Created with Sketch.
Social Science Fiction
43 minutes | Apr 16, 2021
The Politics of Star Wars with Stephen Kent
A big thanks to Stephen Kent for joining me this week. We talk about growing up with Star Wars and growing into Star Wars fans. Stephen shares some ideas from his upcoming book. We close with a discussion of the Jedi and what Star Wars has to say about democracy and authoritarianism. Check out:Beltway Banthas (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/beltway-banthas-star-wars-politics-more/id1110510480)Right Now with Stephen Kent (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCll6bwOabDOqN0_alxCr9Sg)And keep an eye out for How the Force Can Fix the World. Coming out this December, available for preorder this summer. Intro and outro music: "Swim below as Leviathans" by Fireproof_Babies (featuring Ben Shewmaker) is licensed under CC BY.
29 minutes | Jan 14, 2021
Analyzing the Empire: Authoritarianism in Star Wars
Welcome to 2021! We start off the new year with Star Wars. Discussing authoritarianism, totalitarianism, and the politics and government of the Empire. Notes:3:01 - Hence the term "totalitarianism." An attempt at total control of all aspects of state and society. 3:12 - This is not to say that authoritarian governments don't have secret police or spy on their people. There is, of course, lots of overlap between these regimes. The point is that totalitarian regimes use these tools to control society and mobilize the people in a way that authoritarian regimes don't. 6:50 - Admiral Motti would be the unlucky individual who mocks the force and gets choked for it in Episode IV. 8:45 - You could justify this by pointing out that Luke lives on the fringes of the Empire on a backwater planet. The thing is, we are never shown anything else. If the Empire actually does have extensive propaganda glorifying Palpatine, we really should see it somewhere in the trilogy. 10:45 - Discussing the "Tarkin Doctrine." 13:06 - Discussing Syria and "Hama Rules." 15:38 - Ba'athism is an interesting political ideology that developed in the Arab world in the mid-20th Century. It never really found any success as a movement but it was co-opted by both the Assads and Saddam Hussein as a means to legitimize their rule. 17:31 - Along with thugs outside the government like the SA (Brownshirts) who did the dirty work. 20:09 - Looked him up. His name is Mas Amedda. He's got a backstory but it doesn't seem to answer the question I have about Palpatine's base of support. Intro and outro music: "Swim below as Leviathans" by Fireproof_Babies (featuring Ben Shewmaker) is licensed under CC BY.
23 minutes | Dec 24, 2020
More Thoughts on Cyberpunk
I've still barely scratched the surface of the game but I have a few more thoughts. I've also read up on the criticism of CDPR by fans and observers and I have more to say about the mess that is the game's release. The short version: a lot of the criticism is fair, some isn't, most probably could have been avoided if CDPR had handled its messaging better. Happy Holidays! Intro and outro music: "Swim below as Leviathans" by Fireproof_Babies (featuring Ben Shewmaker) is licensed under CC BY.
34 minutes | Dec 18, 2020
Cyberpunk 2077: Is This Our Political Future?
Are we heading towards a Cyberpunk future? A discussion of how Cyberpunk (the game and the genre) depict the state and other political entities. Other topics include balancing against threats in international relations and the concept of extended deterrence. I close with my thoughts on the game so far. Notes: 0:42 - Like many gamers, I was a big fan the Witcher 3. I was lukewarm on the preceding titles. 0:59 - Reviews seem very mixed at the moment and vary dramatically across platforms due, in large part, to the bugs and graphics issues that are more common on consoles. 2:51 - I use the term "heroes" loosely here. I think the anti-hero or non-hero are more common in the genre. 6:41 - Balancing is a big topic in International Relations with the political scientist Stephen M. Walt being one of the bigger names in the field. 9:19 - We call troops like these a "tripwire force." They are not present to repel an attack but to act as a tripwire that will trigger a larger response. 16:07 - Writer, journalist, and political commentator Thomas Friedman has written extensively about globalization and its effects on the world. 21:40 - Side Rant. 24:11 - The Delemain car that takes you to the fancy hotel where you're supposed to steal the chip. 25:54 - That would be the club "Afterlife." Not the actual afterlife that he unfortunately shuffles off to. Intro and outro music: "Swim below as Leviathans" by Fireproof_Babies (featuring Ben Shewmaker) is licensed under CC BY.
