Episode 63 – DSA and the Dirty Break
In this episode Brandon Madsen and Aaron Firouz join host Kevin Gustafson to discuss the DSA and the Dirty Break Strategy. The strategy, as the name suggests, that rather than making a clean break from the Democratic Party, DSA should begin to move towards becoming a party itself, or at least more party-like and begin running it’s own candidates were possible, but remain open to running as Democrats where advantageous. In the recent edition of Reform and Revolution Magazine, from the caucus of DSA that shares its name, perspectives on the Dirty Break are presented and discussed. And we do that here.
Episode 62 – What Socialist Should Think about the Capitol Putsch (And Joe Biden)
Sensible Socialist Short Hiatus
It has been a month or so since I last posted an episode. That was before the election which was the topic of the last show. Since the Coronavirus shutdown, which coincided with the birth of my son, I have been working full time, parenting nearly full time with my partner, and trying to balance myriad other responsibilities. Along with that we are planning to move out of the greater Washington D.C. area to New England, which has been challenging to say the least. With all of that going on I haven’t been able to dedicate the kind of time and energy that is needed for the Sensible Socialist and so have been on a bit of a hiatus.
That said, I do plan on returning back to the Sensible Socialist in January of 2021. I plan to do a bit of a re-launch, hoping to move over to doing video, up my social media game, and bring back some familiar faces to talk about the larger philosophy of Marxism, but also of current events and how best to analyze and understand them. So while I wont be posting much content in the waning days of the Trump presidency, and the lunacy with which it has made so many, we will come back in January 2021 ready to keep the new administration’s feet to the fire – but who am I kidding, its the democratic party, remember?
Anyway, I just wanted to make sure you all knew that this podcast wasn’t just going to die, but that I’ve been planning something and need a little more time to get it set up.
However, if you just need to hear the sound of my voice, you can always check out my other podcast, hosted by Democracy @ Work – All Things Coop.
Episode 61 – Voting for Joe Biden with Aaron Firouz
In this episode I debate with my friend and comrade Aaron Firouz about voting for Joe Biden. I cannot bring myself to do so, but Aaron makes compelling arguments why, despite understandable reservations, one would be right to vote for Sleepy Joe. Haven’t decided yet how you’re gonna vote? Listen to this.
Episode 60 – The F Word – with Ashton Rome
In this episode we talk with Ashton Rome. Ashton is a long time leftist organizer and activist who was active in organizing in Ferguson Missouri after the death of Michael Brown. Ashton recently wrote an article in Left Voice discussing the potential fascist backlash from the social, political, and economic unrest currently going on. We discussed the calls to defund and/or abolish police, the role of the police in capitalist society, the deflationary role played be the democratic party, and the failure of leadership on the left.Download: .mp3
Check out Host Kevin Gustafson on Shed Life Podcast
Episode 59 – A Socialist Perspective on the George Floyd Protests
In this episode I discuss my thought son the George Floyd protest, the connection of white supremacy to capitalism in America, the role of the police in a capitalist system, and the prospects for abolition of police under the current system.
Episode 58 – The Youth (with Caden Metcalf)
In this episode I talk with Caden Metcalf about the interest in Socialism and radical ideas by young people. We talk about the impact of Bernie Sander’s campaign, a looming economic crisis, the cost of higher education, lies and propaganda still taught in schools and the impact of Coronavirus on young people.
Episode 57 – Why You Should Join DSA
In this episode I talk with Brandon Madsen, a long time socialist revolutionary, about why socialist should join DSA. We talk DSA’s history, Democratic Centralism, DSA’s big tent, and the potential of a new party representing the working class, among other things.
Episode 56 – Albert Lee for Congress
In this episode we talk with Albert Lee, a socialist candidate for office in Oregon’s 3rd district. We talk about the 3rd district, the incumbent, his polices, running a campaign during COVID, running as a Socialist and Bernie Sander’s dropping out.
Episode 55 – Marxism-Leninism-Maoism
In this episode we talk to Hex from Red State Radio about Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. We talk about what differentiates Leninism from Marxism, and Maoism from Leninism. We talk about China’s communist experiment, Mao-Tse-Tung thought, the revolutionary potential of the peasantry, and more.
Episode 54 – Understanding Socialism with Richard Wolff (Part 2)
In this episode I continue my discussion with Richard Wolff about his book Understanding Socialism. We talk about Yugoslavia, Milovan Djilas, the lengths to which the ruling class will go to shut down socialist movements, and how the Nazi’s were not socialists.
