics in July, and it quickly became a favorite of our Patreon subscribers. A number of them asked us to make it available in front of the paywall so they could share it with friends and family who have experienced depression and other mental-health issues—so that's what we decided to do. Topics discussed include: Matt's review of George Scialabba's memoir about depression; how left and right understand moral desert; and the struggle to build a society based on human frailty, our vulnerability to bad luck and bad breaks, and how much we need each other. Further Reading:Matthew Sitman, "Muddling Through: A Depression Memoir Like No Other," Commonweal, July 14, 2020.Johanna Hedva, "Sick Woman Theory," Mask Magazine, January 2016.Gabriel Winant, "Coronavirus and Chronopolitics," n + 1, Spring 2020And Listening:Steve Earle, "My Old Friend the Blues" (1986)
66 minutes | 4 months ago
Not Even Past (w/ Jamelle Bouie)
From the never-ending culture war over the New York Times's 1619 Project to arguments about the Black Lives Matter protests to President Trump's promise to Make American Great Again, today's political conflicts reflect, to an extraordinary degree, disagreements over the meaning of American history. Jamelle Bouie's New York Times column is one of the places where these lively debates are most effectively narrated and clarified. Bouie joins Matt and Sam to help make sense of how history, historiography, and politics relate to each other—or at least, how they should. Along the way, the conversation takes up slavery and capitalism, Afro-pessimism and Marxism, and (a frequent preoccupation of the podcast) what left-wing patriotism might look like. Further Reading:Jamelle Bouie, "Beyond White Fragility," NY Times, June 26, 2020.Jamelle Bouie, "Why Juneteenth Matters," NY Times, June 18, 2020.Sam Adler-Bell, "The Remnant and the Restless Crowd," Commonweal, Aug 1, 2018.Vinson Cunningham, "The Argument of Afropessimism," New Yorker, July 20, 2020Nikole Hannah-Jones, “Our Democracy’s Founding Ideals Were False When They Were Written. Black Americans Have Fought to Make Them True.” New York Times, Aug 14, 2019. Sean Wilentz, "A Matter of Facts," The Atlantic, Jan 22, 2020.John Clegg, "How Slavery Shaped American Capitalism," Jacobin, Aug 28, 2019.Tom Mackaman, "An interview with historian James Oakes on the New York Times’ 1619 Project," World Socialist Website, Nov 18, 2019PLUS: Check out Jamelle's newsletter, which recently featured a huge list of books on the American Revolution and the early republic, and don't forget to support Know Your Enemy on Patreon for bonus episodes!
87 minutes | 5 months ago
Know Your Frenemies (w/ Samuel Moyn)
Matt and Sam welcome Yale historian Samuel Moyn to the show for a deep-dive into the Never Trump movement. Who are the Never Trumpers? How seriously should we take the heroic story they tell about themselves? Did they sink Bernie's campaign for the Democratic nomination? Have they reckoned with their role in paving the way for Trump? In trying to answer these questions the conversation moves from the baleful influence of Never Trumpers to a discussion of historical debates about over the rise of fascism, the perils of "tyrannophobia," and the possibilities for breaking through the hegemony of neoliberals and neoconservatives in our political life.Further Reading:Samuel Moyn, "The Never Trumpers Have Already Won" (New Republic)Robert P. Saldin and Steven M. Teles, "Don't Blame Never Trumpers for the Left's Defeat" (New Republic)Samuel Moyn and David Priestland, "Trump Isn't a Threat to Our Democracy. Hysteria Is" (New York Times)Samuel Moyn, "Interview: We Can't Settle for Human Rights" (Jacobin)Sam Adler-Bell, "The Remnant and the Restless Crowd" (Commonweal)Matthew Sitman, "Riding the Trump Tiger" (Commonweal)Pankaj Mishra, "The Mask It Wears" (London Review of Books)John Ganz, "Finding Neverland: The American Right's Doomed Quest to Rid Itself of Trumpism" (New Republic)Marshall Steinbaum, "Guardians of Property" (Jacobin)Books Cited:Robert P. Saldin and Steven M. Teles, Never Trump: The Revolt of the Conservative Elite (Oxford University Press)Samuel Moyn, Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World (Harvard University Press)James Chappel, Catholic Modern : The Challenge of Totalitarianism and the Remaking of the Church (Harvard University Press)...and don't forget to support Know Your Enemy on Patreon for bonus episodes!
