"Itaewon Class" and class politics; and what to make of left-wing utopias


Hello from Andy’s Zoom lecture!

This week: the class politics of the Netflix K-drama “Itaewon Class” (이태원 클라쓰), success and failure in leftist utopias, and “slouchy Asian” fashion.

0:00 – Happy Birthday, Mama Kang! Plus: Tammy introduces Andy and Jay to Eileen Fisher.

6:10 – Jay binge-watches (the notably progressive!) “Itaewon Class,” which Tammy inhaled long ago; Andy makes plans to catch up, and offers his commentary anyway. Why do so many K-/Asian dramas reflect the same theme of capitalist overcoming? Is chaebol / keiretsu resentment baked into all contemporary cultural production (and mass protest)? Why are the protagonists so often middle-class instead of working-class? Other shows mentioned: “Terrace House,” “My Mister” (나의 아저씨), “Dear My Friends” (디어 마이 프렌즈).

32:35 – We discuss Wes Enzinna’s recent piece in Harper’s, “The Sanctuary,” about a group of abolitionists who transform a Minneapolis hotel into a mutual-aid encampment after George Floyd’s murder:

In the end, the fight fizzled out, but I wondered what Steve or anyone else would have done if the violence had escalated even further, as it was clear the volunteers didn’t have the ability or willpower to intervene…. 

So, no, it wasn’t that the fight showed that we needed the police, or that the abolitionists were naïve idealists—they didn’t want a thousand Sheratons, they wanted a world in which no Sheratons were necessary—but it did show that the abolitionists weren’t yet sure what to do when the actions of some threatened the well-being of others.

What do recent attempts at utopia reveal about young people’s attachment to, or abandonment of, the welfare state and organized politics/Politics? Also: Jay’s time at Standing Rock and his Avakian-loving friend at Revolution Books, Andy’s critique of critiques of corruption, Tammy’s dream of an unemployed people’s union, and a collective boost for a candidate for Oakland City Council: Carroll Fife, of Moms 4 Housing.

Big thanks for supporting TTSG (https://goodbye.substack.com), and please stay in touch via Twitter (@ttsgpod) and email (timetosaygoodbyepod@gmail.com)! Get all your comrades to subscribe, too.

Finally, don’t miss Andy’s webinar, tomorrow night (September 30, 7-830P EDT), with the Critical China Scholars group: “China’s Rural Capitalism: Land, Labor, and Environment.”

Sign up here for the link and details!