Background Briefing: August 29, 2019


The Deadly Legacy of David Koch

We begin with the passing last Friday of David Koch who, despite being eulogized in the right-wing press as a philanthropist, along with his brother Charles was a greater funder than even Exxon Mobile of climate change denial, the consequences of which David will not live to endure. We are joined by Ryan Cooper, a columnist at The Week where he just wrote the article, “The Terrifying Legacy of David Koch,” and we discuss why Koch will be mostly remembered for the degradation of the planet and the ascendency of Donald Trump, who the brothers have vainly attempted to distance themselves from but who has clearly proven to serve them and the agenda of their billionaire class. We also look into the Koch’s political network of voter databases and political hirelings at every level of government which will live on past their deaths, and how much they have managed to reshape the GOP into a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries.


Elizabeth Warren’s Surging Campaign

Then we examine the ambitious and unconventional candidacy of Elizabeth Warren, who, after having been written off by many in the press at the launch of her campaign, has seen a steady rise in the polls due to a down-to-earth personal touch in retail politics coupled with her intellectually rigorous yet pragmatic policy plans. Moira Donegan, a writer living in New York who has an article at The Atlantic, “Elizabeth Warren’s Radical Idea,” joins us to discuss how Warren, following the example of Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign, has mastered a fundraising strategy that does not require selling her soul to big donors and instead allows her to serve the economic interests of the party’s base. However, unlike Bernie, she has managed to remain in the good graces of the Democratic Party’s establishment.


The New Language of Capitalism

Then finallyJohn Patrick Leary, a visiting professor at Swathmore College, joins us to discuss his new book just out, Keywords: The New Language of Capitalism, which provides a glossary of terms such as human capital, innovation, knowledge work, thought leader, curator, sharing economy etc. He maps out how these euphemisms are deployed by industry titans and the business press in an attempt to obscure unequal labor relations and imbue an unquestioning faith in new, often disruptive technologies whose thought leaders co-opt environmentally-friendly words like sustainability to normalize profit-making.