March 10, 2022
Journalist, political commentator, and author Owen Jones joins Jameela this week to discuss why he is a Democratic Socialist, the difference between the welfare state vs. universal income, a brief history of socialism and why it is so often unfairly villainized, why Owen is hopeful for progress, and his advice to those who want to oppose capitalism while also participating in society.
Check out Owen’s podcast – The Owen Jones Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-owen-jones-podcast/id1550331378
You can find transcripts for this episode on the Earwolf website.
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101 — What is Socialism with Owen Jones
Jameela [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to I Weigh with Jameela Jamil, a podcast that is determined to murder all of your shame. I hope you’re alright. I know that the news cycle is just too much to bear. I I don’t have all of the right words, but what I do have is at least part of a solution. And when it comes to the war that we are seeing break out over in Ukraine, I I can remind you about the organization that we’ve spoken about a few times on this podcast that helps support refugees. They are called Choose Love. Now I’ve had the founder of Choose Love on this podcast before her name is Josie Naughton. The episode is absolutely extraordinary. She is extraordinary. And if you are wondering about where to put your money right now and how to help and you want to learn more about any organization you give to, you can listen to that episode where she breaks down so transparently, where every single penny of your money goes and what the organization does specifically, because they don’t just hand the money over to people, they actually provide care, legal advice, visa information and medical instruments and medical aid to all of these people in such need. I mean, they also go to the point of going into the countries that are experiencing the war and are funding ambulances that pull women and children and people out of the rubble of their fallen houses. So they are called Choose Love. You can find them online. And if you need any more information about them, it’s all in the podcast episode. Also on their Instagram at @ChooseLove. Now on this podcast, I try to always bring you as much information as I can and hopefully also entertainment, and I am so lucky that I am able to access some of the great thinkers of our time. And today’s guest is truly the epitome of that. He’s one of my favorite people. I was so too scared to ask him, even on this podcast for two years because I assumed he must surely think I’m a fucking idiot and a piece because he’s so smart and I feel so, so stupid next to him. But when you’re actually with him and talking to him, he doesn’t make you feel stupid. He makes you feel like it’s exciting that you’re learning and you’re learning with him, and he’s learning as well. And he’s just so unpretentious and so amazing at delivering information and breaking it down in a way that all of us can understand, even about some of the most complex issues. So if you are looking to someone who you can follow for information on current affairs or politics and not just UK politics but global politics, I highly recommend my guest today, Owen Jones. But also today I asked him on to talk to me about some. You know what some people might be seem quite basic things, but there are certain conversations happening right now that I think a lot of us could stand to understand more about so that we’re better armed to understand the systems that we are supposed to attack and take down. And I think we have become a culture too embarrassed to admit when there is stuff that we don’t understand, when there is stuff that we just haven’t been taught yet. And I am staunchly against that culture of shaming people for what they simply just don’t know yet. Now, Owen is a fucking perfect educator, and it’s such an interesting and important episode in which we talk a lot about capitalism. We talk a lot about socialism. We break down all the kind of stereotypes and stigmas, and we talk about how to deconstruct these systems that keep most of the world oppressed. And it’s a very, very specific and informative episode which you, I promise you, you will leave this episode feeling smarter. I definitely did. And he offers tangible solutions rather than just despair at the fact that we are all living in this capitalist system. We are all kind of being caught up in this loop of hell and shit. And he sees a viable way out and talks me through that, and it made me feel as though there is actually a chance here to be a part of real significant change that would impact not just the world and the people in it, but also the actual planet in and of itself. And so I hope you enjoy this episode. I would love to hear what you think, and I hope that you share it with other people who maybe also might be curious about this subject and don’t know where to turn. I love you lots. I send you all of my hugs and thank you for turning up to these lessons I’m learning along with me. This is Owen-Jones. Fuck me, it’s Owen Jones, welcome to I Weigh, how are you?
Owen [00:05:02] Only bloody Jameelah, look at you with your amazing hair.
Jameela [00:05:06] Thank you. Thank you.
Owen [00:05:08] It’s pretty iconic.
Jameela [00:05:08] It’s done by a professional was saying to you earlier, I look like Saddam Hussein at the very end in the bunker.
Owen [00:05:15] Which is not of all the Saddam Husseins to choose from the worst,
Jameela [00:05:18] He is he is the worst one.
Owen [00:05:19] I’ve just done the VO5 Max hair wax. That was not a product placement for VO5, and it really isn’t sorry to VO5 if I’ve destroyed their sales.
Jameela [00:05:28] You look lovely. Lovely, you look 12. I don’t understand why you’re aging backwards. This is full. Benjamin Button. How you been?
Owen [00:05:36] Do you know what? I just a obviously in the grand scheme of things in the world. Given the last, I was going to say what time scale of shit do we use I don’t know if you swear.
Jameela [00:05:45] It’s been about 17 years.
Owen [00:05:47] It has been. I like the rule of the last few years, which has been, however, bad and terrible and catastrophic you think things are, things will always get worse. And I think after COVID, people were like, Well, we’ve had a horrific global pandemic which has shut down the functioning of human civilization. That’s got to be the nadir. Turns out not. Yeah, I mean, obviously, I would be privileged because during the pandemic, I could work at home and do my work and hang out with my cat. I wasn’t one of those. I don’t know I’m interested how you feel about this because some people were like, Well, obviously the death is horrific. But is lockdown so bad because you can do life in a different way. I wasn’t one of those I hated every minute of it, I don’t know about you.
Jameela [00:06:26] No, I loved it. I’m a misanthrope and I have social anxiety, and I’m definitely some sort of neurodivergent. So for me, it was better for my mental health personally, but also, like, extremely stressful and sad to see what was happening around. But, you know, like, I’m an unfriendly little bastard, so, you know, just having an a having the out of all time was perfect for me.
Owen [00:06:48] I mean, yeah, your sheer coldness really, really, really emanates from you. I think that’s definitely a striking feature of Jameela.
Jameela [00:06:56] Isn’t it mad that we don’t know each other? Isn’t it mad that it just feels like I know you so well? When you jumped up on camera, I was like, Yes, that’s my mate, Owen, I’ve never met you.
Owen [00:07:06] That’s how I feel. I mean, I the difference that, for example, when I had Covid in July, which had got at a gay rave for that myself, I watched you obviously and quite literally in heaven, actually. And I felt.
Jameela [00:07:17] Yeah.
Owen [00:07:17] You were. So I felt that I got to chat to you and get to know you and I’m not going to lie. I kind of started speaking to your character. so maybe I felt, maybe I feel more of a one to one connection.
Jameela [00:07:30] Well, you know, I over the last five years, I think I feel like I know you because I’ve been following you on Twitter and you’ve kind of become I’m not say that you’re infallible. You’re not. Of course you have become.
Owen [00:07:41] No. Definitely not.
Jameela [00:07:41] I know. I know you’ve had quite a week, but I I look to you as a guiding voice and on the internet, like you are someone who speaks the most practical sense and it doesn’t feel like you’re getting angry just for the sake of getting angry or stirring up outrage for any kind of engagement or to, I don’t know, like create an outlet for maybe your own personal emotional rage. I feel like you… your worth is kind of.
