Parallax Views w/ J.G. Michael
Becoming Human: Matter and Meaning in an Antiblack World w/ Zakkiyah Iman Jackson

Becoming Human: Matter and Meaning in an Antiblack World w/ Zakkiyah Iman Jackson

August 14, 2020

On this edition of Parallax Views, we delve into the waters of critical theory and posthumanism as Dr. Zakkiyah Jackson joins us to discuss her recent book Becoming Human: Meaning and Matter in an Antiblack World. Using key African diasporic literary texts, from Frederick Douglas to Octavia E. Butler, Dr. Jackson attempts to grapple with the the way blackness and animality have often been linked in Western thought and perception as well as the way blackness, as a form, is experimented on through what she refer to as its' "plasticity". From the synopsis of Becoming Human: Matter and Meaning in an Antiblack World:

Rewriting the pernicious, enduring relationship between blackness and animality in the history of Western science and philosophy, Becoming Human: Matter and Meaning in an Antiblack World breaks open the rancorous debate between black critical theory and posthumanism. Through the cultural terrain of literature by Toni Morrison, Nalo Hopkinson, Audre Lorde, and Octavia Butler, the art of Wangechi Mutu and Ezrom Legae, and the oratory of Frederick Douglass, Zakiyyah Iman Jackson both critiques and displaces the racial logic that has dominated scientific thought since the Enlightenment. In so doing, Becoming Human demonstrates that the history of racialized gender and maternity, specifically antiblackness, is indispensable to future thought on matter, materiality, animality, and posthumanism.

Jackson argues that African diasporic cultural production alters the meaning of being human and engages in imaginative practices of world-building against a history of the bestialization and thingification of blackness—the process of imagining the black person as an empty vessel, a non-being, an ontological zero—and the violent imposition of colonial myths of racial hierarchy. She creatively responds to the animalization of blackness by generating alternative frameworks of thought and relationality that not only disrupt the racialization of the human/animal distinction found in Western science and philosophy but also challenge the epistemic and material terms under which the specter of animal life acquires its authority. What emerges is a radically unruly sense of a being, knowing, feeling existence: one that necessarily ruptures the foundations of "the human."

How Trump Stole 2020 w/ Investigative Journalist Greg Palast

How Trump Stole 2020 w/ Investigative Journalist Greg Palast

August 12, 2020

On this edition of Parallax Views, much has been said about election integrity in the last two decades from concerns over the potential for malfeasance with electronic voting machines to the discussions that ensued over allegations of  Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election. Investigative journalist Greg Palast, a long-time and accomplished muckraker, however, has spent the past two decades focusing on an aspect of election integrity far too often overlooked and without any speculation necessary a very real problem: vote purging. In others word, Palast has been on the trail of members of the American electorate who have been vanished, or purge, from the voter rolls. Palast joins us to discuss How Trump Stole 2020, his latest book on the subject, and how we can steal the vote back.

Among the topics we cover:

- What voter purging is and how it differs from other issues related to election integrity such as concerns about the integrity of electronic voting machine or the allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election

- Gov. Brian Kemp and other the billionaires behind the voter purges Greg has investigated. What is the motivation? Greg says, "Follow the money."

- How the issue of voter purges and vanishing votes relates to issues related to racism, class, and the concerns of Black Lives Matter (BLM).

- The voter suppression issue as it relates to students

- The stories of those who have had their votes purged

- The work of investigative journalist and voting rights attorney Bob Fitrakis in Ohio and "Bush's Brain" Karl Rove's curious comments from when Obama won the election in Ohio

- And much, much more. 

Political Suicide: The Fight for the Soul of the Democratic Party w/ Political Cartoonist Ted Rall

Political Suicide: The Fight for the Soul of the Democratic Party w/ Political Cartoonist Ted Rall

August 10, 2020

On this edition of Parallax Views, many left-leaning and progressives Democrats, particularly those who loudly lent their support to insurgent candidate Bernie Sanders in the 2016 and 2020 elections, feel increasingly unwelcome in the Democratic Party of Joe Biden and the Clintons. But is the so-called "Democratic Party Civil War" a relatively new phenomena? Political cartoonist Ted Rall argues that the struggle between the Party's moderate (or, in the eyes of leftist, right-of-center) leadership and it's progressive base extend much farther back in recent history than 2016 and the Sanders insurgency.