Episode 53 – Understanding Socialism with Richard Wolff (Part 1)
In this episode I talk with Dr. Richard Wolff about his new book Understanding Socialism and the three socialism’s of the twentieth century.
Episode 52 – Bernie is Out, What Now
In this episode we discuss Bernie’s sudden withdrawal from the Democratic nomination contest and what we should do now. Hint: The American Labor Party.
Sensible Socialist Host Kevin Gustafson on Red Line with Anya Parampil
Episode 51 – COVID Capitalism
In this episode we talk about COVID capitalism, and the consequences of the unfolding crisis.
Episode 50 – Super Tuesday
In this episode we talk about Super Tuesday. How did we get here? What is Elizabeth Warren Doing? Joe Biden, really? And what are the scenarios with which we can look forward?
Episode 49 – Socialism 101
In this episode I play back the audio of a lecture I did for a high school class introducing them to socialism.
Episode 48 – Iran and US Imperialism (With Ben Norton)
In this episode I speak with Ben Norton about US/Iranian relations that lead us up to the 2020 attacks in Iraq and potential opening of a new war between these powerful countries. Ben Norton is a journalist, writer, and filmmaker. He is the assistant editor of The Grayzone, and the producer of the Moderate Rebels podcast, which he co-hosts with editor Max Blumenthal. His website is BenNorton.com and he tweets at @BenjaminNorton.
Episode 47 – India’s Anti-CAA Protests
In this episode we talk with New Socialist Alternative member Naveen Angamuthu from Bangalore, India. In this episode we talk about Indian political history, the Rise of RSS and BJP, The neo-liberal policies of Narendra Modi, and the failure of the the Indian Left to lead the rising militancy of the Indian working class.
Episode 46 – The Monroe Doctrine
In this episode we review the history of interventions in Latin America by the United States via the longest tenant of US foreign policy – The Monroe Doctrine.
Episode 45 – Marx’s Conception of History (with Josh Morris)
In this episode we speak with Josh Morris about history as a subject, teaching history, Hegel, Francis Fukuyama, Marx, the Materialist Conception of History, and more. Josh Morris is a historian of American Communism who currently holds a Master’s and PhD in History and is a professor at Wayne State University. His dissertation the “Many Worlds of American Communism,” is an examination of the communist movement in the United States from 1928 to 1957 as a multifaceted and complex phenomenon with numerous points of agency. Josh has been a guest on the podcast before talking about the subject of his dissertation the History of American Communism and still stands as both the longest, and probably, the best episode of the Sensible Socialist.
Episode 44 – Class Consciousness (With Rev Left Radio)
In this episode I talk with Brett from Rev Left Radio about the role of class consciousness, raising consciousness, ideology, hegemony, and a little bit about leftist podcasts.
Episode 43 – A Talk With Spencer Schecht
In this episode I talk with environmentalist and co-founder of Green Drinks DC Spencer Schecht about a bunch of different stuff. It is a fairly wide ranging and winding conversation, but I think it is the kind of conversation many of us on the left have with friends and colleagues.
Episode 42 – The Agricultural Question (/w Ben Stewart)
In this episode I talk with Ben Stewart and agroecology student about his experiences on farms in the US, Africa, and Norway and how that experience brought him to socialist ideas. We also talk about the role of industrial scale farming in the ecological crisis and climate change as well as the experience of 20th century socialist experiments in collective agriculture and whether or not it really makes sense in the long run.
Download – .mp3
Episode 41 – Engel’s Socialism Utopian And Scientific
In this episode I read Engel’s Socialism: Utopian and Scientific and allow it to prove for itself why it needs little additional discussion.
Episode 40 – Mass Shootings
In this episode we talk about mass shootings in the US – the causes and why it only seems to happen here.
Download – .mp3
Episode 39 – Julian Assange
In this episode I speak with Davey Heller about Julian Assange as we discuss how the left should view this important figure.
Sensible Socialist Host Kevin Gustafson on RT America talking about Prime Day Strike
Episode 38 – Reform or Revolution
In this episode I talk with Alka Mysore about Rosa Luxemburg’s answer to Eduard Bernstein on the question of reform or revolution.
Red Rosa Graphic Novel by Kate Evans
Episode 37 – Anti-Fascism with Michael Shallal
In this episode I talk with Michael Shallal, an organizer with DC United Against Hate, about the rise of fascism in America and around the world and what we can do to fight it.
Episode 36 – Jordan Peterson’s Critique of Marxism
In this episode we go through Jordan Peterson’s critique of Marxism in the recent debate he had with Slavoj Zizek.