Owen [00:08:09] I get things wrong, but I think what I would say to people because obviously on social media, I think there’s a sense that. Often, if you disagree with someone it, it means their work operating in bad faith, and what I’d say is basically I’ve always had these beliefs. I’m not saying anything that I don’t believe. I was. I was raised. I’m actually slightly more right wing than my parents my parents were Trotsky’s revolutionaries. And I’m not
Jameela [00:08:32] And wait just for anyone who’s new to kind of this terminology. What does that mean? That means full hard, hard, hard left.
Owen [00:08:38] Yeah, I mean Trotsky’s. Very quickly, I would say, and you have the Russian Revolution. And then Stalin took over and established a mass murdering totalitarian dictatorship, so they weren’t keen on that. And they believed instead in a revolutionary overthrow of capitalism to establish what they would regard as a democratic, humane alternatives to Stalin which wasn’t capitalism. But yeah, I don’t believe in armed revolution basically before I’m put on another another terror watch list.
Jameela [00:09:06] Also, imagine you and me on that situation just dead first, instantly dead.
Owen [00:09:14] Dead. I’d be worried about my cats in that situation. That’s my main, my main, quibble with armed revolution.
Jameela [00:09:22] Okay, so you are. I mean, it’s funny to call it right, more right wing, but you’re just like more of a moderate, perhaps than your parents.
Owen [00:09:31] Well I call myself a democratic socialism. So I think the way I look at what I would call socialism is, it means for me spreading democracy as far as you can. So the problem I have with say, capitalism is though we can vote in elections. We can often say what we think without being locked up in our in the societies in which we live. But I think what it does is it gives massive power if you’ve got huge amounts of wealth and you, you run these big multinational companies. Because what it means is you have the power to throw huge amounts of money to donate to politicians and lobbyists. It means you can run the media. It means you control the lives of your workers who you make money out of. And that. I don’t see that as a proper democracy. I see that as a democracy with so many caveats. So I look at socialism, and I think it means give workers a say in how you run things, that the economy should be run in the interests of everyone rather than a tiny elite of people. So, yeah, I mean, in a way, I see, like capitalism is quite extreme. I think the idea that you have so much wealth in the world in which you could cure hunger several times over. And yet millions of people starve to death that’s really extreme. I think you know the idea as we currently are, that, you know, you can have lots of states with nuclear weapons that could wipe out the world several times over and people just contemplate that. That’s pretty extreme. So in a sense, you know, everyone probably sees themselves is quite moderate. I think saying millions of people create wealth, so they should have they should have a fair share of that wealth is a pretty moderate demand. We should destroy the planet.
Jameela [00:11:11] 100%. And I think I think that what you’re describing is how a lot of us feel. I certainly agree with that. Although I am a known capitalist pig on Twitter because I once heard, um, that I completely agree that capitalism is a terrible thing. But currently women have only, just like in some parts of the world, have only just started to be able to have like power to pay for our own rent or not depend on men for our livelihood or for just general safety and existence. And so in that respect, I don’t feel, you know, obviously it was like a clip taken out of context that surfaced on the internet. But I was just saying that as a woman who’s watched, all of the women in my family tolerate like unbelievable amounts of abuse and horror because they were not financially independent and they were tied to men who were then able to take advantage of them. I feel strongly about having my own money, and when I said that, obviously I’m now like sort of the face of capitalist pigs. I am Perth, the Percy Pig of capitalism. Yeah, but that’s all I was trying to say, and I’m aware that that probably doesn’t suit everyone. But the reaction to that was so extreme that I was like, I think what I said was still technically rational in this current current state of things. I think that if we’re going to create equality, we’re going to need to do it in an ordered way where it isn’t the most marginalized people giving up what they have first. I think we’re going to need everyone to share and distribute equally.
Owen [00:12:45] I’m always like, Don’t play, blame the player, blame the game because, you know, I sometimes get mates who start working for some company, you know, and they feel a bit. They feel a bit worried, telling me they’re a bit like oh I’m going to get judged by him, but obviously in the world in which, you know, there’s that cartoon that sometimes circulates on Twitter when anyone criticizes injustice and then they’re like, Oh, I bet you buy things from this capitalist company and it’s a peasant and he’s living in abject poverty, saying, we should improve society somewhat and someone yelling at him, Yes, but you live in society, so you’re a hypocrite. Yeah. And, at the end of the day, like, you know, in under capitalism, you’re forced to make very difficult choices in order to live. I mean, I would say the problem with capitalism in that sense is what you’re talking about there is everyone should have a independent means in which to be free. And the problem with, say, our system at the moment is because of the housing crisis. Lots of young people are forced to live at home with their parents more and more. And because they can’t get an affordable home or women are often concentrated in the lowest paid and most insecure jobs. So if you look at, I don’t know, cleaning cleaning cleaners are overwhelmingly likely to be women, often women of color. And so actually, you know what, what the free market was supposed to do, what it told people to do is give people freedom. In practice, it gave people in security. This, you know, robbed people of having an affordable home they could live. It stopped people having a secure job. So often people work for like Deliveroo or a job where they don’t know how many, how much they’re going to earn that week, week after week. So I think it’s a really good point because what I’m interested in is actually the other point you make about freedom because I think, you know, people who support capitalism have taken the idea of freedom from their own. But one of my critiques of capitalism, it robs people of freedom because if you don’t have enough money in order to live properly, then you’re not independent, you’re not free and you’re indebted. So lots of people now they they’re permanently indebted because they’re not given their wages have stagnated or fallen for so long. That isn’t freedom.
Jameela [00:14:59] While rent prices are going up. And whilst the cost of living is increasing and then enter universal basic income and like the the way in which that would potentially I don’t know how you feel about it, but I feel as though that would be a good start to just arming people with a little bit of fucking equality.
Owen [00:15:16] Yeah, everyone should have a basic standard of living they can’t fall below. I mean, it’s quite interesting, like Alaska of all places which is a Republican state, in fact, only ever voted Republican apart from in one election, and it’s the lowest tax state in the U.S. But they what they do is they use the oil wealth. So you have a to give everyone basically an amount of money every year, regardless of who they are as a basic right of citizenship. So, you know, even even in Alaska, they do that. They use that, that’s their sovereign wealth fund. So yeah, I think as long as it’s not a replacement for cause some cause, some people oppose a welfare state and say, let’s have a universal basic income, instead
Jameela [00:15:58] Break down the two for us.
Owen [00:16:01] So a welfare state is the idea that the state will provide you with services and the standard of living, which you can’t fall below. So it might include universal basic health care. So regardless of who you are, whether you’re rich or you’re poor or in the middle, you get the right if you’re injured, if you’re ill to be able to use a health care system without having to pay anything. So in Britain, we have the National Health Service. It means and the right to housing. So in Britain, after the war, they they had a massive council house building program, which was supposed to be at the time of a better quality than private housing. And Nye Bevan, who founded the health service because housing was part of health care at the time. He said he wanted to recreate the lovely feature of the English and Welsh village, where the doctor and the butcher lived next door to one another. So housing was seen as an essential part of that welfare state. Education. The idea that you shouldn’t be indebted because you aspire to an education for which everyone benefits, not just yourself. And so it wasn’t just give you money, it was as well. It was the idea that if you’re unemployed, that was a problem of society, it was a collective failing. It wasn’t just it wasn’t because people were lazy and feckless, and you should. But it was about services as well as money.
