The Phileas Club 142 – Viruses and Level Headedness

On this episode we discuss:

  • How the coronavirus pandemic is being perceived in France
  • Bernie Sanders is gaining ground in the Democratic primary
  • Issues in South America
  • And more!

Info and links:


  1. I thought I’d check in with the podcast, but that discussion about Sanders was absolutely horrifying. Its about as biased, in denial and fact-free as the corporate media in the USA themselves. Almost as bad as what you see on that “MSNBC stages of Bernie grief” video by Krystal Ball. Clearly having a Patreon funded podcast doesn’t creates a people’s perspective in all cases. Seems like Patrick needs a visit from Anand Giridharadas as well.

    • Wow dude… I don’t even know where to start. Maybe you could tell us what we got wrong instead of just spewing anger (which is making ME angry as well, and that really doesn’t happen in the context of this show, so good job!).
      Maybe you don’t remember that I am not actually american and only have a partial view of your politics, especially on the less visible aspects like Sanders. So please, go ahead, bathe us with your righteous light and explain the truth we’ve defiled, cause I honestly have NO idea what you’re talking about right now.
      Also, I love that you accuse me of being essentially part of some kind of “anti people right wing capitalist corporate” conspiracy on a show where I literally explain that we in social democratic Europe are lucky (and clear headed) enough to have social safety nets like free education and healthcare and others, and decry the american economy performance as creating a class of working poor who’s condition puts the whole concept of that successful economy in question. But fine, I guess you heard what you wanted to hear.
      Alright, I’ll go drink some tea to calm my nerves because you really annoyed me with that comment. 🙁

      • I’m actually a well-off European, but in a country where the last “mid-term” is showing a clear possibility of another Brexit on the horizon. The reason for that is that the political center is purposefully ignoring or underestimating the impact of overpopulation (leading to global resource depletion and global warming as a consequence) and inverted totalitarianism leading monopoly capitalism as well as a large underclass. Hence over years the middle-class in my country, like in many other European countries, has been fleeing the center to either a hard left or hard right approach to solving this crisis. The solution always are a mix of “sustainable” resource substations (like renewables/nuclear), equalizing the global living standard (meaning reductions in the West) and economic euthanization (reducing public services & programs possibly through privatization, deregulation and taking away peoples livelihood or reducing their income to a debilitating level (for example through in/outsourcing, automation or economic/class warfare) to such a point that they die or kill themselves). The latter is of course apparent in the U.S.A. through myriad examples like the Flint water-crisis or healthcare system. But official studies show even in the U.K. there were a large number of “excess” deaths due to the harsh austerity policies of the last decade. Which solutions in the mix will be utilized most will however be dependent on the left or right nature of the political parties in power.

        Meanwhile I turn on the podcast and its all “Sanders is cuckoo”, “there is no reason for Sanders”, “corruption isn’t that rampant”, “late stage capitalism is just a meme”, “capitalism has no fundamental flaws”, “the alternatives are all worse”. These are all nonsense center/right talking points trying to delay the inevitable conclusion to the problem above. Serious studies clearly show the whole American political system is corrupt and normal people have nothing to say, because of its fundamental libertarian “big donor” approach. Hundreds of thousands of people sleep on the streets there or are driven into destitution by their healthcare every year. At the end of the term of a liberal president like Obama they were still waging many more wars than when he took office. Hence those points in the podcast sound like the cries of a disgusting generation not wanting to give up some of what they have, or trying to appease those who have this mindset, even if it costs millions of lives and makes the planet increasingly inhabitable. People should be ashamed we need to roll out old geezers like David Attenborough and a little kids like Greta Thunberg, because many in between will not stand up and do the right thing. This idiocy needs to stop and with the rise of (another returning old geezer) Bernie Sanders even some in the heart of the Western empire seem to have gotten the message.

        Meanwhile in Europe, because we have all these socialist policies buffeting the crisis and hiding the underlying rot, our urgency has not reached the U.S. level. I’m however worried that we will not come to our senses before more egalitarian and peaceful left-wing policies are no longer possible, more ruthless right-wing solutions will become inevitable (which they are waiting for) and we’ll all be stuck living in a Brexit-like semi-fascist idiocracy nightmare. Whether that will come to pass highly depends on the media, especially those funded by the people, telling the real story (on topics like inequality as well as capitalism) and getting the people on board for fundamental changes before its too late.

      • The incredible irony is that through your anger and your seemingly willful ability to only hear part of what I’m saying, you’re not getting that I agree with you on most of what you’re saying (and I believe I expressed it). I also take issue with the idea that capitalism only exists in the US. I criticize the US on the points you raise at every turn, including on this episode. It is a deeply deeply flawed country. But we in Europe also are an exemple of a capitalistic society (but with social safety nets and more government intervention / regulation, which makes total sense and doesn’t make our system less of a capitalist one), and yes it mostly works, as the numbers show anyone who bothers to look (health, education on the rise everywhere, poverty and war on the decline everywhere).
        I also acknowledge the many issues we have, and the reality that we need to reign in some of the excesses of the system. But the fantasy that capitalism should be upended isn’t just ill advised, it is horribly horribly dangerous. As a fellow European, you should know and understand that capitalism and trade is what has kept peace for the past 70 years, and my fear for a breakdown of those commercial relationships in Brexit-like movements isn’t just because I want us to be brotherly Europeans (although I do), it’s because I genuinely fear that the net of commerce might break down and recreate the conditions for more violent conflict we have known in centuries past.

