Intellectually Stimulating Podcasts

August 8th, 2020 | JH

The dog days of August are here and hopefully our readers can enjoy the heat and summer fun that Covid panic has been trying to stamp out. You may find yourself doing a long drive to a campsite or working in the yard outside and thinking, “I wish I could listen to something intellectually stimulating that caters to my interests while doing these activities.”

Podcasts might be what you’re looking for.

Now I’m aware that podcasts have a weird niche in our culture. Most people don’t know what they are and younger people seem to peg them as either for the over-informed hipster intellectual that used to brag about learning things in Ted Talks, or for the hyper-obsessive subject matter nerds that can’t deep-dive deep enough into topics of their interests.

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Regardless of their place in our culture, they can be a good and edifying alternative to vapid, over-the-air-radio or monotone books-on-tape. If you’re a reader of Poletical  and you need some spoken-word content that you can take on the road, here are a variety of podcasts you might enjoy.

West of Centre

This is a recent podcast put out by the CBC (I know, I know, and it’s what you’d imagine it to be). It’s hosted by Kathleen Petty and occasionally guest-hosted by Jim Brown (who’s had at least one Poletical writer on his broadcasts in the past). It’s Calgary based and it focuses on issues that Western Canada is interested in.

The show is decent as far as CBC goes. The target audience seems to be progressives in the West that realize they are a minority and progressives in the East that are dumbfounded by Western issues. As a result, there is a lot of explaining of the issues with context and criticism from a progressive perspective.

The guests on the show are mostly uniformly progressive. They’ll occasionally have a “conservative” voice on the show, but it will usually be someone extremely mainstream and progressive-friendly… basically a conservative liberal, or if I’m less generous, a cuckservative. As a result, the “debates” are usually in one direction or a simple matter of degree. There is never much outside the progressive frame.

Why listen?

It provides a good insight to people who don’t think like us. It also reveals the biases and assumptions of our opponents. If you’re a switched-on conservative, you’ll be able to argue back against the narratives and ask your own questions that the show never considers. The guests are usually very educated and articulate, so it doesn’t hurt to occasionally pick up a good point from the other side.

Unlike liberals, we actually listen to other people’s points of view.

The Strategists

This podcast was wildly popular a few years ago, and then Cory Hogan, one of the hosts, took a job with Notley’s NDP and they had to end the podcast run. The other two characters are Zane something or another, and Stephen Carter. As you can imagine, this podcast is wallowing in progressive bathwater. It’s basically three smug progressives getting high on their own farts.

What’s interesting about this podcast is that much like West of Centre, it offers a big window into the minds of our antagonists. Their assumptions and hatreds and assessments are progressive to the bone. They don’t have a solid grasp on the things they oppose, but they have an interesting take, nonetheless. For conservatives, this podcast functions as a behind-enemy-lines reconnaissance mission and, if you listen to it as a source of intel gathering from the other side, it can be very enlightening.

Sometimes these guys are funny, sometimes they make some good points, but it’s mostly a snide, woeful, but jocular sounding lament about the issues of the day and how amazingly above it all the hosts feel themselves to be.

Why listen?

As bad as things are for conservatives, you get the sense that progressives get stuck in the same ruts. It’s nice to see that happen on the other side. Also, it’s good to season up your opinions by listening to the progressive narratives from typical standard bearers like these. It’s also sometimes funny.

The Ben Shapiro Show/The Rubin Report

Ben Shapiro and Dave Rubin are considered fairly mainstream libertarian conservatives in the United States. By Canadian standards they would be considered hard-right extremists. Poletical readers will view them as the former, rather than the latter. They both offer fairly straightforward boilerplate conservatism centred around topics of the day.

They will often interview guests and have fairly vanilla conversations presenting traditional conservative perspectives against the madness of our culture. Occasionally a Canadian component will arrive on their show as was the case with Dave Rubin when he interviewed Maxime Bernier or Ben Shapiro when he interviewed Stephen Harper.

Their shows are anchored very much in what is often derisively called, “Conservative Inc.” I think it’s somewhat unfair, but it has a point. These shows are designed to appeal to people within the progressive mainstream. What they seek to cultivate is a conservative progressivism. Not too radical and accepting of most traditional liberal frames, but with a strong dose of conservative flavour.

Why listen?

It’s good to see where mainstream conservatism is going and how normal people are responding. Rubin and Shapiro are sharp and non-threatening and occasionally have good guests on their shows. Be selective when choosing your episodes.

Bret Weinstein’s Dark Horse Podcast/The Portal with Eric Weinstein

The Weinstein brothers have made waves in recent years with Eric Weinstein coining the term, “The Intellectual Dark Web” regarding the ascendency of very smart and controversial thinkers such as Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson and…Joe Rogan? It’s a long story and you can google more info if you want the backstory, but these two podcasts are deep dives into many issues of the day.

