Joining Michael Brooks on today’s show is Liz Franczak to discuss her new essay in the Baffler, “The Century of Spin,” and the origins of neoliberal sociopolitical culture. Liz Franczak recounts the story of Edward Bernays, who “pioneered the field of modern public relations after serving under Woodrow Wilson during World War I, overseeing propaganda initiatives aimed at selling the war to the public and maximizing recruiting efforts.” Bernays and his intellectual contemporaries felt that state managed economies and social democratic programs were a slippery slope to fascism. The masses needed to be guided by the intellectual class to stay away from what they thought was creeping fascism. This idea of “guided democracy” was developed by Walter Lippmann, a public intellectual and contemporary of Bernays, who sincerely thought he and his cohorts needed to take care of the unwashed masses. Which led to the summit at Mont Pelerin where Lippmann and leading classical liberal thought leaders (like Friedrich Hayek) convened to shape a new free market-based society committed to unwinding the post-war social democratic state in the West. Franczak argues the neoliberal rationality has created a new understanding of the Self as primarily itemized human capital. And while Europe has a longer historical understanding of the self to disentangle neoliberal culture, America does not have that advantage. Now several decades removed from the Mont Pelerin summit, what does our society look like? Franczak points out the failures of the neoliberal technocratic state and the nationalist populist rage railing against it, but wonders where does the rest of the country go? We run straight to the brands and things that make us comfortable Amazon Prime purchases, Instagram, and the things that provide us structure and security.
And in the Fun Half: the Senate votes to end US involvement in the war in Yemen, Howard Schultz’s Make-A-Wish campaign lays out its policy platform, Anand Giridharadas’s warning to Beto O’Rourke, thoughts on DNC super delegates, nuclear energy waste and private ownership, another failed Brexit vote, how Andrew Yang’s UBI misdiagnoses systemic economic problems, Laura Loomer’s latest investigative flop, and how a high schooler got the GOP Lt. Governor of Texas to pose with an “Abolish ICE” painting, plus your calls and IMs!
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