34: The 2018 midterms and the meaning of life

Lance Selfa comes on the pod this week to discuss what midterms tell us about the state of U.S. politics. In addition to being an associate editor of the International Socialist Review and a frequent contributor to Socialist Worker, Lance is the author of The Democrats: A Critical History, published by Haymarket Books.

Before our conversation with Lance, Eric joins Jen and Danny to respond to a listener’s question about whether socialism can be compatible with religion. We cover lots of ground, including Marx’s famous (and misunderstood) quote about the opium of the masses, the hypocrisy and chauvinism of the so-called “new atheism,” and Danny’s deep discomfort with his mortality.

Links for our interview with Lance Selfa:

• “The Trumpification of American politics”: Lance’s recent article in Socialist Worker (http://bit.ly/Trumpification).

• Alan Maass’s “Six socialist takeaways from Election 2018” (http://bit.ly/6socialisttakes).

• Todd Chretien’s look at discussions among different socialists about the way forward after the midterms (http://bit.ly/aftermidterms).

• Sam Farber’s piece in Jacobin about Donald Trump as a “lumpen capitalist” (http://bit.ly/lumpenTrumpen).

• Lance’s book, The Democrats: A Critical History (http://bit.ly/Selfa).

Links for our opener on religion:

• The Meek and the Militant, Paul Siegel’s classic Marxist analysis of how religion can play both a reactionary and radical political role (bit.ly/MeekMilitant).

• Mike Marqusee’s sharp criticism of neoliberal secularism, “Contending for the living” (http://bit.ly/Marqusee).

• FYI, Danny’s got a chapter called “Is Socialism a Religion” in his book Socialism…Seriously (http://bit.ly/SocSersly)

Music for this episode:

The Boy & Sister Alma, “Lizard Eyes” (Dead Sea Captains Remix)Frank Ocean, “Bad Religion”

Stevie Wonder, “Have A Talk With God”

The Shazam, “Super Tuesday”

Rihanna, “American Oxygen”

Stealers Wheel, “Stuck In The Middle With You”

Death Cab For Cutie, “Good Help (Is Hard To Find)"