91 minutes | 6 months ago
Pandemic Politics (w/ Marshall Steinbaum & Sarah Jones)
Matt and Sam are joined by two special guests, Sarah Jones and Marshall Steinbaum, who return to the show to take stock of where we're at: our failed response to the pandemic, the connections between the pandemic and the protests, and how all this might play out in November. The four of us range widely—but be warned, this is not the most inspiring conversation. Are there any reasons to be hopeful? Listen and find out.Sources Cited and Further Reading:Eric Levitz, "Coronavirus is Killing Our Economy because It Was Already Sick" (New York Magazine)Sam Adler-Bell, "Conservative Incoherence" (Dissent)Sarah Jones, "Eugenics Isn't Going to Get Us Out of This Mess" (New York Magazine)Sarah Jones, "The Coronavirus Class War" (New York Magazine)Matthew Sitman, "Why the Pandemic is Driving Conservative Intellectuals Mad" (The New Republic)Know Your Enemy bonus episode: What Are Intellectuals Good For? (with further thoughts on the protests that followed George Floyd's murder)
93 minutes | 7 months ago
Strange Gods and Strong Gods (w/ Tara Isabella Burton)
There's been no shortage of commentary on the rise of the "nones," those Americans who claim no religious affiliation, a trend especially notable among younger people. But that doesn't mean we live in a secular age. Matt and Sam talk to Tara Isabella Burton about her new book, Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World, and the way our search for meaning and the need for ritual has met our neoliberal economic order. What does this spiritual churn mean for our politics? Why do reactionary ideas find a ready audience among those disillusioned with modern life? We take up these questions and more in a wide-ranging conversation about the way we live now.Sources and Recommended Reading:Tara Isabella Burton, Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless WorldTara Isabella Burton, "Christianity Gets Weird" (New York Times)Daniel José Camacho, "The Racial Aesthetic of Burton's 'Weird Christians'" (Sojourners)Michael Anton, "Are the Kid Al(t)right?" (Claremont Review of Books)
92 minutes | 8 months ago
KYE Extra: The Sad Truth (w/ Shuja Haider)
Matt and Sam are joined by writer and editor Shuja Haider to discuss a topic near and dear to all of our hearts: country music. We talk about country's conservative reputation, the problems with (and virtues of) Ken Burns's recent documentary about country music, and the humane politics that arise from acknowledging—as the best country songs do—our collective frailty. Plus, a bunch of great music recommendations for your quarantine listening.A playlist featuring every song we mention in the episode, plus a few more bangers can be accessed here.Further Reading:Matthew Sitman, "E Pluribus Country," Dissent, Winter 2020.Shuja Haider, "The Empty Jukebox: Johnny Paycheck and the Return of the Repressed in Country Music," Viewpoint, March 10, 2015Shuja Haider, "A World That Draws a Line: Interracial Love Songs in American Country Music," Viewpoint, March 1, 2017Shuja Haider, "Canon Fodder," Popula, Sept 13, 2018Cole Stangler, "Emotional Archaeology: An Interview With Ken Burns," Commonweal, Sept 13, 2019Shuja Haider, "The Invention of Twang," The Believer, Aug 1, 2019Shuja Haider, "Somebody Had to Set a Bad Example," Popula, Nov 14, 2018Nick Murray, "The Other Country," LA Review of Books, Nov 1, 2018Jesse Montgomery, "African Chant," Popula, Sept 18, 2018
85 minutes | 9 months ago
Longtime Listener, First Time Caller (the Mailbag Episode)
Here it is—the mailbag episode. Recorded on 4/20 and celebrating a full year of Know Your Enemy, Matt and Sam answer listener questions about: conservatives hiding in plain sight, our favorite conservative novelists, a George W. Bush counterfactual, the right’s response to COVID-19, and—against our better judgment—some Bernie Sanders campaign postmortem.We received so many amazing questions for this and recorded tons of material. So much, in fact, that we decided to release another 25 minutes of it as bonus material on Patreon. If you get to the end of this episode and find yourself hankering for more, sign up on Patreon and you can listen to some extra discussion of Bob Dylan and political realignment + our entire back catalog of bonus episodes.Thanks for your support through all this. Stay safe and (reasonably) sane. Further Reading:Matthew Sitman, "Trump's Intellectuals and the Great Moving Right Show," The Bias, April 3, 2020.Matthew Sitman, "A Time For Politics," Commonweal, April 23, 2020.Matthew Sitman, "Saving Calvin from Clichés: An Interview with Marilynne Robinson," Commonweal, October 5, 2017Sam Adler-Bell, "Coronavirus Has Given the Left a Historic Opportunity," The Intercept, April 14, 2020.Sam Adler-Bell, "Beautiful Losers," Commonweal, March 11, 2020.John Thomason, "Hope Deferred (on Obama and Marilynne Robinson)," The Point, May 8, 2017.