Download – .mp3
Episode 35 – Capitalism and Mental Health
In this episode we talk about the links between the mental health crisis and capitalism.
Episode 34 – Bernie Sanders
In this episode I talk about the man of the hour: Bernie Sanders.
Episode 33 – Sam Harris the Socialist
In this episode I dive into my critiques of Sam Harris. While there is a lot of bad-faith criticism of Sam, I wanted to try to do so in good faith. I discuss issues I have the the Moral Landscape, implore Sam to talk to actual rational leftists, and criticize his view of US foreign policy and US moral goodness.
Episode 32 – It Doesn’t Matter If You’re Black or White with Delonte Wilkins
In this episode I talk with Delonte Wilkins, an activist and organizer in the Washington D.C. Area with Link Up. We discuss his experience in the (formerly) Chocolate City and the links between gentrification and mass incarceration.
Episode 31 – Venezuela
In this episode we talk about developments in Venezuela. On January 23, 2019, the anniversary of a 1958 uprising that overthrew military dictatorship, Venezuela’s National Assembly President Juan Guaido gave a speech to a crowd during a mass opposition rally against recently re-elected president Nicolas Maduro in which he declared himself the country’s “acting president” in Caracas. Venezuela is often discussed as a representation of socialism. Is it?
Episode 30 – An Honest Conversation with Stephan Molyneux
In this episode I present to you a conversation I had with Stephan Molyneux a few years back. Some if it helpful to see the difference, some is a lesson in how not to argue. Either way. Enjoy.
Episode 29 – Libertarian Socialism
In this episode we talk about Libertarian Socialism with serious help from Noam Chomsky over the years.
Episode 28 – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Green New Deal
In this episode we discuss Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Green New Deal and discuss the positives and negatives of her approach and the proposal itself.
Text of Proposal for Select Committee for a Green New Deal.
Episode 27 – Mondragon (with Michael Peck)
In this episode I discuss Mondragon, the worlds largest cooperative corporation, with US Delegate Michael Peck. Since 2000, Michael has served as the North American delegate for Mondragon, the world’s largest industrial worker cooperative with USA 2013 sales at the $250 million level. On March 26th, 2012, the United Steelworkers Union (USW – North America’s largest manufacturing union), Mondragon, and the Ohio Employee Ownership Center (OEOC) announced the union-coop template to create worker-owner hybrid projects and businesses with the goal of revamping U.S. manufacturing through worker empowerment and ownership.
In January 2014, Michael helped to launch the nonprofit 1worker1vote.org, dedicated to solving America’s unhealthy and unequal opportunity, mobility, and wealth divides through broad-based, equal share worker ownership. This movement is now operating in more than 11 U.S. municipalities in varying development stages.
Learn more about Mondragon.
Episode 26 – Brazil (with Douglas McRae)
In this episode we talk about Brazil with Douglas McRae. With the election of Bolsonaro I thought it important to talk about the history of Brazil. Douglas is a PhD Candidate in the Department of History at Georgetown University with a focus on the history of modern Latin America, with an emphasis on Brazil, particularly urban and environmental matters. His dissertation research focuses on the history of water and sanitation in the São Paulo metropolitan area. Doug also worked as a Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) in Peru from 2008-2011 as a community health educator and a volunteer coordinator for the Community Health Program. He also considers himself fellow traveler and utilizes Marxist theory in his historical analysis.
Kevin on RT’s In Question about GM Closings
Episode 25 – Diaspora Blues
In this special episode of the Sensible Socialist, Kevin talks to someone very dear, his wife Alka Mysore. Alka is originally from India and moved to the US about ten years ago where she studied Management information systems at Iowa State University. She is an organizer and member of Socialist Alternative in Washington DC where for the last year she has been a member of the branch leadership as action organizer. We talk about her experiences as an immigrant to the US right before the economic crisis of 2008 and coming to see America through a socialist lens.
Episode 24 – Bourgeois Healthcare (with Mike Pappas)
In this episode I talk with Mike Pappas. Mike a graduate of Georgetown Medical School and currently a Resident at a clinic in New York City. He is also a revolutionary Marxist, and brings a unique, and much needed perspective to medicine. In this interview, we talk about American healthcare, what Mike calls “sick-care”, and about socialized medicine. We talk about his recent trip to Cuba to learn more about their healthcare system. Finally we discuss the effects of exploitation and alienation on the health of the working class and the society as a whole.
