Origin Story Back Catalogue
Churchill part 2: Inside the Enigma Machine
This time: part 2 of their Winston Churchill deconstruction. The pair chronicle the turbulent decade that defined Churchill's political legacy. From Munich and his unexpected elevation to power, from the Bengal Famine to victory over Hitler, his surprise defeat in the 1945 election and his long, gloomy decline, they look at a life which still casts a shadow over Britain. And they even read Boris Johnson’s Churchill book, so you don’t have to.
Special: Gary Lineker, Free Speech and the Nazis
A between-seasons special: The Lineker Affair didn’t just expose the BBC’s fear of the Government. It triggered a flood of bad takes on whether it’s ever permissible to compare contemporary politics to 1930s Germany; BBC employees’ rights to speak their minds; the limits of Twitter; and even whether the Nazis were in fact left-wing. Spoiler: they weren’t.
Freedom of Speech: Censors working overtime
“We surely live in the stupidest possible era of debate about free speech,” says Ian Dunt. When a key arbiter of free expression is the smirking tech bro who owns Twitter, he might be right. How did the right to express yourself freely get hijacked by reactionaries? Are progressives really a threat to freedom of speech?
The War on Drugs: The smack of firm government
Drugs won the War on Drugs decades ago, so why are governments still squandering billions on this unwinnable battle? Where did the idea come from? Can we even agree on what drugs are? Dorian Lynskey and Ian Dunt delve into the tortuous evolution of the futile battle against narcotics. From morphine users Jules Verne and Bismarck and cocaine fan Sigmund Freud to the Opium Wars, the Red Scares, the Jazz Panic, Richard Nixon’s declaration of war on narcotics in 1971 up to Nancy Reagan’s “Just say no”, the War on Drugs becomes a justification for racism, a proxy assault on the ’60s – and an immovable block on evidence-based policy.
Fascism: The fraternity of violence
Few terms are thrown about as freely now as “Fascist” but what does the ultimate political condemnation really mean? Where did Fascism come from? Are all Fascists Nazis, and were the Nazis even Fascists themselves? From Mussolini and Nietszche to Adolf Hitler, Ian Dunt and Dorian Lynskey delve into fascism’s primordial stew of violence, racism, antisemitism, mysticism, anti-intellectualism and bizarrely modern aesthetics. They discover a brutal, anti-rational creed that is equally obsessed with futurist technology and ancient myth – and which inevitably drives itself towards
Satire: Laughter in the dark
“But it’s satire!” says every Twitter lout, demagogue or disinformationist to justify their abuse, pile-ons or straight-up lies. But what IS satire? How does it work? What distinguishes it from bullying? Does it even have to be funny? Ian Dunt and Dorian Lynskey go in search of the truth of satire on a journey that takes in The Thick Of It, Basil Fawlty, Jonathan Swift, Succession, Lenny Bruce, trickster gods, Boris Johnson, Peter Cook and Beyond The Fringe, Spitting Image and more… all the way back to the origin 1.4 million years ago of laughter itself.
Culture War: Inside the rage machine
Culture war: it’s been around way longer than Fox News raging against drag queens or The Last Jedi. Dorian Lynskey and Ian Dunt trace the history of the hatreds that split societies from Bismarck’s original German kulturkampf up to climate denial, gun fetishism, the demonisation of liberal Hollywood, and our modern hellscape of permanent outrage. The secret weapon of culture warriors? Permanent grievance in a battle they can never win.
Ayn Rand: The ego has landed
A new series of the podcast that explains the most misused ideas in politics. This time: In a rage against her impoverished Soviet childhood, writer Ayn Rand evangelised for radical selfishness and the glories of unfettered capitalism. Is the most influential political novelist of the 20th Century just the darling of the “neoliberal theatre of cruelty”, a benzedrine-addled monster whose books licence toxic egoism, a creator of thick-skinned heroes for a cult of thin-skinned losers… or is there more to her?
Neoliberalism: Everything’s for sale
Neoliberalism has become an all-purpose insult, but what does it actually mean? In the final episode of Series 1, Dorian and Ian tell the extraordinary story of how a friendless group of outsider economists started a decades-long campaign to turn their fringe ideas into mainstream orthodoxy – and succeeded.
Woke: The word that splits the world
Who turned Woke from a badge of African-American pride into a hammer to beat liberals with? How does it relate to PC? And what are Erykah Badu, Piers Morgan, the weaponisation of African-American slang against black people, Julie Burchill and Google’s salad emoji doing in the eye of the Culture War storm?
Superheroes: Truth, justice and the outsider way
It had to happen! Superheroes have shaped our shared culture – both popular and political – but where did the idea of the “good superman” come from? How did idealism, power fantasy and radicalism merge so that an outsider generation of young (often Jewish) Americans could transform America?