#181 | The Violent Myth Of White Erasure: Terror In Christchurch w/ Shane Burley

In this episode, I speak with author, journalist, and political researcher Shane Burley. We discuss the recent mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, in which an Australian white supremacist targeted Muslim worshippers at two separate mosques, leading to the deaths of 50 people — the largest in the nation’s history. We place this event within Shane’s larger analysis of far right ideology and insurgency, which has been thoroughly examined in Shane’s journalism on the subject, as well as in previous interviews I have had with him.*

In this discussion with Shane, we touch on an Op-Ed Alexander Reid Ross and Shane very recently co-wrote for The Independent, titled ‘How to defeat the cretinous ‘great replacement’ theory at the heart of the Christchurch mosque attack,’ in which they respond to the recent mass shooting in Christchurch by self-proclaimed white supremacist Brenton Tarrant. Aside from embodying the most vile and insurgent aspects of white supremacist ideological violence, Tarrant live-streamed the mass killing of 50 Muslim worshippers at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques on platforms such as Facebook and YouTube. Along with his eagerness to share his violent acts with the world, Tarrant left a "manifesto" of sorts, which clearly defines what his motivations were for the targeted attacks, including the highly dubious claims that the "white race" is being systematically replaced and displaced from their position of dominance in European and European-in-origin societies (United States, Australia, New Zealand, and the like) by "Non-European" races through mass migration and high birthrates.** We place this mass shooting in Christchurch within Shane's robust analysis of the patterns of far right insurgent violence, as demonstrated by the long and growing list of so-called ”lone wolf" attacks on minority groups in predominantly European and European-in-origin societies over the past several decades, and especially in the past five years or less. What is fueling these attacks, and how do we combat these horrible ideologies that embolden individuals to "take matters into their own hands"? We examine possible answers to this question by identifying the root of the anxiety inherent in white identity in the modern era, including the role late-stage capitalism and ecological collapse plays in giving rise to these outbursts of violence around the world.

Shane Burley is a writer and filmmaker who regularly reports on far-right movements in the US, as well as anti-fascist resistance, workers rights, and class struggle. He is the author of ‘Fascism Today: What It Is and How to End It’ from AK Press, and his work has appeared in numerous publications, such as Jacobin, Truthout, and Commune Magazine. 



Episode Notes:

- Read Shane and Alexander Reid Ross’ recent op-ed in The Independent: https://ind.pn/2uwtF9X

- Read Shane’s recent work in Truthout: http://bit.ly/2OjOHSd

- Learn more about Shane and his work at his website: https://www.shaneburley.net

- Follow Shane on Twitter: https://twitter.com/shane_burley1

- Pick up Shane’s book ‘Fascism Today: What It Is and How to End It’ from AK Press: http://bit.ly/BurleyFT

- The songs featured in this episode are “Öngyilkos Vasárnap” and “Hajnal” by Venetian Snares from the album Rossz Csillag Alatt Született.

#180 | Suspension Of Consciousness: Culting, Donald Trump, & The Voice Of The Gods w/ Milton Bennett

In this episode, I speak with sociologist Milton Bennett, director of the Intercultural Development Research Institute, and the creator of the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (also known as the “Bennett Scale”). I was introduced to Milton and his work by journalist Dahr Jamail, after a private discussion Dahr and I had about the dynamics of cults and "culting" within certain political groups, in particular between President Donald Trump and his base of supporters, as explored in Dahr's interview with Milton in the Truthout article 'Is There a Cult of Trump?'

What is a cult in the literal sense, and what is "culting"? As can be observed in the hardcore base of support for leaders such as Donald Trump, and other examples Milton is very familiar with, like the Rajneeshee cult in Oregon in the 1980's (explored in the Netflix documentary Wild Wild Country), "culting" is a very specific form indoctrination, often with a central figure that is actively, whether consciously or not, building an unquestioning base of followers. The first step in the “culting” process is to aggressively recruit; the second is control, which “includes specifically controlling the boundaries of the group”; the third step is coercion — “the cult leader always uses the limitation of alternatives as a strategy”; generate a conversion process — “which is a fast, transformative experience, not a long-term development”; finally, the maintenance of the group after this conversion process is instrumental.* In the exploration of this topic with Milton, we inevitably lead into his broader work in defining the development of intercultural sensitivity and communication, as expressed in the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS). As Milton explains, American society and culture is not, in a general sense, progressing toward intercultural understanding and sensitivity at all, and is in fact moving backwards on the scale, away from the third step of “minimization of difference” (which we have been stuck on, as Milton says) and toward step two and ultimately toward step one — “the denial of difference.” Trump, like all leaders that have engaged in this process, take advantage of the historical and sociological conditions of the societies in which they rise to prominence within, particularly ones that are in a state of crisis, ideologically or otherwise.