Works mentioned in the interview:
Host Kevin Gustafson on RT discussing Amazon HQ2 Announcement
Episode 23 – The Democratic Party
In this episode I discuss a brief history of the Democratic Party and relate that to the current state of the party and see if there is any hope in the DSA and Bernie strategy of staying inside it.
Ending Song: Why I Vote Democratic – Shamoozey
Kevin on RT America discussing Elon Musk.
Episode 22 – The Enemy of the People
In this episode I speak with Rhys Baker of The Barricades about left-wing journalism, journalism in general, and the news of the day.
Sensible Socialist Host, Kevin Gustafson on RT America about Marriott Strikes.
Episode 21 – Democratic Centralism
In this episode I briefly review the idea of democratic centralism.
Episode 20 – Alienation
With suicide, depression, mental health, and the opioid epidemic, its clear that something is wrong with our society. But what is it? While most often you will hear that this shows the need for more, or better, drugs or for more access to therapy and other kinds of cognitive behavioral help. However, what is not often discussed is the role of alienation, particularity the alienation experienced by the modern industrial working class, and its affect on our mental health. In this episode I go back to Marx’s amazing 1844 Manuscripts to reveal his genius in discussing this serious issue that still greatly affects our lives and society 150 years later.
Episode 19 – Intersections
With me this week is my friend and comrade, Sarko. Sarko and I are both in the DC Branch of Socialist Alternative. We have had many wide-ranging discussions, but I’ve had the feeling, and I think she would agree, that we haven’t really seen totally eye to eye on some pretty important issues – namely race. As a white guy from Minnesota and a black woman of recent immigrants living in the DC area we have had significant different experiences in our lives. However, we have both ended up in the same organization, the same political and geographical communities, and share the same goals. So what I would like to do in this conversation is to attempt to understand each other and have a useful and productive conversation on the very important topics of race, class, public health, and of course, Socialism.
Episode 18 – Dialectical Materialism
In this episode I briefly go over the idea of dialectical materialism. So often a buzzword is Marxist circles, the idea off dialectics and materialism to understand history is a fundamental idea to understand if one is to ever understand what Marx was really saying and how he thought. At the same time, the notions contained in Dialectical Materialism have not faded from public life, but instead are part of the narrative on how to understand and orient the coming future.
Ending Song – Catch 22 – Epilogue
Episode 17 – Capitalism vs. Socialism
In this episode I have the big debate with some great fellows I found at the CapitalismVSocailism sub-reddit. This long conversation covers several of the large controversies in the way the two sides view economic and philosophic arguments. Specifically, this conversation gets a bit bogged down in the question of value and of profit. The aim of this was to have a discussion and too speak sensibly about these issue to get at what the real disagreements are, and to that end, I think we succeeded. You can decide for yourself if that’s true – its up for debate!
Episode 16 – The Question of Elections & More – with Ginger Jentzen
In this episode I speak with Ginger Jentzen an activist and organizer with Socialist Alternative. Ginger was a candidate for Minneapolis city council in 2017, the executive director of 15 Now, along with previous working including Occupy homes in the Minneapolis area. The strategy of electoral politics has long been debated within the Socialist community. Here we talk about a number of different issues, including the whole questions of elections and the view from the so-called flyover states.
Ending Song: Stop Drop – Stitches
Episode 15 – Socialism or Social Democracy (or Democratic Socialism) – with Nima Ghafari
In this episode I talk with my Law school colleague, Nima Ghafari. Nima is working on a software project currently, but was able to take some time to discuss with me some of his issues with socialism. Now Nima is no standard capitalist, but rather considers himself a Democratic Socialist (like Bernie or Ocasio-Cortez) but has some serious issues with the more nitty-gritty details of socialism and communism.
Episode 14 – Review of “Sorry to Bother You.”
*Spoilter Alert* I do ruin the ending if you haven’t seen this movie. You have been warned.
This week, before we get to some good interviews, I wanted to briefly talk about what I thought about Boots Riley’s Sorry to Both You.
Episode 13 – Myths, Misunderstandings, and Strawmen (Ft. Ben Shapiro)
In this episode we discuss Ben Shapiro’s “arguments” against socialism. What we find is that he is a disingenuous interlocutor when it comes to socialism – and much else. However, Shapiro’s arguments are quite common and mainstream, so in this episode we try to dispel some myths, misunderstandings and straw men, as displayed by Ben Shapiro himself.
Episode 12 – Why I am a Socialist (A Response to David Pakman)
In this episode I reply to David Pakman’s video – Why I am not a Socialist. I give my responses to his critiques and shed some light on where I come from as a (hopefully sensible) socialist.
