Behind the Bastards

There’s a reason the History Channel has produced hundreds of documentaries about Hitler but only a few about Dwight D. Eisenhower. Bad guys (and gals) are eternally fascinating. Behind the Bastards dives in past the Cliffs Notes of the worst humans in history and exposes the bizarre realities of their lives. Listeners will learn about the young adult novels that helped Hitler form his monstrous ideology, the founder of Blackwater’s insane quest to build his own Air Force, the bizarre lives of the sons and daughters of dictators and Saddam Hussein’s side career as a trashy romance novelist.

It Could Happen Here Weekly 62

It Could Happen Here Weekly 62

Sat, 10 Dec 2022 05:01

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I moved better because of cosentics. Cosentics, Sec You Can You Map, This for adults with active Soriatic Arthritis and is given as a 150mg dose that's taken once monthly. Don't use if you're allergic to cosentics. Before starting, get checked for tuberculosis. An increased risk of infections, some serious and a lower ability to fight them may occur. Tell your doctor about an infection or symptoms such as fevers, sweats, chills, musulets or cough. Or if you've had a vaccine or plan to. Tell your doctor if you're Crohn's disease symptoms develop or worsen. Serious allergic reactions may occur. Advocates were compensated. If you're a doctor, you can visit us at or by calling 1-844-cosentics. Don't wait. Ask your doctor about cosentics. Hey everybody, Robert Evans here and I wanted to let you know this is a compilation episode. Every episode of the week that just happened is here in one convenient and with somewhat less ads package. For you to listen to and along stretch if you want. If you've been listening to the episodes every day this week, there's going to be nothing new here for you. You can make your own decisions. Ah! Welcome to It Could Happen Here. A show about things falling apart and also putting things back together. Today we have an episode about, well this is kind of a big one folks. So everyone who listens to the show regularly will know that there have been a rash of attacks by the far right on drag queen story hours and kind of similar events to that. Events that are LGBT friendly events that also involve children. Have been regularly attacked all over the United States. At the same time, there have been escalating attacks by right wingers, often the very same people on reproductive health care resources clinics, that sort of thing. This is happening all over the country but one place where things have been particularly aggressive as of late is in New York. New York City and today we're going to be speaking with a couple of different people who live in New York who have been present at some of these actions and who want to talk about what's been going on with the far right and the attempts to defend these people in these organizations from right wing aggression. So I want to introduce Talia. Now Talia, you are known to our audience. You've been on this show and some of our other shows a couple of times in the past. Welcome to the show. Thanks for having me and hello to everyone who still remembers what I sound like. And do you want to drop your Twitter and stuff up at the top here too because you do a lot of on the ground reporting at different times in the city on events. It's pretty simple. It's Talia OTG as in on the ground. And yeah, that's where I do my reporting on events analysis, all that dumb shit. And then our other guests are two New Yorkers. Sorry, New York people who are both anti-fascist activists who have been present in the streets for a number of these recent events. I'd like to introduce Tom and Barry. Do we want to go around and do pronouns real quick here? I'm he him. Yeah, sure. I'm she or they. This is Tom. I'm he him. And I'm she her awesome. All right. Well, that is so I guess I'd like to kind of start and and hand it over to Talia if she wants to give kind of an overview of how all of this has has gone down. But basically we've seen I mean with the thing that surprised me most in the coverage that I have watched from a distance is how aggressive and large some of the right wing presence has been at like reproductive health clinics in New York City. I was kind of surprised to see that in New York. Yeah, so there's a group in New York called NYC for abortion rights and they host once monthly clinic defenses at the Planned Parenthood on bleaker in lower Manhattan. And they do that because there is a church nearby the public of old st. Pat's that hosts a coalition of anti abortion religious cell at groups. They organize these large. They're usually processions to the Planned Parenthood where they prey outside. They throw holy water on the building. They attempt to hand out propaganda and literature and intimidate people who are coming into the clinic for necessary health services. And these same individuals have been seen attending anti backs rallies that the man who weeds the procession to the Planned Parenthood. His name is Christopher Monsensky. He's also known as Fidelis and he has invaded clinics in white planes New York in I think East Hempstead. And he has been trying to revive Red Rose Rescue, which people who are familiar with the fight for reproductive rights are probably aware that that is the primary group that invades clinics and tries to harass patients, threatens doctors and care workers and all sorts of things. The main people who lead Red Rose are either in jailer have died thankfully. And he's trying to revive that here in New York. And he has attended rallies organized by far right conspiracists, anti-vax conspiracists. And he went to DC for the March for Life and then he stuck around for the my body, my choice, anti-vax rallies. It's very it's very contradictory. But we see these same people because they're aligning on conservatism, on crystal fascism. And we're seeing them pop up in shared spaces pretty frequently in New York in ways that I think are more transparent or like more easy to clock here, even if there is like a larger density of them that do mobilize to these specific things like clinic rosmines. Yeah, that's a really interesting point. And that's also what we've seen a lot in the Pacific Northwest. You know, we just had an attempt did rally at a drag queen story hour in Eugene. And it was a lot of the same old crowd who used to rally in Portland before they got scared off of Portland. Now, I'm wondering kind of what how would you characterize the response of the police to these events and how they kind of have have treated the right wing at these? Well, it is about as cliche as cliche comes because every single time when I've covered clinic defenses specifically, the police are helping move the procession along and threatening clinic defenders with arrest on the basis that they're blocking the roadway. They are, they essentially work as like secondary security. Sometimes they will split off from the other police and be like pushing and shoving clinic defenders on their own in a way that doesn't make any sort of strategic sense, but it's like they're getting enjoyment from doing that. It's the same story over and over again. You know, we see it in San Diego when anti fascists were mobilizing against like Trump supporters that were being very violent. The Trump supporters were doing the violent. And it was the police that were attacking the anti fascist trying to fight against like trying to defend themselves against the far right. And we saw the same thing at Penn State just the other night. Yeah, we did. The there was a gaggle of like proud boys or I think test Owen referred to them as fascists in all black who were macing the crowd. And they didn't do anything. The police escorted. There was an incident where a proud boy was assaulting or like somehow there was a fight that happened with a demonstrator and a proud boy and the demonstrator, the police through the demonstrator on the ground and then escorted the proud boy into the building where Gavin McInnes and Alex Stein were supposed to put on a very bad concept and then to happening. And then he went back to his friends. Jesus Christ. Yeah. I asked that question and I know everybody like listening and I know all of you knew like what the answer was going to be. I feel like you still have to like ask it. I am curious. The NYPD has a kind of manpower access to manpower and access to surveillance equipment that in my experience out does most nations. And I'm interested particularly in everyone's responses are welcome, but particularly what what Tom and Barry might have to say about what sort of roadblocks that provides towards organizing responses to these events and kind of how activists have had to adapt to that. This is Tom here. I will say it's very clear that the NYPD constantly monitors any sort of online space whatsoever. And I think most people know to organize you know in person or on signal with a small group of their friends rather than trying to get a larger group of people to come to a thing publicly on the internet. But because anytime that happens, it's like there's instantly you know that much larger of a police presence. You get dozens and dozens of what's called the SRG. The strategic response group, which I think, Tally can maybe speak on that a little more, but they're basically the hats and bats that come bust up protests. And I would also say that because of the sheer volume of events that these exact same group of people who are now attacking drag story hours and clinics, because we know this group already and they were having a daily anti-vax rallies, which objectively stopped kind of being a thing to consider, try to mobilize the kind of protest for. So I think there is kind of a large disconnect right now, which whether by design or accidentally, or I think a lot of people feel like people might attend a kind of protest that is might feel like, oh no, it's just the same idiots up to their nonsense again. You know that's the only worry about that, tell me if it's the crowdboys coming and then we'll mobilize to kind of protest. So I honestly feel that it's sort of a mental kind of mental associations that we have with these familiar faces. I mean, despite the fact that it's been kind of obviously gone observed that the anti-vax stuff is direct eyed line and radicalization platform for these more extreme, most inclusive fascists. Transphobia, now people still can't really attach that out. This is actually serious. So, but yeah, agree with what Tom said, but it's a matter of not dropping it. I'm sorry. I mean that gets to another kind of advantage these folks have, which is because of how much additional state repression, y'all are dealing with the kind of personal cost of attending these events and countering the right is higher, both in terms of potential. Risk and just kind of in terms of the trauma incurred. I know from personal experience, I mean, I haven't been out in the street in quite a while, about a year at this point, and I know a lot of other people who are in the same place because it just kind of. You know, you can't only take so much as an individual. What are some ways in which y'all is a community, try to cope with burnouts that you can continue to meet the pace at which the right is doing this stuff. I mean, I think it's really relying on other people like the same one, two or three or four or five people can't keep doing everything. Well, it shows people start to get exhausted. I think that it's time to take a step back, take a week off, take three weeks off. Like there have to be other people that are ready to step up. You know, throughout your community, but throughout everywhere. Yeah, and definitely I think there's going to be more of a need to emphasize that this requires every day and the fascists. I think in New York City, especially the kind of balance with a trap where any kind of proper call to counter those very. I mean, it's into style and wording, you know, very clear that it's a cow's red, black, if you water, things like that, and the kinds of people that are just community members that we actually do need to also show up and talk about. That's just that they're not welcoming their neighbor with cider. They're not going to respond to something back to the. And what can you say about sort of the numbers that you're seeing kind of on on both sides on the ground here? What's like a normal action looking like in terms of that? You know, just from reporting and keeping tabs on different types of protests in New York City, we have a lot of nonprofit and more established type groups that organize larger events. And those are typically just marches for visibility and awareness. And when it comes to a counter or some sort of direct action like mutual aid, for example, we see much smaller numbers, but those numbers that I mean that I see at least is that these are people who built community and communicate together as opposed to seeing a flyer and showing up just for that. One day, these are people who consistently are engaging with one another and with that space. So like I mentioned, mutual aid, we have Washington Square Park Mutually, which meets every Friday. And the core group that sets it up and distributes and everything is relatively small, but the people who have shown up to support in some capacity in the past two years that it has been active. And they all know each other and that doesn't mean that they're like necessarily like going to birthday parties together or donating kidneys to one another or something like that. It's not necessarily like best friend groups, but it's people who have built a sort of neighborhood in this ideology and in this space in this time. I would also say like these particular events have kind of brought in like a different group of people. It's not like the same crews of people that were doing other things because there's more kind of liberal people getting involved that are like coming to these drags for import drag queen story hour like defenses to, you know, be joyful and hold up signs and saying and like welcome people into the library. So that's also made it more easy to keep these going because we've kind of got a larger revolving door of people rather than, you know, smaller groups. Yeah, that makes sense is like particularly as a way to not burn people out, you know. I'm curious as to what have you seen as far like one of the major tactics anti-fascist always use is identification and exposing people who are attending these events rallying with fascist organizations. Have you noticed a difference on how well this works for the people who are showing up to protest to like drag queen story hour events versus the people showing up at reproductive healthcare clinics at Planned Parenthoods and such because it kind of strikes me that one of those is more mainstream maybe than the other, although perhaps I'm being kind of optimistic in that, but I'm wondering does that does it appear to be more effective against kind of one kind of rally than it is in another kind if that makes any sense. So a lot of the people who are engaging in the clandercrassements are known among their networks and because their goal is to present a sort of legitimizing faith for opposing abortion. They don't typically show up to things that are a little bit more volatile, but we have seen that with so it has it happens that this the people who are harassing drag story hour for the most part have been a part of one specific core group of people that I've been monitoring and reporting on for the past year. So I know all their names, which has pigeonholed them into what they can and can't do. We had there's there's this far right propagandist or in levy his brother was at a he was trying to harass a drag story hour at the Andrew high scale library for the blind. That was an event put on for neuro divergent children and he was attempting to harass that he ended up pepper spray to people and because he is known his name is out there his face is known and he is identifiable across all social media networks. It was very easy for those people to be able to file complaints against him. Yeah, and another thing too is that because this one group does all of these harassment together they started out doing anti back stuff where they were going and harassing a restaurant called damn in I think it's in the village or yeah it's in the village they were harassing that restaurant for a while and then they started harassing the health commissioner's house and then greasy mansion, which is where Eric Adam lives and they were all doing these things together so their network was very easy to monitor and trace. And so when they started harassing drag story hour which was undeniably they were doing that as a result of far right propaganda that was being pushed into all of their social media spaces trying to convince them that drag story hour is you know the statement carnit and they start showing up and trying to harass those and immediately they're known they tried to harass they tried to disrupt AOC at a listening event that she was doing in Queens immediately they were known it was like I saw the footage and I was like that's Robert white that's you know cliff lead that's where Ronin levy and it's doing that because they're known because it's clear that it's one group. It's showing up and doing this trying to trying to follow the lead on what is the trending outrage on the far right that week it limits the number of people who are interested in joining them because it they rely on making it seem like they are just neighbors and constituents who aren't happy with XYZ and it's like no you're a coordinated group of harassers yeah we we know who you are so that mask being off definitely I think has helped to reduce the willingness to grow in those harassment but I can't necessarily speak to the future on what would hold or like what other people have been inspired by them because we have seen neo-naxes show up in other state to protest drag story hour the same way that these this little you know band of her ass are has been harassing story hours yeah yeah sorry just a direct response to that that I definitely agree that yeah we've been monitoring the movements of the actors and the interaction for a while but I do want to say that it is occasionally other groups but that they all have the same thing in common and that they are attached to the kind of plot topic issue that they see happening in other cities and states so we did have actually like a very like certainly crystal cash is group TFPA that was called you know I probably not so early to have that story hour initially flashed on to that but all of it is kind of following national trends because they are actually trying to make see our tea and schools be the thing yeah I was a multitude of different groups are trying and you know they're looking for something that sticks and they're looking for something that pass or by and you have to pass or by walking by was there so that they hear it but their lack of success though is because of their violence and not especially convincing very human on sounding antics to where it is clear that they are not actually they're protesting with the playing themselves they're protesting you know they're losing sympathy because eventually their signs started being about antifa instead of about the fact that you're protecting the children so so their own messaging so kind of probably also at fault there but this issue is still always going to be at risk for attracting different key not too