Theory Of Everything

Authoritarian Schizophrenia

Right wing populists have stormed the world wide web. They even have a beachhead in China. Chenchen Zhang tells us about the racism and misogyny she found on the knowledge sharing platform Zhihu. And Leta Hong Fincherexplains why patriarchal authoritarianism is central to the success of the Chinese Communist Party.

Chapter six in the new ToE Failure miniseries.

Patriarchal Authoritarianism

In 2015, the Chinese government arrested and held five young women in prison for 37 days because they were planning to pass out stickers raising awareness about sexual harassment. Leta Hong Fincher tells their story in her new book, Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China. She also explains just why the subjugation of women is necessary for the success of China’s patriarchal authoritarian regime.

Baizuo (白左) The White Left

We’ve been focusing on YouTube for most of this series, but in this episode Chenchen Zhang, a researcher based out of Brussels, gives us a tour through Zhihu, the Chinese equivalent of Quora. It’s there she finds the term Baizuo, or White Left, which roughly translates into… libtard.

Jordan Peterson on Zhihu
A comment on Chenchen Zhang's paper

She introduced the term to America with a piece she wrote for OpenDemocracy. And she helps us understand the global phenomenon of fascism’s resurgence through the eyes of China.

The Greater Firewall

China’s next generation surveillance technology is being used to build out the world’s internet. But China is also exporting new philosophical and business models. Hao Wu explains how live streaming in China is powered by failures and James Griffiths explains why the free and open internet may soon be replaced by Cyber Sovereignty.

Chapter five in the new ToE Failure miniseries.

People's Republic of Desire

In 2015, the Chinese equivalent of YouTube was live-streaming. Filmmaker Hao Wu explains the Chinese model of internet video stardom in his film The People’s Republic of Desire.

The Cyber Sovereignty Model

Most people think of the Great Firewall as the foreign sites China blocks within its borders – but in his new book, The Great Firewall: How To Build and Control and Alternative Version of the Internet author James Griffiths wants us to see how it operates in the Chinese version of the internet. 

Bad Recommendations

John Herrman EXPOSES the truth about YouTube’s paranoid style. ToE’s Andrew Callaway DESTROYS Jordan Peterson. (Must listen!!!)

Chapter four in the new ToE Failure miniseries.

The Paranoid Style

The last time John Herrman came on the show he helped us understand Facebook. He is one of the most astute critical voices when it comes to making sense of thee big tech platforms. But YouTube, he admitted is the one that’s the most difficult to wrap your head. YouTube’s paranoid style is routed in this opacity.

Down the Algorithmic Rabbit Hole

ToE’s Andrew Callaway lost one of his best friends to Jordan Peterson. He sets out to prove once and for all why Jordan Peterson + YouTube = Danger.

Failure (interlude)

Failure has always been a key concept for your host so this week we pull two stories out of the Benjamen Walker podcast archive. First a musical number about the loser behind Blue Suede Shoes and second a morality tale about the artist Paul Gauguin’s spectacular Paris blowout.

Blue Suede Shoes

Carl Perkins was all set to perform his hit Blue Suede Shoes on live television for the nation when an accident occurred that paved the way for Elvis to become the king of rock.

Dancing Monkey

In August 1893, Gaugin returned to Paris from Tahiti and set up a big exhibition to show off his new paintings, his new hat, and his new girlfriend. This show was a failure.

Institutionalized

Critic Anand Giridharadas demystifies the rise of the thought leader, artist Chris Vargas rememorializes the Stonewall riots and your host clears up which side of the YouTube platform he stands on.

Win/Win

For many years Anand Giridharadas participated in the world of thought leaders, he did his TED Talk, he was a fellow at the Aspen Institute but in his new book, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, he explains how the game is rigged and the thought leader is expected to prop up a WIN WIN ideology that only benefits the rich.

Our Comments Section

Your host addresses some of the comments we’ve been receiving.

