Manufacturing Dissent Since 1996
New interviews throughout the week

Health originally meant freedom from disease, and who wants to mention disease? So we go for wellness - at least those who can afford it. Maybe you beat yourself up in the gym, but then you pamper yourself, you follow Gwyneth Paltrow or some other celebrity wellness guru, you spend hours every day thinking about the things you're applying to your skin, about the things you're putting in your mouth, every aspect of your physical and mental health. The idea of doing anything with another person, or a group, just doesn't come up.

Writer Barbara Ehrenreich makes a case against the grim, utopian culture of personal fitness - from the alienated, hyper-individualized work of working out, to the managerial consumption of wellness - in our pop-soundtracked, synchronized march to whatever sized grave we're all just gonna end up in anyways.

Barbara wrote the article Body Work: The curiously self-punishing rites of fitness culture for The Baffler.


Posted by Alexander Jerri

Listen live from 9AM - 1:00PM Central on WNUR 89.3FM / stream at / subscribe to the podcast


9:15 - Anthropologist James C. Scott explores the politics of accumulation in the earliest agrarian states.

James is author of Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States from Yale University Press.


10:05 - Journalist Sarah Kinosian reports on state violence and US silence after Honduras's disputed election.

Sarah wrote the articles Families fear no justice for victims as 31 die in Honduras post-election violence and US recognizes re-election of Honduras president despite fraud allegations for The Guardian.


10:35 - Correspondent Ed Sutton watches the left run out the clock fighting itself while the world runs out of time.

Ex-expat Ed has been back in the US for a year now, running the highly recommended site Antidote Zine.


11:05 - Law scholar Anne Fleming examines the shifting intersection of lenders, debtors and the welfare state.

Anne is author of City of Debtors: A Century of Fringe Finance from Harvard University Press.


12:05 - Investigative reporter Rebecca Burns surveys the toxic legacy of lead pollution in East Chicago.

Rebecca wrote the article On Poisoned Ground: East Chicago’s legacy of lead pollution for The Baffler.


Episode 985

Staff Picks 2017

Jan 6
Episode 984

Most Clicked 2017

Dec 30 2017
Posted by Alexander Jerri


1: We don't have to do anything: How the Democrats found their dead end. | Thomas Frank

2: No path but revolution: Introducing the Communist Manifesto. | Jodi Dean

3: Trump is the endpoint: On cruelty and isolation in American politics. | Henry Giroux

 4: Replace the system, not the parts: Change beyond statues and hashtags. | Bruce Dixon

 5: Down with people: How cultural elitism went mainstream. | Angela Nagle

 6: Understanding the ascendant, collapsing state of modern conservatism. | Corey Robin

 7: The disintegration has already begun: Austerity politics at the end of Europe. | Yanis Varoufakis

 8: Conspicuous construction: A trip to McMansion Hell. | Kate Wagner

 9: Reclaiming democracy and rebuilding politics at Cooperation Jackson. | Kali Akuno and Ajamu Nangwaya

 10:  To protect capitalism from democracy: On the right's revolutionary plan for America. | Nancy MacLean

Episode 983

Seasonable Doubt

Dec 23 2017
Posted by Alexander Jerri

Welcome to the Moment of Truth, the thirst that is the drink.

Well, it's happening. The days are starting to get longer. More daylight time for me to fritter away, thumbing my nose at our rapidly degrading society and its sadistic norms. Yeah, I've got a bad attitude. Cuz, friends, our society runs on pure bullshit, and everyone knows it. But that's no reason to operate a mediocre restaurant. Well, maybe it is.

Maybe our society's current completely ass-upside-down arrangement of priorities is a reason to serve mushy falafel with watery tahini. The privatization of nature, the draining of wealth from working-class communities, and the poisoning of our air, soil and water, just might justify serving harrisa seemingly flavored with a hint of Murphy's Oil Soap. I'm not a chef, I'm not a restaurant manager, I'm not even a food saboteur, so I don't know what-all goes into making such decisions.

Our nation's systemic impoverishment of its elders and its children is an international scandal, as is our substandard health care system, and our underfunded public education system, if it can even be called a system, as fragmentary and haphazard a jalopy as it is. I'd think a restaurant would take the opportunity to provide food to their patrons of an enjoyable nature, given how parsimoniously joy is being distributed these days. Is now really the best time to overcook chicken shwarma till its texture is that of cork paneling? Surely now is the least opportune moment for serving dry shwarma, which can only exacerbate a diner's sorrow rather than relieve it.

Lentils should be cooked, of course, but a bit of resistance is desirable. They aren't rolled oats, for crying out loud. A lentil salad shouldn't be slurpable, like a milkshake. And serving them thus is no way to take my mind off Donald Dump's spastic narcissism, or Ajit Pai's perverse misguidance of the FCC, or Betsy DeVos's uneducated leadership of the Department of Education. I'm not telling you how to run your business. I'm not a businessperson. I'm only expressing what countless patrons are probably thinking.

