Tag Archives: capitalism

Lynn Margulis in conversation with Conner Habib on AEWCH 91.

19 Nov
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Promo
Friends,
This is the most important episode of AEWCH for me. In it I talk with my friend and intellectual mentor, biologist and geoscientist Lynn Margulis. This is, I believe, the last recorded discussion with Lynn before her death from a stroke on November 22, 2011. Lynn was a profound intellect, and, I believe, the most important thinker in the last 50 years.
With James Lovelock, she developed the Gaia theory – that organisms interact with the non-living aspects of the Earth to regulate Earth systems like cloud cover, oceanic salinity, atmospheric gas abundance, and more. She also proved and popularized the notion that organelles in nucleated cells are symbioses of bacterial mergers.
Along with her son Dorion Sagan (from her marriage to Carl Sagan), she developed a new theory of evolution, symbiogenesis, which boldly asserts, and with ample evidence, that new species arise out of symbiotic mergers with bacteria, not through random genetic mutation-meets-natural selection.
The episode is a wide-ranging exploration of Lynn’s work and thought. Because Lynn offer so much, I’ve started this episode off with a lengthy introduction to all her efforts. It’s an intro adapted from the essay I wrote shortly after her death (and it appears in the book Lynn Margulis: The Life And Legacy Of A Scientific Rebel). Feel free to skip past the intro if you’re familiar with her work, or to listen to it as a primer afterward, to get your bearings in the dizzying array of names and scientific concepts on the episode.
On this episode, among many other things:
  • the difference between ecological association and symbiosis
  • why Darwin never mentioned the origin of species
  • why the mainstream pop-science version of evolution is religion, not science
  • “there’s this concept that almost all scientists have that there really is an objective reality, but there’s no evidence whatsoever (for that) because everything observed is through an observer, and that observer tends to be a person…”
  • How all science starts as esoterica
  • How scientific facts are accepted – and not accepted until capitalism approves
  • Is life process or entity
  • Why zoologists have such a hard time understanding evolution
  • “‘Medical science’ is an oxymoron, like ‘military intelligence’.”
  • Why Lynn just wanted to avoid people and read her whole life
  • Emily Dickinson and the Matster
SHOW NOTES
• For more on Lynn, read her countless publications. The two that everyone should read are Symbiotic Planet: A New Look At Evolution and (with Dorion Sagan) Acquiring Genomes: A Theory Of The Origin Of Species. Also, I recommend the text book I had to read for my first course with her, Environmental Evolution – 2nd Edition: Effects of the Origin and Evolution of Life on Planet Earth and her book of essays, Dazzle Gradually: Reflections on the Nature of Nature. A documentary about Lynn’s life and work, Symbiotic Earth, was released in 2017. Here’s Lynn interviewed by geneticist Jay Tischfield and here’s Lynn presenting the Gaia theory to NASA.
• In the episode, we talk several times about the “Homage To Darwin” event, which was organized around Lynn’s year at Oxford. The event featured Lynn, Richard Dawkins, paleobiologist Martin Brasier, biologist Steve Bell, and systems biologist Denis Noble. It’s one of many occasions wherein Lynn revealed the stupidity of Richard Dawkins’s ideas about evolution. It appears in three parts. Part One, Part Two, Part Three. I highly recommend watching all of them.
• Alfred North Whitehead was a profound influence on Lynn’s thinking, especially later in life. She mentions him at the top, and later in the episode, brings up his book The Function Of Reason.
• Lynn says, “We are all Schwendenerists!” means we all accept symbiosis because we accept the truth that lichens are symbiotic organisms. This was discovered by Simon Schwendener, a Swiss botanist.
• Lynn mentions James Watson’s book, DNA: The Secret of Life.
slug
Rosemary and Peter Grant studied the finches on the Galápagos Islands for years.
• An amazing book that expresses clashes between neo-Darwinism and Gaia and symbiogenesis (this is before Lynn and Dorion fully developed the theory of symbiogenesis) is From Gaia to Selfish Genes: Selected Writings in the Life Sciences.
• Would you like to learn about the photosynthetic sea slug? That’s a rehtorical question. Of course you would.
• Here’s a lengthy commentary on the debate between Lynn and Richard Dawkins that gets mentioned a few times in the episode.
• Palentologists Niles Eldrege and Stephen Jay Gould observed and popularized the idea of “punctuated equilibrium” – that most populations of organisms are stable and exhibit little change, until sudden and massive changes occur. This theory is expressed consistently in the fossil record, and in many ways, challenges neo-Darwinian theories of evolution.
• Ludwig Fleck’s book, Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact is a precursor to Thomas Kuhn‘s famous concept of a “paradigm shift,” and it’s a great look into how facts are made, how they inhere, and…then what?
• “The Experiment As Mediator Of Object And Subject” by Goethe (yes, Goethe!) changed my life, and it should be evoked again and again until it changes the face of science.
• A mind-blowing short essay on where organisms start and stop is “Where Do Organisms End?”
• We talked about some of this waaaay back on AEWCH 6 with Alex Tsakiris (and my first chat with Alex, “Fight Science With Science“)
• Lynn often raved about Max King’s book Species Evolution: The Role of Chromosome Change which I (still!) have yet to read.
• Lynn’s book of short stories, Luminous Fish, is quite good. I remember being a little scared to read it and then thinking – why did I expect anything less?
• Here’s a small bit on Swiss Emily Dickinson translator Hans Werner Lüscher.
You can expect a bit more on Lynn’s work – particularly on the origins of sex – from me in the near future.
Until next time, friends,
XO
CH
AERWCH91