Both podcasts are pretty serious and… VERY INTELLECTUAL. The listener is expected to be of a certain IQ. They deep-dive way beyond the surface to analyse things like intersectionality, the BLM riots, woke politics and the rise of the new left. They also veer into other territory like education and science. (Eric Weinstein has some kind of new theory of reality that suggests geometry has us living in a 14-dimensional space or something, it’s pretty out there.)

Why listen?

If you want to feast on some BIG THINKING, then check out these podcasts. They illuminate politics with a heavy academic perspective and occasionally push the listener into realms of brain strain that can function like a nice mind workout. They’re sometimes a bit too flat or myopic, so be selective with your episodes.

"Unlike liberals, we actually listen to other people’s points of view."

Quillette Podcast

This podcast is a grab bag of current issues of the day through the lens of subject matter experts from around the world.

Much like the Weinstein’s podcasts, this one spends a lot of time analysing the madness of the current left. It’s much more accessible and ripped from the headlines in its approach and the podcasts are shorter and more focused.

There are lots of author interviews and interviews with subject matter experts, as well as journalists talking with journalists that make for timely and frequent updates on interesting matters.

Why listen?

Quillette offers quick listens to a variety of subjects with slightly different and often more conservative perspectives.

The Z Blog Power Hour

The Zman is a rising star in Dissident Right  circles. He has been around a long time and started his podcast a few years ago. It was through his podcast that I was introduced to the Dissident Right and discovered an entire ecosystem of alternatives to libertarian/conservative orthodoxy.

The Zman provides analysis with charm and good humour. Sometimes he does theme shows on a specific subject, sometimes he just riffs on current events. No matter the subject, his hot takes on normal conservative issues are outside the mainstream and he’s provided eye-opening perspectives that challenge standard conservative ideology.

Why listen?

The Zman is a part of a new and rising right-wing perspective. One that does not accept the orthodoxies of mainstream conservatism. In the eyes of the Dissident Right, mainstream conservatives are simply controlled opposition. The dissident right strives for a deeper and more civilizational construction of politics that goes far beyond the notion of tax cuts and free markets. Zman provides context, history and friendly charm to his show that leaves the listener eagerly waiting for more.

The Myth of the 20th Century

This podcast consists of a variety of young, and highly intelligent commentators working under a variety of pseudonyms. Their identities are protected for the same reason that Poletical protects its author’s identities: the world we live in isn’t safe for dangerous ideas.

The guys at The Myth of the 20th Century  have a lot of dangerous ideas. The show mostly consists of specific issues or events or subject matters, and the conversation that takes place is a deep dive into the history and context of these concerns. Often times they veer off into strange and sometimes hilarious sidetracks, but the focus of the show always returns.

Why listen?

Wild guests that are completely politically incorrect or way off the beaten path show up frequently. Check out the episodes with billionaire on-the-run cyber-security pioneer John McAfee. It’s like listening to the cast of Big Bang Theory ask questions to a maniacally laughing James Bond villain.

Topics of conversation get into conspiracy theory territory and are backed up with enormous depth of knowledge between the three or four hosts that regularly present. This show functions as a lecture style education combined with a healthy dose of wrong-think opinion and commentary. It combines to provide a funny, irreverent and jaded view of familiar and not-so-familiar topics.

The American Mind

This is a production of the Claremont Institute and features a group of characters not unlike The Myth of the 20th Century, except with more energy, more ten-dollar words and less politically incorrect assumptions. These guys deep dive into issues of the day and use them as a jumping off point to present their own solutions. They are all based conservatives, and never beyond the pale which makes their viewpoints slightly more realistic and practical. It’s a high caliber show with literate and educated hosts presenting fresh takes on the issues of the day.

Why listen?

They provide some high-minded context and assessments to current events and offer their own ideas and solutions to the current predicaments.

Renaissance Radio

This show is hosted by Jared Taylor and his side-kick Paul Kersey. Jared Taylor is a highly educated “race realist” and is documenting our current madness as a form of documentation for future generations to learn from. This show is heavily focused on race issues especially in the United States, but it is not presented from a progressive point of view.

Why listen?

Mainstream media has a blind spot when it comes to race and it’s interesting listening to these hosts read issues ripped from the headlines and then dissect the stories with their unique and educated takes. They present an alternative analysis with exacting articulation and literacy in order to avoid being pegged as dreaded “racists” and provide the listener with more realistic assessments of what is actually happening in the news.

So, there you have it. If you’re a political junkie and in the market or mood for some long form discussion about political issues, give these podcasts a try and let us know what you think!

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