Ted and I begin the conversation by discussing how he became a progressive and a political cartoonist. From there we discuss the history of the Democratic Party in-fighting going back to Jimmy Carter, whom Rall takes a critical view of and believes began the Party's slow rightward turn. From there we discuss the domination of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) over the Democratic Party and its centrist tenets. This leads us to a discussion of the triangulation strategy that led to the rise of "Third Way Democrats" like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Although the DLC supporters claim that their strategy remain successful electorally speaking, Rall makes the argument that it has led to more defeat for the Party than victories.

This brings us to a discussion of "spoilers", or the Third Party candidates often seen as costing the two major parties elections. Rall makes the case that independent Ross Perot's third party run allowed Bill Clinton to triumph over George H.W. Bush, but argues that the same is not true in regards to Ralph Nader (who is often blamed for Al Gore's defeat in the 2000 against George W. Bush). This opens us up for a conversation about whether or not the Democratic Party itself should take responsibility for losing progressive voters to Green Party candidates like Ralph Nader, Jill Stein, and Howie Hawkins.

From there we delve into the 2020 election that'll be pitting Democratic nominee Joe Biden against Donald Trump. Rall expresses his issues with what he considers the "vote shaming" of progressives who are withholding support for Biden and his grievances with Biden as a candidate. This portion of the conversation also brings us around to tackling what Rall describes as the de-politicization of politics and the obsession with the cultural tastes and mannerisms of candidates rather than their policies. Perhaps more controversially Rall argues that it is time progressives begin considering the Third Party option.

Before wrapping up we get around to discuss previous progressives insurgencies within the Democratic Party including Rev. Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow Coalition, Howard Dean (whose campaign was stopped dead in it's track by the now infamous "Dean Scream"), the 2008 "Two Americas" campaign of John Edwards, media blackouts of progressives candidates, institutional corruption within the DNC, Ted Kennedy's failed 1980 presidential campaign against Democratic incumbent Jimmy Carter, and Rall's thoughts on current debates raging over class, identity politics, and Black Lives Matter. Ted strongly believes that progressives can oppose misogyny, racism, transphobia, etc. while also having a class analysis at their core.

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Sleazy Mike Cernovich is Not a Friend of Epstein Victims w/ Marlon Ettinger

Sleazy Mike Cernovich is Not a Friend of Epstein Victims w/ Marlon Ettinger

August 7, 2020

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On this edition of Parallax Views, right-wing "journalist" and, by all accounts, all-around sleazeball Mike Cernovich has been taking credit for the recent unsealing of court documents related to the Jeffrey Epstein case, Ghislaine Maxwell, Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, and Epstein survivor Virginia Giuffre. In a past life Cernovich grifted in the odious waters of GamerGate and the Pick-Up Artistry movement, (in)famously expressing his belief that "date rape doesn't exist" and hustling his self-help book The Gorilla Mindset. Since then, however, Cernovich has reinvented himself as a defender of children and women against human traffickers and sexual abusers. In particular, Cernovich has found himself in the middle of the Jeffrey Epstein case as part of litigation also involving Dershowitz and the Miami Herald. And, he's claimed, that he's played a big part in exposing the elite billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. In fact, the "Intellectual Dark Web" movement figurehead (and associate of Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel) Eric Weinstein recently took to the social media platform Twitter to laud Cernovich for his role in the Epstein story and discourage his listeners from considering the right-wing journalist's notoriety prior to his involvement in the case.

Freelance journalist Marlon Ettinger, who has been dubbed "The French Connection" correspondent in our various examinations of the Epstein case, joins us to challenge Cernovich's reputation for allegedly exposing the whole Jeffrey Epstein story. In particular we hone in on how according to Virginia Giuffre's own attorney argued that Mike Cernovich, far from wanting to help the Epstein survivor, was acting as a proxy for Alan Dershowitz. Marlon cites and quotes the documents in this conversation for the listener. Additionally J.G. relays a recent article on the Daily Dot that features Dershowtiz's interesting comment about Cernovich in light of Cernovich distancing himself from Dershowitz. Additionally, Marlon and I discuss the potential political motivations of Cernovich behind being a glory-hound upset that he's not accepted by the journalistic establishment. And, finally, Marlon offers his own comments on Eric Weinstein, why Weinstein is promoting Cernovich, and Peter Thiel. All that and more on this edition of Parallax Views!