38 minutes | Dec 10, 2020
Avatar: The Last Airbender, V for Vendetta, The Dark Knight and More: The Fiction of the Bush-era
So much fiction of the 2000s seemed eager to comment on the politics of the time. From the War on Terror, to the Patriot Act, we discuss how the politics of the Bush-era were examined through sci-fi and fantasy. Notes: 13:12 - Moore apparently disliked this adaptation, being annoyed that his anarchist messages were dropped and the villain took on a more neoconservative flavor. 13:28 - Margaret Thatcher was the British Prime Minister whose leadership seemed to influence Moore's writing of V for Vendetta. Tony Blair was the Prime Minister for much of the Bush years and supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq. 21:40 - Terrorism is generally defined as politically motivated violence which specifically targets non-combatants. Under this definition, the Joker would not qualify as he does not seem to be motivated by a political agenda. 24:04 - "Enhanced interrogation" was a popular euphemism for torture. 29:40 - There is ongoing debate among historians about slavery in Ancient Greece. It is possible other Greek city-states enslaved Greeks but there is at least some evidence that it was frowned upon and that the Spartans were more comfortable with the idea. 31:31 - Side Rant Intro and outro music: "Swim below as Leviathans" by Fireproof_Babies (featuring Ben Shewmaker) is licensed under CC BY.
34 minutes | Dec 4, 2020
Game of Thrones and Political Legitimacy
A discussion of political legitimacy in A Song of Ice and Fire and the Game of Thrones tv series. How do different regimes legitimize their rule? Why is it dangerous to share power with a religious establishment? The theories of Max Weber and Mancur Olson are featured.Notes:2:45 - Max Weber is a big name in political science. His Essay, Politics as a Vocation, discusses political legitimacy among other topics. 5:04 - I suppose the Arryns are in the mix there too. They always seem to be overlooked. 6:13 - Varys, Jaime Lannister, and Barristan Selmy all continue in their positions under the new regime. 8:12 - Mancur Olson was also an accomplished economist (that's what his degrees were in). For his views on the origins of government, see Dictatorship, Democracy, and Development. 21:57 - Wakanda forever! 24:54 - No pun intended ("stark difference). 26:16 Side Rant. Intro and outro music: "Swim below as Leviathans" by Fireproof_Babies (featuring Ben Shewmaker) is licensed under CC BY.
51 minutes | Nov 25, 2020
Happy Thanksgiving! A big thanks to all my listeners. This week I share my thoughts on the muddled political message of Buffy's Thanksgiving episode. Also, my brother and I talk X-Files, Mass Effect, and other videogames. Notes: 2:46 - After recording, it occurred to me that King of the Hill also did a Thanksgiving episode that raised these issues and also seems to conclude with an ambiguous message. 11:38 - Do check out the Dork Web (https://thedorkweb.net/). 25:33 - The Simpsons episode referenced here is Bart the Mother. 31:23 - Tower of Hanoi is the name of the puzzle. 32:16 - I highly recommend Ted-Ed and their riddle videos (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsooa4yRKGN_zEE8iknghZA).35:16 - For the record, I was nothing but kind and supportive towards my brother when we were kids. 47:40 - Alpha Protocol remains my favorite game of all time and I don't care how ridiculous that sounds. I remain immensely frustrated that its poor production values and bugs cause it to be overlooked. It is a flawed gem that is well worth checking out.
42 minutes | Nov 18, 2020
Lord of the Rings and World War II (Featuring Adam Robertson)
I'm joined by my brother Adam and we revive a childhood discussion. If the War of the Ring was World War II, who would everyone be? Sidetracks include a discussion of Tolkien's theology and the overlooked virtues of Boromir. Notes:1:28 - Mage Knights (the miniatures game, not the board game) was an interesting game that began the brief "Clix System" craze. I remember it being a lot of fun. A nice combination of the collectible and random element from collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering and the miniature wargame element from stuff like Warhammer. 2:45 - A brief discussion of the classic LoTR cartoons. 3:46 - A great reference from Adam. Timothy Leary was a psychologist and psychedelics advocate. 4:28 - S's and G's was not a term I was familiar with until now. 5:29 - Apologies to Fatty Bolger. 12:59 - I'm likely mispronouncing Eru Ilúvatar. I do think I have the basics of the cosmology down though. 14:23 - C.S. Lewis' The Problem with Pain captures Lewis' and, I suspect Tolkien's, views on this subject. 28:30 - Looked it up. It was Aulë. Intro and outro music: "Swim below as Leviathans" by Fireproof_Babies (featuring Ben Shewmaker) is licensed under CC BY.