groups and then we see Orlando and others other coalition of not so so are going to get it to a text story hour and we've actually seen some of that in New York it was just coincidence that this one crazy antivaxer who was showing us what's actually I was the same day that perhaps other groups were I don't say too much about that and when we think about that something yeah I was just going to say I mean about the you know neo-nazis and other areas coming in protesting these dry queen story hours I mean that the first figure when we did was at Elmhurst Library there were not only somebody who was at neo-nazis rally in front of Trump Tower once we had a January 6th insurrectionist and I think Tally can probably speak to those two characters a little more but then there was some other there was another dry queen story hour where someone from GDL showed up and I'm sure you're familiar with GDL Robert right yes yes yeah the goyum defense league yeah the hate bus flying the swastika there yeah I mean you just said swastika but in case people are not aware of what goyum means what you need to know is the goyum defense league or hardcore Nazis yeah like they are legitimate straight up neo-nazis they fly the swastika they go harass Jewish neighborhoods yeah capital N yeah capital N Nazi yeah one of them went and harassed one of the dry queen story hours recently then he ran off and said he was going to get his friends and didn't show up with anyone else from what I heard then speaking of neo-nazis you probably know Jovey Val oh yeah yeah Jovey and I had a conversation a couple of years ago with with my good friend Goode yeah your old buddy well he showed up at a blue was a pediatric healthcare facility I don't know if they do gender affirming care but he was in front of that was holding up the sign I'm sorry I said neither did he yeah yeah it was literally because the clinic had fried flags in the window yeah that makes sense oh okay that makes sense it was holding up a sign that said I'd rather a Nazi than a pedophile which is just like a non-sensible and be like just say you're not a brother just say you're not a brother yeah we all know just say you're a fucking Nazi why is that the choice it's so funny because there's like pictures of him with a swastik in that list like doing the Roman salute like did everyone knows you're an Aussie yeah no he's completely unashamed and that's the weirdest part about him because of you know he learned an interesting lesson about wearing just some you know a MAGA hats in a bar in Brooklyn a few years ago if anyone knows what incident I'm talking about oh yeah oh yeah so I find it interesting that this actually did not deter him from ever leaving his house again you know nearly losing his entire nose so and then still deciding to just double down and actually start carrying the Nazi flags thinking it'll go better this time and apparently he just trying to make Nazi shit he's trying to make his name again in 2022 so Vival is like he's he's expired and he doesn't seem to reveal his best no he's one of like you know what I'm gonna do it's I'm gonna show up and I'm gonna have nobody with me and I'm just gonna be standing in front of a closed pediatric clinic like with a sign telling people all they see from a distance is the word pedophile and the word Nazi yeah I mean he did have his one little body with him in fairness according to his own videos that he posted of the encounter and that body of his whoever he was could be heard saying something like hey man you know I can't fight actually I saw the video that jovy got posted on telegram he said jovy I can't fight I can't fight man jovy I can't fight and you can also hear jovy yelling what are you doing what are you doing as he gets tossed into like a construction area and he's such an embarrassment to like even other Nazis they're even making fun of him online I mean somebody literally said why does jovy always get his ass kicked this is ridiculous he is he is the kind of he is the kind in generation of Nazi that other Nazis consider cringe like exactly fucking jovy vales hate him so much at at the same time though it is a little bit alarming because all of this attention on figures such as jovy val failing every time and like stepping on rakes metaphorically every time he goes outside it does kind of open and nerving vacuum up to like oh what I can be away but are Nazi than that so that is the part that concerns me if the constant attention is that you know jovy valed and not succeed in organizing a transphobic Nazi rally outside of a closed pediatric clinic okay I guess that's a win but who else sees that and sees and thinks oh we can do so much better because we do have a problem with unidentified Nazis throughout New York City there's you know there's been increases and all sorts of graffiti all over the subways Nazi literature being put on trains and left to places it's you know you know so who is seeing this and how what is the messaging exactly to say that like you won't succeed if you try this either just because you know jovy keeps getting his shit rocked like we need you to know you will do you know get your shit I mean that's the most important thing at least in my experience and that is mostly as an observer I'm not an organizer but I've watched what's happened in the Pacific Northwest the reason why these people don't rally in Portland the way they used to is they were faced with consequences and that required I mean that was it was not a simple process it took fucking five years and a lot of people got broken bones and a number of them got killed but like that is that is the thing people like these people's lives have to be cratered and one of the things that is a real problem is that it's a lot easier to crater people for rallying or it used to be number one it used to be easier to crater people's lives because they were willing to rally with Nazis but also now the right has succeeded in mainstreaming these two specific things going after drag Queen story hour events and going after reproductive health care clinics and the people using them to such a degree that it's gotten a lot harder to ruin people's lives over this sort of thing that's that's true but at the same time there's an increase in so many of them who are just unabashedly that way yeah post their full names addresses photos they say you know identifying or doxing them is not there it's just actually almost yeah yeah I think being a big is invoked again yeah like most like a large chunk of the country is totally fine or a crazy big it the far right is radicalizing in a sort of gradual pace over the course of many years and what's happening with people who are countering them is that there is this density of media and the public is also a very important part of the world and the public is also the public. So we look at Penn State students showed up in mass hundreds of them significantly outnumbered the proud boys that did show up the fascists that did show up and successfully shut the event down but there's still this kind of thing that's really important to us is that we have a lot of people who are like to say oh well they didn't do it right there's no like it's not the right way to protest and I think what Barry is sort of very mentioned early about every day antipascist and that's again like with your neighbors and recognizing that it's not this militant and in black block and they've got like all this training and all these like slogans and slaying and words and you know it's none of that iconography because that is also the conservative media i.e. and you know constantly refers to all sorts of things as oh this is just antifa and the purpose of that is to make it seem like you can't do that too when in reality he ended up knowing that little shit's thing yeah he referred to the defense of the the successful defense at the Elmer's library he claimed that it was gantifa militants and i happened to know there was a pastor who was there there was a nursing mother with her infant and her toddler who was there there were librarian present and there were people who showed up because they were in the neighborhood and they heard that far right extremists were going to try and harass and sure enough just like Tom mentioned there was a j6 insurrectionist who tried to get into the building i recommend like rush into the building yeah he tried to rush in i recognize his name's Mitchell Bosch he's best known for getting arrested for taking a knee in a burger king get arrested and then he said i'm okay hoodie yeah this guy tried to rush in and i don't know how it happened but all of a sudden my arm was hooked into his arm twisting his upper body slightly so he didn't have a good he didn't have good leverage to try and first into the building where i knew that if he got in he would refuse to leave until he was physically removed by police so that we then he could then go online and say that he was fighting for freedom and collect bullshit donations for bullshit legal funds so getting all back to this though is that the media and like these these pundits and everything they are complicit in making it harder for people to build community but people need to understand it is literally your neighbors it is your local librarian it is your friends it is your co-workers it's regular people the same way people showed up to protest in 2020 they you know oh should i bring a sign should i bring a bottle of water should i bring my tea which that bring and they just showed up and they march you can do the same thing because when you have a significant number of people you don't need to worry about being militant because you outnumber them and across the board if you look at data the the the the positions and the the politics that these people hold and the things that they're pushing are in the significant minority of opinion a majority of people are totally fine with trans people they're totally fine with drags story hour like it's not a thing but people aren't showing up to remind them that their opinion is the minority and they are outnumbered yeah yeah i was going to say i agree with that last point and unfortunately the problem seems to be about our kind of cultural inability to agree on the definition of violence and how even though people are okay largely with queer and trans people and protecting trans kids and they definitely do not support Nazis they still do not think that any kind of militant action including violence against these people is ever appropriate and just a direct response to the Penn State thing it goes beyond a punditry even because Penn State itself released a statement saying that that it does not condone violence without saying who started the violence aka the proud boys who are missing people they said that uh just because you don't agree with the speaker and they're right to free speech aka um hateful tour of gab and the cynic and the proud boys that there is no excuse for violence so they denounce the content of the message as well as the response to the message so we're kind of in this limbo where um people who have the voice to send these messages are still playing the meat at the dinner table both sides surely we can come to a peaceful resolution and then blaming the side that actually is militantly opposed to it and how to overcome that i don't know but i do think the like tallie also said every day anti-fascism is a pretty good start yeah i mean with every day anti-fascism like the right does this grassroots organizing and gets people to like tacitly agree with what the proud boys and these fascist groups do i think there's plenty of like normal people who would tacitly agree with what we're doing on this side of things um but i mean you look at like i think it was a somebody uh campaigning for maybe it was ron de santis robert you know about this it was like a literal neo-nazi who got basically a roobio and it was uh the guy was a member of the um he was a Cuban fascist who is the leader of the league of the south he's like a big confederacy guy what like there was a journalist online who was like this is awful it's like he's literally a Nazi and then you look up this journalist like history of article she's written and one was like this is why you should be friends with a Nazi or i'm paraphrasing but that's literally like we should be friend Nazis like it's it is ridiculous how so much of the mainstream is like let's come to the table and be polite i mean i really think and i think a lot of other people think when it comes to Nazis and fascists in the far right you have to make it as costly as possible whatever that means to you you have to make it as costly as possible for them so they are deterred from doing this organizing yeah i think that's the the most durable conclusion certainly that i have seems like what y'all have experienced too and are continuing to experience is there is there anything else y'all wanted to get into about about what's been happening and with with these events before we kind of close out for the day the only thing i could think to add was that that it's not over and um people might think oh they stopped coming to drugstorey alurs for whatever reason but they're going to find the next thing the next issue the next clinic the next hospital the next um healthcare provider the next family was trans children uh they have dresses they have names they know where to go they're just looking for when they feel most emboldened to do so um and it's kind of it's hard to communicate that because people think oh okay that was a successful action you know we're done we're done with them for now but i don't know it's it's it's it's just it's really hard to communicate the message that like you know it's like had on a swivel this is the this is the hardest thing to not just to get across to people but to kind of like actively accept for yourself because it's it's one of the most frustrating realities of living in our society but there's no way to get around it which is that like not being eaten by these people is the result of constant vigilance against them like they they win if you don't continue showing up and one day in in the bright blue yonder i do believe that if people continue showing up and continue making it clear that their cause is hopeless these people will all all drink themselves to death or whatever but um you know that's that's not an immediate term sort of thing no i know well and i mean on from just my personal note like yes that is exactly the mode i'm in now and i i mean i'm a Jewish anti-fascist organizer it's almost this kind of history repeating itself ancestral need um to to keep at it and i'm one of many people um in the same kind of mindset towards not an option to rest and wait until they you know strike when they think we're not looking yeah um but it's it's you know obviously hard yeah i mean we have like we have evidence that they are looking for the next thing we have evidence that um you know there's this one woven who got heavily involved with the anti-vax group New York Freedom Rally and she would go on you know Instagram live stream saying a lot of like transphobic stuff but she never transferred that over onto public spaces just until this week where she reiterated the same points that she was making in the privacy of her home on that live stream to her little audience she's now saying it on a stage that she's sharing with the candidate for governor these Eldon um she's she's repeating the same thing so it's showing also that they are finding it they're finding themselves more comfortable in saying these uh bigoted things and and pushing more extreme things and expecting for their followers and their uh friends to follow suit there's people who have shown up to these uh harassment of drag story hour who have said directly to me that they don't really agree with the harassment itself but that their friends are there doing the harassment and so they're showing up for them and that's a very quick road to they are going to decide to care about this very deeply and go very hard about it but what has worked is when people show up and make it not happy and not good for them when their footage is ruined when their sound bites are fucked up when they are blocked from doing the thing that they're trying to do to generate that content to feed that like bigoted beast when people show up when those events keep happening that's a big thing is that like the venues that host these events need to not cancel them yeah because when those venues cancel it tells the bigots that they are winning and what needs to happen is the venues feeling brave to put out calls for community support the same way that have been in Eugene because when that venue put out that ass they got hundreds of people and they outnumbered the bigots 10 to 1 I was just going to say I was I'm very heartened by like how supportive the people in the neighborhoods and libraries have been whether they're allowed to officially support anything or not it's been you know nice to know that people are happy were there and also I would really love to see a meme of Jovey Val Stepan on a rake that you have that image on my head yeah um was there anything else we wanted to get to uh self-defense is community offense defense yeah and um if people are interested on people in New York created something called iFAC fund where you donate funds and then people who want to receive individual for state kits um can request one and receive one or free um and it was created in honor of a anti-fascist badass named Torch um who is always present day um but yeah if if people wanted to check that out it's uh the twitter account is just at iFAC fund iFAK fund um they want to donate I think it's uh cash off is iFAC fund i think you know someone else could look it up to check ticket dollar sign iFAC fund oh i'm sorry dollar sign iFAC fund thank you at dollar sign whatever yeah um and you know it's it's just a matter of like knowing that we keep us safe in every sense of the word yeah and i think that's uh that's a perfect note to end on thank you all for your time thank you for continuing to be out there in the streets um and everybody else get out there and make uh fascist stay worse enjoy on the court action like never before with bet mgm an authorized gaming partner of the NBA sign up today using bonus code champion and your first wage risk free up to one thousand dollars you'll also have instant access to a variety of parlay selection features player props and boosted odds specials just download the bet mgm app today or go to bet and enter bonus code champion and place your first wage risk free up to one thousand dollars the bet mgm app is the perfect way to experience 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to Iran an entire generation has been confronted with the horror of our worlds and took the simple expedient of picking up a brick and throwing you at a cop yet as the uprising swept the globe there was one country where it was considered impossible every experts every policy maker every kid on a street corner new there was simply no chance of a mass street movement in China on Monday it was unimaginable on Friday it was everywhere welcome to a cut happen here what we've been watching for the past three weeks now is the failure of one of the most sophisticated political regimes into human history a political social and economic regime designs specifically to stop this one moment after thirty years of repression the national mass street movement has returned to China this is what it was all about everything from the censorship