 

Links:

"Panel Signals Epstein Files Likely to See Sunlight" by Adam Klasfeld (Courthouse News Service)

"What exactly are Mike Cernovich and Alan Dershowitz doing in the Epstein case?" by Olga Lexell (The Daily Dot)

"Someone Is Trying to Discredit the Story of Peter Thiel’s Interest in Young Blood" by J.K. Trotter (Gizmodo)

 

Mrs. America and Arch-Conservative Phyllis Schlafly w/ Eileen Jones

Mrs. America and Arch-Conservative Phyllis Schlafly w/ Eileen Jones

August 5, 2020

PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED:

On this edition of Parallax Views, 2020's  began the "Prestige TV" season earlier this year with FX's Mrs. America leading the charge. This show, based on the battles of the feminist Women's Liberation Movement of the 1970s, centers on the anti-feminist arch-conservative Phyllis Schlafly. The show gained a lot of attention upon it's release for being "timely" in regards to the American political moment of polarization and dealing with the fights between the right (Schalfly) and the left (Gloria Steinem, who is also features in the series) that echo today. Eileen Jones, a film critic at Jacobin, however, has a different take on the series that is decidedly more critical.

Eileen, J.G., and Casey discuss the real Phyllis Schalfly and her contributions to the American right wing in the 20th century as well as her often covered-up ties to the fringe John Birch Society. Then we begin to discuss the portrayal of Schlafly in Mrs. America as well as the portrayal of Gloria Steinem. Additionally we discuss the contradictions in Schalfly own life. We also talk about Schlafly's involvement with the Barry Goldwater movement and the role she played in promoting the elite Republican or RINO (Republican in Name Only) narrative within conservative circles through her book A Choice Not an Echo.

Eileen and J.G. also note that Schlafly was a huge part of integral part of movement conservatism up until her death and, in fact, even after - her last book, The Conservative Case for Trump, was published posthumously after her death. Eileen expresses her issues with the way Mrs. America doesn't tackle the grotesqueness of Schlafly's legacy and the attempts to psychologize Schlafly and the liberal use of fictionalized dramatization. J.G., on the other hand, notes the conservative backlash against the TV series. This leads us into a discussion of the show's repeated "poor Phyllis" trope to explain Schlafly's politics and what Eileen considers the lame symbolism utilized in the series. And, of course we address the conservatism criticism of the show that claims Schlafly's is portrayed as a cynical operator rather than a true believer, anti-communist ideologue and the racist element of Schlafly's career and activism that is often overlooked. All that and much more on this previously unreleased edition of Parallax Views.

Ideology and the Virtual City: Videogames, Power Fantasies, and Neoliberalism w/ Jon Bailes

Ideology and the Virtual City: Videogames, Power Fantasies, and Neoliberalism w/ Jon Bailes

August 3, 2020

On this edition of Parallax Views, video games are a popular pastime at this point. From Halo to Super Mario Bros., video games have become become a juggernaut within the entertainment industry and remain hugely popular with people from various generations. As with other forms of entertainment it is possible to look at such video games as a reflecting pool for the culture from which they were produced. In Ideology and the Virtual City: Videogames, Power Fantasies, and Neoliberalism (Zero Books; 2019), Jon Bailes uses popular games to examine and interrogate the culture of neoliberalism. Specifically, Jon seeks to understand, through the lens of games like Saints Row IV, Grand Theft Auto V, No More Heroes, and Persona 5, the demands placed upon the neoliberal subject to be constantly productive, the burnout this produces in said subjects, and the ways in which neoliberal subjects imagine the possibility of escape from neoliberal hegemony.

Synopsis of Ideology and the Virtual City: Videogames, Power Fantasies, and Neoliberalism from Zero Books:

Ideology and the Virtual City is an exploration of modern society and the critical value of popular culture. It combines a prescient social theory that describes how ‘neoliberal’ ideology in today’s societies dominates our economic, political and cultural ideals, with an entertaining exploration of narratives, characters and play structures in some of today’s most interesting videogames. The book takes readers into a range of simulated urban environments that symbolise the hidden antagonisms of social life and create outlandish resolutions through their power fantasies. Interactive entertainment can help us understand the ways in which people relate to a modern ‘common sense’ neoliberal background, in terms of absorbing assumptions, and questioning them.

