Ep. 168: How Faux Folksy "Real World" Advice is Employed to Limit Political Possibility and Punch Left

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"Increasing Numbers of US Students Look for a ‘Real’ World," read a 1965 headline from the magazine Moderator. "Academics: Get Real!," the Harvard Business Review implored in 2009. "‘Defund the police’ runs into reality," the Washington Post warned in 2021. "As Latin America Shifts Left, Leaders Face a Short Honeymoon," the New York Times declared in 2022. We're often reminded that anyone who espouses some degree of left-wing politics – whether a student, activist, political leader, or anyone in between – is at odds with the "real world." Academics, especially those in the humanities, sit in their ivory towers. Organizers and demonstrators against state violence have their heads in the clouds. Elected leaders campaigning on elevating living standards don’t know what they're in for.

But who's in charge of determining what’s ‘realistic’? Or what "the real world" is exactly? Why is studying theory, fighting for better healthcare, or working toward poverty reduction any less ‘real’ than plugging away at a spreadsheet for a weapons manufacturer or venture capital firm? And how did this pat and folksy concept of the "real world" emerge as a go-to dunk on eggheads and activists? On this episode, we seek to answer these questions, as we examine the canard that anyone to the left of a Goldman Sachs executive isn't living in or contributing to the "real world."

Our guest is Street Fight Radio's Bryan Quinby.

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