Jameela [00:17:15] That’s how I grew up. That’s I mean, that’s how I grew up. I grew up fully, fully, fully supported by the government, and it’s why I’ve never tried to do like one of those fucking terrible tax schemes that so many people do. You know where they try and like, find ways to just to Gary Barlow it. Because I’m not virtue signaling. I’m I’m I mean, maybe I am by accident, but I’m just trying to say that the reason I don’t is because I would be dead without the without other people having paid their taxes and me being able to go to school for free, being able to ride the bus for free, being able to live in a council flat for free. All of these different things and all my massive health problems, being deaf and having my hearing restored all for free, all of which is because we had a welfare state. And so like, I feel very passionately about that. So but then put that in comparison with the universal basic income.
Owen [00:18:10] So universal basic income is the idea that everyone gets a certain payment every week or every month, regardless of who they are to stop them from falling into poverty and insecurity. And so, you know, the idea there is, for example, work is becoming more insecure. So you’ve got lots of people forced to be part time or to be technically self-employed, even though that actually means often companies don’t want to pay them a secure wage and good pensions, so they contract them out. So you always have this stability in your life, regardless of who you are and the ideas that could replace, for example, unemployment benefits of of of whichever type they are in each country so that everyone, if you’re in work or not, work, everyone gets this payment. Everyone pays in, everyone gets something back. I suppose the critique of that the problem with that is some people say, well, that because some people in the right support that some people sorry some people believe in let the market do what it wants, let capitalism do what it wants, believe that to replace the welfare state. So it’s the idea you don’t provide a healthcare system for free or any of these other services. You just give someone a certain amount of money and let them spend as they so wish. So I don’t support that, but I do think you know what, the reason I think universal basic income might become more popular is because of technology. And what I mean by that is in the past, technology destroyed lots of jobs, but it created more jobs than it destroyed. We’re using a personal computer, both of us right now. So when the personal computer came about lots of jobs suddenly became redundant. They weren’t needed anymore. But the personal computer created lots of other jobs, you know, our whole societal depends on.
Jameela [00:19:53] Our entire society would have collapsed in the last two years without technology.
Owen [00:19:57] Well I mean, I can’t tell you what I think, what we would have done just just just played with my cats, probably. But the danger now some people think, is new technology will destroy more jobs than it creates.
Jameela [00:20:10] And you’re talking about, like AI and,.
Owen [00:20:13] Exactly.
Jameela [00:20:13] It’s kind of more, I don’t want to say the word robot that feels a bit silly, but you know more factories not needing to employ people. And, I mean, for me personally, while I don’t want people to lose their jobs, the conditions in which people work in factories are so appalling that I would love for them to instead have an income that didn’t rely upon them being extorted to be beyond the point of existence.
Owen [00:20:35] The point you making there is really important because actually people think automation won’t just take because before it’s taken away lots of working class jobs, but take accountants. There’s a middle class professional job. You can see how that could be replaced by technology. Since you get to that point, then the danger is you end up in a society where a huge part of the population are told we don’t need you for work or in theory. And then what you do is you and they end up often getting they’ll get more more demonized as the lazy ones or the and attacked when what you could do instead is have not just a universal basic income. Why not reduce everyone’s working hours? Because if you reduce people’s working hours, like this demand for four day week. You can actually redistribute the work that people do because if, for example, you’re if you’ve got everyone working on a four day week, then that will free up if you like more, more more places for other workers. So you there’s ways of doing it. But the danger is at the moment, we’re just going to say we’re going to meet lots of people unemployed and we’re not going to do anything to support them. And that’s the worst possible thing we could do.
Jameela [00:21:44] Yeah, exactly. And I feel well and my on my understanding was that they would then utilize universal basic income to like, fill that void. The hope is that they would even think of doing something like that. And I mean, there is a part of me that wonders like, what? And I support it fully. But I do also just on a human level, just to explore the the weirdest part of my brain. Imagine what it would be like if if if a vast majority of the world suddenly had no job after, like hundreds of years of industry where we have been like poisoned to understand that the purpose of life is to like your identity is like so firmly interlinked with what it is that you do, either for a living or, you know, however you spend your time. How bonkers would it be to imagine all of these people suddenly like, What do you think there would be more murders? Would there be more shagging? Would there be more art? Would there be more music like? Would people be? I always try to imagine what that world is going to be like.
Owen [00:22:46] I’d hope there’d be more shagging, but you know what? Younger people are shagging less. But it’s really interesting this Generation Z
Jameela [00:22:51] Yeah but that’s because I mean, they couldn’t be more stressed. They’re having to get jobs at like 12.
Owen [00:22:56] Yeah, exactly.
Jameela [00:22:57] And the world is burning like
Owen [00:22:58] their hope has been taken away. Which is not good for your libido.
Jameela [00:23:02] No. Every time I open Twitter, my vagina just goes, you know, like, it’s just it’s terrible. It’s it’s it’s an unsexy time.
Owen [00:23:10] It’s the ultimate cock block.
Jameela [00:23:12] Truly. OK, so I’m just just trying to break this down because I feel like these are all very complex conversations that keep like being dragged more and more to the extreme by both the right and the left, you know, the right demonized socialism, and they demonize the idea that people, you know, will if they have any kind of help or leverage like welfare or universal basic income, then they’ll stop being driven to work and then they will have no purpose and then they will just be a hoodlum or whatever. But then on the left, I’ve seen like I am, I constantly witness like at the most extreme, maybe not the most extreme, but a very extreme form of socialism or even kind of like communism and Marxism rising, especially among very young people. And sometimes some of those people that I engage with don’t always have like a firm understanding of that Marxism or that communism or the history of attempts that have been made towards communism. And I guess that’s kind of why I would love for you to explain some of these things to us so that we can kind of like have a clearer and more kind of like practical conversation about it because some of it feels like idealism.
Owen [00:24:36] Sure. Sure. I mean, I think the point first about Karl Marx. So Karl Marx just so everyone knows was a German philosopher. He was born at the beginning of the 19th century. He was actually a refugee who worked and lived most of the time in Britain. He spent a lot of time researching the British the British Museum. And the thing about Marx is what often people don’t realize about him is what he what he was doing is analyzing capitalism. So he was actually thinking he was trying to understand how capitalism works and his argument if you read The Communist Manifesto, which is only a short read, is actually capitalism have played for a long period of time, a very good role of a positive role because what it done is got rid of feudalism, and that was the system which we used to have, where lost people were peasants and they were known as serfs, which meant they were they have no freedom. They were under the total control of these landowners, these feudal lords. And and what capitalism did is develop industry. It made the economy more advanced. It created big cities as the industries developed. People moved to the city from the countryside, and it created this vast amount of wealth, which Karl Marx said had exceeded the great achievements such as the Egyptian pyramids. He said capitalism had done far more wonders than like the Egyptian pyramids, for example. He said the problem with capitalism is as it develops, is it created this big contradiction. This collision course between what’s good for the boss and what’s good for the worker because the boss wants to make a lot of money, that’s in his interests, rational interest. You own a factory or whatever you want to make lots of money. But a worker wants to have good wages and a good standard of living in which to live. And the problem with that is that they you get they collide with each other. So what Marx suggested was that you get more and more workers in the world and as capitalism develops, that you get this clash between the classes. And that is
Jameela [00:26:41] Well because it kind of becomes like another version of a land owner who has control over everyone else because you are the one doling out the salary you quote unquote hire, you employ. And so therefore you kind of you get to make all of the big decisions.
