Note: Hey all, We’re on break this week as we rest up and prepare for more top-notch programming, so this week’s episode is a rebroadcast of one of our favourites.
Lately, things have been a little too heavy on this show. Insurrections, fascism, proto-fascism, weird apocalyptic visions. That stuff is important, but let’s get serious. You don’t think the society we live is actually dominated by people who hold anything resembling strong, well-articulated ideological programs, do you?
Our society is dominated by grifters. Cheats, cons, frauds: people who don’t really believe what they tell you. They’re just what they need to do to get ahead or to sell you something. Isn’t that that really what capitalism is about? The grift!
Today on Darts and Letters, we have a little fun with grifts. Plus, Gordon asks: Is there a radical potential in the grift?
First (@4:30), Lyta Gold is a writer with Current Affairs. Each year, the magazine recognizes the most audacious grifts. This year, Lyta presented the 2020 “Griftie Awards.” She takes us into the world of the grift, the allure and the appeal, and runs down a big year for grifers: from Covid, to never Trumpers, and on to identity thieves. Plus, she reveals the 2020’s big winner and speculates about what the future might hold in 2021.
Then, (@26:56), Gordon’s friend, let’s call him “Bill Faulkner,” writes papers for hire. Undergraduate term papers, master’s papers, even PhD dissertations. He talks about what his scheme tells us about higher education—and how we ought to change it. As we might say, borrowing from Marx: ‘Thus far the grifter has only cheated the world in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.”
Finally, (@58:36) Catherine Liu is a professor of film and media studies at UC Irvine and the author of Virtue Hoarders: The Case Against the Professional Managerial Class. She takes the “professional managerial class”—or PMCs—to task for being disconnected from the working class and for failing to get to the root of our problems: capitalism.
——————-FURTHER READING & LISTENING——————-
Abebe, Nitsuh. “Why Are We Suddenly Surrounded by Grift?” The New York Times Magazine. Dec. 4, 2018.
Dante, Ed. “The Shadow Scholar.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. Nov. 12, 2010.
Gold, Lyta. “Presenting the 2020 ‘Griftie Awards’.” Current Affairs. Dec. 31, 2020.
Liu, Catherine. Virtue Hoarders. University of Minnesota Press, 2021.
Mishan, Logaya. “The Distinctly American Ethos of the Grifter.” The New York Times Style Magazine. Sept. 12, 2019.
Our theme song and music was created by Mike Barber, and our graphic design was created by Dakota Koop.
This episode received support by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research, which provided us a research grant to look at the concept of “public intellectualism.” Professor Allen Sens at the University of British Columbia is the lead academic advisor.
Darts and Letters is produced in Toronto, which is on the traditional land of Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat Peoples. It is also produced in Vancouver, BC, which is on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.