Greg and Mike explore the Cold War from the perspective of the East, describing how it turned into a nightmarish dictatorship but also how the American (or Western) view of that dictatorship developed. They then turn to further discuss the actual ideological and political battles, particularly as waged in the ‘Middle West’—grappling with a legacy of fascism much larger than Germany and Italy—and the ‘Third World,’ ending on some of the surprising legacies we can see today.
Greg and Mike delve right in to the Cold War—or rather, the Cold Wars, laying out the four major world regions of the time and examining how the opposition between the ’West’ and ‘East’ operated ideologically, economically, militarily, and culturally.
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.
Greg and Mike delve into the historical conditions that permitted the birth of capitalism and the ways in which it was contested from the beginning, contrasting this with the traditional Marxist view that socialism comes after capitalism as a response. Then, Mike begins to recast the history of the 20th century as a series of three different responses to the problems of capitalism—communism, fascism, and ameliorated capitalism—that vied for power and control, before starting to clearly establish a distinction between social democracy and democratic socialism.
In a direct sequel to the last episode, Greg and Mike delve into one of the most important historical legacies of capitalism—the splitting of intellectual disciplines, particularly in the social sciences—and how it shapes and constrains our thinking.
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.
Greg and Mike discuss the vital importance of thinking holistically, working with an expanded concept of ‘culture’ to define why we have to think about material and immaterial issues at the same time, and some of the common intellectual habits that prevent us from seeing things holistically.
Greg and Big Mike jump right in: the crises we face; the immense scale of the change necessary to avoid a bleak, bleak future; the history of the systems, among them capitalism and socialism, that have brought us to this point.