Owen [00:26:54] And the point he made is that wealth wouldn’t be created without the worker, the worker, either using the hands, which is what they did in industry or their brains, which is what you get today in the service sector a lot of the time. It’s not people doing manual labor, it’s doing kind of mental labor. But the boss can’t make any money without them doing all that hard work in that hard graft. And what a lot of what Karl Marx said, because he didn’t actually design what he thought society would look like. I mean, that’s that’s another, I suppose, mistake people make. He wasn’t saying this. This is what some you
Jameela [00:27:26] He didn’t have a conclusive answer.
Owen [00:27:28] No, he said he felt that eventually that collision course would become unsustainable and you could have a situation where the workers say instead of making all this money for someone else, we’re going to take over society and we’re going to create a society where the economy is run in the interests of not profit, but the needs of the people in that society. That’s what he thought could happen. And he did predict a lot of things like what we call globalization. So that’s where you get a very interconnected global economy because he said what would happen is those bosses in, say, England or Britain would decide it’s not enough to make money in those borders. They would have to go across the world in order to find other markets. So he predicted a lot of things. What he didn’t, I suppose, predict to anticipate is you would get. Actually, what work is did do is create parties like the Labour Party in Britain or in Germany, the Social Democrats in France, the Socialists and with the help of the trade unions, they would actually win a lot of things which made the lives of workers better, like the welfare state I just mentioned. So they get free health care, they get support if they want unemployed.
Jameela [00:28:45] Pay rises.
Owen [00:28:47] Pay rises
Jameela [00:28:48] Less working hours. Sure.
Owen [00:28:49] So what actually happened, particularly after World War Two, is you’ve got this terrible war. And that war partly came because capitalism was allowed to just run rampant. That allowed the Great Depression, where the economy collapsed at the end of the 1920s. And in the ruins of that bitterness, you got the rise of fascist dictators, not least Adolf Hitler.
Jameela [00:29:09] Yeah, he was able to blame certain individuals for the misery of people’s existences.
Owen [00:29:15] Yeah, scapegoat minorities with genocidal consequences. So after the war in particular, there was a sense of in the West, there was a fear that, oh no, unless we do something, then we might have revolutions like they had in Russia. So actually, even though we don’t want to pay all this money for a welfare state, we don’t want to give these extra rights to our workers better that than overthrowing us all together in a violent revolution. So that’s why, if you like things didn’t go that way. The problem with what people see is Marxism often is they’re talking about what what people describe as Stalinism and Stalinism was. Is an abhorrent, horrible dictatorship, which we call totalitarian, which means the state controls everything, can destroy all human freedom. And what happened is you got a revolution in Russia in 1917, which actually went against what Marx would have predicted because what Marx said or thought was it was the countries like Britain or Germany which were very advanced where you got lots of people, industrial workers. And Russia was a peasant nation at the time it was. Everyone lived in the countryside apart from a few people in the cities. So actually, he didn’t think that was ripe for revolution. And what we call the Bolsheviks, who took power in that revolution was actually a split in that the party of their workers that what was called the Social Democratic Labor Party. So you got the Mensheviks who were one faction and they said, No, we can’t have a revolution here because we don’t have all this industry. We don’t have these these vast working class. And then you got the Bolsheviks who said, you can’t just, you know, look at history and say, we can’t do something because we don’t have enough workers. There’s too many peasants. If a revolution happens, then so be it
Jameela [00:30:57] So fuck around and find out essentially
Owen [00:30:59] exactly. And what happened then you’ve got this terrible war. World War One in 1914, in which huge numbers of Russians died, terrible consequences for ordinary Russians. They got fed up and they had a revolution and well they had two revolutions in 1917, there were certainly not happy. And in the second revolution, the Bolsheviks came to power and you got a massive civil war. Huge numbers of people died. Whatever you think about Lenin, which is a complicated story in itself. Stalin came to power in that terrible situation in a war ravaged peasant country, and what he established was something which Karl Marx would never have desired or envisaged, which was a society in which the party bureaucrats ran everything they were in charge, the party officials where you got industrialization, but a terrible human cost. And what he actually did is he killed all the original revolutionary leaders. Almost they were all killed in this thing called the Great Purge. And you so so you know, that is a system that nobody who believes in, in freeing humanity from the terrible injustices that do exist should ever look at. It was a terrible, barbaric system which destroyed freedom. It’s not something to emulate if you believe in socialism, as I do. What you’re saying is capitalism is bad for freedom and is bad for democracy because it gives all this power to a tiny bunch of bosses. And it means people don’t have a comfortable standard of living, so they’re not really free. So we should try and make people freer and make society more democratic.
Jameela [00:32:31] 100 percent. But then on on the right, whenever people talk about socialism, the right are just like, Well, socialism never works. Look back through all these other countries and they talk about places where they have attempted socialism. And then they start, you know, bringing up the gulags, et cetera. Like, what do you have to say to that when they bring this like very extremist dystopian version of socialism up with fear mongering nonsense?
Owen [00:32:55] I mean, what I say is actually if you look at lots of obviously countries which have done things which say I would support like publicly owning industries, lots of countries do that today and do that very successfully. If I look at the British railway system, which is run privately, is an absolute state since they privatized, it’s a rip off. It’s fragmented, it’s, you know, it’s actually still the state has to throw lots of money at it.
Jameela [00:33:20] Look at the privatized medical system in America is a fucking disaster.
Owen [00:33:25] Exactly. And compare that to the National Health Service. So America actually pays more on its health care than many other countries does with with worse results because actually it is not efficient to do that. You end up with lots of lots of private companies who need to make money. That’s their purpose so then you waste a huge amount of money. Whereas if you have a socialized healthcare system like Britain, you can integrate it. It’s not messy. It’s not got lots of different companies competing with each other need lots of money for their shareholders, and it comes up with better results. So, you know, it’s the same with railway is railways is the same with energy. I mean, if you look at like Sweden, the point you made about the welfare state, I mean, you know, the right go well, the welfare state just made people lazy. But Sweden and Scandinavian countries have a really extensive welfare state, and it comes back out to that point you made about women because while the welfare state does in places like Sweden, it enables women to have independence because one of the things it does, for example, it provides affordable child care for people. And at the moment, in other countries where you don’t have affordable health care, where you have sexist gendered expectations of parenting, you get women often forced to choose you want a career or do you want a family? And what Sweden does because of its welfare state is go. You should be free to have a family, but you should be free to have a career as well. So we’re going to provide everyone with childcare. That’s doesn’t make people lazy, that that makes people free.
