Past Present Podcast: The Sharing Economy, Affirmative Action, and American Fascism

Supreme Court

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Niki, Natalia, and Neil discuss the sharing economy, affirmative action, and whether Donald Trump is a fascist.

The Sharing Economy

Harvard Business School researchers have issued a report about the pattern of racial discrimination in AirBnB. Other scholars and writers have raised additional concerns with the “sharing economy.” Niki noted the historical example of early twentieth century urban dwellers who took boarders to earn extra money, as depicted in the 1925 Anzia Yezierska novel Bread Givers. Natalia suggested Nick Grossman’s “gig economy” was a more accurate term than the “sharing economy” to capture how Americans are working and earning money today.

Affirmative Action

Affirmative action is back in the news as the Supreme Court hears Abigail Fisher’s lawsuit against the University of Texas. Listen here for Justice Antonin Scalia’s controversial remarks during oral arguments last week. Neil noted the admissions data concerning Fisher’s application disproved the argument she had faced racial discrimination. Niki pointed to the prevalence of “reverse discrimination” language in conservative arguments about affirmative action, such as shown in a recent editorial from the National Review.

American Fascism

Is Donald Trump a fascist? It’s a question a lot of people have been asking, but Niki noted a Vox roundtable of historians had concluded he was not. Natalia added the historian Federico Finchelstein’s point that in order for Trump to be considered a fascist, he would need to move from advocating discrimination against the “enemy” to proposing their elimination.

What’s Making History

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