43 minutes | Nov 11, 2020
Examining Black Mirror
I spend a whole lot of time griping about Black Mirror but I do really like the show. I close with some of my favorite episodes. Notes:1:53 - Everybody's who's seen this episode immediately knew what I was talking about and their mind just went to a dark place. 2:59 - Spoiler Warning: I will discuss the plots and twists of all the episodes I cover. 3:52 - Fridge logic is one of my favorite terms from TV Tropes (https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FridgeLogic) 4:33 - Fifteen Million Merits 7:00 - The Entire History of You 8:27 - Shut Up and Dance 11:38 - Nosedive 14:36 - Men Against Fire 16:50 - The movie Arrival has this same problem for me. 17:19 - San Junipero 24: 23 - My favorite episodes, starting with White Bear 28:22 - National Anthem 30:41 - Black Museum 32:03 - Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too (Oxford comma is omitted because that's how the title is officially written and yes, it killed me to leave it out). 33:09 - The Waldo Moment. 34: 38 - It was 2013. 36:15 - Side Rant (spoiler for Ender's Game). 40:32 - The oppression of the Uyghurs in China is a horrifying tragedy and should be receiving more media attention. 41:09 - I highly recommend Ordinary Men by Christopher Browning Intro and outro music: "Swim below as Leviathans" by Fireproof_Babies (featuring Ben Shewmaker) is licensed under CC BY.
49 minutes | Nov 4, 2020
The Politics of Mass Effect
I heap praise on one of my favorite video games of all time and discuss the politics of the setting. Topics include theories of international relations and the structure of the United Nations and the UN Security Council. Mild spoilers for the Mass Effect setting but no major plot elements or twists are discussed. Notes:3:18 - Isometric refers to a video game art style that involves creating a 2D map that appears to be 3D. Baldur's Gate, the original Fallout, and Diablo are all examples of the style. 3:45 - Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is another game on my list of all-time favorites. I'll likely discuss it at some point if I can find a good political angle to cover. 5:54 - The final battle on the planet Therum and several side-quests involving lots of husks (an enemy type) are examples of no-win situations for snipers. 8:56 - Discussing the setting of Mass Effect. 18:26 - The politics of the Mass Effect universe. 29:23 - Not to mention the Spectres. A secretive, intelligence organization that answers directly to the council. 32:27 - In international relations terminology, humanity would be considered a revisionist state, seeking to upset the status-quo. 34:02 - Realists call this state of affairs a "security dilemma." 38:13 - The Rachni 39:36 - Side Rant Intro and outro music: "Swim below as Leviathans" by Fireproof_Babies (featuring Ben Shewmaker) is licensed under CC BY.
62 minutes | Oct 27, 2020
The X-Files (Featuring Jon LoChiatto)
I'm joined by Jon LoChiatto and we discuss the X-Files. Conspiracy theories, the current state of American politics, and the spiritual successor to the X-Files, Fringe, are also covered. Notes:3:25 - The season 2 episode "Duane Barry" features the infamous speedo we reference here. 4:10 - In X-Files fandom, "mythology episodes" refer to episodes that build on the larger, series-spanning plot as opposed to the one-off, "monster of the week" episodes."7:29 - Hired goons? (Bonus points you get this Simpsons reference). 22:28 - Apologies to Joshua Jackson of Dawson's Creek and Fringe. He is a fine actor but I can never remember his name. 26:35 - The show we were thinking of was "Warehouse 13." Another show from the 2000s that hit some of the same notes as the X-Files was The 4400. Intro and outro music: "Swim below as Leviathans" by Fireproof_Babies (featuring Ben Shewmaker) is licensed under CC BY.