They're thinking, "This food is only making us more dissatisfied. This food is monstrous. This food is corrupt as all hell. This food is the opposite of food, the way Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch is neither supreme, nor courtly, nor just."

What's with the tiny plastic bowl-shaped micro-vessel for pickle? Where did you find these, is there a store that... read more

Posted by Alexander Jerri

Listen live from 9AM - 1:00PM Central on WNUR 89.3FM / stream at / subscribe to the podcast


9:15 - Philosopher Tim Crane explains what atheists miss when they view religion from the outside.

Tim is author of The Meaning of Belief: Religion from an Atheist’s Point of View from Harvard University Press.


10:05 - Historian Keri Leigh Merritt examines the labor of poor whites living outside slavery in the Antebellum South.

Keri Leigh is author of Masterless Men: Poor Whites and Slavery in the Antebellum South from Cambridge University Press.


11:05 - Historian Judith Flanders explores the populist, adaptive, multi-purpose, meaning of Christmas.

Judith is author of Christmas: A Biography from MacMillan.


12:05 - The Hopleaf's Michael Roper reviews the year in craft beer capitalism, and the year to come.

Michael is owner of Chicago's The Hopleaf Bar, in its 25th year. Try the Bitterballen.


12:45 - In a Moment of Truth, Jeff Dorchen discusses The Socialist Leisure Work Ethic and the Spirit of Falafel.

He's talked about Socialist Leisure before, but this falafel thing is definitely a new development in his ideology.

Posted by Alexander Jerri

Welcome to the Moment of Truth, the thirst that is the drink.

While listening to the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds record, Murder Ballads, I was not looking for inspirational messages. I was not expecting any. But then the song came on, "Death is not the End," and suddenly a space opened up in my brainheart, or heartbrain, for the idea of the persistence of consciousness after the death of the body, and I got to feeling interested and cheerful. Interested again in life, which had recently become disturbingly empty, and cheered by the quasi-metaphysical thinking the brainheartspace allowed.

Occam's Razor is the idea that the simplest explanation is most likely correct. Writer, musician, and sports philosopher Robert Jacobson coined the term "Bozo's Mallet" to denote asinine misuse of the simplest-explanation theory. Or, it's the doctrine that the stupidest answer is usually the correct one. In any case, either Occam's Razor or Bozo's Mallet tells us the world exists. It sure seems to. Just take a look around. Or, if you're in the dark, grope around. Feel that?

And yet the world also seems not to be there. The present moment is fleeting. Matter and energy transform. All is transient. Your eyes and ears play tricks on you. Time leaves the past behind and moves into an unknown future. Experience is subjective. And when we fall asleep, we seem to enter another world in our dreams.

But the amount of detail reported about the external world is infinite and infinitesimally specific. If it's all an illusion, it seems like overkill. I would've been satisfied with a world that didn't get anymore finely-grained than molecules. If the illusionist wanted to fool me into believing in an external reality, there was really no need to come up with quarks and, for goodness sakes, a particle-wave paradox. Really, I would've been satisfied if the world were made out of pretzel dough. Or balanced on the back of a turtle. Or an infinite stack of turtles. You could've sold me anything.

If all that detail is purely for the sake of those with a desire to continue investigating ever deeper or farther into reality – well, I'm not one of those people. I check in on those people, just to keep up with what they're thinking, but much of it is gibberish. It's definitely wasted on me. Earth, Air, Fire, and Water would've been plenty of mystery. And yet, if the illusionist went to the trouble to make an illusory universe with details for... read more

Episode 982

Body Politics

Dec 16 2017
Posted by Alexander Jerri

Listen live from 9AM - 1:00PM Central on WNUR 89.3FM / stream at / subscribe to the podcast


9:15 - Journalist Jess Bruder explores the low-wage labor of senior nomads working at the end of retirement.

Jess is author of Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century from W.W. Norton.


10:05 - Live from São Paulo, Brian Mier profiles the resistance movements working and fighting in post-coup Brazil.

Brian's book of interviews, Voices From the Brazilian Left, is available to order now from Brasil Wire.


10:35 - Anthropologist Aaron Neiman connects worker pain to the pre-existing conditions of labor under capitalism.

Aaron wrote the essay A Pain in the Back for The New Inquiry.


11:05 - Writer Sara Wachter-Boettcher finds social inequality coded deep within the devices of Silicon Valley.

Sara is author of Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech fom W.W. Norton.


12:05 - Historian Robin D.G. Kelley finds the future of Black radicalism laid out in the paths of ancestors. 

Robin wrote the essay "Winston Whiteside and the Politics of the Possible" for the Verso collection Futures of Black Radicalism.


12:45 - In a Moment of Truth, Jeff Dorchen's imagination is sparked by a Nick Cave song.

Jeff keeping it light for the holidays.