Dr. Cornel West – The Joe Rogan Experience #1325

Key Takeaways

  • One of the best ways to break the race barrier is through art
    • White people love Ray Charles and black people love Eminem. Art knows no race, just talent.
  • Most people are afraid of freedom
    • Everyone likes the comfort of being told what to do and would rather conform to the norms of society. It’s not human nature to go against the tribe and stand out.
  • Today’s world is all about image and status, instead of honor and courage
  • Socialism is more tied to American history that many would like to believe
  • Capitalism puts profits before people and creates grotesque levels of inequality 
  • 1% of the people in America own 41% of the wealth!
    • The individual wealth of 3 particular individuals is equal to 160 million fellow citizens!

Intro

  • Dr. Cornel West (@CornelWest) is a philosopher, political activist, social critic, author, and public intellectual. He is Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University and holds the title of Professor Emeritus at Princeton University.

Books and Resources Mentioned

Richard Pryor & Comedy

  • Joe and Dr. Cornel West are both huge fans of the late, great stand-up comedian Richard Pryor
    • Joe worked for Richard for 5 weeks when he was just getting started in the industry
    • Joe’s first experience with comedy was actually seeing Richard Pryor live – “I could not believe that anybody could be so funny just talking”
  • Many comedians have had tough childhoods
    • Richard Pryor grew up in a brothel
    • Roseanne Bar was hit by a car when she was 15 and spent 9 months in a mental hospital
    • Sam Kinison was also hit by a car when he was younger
    • Ms Pat was selling crack when she was 14 and had a baby at the same age

Freedom, Image, and Status

  • Most people are afraid of freedom
    • How so? – Although there is a tremendous cost to not being free, most people like the comfort of being told what to do 
      • “There is no freedom without unbelievable, unprecedented, unstoppable, courage and courage is not widely distributed in the species”
      • Most people would rather conform and be complacent
        • It’s not human nature to go against the tribe and stand out
  • Today’s world is all about image and status, instead of honor and courage
  • Joe recommends reading Cornel’s book Race Matters because of its analysis on the pursuit of superficial things – Although the book is 25 years old, Joe says it’s still current and relatable 
    • People tend to group whites together, saying that Irish, German, and British people are all the same because they have white skin (even though each group would certainly disagree with that reasoning)
    • One of the best ways to break the race barrier is through art
      • White people love Ray Charles and black people love Eminem. Art knows no race, just talent.
  • One of the best things you can do in life is to inspire, encourage, and enable other people to do more good for the world

Socialism in America

  • Socialism is part of America
    • The pledge of allegiance was written by Francis Bellamy, a socialist
    • The song “America the Beautiful” was written by Elizabeth Lee Bates, a socialist professor
    • America’s greatest poet, Walt Whitman, had deep ties to socialism
    • America’s greatest philosopher, John Dewey, was a democratic socialist
    • Helen Keller was a socialist
    • Martin Luther King Jr. was a democratic socialist 
      • “Democratic socialism is as American as apple pie”
        • However, in the American mind, socialism becomes associated with communism
    • Upton Sinclair was a socialist – he helped put anti-child labor laws in place
  • Lots of Americans don’t want to have socialistic laws because they see them as giving free rides to the poor or people who don’t work hard, but what makes you think that the rich don’t get free rides?
    • When a wealthy business owner dies and their children inherit a massive amount of wealth, isn’t that also a free ride?
    • When a rich parent knows the headmaster at a prep school, thus allowing their children to get in because of the connection and not merit, isn’t that a free ride?
  • People are afraid of wasting money on the poor, but President Trump just passed a $750 billion military budget: 
    • How much waste is in the military?
    • Why are 60 cents of every $1 coming out of the Federal budget tied to the military?
  • People like to say “America the Great,” but don’t realize America also has its faults just like any other country
    • Joe says something like 90% of people killed by drone strikes are actually innocent or regular civilians

The Problems With Capitalism 

  • Capitalism puts profits before people and creates grotesque levels of inequality 
    • Thus, the only way poor people will be able to gain access to resources will be through organizing and mobilizing
  • Racism is partially tied to predatory capitalism
    • By stating that one group of people are inferior (black slaves), another group (white owners) justified their actions of making slaves work for little to no money while they reaped huge profits from exploiting their labor
  • If it weren’t for labor movements, capitalism would still have children working in factories and adults working 7 days a week
    • The socialist movement gave us the weekend
  • There is greed in a capitalistic system – you can’t just let the market decide because the market will choose profits over people
    • Markets need to be ethical and have some accountability
  • Working hard and becoming rich makes you successful, but to be truly great you need to use your success for something bigger such as serving others or giving back to the less fortunate
  • 1% of the people in America own 41% of the wealth!
    • The individual wealth of 3 particular individuals is equal to 160 million fellow citizens!
    • In the black population – 1% own 70% of the wealth

Additional Notes

  • Joe’s considers Roseanne Barr to be the greatest female comic
  • Cornel recommends reading Anton Chekhov’s short stories
  • Socrates never sheds a tear and Jesus never laughs
    • You can never get the full scale and variety of the human condition in any one tradition
      • Humans aren’t good or bad, they are good AND bad
    • It was the Roman empire, the greatest empire of its day, that put Jesus to death
      • In other words, the greatest country of its time killed one of the most important people
  • America was founded by slave owners who wanted to be free from their master (The British Empire)
  • Try again, fail again, fail better
  • Whatever art you’re pursuing, learn from the greats, study their work and absorb as much as you can from them 
  • Love, sweetness, and kindness never go out of style
  • “We’ve been obsessed with pleasure for the last 100 years or so and there’s nothing wrong with pleasure, but pleasure is not the same thing as joy”
Bookmark

FREE! THE TOP 10 PODCASTS OF 2018, AND WHAT WE LEARNED

You'll also get our weekly newsletter with the takeaways from our curated list of top podcasts. Unsubscribe anytime.