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I've never met anyone quite as Marxist as writer and activist Malcolm Harris; at least not anyone I liked talking to this much. Malcolm and his excellent book, Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials, are utterly convincing arguments for Marxism. And his writing creates a powerful portrait of difficult times, and contextualizes the challenges millennials face, rather than just bemoaning kids.
On a hot Philadelphia day, Malcolm and I discussed the culture context millennials struggle in, why school is forced labor and homework is a hellscape, why academics fuck their own books over, the childhood ultimate ninja athlete challenge, why Only Fans can turn adult performers into bosses, whether or not anything exists outside the market, how homosexuality was exploited by capitalism (*cough* Grindr *cough*), why class relations predate capitalism, the history of (some) Marxists leaving out other struggles, why all workers "think of England" and none are overpaid, why protest does and does not matter, how we can't usefully talk about fighting capitalism as violence, and what tactics we could be developing.
• Malcolm is one of the original contributors to The New Inquiry, and his articles are all still up. He was also deeply involved in Occupy, and cut his teeth there. Here, also, is Malcom's essay, "Papers and Tigers: Was Lenin Really an Anarchist?" in Viewpoint Magazine, which was co-founded by Asad Haider who appeared on AEWCH 26.
• Here's the anarchist Bob Black's curmudgeonly and inspiring essay, "The Abolition of Work."
• In Kids These Days, there are a lot of references to Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine. Which serves as a retro-dystopian future come true. You can listen to the horrifying book-on-record here.
• I am all for kids dropping out of the forced labor of high school with the right preparation. Here's some help in the form of The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education.
• There's a nice tension between what Malcolm says about the impossibility of being outside the market and what George Ciccariello-Maher and I discuss in AEWCH 48 (and in his book Decolonizing Dialectics). Malcolm tries to go at it with "You do have an outside, but the outside is inside." (PS as an occultist, I think his better describes the material world than the market!)
• I give my friend, the gender studies professor Dr. Heather Berg a shout out on the show. We have an article coming out soon, so keep an eye out for it. We also appeared together on Moshe Kasher's podcast, Hound Tall.
• Lots more to come on AEWCH about Wilhelm Reich. But if this episode stokes your interest, here's a link to his Sex-pol essays. (Photo of dear old Wilhelm below.)
• It's a little, um, ironic? That Malcolm referenced Christine Delphy as someone who has a handle on why Marx would allow for broader critiques than strictly labor-based ones, since Delphy is notoriously anti-sex worker. So I won't be linking to her, thank you very much. I will instead take it as Malcolm's point, because his life and remarks actually match his principles.
• "Just because it's a screen, doesn't mean he's not working." Thanks for that, Malcolm!
Next episode is AEWCH 50, folks! AND there's a big patreon and podcast relaunch coming on 12/1. I'm so excited.
* Note: This is the LAST episode of AEWCH that will feature public access to the YouTube version of the show! Patrons at any level $1 and up get instant access to video versions of the show just for signing up! Click here to pledge now!