policies to union busting to subsidized mortgages for a rising Chinese middle class it was about keeping people from going back to the streets to make even the idea of it impossible and yet here we are in one sense the party is little to fear from this round of protests barring in immense intensification of violence which at the moment seems extremely unlikely but in another sense the CCP is perhaps the last regime on earth that truly remembers the previous age of revolution that remembers when the workers took Shanghai in 67 very nearly took Beijing in 89 these are people who understand that China's political system is built on shaving a sleeping bear and no matter how profitable that system is there's always a chance that one day that bear is going to wake up now the bear isn't fully awake yet we are not watching in China full scale uprising a lasso dana Myanmar but that bear the air to maybe the most militant working class modern world is ever seen is starting to open its eyes so what is the CCP currently facing since about November 26th there have been widespread anti-government protests in China unlike anything we've seen in the last 30 years these protests are everywhere they're in Beijing they're in Nanjing they're in Shanghai they're in Guangzhou they're in Xingjiang we'll get back to that one in a second they're in Wuhan reports I saw said that there were protests at 77 universities that number is almost certainly an under cap now and the student protests are not just taking place at small colleges in the middle of nowhere they were protests at Xinghua University which for an American audience I would compare to China's version of Harvard it's the college that produces the upper echelon if the Chinese ruling class Xi Jinping graduated from there so did his predecessor Hu Jintao and the only reason that Hu Jintao's predecessor did not graduate from there is that that guy was so old that he went to college under the Japanese occupation when I was originally writing this I had a joke here about how the only city where there haven't been protest is Harbin which is the city in the absolute middle of nowhere in north and China but no I googled it and it turns out there have been protest in bloody Harbin for people who aren't very good at Chinese geography which is probably most people this means these protests are everywhere they're in the north they're in the south they're in the east they're in the west they're in the far west and it's true that a lot of these protests are not that big although some of them are absolutely massive but the importance here is that this is the first time in 30 years that we've seen widespread national protest over a single issue in China the anomaly of which is compounded by the fact that people in the streets of cities like Shanghai are openly calling for the fall of the CCP in Xi Jinping something that by itself can get you a decade in prison just for saying we can ask what these protests are actually about the version you see in the American press is that these are anti lockdown protests are protest against China's COVID-zero policy or that they're also pro-democracy protest against the entire regime and this is sort of true as far as it goes but it doesn't capture the core of what's going on which is that what we're seeing is a widespread fusion of labor rebellion anti police brutality protests and revolt against the authoritarian state the thing that's brought all of this together is the CCP's COVID policy but that's because that policy is the most visible and most concentrated expression of the state's general authoritarian is a bit brutal war against a working class we can learn a lot about what's actually been happening by going back a little bit to the very start of the protests there are three specific events that sparked the protests two of which are pretty well covered and one of which has been basically ignored because of how long ago it happened the first spark is essentially an event in its own right this is what I would call the Foxconn revolt a series of worker uprisings against a manufacturer of the iPhone which with a single factory controls vast portions of the regional economy of Hainan province where its largest factory is based the Foxconn revolt is in brewing for a long time it begun essentially when Foxconn began to impose what's called the closed loop system the closed loop system was originally developed by the NBA to run an NBA season between the beginning of the pandemic the idea is that you keep everyone inside a closed loop this means that everyone in the production process has no contact with the outside world at all for as long as the manufacturing cycle goes the CCP started adopting the closed loop as they hit problems with their twin in-paratives to both stop COVID and also to make sure that Foxconn hit its production targets so Apple could have enough iPhones for the Christmas rush the result was that as an October wave of infections hit Hainan province where Foxconn's largest factory is located 200,000 workers were put into a closed loop system which meant they were trapped in the factory in their dormitories in order to keep this factory running Foxconn needs about a hundred thousand micro workers the problem from capital's perspective with migrant workers is that they can if things get bad enough just go home and that's exactly what happens workers inside the Foxconn plant started to be quarantined with people who were sick in the same dormitory and it's worth noting here that these dormitories are tiny the conditions even outside of lockdown are atrocious and when people were suddenly getting quarantined with people who were sick workers essentially just said no and started to stage massive breakouts there are incredible videos of these trains of people like along the road walking home and sort of hitching rides on people's trucks fleeing the factory we don't actually know how many workers escaped but it was enough to be a massive problem for capital again they need these workers in order to make enough iPhones to solve for Christmas current estimates suggest that Apple is somewhere between 11 and 15 million units behind what it needs to make the Christmas rush so Foxconn had the local government recruiting people to go work in the factory what they told these workers was that if they entered the closed loop for 30 days they'd be given 3,000 yuan which is about $415 to live on for the next month and then get paid 30 yuan or about $4 an hour and then after the end of the next 30 days they'd get another 3,000 yuan in the US this would be a sub minimum wage poverty job for a Chinese worker this is a lot of money or it would have been had it not been for one minor problem all of it was bullshit Foxconn and the CCP were lying out of their asses after workers were already in the closed loop they learned that the 2,3000 yuan bonuses weren't going to be paid until March and May of next year meaning that in order to get what they were promised for two months of work they were going to have to work for seven months also the 30 yuan an hour wage that they were promised was a lie they were getting paid substantially less than that so on Tuesday the 22nd of November workers who had emerged from quarantine to start work only to learn that they had been systemically lied to by both the government and Chinese and Taiwanese capitalists came out of their dormitories and demanded that they either get their money or be allowed to leave there's another part of this account that I think complicates a lot of the sort of narratives that we've heard about what the Chinese protestor about that did not make the Western press at all which is that these workers were also demanding that their bosses quote implement pandemic prevention and control measures it's not entirely clue what the specific demands refers to but it seems to be about not quarantining sick people in the same dorms as healthy people a thing that seems relatively obvious but capitalism regardless the product of bosses ignoring these demands was several days of full-scale fighting with the police on November 23rd a bunch of videos began to spread of workers taking those metal police barricades that you see all the time in the US that are essentially an arch with a bunch of bars and I get into a flat base you've probably seen these picking them up and straight up throwing them at cops or grabbing them and beating police riot shields with them I have I have never seen anything like it it was absolutely wild at this point after several days of fighting after their own regular security people literally refused to show up to go fight these workers and police from outside had to be called in Foxconn gave up said okay we will give you 10,000 yon to literally leave right now please just stop and a lot of people took the money in left and in any other year in any other moment that would have been the end of it the Foxconn riot would be another episode in the never ending series of they tried not to pay us riots that are the most common one of the most common forms of workers protest in China instead on Thanksgiving day in the United States videos started to circulate of a fire in a residential block in a room tree the capital of Xingjiang there are several videos of the fire in one that journalists were able to verify you can hear people screaming from inside the building as they tried and failed to escape the flames further video showed that cops had barricaded off the streets with metal wires as a way to enforce Xingjiang's 100 day long lockdown which prevented firefighters from getting to the scene firefighters can be seen firing water hoses at the building only for the hoses arc to fall short trapped behind barricades they prevented them from getting any closer speculation about whether the doors of the apartment building themselves have been sealed shut with locks are barricaded from the outside as had happened to so many other people's homes during the lockdown ran rampant one video I saw from another city appeared to show workers and hazmat suits who've become known as the big whites literally welding someone's door shut to keep them in to make matters worse the head of the arum she city fire rescue department blamed the families for their own deaths saying quote some residents abilities to rescue themselves were too weak these are the videos the fragments of nightmare is brought to life that started the mass protests this is a revolution seen in 30 second intervals everyone is trying to beat the sensors clips flow back and forth between wechat twitter telegram back to wechat again ironically many sensors were a ready home for the weekend allowing clips and posts that otherwise would have been removed immediately to circulate for hours and sometimes even days these brought back the memory of the third spark the one that's basically been forgotten about in the west if anyone even cared to know about it in the first place in september a bus full of people with covid and guangzhou with the government was shipping to a quarantine center crashed and killed 27 people wounding 20 others conditions in these centers which covid patients are often forced to go to rather than quarantining in their homes are atrocious pictures in video circulate constantly of bathrooms covered in human ship for failing drainage systems as china's already over tax medical systems simply failed to keep up with demands on a place by the government which like the american government has and continues to systematically refuse to invest in medical infrastructure intimate familiarity with these wretched conditions in the raw horror at the deaths in shingjian and guangzhou sparked protests across the country in a room she announced 70 percent haun city under constant police occupation haun protesters appeared to be moved in solidarity with the weaker families killed in the fire and fought the police with a ferocity unmatched anywhere but the migrant worker villages of guangzhou along the poorer river delta one of china's great manufacturing hubs these desperate struggles were given relatively little attention by a western media class enamored with the image of students carrying blank white pieces of paper to protest the censorship a common form of protest in places like kong kong this time at least they were tied to a particularly funny piece of media censorship as protest mounted people started posting an article version of a speech by Mao called let the people speak the sky will not fall chinese censors quickly ran into a classic ccp problem which is that in a state whose heroes are communist revolutionaries celebrated historical figures producing immense repertoire of slogans and quotes for subsequent generations of revolutionaries to draw from which has caused the ccp at various points in time to ban the opening of its own national anthem arise ye who refuse to be slaves as censors banned let the people speak the sky will not fall people began posting the article but with the word replaced by squares this too was also deleted and then posting simply blanks white squares themselves which saw the reflection in the students in the streets the ccp in turn retreated to its traditional tactic of blaming the protests on foreign forces interfering in china acclaim which is less than credible on a country that has rolled up the cia's entire in country intelligence network at least once in the last decade there's an incredible exchange that has made the rounds between a cop who is telling a group of protesters that there are quote foreign forces around manipulating the protests who is immediately yelled at by a guy screaming who are the foreign forces marks and angles Stalin and Lenin another man appears and asks hi can I ask if it was foreign forces who started the fire in shinghjong was a guizhou bus overturned by foreign forces another man grabs the mic and says was everyone told to come here by foreign forces the crowd shouts no he then makes an incredibly obvious point we can't even access to foreign internet how are foreign forces meant to be communicating with us and other man says we only have domestic forces not allowing us to govern ourselves where are these foreign forces from the moon still managing these accusations to become a constant part of the protests with calls from protesters to stop chanting things like down with the ccp and attempts to keep the demands focused on covid policy like ending covid zero and this is where things get incredibly muddled by a western press to decide to stop giving a shit about covid deaths a year ago and a set of contrarians arguing that no actually China's covid policy is actually good this entire debate hinges on the conflation of the stated government policy of zero covid which is an attempt to stop all cases of covid and the actual execution of the policy which is taken to form of a war against China's working class and a set of draconian police state abuses one thing that western quote unquote experts have been quick to point out is that while the ccp has to keep doing covid zero or 1.5 million people will die there is a tiny bit of truth to this in that one reason Chinese covid restrictions are so harsh is that if covid was simply let rip like it has been in the US it would go through China's largely unvaccinated rural elderly population like a chain saw and unlike in the US if a million people died in China because the government fucked up a pandemic response party officials would be getting beaten to death in the streets and part of the reason for the crisis in China in the first place is that the rest of the world gave up on trying to contain covid entirely if the rest of the world had you know done their jobs and stamped out the virus none of us would be here right now on the other hand no absolutely not you do not actually need to weld people into their houses or drag them by force out of their homes so they can die in bus crashes on their way to unsafe and unsanitary pseudo hospitals with bathroom floors literally covered shit in order to contain the pandemic lots of pandemics across human history have been contained without doing this shit just because the two great world powers have decided that the covid responses are killing a million people by forcing everyone back to works that no one has to actually deal with the political consequences of telling a bunch of unbelievably deranged and heavily armed fascists know and lock 200,000 people in a factory and force them to make iPhones and then beat the absolute shit out of them when it turns out you lied to them about their pay doesn't mean that there aren't other options that we could take for pandemic responses if we decided to stop letting a bunch of vinyl corrupt assholes rule us all and this is something that people in China also understand even if the Western press corps dead set on presenting their demands as if they're American anti-maskers you can tell obviously the Chinese protesters are not simply a copy of right wing American fascists by simply looking at a picture of a protest and seeing how many people are wearing masks China is not the US regular people actually do care about containing the pandemic this is why there is a real pandemic response in the first place after the government utterly botched it if you look at the actual demands of the protesters you will see things that normally would seem more at home with liberal American protesters attempting to see pandemic restrictions enforced properly things like our pandemic response must be based on science but people even people who don't want to die of a plague do not want to be horribly abused by cops or horrifically exploited by the state and capitalists and that I think is something we do all understand only time can tell what will happen to these protests the government is quietly making concessions and not so quietly hunting down people who took to the streets it is entirely possible that the protest will simply die and that in two or three years most people will have forgot they ever happened from a sort of brutal materialist perspective however it seems unlikely China's social system could function fine as long as growth was at 15% or 10% or even 8% but when growth inevitably comes down to 2% the deal of keep your head down and I've won't get rich starts to look a lot less attractive covid is simply intensified all of the traditional contradictions inside Chinese society and made visible the horrors that previously had been obscured and it seems unlikely those contradictions will someday vanish but here in the present the impossible continues and every day it does is another day that the gates of possibility inch a bit further open this espnick had happened here you can find us at happen here pod on twitter against a gram we have a website where you can see the sources for this and other episodes enjoy your week and remember that you too can defeat your own ruling class Stay connected to news 24-7 when you switch to consumer cellular their reward winning 100% US based customer support team makes switching easy plus you can keep your phone and number with no contract or activation fees they offer unlimited talk and text with a flexible data plan starting at just $20 a month you can easily add your family and friends to your plan for just $15 a month for line never worry about drop calls consumer cellular has the exact same coverage as the major carriers with coverage to over 99% of the nation this is all backed by their 100% risk-free guarantee switch today and save up to half on your wireless bill go to consumer slash podcast 25 and for