Greg and Mike dive into the intellectual origins of private property, and how the idea of private property was justified (or combatted) by different philosophers and theorists. Then, they relate the question of private property to different forms of utopia, and with that, return to the question of human nature as inscribed in the differing stories around private property and the nascent theory of liberalism.
Greg and Mike discuss two utopian texts—Thomas More’s Utopia and Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis—to think about how envisioning alternative societies casts light both on possibilities for other worlds, and changes the way we view our own. In particular, both texts envision the commons, or a common wealth, in ways still relevant for our society today. Greg and Mike also touch on the question of education, as currently embodied in institutions, and the kinds of education we need going forward.
Greg and Mike discuss the utopian ideas of Plato’s Republic, challenging the commonly held notion that he was speaking primarily about morality and instead reading him as a social theorist. Then, building off the centrality of education in Plato’s utopia, they start to imagine what education in a fairer society than our own might look like.
Greg and Mike explore how the Bible expresses utopian ideals, particularly around class and class society, and reflects ongoing ideological dilemmas the left today still has to face. Then, they look at real historical examples of people using religion for social change, and weigh the difficult question of two different historical times: the slow time of individual transformation, and the sometimes very rapid time of social and political transformation.
Greg and Mike continue the discussion of political utopias by explaining how concepts of human nature—the idea that human potential is limited by certain fixed properties, whatever they may be—limits political thinking both in the past and present. Then, Greg and Mike debate how limitlessly we should be thinking of our political potential—if there is a balance to be struck between who we are and who we could be.
Greg and Mike think about thinking—exploring why it is we are afraid of thinking about utopias, what actually constitutes ‘utopian’ thinking, and what blocks us from imagining more just, more equal political horizons.
Greg and Mike dive into the history leading up to the Cold War, from the Russian Revolution through the period following World War II, in order to show that the way we think about the history of socialism influences the way we think about it as a concept today. Then, they get into defining what precisely separates ‘ameliorated capitalism,’ social democracy, and democratic socialism.
The study of capitalism and socialism’s history begins with an extended consideration of what history is, and how it has been differently conceived over time—the history of history, which in some ways is also the history of capitalism. Greg and Mike explore this question to parse out the differences between a democratic socialist and capitalist perspective on history, to understand why it might be important to study history at all.
Greg and Big Mike discuss the way stories, fictional or not, influence how we think about the world, how we think about what is possible in the world, and how we need to shift our stories to shift what we think is possible.
In this transitional episode, Greg and Mike talk more about culture, which includes not just the world but the way we think the world, and offer some concrete examples while opening up a discussion about the history of capitalism writ large.