23 minutes | Oct 20, 2020
Aliens and Alien Invasions
Week three of celebrating Halloween and horror. This time it's aliens and alien invasion. From mindless monsters, to super-viruses, to conquerors, the many varieties of alien fiction. Notes:1:26 - Discussing the sub-genres of alien fiction 1:46 - The alien as a monster 2:07 - Also known as the "space jockey"4:07 - A brief reference of cyberpunk. Something that will surely be discussed in greater detail soon with Cyberpunk 2077 about to be released. 4:57 - Asymmetric warfare refers to wars in which the combatants have vastly different military capabilities. The Vietnam War and the Iraq War would be examples of this. In such a conflict, it is common to see the technologically inferior side adopt guerilla tactics to compensate for its lack of conventional military power. 6:05 - "Game over, man! Game over!"6:22 - A brief glimpse of my D&D experiences 6:55 - The alien as a virus 8:21 - The alien as peaceful explorer 9:02 - The alien as invader 10:34 - Debating likely alien intentions 12:24 - Chaos theory is a field of mathematics that deals with the outcomes of complex systems. It holds that small variations in starting conditions can lead to dramatically different outcomes. The "butterfly effect" is an example of this logic. For a better explanation, just watch Jeff Goldblum explain it in Jurassic Park. 15:28 - For a good example of a game that fits within this genre, see XCOM 2. Which is a phenomenal strategy game, by the way. 16:45 - Side Rant 19:57 - The Covenant in Halo is the only example of an advanced alien civilization that is also religious that I can think of. 21:04 - The Drake Equation, developed by astronomer and physicist Frank Drake, is an equation meant to prompt discussion about the possibility of intelligent alien life. 21:12 - The famous quote that sums up the Fermi Paradox. If there is intelligent life in the galaxy, why haven't we heard from it yet? Intro and outro music: "Swim below as Leviathans" by Fireproof_Babies (featuring Ben Shewmaker) is licensed under CC BY.
34 minutes | Oct 13, 2020
Zombies! The Many Meanings of the Zombie in Fiction
A brief history of the zombie in folklore and popular culture. Followed by a discussion of World War Z (the book, not the mediocre movie). Ending with plan for the zombie apocalypse. Notes:0:53 - Discussing the roots of the zombie in Haitian folklore. 2:13 - Amy Wilentz has written about this topic. https://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/31/opinion/a-zombie-is-a-slave-forever.html 4:00 - Early portrayals of the zombie in Western media. 6:17 - I Am Legend is a novel by Richard Matheson, published in 1954 about a man who survives what could be called a zombie apocalypse but with vampires instead of zombies. It has been adapted into multiple movies including The Omega Man, starring Charlton Heston and I Am Legend, starring Will Smith. 10:25 - Zombies and Thomas Hobbes 15:38 - Discussing World War Z, my favorite zombie book. 21:16 - Issue framing is a concept often studied by scholars interested in the role of the media in politics as well as scholars of social movements. 22:12 - Also known as the October War, the Ramadan War, and 1973 Arab-Israeli War. This war saw Egypt and Syria (with the support of several other states) attacking Israel during Yom Kippur. While Israel ultimately repelled the attack (and even gained some territory), the Arab states performed far better than during the Six-Day War of 1967 and shook Israeli confidence in its military superiority. 26:40 - Multiple characters make reference to the United States fighting "brushfire wars" in the 2000s. No one explicitly says it but it seems fairly clear that this is meant as a reference to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 28:42 - Side Rant! Surviving the zombie apocalypse. 31:18 - Massachusetts is starting point so Florida seems like the best destination. Insert Florida-man joke here about how Florida won't look any different after the apocalypse. Intro and outro music: "Swim below as Leviathans" by Fireproof_Babies (featuring Ben Shewmaker) is licensed under CC BY.
