Greg and Mike think about what the practice of history is for — whether or not it should have a purpose or destination, how it opens up or forecloses certain possibilities, and what historical ‘objectivity’ really consists of.
Greg and Mike talk (political, social, economic) revolution: what it is, when it’s necessary, how it’s represented, and what history has to teach us. Then, they turn to the present—the revolutions, or lack thereof, that we’re facing, and the challenges that incipient revolutionaries face in current conditions.
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 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.