RIP Michael Brooks. Here’s our conversation about the need for spirituality, warmth, and meaning in leftist politics.

21 Jul

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I generally post a new episode of the show every week, but yesterday, my pal and AEWCH guest, Michael Brooks died. He was 37.

So I wanted to make space again for this conversation, where Michael expresses so beautifully the need for spirituality, meaning, and warmth in leftist discourse.

I’ve posted the old show notes below (and the old intro after that). The only other thing to add is that, since we recorded, Michael’s book, Against The Web: A Cosmopolitan Answer To The New Right, was published. You can find it here.

Friends, be loving to one another and yourselves.



• For more Michael, support his patreon, and check him out on The Majority Report, you can listen to him in conversation with Thaddeus Russell (who appeared on AEWCH 21) here, and you can get his book, The Buddha’s Playbook (co-authored with Josh Summers) here. 

• Marx’s full  quote, which is quite clearly rallying against religion as happiness:

“The foundation of irreligious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man. Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man – state, society. This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.

Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.”

• The other Arab we were hanging out with is Dr. Drew Mikhael (pictured) who is great, of course.

• In case you wanted to know where I stand on the Marianne Williamson and AIDS thing, here’s a thread on twitter, but I also think Mitch Horowitz and I do a good job taking apart some of this on AEWCH 30.

• Here’s “Marianne Williamson: Warren And Sanders Changed My Mind About Medicare For All During Debate

A great (not For Dummies) book on systems is The Hidden Connections: A Science for Sustainable Living by Fritjof Capra.

• Some information on Social Threefolding here. Or you can read Social Threefolding: Rebalancing Culture, Politics and Economics: An Introductory Reader by Rudolf Steiner

• Todd McGowan’s book on psychoanalysis and capitalism is Capitalism and Desire: The Psychic Cost of Free Markets. Todd’s been on the show twice, first on AEWCH 47, and then with Peter Rollins on AEWCH 70!

Until next time, 


Original intro notes below:

The day after Jeffrey Epstein “killed himself,” I sat down to talk* with leftist media figure Michael Brooks in a building in Belfast named after one of Epstein’s co-conspirators. Coincidence?

I’m happy to think this meeting was fated, actually; since I appeared on Michael’s great politics show – The Michael Brooks Show –  to talk about new age politics (as of this post, you have to be a patron to listen to it, but he will be unlocking it soon, I think!), we’ve been wanting to talk more. We’re both interested in the left and spirituality, we both have an interest in Marianne Williamson’s place on the stage, we both support Bernie Sanders with strong reservations, and we’ve both been formed by our time living in Western Massachusetts.  As you can hear, we ended way too abruptly and wanted to go on and on, but Michael was about to take a tour of Belfast, so you’ll have to wait for the next installment of our conversation, which I’m sure is coming sometime soon!

Before you think this is only a bromance show, I should tell you we, of course, go deep into the topics at hand. Including:

  • How spirituality shows us what messes we are
  • The attempt of the left to banish spirituality
  • Why attacking Marianne Williamson ends up being an attack on many working class people
  • The left’s failure  to distinguish between sincerely held beliefs and 
  • How new atheism is connected to alt-right-ism.
  • Is universal healthcare a spiritual question?
  • Capitalism as a symptom of materialism
  • Socialism as a creator of mental space
  • economics, rights, and culture (and how each tries to dominate the other)

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