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The Progress Paradox: Revisiting Steven Pinker’s Brand of Optimism

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The Progress Paradox: Revisiting Steven Pinker’s Brand of OptimismIs the world a better place? Opinions vary, though the enduring Western-centric belief is that humankind has never had it better. This belief is commonly espoused by technologists who praise the information age for ushering in a new era of opportunity and prosperity. The information age, coupled with industrialization, has certainly shaped the world in ways previously thought unimaginable. Advances in technology have transformed everyday life. Facial recognition software. Artificial intelligence. Microchip implants. Renewable energy. Genetic engineering. A revolutionary mRNA vaccine designed in just two days.

Given all this progress, it’s hard not to believe in the “prosperity presumption,” the belief that the world, as a whole, is getting better. Indeed, techno-utopians who adhere to the prosperity presumption also hold the belief that any form of technological stagnation is antithetical to progress. Some of the biggest technologists fall under this category.

The Progress Paradox: Revisiting Steven Pinker’s Brand of Optimism

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Take Nobody’s Word For It: Sophie Watson

PODCAST
Sophie WatsonSophie Watson joins me to chat about her experience at Cambridge University, where she is currently working on an undergraduate dissertation about surrogacy. (Sophie’s proposed dissertation topic was detransition, but her advisors told her they would not and could not oversee this project, deterring her from writing it). In November 2020, Sophie published a piece in Unherd called “Cambridge is censoring any dissent on trans issues” about the student campaign against Kevin Price, a porter at Clare College who resigned as Labour Councillor rather than agree with a motion that included the statement “transwomen are women.”

Take Nobody’s Word For It: Sophie Watson

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“Identity Politics is Being Pushed Because it Disrupts Class Analysis” -Hamza Watani

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Hamza WataniHamza Watani joins me for an in depth conversation on the nature of identity politics to disrupt conversations around class. We also talk about the super straight movement, gender identity ideology, the wave of anti-woman bullying going on right now and much more.

“Identity Politics is Being Pushed Because it Disrupts Class Analysis” -Hamza Watani

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“A Lot of Adult Gays and Lesbians Quietly, Secretly Agree” -Arty Morty

PODCAST
Arty Morty Arty Morty sits down with Sasha for an in depth conversation about what made him start to question gender identity ideology, the realizations that come with being outside the popular opinion of the cultural mainstream, the problems plaguing worthwhile social justice movements today, and so much more.

“A Lot of Adult Gays and Lesbians Quietly, Secretly Agree” -Arty Morty

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Substack: A Re-Assembling of the Old Media

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Over the past several months, many of these reputable voices – including high-profile journalists – have been jumping ship from their safe, cushy jobs to join Substack, a newsletter-based subscription platform, to escape the onslaught of ideology, censorship, and rigid editorial control.

Some are calling this migration the “beginning of the gold rush," others are comparing Substack to the old Internet, while others are likening it to the early newsletters of the 17th century. In some ways, Substack does harken back to the old blogosphere; it is reminiscent of a former Internet, and elicits a certain sense of nostalgia. As tempting as it is to see this as a step towards building a rich information ecosystem, I fear this mass migration will simply re-organize the establishment class in new ways and create more toll booths on the information highway.

Substack: A Re-Assembling of the Old Media

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Sean P. McCarthy: r/WallStreetBets Should Scare the Elites

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Sean McCarthy Sean P. McCarthy is a comedian and co-host of the Grubstakers podcast, which covers the lives and misdeeds of billionaires. Sean joins me to talk about GameStop, Wall Street, populist movements, and why this story about the stock market should matter to all of us.

Sean P. McCarthy: r/WallStreetBets Should Scare the Elites

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Jodi Shaw on Smith College, Neo Racism, and Free Thinking

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Jodi Shaw Jodi sits down with Sasha to tell the story of how she came to be at the epicenter of a discussion about racial bias training and the nature of oppression and conformity. Jodi is a Student Support Coordinator in the Department of Residence Life at Smith College in Massachusetts, a women’s university which is also her alma mater. She is currently on paid leave.

On Oct 27 2020, Jodi posted a video on YouTube titled “Dear Smith College: I Have a Few Requests”, in which she addresses the “policies and initiatives” that she sees as creating “a divisive, racially hostile work environment”. Jodi specifies that she is a life-long liberal, but that she considers this a human issue of reducing people to racial categories.

Jodi joins me on Crossroads for an in-depth conversation about the courage it takes to speak out, how she sees this as a workplace conditions issue, and about the reaction she has received since making that first video.

Jodi Shaw on Smith College, Neo Racism, and Free Thinking

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On the Rise of Hyper-Individualism

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Individualism is highly coveted in Western culture. Entire industries exist exclusively to profit off of our increasingly unhealthy preoccupation with ourselves. And with the arrival of the Internet, many more opportunities for people to express their individuality emerged.

Chatter about individualism grew amid the pandemic, with issues of identity being the focal point of many debates. The question of identity and its related discontents became a mainstay of public discourse.

These issues didn’t start in the pandemic, nor did they emerge with the rise of post-modernist thought – which has been years in the making. Indeed, today’s preoccupation with identity has a long history – and its popularity largely stems from transformative changes undergone in the centuries preceding, though at that time, it had a different name.

On the Rise of Hyper-Individualism

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How about a coup against Silicon Valley?

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Google - artwork by Andrei Lacatusu A decade ago for a brief moment following the 2008 global economic crash, there was a world-wide wave of angry emotion when the unbridled greed of the dominant capitalist elite was suddenly laid bare. Here in the US this engendered a movement called Occupy, which started in Zuccotti Park in the New York City financial district and spread quickly throughout the country.

Occupy, with all its imperfections, was widely viewed as a genuine populist movement. The movement focused on issues of economic inequality and coined the phrase ‘we are the 99%.’ Chris Hedges said at the time in an article on Truthdig that “Occupy articulated the concerns of the majority of citizens.”

Occupy set off a powerful emotional surge that swept across the country and genuinely frightened the elite. The State moved quickly to ensure that Occupy was effectively quashed. Under Obama, the federal government and local police forces joined to dismantle, often brutally, Occupy encampments across the country. No effort was spared in terms of mass arrests, surveillance, and other forms of State powered repression to ensure that Occupy couldn't metastasize into anything lasting or inspire any actual challenges to power.

How about a coup against Silicon Valley?

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Canceled for disagreeing with the BLM organization: Tabitha Morris

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On June 9th 2020, Tabitha Morris posted a video on Facebook in which she stated that she does not support the Black Lives Matter movement. When the video went viral, Tabitha’s place of work, a Kentucky hospital, received thousands of complaints and threats, and fired her from her job of twenty years.
All you hear on the news is celebrities that are being canceled, famous people that are being canceled. The story is it's not just celebrities. It is regular everyday American people—we don't have millions of dollars to fall back on. - Tabitha Morris

Canceled for disagreeing with the BLM organization: Tabitha Morris

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