Episode

11/28 How Reconstruction Was Thwarted And Its Lessons For Progressives w/ Dale Kretz

November 28, 2022

Sam and Emma host Dale Kretz, visiting assistant professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, to discuss his recent book Administering Freedom: The State of Emancipation after the Freedmen’s Bureau. First, Sam and Emma dive into updates on the US’ sanctions on Venezuela, Elon Musk’s targeting of left voices on Twitter, the collapse of Manchin’s permitting side deal, and Georgia’s early voting boom, before diving a little deeper into the blooming GOP Presidential race, with Asa Hutchinson addressing some of Trump’s recent associates. Dale Kretz then joins as he dives right into contextualizing the role of federal government in the leadup to the US Civil War, with no income tax or major presence before beginning to change as the South split from the country, pushing the North to set up its “Yankee Leviathan” of state-sponsored expansion Westward alongside mass investments into the mobilization of resources, the aggrandizement of its federal authority, and the set up of a veteran-focused welfare state. Professor Kretz then shifts focus to the visions of emancipation that were present in the US leading up to Lincoln’s proclamation, beginning with the more conservative theories grounded in colonization and imperialism, and the radical visions of abolitionists that focused on the bolstering of civil rights and redistribution of millions of acres of land to those that actually worked it, before diving into the actual program that attempted to bring about reconstruction: the Freedmen’s Bureau. This bureau, as Kretz explores, was essentially set up (as much American bureaucracy is) to undermine its own aims, with focuses on individual cases, means testing, and incredibly minimal funding ensuring the processes would move slowly and help reconstruct the lives of only a handful of the 4 million folks it was created for. Wrapping up, Kretz, Emma, and Sam explore how the populist movements that followed this era fell to the exact enemy that reconstruction failed to address (institutionalized and cultural racism), a problem that still presents itself to working-class solidarity today, and why a progressive left critique of bureaucracy must both emphasize the empowerment of its people as citizens, including serving them en masse and recognizing the stratification of civil rights.

And in the Fun Half: Sam and Emma discuss the ultimate grift of buying a silly little gift for a friend, before parsing a little further through Republican primary possibilities, diving into Donald’s untouchable nature, the fallout of his dinner with Kanye and Nick Fuentes, and Ben Shapiro’s lackluster response to such severe antisemitism. They also tackle Sam Harris’ departure from Twitter, Brett Weinstein’s acknowledgment of how well-practiced he is at apologizing for his blatantly false talking points, and Elon Musk’s continued petty reign over the Bird App, plus, your calls and IMs!

Check out Dale’s book here: https://uncpress.org/book/9781469671024/administering-freedom/

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