Jameela [00:34:54] Does your vision of socialism involve everyone only ever having the same amount? Or does it involve everyone being given access just to what they need? And then people? Because it’s it’s extremely complicated because if you I think it was Arnold Schwarzenegger who I take most of my philosophies from and most of my sort of advice from, he was talking about the fact that he doesn’t think that we should put a cap on what people can aspire towards or achieve or have. But what we should do is at least give everyone the same starting point. And I felt like that was a that was his way of kind of finding like a middle ground between the two. Do you think there should be a I think there should be a fucking cap on how much you should be allowed to have in this world. I think I think a hoarding of wealth is fucking out of control.
Owen [00:35:47] I do. What I would start with is, you know, there’s a really interesting argument made by this guy, Gary Stevenson, who I suggest everyone looks on. He’s a former Citibank trader and he was the most successful trader on Earth, and he became a millionaire the age of 24. And he made the point that all the wealth that was created being sucked into the bank accounts of a tiny elite is really bad for the economy because what it does is it means you get this ever wealthier rich class who put it all into assets like housing property, and that drives up the property prices and creates a bubble that means all the money thrown in into housing in a way that becomes unstable. And then you get a crash, which everyone suffers from. And at the same time, because all that wealth has been sucked to the top. Ordinary people in order to live have to rely more and more on getting loans, debt, that kind of thing. That’s very bad for the economy as well. The more debt you get in an economy, the more unstable the economy. So he made the point that a wealth tax isn’t. It’s not just a moral point. It’s not just saying it’s not fair that people put all this effort in millions of people, and the rewards of that ethic go to a tiny group of people. That isn’t fair, by the way, is actually bad for the economy because it actually creates an unstable economy, which is about money going in not to things which are good, like investing in new technology
Jameela [00:37:20] Yeah and a destabilizing wealth gap like it’s completely ridiculous. Yeah. So your proposal is not that everyone should have exactly the same amount and never have more, because I think that that has been done historically to mixed results, a lot of which end up in what feels like a fascist environment. What do you think regarding that?
Owen [00:37:39] I think what we should do is obviously strive to things, which is as much as much of it is as possible with everyone having prosperity because we can live in a world we do have the means at our disposal to give people is not enough. I agree. It’s not enough for people to have an OK standard of living. Obviously, everyone needs to have the housing security.
Jameela [00:38:03] Just their basic needs met. Their health taken care of.
Owen [00:38:05] They want, they need above that though I believe that everybody should. I do think we have the ability to provide everyone with a really comfortable standard of living. And and I think you can, you know, so do I think everyone should have a will end up you know what sort of society where everyone has exactly the same? I don’t think you need to argue for that. What you can argue for instead, is that workers should get a fair share of the wealth that they create and that that wealth is well. Instead of going into the bank accounts of basically the top 0.01 percent should be used in a way that helps all of society to improve the infrastructure, the welfare state, to be invested in new green technology, to stop the world being destroyed by the climate emergency. As long as we don’t have a nuclear war in the coming few weeks, like we can actually use the wealth we all create in order to create a world that is good for everybody rich because a rich person is not going to have, I mean, they’ll they’ll be the best at protecting themselves in the climate emergency, but you’re not going to make much profit, much profit on a destroyed planet. So actually, the problem.
Jameela [00:39:14] Also all the people that you want to exploit are going to get fucking literally washed away by the rising tides.
Owen [00:39:19] Exactly. I mean, this is the problem. The problem with capitalism is it is a
Jameela [00:39:23] That’s why they’re pissing it off into space, isn’t it they’re scouting?
Owen [00:39:26] Oh you joke I actually think probably they are.
Jameela [00:39:29] I think they are. I really do. I think they’re scouting. They’re being like, Right, we’re fucked this. So let’s find somewhere else.
Owen [00:39:36] Yeah I think that’s the thing. Capitalism is very short term. It thinks what’s good for my dividends next week? It doesn’t think what’s going to happen in 30 years time for the planet in which we live. And you don’t make money on a dead planet. There are no jobs on a dead planet. There’s no profit on a dead planet. There was nothing on the dead planet. So I think what we should say is, look, we all deserve the best possible existence. Nobody should be hungry. No one should live in poverty, and we should use the wealth that everybody creates or the vast majority we helped create. And we should put it into things which help all of us, as well as to ensure we’ve got rid of poverty and starvation and hunger.
Jameela [00:40:15] I’m just saying you sound a bit like Arnie. I mean, you and Arnie, it sounds like you’d have. No, I’m joking. You’re half way. You’re half way to Arnie.
Owen [00:40:24] I’m very similarly built to Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Jameela [00:40:28] No, I agree with you. I agree with you. And I’m I’m a big fan on having a ceiling on what you personally can access, not what you can achieve, but what you can then access. And I really think it’s important to give people shares of those companies. But at the same time, even when you start talking about that, then you can get criticized for then saying that you’re still promoting a capitalist society of people having shares in the companies they build. I personally am with you on the vision for and I mean, this is what you’re writing about at the moment is like an alternative.
Owen [00:40:57] Yes, like I, you know, I think workers should have a say in the in the workplace, in the companies they helped sustain with the hard effort. And I mean, you get examples of cooperatives which do very well, obviously at the moment. There’s somewhere in Spain called Mondragon, which is the biggest cooperative in the world. And what that does is it has all these businesses that are run by workers and they provide everyone with a decent standard of living. Everyone, the workers all have a share, obviously, of the wealth that’s created by the hard effort. And they work, you know, they work very well. So, you know, I think that and that’s democracy, you know, I look at it and go, Well, that’s genuine democracy where you’ve got companies run by workers which do really, really well. I do think one day we won’t. I think we’ll look back one day at the idea that you have a tiny select few of bosses. You make huge amounts of money. While workers are expected to make that money for them is pretty bizarre. I think we’re a long way off from that, but I think, you know, you can create you can give workers power and a say over the running of the economy
Jameela [00:42:01] I don’t know if we are that long. I don’t know if it is that far away because the pandemic led to the great kind of departure from from working yourself to death. Like, you know, we saw so many people walk away from their industries and go and move to cheaper areas or more rural areas and no longer like just opt out of the rat race after experiencing what life is like at a slower pace and what that did to their physical health, their mental health. So I do hope I, you know, I think that we haven’t bounced back with the same kind of capitalist appetite that we were infused with post the 2008 crash, in which I feel like our generation in particular was kind of tricked into thinking that it was a good idea for us to have the responsibility to quote unquote rebuild the economy via capitalism, which I think turned a lot of people into very anxious kind of quote unquote hustlers. You know, where a lot of people were kind of living to work rather than working to live. I do think post-pandemic that mentality has not returned, and we’ve all just kind of a stark reality of that the rich don’t help. The government doesn’t help. So what are we doing this for?