32 minutes | Oct 6, 2020
Buffy Shrugged (or didn't)
A discussion of Ayn Rand's Objectivism and how Buffy the Vampire Slayer opposes it. Also discussed are Faith's nihilist tendencies and Anya's love of capitalism. Notes: 2:05 - "Monster of the week" is a term originally coined by the writers of The Outer Limits. It describes an episode of a TV series that features a standalone story with a villain that is created solely for that episode. 3:32 - The basics of Rand and Objectivism 4:22 - Atlas was a figure in Greek mythology. It is actually a common misconception that he held the world on his back. In fact, he is described as holding up the heavens. Rand would make this common mistake in using the image of Atlas holding up the world as the central metaphor for her novel. 6:04 - Gordon Gekko is the antagonist of the movie Wall Street, played by Michael Douglas. He has come to represent the greed of Wall Street businessmen. 6:38 - Adam Smith was one of the first modern economists. He wrote about how a free market operates, coining the term "the invisible hand."9:21 - Background on Buffy the Vampire Slayer 9:32 - Few actually grow to be young women. The show makes it clear that most slayer don't live past adolescence. 14:33 - Season 2, episode 9 (I Only Have Eyes for You) 19:03 - Faith as a foil of Buffy 21:38 - Faith and Nietzsche 23:31 - This phrase captures Faith's personal philosophy. Season 3, episode 14 (Bad Girls) 23:59 - Anya the capitalist 25:43 - Side Rant Intro and outro music: "Swim below as Leviathans" by Fireproof_Babies (featuring Ben Shewmaker) is licensed under CC BY.
51 minutes | Sep 29, 2020
Celebrating Banned Books Week
A big thanks to Deborah Caldwell-Stone for taking the time to speak with me! In the first half of the episode, I do a list of recommendations of books to read in honor of Banned Books Week. I'm then joined by Director Caldwell-Stone to talk about the work of the Office for Intellectual Freedom and the purpose of Banned Books Week. Notes:1:44 - I realize I'm being a bit optimistic here. Sadly, it seems a lot of people aren't actually fans of freedom of speech, the press, etc. 3:16 - The list. 12:44 - Magical Realism is a genre that originated in South America and involves fantastical elements suddenly entering into otherwise realistic stories.15:40 - The honorable mentions. 16:08 - Talking Banned Books Week and intellectual freedom with Deborah Caldwell-Stone. Intro and outro music: "Swim below as Leviathans" by Fireproof_Babies (featuring Ben Shewmaker) is licensed under CC BY.
46 minutes | Sep 22, 2020
The Politics of Robert Heinlein: For Us the Living
We wrap up the Heinlein series with a look at For Us the Living: A Comedy of Customs. From social credit to privacy rights, what does Heinlein's first novel tell us about how his politics evolved (or didn't) over time? Notes:1:51 - Background of the novel. 4:55 - A brief plot overview. 5:00 - For those not familiar, Rip Van Winkle is the titular character of a short story by Washington Irving about a man who sleeps for twenty years, missing the American Revolution. 8:33 - The politics of For Us the Living. 8:45 - Talking about social credit 9:00 - Cannot stress enough that this has nothing to do with the social credit system the Chinese government is currently experimenting with. 10:40 - Slightly oversimplifying economic views on factors of production. While classical economists focused on land, labor, and capital, subsequent schools of thought have examined other variables. Still, it's probably fair to say those three receive the most attention. 15:24 - John Maynard Keynes has been referenced on this podcast before (the Warhammer: Factions episode). Check it out for a little more background on Keynes and what he'd say about the tooth-based economy of Orks. 17:13 - Explaining Heinlein's Heritage Check System. 21:28 - Discussing Universal Basic Income (UBI). 21:49 - UBI leads to an Andrew Yang reference. 27:09 - For competing libertarian views of UBI see https://www.libertarianism.org/columns/why-did-hayek-support-basic-income and https://reason.com/2018/05/13/universal-basic-income-still-fails/27:48 - F.A. Hayek was an accomplished and highly influential Austrian economist and political theorist. He is, perhaps, best known for his book The Road to Serfdom which warned of the dangers of socialism and is still required reading for free-market advocates. 29:36 - Other political themes in For Us the Living. 36:33 - Wrapping up. The core Heinlein philosophy. 38:16 - Side Rant. Intro and outro music: "Swim below as Leviathans" by Fireproof_Babies (featuring Ben Shewmaker) is licensed under CC BY.