a limited time get $25 off when you use promo code podcast 25 that's consumer slash podcast 25 promo code podcast 25 let me guess unknown caller you could reduce the number of unwanted calls and emails with online privacy protection the latest innovation from discover will help regularly remove your personal info like your name and address from 10 popular people search websites that could sell your data and we'll do it for free activate in the discover app see terms and learn more at slash online privacy protection hi everyone I'm Lauren Brad Pacheco host of Symptomatic a medical mystery podcast from iHeart Radio each week we unravel the medical mystery of a person's baffling symptoms and explore how their lives return upside down in search of answers that's one of those ones that it's tough to revisit so trauma is the only word I could probably use for that that really scared me because if I had my kids in the car you know anything could have happened and I knew at that point that I needed to figure out what was going on with me I could no longer ignore what I was going through I had to find answers you can listen to Symptomatic a medical mystery podcast on the iHeart Radio app or wherever you get your podcasts it could happen here rail strike edition I'm Robert Evans garrison davis Chris how are we all how are we all doing how's this yeah we're talking about a rail strike today we're praying for it so that we're praying for it it hasn't happened if you're listening to this you probably know the broad strokes of this which is that the people who make the trains go and by the way trains are like a critical part of us all not starving to death or running out of insulin or whatever the people who make those trains go have a pretty hard job and there's not a lot of them and for a variety of reasons that boil down to companies not wanting to spend money it's impossible for that they don't get sick days so there were a bunch of other shit thing like things that were shit about the job including pay especially since rail company profits have been at like record levels so they were threatening to strike there were union negotiations some of the union leaders reached an agreement with the rail companies but it wasn't it didn't include the sick days so a lot of workers potentially most of them are were at least willing to strike and then Biden came in and had congress basically say do the same thing Reagan did to the air traffic controllers in the 80s where it's like no if you strike it's illegal because this is a too critical a service for the country anyway that's broadly the situation Chris you know this a lot better than I know is probably the most pro labor president the most pro labor press okay I'm very frustrated this I think this is actually like that's I don't like that's my knowledge and I think that's close to a layman's knowledge so I'm yeah so yeah so you to fill in the galaxy all right let's let's let's start with what Biden has actually done because it's it's it's slightly different than what Reagan was doing there with the air traffic controllers on part of the reason everything is fucked up with the railroads is that like railroads almost since their inception have had like it almost entirely different regulatory framework than like anything else so you know your normal strike is covered by the National Labor Relations Act right you go through your national labor relations board you do your votes blah blah blah blah if your railroad workers are not covered by that they're covered something by something called the railway labor act which lets Congress just be like no fuck you you have to take this contract and the other thing it does I mean there's like a it is a oh I didn't realize that so well before so well before like you know the modern era and Reagan did his shit with the air traffic controllers there was a it was written into the law that Congress could say like yay or nay to a rail strike that's really interesting I guess that probably goes back to the days when they were literally making them out of human bones yeah and I mean it's been so it's been amended over time and it's changed a bit and there's some other stuff that happened in the 90s after there's a there's a there's a failed rail strike in the 90s where Congress is also just like no fuck you you have to take this contract but yeah the the the important thing about this is that like okay so in order to even potentially strike you have to go through so much bullshit it's called self-help in the law like the people have been trying to strike for two years and everything that we're seeing now is the product of two years of bullshit of these like this all of this nonsense you have to go through there's he's like cooling off mandatory cooling off periods you can't like you you you have to like wait before you do anything else you have to go to the next step the next step and the final step is Joe Biden had the choice to eat it let these rail workers strike and actually get the things that they fucking needed or he could tell them to fuck off and just eat a contract and that that that that's what's happened right now is that Joe Biden has just and and also again with the support of both houses of Congress and I I also like explicitly want to mention here that a lot a lot of nominal e-socialist politicians including like a lot of social democrats have yeah yeah vote it yeah vote let's talk about that too that that's that's another part of it that again so my my surface and I guess I'm playing playing the podcast idiot in this one which is not abnormal for me but my like layman's understanding of what happened with this is that there was a bill up in congress as to whether or not to endorse this and a bunch of progressive said that they wouldn't vote on it unless it included seven days of paid sick leave including Sanders that got pushed off into a separate bill and there was like some kind of sketchy wording about like well we won't you know like I don't I don't 100% understand the congressional hijinks but I know they just wound up voting for the the the negotiate like what the union had negotiated without any sick leave like it yeah like all it seems like it kind of provided an opportunity for a bunch of progressives in the house to vote yes on the sick leave knowing that it wouldn't pass the Senate and knowing that the strike would still get stopped right like what about this one there um I mean it's basically that like the I'm not a congress knower yeah I mean there's a bunch of sort of hijinks that were happening in congress where there's different sort of slightly different version of the bill in the house and they had this whole thing but okay I had the house what the the the house went for sick leave did pass the support of every yeah yeah yeah and it's and three and three Republicans but okay the the thing I think I want to point out here I want to move away from the sick leave thing because the sick the fact that these people don't have sick leave is important this is also not like the main thing this strike was about like things are things are things are these are so much worse like things are so much like infinitely worse than people like at all understand like what the the thing that the thing this real strike is about if you if you go like actually talk to the people who are doing it is that these people are on call for 90% of their lives like and then when I say 90% of their lives they are on call while they're asleep they're on call constantly there's there's there's no way to there's no way to panic is essentially scheduled because you can just be on call and you know it's and part part part of what's going on here and if you read the sort of detailed accounts you will see a lot of people talking about this thing called precision scheduled rare roting yeah precision scheduled real roting was it was a great theory kind of that was implemented so atrociously badly it's basically fucked like the entire economy the idea behind it was like you could you could schedule when like a freight railroad was going to go right and this this would give you a bunch of efficiency bonuses you could plan like you could schedule things around each other this just didn't happen people implemented it but what they implemented was just this nightmare like amalgamation of we're going to reduce a bunch of staff and then we're going to make these trains that have like 200 fucking cars on them and this has been a catastrophe it's called monster trains that there's there's Justin Rosnyak who's a pod yes it doesn't seem like a good solution to the problem of not enough guys to make trains work is make the trains you yeah it's like it's just an indenna horrible train crash it's awful like these trains are not again these are 200 trains long right so if you don't get the weight distribution right the train will fucking fall over they keep doing this there's this has been happening for like several years now is this trains everywhere derailing there's like no coverage of it the reason you know you know you know where I knew that from Chris garrison will tell you when I get when I get drunk or something late at night my favorite thing to watch is videos of trains hitting stuff and do yeah train crashes are amazing to watch it's incredible to think of all the human ingenuity it took to make that big big a boom there's thousands of videos on YouTube of so cool cargo getting stuck on train tracks yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah and the boxes being pulverized in the air they get vaporized it's so cool so the downside is that one day we're gonna have one of these trains that is run by a person who has had three hours asleep in the last 48 hours and it's gonna be carrying like fucking I don't know it's gonna be carrying like sodium nitrate on it or some shit and it's just gonna explode and it is going to kill enormous are people this actually is actually happening Canada like a decade ago but yeah like these these trains are too big they're so big they don't fit in the fucking rail yards like they're so big the most the training infrastructure doesn't work for them they are so but they're a thing is okay they're really really really badly planned despite the fact that this is supposed to be precision scheduled railroading like they're unbelievably badly planned you have people just like being forced to just like sit there for 12 hours in a train waiting for the rest of the other like 95 cars are just supposed to be on this train to show up you know the situation is like is utterly nightmare and everything about this right is if you're an engineer right and you're in one of these trains and you're sitting there for 12 fucking hours in this train you legally can't have your phone because you know I mean this is a safety thing right in some sense this makes sense it's like a safety measure you can't have your phone because you know you can't be distracted while you're driving but you're just fucking sitting on the tracks for like 12 hours and you know this this this stuff is you know in the fact that the fact that people are on call constantly the fact that the entire rail network is just physically falling apart because the other thing about these trains rise they make enormous amount of money none of them ever fucking show up on time is a disaster it's a catastrophe like like like Jenny Wainley like part of the reason why we're having all these supply issues is that no train has fucking showed up on time in like four years and it's okay because of the new contract it's okay that the new contract signed in says that workers can have up to three unpaid days off of for medical appointments oh wow that's something I yay it's an unpaid day stays off for pre-made medical appointments yeah no no problem forever yeah and again like like like these people are on call for 90% of their lives you can't even like like you can't schedule when you're going to sleep because you might be on call and on call might be you have to fucking like drive like several hours to a place so you can get on a train and the train cannot leave and the train eventually leaves like six hours later and you fucking drive and then you're just like dropped off somewhere in the middle of fucking nowhere and then unpaid you have to go back to like where you live it is like it like okay the the thing the thing I want to like get out of this is like the railroading system in general the system of freight railroading that we have in the US is is in the midst of collapsing like it is falling apart it is not working it is becoming increasingly dangerous it is I mean utterly in humane for the people working on it and you know none of the fucking even this even the sick bill contract like didn't do anything for it right the the only way this actually could have been resolved is if Joe Biden and if the Democrats and if Congress hadn't been fucking cowards and had let these people strike because the these kinds of concessions like and then you know I also like I don't want to let the fucking unions off the hook here too because they know all of this but again most of the sort of like senior union people are very tight with a very tight with Democratic party this is part of why all of this shit was postponed till after the elections because they didn't you know they didn't want to fucking deal with this shit they've been trying to force people to sign these contracts to and it's it's a shit show it is a just absolute catastrophe on on every every level yeah I mean it's almost as if the rail system probably shouldn't be run by private interests no yeah because there's going to be no a hundred a hundred 15,000 rail workers who are forced to work under these yeah still not great conditions meanwhile the managers and the owners of the railroads get to go back to just making tons of money yeah and I think again record profits none of this is happening not that that would make it okay but none of this is happening in an environment while well you know we're running at a loss and we have no money and no ability to like take like they have they're making hundreds of billions of dollars yeah like this is this is like one of the most profitable times to run a railroad and you can incentivize more people to be rail what road workers if the job isn't a fucking nightmare for example what if instead of not being able to have their phones we gave each of them a DVD player in a screen with this DVD of stepbrothers and they could watch stepbrothers as much as they want while piloting a train I think that would actually get I think that would cause mass mess layoffs at the rail yard that's that's how we got the strike we include this in the next provision that the forced distress I was I was stealthing in my accelerationist beliefs here this is the fastest way I can destroy transit infrastructure we've got like two years before this holding fucking implodes anyways because you know part of what's keeping people in the railroading system is that so railroading also has its own pension system that's like disconnected from the regular pension system and you have to you have to work there for 10 years in order to collect your pension this is why like normal numbers of people just haven't left right people have been leaving right but there's a there's a huge number of people who were hired in these giant expansion in 2004 and you know like we're two years out from that contract from from all these people being able to collect their pensions and fucking leaving yeah like that's like it's like this is the only chance I have to ever not work myself to death so I have to tough it out it's yeah but yeah yeah but these those people are those people are going to leave and you know this is this is the sort of like this is the sort of hammer that capitalism has built over its own head which is at like yeah congratulations you you successfully flexibleize the casualized your entire workforce that means that if people like don't want to do your shitty job they can leave and find another job and at some point like there are there is shit that in this economy that like actually does need to be done but these people have been sort of like so blinded by just like you know they're so so blinded by line grow goes up they're so blinded by short-term profit that they they they really don't understand that at some point there's just not going to be fucking workers to run the railroad yeah I mean a lot of this situations built off of no and instead of being compared to Reagan's stuff with air traffic controllers it's actually more similar to what Carter did with some with some airline workers then also with the with the the 1980 kind of a railroad deregulation act which which caused which which which gave a lot more power to companies to run the railroads and that's that is what kind of shifted shifted things to our to our current our current problem because they were it gave permission for these rail companies to close down lines that were less profitable and to set their own freight rates and it's yeah it's a weird thing to be controlled by the interstate commerce commission instead it's being controlled by a equity that that thing's weird right because like on the one hand like the the wave of corporate solidation that happened after that is like a disaster and the fact that there's basically like four real like rail companies now is a disaster on the other hand like it is also true that the interstate commerce board was like dog sheet as job no it also sucked and for a short yes absolutely it sucked and for a short period of time it actually did improve things yeah it just but worse now it's it's it's it's it's it's powers coalescing again into the very types of monopolies that caused the that caused um railroad regulation to be necessary back in the 19th century like in the first place um power is being consolidated again and it's it's this vicious vicious cycle that are that fundamentally puts short term profits above uh the conditions and workers yeah I think like you know okay so there there there have been a lot of people talking about like what the potential solutions to this are in a sort of macro sense because like okay even even even with a better contract right like so something actually has to be done in order to force the railroads to not fucking suck and to like actually properly scheduled or goddamn trains and not work I've won to death and you know I I wouldn't put the it is worth noting like we actually did like have national nationalized railroad company for a while yeah and it was kind of a shit show like it okay okay this is something that's also important think about this like there's a lot of like there's a lot of different kinds of nationalization right like there there there was a huge difference between a firm that's like type like you know like we we we sort of technically nationalized a bunch of the like car companies after 2008 right we bailed them out but you know like we like we like in that stuff we didn't really like take it we didn't we owned a we owned like a bunch of their stock we didn't like take a control there's no saying how they run and how they treat yeah and and and like we we got like nicks tonight like proto neoliberal nationalization of the railroads last time and it kind of contributed so the problems we have now there was also a period where Conrail's union was trying to like buy like the railroad so we all we almost we almost got a railroad system that was run by its it was owned by its own union and then the like the company just like refuse to sell