Owen [00:43:05] I agree. I mean, you know, part of that is, I mean, I mentioned the four day week because, you know, companies which have reduced the working hours of their workers, they found that their workers become more productive. They’re happier. It’s good for the company. It’s good for the worker. I do think we should look to create a world where is it why should it all be about work? Why should we spend such a vast amount of our time basically without personal freedom away from our loved ones, away from doing the things that make us happy? We can I think, you know, there are companies doing that is working really, really, really well and that these experiments have worked very well. But more broadly, you know, I think you could have a world in which, you know, workers, if you like, have elected representatives on company boards who help have a say in the running of those companies where you have a cap on how much the people at the top have and and you create a much better standard of living for the people who work in those industries, that’s not a utopia.
Jameela [00:44:05] I am talking to you because you are one of the few people in the social justice space who isn’t just and I think you’ve probably similarly to me chilled the fuck out when it comes to punitive language. Both of us have kind of, I think, tempered ourselves a little bit more to kind of be more progressive and actually have a fucking plan. I I passionately love that about you. I mean, and I’ve followed your writing for most of my adult life. And the reason that I wanted you here today is because I do believe that you are full of obviously some anger, but predominantly hope that’s what you represent. That’s what you represent to me, and you represent practicality and action rather than just shitting on everything the way it is and looking to. You know, you said something that I’ve repeated 9000 times on this podcast. And I know it’s a famous expression, but I think you were the person who reignited it for me. But the left are looking for traitors, and not converts. And I do think that we are in a kind of like punitive nit picking and not and unplanned. We don’t have a plan of attack. And I think that you do actually have one and I would love to talk to you about it.
Owen [00:45:20] A lot of that comes from a place of trauma because people, obviously they’ve they’ve often lived through injustice, they’ve seen injustice. They feel all the odds are stacked against them. They see how
Jameela [00:45:29] And they’re hopeless they feel hopeless.
Owen [00:45:30] exactly. So they lash out. They lash out. Yeah. And I think the reason.
Jameela [00:45:34] They law shout.
Owen [00:45:35] They law shout. The reason should be the reason we should be hopeful is is actually throughout history the odds seems so stacked against people who fought for justice, equality and freedom, and yet time after time they won. History isn’t a story of success. Victory, success victories often defeats setback, defeats set but then victory. You know, the people who fought for the welfare state, the people who fought for gay rights, again people now it’s always like this pink wash story of everyone kind of was on the right. In the 1980s, anti-gay attitudes were absolutely rampant. In 1988, the British Social Attitudes Survey said that only 11 percent of people thought homosexuality was always right. It was was, wasn’t wrong, and the government had introduced an anti gay law. Obviously it was legal
Jameela [00:46:25] I mean, we’re seeing if anyone like wants to imagine what this was like, just look at all of the rhetoric around trans people now. It is. It’s honestly, the exact handbook has been used, and they’ve just put a new cover on that book
Owen [00:46:37] And that is the optimism because people look, I mean, I’m not belittling what gay people went through. It was horrific and the trauma of that lives on today. But again, it seemed often hopeless. It seemed really, really hopeless. We were never going to be accepted by most society. I speak as a gay guy that we were always going to be rejected. So it seemed hopeless. But look what happened. People fought and they fought and they fought and they fought, and they were spat at and they were demonized and the press went after them and some people’s lives were ruined. But they won they not all the way. There’s still a long way to go, even for gay people, but they won so much. We won so much through struggle and sacrifice. And you do see again with trans people because the same songs, which is again, just sum them up, which is which is that they’re sexual predators. They said that about gay people that they’re trying to brainwash and manipulate children are doing that all over again. That’s why Section 28 was introduced in the late 80s in Britain, which forbid the so-called promotion of homosexual lifestyles in schools. In practice, that meant never speaking about LGBT issues and biology is destiny. They say about gay people God made Adam and Eve. They didn’t make Adam and Steve. They say that about trans people today. Why should the majority have to redefine themselves because of the whims of a tiny minority?
Jameela [00:47:57] One of my favorites is the fact that they’re like trans ness is a mental illness because it has such a high suicide rate and it’s like, Well, do you think maybe it’s because the world is so fucking unwelcoming to anyone who’s different?
Owen [00:48:11] But but things did change because people fall and they have the courage to stand up. And now history looks back at those people as brave and they look back at everybody else as on the wrong side of history, and the same things
Jameela [00:48:21] And we also are seeing the change. Things are technically getting better and more progressive. The fact that you and I have platforms and I’m brown and we’re both part of the LGBTQIA+ community, like the fact that we yeah, the fact that we have the position, the power, the platforms that we have is in and of itself, like a sign that things are moving in the right direction. Although that should never be ascribed to individuals, it should be more to like entire groups. But I’m concerned that in an attempt to sell newspapers and create clickbait, they are devoid of hopeful stories of victories that we know are happening every single day. And to hear of those victories is as important as hearing of the marginalization of different groups. And it really scares the shit out of me because a) I think it’s very bad for the mental health of marginalized people to be told there’s no hope you’re in danger all the time. Nothing’s getting better. The things are worse than they’ve ever been. Although some things, like trans attacks have been on the rise and like people attacking trans people is on the rise. But also what’s happening is that then that the left in particular doing that inadvertently, I think makes the transphobes by talking about transphobes all the fucking time, just to use trans people as an example for a second by talking about them all the time makes them seem like a much bigger group than they actually are. Which then further galvanizes people because they think that they have a common understanding with loads of people, whereas actually there in the vast minority. And that concerns me about the left, and I think it’s the left media. I think it’s really fucking dangerous and we need to start shifting the narrative to make people who have those fucking terrible, bigoted thoughts feel as like feel like the minority that they are because they’re such a tiny proportion of our generation.
Owen [00:50:10] Well, they they they come to exactly. But I think the way of looking at injustice is to see it as not like the weather. It’s not like on a bank holiday it starts pissing it down and you groan at the sky. But that’s the way the world is. That’s not the same as injustice, injustice is a conscious decision is consciously created, but the optimism from that is that you can make the decision to fight against the and to eliminate that injustice. It’s not part of the scenery. It’s not part of of what just the way life is. It is completely avoidable because it’s just the conscious decisions of powerful people, which you can oppose using your power and using your strength. That’s how we got rid of these these injustices in the past. We didn’t get rid of all of them. Hence the world. But, we got we have got rid of or reduced a lot of injustices in the past, which some of which have come back unfortunately. But we fought against them. And I just think that’s the way of that. That’s what gives us optimism because we can we should, you know, we stand on the shoulders of giants, our ancestors, many of the people listening to this your grandmothers, your grandfathers, your ancestors before them fought at huge costs the things people take for granted today. And they fought even though it was often unpopular or the weight of the world seems to be on their shoulders, but they won. And the same is going to happen again.
Jameela [00:51:35] I’ve had a billion things I’ve wanted to talk to you about, but we’ve ended up talking about the ginormous subject that is the economy, and I do want to kind of finish on that and just beg you to come back because I have other things to talk to you or another time because I have a bloody adore you, but.
Owen [00:51:48] Right back at you.
