List Headline Image
Updated by griffinritze on Nov 26, 2017
griffinritze griffinritze
14 items   0 followers   0 votes   717 views

Left Podcasts: Politics, News, & Theory

Podcast media is an underutilized resource among left activists and those that are interested in building left alternatives to capitalism & resistance to neoliberalism. I've complied a list of the programs that I follow closely.

These programs range from left-liberal news and commentary programs like Democracy Now!, KPFA's Against the Grain, and Dissent's Belabored podcast to socialist/marxist programming like the Zero Squared podcast, Black Agenda Report, and archival podcasts covering conference sessions hosted by the International Socialist Organization (We Are Many) and the Platypus Affiliated Society.

*Descriptions in quotes belong to the producers. The commentary below is mine.


Zero Books: Advancing Conversations

by Douglas Lain, Zero Books
(philosophy, theory, socialism/communism)

"Publisher Douglas Lain (former podcaster behind Diet Soap) interviews authors from Zero Books and beyond. Zero Book authors include Eugene Thacker (In the Dust of This Planet), Nina Power (One Dimensional Woman), Dan Hind (Magic Kingdom), and many others. This is a literary podcast that aims at radical philosophy. You'll hear discussions about Marxist economics, critical theory, cultural criticism and feminism from some of the world's most opinionated writers."

An entertaining program focused on marxist philosophy and economic theory in a conversational interview format. Dreamy sound collages stitched between interview segments that play on themes covered in each episode. A basic level of familiarity with left philosophy and theory is helpful but the material is generally accessible.

Black Agenda Radio

By Glen Ford & Nellie Bailey, Progressive Radio Network
(black left politics, movement news, socialism/communism)

"Hosts Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey, veterans of the Freedom Movement’s many permutations and skilled communicators, host a weekly magazine designed to both inform and critique the global movement."

Weekly political analysis from a black left perspective. B.A.R. provides a crucial window into black left politics that are often underrepresented among left/socialist currents throughout the U.S. Black Agenda Report contributors have taken principled and often unpopular positions on the left in response to the Obama presidency, the Sanders presidential campaign and their critique of what they call the Black Misleadership Class

Economic Update

By Richard D. Wolff, Democracy at Work
(economic analysis, news, worker co-ops, socialism)

"Economic Update is a weekly program hosted by Richard D. Wolff played on over 50 stations nationwide. Wolff’s specialty on this program is to take complex economic issues and make them understandable, empowering listeners with information to analyze not only their own financial situation but the economy at large. By focusing on the economic dimensions of everyday life - wages, jobs, taxes, debts, interest rates, prices, and profits - the program explores alternative ways to organize markets, and government policies."

Economic analysis from a marxist perspective focusing on current events and long form analysis for a popular audience. Interviews with experts in sociology, psychology, labor, and economics. Richard Wolff's rhetorical abilities and dry sense of humor make the program enjoyable and accessible for a growing mass audience.

This is Hell!

By Chuck Mertz
(left-progressive politics, theory, news)

"This is Hell is a weekly longform political interview program broadcast across Chicago on WNUR since 1996. Every Saturday morning, Chuck Mertz works off his news hangover by talking to the journalists, authors and activists working to make this world a slightly less hellish place. Expect in-depth conversations about the forces that drive politics, and gallows humor about a world with more questions than answers."

Left-progressive long-form interview based podcast that focuses on current political events. I was first turned onto this show when communist theorist Jodi Dean was interviewed on her recently published book Crowds and Party. More recently, the show has extensively covered the 2016 Clinton campaign featuring a series of guests who have critically assessed the Clinton political dynasty throughout the years. This is Hell: The Clinton Years. Their coverage of the Clinton years is an impressive break from past programming which is decidedly liberal-progressive in content.

From Alpha To Omega

By Tom O'Brien
(political theory, philosophy, socialism)

"What is happening to our economy and our politics? Are we stuck forever in this corporate dystopia? What can we learn from the failures of radical politics over the last 100 years? Tom O'Brien talks in depth to experts from the fields of Political Economy, Politics, Science, Philosophy, Complexity, Mathematics, Music, and the Environment."

Conversational interview style program covering left political theory and philosophy. The format and content is similar to the Zero Squared / Diet Soap podcasts by Douglas Lain. O'Brien has featured some of the same guests on his program (including Lain) and there is a sense that their respective programs are in dialogue with one another.

We Are Many

By international Socialist Organization
(socialist/communist politics, theory, history)

"There are so many voices and so many struggles scattered across the planet (and the internet). We are attempting to gather these voices "in unvanquishable number" into a site that can offer a platform and, we hope, inspiration for action."

