Fireside Chats is a regular conversation from the Roosevelt Institute that explores the issues that can shape a New Deal for the 21st century.
On Fireside Chats, Mike talks to Chris about his new book, Twilight of the Elites. Chris explains how the American elite embraced meritocracy. Mike suggests some of the ways meritocracy can be critiqued, and Chris addresses them in turn. He describes the “iron law of oligarchy,” which says that all political movements inevitably produce elites. How did the egalitarian premise of meritocracy produce such an unequal outcome? And how does the new meritocratic elite justify itself?
On Fireside Chats, Mark talks with Rich Yeselson, a veteran of the labor movement, about the Wisconsin recall election and the decline of organized labor. Do Americans hate unions, or are they just indifferent? Are we all just free-riders on the benefits unions obtained for us? Was it a mistake to go after Scott Walker? Have unions put too much faith in electoral politics? Why does the more affluent, liberal wing of the Democratic Party find itself at cross purposes with unions? Rich argues that while it’s great that liberals like Paul Krugman, Timothy Noah, and Mark finally appreciate unions, bloggers and academics are no substitute for a broad social movement.
On Fireside Chats, Mike and Sarah talk about the possibilities for left publications when print is declining, then discuss the concept of “precarity” in work, and what it means for the future of organized labor. Sarah argues that recent college graduates, with unpaid internships and large student debt, are more like indentured servants than you might think. Then Sarah describes the new frontiers of progressive politics, and she and Mike talk about how feminism’s relationship to economics has changed over the last 40 years. Finally, Sarah attacks Sex and the City feminism, and gives a more substantial alternative.