38 minutes | Sep 15, 2020
The Politics of Robert Heinlein: Stranger in a Strange Land
Examining the libertarian and hippie themes of Stranger in a Strange Land. Does this novel represent a shift in philosophy from Starship Troopers or are there consistencies to be found? Notes:0:55 - Grok is a great term and is used a lot of different ways in the book and by nerds who have adopted the term since. It's generally used to mean something is understood or liked but characters in the book make clear that its true definition can only be expressed in the Martian language.1:19 - Discussing the background of Stranger in a Strange Land. 2:29 - I believe this is discussed in the Heinlein episode of the TV series Prophets of Science Fiction. 3:47 - Asimov's views of Heinlein's politics discussed here: https://mises.org/library/was-robert-heinlein-libertarian 7:02 - Plot overview.10:48 - The hippie themes of Stranger in a Strange Land. 11:50 - Heinlein was, himself, a nudist. 11:55 - This is a big "if." I think it's more accurate to say there's no real villain in the story. I would say the antagonist, such as it is, is human nature itself. 15:32 - The libertarian themes of the novel. 16:08 - An author insert character, also known as an author avatar or author surrogate. 16:26 - Mary Sue has become a contested and somewhat controversial term. For more, TV Tropes is a good source of info: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MarySue18:09 - Yes, there are two other people living with Jubal. Larry and Duke and also work for him. 22:21 - Comparing Starship Troopers and Stranger in a Strange Land. 27:12 - The last book will be For Us the Living: A Comedy of Customs. 27:20 - A few other thoughts. 28:29 - I believe this was the article that was making the rounds a social media: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/02/25/what-george-orwell-said-about-hitlers-mein-kampf/32:17 - Side Rant!32:53 - The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is a fascinating idea and still debated among linguists. 34:23 - There is at least one book that predates Stranger in a Strange Land that deals explicitly with the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. The Languages of Pao is now on my reading list. Intro and outro music: "Swim below as Leviathans" by Fireproof_Babies (featuring Ben Shewmaker) is licensed under CC BY.
43 minutes | Sep 8, 2020
Judging the Jedi: Feudalism and State-Building
This past week, in a town in Massachusetts... Social Science FictionIt is a dark time for the podcast. Having launched a few weeks ago, the fledgling show works to amuse its audience with insightful commentary on a range of nerdy topics. However, while covering numerous settings, it has somehow overlooked what is perhaps the most beloved and popular nerdy franchise of all time. Eager to correct this oversight, the brilliant and handsome host of Social Science Fiction discusses the politics of Star Wars. Specifically, how do the Jedi fit into the Star Wars universe? Notes:1:04 - I highly recommend Shamus Young's blog (https://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/). Always interesting commentary. 1:32 - For those not into video games, Jedi: Fallen Order is the newest big Star Wars game. 2:52 - Unless, of course, we're talking about Masters of Teras Kasi. I do judge that game. 3:25 - Talking original trilogy Jedi. 3:52 - Akira Kurosawa was a Japanese director known for his samurai movies. He is remembered as being a remarkable filmmaker and having an enormous impact on the industry. 4:03 - And we can't forget Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces which inspired Lucas' story. 6:35 - Discussing the actual history of knights and samurai. 10:38 - The "Stirrup Thesis" was originally developed by Lynn Townsend White Jr. in Medieval Technology and Social Change. The theory continues to be debated in academia. 13:19 - Talking Jedi post-original trilogy. 16:49 - They don't have civilian positions that is. They do serve in the military. 17:09 - Discussing what the Jedi are, politically speaking. 17:28 - I couldn't find confirmation of this story. If any has the details, I'd love to hear them. 17:41 - There are religions that fit this description to some degree, focusing within their community and not preaching to the outside world. However, these groups rarely go looking for new members born outside the community as Jedi do. 21:51 - And honestly, who isn't familiar with the history of Saudi Arabia? 22:05 - Adherent prefer the term Salafism22:44 - Mecca and Medina are the two holiest sites in Islam. Both are located in present-day Saudi Arabia 25:59 - Daimyos were feudal lords who often employed samurai. 26:15 - A professional standing army is an army composed of full-time, professional soldiers. This is in contrast to mercenary-armies that were hired to fight for a short period of time, part-time militias composed of volunteers who have other jobs, and temporary conscript-armies of peasants forced to fight for when needed. 28:38 - Reevaluating the movies based on the preceding analysis. 31:15 - Knights stick around at least. The samurai would be eliminated by the government in the 1870s. 34:18 - An Ayn Rand reference. Atlas Shrugged is one of her most popular books which promotes her philosophy, known as Objectivism. Suffice to say that the Ferengi would probably be fans. 38:11 - Side Rant! 42:05 - Yes, more hated than any scene involving Jar Jar. Intro and outro music: "Swim below as Leviathans" by Fireproof_Babies (featuring Ben Shewmaker) is licensed under CC BY.