Our hearts vs The neoliberal capitalist tech imperialist nightmare. Una Mullally on AEWCH 87!

23 Oct
AEWCH87 Title CardFriends,
In a nearly double-length and incredibly wide-ranging, I talk with journalist, editor, activist, and podcaster Una Mullally about the erosion of old structures and the possibility of new ones. Not just the government, but the environment, our relational structures, our spiritual structures, and more.
We talk at length on how neoliberalism and tech imperialism is eating the soul of Dublin, but our talk is by no means Ireland-specific. What we’re discussing at the core is how we fight against the consuming algorithms of neoliberalism and capitalism with our hearts and humanity. The reason we talk for so long isn’t merely because she’s Irish! It’s because we keep going deeper and deeper.
I was so excited to have this conversation with one of Ireland’s great minds.
Una is one of Ireland’s best known journalists, and one of the most incisive. She’s also the co-creator of the great podcast United Ireland, which chronicles the current landscape and history of Ireland, county by county. I can’t recommend a more accessible intro to this place I love so much.
On top of being an extremely prolific author, Una is also an activist, and much of that activism features in her work, including the book Repeal the 8th, which Una edited – an anthology work by women resisting misogynist abortion laws in Ireland (which features an essay by AEWCH 72 guest Sinead Gleeson!) Plus she’s written (briefly) about leprechauns, so how could I not be excited to speak with her?
Also on this episode:
  • When and why Una left the Catholic church
  • The tech gentrification of Dublin and everywhere
  • The cruelty of ugliness
  • Why Irish meter maids are the best
  • The ways neoliberals pretend to be the drivers of progress
  • Equality vs freedom
  • The uses and dangers of nationalism
  • The feeling of Ireland, and Irish people laughing at me for moving here
  • The mystic pulse of the Irish land
  • Why we need to fight oppression and heal trauma simultaneously
  • The zombification of party politics
  • Why relationship is the most important part of activism
  • Why facts no longer matter
  • How self indulgent emotional performativity holds back change
  • Giving conflict over to the angels
  • The problems with Extinction Rebellion

Want to go deeper? Look at the SHOW NOTES!

XO

CH

Breathing in the end of the world – Franco “Bifo” Berardi on Against Everyone With Conner Habib

