KPFA: Against the Grain [Program Feed]

  • Secrecy and the U.S. Security State
    Secrecy is a fundamental aspect of the U.S. security state. According to Joseph Masco [1], the logics and dynamics of official secrecy do more than prevent the release of information; they also have profound effects on U.S. society. What Masco calls the security/threat matrix can be traced back to the effort to withhold information about the atomic bomb. Maguire, Rao, and Zurawski, eds., Bodies as Evidence: Security, Knowledge, and Power [2] Duke University Press, 2018 Joseph Masco, The Theater of Operations: National Security Affect from the Cold War to the War on Terror [3] Duke University Press, 2014 [1] [2] [3]
  • The New Right’s Origins in the Labor Battles of the 1930s
    What are the origins of modern conservatism?  The failed Goldwater campaign?  Or the Cold War era discontent of midwestern small capitalists?  Historian Kathryn Olmstead argues that it should be located even earlier, in the intense and massive labor unrest that took place in the fields of California in the 1930s.  The response by growers and other elites pioneered methods that have become familiar today, from deploying populist rhetoric in the interests of big business to funding ostensibly grassroots organizations. (Encore presentation.) Resources: Kathryn Olmstead, Right Out of California: The Big Business Roots of Modern Conservatism [1] The New Press, 2015 [1]
  • Radical Rupture in Paris
    In March 1871, socialists, anarchists, workers, and others took control of the second most populous city in Europe. Before it was brutally suppressed two months later, the Paris Commune constituted a worker-controlled, radically democratic alternative to the capitalist status quo. David B. Downing [1] discusses the Commune’s beginnings, its accomplishments, and its legacy. Socialism and Democracy [2] David Downing, Just Theory: An Alternative History of the Western Tradition [3] NCTE, 2019 [1],-david/ [2] [3]
  • Power and Solidarity on the Docks
    Dockworkers the world over have a long tradition of both power and militancy, able to block the flow of cargo and jam up the workings of capitalism.  The International Longshore and Warehouse Union in the San Francisco Bay Area has been one of the most radical of American unions.  Historian Peter Cole discusses the fascinating story of the ILWU and how an originally white workforce committed itself to racial equality and integration — and how the later majority black workforce became the radical backbone of the anti-apartheid and international solidarity movements in the Bay Area. Peter Cole will appear at Shaping San Francisco [1] on March 13th at 7:30pm and San Francisco State University’s Labor Archives and Research Center [2] on March 14th at 12:30pm. Resources: Peter Cole, Dockworker Power: Race and Activism in Durban and the San Francisco Bay Area [3] University of Illinois Press, 2018   [1] [2] [3]
  • Should the Left Engage With the State?
    Many people on the Left have come to believe that we can and should change the world without taking power. While some of the arguments emanating from people like John Holloway are valid, says Paul Christopher Gray [1], he believes that engaging with the state and vying for state power can, under certain circumstances, lead to fundamental social and political transformation. (Encore presentation.) Paul Christopher Gray, ed., From the Streets to the State: Changing the World by Taking Power [2] SUNY Press, 2018 [1] [2]
  • Myths of a Classless Society
    In school we learn that, from its inception, the United States avoided the class sins of Europe, creating a level playing field without noblemen or kings, where those from the most humble backgrounds could succeed. Accordingly, class is usually missing from the history we’re taught. Yet historian Steve Fraser argues that the vision of American society as classless is a delusion and, through an examination of key episodes in US history, he reminds us that class has always been a key force – and remains so to this day. Resources: Steve Fraser, Class Matters: The Strange Career of an American Delusion [1] Yale University Press, 2018 [1]
  • Fund Drive Special: Nonviolent Communication
    Psychologist Marshall Rosenberg pioneered a process of connecting with others called Nonviolent Communication.
  • Fund Drive Special: The Science of Fasting
    Pioneering researcher Valter Longo, Edna Jones Professor in Gerontology, Professor in Biological Science, and Director of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California, discusses the pitfalls of traditional liquid fasts and the research on the effects of fasting mimicking diets on cardiovascular, disease, cancer, and autoimmune and neuro-degenerative diseases.
  • Fund Drive Special: Getting More Out of Fiction
    Thomas Foster, a professor emeritus of English at the University of Michigan-Flint, discusses his book “How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines [1].” [1]
  • Fund Drive Special: Slavery’s Long Shadow
    “The Long Shadow,” a documentary film written and directed by Frances Causey, investigates the history and legacies of slavery and anti-Black racism in the U.S.
  • Fund Drive Special: Thich Nhat Hanh
    Zen master and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Thich Nhat Hanh on how to generate and cultivate happiness, mindfulness, and compassion.
  • Fund Drive Special: KPFA: Beacon of Dissent
    People are always struggling and resisting oppression — it’s a constant in history.  Yet much of the time we don’t know about such resistance, because those in power, and the media aligned with them, don’t see fit to report on it.  KPFA and its sister Pacifica stations have been the exception.  We play highlights from some of the many struggles that have been waged over the last nearly 70 years, and captured on tape by KPFA.  
  • Fund Drive Special: Ram Dass and Timothy Leary
    A look at the ideas, adventures, and life trajectories of cultural icons Timothy Leary and Ram Dass.
  • Shortening the Work Week, Moving Beyond Work
    More than a century ago, the Industrial Workers of the World, or Wobblies, called for the four-hour workday.  Should we be considering something similar now? Kathi Weeks explores why radicals should envision a world where work is not central to our existence. She also discusses cutting the work week, without a cut in pay, and a basic guaranteed income. (Encore presentation.)
  • Communal Joy
    Happiness seems elusive in our society, despite the many industries attempting to sell it through a multitude of products and services.  What’s missing, according to feminist Lynne Segal, is the sense that our happiness is intertwined with the happiness of others.  She calls for reclaiming radical joy, through collective life and activism. Resources: Lynn Segal, Radical Happiness: Moments of Collective Joy [1] Verso, 2018 Sheila Rowbotham, Dreamers of a New Day: Women Who Invented the Twentieth Century [2] Verso, 2011   [1] [2]

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