Tues 4.08.14 | The Art of Politics

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What does the world of art have to do with radical politics? What connections have artists forged with other workers, and with organized labor? When museums present themselves as politically neutral, should we believe them? In his new book, Nicolas Lampert places art and artists in the context of political activism and militant dissent.

Mon 4.07.14| Flame Retardants and Other Synthetic Chemicals

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We may not realize it, but most of us consume toxic flame retardants and other chemicals on a daily basis. California has just overturned the mandate that flame retardants be used on foam, but the chemicals remain in much of our existing furniture. Chemist Arlene Blum, who is partially responsible for the change, discusses the use of flame retardants in everything from sofas and mattresses to baby products.  And environmental historian Nancy Langston talks about how synthetic chemicals can trigger cancer and other illnesses in humans.

Wed 4.02.14| Robert Moses vs Jane Jacobs

Roberta Brandes Gratz, The Battle For Gotham: New York in the Shadow of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs Nation Books, 2010




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It was a struggle that shaped not only New York City's urban landscape but that of cities around the country. On one side was the father of urban renewal, Robert Moses, and on the other, urban critic Jane Jacobs. Roberta Brandes Gratz discusses what Moses did -- and tried to do -- to New York, as well as Jacobs' efforts to stymy him, and the long-term ramifications of their conflicting visions for the city itself. (Encore presentation.)

Tues 4.01.14 | Global Climate Crisis in the 17th Century

Geoffrey Parker, Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the 17th Century Yale U. Press, 2013






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The effects of climate change are here and serious, as the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has laid out in stark terms. While it may seem like uncharted waters in the modern era, our ancestors in the 1600s faced a global climate crisis in a century wracked by wars, famines, and social unrest. Historian Geoffrey Parker discusses the lessons of the 17th century, where elites -- with the exception of Tokugawa Japan -- responded to the "Little Ice Age" with wars and scapegoating.

Mon 3.31.14 | Linebaugh on Paine

Peter Linebaugh, Stop, Thief! The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance PM Press, 2014

Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man and Common Sense (with an introduction by Peter Linebaugh) Verso, 2009


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Peter Linebaugh, best known for tracing the history of the commons and of commoning practices, calls Thomas Paine "a planetary revolutionary.” He has found in Paine's lesser-known works radical critiques of inequality and authoritarianism and even the system of money wages. Many lessons for our time, Linebaugh argues, can be drawn from Paine's writings and his extraordinary life.

Wed 3.26.14 | Shortening the Work Week, Moving Beyond Work

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More than a century ago, the Industrial Workers of the World, or Wobblies, called for the four-hour workday.  Should we be considering something similar now? Kathi Weeks explores why radicals should envision a world where work is not central to our existence. She also discusses cutting the work week, without a cut in pay, and a basic guaranteed income.

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