17 Sep
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Friends,
I’m so happy to share my conversation with the radical philosopher, Franco “Bifo” Berardi.
I think it is not only a good conversation, but a truly productive one. My deepest hope is that it is helpful for you.
Bifo is one of the most important and creative thinkers of our time; I find many of Bifo’s thoughts in line with the occult philosophies of the Western esoteric traditions I’ve spent so long studying, and for me, that is so enlivening. That is to say, when two people or traditions come up with similar conclusions from totally different angles, we must (as Special Agent Dale Cooper says) pay strict attention.
Bifo is the author of many books, including what I view as his two most important books, Breathing: Chaos and Poetry and Heroes: Mass Murder and Suicide (which is a much easier read, and deeply informed my own thinking on the issue, which I discussed on AEWCH 11: SHOOT TO LIVE). He was the founder of Radio Alice, a radical broadcast station in Italy, as well as the anti-authoritarian activist group, Autonomia.
The discussion is wide ranging and, I think, extremely potent. It’s a commingling of occult, anarchist, socialist, and artistic ideas.
We discuss:
  • How rhythms dissolve political oppression
  • Capitalism as a dynamic of change, acceleration, and expansion that cannot understand limit
  • Why information and possibilities are not enough; we need the ability (“potency”) to transform them into reality
  • Why solidarity is dead and we are trapped in competition
  • Why poetry, sex, and magic matter now more than ever
  • The failure of communism, and why we need it anyway
  • Moving away from politics and towards therapy
  • How poetry is our doorway towards a new world
  • Why the “post-truth” world is an opportunity
  • Reincarnation: the only narrative that can remake the future
  • The shattering of the critical mind
  • Why (and how) we must accept all conspiracy theories
  • The spectating unconscious (and how it wishes for Trump)
  • Why everyone’s suffering belongs to everyone
  • What Trump’s victory gives to us
  • How sex work erodes work
  • Why no one should ever be paid for their labor

Lots of great SHOW NOTES here.

Until next time,

XO

DG

WTF is money, anyway? And what is capitalism? Listen to me and economic historian Conor McCabe on the AEWCH 76!

9 Jul
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Friends,
What is money, anyway? And what is capitalism? And how are the two intertwined, and are they extricable? Conor MacCabe author of the excellent books, Money and Sins of the Father: Tracing the Decisions that Shaped the Irish Economy. Instead of staying with the obscuring language of economics, Conor and I go into what money and capitalism are from an experiential and historical standpoint. And we talk about the spiritual aspects of money as well, especially in how they’re related to time, the witch trials, and ideas of the future.
I’ve never had a conversation about money like this before, and I was so happy to. Conor is a great writer, a great thinker, and this conversation clarifies so many concepts.
I’m very excited to share AEWCH 76 with you.
In this episode:
  • How the language of economics is religiously constructed to keep people out
  • The invention of money as we know it now, and why the history we normally get fed is wrong
  • How credit is a social technology, and coin and cash were created to change its social relation
  • The problems with cashless cultures, and the war on credit unions
  • How banking rose as an aspect of imperialism
  • How the invention of capitalism relates to the witch trials
  • the problem with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies
  • what the inner experience of money is
  • what the fuck actually happens when you use money, anyway
  • what post-capitalist forms of money could look like, and why philosophical questions about money matter
  • how much money makes us happy
  • how capitalism is related to time and how those in turn relate to magic and new ageism
  • the importance of holding a big vision and doing the on-the-ground activism
  • why people with marginalized identities have amazing anti-capitalist strategies
Want to go deeper into the ideas and with the people mentioned on this episode?
SHOW NOTES, like all episodes, are always free for everyone.
AEWCH76TitleCard

Capitalism VS Wanting To Want Wanting: Psychoanalytic Theorist Todd McGowan on AEWCH!

9 Nov
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LINKS TO THE PODCAST VERSION: 
Friends!
Psychoanalytic theorist Todd McGowan is one of my favorite thinkers. He’s the author of many of my favorite theory books, including Enjoying What We Don’t Have: The Political Project of Psychoanalysis and Capitalism and Desire: The Psychic Cost of Free Markets. He’s also a professor of English and Film Studies, and the co-host (with Ryan Engley) of the excellent theory/philosophy podcast, Why Theory.
We break down psychoanalytic terms for people new to the concepts. We also talk about why Freud matters now more than ever, how psychoanalysis lens applies to politics, Wittgenstein as a bridge between analytic and continental philosophy (don’t worry, we explain what those are), how capitalism works, why we need to want what we want, christianity and psychoanalysis, solipsism, symbiosis, why disseminating ideas matters, the important and dismissible Slavoj Žižek, and what constitutes clothing in a nudist colony, among other things.
One of my favorite things about this episode is the way that Todd and I find a balance with each other’s ideas. I had so much fun talking with him.
SHOW NOTES are available to everyone here.
Until next time!
XO
CH
FL