Episode

12/5 How World War I Devastated The American Left w/ Adam Hochschild

December 5, 2022

Sam and Emma host Adam Hochschild, lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley School of Journalism, to discuss his recent book American Midnight: The Great War, a Violent Peace, and Democracy’s Forgotten Crisis. First, Sam and Emma run through this weekend’s updates on the Georgia runoff, the North Carolina power station sabotage, this week’s Supreme Court cases, and more, before watching Pete Buttigieg put his McKinsey training to use in his platitude-laden defense of putting down the freight rail workers. Adam Hochschild then joins as he dives right into the decade leading up to his World War I era of “American Midnight,” parsing through the various arenas of violence that were simmering at the start of the 20th Century, with mass suppression of labor struggles, immigrant movements, and Black communities all boiling over with the start of the War. Next, Hochschild focuses on Woodrow Wilson’s presidency, highlighted by a crackdown on civil liberties alongside an expansion of the federal presence both domestically and internationally, using the War as an opportunity to establish the US as a military power, before parsing more carefully through the role of the Espionage and later Sedition Acts, and the Wilson administration’s attack on public dissidents. Continuing post-war, Adam, Emma, and Sam walk through how the treatment of the Espionage Act evolved, including Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr’s eventual Supreme Court dissent and the reaction to the over 1000 arrests under these laws and their local counterparts, also exploring the impact of this suppression on the socialist and labor movements in the US, before diving into the story of Mitchell Palmer’s anti-immigrant crusade to help bolster a run for the presidency and how he was thwarted. Wrapping up, Hochschild tackles the role of prohibition in the American Midnight, and explores the impact this period had on the American political pendulum moving forwards.

And in the Fun Half: Sam and Emma discuss Biden’s shallow attempt to frame his undermining of the freight rail workers as inevitable, Herschel Walker’s inscrutability, and Jimmy Dore’s argument on why having David Duke is a good presence in discourse, actually. They also parse through Matt Taibbi’s incredible reveal that Hunter Biden has a penis and PR teams exist (incidentally, also employed by the Right), Donald Trump talks about suspending the constitution while Republicans stay in line behind him, plus, your calls and IMs!

Check out Adam’s book here: https://www.harpercollins.com/products/american-midnight-adam-hochschild?variant=40001056014370

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