Absorbed by Institutions

The artist Chris Vargas has always thought the Gay Liberation Monument in Christopher Park was ridiculous as a memorial to the Stonewall riots. When offered the chance to make the Stonewall Re-Memorialization Project at the New Museum,  Chris has to figure out how to do institutional critique in an institution.

The Gay Liberation Monument
The Stonewall Re-Memorialization Project
Nicki Green's “Forces of Faggotry” -or- Brick as a negotiation of the precarious duality of being seen and burning it all down
The New Museum absorbed by The Museum Of Transgender History & Art

Cultural Marxism Industry

In the 1930’s, Theodor Adorno fled Nazi Germany. In America, he studied the Authoritarian Personality. On YouTube, he’s the object of study in a massive conspiracy theory that many have tried (and failed)  to debunk.

Chapter two in the new ToE Failure miniseries.

Adorno Changed My Life

In 2009, film student Georg Bach made a documentary out of user-generated content solicited from members of a Facebook group called Adorno Changed My Life.

We wonder where people would go today to talk about Adorno.

Adorno Destroyed My Country

On YouTube, Adorno is a central figure in the Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory. In 2010, Martin Jay published an essay in the journal Salamagundai called Dialectic of Counter-Enlightenment: The Frankfurt School as Scapegoat of the Lunatic Fringe to explain his role in the spread of this conspiracy theory and to once and for all debunk it!

He failed.

He walks us through what went wrong and how we might find a way forward in Adorno and the Frankfurt School’s study of the Authoritarian Personality. Martin’s new essay will be included in a collection forthcoming from Verso.

The People Have Spoken

Filmmaker Astra Taylor asks “What is Democracy?” and YouTube creates the most disliked video in the history of the platform. Chapter one in the new ToE Failure miniseries.

Befriended by Democracy

Astra Taylor’s new film, What Is Democracy? is a philosophical quest into the meaning of a system that is in crisis. She takes us to Athens to explore the origins of democracy and see it’s failure today. Wendy Brown argues that democracy needs bounds while Cornel West insists it has to be global. 

Astra’s quest also takes her to Sienna, the birthplace of capitalism. She takes a look at a fresco from 1338 called The Allegory of Good and Bad Government with the philosopher Silvia Federici  who shows us what is missing from democracy today.

What is Democracy? opens in New York at IFC on January 16th check the website for other cities

Disliked by YouTube

Meanwhile on YouTube, Louis CK’s leaked tape suggests he’s serious about making a comeback: because the quickest way to the top is over the bodies of your vanquished politically correct enemies

and your host gets lost in Free Speech YouTube and discovers a straw man and a spectre that is haunting technology companies

Failure (prelude)

After Meghan Daum’s marriage falls apart she meets some new friends on YouTube. Also, reporter Paris Martineau tells us about a new game changing online harassment tool: the thotbot.

IDW

When Meghan Daum’s marriage ended, she gave up on HBO and Netflix and switched over to YouTube. She wrote about it in a Medium piece called “Nuance: A Love Story.”

Thotbot

Over thanksgiving, while many people were celebrating with their families, Paris Martineau discovered a group of men’s rights activists created a tool to harass sex workers.

Bonus 2018

Earlier this summer at a listener meet up in Vancouver your host learned the difference between Listeners and Fans. Find out why this distinction matters. And if you are a fan or a listener donate now to the 2018 Radiotopia campaign! Also: Benjamen and Andrew talk about 2019 AND a bonus segment from ToE special corespondent Chris.

Victory is ours

Mark Galeotti takes us into the Soviet Gulag to tell us the brutal history of the Bitch War, ToE’s Andrew Callaway checks in on the war on smoking and P.W. Singer explains how #likewar works. Plus Sleeper Net?

BitchWar

Mark Galeotti author of The Vory: Russia’s Super Mafia takes us inside the wild world of the Russian Bitch War.

War on Smoking

Andrew and his mom become the most hated people in San Francisco as they continue to smoke cigarettes while the state burns around them.

LikeWar

In P.W. Singer’s latest book, LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media, he takes us to the #likewar battlefield. We learn how ISIS used social media to take mosul and how sleeperbots won the election of 2016.

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