        And yes, I’m sorry, “all other systems are worse” is a valid argument. Not only is it true (show me one that works better), but it was also put forward by Churchill, and he was a pretty clever guy, so…

        PS : And to hammer the point home, my ideal system and the one I would defend against any other (maybe with some minor tweaks) is the Scandinavian / Nordic one, which isn’t know for its right wing leaning tendencies… I pay more taxes here than probably anywhere else in the world. So please stop with this ridiculous notion that I am defending the excesses of capitalism…

      • I like the debate but I don’t think we do agree. I don’t think Europe is viable as is and we are inherently headed back to conflict, since we are running out of time within one or two decades in terms of global warming as well as other resource issues (you do realize that if because of all our emissions many more refugees come, those right-wing countries at the borders of Europe will start killing people if they cannot handle the situation) and the disintegration of Europe through unrest due to the growing inequality as well as a disappearing middle-class. This was already clearly shown by the Brexit situation. I agree that the Scandinavian / Nordic model is much better, but that’s only a small part of Europe and some (like Norway) are even a special case because they maintain that excellence through a lot of past fossil fuel income. In most of Europe, even in (on average) wealthy countries like mine, there is a clear and present danger of disintegration.

        Hence I do think there need be to serious changes made like propagandizing to people the big “Scandinavian” picture and pushing a global solution to overpopulation as well as inverted capitalism (like Sanders), forcing a (gradual) much larger or full democratic worker ownership of companies (so they stop acting against the public interest) still within the capitalistic framework, converting other countries in Europe to “Scandinavia” (and hence getting rid of right-wing demagogues like in Eastern Europe) through a vast left-wing alliance and targeted financial/knowledge investments (countering the right-wing who is already doing this), moving converted countries into a next tier of fully-democratic integration with extra benefits, making clear choices as well as serious investments to fully replace our fossil-fuel infrastructure and no more hegemonic global foreign policy but instead harsh repercussions against those working against the “Scandinavian” model. We need to be much more like the U.S. in the sense of leveraging our economic might to do world-building instead of just investing to create new markets for even more uncontrolled globalization. Otherwise the mentioned fundamental problems will not be resolved and I don’t think our beloved Europe will survive as is. Moreover, without Europe these quality of life focused changes would not even be possible, because then the owning class would play countries against each-other even more through capital-flight as elsewhere.

        Especially that propagandizing the global and European future big picture for a decent and sustainable life is crucial as well as acknowledging what that analysis will/must mean in people’s personal lives. Hence I wish the podcast was more structurally cognizant of the fact that many have not missed the purposeful status quo maintenance by the media for the purpose of short-term economic gain of those in power and presenting two equal sides is often not the full picture if most people are hurt by one side. Not promoting vapid pacifying “everything is getting better” nonsense by guys like Steven Pinker, who have been shown tinkering with the data to make that claim and after Brexit has happened. More structurally cognizant of the fact that people could have or actually have read serious critiques of the current situation through works like “Listen, Liberal” by Thomas Frank, “The Shock Doctrine” by Naomi Klein, “America, The Farewell Tour” by Chris Hedges, “Democracy at Work” by Richard Wolff, “Winners Take All” by Anand Giridharadas, “Austerity” by Mark Blyth or even France’s own Piketty, etc. More rebuking of nonsense like the short-sighted stocks complaints by your guest in this podcast, without underlining the long-term consequences to those stocks of big cities in the U.S. being sunk by global warming. And not tearing down Sanders, who at his age is still trying to improve the world for others of which he will reap little results in his lifetime. Including doing real work with us Europeans on addressing global warming.

        If we don’t acknowledge our failings now and aggressively strive for a more (socially) sustainable world, we are looking at serious societal consequences down the line.

      • Well… ok.
        I think my show is not what you think it is, and certainly what you want. It seems to me that what you want is advocacy for what you see as the important solutions to our society’s problems. There are many many MANY outlets for that. Most outlets do that, and as I’m sure you know there is no shortage of magazines and tv shows and podcasts that will explain (nay, show the undeniable reality of!) what you are saying here. That is already available out there, in large quantities, and from all kinds of belligerent opinions, and I don’t know that me adding a tiny sliver of noise to that cacophony would serve anything.