55 minutes | Sep 1, 2020
The Politics of Robert Heinlein: Starship Troopers
Examining the politics of Starship Troopers. Is the Terran Federation's citizen-civilian distinction inspired by the philosophy of Jean Jacques Rousseau? Is it actually a fascist state? What would Heinlein have to say about the foreign policy of Eisenhower and Kennedy? Listen to find out? Notes:3:40 - I suppose the title is a giveaway there. 11:00 - The other alien species being the "Skinnies." At the beginning of the novel they are allied with the bugs but are later said to have switched sides. 11:47 - Getting into the citizen-civilian distinction 12:15 - Using "liberal" here in the political science sense, meaning a democracy that protects civil rights. 18:48 - Plato being a good example. See Plato's Republic for an idea of how he dealt with these issues. 19:15 - Polybius' Histories are a good example of what the American Founders would have been thinking regarding ancient Rome. 24:47 - Getting into Heinlein's views on International Relations 27:11 - Other key aspects of the Realist model are that the world is anarchic (meaning there is no higher authority to maintain order) and that hard power (military might) trumps soft power (diplomacy, culture, moral authority, etc.). 27:53 - This situation has been described as an example of a "prisoner's dilemma." Each party would rather cooperate and avoid conflict but each party knows it is safer to betray the other and, more importantly, each party knows the other party knows this. Thus, cooperation is thwarted by mutual mistrust. 33:32 - Heinlein's Starship Troopers is one of the first (if not the first) work to feature power armor. 34:59 - Civilian meaning non-military. Not civilian in the citizen vs. citizen sense. 38:02 - Part of Kennedy's presidential campaign strategy was actually attacking Eisenhower for being soft on defense and allowing the Soviet Union to surpass us in missile development. It turned out the Soviets weren't close to matching the United States on missiles. 39:00 - The idea that threatening a small response is more credible than threatening a large response is something most children seem to understand intuitively. Kids know their parents aren't really going to turn the car around and go home. They will worry if they're told they're not getting ice cream later. 40:28 - The fascism debate. 41:17 - The case for Starship Troopers as fascist 46:46 - The case against. 51:51 - Wrapping up. What does Starship Troopers tell us about Heinlein? Intro and outro music: "Swim below as Leviathans" by Fireproof_Babies (featuring Ben Shewmaker) is licensed under CC BY.
38 minutes | Aug 25, 2020
Are Vampires Marxists? Examining Vampire: The Masquerade
I analyze the world of Vampire: The Masquerade through a Marxist lens. I begin with a short discussion of the history of the game and the setting. Next I cover the basics of Marxist theory. Then I cram them both together and see what happens. I wrap up with a few thoughts on vampire fiction in general. Notes:1:00 - Just a friendly joke. Absolutely no offense intended towards LARPers. It's actually something I could see myself getting into if I ever had the time. 1:30 - Not sure how common this phrase is. By "flawed gem" I mean a game that I consider great despite obvious problems or bugs. 2:33 - Begin background on the game's setting and story. 15:09 - Basics of Marxism 19:00 - The analysis. What does Marxism say about Vampire: The Masquerade? 21:02 - Gramsci is an interesting figure and well worth reading if you're interested in Marxist theory. I always found him more accessible and an easier read than Marx or Lenin. 22:44 - For more on Lenin's views on colonialism and World War I, a good place to start is his essay Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. 30:04 - Leon Trotsky was a prominent Marxist thinker and leader in the Russian Revolution. After Lenin's death, Trotsky lost a power-struggle with Stalin and went into exile. He was later assassinated in Mexico (ice axe to the head). You may also find it interesting to know that he had an affair with Frida Kahlo. 30:24 - No need to know these terms. Just wanted to throw out some funny-sounding names. Also, I take any opportunity to say "anarcho-syndicalist" outside of quoting Monty Python.
Terms of Service
Do Not Sell My Personal Information
© Stitcher 2022