Zero Squared #46: Political Determinism

Nov 25th, 2015 | By | Category: Articles, Zero Squared

zerosquared46C Derick Varn is a poet, teacher, and theorist. He currently lives in Cairo, Egypt and has previously taught in South Korea and Northern Mexico. He is a lecturer in English Literature, Composition, and Intercultural communication. Even though I have never met in him in person I consider Varn to be, at this point, an old friend. He is a reader at Zero Books and a regular guest on the Zero Squared podcast.

This week we return to discussing Russell Jacoby's Dialectic of Defeat and end up discussing the problem of “political determinism.” Political determinism is the one sided idea that political will rather than economic necessity shapes the world.

An easy way to understand what political determinism is to consider conspiracy theories, or more accurately the conspiracy theory of history. From the perspective of the deep conspiracy theorist, history is determined by willful acts. There is no such thing as an accident. All plans work out as they are envisioned. If there are poor people in the world it is because somebody, somewhere, wants it that way. The radical alternative to this conspiracy theory version of history is one that admits for unintended, but not acausal, consequences.

If you're a regular listener to this podcast I have two requests for you. The first is to ask you to check out Zero Books new youtube channel. Just search for Zero Books at youtube to find it. Also, if you like this little show you might leave a review at iTunes. If you like the press take a look at our website. Zero Books has six new titles coming in December: Slave States, The Space of Writing, Drone Apocalypse, Against Capitalist Education, Enjoying It: Candy Crush and Capitalism, and Positive Realism. These books make great Holiday gifts for the grad student or communist in the family. Okay, so that was three requests.

In this episode you'll hear from Mister Speedy Delivery, Mister Rogers, a Walmart factory worker, a clip from Sam Cooke's hit “Chain Gang” and Dan Lett's “Green Sharpie.”

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