Podcast archive of conference sessions hosted by the International Socialist Organization (ISO) focusing on a broad range of international socialist politics and movement activity. Most sessions are geared toward a popular audience.

Symptomatic Redness

By C. Derick Varn and Amogh Sahu
(socialist/communist politics, theory, history)

"A show on political economy and historical analysis hosted by C. Derick Varn and Amogh Sahu. We interview figures on economics and politics from a historical materialist perspective and look at alternate modes of economic and political organization as well as offering our own commentary on the topic."

Long form interview / lecture based podcast focusing on left political history and theory. Their recent series on the economics of the Soviet Union is required listening for anyone interested in studying that era past the "state capitalist" / "deformed workers state" characterizations of Soviet political economy. The audio quality of the show is generally bad, but is well worth the patience. C. Derick Varn is also a regular guest on Zero Squared and has appeared on other philosophy/political programs such as The Partially Examined Life

Against the Grain

By Sasha Lilley, and C.S. Soong, KPFA
(left-liberal politics, social sciences, history, movements)

"In-depth analysis and commentary on a variety of matters — political, economic, social, and cultural — important to progressive and radical thinking and activism. Against the Grain is co-produced and co-hosted by Sasha Lilley and C.S. Soong."

Left-liberal interview based program devoted to critical engagement with current events/issues. Guests are generally experts in the social sciences. Recent highlights: episodes covering the so-called "sharing economy": Uber, Airbnb, etc.


(political theory, philosophy, critical theory)

"The C-Realm is a weekly, interview-based program which features discussions on topics ranging from a possible technological singularity, to entheogenic exploration, the re-localization of community and agriculture, and the competing narratives by which we define ourselves and navigate our world."

The Benjamin Dixon Show

By Benjamin Dixon
(liberal-progressive politics, news, social movements)

"News and commentary from a progressive perspective. Cautiously idealistic yet reasonably pragmatic: as hopeful for the future as he may be, Benjamin Dixon isn't afraid to tackle the issues of today."

Relatively new podcast covering U.S. social movements and current political events from a liberal-progressive perspective. Dixon has taken some critical positions on the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party as a Sanders supporter. To the left of Democracy Now! and similar programs. Impressive series of interviews following the twitter drama that erupted after the firing of progressive blogger Matt Bruenig at the Demos think tank for debating Clinton / Democratic Party loyalists on Twitter with his idiosyncratic brand of left-progressive snark. idiosyncratic. Dixon's interview with Rania Khalek of the Palestinian rights advocacy group The Electronic Intifada is definitely worth checking out at the very least.


By Dissent Magazine
(labor, left-progressive politics, current events)

"Dissent's audio podcast Belabored brings you regular news and analysis from the world of work. Tune in with labor journalists Sarah Jaffe and Michelle Chen."

Interview based program focusing on developments in the labor movement in the U.S. and internationally from a liberal-progressive & feminist perspective. Jaffe and Chen have valuable rapport with the labor movement in the U.S. and have facilitated critical dialogue between social movements and labor through their programming and roles at Dissent Magazine.

The Real News Network

by Paul Jay, The Real News Network
(news, politics, social movements)

"The Real News Network (TRNN) is a non-profit news and documentary network focused on providing independent and uncompromising journalism."

Liberal-progressive program based out of Baltimore, Maryland focused primarily on social movements and progressive politics. Following the police killing of Freddie Gray , TRNN committed to aggressively covering the Gray killing and Black Lives Matter organizing throughout the U.S.. Social movement icons such as Cornel West and Tavis Smiley appear frequently as guests.

Democracy Now!

by Amy Goodman & Juan González
(left-activist, progressive news)

"Democracy Now! is an independent daily TV & radio news program, hosted by award-winning journalists Amy Goodman and Juan González. We provide daily global news headlines, in-depth interviews and investigative reports without any advertisements or government funding. Our programming shines a spotlight on corporate and government abuses of power and lifts up the stories of ordinary people working to make change in extraordinary times. Democracy Now! is live weekdays at 8am ET and available 24/7 through our website and podcasts."

Popular left-activist program that came out of the anti-war movement in the early 00's. Although to the left of mainstream news in the U.S., the political/social analysis is limited to a decidedly liberal framework.

Platypus Media

by Platypus Affiliated Society
(political philosophy, theory, socialism/communism)

"The Platypus Affiliated Society, established in December 2006, organizes reading groups, public fora, research and journalism focused on problems and tasks inherited from the “Old” (1920s-30s), “New” (1960s-70s) and post-political (1980s-90s) Left for the possibilities of emancipatory politics today."

Archival podcast featuring conference sessions hosted by the Platypus Affiliated Society.