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The Myth of Freedom Under Capitalism

Although its intellectual handmaidens love to insist otherwise — capitalism is not a system that truly embodies freedom. We all feel it, of course — that nagging sense that we lack any agency over the choices that shape our lives, the frustration we feel at our bosses, the tension we feel with our landlords, the sense that we’re all just stuck in a rat race. We might lack the language to articulate it, or a framework within which to situate it, but we all know, deep down, that this ain’t it. That there’s something deeply wrong.


In this episode, we explore why this is — why, despite what we’re constantly being told — that we currently live under the freest system ever — that we’re not actually free — and why we’re all imprisoned within capitalism. 


We start with a brief history of how we got here, what different conceptions of freedom have meant historically — and how they can be applied to our current condition, and then we take a deep dive into the mechanisms this system uses to keep us all imprisoned, and how we can break free. 


David Bollier — Activist, scholar, author, and blogger focused on the commons, and author, most recently, of The Commoner’s Catalog for Changemaking: Tools for the Transitions Ahead.


Matt Christman — Co-host of Chapo Trap House


Ayesha Khan — Infectious diseases scientist, germ doctor, grassroots organizer, writer, astrobiologist, and educator


Corey Mohler — Creator of Existential Comics


Jessica Gordon Nembhard — Professor of Community Justice and Social Economic Development in the Department of Africana Studies at John Jay College of the City University of New York and author of Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice


Collections of Colonies of Bees


Mammoth Star

Do Make Say Think

Chris Zabriskie


Many thanks to Bethan Mure for the cover art

Support for this episode of Upstream was provided by the Resist Foundation
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