Keen On

Keen On

Nobody asks sharper or more impertinent questions than Andrew Keen. In KEEN ON, Andrew cross-examines the world’s smartest people on politics, economics, history, the environment, and tech. If you want to make sense of our complex world, check out the daily questions and the answers on KEEN ON. Named as one of the "100 most connected men" by GQ magazine, Andrew Keen is amongst the world's best-known technology and politics broadcasters and commentators. In addition to presenting KEEN ON, he is the host of the long-running show How To Fix Democracy and the author of four critically acclaimed books about the future, including the international bestselling CULT OF THE AMATEUR. Keen On is free to listen to and will remain so. If you want to stay up-to-date on new episodes and support the show please subscribe to Andrew Keen’s Substack. Paid subscribers will soon be able to access exclusive content from our new series Keen On America. keenon.substack.com

Episodes

May 30, 2024 41 mins

We live in a erotically dissonant and carnally confused age. One the one hand, young people are having a lot less sex these days; on the other, they are listening intently to the music of erotically dissonant artists like Billy Eilish and Taylor Swift. I first came across the ideas of “erotic dissonance” and “carnal confusion” in “The New Sound of Sexual Frustration”, an intriguing Atlantic piece by their prolific culture critic Sp...

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Is history, particularly the last thousand year history of North America, written by the victors? Perhaps. After all, as Kathleen DuVal, the author of NATIVE NATIONS reminds us, a thousand years ago, back in 1024, North America was inhabited by a rich mosaic of indigenous civilizations that in many ways mirrored European societies. Today, of course, things are quite different. But as DuVal, a much acclaimed historian at the Univers...

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There will be a British general election on July 4. “The most consequential of our generation” no doubt many politicians will remind the voters. But almost exactly 45 years ago, there really was a profoundly consequential British election. Back in May 1979, Mrs Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative party won power in an election that ultimately changed everything about Britain. In 1979, (Sir) Tim Lankester was the first economic private...

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May might be almost finished, but you’ve still got time this Memorial weekend to begin reading one of Bethanne Patrick’s recommended new books. And this month, Patrick’s list is really scintillating - extending from fresh fiction by Claire Messud, Kaliane Bradley and Colm Toibin to new non-fictional books by George Stephanopoulos, Nina St. Pierre and Alan M. Taylor. So no excuses. Watch/listen to Patrick - the best read person in t...

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Few people are better equipped to unravel the riddle of the Indian economy than the former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, Raghuram Rajan. As the co-author (with Rohit Lamba) of the just published Breaking the Mold: India’s Untraveled Path to Prosperity, Rajan lays out a strategy for Indian economic development that might allow the country to both maintain its much storied democracy and provide jobs and prosperity for its ...

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Along with Ukraine and Gaza, Taiwan represents the third leg of our increasingly wobbly international political system. This week, for example, the Chinese navy put on military drills off the Taiwanese coast designed, supposedly, to test its ability to “seize power”. So is the world on the brink of a third world war between China and the United States? Perhaps, according to the Tufts university scholar and author of The Struggle fo...

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Another week in tech, another splashy AI scandal. This one involves OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and the voice of Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson. Dear Sam, Keith Teare’s That Was The Week newsletter begins, as the SignalRank CEO tries to give the OpenAI CEO advice about how to minimize these sorts of scandals in the future. But I wonder if the Johansson-Altman spat is a very early example of the multi-fronted war that is about to erupt...

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The debate about the supposed “colonial” foundations of Israel goes on and on. But I wonder whether Jehuda Reinharz’s definitive new biography of Chaim Weizmann might help clarify the unintentional colonial foundations of the Zionist project. Reinharz explains that Weizmann made his name as a brilliant chemist in the UK, where he leveraged his equally glittering social networking skills into the publication of the 1917 Balfour Decl...

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The digital revolution has few more persistent critics than John (Rick) MacArthur, the legendarily outspoken publisher of Harper’s Magazine. His skepticism about Silicon Valley, he confesses, came at the turn of the century when he overheard the gibberish sales talk from a rabble of start-up entrepreneurs in a San Francisco restaurant. In the quarter century since, MacArthur hasn’t been shy to argue that the internet is killing not...