to them because they were like waiting to hold on we can't have a worker run railroad so but one thing one thing I'm interested in is I I don't actually know this what would what would the how would it how would an illegal strike actually work like what's it what's the what is the differences between people striking illegally now like there's some some discussion of that who knows if that's actually actually happen but what is the main kind of difference between that and the non illegal so okay so the basic thing is okay so the thing about the national labor relations act right which is the thing that covers normal strikes was that like and this is also to to some extent under the river like okay so if you're doing a legal strike you have legal protections right like there there are things corporations can't do to you like yeah there's a bunch of stuff that can't like I don't know it's like it's it's a lot harder to just sort of fire people the other thing is that also like especially something like this there's a like you you if you do if you do a while catch like this and you and specifically a strike that is like that is specifically illegal under this act like you can all get fired um I'm probably I think think I think they could technically arrest you like it's it's it's I don't know that that part of it's not exactly clear to me but yeah I don't know I mean there's sort of like I feel like if if they arrest you just for not going to your job I feel like that is uh I mean you what what I got that that has happened to people like I know people have like this is this is a thing like yes yes like in the long history of labor struggles people have been straight up killed um but at least in 20 in 2022 I think it would be a a bad look yeah I mean I think okay so do I think I think where we're headed and I think what they ought to do is just force get all of like the the worst criminals on I mean the murderers the terrorists all of those guys and you make them run the trains whoever blew up all of those power transformers in North Carolina you make them run the trains and it'll be fine nothing bad will happen as a result of this it'll work out perfectly well the the the alternative plan and the thing that maybe these real companies are just holding out for because maybe they're just making conditions be not great and underpaying and not giving sick days is because they're waiting for trains just to become autonomous there are already planning to severely cut down the crews that are on the trains there's already trains in Australia that are a totally autonomously run that carry mining materials over for hundreds of miles and that is the future that these that these companies want because they don't they don't need to pay for employees to actually run the train frustrating because like in an actual if we were anything that approached a society that like dealt with things ethically and humanely and equitably then this would be good like because it seems like working on train sucks and it would be great if we could automate most of that work and then people less people would have to work in order to keep society running but that's it's not what we don't have to work let's people even shittier jobs yeah we're just going to run through these people's bodies by like as we get up to automate automation and then we will throw them away yeah and then they're willing because they'll do it badly there's going to be a disastrous train crash caused by the fact that they got all of the people off of a train hauling nitroglycerin or whatever and it's going to destroy I don't know Duluth which you know not the worst city to lose but I sorry Duluth you all are fucked well okay it's worth mentioning like this stuff like the automation stuff is already happening right like the yes we have like this well and I mean it's like a very real sense that there's this sort of nightmare one of the other certain nightmare things that's going on right now is that there are these like like I don't know like driver assistance programs basically that are being run on trains now where that are that are you know they're supposed to be like making decisions like for and with the drivers but they suck ass be their design they're designed to basically maximize design to maximize profitability right and the way you maximize profitability is by running trains really really slowly and you know that's contributing to the fact that every train is fucking late now and the phrases doesn't work and the third problem is that these things keep fucking running trains off like this is another reason why trains keep fucking crashing is that they suck yes they keep running trains off of tracks and like you know and like that there's there's there's like there's there's a lot of shit here right because it's like if you if you override the system like you can you can get disciplined for for overriding the system but then you have this sort of like you have this thing where it's like okay so do I do I get disciplined for overriding the system I'm not making the train crash or do I just make the fucking train crash and like doing the trolley problem yeah yeah yeah just like I do love that this is just gonna move back no I never do get a result in an exact recreation of the trolley froth love it's already like this is already happening to people and it's just like like it's none of the none of the stuff works automation the eye is gonna make his crash into this orphanage I can divert it instead hit this old folks home so it's literally happening like it's just like none of the stuff like it okay the thing that's like frustrating about this right is okay if any of the people at the sort of like at the level of where they're planning these trains could even sort of do their job right that this isn't even a thing that's like an inevitable contradiction between capital and labor like this is just if any of these people could actually fucking schedule the railroads which is the thing they're supposed to be trying to do if they could actually schedule when the train was supposed to go and when it was supposed to leave you wouldn't have these problems because then all of the people who work there would also be told when the fucking train was leaving and they could schedule around it but no they can't fucking do it because they're too fucking lazy they're too fucking stupid and they don't want to spend the money to actually make any of these systems fucking work and so the consequence is just this bullshit and then also because again and this is everything like that like capitals also really falling down in the job here because like the rest of capital needs to get their shit together and force the railroads to do something because like it's your asses on the line too if this railroad thing collapses but because of because of the sort of immediate amount of money that the that these these shitty rail companies that pumped into Congress they were able to buy people off and the rest of capital is just like we don't care that's like three years out we don't have to care about this shit it's like guys like Bernie Sanders is fighting to save capitalism right these people are trying to save you from yourselves and you know you won't even let that's that's their entire job though like of course it's like yeah no but let's think like reason why what what is happening here is that like is liberalism is running in acceleration this program to like cause the American American infrastructure to fall apart and social democracies attempting to save capital from itself and capital was like literally fuck you each shit now it's it I've I'm reading right now in it interview with a railroad workers you united member and they're they're talking about how like there's this plan to increase uh increase their pay 24% over the next five years and he's there like he says that lots of the railroad workers that he's talked to as a part of the union is saying like people are willing to work for less money and take a job at like an Amazon factory or like a trucking drop because at least those offer slightly more consistent hours and like yeah like it's it's it's at least you when you're not working you're not working yeah and I just wanted to mention that because because we were bringing up like how these people are getting uh not very good pay which is which is true but for a lot of people it it isn't even just a pay question it's it's it's just overall working conditions and like when you're thinking about moving to an Amazon factory instead because they have better working conditions like oh god yeah it's like I mean they they've they've managed to create like one of the worst systems that is imposed on like any worker in in the country like it is it is genuinely stunning and right now again they're they're getting bailed out that people are the by the fact that people are stuck in because they want their pensions but like that as soon as those people are done and we start moving to more autonomous things then it's not it's not going to be worth it I know media companies have spent decades trying to convince kids to work for trains with Thomas the train chugging tin for for decades a decades we've tried to send train propaganda to these kids and I I don't think I don't think they're gonna buy it yeah I did you guys know that in Thomas the tank engine canonically world war two happened and canonically all of the diesel engines signed sided with the Nazis well that is a first today and that's that's that is official Thomas the tankage and lore I wonder how many other zoomers will um sympathize with me on this I recently found out that Thomas the train wasn't just the uncanny train segments they used to have live action actors in like little intercut oh yeah no and it's it was fucked up because no good by by the time Thomas the train was airing on television when I was a kid all of those were re-edited they were they had they had no live actions segments at all it was all the weird stop motion animation which is still very uncanny with like the faces but I had no idea until like a year ago that there was live action actors in the original additions of Thomas the train completely oblivious well I'm glad I'm glad we could have this important you need discussion I am to I'm gonna I'm gonna admit to you all right now there was a moment earlier where Chris you kept saying that that the owners of the railroads were blinded and I very nearly went into a bit where I just started reading the lyrics to Bruce Springsteen's uh blinded by the light but I didn't do it I didn't do it we thank you from that I'm glad we were saved from that that's that's that's because everybody nobody nobody gets the lyrics to that one right because of the manford man's earth band version which makes it sound like he's saying douche when he's really saying doose and talking about an engine which is why it would have been relevant to railroads but none of y'all would have gotten that and you would have fucking made a big thing about it on reddit so to hell with you all anyway support rail workers if they do it in a legal strike make sure we set up things to so that they get protected and they get food and yeah things to fight cops go make real way I mean people's like just keep it keep an eye on what's going on and if it happens there will be ways there will be ways to support these people over through the US government like I don't know things of this nature yeah I mean that would be that that would be nice but if we got to put a pin in that you know keep an eye on the situation and if these people go on strike there will be community resources and whatnot popping up to support the wildcat strike it's the thing that's happened before wildcat strikes have a long history in this country too you know and we will we will be collecting resources if that happens for ways people can help with the wildcatters so this is a thing to have on the old on the old noggin as we as we lurch forward into the holidays and possibly a gigantic labor battle we'll see and like people in the UK have been doing rail strikes like for a good part of this year like they've been they've been there's been on and off rail strikes for most of for like for like the most of the past few months it's possible except again they're they're they're the British so they stop doing the strike when the queen died well of course so yeah look look there's certain realities that can't ever be a clips to grab the spot yeah here's the here's the thing we we have thrown off the shackles of the anglos are where all rail strike stops for no one all right except for the most pro-labor president Joe Biden all right and that's the episode yeah it's the episode and remember if you see a diesel train it is a Nazi you you are obliged to punch it stay connected to news 24-7 when you switch to consumer cellular they're award-winning 100 percent US-based customer support team make switching easy plus you can keep your phone and number with no contract or activation fees they offer unlimited talk and text with a flexible data plan starting at just $20 a month you can easily add your family and friends to your plant for just $15 a month for line never worry about dropped calls consumer cellular has the exact same coverage as the major carriers with coverage to over 99 percent of the nation this is all backed by their 100 percent risk-free guarantee switch today and save up to half on your wireless bill go to consumer cellular dot com slash podcast 25 and for a limited time get $25 off when you use promo code podcast 25 that's consumer cellular dot com slash podcast 25 promo code podcast 25 let me guess unknown caller you could reduce the number of unwanted calls and emails with online privacy protection the latest innovation from discover will help regularly remove your personal info like your name and address from 10 popular people search websites that could sell your data and we'll do it for free activate in the discover app see terms and learn more at slash online privacy protection hi everyone i'm Lauren bright pichecco host of symptomatic a medical mystery podcast from iheart radio each week we unravel the medical mystery of a person's baffling symptoms and explore how their lives return upside down and search avancers that's one of those ones that it's tough to revisit so trauma is the only word i could probably use for that that really scared me because if i had my kids in the car you know anything could have happened and i knew at that point that i needed to figure out what was going on with me i could no longer ignore what i was going through i had to find answers you can listen to symptomatic a medical mystery podcast on the iheart radio app or wherever you get your podcasts welcome to nick that would hear a podcast about it happening somewhere else uh you know okay the theme the theme of the show has gone slightly slightly off the rails since it was first conceived however comma i do i do think this is something that is very important to talk about which is getting some more sort of background information and an understanding of what the history of sort of labor and general protest isn't china as we look at the certain the sort of current protest wave that is going on there and with me to talk about this is e-life freedman who teaches at kwan nal university and is the author of the book the urbanization of people the politics of development labor markets and schooling in the chinese city so you like welcome to the show it's good to be here yes i'm excited to talk with you about this um partially because i think okay so in in in so far as you've gotten sort of mainstream coverage of it there's been a lot of focus um in in in terms of the sort of current wave of protest there's been a lot of focus on like the a four paper stuff and people sort of you know tang signs up and as as the coverage has gone on there's been a lot less about the foxcon stuff there's been a lot less about the broader trajectory of what protests has looked like in china in the last 20 years as everyone sort of like immediately reaches back for their stock tnm in comparisons krisch i don't think i'm very good oh wrong yeah yeah so i guess i guess we could in some sense start with jennyman because i think this is this is has nothing really to do with it but i guess we could start with why why are the jennyman comparisons bad and why is everyone still reaching for them 30 years later yeah i mean there there's maybe a couple reasons why so the the the the unsympathetic take on it is that you have a lot of people outside of china particularly in the united states who hope for things to go poorly in china as part of their imperial competition and so 1989 was a bad year for china whichever side of that movement you were on and so they they believe that it heralds you know the downfall of the communist party and you know therefore america can march into the rest of the century without any real competitors so that that is a real thing right and the i think the somewhat more sympathetic uh take on this is that the chinese government and particularly under-season pang sets a ridiculously high standard for what qualifies as social stability right so minor deviations from absolute harmony as conceived of by the state which means you know no street protests it means relatively little descent online and to the extent that you do see forms of collective action they remain pretty small scale and fractured and so when you see deviations from that that suggests that well they've kind of lost control because they do want to maintain this you know absolute image of placidity and if we look at the whole sequence of events that led up to where we are now i think we have to trace it back well there's a bunch of things but one of them is the satong bridge protest which is just a single person hanging banners off a bridge in bay jing and a single person hanging banners or holding signs in any other big city around the world does not create that kind of a stir right i mean you know you're in Washington dc or you're in in burlin or or toky or whatever and you know nobody cares right so that but that just shows a little bit of a crack in the system and so then people let their imaginations kind of run wild um and we're clearly not in a 1989 situation right now it's not inconceivable that it would develop in that way in the future at the same time i don't think it's particularly likely for for all sorts of reasons and we can get into that if you are yeah i mean what one of the things that i think i don't know one of the things that i've been looking at with these protests versus actually nine i partially it's just the the the sort of class composition is just very very different like there are student protests but it's it's there like these people these the students now like are not the 1989 students like this is just if this is a very different sort of like it's it's very different student body it's a very different like the the class composition of those people are different the the experience that they've had in the chinese system is very different and then also i think some more interestingly is like it's it's not the same working class that showed up in 1989 because that class doesn't really exist anymore and yeah and i guess that that's another part of this that i think i don't know there is definitely extent to which these protests are weird in that it is like it's it's it's it's it's a bunch of people with different places who are protesting about the same thing which hasn't which you know hasn't really