A short review of Ideology and the Virtual City: Videogames, Power, and Neoliberalism by philosopher Slavoj Zizek:

Videogames are gradually recognized as a new cultural form which reaches far beyond mere entertainment: they enact new forms of subjectivity and temporality. However, this fascination with the new form should not render us blind for the fact that, in their content, even at its most magic, videogames are firmly rooted in our neoliberal capitalism and faithfully mirror its antinomies. This is where Bailess book enters. Through a detailed analysis of selected games, from Grand Theft Auto to Persona, he demonstrates how they reproduce the key dimensions of a modern megalopolis: the City as Playground, as Battleground, as Wasteland, as Prison Ideology and the Virtual City is not only insanely readable; in its combination of vivid descriptions with theoretical stringency, it provides an unsurpassable introduction into the deadlocks of our real life. In short, an instant classic for everyone who wants to understand not just games but our reality itself.

Tekashi 6ix9ine and the Trial of the Nine Trey Gangster Bloods w/ Casey Gane

Tekashi 6ix9ine and the Trial of the Nine Trey Gangster Bloods w/ Casey Gane

August 1, 2020

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On this edition of Parallax Views, the rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine has proven a controversial figure within the hip hop scene. A master troll within the hip hop community, Tekashi69 became famouse after his sleeper hit track "Hummo" which features members of the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods appeared in the music video for it. Tekashi would then become even more infamous when his NTG associates were busted for multiple offenses and went on trial. Tekashi himself got in trouble and eventually acted as a witness against the Nine Trey Bloods during the trial. This has led some to speculate Tekashi (real name Daniel Hernandez) was "a fed all along". But our guest, Casey Gane-McCalla, also known as the rapper "The Mighty Casey" and the author of Inside the CIA's Secret War Inside Jamaica, believes that Kristian Kruz aka CEO Kris is the more insidious player in the case. According to Gane, Kruz was heavily involved in trafficking the dangerous drug fentanyl while simultaneously acting as an informant for the feds.

 

As of August 2nd, 2020 Tekashi69's house arrest will come to an end. Report are flooding in that Tekashi 6ix9ine is currently afraid that he lacks protection after his house arrest is over.

Casey and I go over Tekashi's history, from his prior offenses (including a charge involving sexual misconduct against a minor) to his current predicament and what the whole case says about our current justice system. Additionally, Casey tells us about the new Amazon documentary series The Last Narc concerning the kidnapping, torture, and murder of DEA agent Enrique `Kiki" Camarena that contains explosive allegations against CIA officer Félix Rodríguez. All that and more on this edition of Parallax Views.

No More War (The Misuse and Abuse of ‘Humanitarian’ Intervention) w/ Dan Kovalik

No More War (The Misuse and Abuse of ‘Humanitarian’ Intervention) w/ Dan Kovalik

July 31, 2020

 

On this edition of Parallax Views, are the West's humanitarian interventions (or humanitarian wars) really waged for humanitarian purposes? Or is that just an Orwellian façade to cover-up for more strategic interests at play? Our guest labor and human rights attorney Dan Kovalik, author of No More War: How the West Violates International Law by Using 'Humanitarian' Intervention to Advance Economic and Strategic Interests, makes the case the the latter is closer to the truth.

We delve into:

- The history of "humanitarian interventions" by the West from the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia to the U.S.-backed overthrow of Muammar al-Gaddafi in Libya and the destruction it wrought.
- When could the case be made for humantarian intervention?
- King Leopold II and the massacre in the Congo
- South African apartheid, the U.S., and Cuba
- The Kurds and Turkey
-The ideas of pro-interventionist Samantha Powers and how Dan takes them on in the book

And much, much more

Book Description for Dan Kovalik's No More War: How the West Violates International Law by Using 'Humanitarian' Intervention to Advance Economic and Strategic Interests:

 

"Kovalik helps cut through the Orwellian lies and dissembling which make so-called 'humanitarian' intervention possible." —Oliver Stone  

 

War is the fount of all the worst human rights violations―including genocide―and not its cure. This undeniable truth, which the framers of the UN Charter understood so well, is lost in today’s obsession with the oxymoron known as “humanitarian" intervention.  