Jameela [00:51:48] OK, so. Then let’s just bring this home, right? You’ve got young people listening to this. They’re hearing about capitalism, but they’re also watching like TV shows that are promoting like makeup and cool new clothes and brand new fashions. And they’re being bombarded constantly with temptation and like influences and fuckin public figures who have these kind of like, quote unquote aspirational lifestyles, right? So these young people are conflicted, some of them not all obviously not all I sound like some sort of fucking grandmother, but like some young people are kind of like, Well, I want to be a communist or I want to be a socialist. I want to be completely anti-capitalist. But at the same time, I use my iPhone and I go on Instagram and I go on Twitter. Therefore, like, should I just bow out entirely because I am because I am technically a hypocrite? Should I bow out entirely of striving towards a more socialist, a more just world? Can you break that? Because I do think because some people are so fucking extreme with it and so all or nothing with it online people with large followings can just be like, Well, if you do any of these things and you may as well go, fuck yourself. I mean, that’s kind of The Good Place was about. It was about saying that there’s no way to be completely, morally perfect. The only way is to just try to be better tomorrow than you are today. So for those young people, or anyone out there who wants to participate in this but feels they can’t because they’re technically a quote-unquote hypocrite, what do you say?
Owen [00:53:17] You can’t escape capitalism because you live into capitalism, so don’t beat yourself up about that. And you know, we all have to make difficult choices in a society which if we were, many of us were going to design a society from scratch it just wouldn’t look like this. But this is a society in which we live. You can’t, you know, I mean, you said just you come with the idea of the iPhone because actually people look at that, they always go, Oh, look at what capitalism has done. But there’s a brilliant economist called Mariana Mazzucato. And the point she makes say the iPhone the iPhone is would not exist without public, the public sector without the state, because almost everything in it. Touch screen technology. GPS. Siri. The chips. The Internet were all created by government research by state research by the public sector. And there’s there’s almost nothing in this that wasn’t so actually even those myths of capitalism. Because actually, what capitalism often done
Jameela [00:54:15] It’s how iPhones were made is not always ideal.
Owen [00:54:19] Exactly the problem is the way we live in the world is is built, obviously on exploitation. So obviously lots of people who were paid very little, often in very poor countries to make these things. That’s absolutely right. And you. But the problem is the way to the way to to change that isn’t to go well I’m just going to what living in a hut in the middle of nowhere and just completely ostracize myself from the rest of society. You can’t. You can’t do that. And you’ve got you deserve a happy life and you shouldn’t feel guilty about liking fashion or music or or wanting to improve the way you look and feeling beautiful and all the rest of it. None of these things are innately capitalist.
Jameela [00:54:57] You are allowed to have pleasures, and you should just use your time to also try to ensure that other people also get to indulge in similar pleasures.
Owen [00:55:06] That’s the thing, because the way the world is run is not going to change by individuals trying to opt out or individuals just saying, Well, I won’t buy this or that. I’m not saying there isn’t sometimes a role for consumer boycotts if there’s a big organized campaign. But generally speaking, that isn’t how the world changes, just support whatever you can do. If you’re at university and there are some cleaners on campus who are being paid low wages, go and support them, support their campaign, build a solidarity campaign. If you want a world which isn’t destroyed by the climate extinction, which unfortunately is coming our way unless we do something, get involved with a local group that’s fighting to change that. You know, you can just you just find one issue. You don’t have to. You know, you’ve got to live your life. You’ve got to be happy. You’ve got to live love. You’ve got it you’ve got to do things that give you pleasure in life. But if you just do occasionally something, be involved in some collective, you know, mission some group that is striving to make the world a slightly better place in any way. However, small or big, an issue that’s doing your bit, and that’s how you change the world, not by beating yourself up because you can’t escape a society you were born into when you didn’t create, so
Jameela [00:56:17] you didn’t achieve perfect moral purity.
Owen [00:56:19] Exactly. It’s not, you know, the whole point about being a socialist as I am, is you believe that change happens by people collectively coming together, not by individuals deciding they have to make these choices. Capitalism isn’t your fault. The way, the way the war and the poverty and the suffering isn’t your fault. As an individual, you didn’t create these things. And the one thing you can try and do is try and use the power we have together to fight those things. So keep listening to music, enjoying fashion, buying things like iPhones like I have, you know, there’s nothing there in contradiction, if you’re at the same time,
Jameela [00:56:57] using that iPhone to call a senator and like fight anti-trans bills or fight things to take away welfare
Owen [00:57:04] Exactly, exactly. And you know that because I mean, you know, we all live in the world which we live in, which we didn’t create, and that’s not our fault. So don’t beat yourself up, just do whatever you can to fight for a better world. That’s all you can do. That’s all you have the power to do, and that’s what we all have the ability to do.
Jameela [00:57:23] And don’t look at social justice as a fucking members club, no one else gets to decide whether or not you’re in or out. I think that’s a really, really vital thing. And I feel as though we’ve come into this kind of like very loud minority of people on Twitter who have created this idea that we’re at school and you can’t sit with us, go fucking sit on your own and get on your laptop and help somewhere else like no one gets a we don’t have enough people helping to decide who is allowed to help or not. I don’t know where people think we are that we can decide that only cool, not annoying people are not like fallible, humane human people are the ones who get to help. I don’t know which saints they’re waiting for, but they ain’t coming.
Owen [00:58:01] And we need to be forgiving that’s the thing.
Jameela [00:58:03] Strap in yeah be forgiving. Don’t be punitive. Don’t be anti the, you know, like a pro abolition and like anti the prison system and then fucking behave like the fucking presidents of that prison system. Don’t be anti cops, but don’t fucking behave like cops like monitoring eachother and going back through each other’s old tweets like just know that you can find other fallible human beings who also would just like to try and do a bit better and you can make change with them, do not try to focus on being accepted by the masses of social media is a fucking messy, egotistical space right now. It’s an important, a wonderful space. It’s in a bit of a mess, a bit of chaos. Find your own smaller collective will make a difference all on your own. If we all took it upon ourselves, just make a little bit of change in one individual cause that we each choose the world would look completely different to how it is now. We mustn’t feel like we have to be swept along with the tide.
Owen [00:58:51] Let people grow. We all on a journey. We’re all going to make mistakes along the way. We’re all going to learn. That’s a good thing. Own up to our mistakes when we have to be humble. Show humility and always show compassion and love. I mean, that’s what this is all about is about, you know, fighting for heart in a heartless world. And that’s, you know, that’s what we’re all striving to do. And and there will be mistakes made along the way. But I think that’s that’s the place we’re all coming from.
Jameela [00:59:20] Where did your love and hope come from Owen? Like in spite of all the shit that you’ve been through, all the shit that you see on a daily basis, all of the shit that’s in your DMs? And I’m sure what you’ve been through growing up that has made you care this much about everyone, in particular the underdog. Where does your resilience and hope like? Where do you draw that from?
Owen [00:59:40] Take me think the young to a large degree. I think I just see so many younger people who are so committed to building a better world, and to be honest with you, when I was growing up actually at the time, I think my generation seemed.
