Behind the News, 6/27/13 - Doug Henwood

Behind the News, 6/27/13

  • Doug Henwood
  • KPFA, Berkeley

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Doug Henwood’s Behind the News podcast (broadcast weekly on KPFA in Berkeley) is consistently one of the best sources of analysis for matters political, economic (and, sometimes, cultural). This particular show features an interview with Gilbert Achcar of SOAS and the University of London, and is simply the clearest, most coherent, dispassionate and sober account of the Egyptian situation that I’ve yet come across. 

Listening to it make you wonder—why don’t we get stuff like this in the New York Times, or on the CBC/NPR, and why is our understanding of the nuances of the post-Arab Spring crises in the Middle East so narrow?  There are crucial political-economic answers to those questions, of course (Max Weber’s concept of the “Iron Cage” of bureaucratic reason and technocratic specialization also springs to mind), but for a useful if tech-centric analysis of this, listen to this interview with Ethan Zuckerman, the Director of Civic Media at MIT, who argues that westerners’ cosmopolitanism is relatively on the wane even as our absolute capacity for global awareness of cultural diversity is on the rise. He is interviewed by the always-on-the-ball Nora Young over at CBC’s Spark.

Zuckerman maintains that to fix our increasing self-ghettoization, we not only need search and recommendation engines that allow for more risk-taking mash-ups of interests/informational categories, we need to take an active part in seeking beyond the boundaries of our self-imposed sub-cultures.

Along those lines, I would love to see both of the above shows take on each others’ niche as objects of analysis—a discussion on the political economy of the so-called “digital revolution” might commence!

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