Professor Milton J. Bennett is the director of the Intercultural Development Research Institute, and is the creator of the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity. Milton is an adjunct professor of sociology at the University of Milano Bicocca in Italy. He holds a Ph.D. in intercultural communication and sociology and a Masters in psycholinguistics.

*Source: http://bit.ly/CultOfTrump

Episode Notes:

- Read Milton’s interview with journalist Dahr Jamail in Truthout: http://bit.ly/CultOfTrump

- Learn more about Milton’s work at the Intercultural Development Research Institute website: https://www.idrinstitute.org

- The songs featured in this episode are “Specters of the Future,” “Variations,” and “Être” by Nicolas Jaar from the album Space Is Only Noise.

#179 | We Will Not Arrive Intact: The Times Are Urgent, Let's Slow Down w/ Bayo Akomolafe

In this episode, I speak with Bayo Akomolafe — lecturer, activist, and the author of ‘These Wilds Beyond our Fences: Letters to my Daughter on Humanity’s Search for Home.' We pick up where we left off from when we last spoke over one year ago, and get into some of the overlying (and underlying) themes of his work, which includes a radical reshaping of the understandable, but often unexamined, sense of urgency we feel in a time of accelerating change and ecological collapse as we fully enter into the Anthropocene, "the human epoch."

The times are urgent, let’s slow down. I ask Bayo to elaborate on the deeper currents that run through his activism and writing, including what it means to “slow down” in a time of accelerating change and the catastrophic unraveling of the biosphere as we enter into the “the human epoch.” The Western encultured mind grasps for meaning, direct purpose, in order to “figure it all out” in the face of this global unraveling, as if we are clever enough to escape the planet we have molded in our image (impoverished, depleted, traumatized, ruined). The human being, within our current paradigm, is grasping for meaning in all this (this certainly includes myself). As Bayo elaborates in so much of his work, and in his recent essay ‘Coming Into The Sanctuary’ “[w]e cannot practice escape any longer — if we are to survive. We cannot cleanse ourselves of our sins or hope for the parting of the clouds to bring a convenient saviour. [W]e must now gesture toward hopes and worlds beyond modern imaginaries. Beyond humans. Beyond the intelligible. Beyond our usual ways of making sense. [W]e must go to the edges, toward the hedgerows teeming with hagodays and gargoyles and stuttered beings, and learn to [witness] with-ness the world we once banished to the peripheries of significance.”* We explore these questions and much more in this wide-ranging conversation.

Bayo Akomolafe is a husband and father, as well as an international speaker, poet and activist for a radical paradigm shift in consciousness and current ways of living. Bayo is globally recognized for his unconventional, counterintuitive, and indigenous take on global crisis, civic action and social change. He is the Executive Director and Coordinating Curator for The Emergence Network. Through his work with The Emergence Network, “Bayo hopes to inspire a diffractive network of sharing –- a slowing down, an ethics of entanglement, an activism of inquiry, a ‘politics of surprise’… one that does not treat the crises of our times as exterior to ‘us’ or the ‘solutions’ that conventional activism offers as discrete or separate from the problems that we seek to nullify.”**

*Source: http://bit.ly/2Tor3tz

**Source: http://bit.ly/BayoAbout

Episode Notes:

- Learn more about Bayo and his work at his website: http://bayoakomolafe.net

- Read his recent essay ‘Coming Into The Sanctuary,” quoted above and in the introduction to this episode: http://bit.ly/2Tor3tz

- Learn more about The Emergence Network: http://www.emergencenetwork.org

- Purchase Bayo’s book ‘These Wilds Beyond Our Fences: Letters to My Daughter on Humanity's Search for Home’: http://bit.ly/2EUNVYL

- The songs featured in this episode are “Sound & Color” and “This Feeling” by Alabama Shakes from the album Sounds & Color.

#178 | The Unsustainable Currency: The Environmental Footprint Of Bitcoin w/ Alex de Vries

In this episode, I speak with economist and cryptocurrency/blockchain specialist Alex de Vries. We discuss his research into the energy consumptive cryptocurrency Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency in the world at the present moment. I ask Alex to elaborate on how Bitcoin and blockchain works (in particular how Bitcoin “mining” and transactions work), Alex's research into the disturbing amounts of energy required to keep Bitcoin functioning and growing, Bitcoin's growing environmental footprint, as well as what these trends mean for the future for Bitcoin and decentralized cryptocurrencies more generally.