happened for a long time but also like i don't know there seems to be this reluctance to talk about the fact that there have been like not insignificant protests in the last 30 years like especially in the 90s there are these huge protests against sort of like the industrialization like the destruction of sort of the chinese welfare system and i guess what of the things i'm interested i don't know it's asking you more about is like there's there's a kind of trajectory of what urban sort of protests has looked like and like as as as the sort of like as the chinese working class is like increasingly become a sort of migrant working class and so yeah i guess we could jump off from there to also also i guess because it's the other thing it's like chinese cities are very different now than they were 30 years ago which is a thing that is both incredibly obvious and also like people don't really seem to understand very well yeah let's see there's a lot in that question maybe we should circle back around to the question of the class composition of the students and the workers today in comparison to 1989 but first let's just talk a little bit about the sequence of labor protest over the past in the last two years there is a lot of me going this stuff there yeah i mean all all really important insights each deserving a little bit of their own attention so you know after 1989 there is this big divergence in the in the opportunities that are afforded to the two constituent groups that were in Tiananmen Square and other places around China so you have the students and you have the workers right and there's there's other people but like though that's the sort of the social backbone of that movement the students basically get this deal with the state which is they demand compliance and political acquiescence in exchange for which they will enjoy a couple of generation a couple of decades of unbelievably fast growth and if you are graduating with a degree from one of these elite universities in Beijing or even not super elite universities and in other cities there's a pretty good chance that you're going to experience upward social mobility that you'll be able to buy an apartment that you know you will feel more materially secure than was the case for your parents right um i think that that deal is coming undone right now which explains the students that we say out in the street but in any event that that certainly was the case for for you know for about 30 years after um or at least you know 25 years after after Tiananmen the workers who were in the square in 1989 had a almost diametrically opposed social trajectory because immediately thereafter they were subjected to a brutal regime of privatization of dispossession of theft of public property they were thrown out of these jobs that they had believed they were going to have forever it was called the iron rice bowl um one of the main architects of that was Jun Zemin who's just died uh he along with Jureung Ji so I saw a great quote with someone was like this is basically China's George W. Bush where everyone should remember he can finally because things are so bad now but oh my god this guy was awful like dying dying right now is maybe the best thing he ever did like it's yeah god and it really is a testament to how bad things are now but he is I think um the most neoliberal anyway of China's leaders more so than then dunkshow ping it in some important ways uh and so you know that old working class who was told that they were the masters of the nation um you know under Jun Zemin in the late 90s they were just they they were they were just subjected to these real subsistence crises and in response to that actually the largest mobilizations to have happened since 1989 occurred in in the late 90s and really the early 2000s in some cases you have these protest movements with many tens of thousands of people out in the street resisting privatization resisting the theft of their pensions um and and basically this you know private profiteering and then theft of public property and and and I think that even the protests that we've seen uh in the last uh a week or two um are are still not on the scale of those worker uprisings that we saw um 20 years ago yeah but I guess you know like part of the reason why we are where we are now is that those people lost and then I think that's been one of the other sort of themes of like Chinese protests is like I mean I I think like like some some of the local ones like when but the large scale ones have kind of just been like just like really just been getting owned for the last like 20 really like 30 years like it's it's been kind of a bleak march and I mean I actually I want to circle back around a bit talk a bit more about the deondatialization because I think this is a thing that like really is badly understood especially on the left um the the other thing I wanted to talk about in in that is okay so you you have this massive wave of privatization you have this industrialization and can we talk a little bit also about how like for the people for the people who held on in say they don't need to share these what the sort of transformations that happen inside there was like because I think that's also like not understood well yeah so you have two processes one is um the uh they talk about as a smashing the air in rice bowl right and and that involves two processes one is just unemployment and there's been a lot of um efforts to try to estimate how many people lost their jobs it is very hard political scientists named uh Dirty Salinger wrote an article called why it's impossible to know how many unemployed people there are something to that effect um but certainly tens of millions of people lost lost their jobs and we're just kind of thrown out into the market and it's worth remembering that they're thrown out into the market largely in regions where the market was not at all dynamic right so in the northeastern part of the country which did not have the booming economy of Guangdong province or you know Jiangsu province or places like that um so so there were those people you know people also probably know that there are still a lot of say don't enterprises and something like a quarter to you know maybe a third of China's economy is still accounted for by state on enterprises but those enterprises have increasingly come to function like capitalist enterprises at least with respect to labor relations they still receive a lot of subsidies from the state they still enjoy um monopolies right so that you know they they don't face competition from other firms at least domestically um and like monopoly based firms in capitalist countries they offer somewhat better um pay and somewhat better benefits to their core workforce right so i mean if you think uh of of GM or Ford in the middle of the 20th century in the United States or you can think about Facebook or Google today you know these companies that are also basically enjoy monopoly position their core workers enjoy you know somewhat better pay right but the other thing that's happened is they have increasingly come to be surrounded by a very large a contingent of temporary and flexible workers right um and so in in in many of these state on firms um more than 50% of the employees are the what what they call in China dispatch workers right they don't enjoy any of those same benefits they don't enjoy the same job stability um and they eat in response to market fluctuations and profitability those are always the first ones to to be let uh let go right so you know the fact that they are state owned I think matters to some extent um but when but it doesn't mean that this the old labor regime from you know the 1970s has kind of continued unchanged like they are being these firms are being subjected to market pressures and that's reflected in how they treat labor yeah and i mean that's something that like if if if if if you if you listen to Xi Jinping like actually talk about what's going on he but he just constantly every every like two speeches that he gives there is a line about how like the the the the the economy is directed by the market and like we have no he's very clear about it yeah in some ways he's he's like very raganite like he's just like yeah we don't we don't want to let these lazy people just enjoy welfare benefits like they believe in the power of the market to discipline people he's no question about it yeah and i guess the the the other sort of consequence of this is China's enormous market worker population and that's that's the another thing i wanted to talk about because that was another round of protests happens in 2000 that's about uh this giant fight over household registration that i guess was the last kind of successful like really mass protest thing in china we talk about that a little bit yeah i mean there haven't been the same scale of of collective protests by migrant workers but you know just as a little bit of background you have the old state state on working class is kind of declining or subjected to the market pressures that we're talking about and so unrest in that sector becomes a little bit less significant over the course of the 2000s but that's happening at precisely the same time that the working class in the private firms is increasingly constituted by these rural turbine migrant workers when they come to to the cities they are treated essentially as second-class citizens and don't have guaranteed access to all kinds of social services, healthcare, pensions, education, etc. And so there is a lot of mobilization i mean you know the the Hukko household system household registration system still exists and it still has an important role in structuring people's um uh class experiences um but it's it's a little bit less coercive than it used to be so in 2003 there was this famous case um a migrant named uh suinger gang um was taken into custody uh as frequently happened you know at the time like police would just ask people for their papers on the street if they looked suspicious and they had a thing in place at the time called uh custody and repatriation where they would take you into custody and they would they would repatriate you back to your village right so very similar you know to like ice rates yeah yeah yeah like they had even this was like I think one of the things about like in so far as you can make comparisons between like the Chinese system of the Soviet system is like that that's one of the few things that was I think kind of similar is that you do have these very intense in well okay it's simultaneously you have these very intense like internal restrictions on migration but also very similar to the US system it's like the the economy is based on everyone breaking these things that's right simultaneously it's illegal yeah yeah right exactly like we there's no illegal immigration to the United States but the economy would obviously collapse without undocumented workers and it's exactly the same in China like you know they're like we we know that these people are here we know that our economy particularly the coastal cities is completely dependent on them but we're still gonna have cops ask you for your papers on the street and if they don't like you they can you know round you up and send you home in this in this particular case back in 2003 the guy they got it's like he was the quote unquote wrong guy because he was actually a university student and they they they detained him and killed him and so when this came out and they're like oh they killed a college student like if they killed a normal migrant worker that'd be one thing but he's a college student so so that created a big fuss and as a result you know they actually got rid of of the tension and repatriation which is good they're and so migrant workers today when they're on the streets in the big cities are are not likely to you know just have cops randomly asked to see their papers but they're still subjected to all kinds of of social discrimination and definitely you know institutional discrimination yeah so okay we're we're speak speak of institutional discrimination we're gonna take an ad break and then we'll come back and talk about this so you know enjoy some ads from companies who are probably benefiting from all of this and we're back so okay that that's another thing that I I do want to sort of I guess use this to push us forward a little bit which is that okay this this is obviously skipping a lot of riots in 2011 but one of the big things about the COVID restrictions that I don't think people understand has been how bad it's been affecting migrant workers and the extent to which you know because one one of the things about the House of Registration System is like as best I can tell this is this is the way a lot of like a lot of resources in terms of like here's how you're getting food haven't been distributed and if you know if you're in a place that's not weird House of Registration is it's like well okay the state's not giving you your food how you gonna deal with this stuff and yeah they're not yeah that that that that that's been a big thing that like I don't know I but one of this has been me being upset with the media coverage of these protests because like people will just say COVID-0 and then not explain what the actual consequences of this are so yeah I was wondering if we could talk about sort of specifically how how the lockdowns especially as lockdowns have gone on have been affecting migrant workers and then how that's and yeah okay well so we'll start start there before I jump into a question with 700 parts I mean I do think it's really important to understand why people are opposed to zero COVID and sometimes for people outside of China they think back to the spring of 2020 when you know in the United States we had like libertarians with guns being like in the lockdown like we want our freedom like it is not that for all sorts of reasons and and the way to get at why it's different is to understand some of the the the class differences that zero COVID has hasn't held and I should just say it's been pretty terrible for everybody including rich people and like you know we can we can feel some sympathy for them too but but it's had some particularly nefarious consequences for for migrant workers this became really clear in the Shanghai lockdown it's also worth noting that there are 300 million yeah migrant workers in China so this is not a route there or anything this this is like half the population of Europe like yeah it's almost an America-sized population of people who are not living where their household registration is and so the the basic thing is as you were just sort of saying that when there is a lockdown and you are a migrant worker you you kind of don't exist from the the states or you might exist but like you might also be overlooked from the perspective of the state so one very concrete way that this screwed people over was in these hard lockdowns you're not allowed out of your house and you are dependent on the neighborhood committee which is which is connected to the state it's kind of the lowest level of the state you are dependent on them for the delivery of everything that you need to survive right critically food and medicine yeah can I want to back up and say something about this is something this is something very very different than the American lockdowns which is like well okay it depends on a like it depends on a on like a province-like province basis like I know my family was in New Mongolia they like in New Mongolia like you you just you like the lockdown isn't like you don't go to work the lockdown is you cannot leave your house like you can you can I think I think their lockdown their first one was one person in their house once a week can leave to go get groceries but it's like it's not like yeah like it's it's you like you physically cannot leave you will be if you attempt to leave you will be prevented from doing so and this means that you don't really have an independent way of like getting food or like going shopping or that's right yeah like getting I don't know like toilet paper like yeah no toilet paper resonates with with Americans and our and our toilet paper shortage of 2020 but I mean in some cases like people had to actually just be literally changed into their apartments yeah so like this is not whatever people in in the US or even even in parts of Western Europe you know where the lockdowns were a little bit more intensely police like it is not at it is a qualitatively different thing and so yeah you're completely dependent on the state so therefore it's really really important that the state know that you are there and that the state feels itself to be tasked with your survival and if you're a migrant worker so so one of the the very concrete ways that this effective migrant workers is that a lot of them live in informal housing even in the biggest cities even in places like Shanghai and Beijing because those are the only places that they can live as far as the state's concern like that informal housing might not exist there are very very frequently more people living in those dwellings than are sort of legally accounted for so you know like there's 10 people living in an apartment that's supposed to be for for you know a family of three and so they deliver three people's worth of food but there's actually 10 people living there that's a subsistence crisis right you know the medical stuff is just a yeah like astonishing and very harrowing I mean you know just people just dying in their apartment because like they can't get insulin or yeah I know I know I know people whose family died because they had cancer and they couldn't get treatment for it because yeah yeah like yeah it's disaster yeah so so that's that's the situation that's one of the problems with them for the migrant workers and then in the very intense lockdowns at least in Shanghai back in in the spring of this year you know they also can't leave so like one option would be like okay will you go back to the place where you do have your household registration you know back in the village and you have a piece of land and like you can survive they couldn't leave right there's no transportation and so they were trapped in this situation where they couldn't work the government wasn't to you know delivering them food and they couldn't go to some place some other place where they could get food and so you know there's been a lot of attention to these recent protests which are extremely important and qualitatively different but even back in in April 2020 we saw food riots like in Shanghai a group of migrant workers just like requisitions like a truck full of cabbage you know and just started like tossing cabbages to people on the street because people were like literally starving so I mean yeah so it's a real problem for the migrant workers and on that note this has been it could happen here join us tomorrow for part two of this episode we'll be talking more about lockdowns similar problems with migrant workers and this all going. 