Episode 28: Victorians, Manners, and the Woke Wars, with Christine Emba

Stand up straight! The Washington Post‘s Christine Emba joins Shadi and Damir to ponder the positive aspects of the woke wars, the role of ideas in furthering social change, and the virtues of lukewarm takes.

Reading List:
Why George Floyd Died,” by Rod Dreher (The American Conservative)

Episode 27: Reassessing the Reactionary Right, with Damon Linker

Are we reaching a tipping point in our politics, and is the very legitimacy of our democratic system is being called into question? The Week‘s Damon Linker joins Shadi and Damir to discuss how a desperate narrative seems to be taking a hold on the Right, its historical antecedents, and whether the threat comes from an illiberal ideology or if our Union has always been more precarious than we thought.

Reading List:
When Conservatives Become Revolutionaries,” by Damon Linker (The Week)
Democracy Maybe,” by Lee Drutman, Joe Goldman, and Larry Diamond (Voter Study Group)

Episode 26: The Moral Trap of Universal Values, with Jamie Kirchick

Jamie Kirchick of the Brookings Institution and author of The End of Europe joins Shadi and Damir to talk race, anti-semitism, morality, and the ever-multiplying claims to universal rights that are driving the turmoil shaking Western societies to their cores. Come for Damir’s tinnitus, and stick around to find out if Shadi will end up a neo-neocon as the woke brigades take over the Left.

Reading List:
The Man Who Opposed Hate,” by James Kirchick (Tablet)

Episode 25: Peter Beinart on the One-State Solution

Peter Beinart joins Shadi and Damir to discuss his recent essays for Jewish Currents and the New York Times, in which he argues that with the two-state solution a dead letter in solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the only possible path forward is making a case for a bi-national state. Is this a tactical maneuver to expand the Overton Window to unblock the status quo? A desperate attempt to prevent Israel from considering worse solutions? Or a moral case energized by the ascendance of the social justice movement? (And what does it have to do with cancel culture?)

Reading List:
Yavne: A Jewish Case for Equality in Israel-Palestine,” Peter Beinart (Jewish Currents)
I No Longer Believe in a Jewish State,” Peter Beinart (NYT)

Episode 24: Can Religion Heal Our Racial Divides?

Shadi and Damir sit down their friend Robert Nicholson, Founder and Executive Director of the Philos Project (and one of the small handful of people who witnessed the birth of the idea for this podcast with his own eyes). Recently back from a trip to Minneapolis, Robert discusses facing up to our deep national dysfunctions as someone who has worked abroad, and how religion might end up being the best bridge we have across our gaping racial divides.

Episode 23: Progress, Religion, Steve Albini, and the Kinks

Shadi quizzes Damir about his belief in the possibility of progress and social change, before the conversation spins off into a discussion about the creative process, selling out, and the nature of success. (Plus bonus material for Patreon supporters.)

Reading (Listening) List:
How a Great Power Falls Apart” by Charles King (Foreign Affairs)
The Problem With Music” by Steve Albini (The Baffler)
Atmosphere” by The Oranges Band

Episode 22: Activism and Its Discontents (Live)

On June 23, Shadi and Damir went live on Periscope to discuss Shadi’s latest piece for the Atlantic, the tension between political change and negative externalities, their new Patreon account, and plans for a newsletter. Listen, or watch the video of the Periscope livestream below!

Episode 21: A How-To Guide to Thinking Through the Apocalypse

Shadi talks through his inner conflicts. Damir responds by minimizing the reality of what is happening. Also: why Americans are all fundamentalists (whether secular or religious), the appropriateness of activist-journalism, the empty symbolism of woke politics, and whether the New York Times should(n’t) be our lodestar. Relax, it’s all (probably) going to be OK.

Reading List:
Our Deathwish” by Jacob Siegel (Tablet)
The Coronavirus Killed the Revolution”, by Shadi Hamid (The Atlantic)
Waverley, by Sir Walter Scott

Episode 20: Fixing Things in Fragile Democracies, with Mikheil Saakashvili

The former President of Georgia joins Shadi and Damir to talk about how tricky reforms—such as police reforms—can succeed (and fail), about how identity is a slippery thing in the post-Soviet space, about liberalism, illiberalism, and Western haughtiness, and about his encounters with Donald Trump when he was just another rich guy with a political itch.

Episode 19: Cry Havoc. Really, Really Cry.

Very special guest Michael Signer joins the podcast to talk about his new book recounting his time serving as mayor of Charlottesville during the violence of August 2017. With America in upheaval, it’s an appropriate time to revisit that sad bit of recent history, but also an opportunity to think about what’s gone wrong with our politics, and what, if anything, can be done to fix it. A rich discussion.

Reading List:
Cry Havoc: Charlottesville and American Democracy Under Siege, by Michael Signer