Podcast Review: Revolutionary Left Radio

Red Harris #podcast review

I remember the first episode of Revolutionary Left Radio that I listened to. It was released on May 31, 2020, six days after the murder of George Floyd, entitled “America on Fire.” It is 38 minutes of white- hot revolutionary anger spit like fire from the mouth of Brett O’Shea, the host of the show, who primarily conducts interviews with radicals from a global range of backgrounds and interests, engaged in every struggle being waged by the international left today: from Wobblies in the US to Palestinian activists in the West Bank and Naxalite militants in India.

The episode in question is unique, however, for being one of just a few monologues in the podcast’s catalogue. Instead of the usual interview, Brett takes us along on an impassioned tirade in which no stone is left unturned, lambasting every assumption and principle underpinning the ideologies and institutions which led to the murder of George Floyd and that of countless other BIPOC people in recent years and throughout American history—a history which, as Brett leads us to understand, has always been based on systems of power which fundamentally uphold white supremacy and capitalism (two sides of the same coin). Articulate, compassionate, and atremble with a revolutionary indignation that would make Che Guevara proud, Brett ends this episode’s long diatribe with an appeal that characterizes all his work. He asks that his listeners strive to uphold and live a politics of compassion and care even in the face of reaction and hate. It is a simple and sensible sentiment which, nevertheless, is sometimes forgotten by an embittered and jaded left. The same feeling is echoed throughout even the less overtly political episodes of the podcast, such as those discussing psychedelics, spirituality, philosophy, and ecology. Even when discussing the virtues of meditation or the principles and history of Sufism, there is always an undercurrent of the same compassion and love that makes Revolutionary Left Radio an inspirational joy to listen to. Frequently, the insight and compassion of the radicals that Brett works with on the show are just as moving.

The George Floyd protests in Portland began on May 28. I was there on the first night, when we gathered in Peninsula Park and marched downtown to the Justice Center, where the pigs were out in force, decked out in tactical gear, flashbangs and tear gas at the ready. Over the following days and weeks, as the heat increased in Portland and across the nation in response to the cold calculus of a brutal system (working just as designed) that executes its BIPOC citizens with impunity, I would carry with me in the streets and in my home Brett O’Shea’s appeal to revolutionary love that rung in my ears and resounded in my heart. A year and a half later, it still does.