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podcast that you're listening to right now uh it's your host chris for long and we are back with part two of our interview with elife freedman about the reason protest in china i want to go back and talk about lying flat and that whole kind of I don't know movement discourse that was happening last year because it seems like the the the kind of I don't know if nihilism is the right word but this kind of like collective understanding that the whole sort of bargain of the chinese social system of of you know this was to some extent extended to everyone right like the the bargain of the chinese social system of every everyone keep your head down well get rich together it suddenly became clear that this just wasn't going to happen and you know I mean I think like in some sense it's possible to sort of like you know you can you can put on your sort of like hard materialist hat and you can like look at like the number of hammers banging out and you can just look at the true Chinese GDP graph over the last decade and be like okay well so eventually like when it when it when it hit like two percent eventually we were going to have protests but yeah I guess I guess I I wanted to talk a bit about like yeah what lying flat was we covered this on the show a long time ago when it was happening but and then also sort of how that attitude shift was important or wasn't important I don't know maybe it wasn't I think it was but yeah I think it's very important right so yeah you can't just be a crude materialist and like mechanically read social protest off of some chart of you know following profitability or something like that um but there it it is a cultural expression of real fundamental changes in the organization of the chinese economy uh and you know where he talked about how the post 89 generation was like you go to college and like you come out and you know you'll you'll be middle class right on average and that's just not at all the case anymore and young people in china and and older people middle-aged people you know who are who have children who are who are going through the system um feel immense pressure in like immense competition in all spheres of life beginning from a young age in elementary school all the way up through high school through the super competitive and intense university admissions process and then after graduating university in getting a job and then getting a job that can you know um uh can earn enough money to be able to afford an apartment and so here we have to understand you know the cost of housing and all of the other costs associated with social reproduction so the cost like the cost of care workers right middle class people in plays like Shanghai and Beijing expect to have domestic workers um you know looking after their children they expect to be able to hire tutors who can um you know can tutor their children in in english or in math um and so just people feel under unbelievable pressure and this is in a situation the part of the the reason that the the pressure has really ramped up is that there are fewer good paying jobs you know youth unemployment now in china is is around 20% um and so one of the responses to that is just forget about it we're you know we're gonna lie flat uh we're gonna we're gonna reject all of this there's different expressions and i don't actually the this the sort of like you know sociologist in me is like well we don't actually have numbers to know how many people are lying flat and like that is true like maybe most people are still just going to work and you know doing their job but there's enough you know stories and certainly in terms of cultural resonance of people just doing the bare minimum at work or working for short periods of time earning just enough money to survive and not worrying about meeting those kind of social expectations around buying a car buying an apartment getting married having kids because people just see it as it is kind of it's kind of hopeless and so i think that's a really important backdrop because we have to understand that some level that these protests are about a sense of hopelessness right be it economic opportunities be it the a political system where Xi Jinping is gonna reign as long as he wants or be it zero COVID where you know at any given moment you're gonna be locked inside your apartment and you're not gonna be able to see your friends or or do anything so um yeah so i think it's very relevant yeah and and i i wanted i guess also to is this something i talked about in this podcast a lot but i need to like i want to do like drill in people's heads like just the sheer amount that people in china are working just like like the the number of hours the number of days a week the the amount of effort that is being put in is like it is it is it is it is it is a level of raw surplus value extraction that like like like most places in the world haven't seen in like a court like in like half a century it is like or even longer than that like it is it is a a truly stunning like is it a truly stunning level of exploitation in terms of things like nine nine six in terms of the people who are working schedules that are way worse than that who don't really ever get like talked about because they're not tech workers or they're not people who have sort of like a platform for any society yeah it's it's extremely normalized you know i mean like the nine nine six thing which which first of all it is maybe worth mentioning that china legally has a 40 hour work week you're only allowed to work 36 hours of over time a month right so probably you know not more than 49 or 50 hours a week that's that's like the legal yeah the legal standard nobody even remotely pretends like that is a thing in any industry there's legal debates about like whether it applies to to professional white collar you know salary workers or not but um you know when the nine nine six thing came out and there was a pretty cool i think movement based mostly online among tech workers it was it was great it was very inspiring and also every single blue collar worker in China was like we've been waiting like six for decades you know um and so so it is it is very normal across these these different kinds of of stratum for sure um one of the the cool things about nine eight six is people were we're we're revolting against it and say like this is an unacceptable way to live and again it comes back to this whole thing of like all of these feelings of you know these enhanced pressures right where it's just like how do i live in this city how do i find like decent housing like if you know if i want to have like a social life which is a thing that some people in their 20s want to have you know like how do i do that it's impossible under those circumstances um so so again like you can't read these movements mechanically off of these these uh these structural changes but like that is a thing that has been happening that is unresolved it's not at least for the you know the the the blank paper protesters the kind of the more elite students and stuff they haven't specifically articulated um their grievances as labor demands um but it's it's at least an important backdrop to what's happening today yeah and i think it's i i remember like how i i think i think this was like mid 2019 i'm trying to remember when i when i saw this specific video but there there there there was a video from the Hong Kong protest that was like in some ways it was it was like literally one of these classic like like sort of twitter things but like what do you want out what do you want to do after the revolution and it was like most of it was like i want to start a bakery like i want to work in a library and it it it strikes me that there's these things that get subsumed under you know when when when when you see a pro democracy movement right when when you see you know like the the sort of well i i guess that there's something interesting to hear about the like like day one of the protests there were a lot of videos that were talking about a ron and that kind of seemed to like like the very early videos were about sort of solidarity with the protestant of room she and then like it was like it was like specifically tying that to a ron and then to sort of pro democracy demands and then later on you get the sort of like uh like the the Shanghai like down with the party down with Xi Jinping like we went to democracy and free speech stuff but it it strikes me that like a lot of the times when you see people making those demands it's because they think that like you know it's like there there's a whole set of of like things that they like things that they believe about the future and about what will happen in the future that are like not articulated into demands but if you talk about if you talk about them like if you talk to people about what they think is going to happen after that there's this whole sort of like opening up of social stuff that they think will be the like the necessary results of like the end of the one party state and it's like you know i don't want to like i don't know i had this debate a lot with like like there's there's a kind of like Chinese international student you get in the US who like comes to the US and is like immediately like enormously enamored with the US as it's it's sort of the mirror image of how we we have a bunch of people who are like incredibly enamored with the Chinese state and then you get people who come here and are like incredibly enamored the American state and it's like well yeah okay the this politician will see you and they will talk to you however comma in about two years they will be voting to throw you in prison so like yeah yeah but like i'll be obviously like both people in China understand the Chinese system sucks and that the promises that people like in the US believe about it are fake and then people in the US understand that you can get a multi party democracy and things can still be absolutely shit but yeah yeah you know it strikes me that there's a lot of stuff sort of embedded in in in these demands that are like not really explicitly articulated until later and then that's also I guess been a hard part about these protests is that like I don't know it's hard to get information out you can get short of views of people mostly what you're getting are like 30 seconds of footage of people yelling at a cop right yeah yeah I mean there's a lot going on like if you have this one it's tiny little opening and then instantly you have protests it like all of these cities all over the country dozens of universities protest among you know working class migrants like middle class people in Shanghai like you know all across the country like that suggests that people have a variety of sets of grievances and they're kind of funneling them through this this meta narrative around ending the lockdown which is not to diminish the significance of the actual lockdowns which are causing real human suffering but there's definitely a lot going on and you know one of the big ones is what's happening in Xinjiang like it's we still don't really know how wegers are feeling about all this the fact that like all of the all the protests in the big eastern cities are about commemorating what happened in Irm Chi in a fire that killed mostly if not exclusively wegers like that that that deserves to be talked about um well I we don't really know how like the Han people on the streets in the eastern cities like if they're thinking about this this backdrop of you know massive repression surveillance and mass internment of of wegers and other Muslim minorities um but that's another thing uh and and I think the same thing goes for the treatment of migrant workers in in Foxconn and these other um blue collar workers who were put into the closed loop like to what extent are urban um Han people still kind of willing to go along with sacrificing migrant workers and treating them as as second class citizens or is there a possibility of developing some real sense of of solidarity um with ending not just the closed loop but ending you know like hookah based discrimination ending the camps in Xinjiang you know I mean you can kind of spin out from there if if you are interested in thinking about what it would mean to democratize China in like a in a robust sense of the word that I think points out another thing about these protests that are complicated right which is that like they are cross class in a lot of ways but I don't know it seems to me like the way they're manifesting is very much down class lines like okay I genuinely don't understand what's going on in Guangzhou that like every single video I see at a Guangzhou is like 70 people throwing bottles at a cop and like every video I see out of like Shanghai is like six people holding a piece of paper but it very much seems like you know like when when when when the cops are getting to like these these sort of like these working class neighborhoods these neighborhoods that are like informal housing these neighborhoods that are full of migrant workers there are these really really intense conflicts with the police in ways that like how do art happening well I mean okay that's like kind of stuff seems to be happening in a room she and I think it's happening there partially because you know this is like oh well okay I don't know off the top of my head whether it's more militarized than Tibet but like one of the most militarized like one of the most heavily police places in China and then also people are just really like the the immediate and palpable anger seems to be the highest there because you know I mean like like it you're gonna be more pissed off when it's people in your city or like you know you you maybe were like three blocks away from this fire yeah as it like you know people but yeah one one of one piece about about urm chi is that they've been in some form of lockdown for like a hundred days yeah you know so it that's not and and part of that has to do with the fact that it is this colonial setting where they feel like they can do things to people that they can't do in Beijing and China like people in China are not gonna do that right it's just like it's inconceivable there's obviously a lot of Han people in urm chi is actually a majority Han yeah these like 70% Han now yeah yeah yeah that sounds right to me and Xinjiang is is increasingly Han as well although I believe Wigar still constitute a plurality so you know there's just like each the the lockdowns kind of filter down to these different localities and into different communities with their different social and class compositions in different kinds of ways and have different kinds of effects right so you can put people in lockdown in Xinjiang for a hundred days and they're gonna be really pissed when they get out in the case of Guangzhou you know this was also part of the sequence that I think has been written out of the official narrative it's not it wasn't just Foxconn you had the initial Foxconn escape in late October early November and then you had these pretty intense riots that happened in Guangzhou but those were in these urban villages so-called urban villages largely informal housing very densely populated that are overwhelmingly migrant workers in this case it was mostly people from Hu bay which is which is where Wuhan is and and so you know just those migrant communities were put into lockdown in Guangzhou so if you're over in Tienhuan district which is the sort of the the newer like fancier part of Guangzhou with lots of high rises you know those places were not under lockdown and so they they put the migrant communities and I saw some like really not nice stuff you know people just being like oh yeah you know the local Guangzhou people on the other side of the river are just like going about their life and and they're they're okay with what's happening to the migrants and the migrants were as is the case in some of these earlier lockdowns actually facing real subsistence crisis like they didn't have enough food to eat and they couldn't leave to try to get food so that's why you saw these super intense riots and that's why you see them confronting the police and you know screaming at them throwing things at them you see tear gas all these things yeah I think that's the only place I've seen tear gas so far like maybe maybe in a room she I'm not there there may have been a video I don't I don't remember specifically that a room chief but definitely like Guangzhou's only place I've seen that level of repression yeah yeah no it was I mean you know the the the the Zhengzhou Foxconn was probably the the most violent in the largest scale yeah um but uh you know that was it was a little bit different Guangzhou it's kind of like smaller streets they're fighting you know street by street so um yeah so they have a different experience of the people in Shanghai again not to minimize their demands and I think it's it's important for people to find points of commonality um against this policy um but it's you know it's not like that if you if you're if you're a middle class person Han person in Shanghai which is again not to minimize the the very real difficulties that those folks have been facing as well something this kind of you know I think there's there's like another group of people who should probably talk about a little bit which is like this sort of downwardly mobile class of business owners who've been kind of just getting indiolated by the lockdowns and this that that happened in the US too although yeah the Chinese version of it seems they're like less marginally less absolutely psychotic like they haven't tried they they haven't tried to like kidnap a governor yet like they're not like they're not like they're not as fascist as their American counterparts uh for guns for sure yeah but it's it's it's same it seems like there's a kind of interesting I don't know it there's there's a class dynamic that kind of reminds me of Occupy and that you have this sort of like kind of tenuous alliance between like some some parts of the working class these elite students and like this downwindly mobile middle class but it strikes me that you know I mean this is the sort of defining thing about occupying I think like the defining thing about the whole sort of 2011 2013 wave of protests was that like it was it was really really easy to get people together into a physical space and when when you were in that single physical space it was like you know it's not like classes appeared but it was like you know it was it was it was it was it was it was it was a way in which sort of like classes were mixing and you could form this new kind of like identity based around like what you're doing in this place and it doesn't really seem like that's possible here it really seems like I don't know like there's these huge like you know this this is a protest that is like happening in a lot of different places at the same time but it's like it doesn't they're segmented yeah they're segmented they don't and they don't they don't really have a sort of like cohesive social identity that in a way that you could get out of a bunch of people being in the same place yeah no I think that's right I mean they're spatially segmented something someone pointed out on Twitter I can't even remember who but they're drawing comparisons to the 1989 protests and the kind of the physical arrangements where people are living and so particularly given you know the online censorship like that's been really important so you have these worker dormitories and Foxconnly you can organize by actually talking to people of student dormitories right and then you have a much smaller protest among the you know the middle class people who are able to circulate things online and so the consequence of that is they are pretty segmented and I think you know everyone has their own grievance with zero COVID yeah grievances are actually pretty different right so the Foxconn workers don't like the closed loop management system where you know where they can't leave or where they're