I first became aware of Alex and his work after coming across several major publications that were reporting on his work, in particular an article published in Motherboard that examined the massive, and continuously rising, amount of energy required to "mine" and process Bitcoin transactions globally -- a trend that may, on its own, lead to a 2°C global temperature rise within two decades (it’s worth mentioning that we are well that path, regardless). To put the amount of energy required to maintain Bitcoin's global use as the dominant cryptocurrency in perspective: “[Alex] de Vries’ research has found that Bitcoin’s energy consumption [is] roughly equivalent to the energy needs of Austria and may be more resource intensive than mining gold.”* To put it another way, Bitcoin transactions and “mining” in 2018 alone globally used about 0.5% of the total electric energy produced. It’s worth noting that that percentage will likely increase as long as the underlying structure of Bitcoin remains the same. In order to understand why this is the case and how we got to this point, I ask Alex to explain how Bitcoin operates, and why the decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, require so much energy to operate in the first place. I also ask Alex to discuss the possible ways Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, can move away from being so energy consumptive, while still remaining decentralized in its structure. We discuss this and more in this episode.

Alex de Vries is a Senior Consultant and Blockchain Specialist at PwC, and is the founder of the blog Digiconomist -- an educative cryptocurrency/blockchain blog, featuring news roundups, risk assessments and in-depth analysis. Alex is the author of the paper ‘Bitcoin’s Growing Energy Problem’ published in Joule, the findings of which we discuss in this episode.

*Source: http://bit.ly/2GV1iui

Episode Notes:

- Learn more about Alex’s work at his blog: https://digiconomist.net

- Alex’s research into the Bitcoin’s energy use can be found here: http://bit.ly/2UddcT2

- Read Motherboard’s article on Alex’s work ‘Bitcoin Mining Alone Could Raise Global Temperatures Above Critical Limit By 2033’: http://bit.ly/2GV1iui

- The songs featured in this episode are “Hatoa” and “Nightlite (feat. Bajka)” by Bonobo from the album Days To Come.

# 177 | The Great Dying: How The Colonization Of The Americas Cooled The Planet w/ Alexander Koch

In this episode, I speak with Alexander Koch, lead author of the recently-released 'Earth system impacts of the European arrival and Great Dying in the Americas after 1492,' a groundbreaking scientific paper that, as the title suggests, explores the dramatic global climatological changes that resulted from the “Great Dying" of indigenous populations in the Americas after first contact with Europeans in 1492. Alexander and his colleagues’ research has been making the rounds in mainstream media, getting extensive coverage at The Guardian, BBC, The Hill, and numerous other publications.

As Alexander and his colleagues’ research reveals, the "Great Dying” in the Americas ultimately led to the deaths of up to 90 percent of the indigenous population in North and South America, as a result of subsequent waves of infectious diseases and the genocidal actions of the European invaders. In turn, the widespread decline in population led a "7-10 ppm decrease in atmospheric CO2 between 1550 and 1650,” which "is the largest pre-industrial change in CO2 over the past 2,000 years.”* The average surface air temperatures dropped by 0.15°C globally, resulting in what has been defined as the coldest period during what has been described as the "Little Ice Age,”** which extended from about 1300 to 1850. I ask Alexander to elaborate on the details of this research, including how he and his colleagues were able to more accurately estimate the population density in the Pre-Colonial Americas, how many died as a result of contact with Europeans, and how this directly contributed to a shift in global temperatures and carbon output during that timeframe. We also fit the findings of this research within the context our contemporary understanding of the human impact on the global climate system in our present time, and how this research reframes our understandings of when the Anthropocene, “the human epoch,” initially began. We discuss this and more in this episode.

Alexander Koch is currently pursuing his PhD at University College London (UCL), which includes research combining the fields of climate modeling, historical geography and tropical ecology. Along with his colleagues Chris Brierley, Mark M. Maslin, Simon L. Lewis in the Department of Geography at UCL, Alexander is the co-author of the paper 'Earth system impacts of the European arrival and Great Dying in the Americas after 1492,’ the findings of which are discussed in this episode. 

*Source: http://bit.ly/2EfRlU7

**Source: http://bit.ly/2GMHCbC

Episode Notes:

- Read the paper 'Earth system impacts of the European arrival and Great Dying in the Americas after 1492’ at Science Direct: http://bit.ly/2EfRlU7

- Read the summary of Alexander and his colleagues research in 'European colonisation of the Americas killed 10% of world population and caused global cooling' published at The Conversation: http://bit.ly/2U9apds

- Mark M. Maslin and Simon L. Lewis is the author of ‘The Human Planet: How We Created The Anthropocene,’ which expands upon the implications of the findings in this research: http://bit.ly/2GPv1or

- The song featured in this episode is “Shred You To Bits (feat. Shigeto)” by The Gaslamp Killer from the album Instrumentalepathy.