        What I try to do on this show (and I feel I explain it pretty well on the show but maybe I didn’t do it this episode) is try to listen to other opinions and other voices. Not agree or be convinced by necessarily; I’m always VERY clear about that too, but listen to and maybe understand where the people are coming from, to at least understand the other side is usual just humans with concerns, so that we can engage in civilised conversation instead of the impossible screaming fest and opposition deadlock we have gotten used to.

        Again, I don’t think this show is for you, because it doesn’t seem to me like you’re in that mindset, and that’s fine. But that’s what the show is, and that’s what I want it to be still, as I honestly believe it provides and important service and does something that we sorely needs.

        I will add one thing though, for the last time: I honestly strongly believe that you are only hearing part of what we are saying. We did not “tear down” Sanders, quite the opposite… I have consistently defended on this show ideas that he stands for, and from what I know of him (which is admittedly not much) I think he might be just the thing America needs at the moment. He certainly wouldn’t be worse than Trump, so…

        Anyway, I do want to thank you for engaging and explaining your view beyond the initial reaction. And I hope you have a wonderful week end… 🙂

  2. Kevin Sickles says:

    Patrick, Loving the podcast and very much appreciate how hard you try to bring balance to the discussions but still call out blatant misrepresentations. On this podcast, Alex said several times, that Trump is a horrible person but he has done a great job moving the Republican agenda forward. The next time you have Alex on, I would be very interested in what he views as the Republican agenda? Republicans number one agenda item previously was conservative fiscal policy. The Trump tax cuts have have resulted in record setting fiscal deficits during economic boom years! Over 1 Trillion dollars per year! If a Democrat was president, Republicans would be losing their minds. He will try to claim that Trump improved the econmy, but it improved at no better rate than under Obama without trillion dollar deficits. The tax cuts were also supposed to result in businesses making large capital investments. I will let you google the studies on where the corporate tax cut money went, but spoiler, it was primarily stock buybacks. Other Republican agenda items are, Abortion, Family values (anti-LQBTQ), Anti-Immigration, both legal and illegal, guns, guns and more guns and complete resistance to any environmental issues and climate change. Republicans also prior to Trump believed in free trade and using the military to attack any foreign threat. So I am just curious, What are the Republican policies Trump is moving forward? Some Trump supporters claim he is doing a great job “doing deals” with foreign governments. The facts are all talk and no deals. No deal with South Korea, No deal with Iran, A very tentative deal with China. etc etc.

    Thank you

  3. Bill Burd says:

    This episode was a first: the first time I am aware of anyone using the words “Trump” and “empathy” in the same sentence without a negative in between.

    As for Bernie Sanders, the situation is not as complex as it is often made out to be. Bernie is an uncompromising leftist, and has attracted a lot of support and admirers. There’s a difference between the two, and it has a lot to do with his being uncompromising. While some people find that admirable, it’s lousy politics when you don’t command a majority, and Bernie is nowhere near a majority. He doesn’t negotiate or even emphasize those of his ideas that would attract undecided voters. He expects a large cohort of young people to emerge from the non-voting population and carry him to victory. Or to change the rules and allow a candidate with a plurality, but not a majority, to get the nomination of the Democratic Party.

    To date, this has not worked. Bernie has admitted this. The voters he needs have not emerged, and Joe Biden is winning in most states that voted the other day.

    In fact, Bernie has been consistently underperforming compared to his totals in 2016. This year he was winning pluralities in races with several candidates, but never a majority. Nevertheless, he was tagged by the mainstream media as the front runner. Because they need a narrative. With almost all of those other candidates out of the race, their voters are moving to Biden, not Bernie.

    Slight digression: The Republican Party has been able to rely on large cadres of single-issue voters (think guns and abortion). This year it’s the Democrats (and others) who are the single-issue voters. That issue is the removal of Donald Trump. Everything else is secondary. Once it became obvious that several other candidates were not generating momentum (after Biden’s big win in South Carolina last week), they dropped out, and their supporters moved in great proportion to Joe Biden. It will be a surprise to a lot of people if he does not win the nomination.

    Joe Biden was not my first choice to be President. In fact, he was rather far down the list for me, behind Bernie Sanders. He’s got a lot of stuff in his past that I just don’t like. And he seems to think Republicans will work with him for the good of the nation, despite all the evidence to the contrary over the past ten years. But he’s my choice now. As the saying goes, “Vote blue no matter who.”

    On a more general note, a lot has been made of the differences between the left and the center among Democrats. In fact, where there are differences, they are largely over how and how quickly goals can be achieved – not over the goals themselves. If Democrats keep the House of Representatives and gain the Senate, the difference between President Sanders and President Biden may be small. Unfortunately, the same is likely true (but in a bad way) if Republicans maintain control of one body or the other.

    And Kevin said it better above than I could about Republican policies.

    • Thanks for the details and remarks Bill, it all makes a lot of sense. Especially about the uncompromising nature of Sanders; I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but that defines him perfectly. And the move to Biden is incredibly predictable indeed, even if I can not imagine a world where Biden would win against Trump. But who knows, I might be surprised…

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