subjected to unsafe conditions etc you know the the the petty bourgeoisie like they don't like the fact that there's no foot traffic you know coming into their shops right and I don't know if you saw the video of the guy like kicking down the wall with a soup ladle on his yeah yeah see you want that specifically yeah I mean it was it was very theatrical and dramatic and at a great video you know in terms of like the the class position I'm yeah you can see how it can kind of capsize into fashion yeah quickly um and then like the students uh you know they want to be able to live normal student lives and like leave their dormitories and that's a thing that I think students anywhere can associate with so it's like yeah they're all against the zero COVID policy but then it's kind of like what are their politics after that and I think if if this is going to open up um you know some kind of more expansive political vision like it's going to be hard to maintain that like that unity right the students are already talking about like you know censorship freedom of speech those things which I support I think are very good you're probably not going to get the petty bourgeoisie to like risk arrest and violence with the cops you know over like holding up a blank white piece of paper yeah um you know and then the migrant workers have another whole set of things you know around like basic like health infrastructure like you know can they get access to decent health care in the places where they're where they're living and that's not going to resonate to the same extent with the students so yeah I the one I think about a lot was like there there's a video going around at this guy being like I don't care about politics I just want to go to the movies and I was like this is the most American person in China like this is the one person that I'm like okay like that you know and like there is that kind of sort of like I just I just want to live my normal life like sure thing that's happening and then that that I think is a kind of recognizable American impulse but then you have the stuff that's like did you see did you see those pictures that were going around of like the the the hospitals they were putting back at workers in were just like the entire bathroom floor is just like covered in poop and like no oh god awful yeah I was like a whole whole bathroom floor just flooded there's like just like the the the they they you can't flush toilet paper down it so there's just these like mountains of toilet paper and I think like oh god yeah it's awful like the difference between the people whose things are like I want to go to the movies and the people whose demand is like please stop locking me in this like like like you know that was I guess I guess the other sort of lost thing that seemed to be pretty big in Chinese social media that I don't that wasn't talked about much here was that the there was this bus that capsized that killed like 27 people who were being taken like to a facility to specifically to hold like you know this is like what one of these sort of like I don't need I don't even really want to identify them by calling them hospitals because they're like yeah like just a complete disaster um but where were people were being held like held because they had a sentence yeah yeah and I don't know it seems like there's a really big sort of like you know I guess it's like like the the the the protests are reflecting all of all of the sort of like existing classifieds in Chinese society in ways that I think are are pretty obvious if you look at it but I guess in some sense like this this does strike me as the most jenomen ask thing what like the most jenomen ask thing about it is the way that the media has been like specifically covering the grievances of exactly like two groups of people which is like the students and like she pushed wild and then all of the labor stuff has just vanished after about day two yeah yeah yeah for sure um and I mean I don't have much optimism that that that the coverage will change um but you know there there is an experience um that middle class people I think have had pretty acutely going back at least to the Shanghai lockdown of this realization that there actually are no limits on state power yeah right and that to them was kind of like a shock you know they're like oh like I thought I was just gonna be able to go about my life like as long as I didn't you know demand to be able to vote for the president like I can have a job I can you know go eat hot pot or you know get whatever kind of delicious food I want living in these big cities I can travel internationally you know all of these things are you know more or less okay um there's been lots of you know there's lots of other people in training society for them that's never been the experience right most importantly the minorities uh and the workers uh and the migrant workers who have always you know experience that raw and unchecked power of the state and so you know does does this have the capacity to kind of bring them together you know it's gonna be extremely difficult to do especially because there aren't like spaces for political organizing and working through these differences in a constructive way yeah I mean I will see the one thing that kind of that strikes me is something that like is just different about this cycle is it like I don't know I don't like I don't think I've ever seen in my lifetime outside of like really tiny mowest sex like people openly calling for the downfall the government yeah like just in in a kind of like large systemic way and like it it it seems like I don't know maybe maybe the censors will sort of get control back but it really seems like there's been this kind of floodgate that's opened where suddenly like there was there's a brief moment where like it suddenly became possible to talk about things where you know like like two months ago it was like one guy laid aside in a bridge and like this was this was like the biggest thing that had ever happened in Chinese society whatever except etc and then suddenly like you know you just have people on the streets of Shanghai like just chanting stuff that wasn't even on that banner and like yeah I don't know like it it really seems like like it's it's not like they've actually like fully lost control the country or anything like they're not even close to that but it's like the sort of like the sort of regime of terror and fear that had been in place to keep people from doing this kind of stuff has fallen off a little bit yeah I mean I'd be very curious to know what the vibe is like in China and obviously I have not been there for a while um but like and this is wildly speculative and if you have any Chinese listeners who want to correct me I would be glad to have some more information about this but my feeling from afar is that you know like Xi Jinping is just like you can't you can't say anything about him and that even in like private spaces you know people just like don't feel like the ability to kind of imagine something different and like that has been changed like I don't think we're gonna see a lot more people on the streets chanting down with Xi Jinping down with the Communist Party like that's you know that's a risky it's a risky thing to do but I do think that like now at least people know that there's other other people in the country that are thinking the same things that they are thinking and then at least within you know like you know face-to-face interactions that people might be a little bit more willing to kind of say like oh like these protests happen that was pretty crazy like let's talk about that and so so that to me is optimistic and I do hope that more of this organizing can take place you know offline because I think that's the only safe way to do it yeah so so yeah I think something has changed significantly and you see it here you know I mean I've been teaching Chinese students for 10 years there's no question that people are interested in talking about things now in a more open way than was the case a couple of years ago and like here at Cornell we had we had a little vigil for for and Xi as well and people were chanting you know down with Xi Jinping which is kind of like okay you're you know you're in if the good New York like it's not dangerous well yeah I think students feel it to be dangerous and definitely a month or two ago would have felt it to be quite dangerous so yeah and I guess we probably shouldn't like completely downplay the fact that like the CCP has international networks in a way that's for sure like the way it tends to get covered in the press is very sort of like this kind of like right wing fear mongling but like no these people do exist and like yeah like it is possible for you to like tweet something while you're in the US and then like someone in China finds out about it and things start to go very badly for you very quickly and yes for sure like that's that's that's a real danger that yeah and and regardless of how many spies there are how pervasive they are like it is a real experience real fear the Chinese students here have right they don't feel comfortable you know they might feel more comfortable speaking openly here than they do actually within China but they still don't feel totally free and and that is a very widespread sentiment I guess sort of enclosing I don't know my I don't think anyone can really have much of an analysis that's better than them guessing about what's going to happen next because this already was something that like two weeks ago like if you'd ask anyone at like anyone in China or outside of China who wasn't like I don't know like in the fallen Gong or something whether whether they were suddenly going to be large still like protest in China ever would have been like are you nuts yeah but yeah I'm wondering how what you think is going to happen next I don't know my my sort of tentative read of it was like it it seems like I don't know it seems to me that for for a very very long time the Chinese political system was specifically set up to stop this like like this was this was the exact thing it was it was designed to make sure there would never be another sort of like like there would never be a large well you know we don't know how long this is going to go on right but there was there was never there was never supposed to be another straight movement that was like coordinated between cities that was large and that had real political demands and no you know I like I I don't know I maybe I could I could be the most wrong I've ever been I cannot imagine this like this specific round of protests really like challenging the government at all like I don't know something something would have to like I don't know like aliens would have to like descend from the sky or something like I don't know I don't know like I don't think they can do it but the frequency at which these kinds of things break out has been increasing steadily for the past probably 20 or 30 years I mean the 90s are sort of a low point for this stuff but you know like if you're if you're in a country like Ecuador right you've seen like two pretty large scale like mastery movements in like three years right and you know it's it seems to be sort of broadly the there's been this sort of like the the decaying economic conditions are combined with this like the general decaying ability of the state to prevent like a subsequent movement from unfolding so I don't know like I my my sense is that this one's not going to do anything but we might see another one of these in like three years or something yeah I don't think we're gonna see this movement in the in the weeks and months to come to like cohere into this like massive politically potent force that has the capacity to either continue to exert demands on the central state or threatened state power like I don't think that that's gonna happen I do think I think I think the first thing is to acknowledge and to chalk up the victories that have already been one yeah so Foxconn Foxconn workers got paid you know they went out and rioted 10,000 like yeah Foxconn's like here's 10,000 yuan for you to leave yeah you need to do your job right so like and those were workers that came in after the other workers escaped so they had been there in quarantine for like a couple days rioted got 10,000 yuan which is like almost 1500 US dollars like they so they did really well and but I think more broadly you know around the zero COVID the government has already made changes they will never acknowledge we're doing this because yeah people protested like that's not how they operate but you know they said okay we're actually gonna get more serious about vaccinating people which is what they need to do in order to have sort of an exit strategy there've been some some signals low key ones about further loosening I mean I think that there's a real question about how they go about doing this because if they just let it rip tomorrow like actually hundreds of thousands of years will do us yeah so like I think that what they need to do is they need to vaccinate people and they need to build a real public health infrastructure that includes migrant workers but you know that's we'll see if that happens so so I think that those are already victories like which which we should which you know we should take account of and I think moving forward the ability to repress like the the the street demonstrations should not be underestimated like the state has immense resources at its capacity I don't think that we're gonna continue to see people chanting you know down with the Communist Party in the streets regularly so I think that they'll be able to at least push that down a little bit and maybe with some concessions people will be satisfied you know the the guy who just wants to be able to go to the movie like next year this time there's a good chance he will just be able to go to the movies to kind of continue with my labor-centric perspective though I think it's gonna be harder for for workers I think it's gonna be harder for them to repress that as long as the closed loop management systems are in effect and lockdowns are happening I mean it just puts insane demands on these workers and there were revolts against it when it first happened in Shanghai back in April and I think that those will continue to exist but I think we'll probably see this kind of reversion to what's existed for the last a couple decades which is lots of you know small scale somewhat manageable and localized protests the question is like who does this kind of open up the possibility of politicization which we have not really seen since 1989 in a robust way at least and so does this kind of open up some of those possibilities so those local protests can begin to speak to each other with some sort of common language and cohere some kind of political force that's harder for the state to tame we'll see yeah and I guess the other sort of x factor here is like can can the CCP get the growth rate above like 5% no but yeah like that's like yeah I don't I don't know how they do it like that I don't know like I I sort of like sort of like actually just letting all of the sort of like like like all of the sort of like slack and excess capacity just get like you know just just like intentionally tanking the entire economy and just like running all of these sort of unprofitable businesses and the girl like yeah I don't I don't see how they do that and that does seem to me like you know to be a kind of like the the the sort of like looming horizon over I mean this and this is really true of everyone like the this is the sort of looming horizon over like every government in the world has been that the growth rate has been collapsing for like the last 40 years and China was you know in China Chinese economy was like the last thing that was really driving it and that's like not really true anymore it's it's a disaster I mean and then even without COVID it was sort of like not going great I mean it wasn't like you know I mean it hadn't reached like it hadn't like reached like you know like recession or it hadn't really reached like sort of post-industrialized country levels of like here's your 2% growth every year be happy with it but like I don't know yeah but but the growth I mean this is maybe like another whole conversation but like the growth has become less effective right yeah yeah it's this like investment led growth it's there there's massive growth in debt and they can you know build another bridge build another airport build I mean they're not building the apartment blocks as much anymore but they do that they can wrap up the growth a little bit right but like the the fundamental problem that they've been unable to address is like increasing domestic consumption yeah yeah more equitable model of growth and the reason that they can't do that is fundamentally a political problem like they can't figure out a way to give working class people more money and to give them some social protections um and like until they resolve that political problem like I just don't see them being able to deal with with that economic problem so that means you are gonna continue to have this kind of ongoing forms of stagnation zero covid really hurts it a lot more of course the geopolitical conflict with the US and and Biden you know trying to economically kneecap them like that doesn't help and then the demographics of you know like all of these things are making making their lives much more difficult and so one way to interpret what's happens um under under zero covid is the expansion of a massive and terrifying surveillance state that will allow them to weather whatever political storms are coming in the future yeah and I guess I don't know well we'll we'll we'll see we'll see whether that works for them I am somewhat skeptical in that like I don't know like good luck I actually terrible luck I hope it goes badly for the worst of luck yeah yeah so you like thank you so much for coming on the show yeah it's been a pleasure yeah and okay where can people find you and find the stuff that you do uh well I'm on Twitter as long as it's still there um Ely D Friedman and uh yeah um I'm on the internet and that's I don't know that's that's the main place come if you're an Insta come on by all right uh yeah this this has been a good happen here drag every government into perpetual internal crisis until it stops existing hey we'll be back Monday with more episodes every week from now until the heat death of the universe it could happen here as a production of cool zone media for more podcast from cool zone media visit our website or check us out on the iHeart radio app apple podcast or wherever you listen to podcasts you can find sources for it could happen here updated monthly at slash sources thanks for listening it's gifting season and you have no idea what to get that special cook in your life want to know what I'm giving this year meter a smart meter mom that keeps an eye on your cook and even alerts you in the meter app when it's ready to come out of the oven oh and it works on the grill too meter makes meat juicy and perfectly cooked every time so add meter to your list it's the perfect gift for the perfect meal use code podcast 10 to get 10% off at my name is john Thomas i've increased my portfolio by 10 figures investing in the tech sector 2023 is set to become the fitness technology revolution in the history of the world many of my clients will become multi-millionaires these five companies 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