Episode

3/27 Scenes From A Slow Civil War w/ Jeff Sharlet

March 27, 2023

Sam and Emma host Jeff Sharlet, professor of English at Dartmouth College, to discuss his recent book The Undertow: Scenes From a Slow Civil War. First, Emma and Sam run through updates on the Manhattan Grand Jury returning to their Trump deliberations, the LA school strike, the Supreme Court declining to address Kansas’ severe racial gerrymandering, UAW’s election drama, and an ex-Tucker Carlson producer testifying on behalf of dominion, before diving into Israel’s ongoing mass protests of Netanyahu stripping the judiciary’s power, and the cognitive dissonance of Israel’s “democracy for me and fascism for thee” perspective on the apartheid state. Jeff Sharlet then dives right into how his work reviews the United States’ failing relationship with fascism, and how he views his own relationship to it, as a long-time journalist covering the Right Wing, walking through the complete refusal to even use the term “fascist” to describe the right until Trump’s rise to power, and how his ascendency saw a marked shift of Christian Nationalism towards a cult of personality. After a brief definition of fascism, Jeff, Sam, and Emma parse through what role the cult of personality plays in fascism, and how the Christian Theocrats see Trump as more of an avatar, a tool of god to unite the right, before stepping back to look at the evolution of fascism over the last 80 years, looking at the global rise of fascism today, and its continued connection to cultures of aggrievement. Next, Sharlet looks to the 2020 election and end of Trump’s reign as a particular spark under the far-right, igniting their theocratic attacks on abortion and trans people, also touching on how the far right, and everyone else, view this “slow civil war.” Wrapping up, they explore the concept of the “rabbit hole” of the far right, the absurdity of appealing to a politics of irrationalism with rationalism, and why the strongest measure in the fight against fascism is stepping up and building beautiful things that people want to be a part of.

And in the Fun Half: Sam and Emma cover Biden’s incredibly mediocre response to criticism over the Willow project, Sam reflects on his appearance on the PBD pod, and Daniel from PA refutes the corporate claim that companies are job creators. Adam from New Jersey dives into non-US coverage suggestions, Donald Trump recycles 2-decade-old GOP talking points, and James Comer thinks Congress should decide local laws. Montana State Senator Daniel Zolnikov goes off on his NIMBY constituents, and Anesh from India argues that the patriarchy was an accident, but feminism is oppression, plus, your calls and IMs!

Check out Jeff’s book here: https://wwnorton.com/books/9781324006497

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