109 minutes | 9 months ago
The Windbag City (w/ Marshall Steinbaum)
Matt and Sam are finally joined by the show's longtime bête noire, Marshall Steinbaum, for a deep dive into the Chicago school of economics and the wreckage it's supported—from welcoming the birth defects caused by deregulating the pharmaceutical industry to justifying massive resistance to desegregation to being put in the service of Coronavirus truther-ism. Where did this iteration of libertarianism come from, intellectually and institutionally? Who are the key figures in the Chicago school? How have their ideas infected the way we all think about economics and politics? It's a sordid, depressing tale of rightwing money, intellectual dishonesty, and a gleeful desire to discipline the forces of democracy.Sources and further reading:Marshall Steinbaum, The Book That Explains Charlottesville, Boston Review, August 14, 2017Marshall Steinbaum, Economics after Neoliberalism, Boston Review, February 28, 2019Isaac Chotiner, The Contrarian Coronavirus Theory that Informed the Trump Administration, New Yorker, March 30, 2020Nancy MacLean, Democracy in Chains (Penguin-Random House, June 2017)Edward Nik-Khah, Neoliberal Pharmaceutical Science and the Chicago School of Economics (Social Studies of Science 2014, Vol. 44(4) 489–517)
94 minutes | 10 months ago
KYE Extra: "Last Ounce of Courage"
Our rollicking conversation with Know Your Enemy Film Correspondent Jesse Brenneman is now out from behind the paywall! Be prepared: we dive into Darrel Campbell's 2012 war-on-Christmas fever dream Last Ounce of Courage, a deranged film that nevertheless offers real insight into the conservative mind. (If you really love freedom, you can watch the film here, before you listen. But it is not at all necessary.) Jesse is a seasoned radio producer and dear friend—and funny. He has his own new podcast you should check out: Tech Talk with Tim and Ted.WATCH: Last Ounce of Courage (YouTube)READ: the Ronald Reagan speeches mentioned in the episode: "A Time for Choosing" (October, 27, 1964 ) and "Encroaching Control" (March 30, 1961) *** As mentioned in the intro, we're doing a mailbag episode next week. Please submit questions you'd like us to answer on air by email knowyourenemypodcast[AT]gmail.com OR by tweet @Knowyrenemypod ***
119 minutes | 10 months ago
The Year the Clock Broke (w/ John Ganz)
Matt and Sam talk to John Ganz about paleoconservatism, the Island of the Misfit Toys of the American right. Along the way we're introduced to David Duke, Pat Buchanan, Sam Francis, and others, and discuss their enduring influence on the Republican Party and conservative politics—both in 1992, when Buchanan made a failed run for president, and today, when the hopes of their movement seems to have been fulfilled in Donald Trump.Sources and Recommended Reading:John Ganz, The Year the Clock Broke (The Baffler)John Ganz, Finding Neverland (The New Republic)Rick Perlstein, I Thought I Understood the American Right. Trump Proved Me Wrong (New York Times)Murray Rothbard, Right-Wing Populism: A Strategy for the Paleo MovementMichael Brendan Dougherty, The Castaway (America's Future Foundation)Shuja Haider, How To Be a Democrat, According to Republicans (The Outline)
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