No More War: How the West Violates International Law by Using 'Humanitarian' Intervention to Advance Economic and Strategic Interests sets out to reclaim the original intent of the Charter founders to end the scourge of war on the heels of the devastation wrought by WWII. The book begins with a short history of the West’s development as built upon the mass plunder of the Global South, genocide and slavery, and challenges the prevailing notion that the West is uniquely poised to enforce human rights through force.  

This book also goes through recent “humanitarian" interventions carried out by the Western powers against poorer nations (e.g., in the DRC, Congo, and Iraq) and shows how these have only created greater human rights problems – including genocide – than they purported to stop or prevent.  

No More War reminds the reader of the key lessons of Nuremberg – that war is the primary scourge of the world, the root of all the evils which international law seeks to prevent and eradicate, and which must be prevented. The reader is then taken through the UN Charter and other human rights instruments and their emphasis on the prevention of aggressive war.

Cosmopolitan Dystopia w/ Philip Cunliffe

Cosmopolitan Dystopia w/ Philip Cunliffe

July 29, 2020

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On this edition of Parallax Views, modern wars in which the U.S. and Western powers invade nations like Iraq and Afghanistan are often waged under the pretext of being necessary "humanitarian interventions". Pro-peace activists and critics of U.S. foreign policy have long argued, however, that claims of "humanitarian intervention" are cover for more sinister motivations From this perspective, U.S. wars are fought for control of resources or for strategic reasons related to the maintenance of Western powers on the geopolitical "Grand Chessboard".

 

For example, many antiwar activists who marched in opposition to George W. Bush's 2003 invasion of Iraq would chant, "No More Wars for Oil!" In other words, the activists believed that war was not fought over WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction) or to liberate the Iraqi people, but instead that the invasion was a way to secure resources. The invocation of "humanitarian intervention" in this context, activists claimed, was nothing more than a cynical ruse.

 

Dr. Philip Cunliffe, a Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent, however, takes a different, and perhaps even more provocative, approach to critiquing U.S. foreign policy. In his book Cosmopolitan Dystopia: International Intervention and the Failure of the West, Cunliffe wills himself to take the claims of humanitarian interventionists at face value rather than questioning whether they have ulterior motives. In taking this tact he argues that humanitarian intervention, however nobly conceived, has led to a dystopian scenario of "Forever Wars" that have caused more harm than good. Put another way, Cunliffe chooses to question the proposed logic of humanitarian intervention itself and uses examples like the fallout from the U.S.-backed overthrow of Muammar al-Gaddafi in Libya (which has led to the unintended consequence, or "blowback", of sexual slavery and human trafficking making a comeback in the region) to make his case.

 

Although Cunliffe's argument is controversial, and perhaps even unnerving, it does provide an alternative way of looking at Western wars in the 21st century. As always we attempted to hear our guest out rather than have a shouting match. With that in mind this episode is sure to stir the pot in regards to international relations discussion, but Parallax Views is all about providing listeners with an unconventional viewpoint they may have not considered before. And it is our belief that this conversation with Dr. Cunliffe will certainly provide that in spades.

 

Also be sure to check out Dr. Cunliffe's podcast Aufhebunga Bunga.

Troubled Teen Industry Exposed w/ Jack Hodgson

Troubled Teen Industry Exposed w/ Jack Hodgson

July 27, 2020

 

On this edition of Parallax Views, the Troubled Teen Industry offers parents a way to "fix" their rambunctious children by sending them to schools and programs that specialize in tough love behavior modification. It turns out, however, that the Troubled Teen Industry appears to do more harm than good, leaving a trail of destruction and abuse in it's wake. Jack Hodgson, the filmmaker behind the upcoming Emancipated: A Troubled Teen Documentary, joins us to discuss the harrowing story of this abusive industry.

 

Among the topics discussed:

- What the troubled teen industry is; how children get taken away by the industry

- WWASP and CEDU programs; the relationship between these programs and the violent cult Synanon founded by Charles Dietrich and claiming to help heroin addicts

- The experiences of the teens sent to these programs

- Whistleblowers within the troubled teen industry

- And much, much more.

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