Ending Song – Andover – Revonda
Episode 11 – Russiagate (w/ Michael Melinchok)
Russiagate – the tangeld web of lies, deceit, hacking, and – of course – Russia. In this episode I speak with Socialist Alternative DC member Michael Melinchok about taking some perspective in a time of hysterics. We cover Russiagate, the Helsinki press conference, American Foreign Policy, and much more.
Ending Song: Stop Drop – Cheap Box Wine
Episode 10 – Worker Self-Directed Enterprises and Socialism (With Dr. Richard Wolff)
In this episode I speak with Dr. Richard Wolff, of Democracy @ Work, about worker cooperatives and socailism. Dr. Wolff was named by New York Times Magazine as the Worlds Foremost Marxist economist. I am a proud member of D@W-DC, a working group for Democracy at Work in the nation’s capital. We discuss what a worker self-directed enterprise is and how it relates to socialist ideas.
Ending song – Propagandhi – Resisting Tyrannical Government
Episode 9 – Marxist-Leninism
This week I speak with Daniel who hails from the Marxist-Leninist tradition of the radical left. In this episode we discuss what Marxist-Leninism is, how Marxist-Leninists view the Soviet Union and China, among many other topics. Check it out!
Episode 8 – Towards a Coalition of the Radical Left
Donate – Donate to IWOC
In this short episode I talk about the news articles below and a subject we’ve touched on in a few episodes- the need for a new united workers party. I talk about why I think a congress of the radical left for the purpose of founding a new radical left party in the United States. Introduced in this episode is the League for the Emancipation of the Working Class (more soon!)
An Interview With Cynthia Nixon – Jacobin
The Importance of Being Uncivil – Socialist Worker
One Year after $15 an Hour Passes in Minneapolis – Lessons for Saint Paul – Socialist Alternative
Trump executive order lets bosses bully federal workers – People’s World
DSA Grows To 21,000 – Toward A New Socialist Party! – Socialist Alternative
Other Useful Links
Episode 7 – Socialist Organizing and Identity Politics
This week I speak with Eljeer Hawkins about Socialist organizing and identity politics. Eljeer is a community, labor and antiwar activist, and has been a member of Socialist Alternative/Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) for 23 years and writes regularly on race, the criminal legal system, Black Lives Matter and the historic Black freedom movement and has also lectured at a number of different places around the world including, but not limited to Harvard University, Hunter College, Oberlin College and University of Toronto.
Ending Song: Andover – Silhouettes and Sirens
Episode 6 – A Vision for a Communist Future
In this shorter episode we talk about a vision for a communist future. What do we mean when we say a communist society? Isn’t it just Utopian?
Is there an example we can look to?
I think so, the final frontier.
Ending Song – Hard Times- The Starlight
Episode 5 – American Communism (with Josh Morris)
In this weeks episode I talk to Josh Morris, a historian at Wayne State, about the history of American Communism. We cover a lot of topics and it goes for a while. Buckle up and check it out!
Episode 4 – 20th Century Socialism
Socialism doesn’t work, just look at Russia, or China or Cuba. Communism killed millions of people! Communism inevitably leads to dictatorship and violence. How should socialist think about these criticisms. In a nutshell, this is my version of the “not real communism” argument.
Closing Song – Two Tone Runts – You’re Not Alone
Episode 3 – The Communist Manifesto
The Communist Manifesto is usually the first stop for many who want to know about what socialism and communism is all about. It is important, though, to put it in historical context and explain a little bit about what was going on when it is written.
Closing Music: Operation Death Squad – Iconoclast
Episode 3a – Text of the Communist Manifesto
Episode 2: Definitions
Download: .mp3 (45.9 MB)
In this episode we discuss some important definitions of words that are often misused and will be used (hopefully correctly) in future episodes. I tried to be succinct and clear, If you disagree with these definitions, let me know.
Frederick Engles – Socialism, Scientific And Utopian
Episode 1: Introductions
Download: .mp3 (29.4 MB)
Welcome to the Sensible Socialist podcast! This is our first episode of the podcast so it seemed appropriate to begin by way of introduction to give you a sense of who I am, what the podcast is about, why do the podcast and what do I hope to achieve with it. So in this 30 minute episode I quickly talk about why am I doing this podcast, how did it come about, who I am, how I got here, and why should you care what I think.
Ending Song – Operation Death Squad – Punk of the State
If you’d like to hear a version of the lecture mentioned in the podcast you can see it here