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Bobi Conn’s life is an American story. Growing up in a desolate Kentucky holler, her father a drug addicted outlaw who abused her mother, Conn has reinvented herself as a successful writer and mother. But for all Conn’s unflinching honesty about her brutal upbringing, she remains proudly America - both in her love of the Kentucky land and her unwillingness to demonize rural America. Her American spirit, inherited from generations ...

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Is it time to start worrying about the Germans again? Perhaps, at least according to Jacob Kushner, the author of LOOK AWAY: A True Story of Murders, Bombings, and a Far-Right Campaign to Rid Germany of Immigrants, a book about an eleven year terror campaign by the National Socialist Underground (NSU). Kushner is ambivalent about the broad appeal in Germany of the NSU’s murderous violence against immgrants, but he does suggest that...

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Jordan Elgrably, the Morrocan-French editor of the Markaz Review, wants us to read complex stories about the Middle East and North Africa that our simplistic newspaper headlines mostly ignore. In his new anthology, Stories from the Center of the World, Elgrably includes short stories from writers as diverse as Leila Aboulela, Amany Kamal Eldinn and Hanif Kureishi that reflect the rich mosaic of life in the region. Elgrably’s anthol...

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I’ve always been a big admirer of Steven Johnson, whose prolific work focuses on the disruptive role of new technologies in shaping our past and future. In his new book, The Infernal Machine, Johnson writes about the turn of the 20th century, a period of feverish technology innovation and no less febrile political unrest. Our conversation focuses on the strange symbiosis between Alfred Nobel’s invention of dynamite, Emma Goldman’s ...

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It’s a mind blowing story. In Fat Leonard, the Washington Post’s prize winning investigative journalist Craig Whitlock tells of a Malaysian contractor called Leonard Glenn Francis who successfully seduced up to a thousand US naval officers with prostitutes, fancy dinners and expensive gifts. The most astonishing thing of all, he explains, is that many Naval officers seems to have known exactly what Fat Leonard was up to. So what, I...

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Ever wondered why the never-endingTrump show seems simultaneously like a reality show remake and sequel? According to Chris Gavaler, the self styled Patron Saint of Superheroes, it’s because our view of reality itself has been shaped by all those “sequels, remakes, retcons and rejects” endlessly spewing out of Hollywood. Our addiction to the Stars Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Marvel franchises has “revised" our realit...

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Given the situation in Gaza, some might interpret a new book entitled Judaism Is About Love to be either satirical or slightly chutzpahdik. But its author, Rabbi Shai Held, President & Dean of New York City’s Hadar Institute, is all too serious in his argument that the idea of love lies at the historic heart of traditional Jewish life. It’s an intriguing, if idealistic, interpretation. Christianity, he suggests, appropriated this i...

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Last week’s KEEN ON America interview featured a conversation with R. Derek Black, the son of a KKK Grand Wizard, whose all-too-American life has been defined by radical personal reinvention and second chances. In contrast, Ali Velshi, host of MSNBC's "The Last Word", not only chose to come to America from Canada, but also chose to become an American citizen. For Velshi, a self-styled libertarian who confesses to holding five passp...

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What is the most American town in the USA? Las Vegas comes to mind, of course. And Memphis, with its uniquely American church of Graceland. Or one of Springsteen’s forgotten beach towns in New Jersey. Imagine rolling Vegas and Memphis and one of those sad NJ boardwalk places into a small Missouri town that you’ve never heard of. That’s Branson, Missouri, the 12,,638 person self-styled “city” in the Ozarks that is the annual host t...

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I’m just back from five glorious days in Syracuse, the ancient Mediterranean city in the south western corner of Sicily. And to extend my trip, at least virtually, I spoke to the young Irish novelist, Ferdia Lennon, author of the very unusual and much acclaimed Glorious Exploits, a tragicomic novel set in the Syracuse of the Peloponnesian War. We talked the Syracuse of antiquity, of course, but also Lennon discussed the long proces...

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Apple’s Crush advertisement for their new range of iPads got so crushed by its critics that Apple apologized and announced the commercial wouldn’t go on tv. But according to Keith Teare, author of the That Was The Week tech newsletter, the massive reaction to this ad reflects a troubling cultural hysteria which, he believes, is driven by “snowflakes” on social networks like Threads. And the truth, at least according to Keith, is ...

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