Jameela [00:59:57] We were more compliant.
Owen [00:59:58] Yeah, they seemed apathetic. I think people just really resigned and just people
Jameela [01:00:02] We also just didn’t know. We didn’t have social media informing us. We just really didn’t know we were told what, you know. I mean, this has happened in fucking countries all over the world, North Korea, Russia, like you only know what you have access to information wise. And now we have access to all of the information.
Owen [01:00:18] And now I see young people, whether it be matter, whether it be climate, whether it be, you know, people, you know, for workers rights, these young people who living you know insecure jobs. I just see their determination. I see how educated they are. I’ve been educated. I mean, we mentioned trans rights. I was educated on trans rights by people younger than myself. Wasn’t an issue I understood growing up at all or really came into contact with, you know, and I just I look at those younger people on every single issue that’s showing leadership, conviction, courage and resilience. They’ve been screwed over, over and over again. The financial crash, the aftermath. They’ve suffered the pandemic again. They’ve had to suffer a lot of the terrible consequences. But I look at them full of hope, often full of courage, full of determination, and they don’t give they don’t stand for shit. You know, they’re willing to. They’re willing to take on the way the world is in a way which is often creative and innovative and, you know, far more articulate than myself. And I just that’s what gives me hope and I think they’re going to win in the end. And that’s why we should all be hopeful.
Jameela [01:01:23] I agree. It’s the job of us geriatrics to, uh, geriatric millennials to just do our best to kind of support support them. Owen, I can’t wait for you to come back. There’s so much more to discuss, especially considering the state of the world, and I’m going to need you to talk all of us through it. But for now, what do you weigh?
Owen [01:01:42] Well, I weigh, for example, my beautiful cat
Jameela [01:01:44] So beautiful.
Owen [01:01:46] This is Rickman. He’s tried to escape. He’s not in a cuddly mood, but nonetheless I weigh him. I weigh the courage of others which always gives me, which always inspires me. I weigh my endless hope for a better world, which will eventually come and I weigh my mistakes, which sounds bad, but we only we only learn by assessing the mistakes that we make and trying to be better off the back of them.
Jameela [01:02:20] Your great and your so unpretentious and you are so welcoming. And I remember, the only time that we’ve ever like spoken other than this was because I thought, you’d hate me. Like, I totally. I totally.
Owen [01:02:32] Why?
Jameela [01:02:33] Because you’re part of cool leftist Twitter. I’m considered to be a stupid cunt. Like that is just like the general vibe about me. Like.
Owen [01:02:41] That isn’t true.
Jameela [01:02:42] Outside of the lovely listeners of this podcast. Like I do have like a terrible, I get spoken about really terribly online and like deliberately kind of misunderstood or misconstrued as inherently evil and in, uh, whatever the word is for inauthentic. And so I was really afraid of you because you’re so clever and I am a bit dumb. But
Owen [01:03:04] you’re not remotely dumb and all I say is whatever people. So people, look lots of people say things on Twitter, but actually bear in mind that there are lots and lots and lots and lots of people who profoundly admire and respect you and what you do, you know you don’t have, do you as someone in your position care about these things, you could take an easy route, which is to say, I’m just going to appear in these great glamorous shows and make money and just stay out of any of these issues. But you’ve chosen not to, and that’s really courageous because most people have agents. I’m not going to. I’m sure you’ve a brilliant agent, but yelling at them, Don’t do this stuff is not going to help your career. It won’t help in terms of. But you taken
Jameela [01:03:43] Mine gave up on that. They all in 2018. They knew that I was there was no turning back.
Owen [01:03:49] Well, that’s courage and look people. Everyone shit, but the most uncontroversial people on Earth have people slagging them off on Twitter. But that doesn’t say that doesn’t say that’s where most people are. And I think you should always bear that in mind.
Jameela [01:04:01] You’re very sweet. I was very, very nervous to approach you on. I think you approached me about a podcast and then I spoke back to you. And then we we DMed for about five minutes before I just decided to get on the phone with you. And we spoke for like two hours.
Owen [01:04:14] I know we did it was very sweet.
Jameela [01:04:15] Last summer having never, ever, ever interacted like really before. Just kind of we’ve worked kind of alongside each other in similar causes, but never actually interacted and into link to whatever and you were so. So kind and thoughtful and warm and open, and in my opinion, you are a very strong model of what I wish people, more people, especially on our side like and the more kind of Democrats, liberals, leftists, etc. I wish that more people could look to your manner of inclusion and are wanting to break things down. And the fact that there’s there’s one in particular thing that you have that a lot of people have a kind of blind spot about, even in our party, which is classism, and that can often get in the way of like, you know, there’s a lot of very academic language, for example, used that can be quite alienating around social justice that then, like other people who don’t know what certain terminology means, et cetera, or who don’t know about it, haven’t read certain books who don’t know who certain authors are or who certain philosophers are, then feel very, very excluded. And something that I love about what you do is that you break it down in a way where you have taken all that information and you have you siphon it out in a way that makes all of us feel included and I as someone who left school at 16 have learned so much from you, and I just wanted to say thank you.
Owen [01:05:34] Well, that means a lot. But I, you know, I hate being I struggle with being complimented. I’ve been fallible and I make mistakes, but I always do my best. And I think one of the things I’m very interested in is making things accessible and spreading ideas about how we make the world better to people who otherwise wouldn’t be engaged. So that’s very sweet of you.
Jameela [01:05:54] Well, it’s very, very noticed, and very appreciated and I adore you, and I can’t wait to see you again.
Owen [01:06:00] Bless you. Right back at you lots of love.
Jameela [01:06:01] Lots of love. Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode I Weigh, with Jameela Jamil is produced and researched by myself, Jameela Jamil, Erin Finnigan and Kimmie Gregory. It is edited by Andrew Carson, and the beautiful music you’re hearing now is made by my boyfriend, James Blake. If you haven’t already, please rate review and subscribe to the show. It’s a great way to show your support. We also have a bonus series exclusively on Stitcher Premium called Ask Jameela Anything. Check it out. You can get a free month for Stitcher Premium by going Stitcher.com/premium and using the promo code I Weigh. Lastly, over at I Weigh, we would love to hear from you and share what you weigh at the end of this podcast. You can leave us a voicemail at 1-818-660-5543 or email us what you weigh at IWeighPodcast@gmail.com. And now we would love to pass the mic to one of our fabulous listeners.
Listener [01:06:55] My name is Elise, and I think it’s not I think it’s true. I weigh my freedom. I’m sure. I thought that freedom was all about doing the things that you wanted to do without anyone telling, you no or something. But now I realize it’s not the only part of freedom. You have to be free you in your mind. I mean. You have to really pay attention to your little voice in your mouth, in your mind, you know, not the little voice to ask you for coffee when you need one or a cigarette or a food. Anything like that, it’s more like the voice that is talking about your desires.
September 21, 2023
Jameela is joined by campaigner and writer Gina Martin, and in this optimistic conversation about creating change for equal rights around the world, they discuss how anyone can show up and support activism (especially offline in real spaces) and what this activism work can look like.