Glenn Loury
The Glenn Show
Michael Shellenberger – The Censorship-Industrial Complex

Michael Shellenberger – The Censorship-Industrial Complex


My guest this week is Michael Shellenberger, author of several books—including San Fransicko: Why Progressives Ruin Cities—CBR Chair of Politics, Censorship, and Free Speech at the University of Austin, and proprietor of the Substack Public. Michael’s concerns as a journalist run the gamut from the decay of cities under progressive administrations, environmental extremism, social media’s collusion with censorious government agencies, free speech, and the dangers of totalitarianism.

Michael worries that the panoply of social, political, and environmental problems we’re now facing threaten the very fabric of civilization. He lists an increasing acceptance of censorship among Democrats as one of those threats. Yet the rise of social media has blurred the line between “speech” and “action” in ways that challenge our traditional ways of thinking about the 1st Amendment. Michael worries about what he calls the “Censorship-Industrial Complex”—the collusion between government agencies and tech companies—in suppressing online speech. His concerns aren’t merely technological. He worries that movements like Black Lives Matter have ginned up a kind of nihilism that’s eating away at the basic interpersonal civility that holds society together. What’s needed, he says, is a broad-based coalition that will push back against these forces and safeguard the tenets of American liberal democracy.

Michael’s got a panoramic analysis of the state of the world as we see it. For obvious reasons, it’s not one that gets a lot of airtime on mainstream media. But that’s what The Glenn Show is for.

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0:00 Michael’s new role at the University of Austin

5:41 Michael’s “civilization” trilogy

9:40 The rise of pro-censorship opinion among Democrats

17:05 Do new communication technologies require revising our ideas about free speech?

21:53 The Censorship-Industrial Complex

28:10 The anti-censorship benefits of the Streisand Effect

35:37 The government’s role in censorship at Facebook

42:04 What you can’t say about war

45:19 The dehumanizing effects of Black Lives Matters protests

55:25 Forming an anti-nihilist coalition

1:00:36 Embracing American liberal democracy

Recorded March 21, 2024

Links and Readings

Michael’s Substack, Public

University of Austin

Michael’s book, Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All

Michael’s book, San Fransicko: Why Progressives Ruin Cities

Andrew Lobaczewski’s book, Political Ponerology: The Science of Evil, Psychopathy, and the Origins of Totalitarianism

Martin Gurri’s book, The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium

The WPATH Files

John McWhorter’s book, Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America

Ernest Becker’s book, The Denial of Death

Glenn’s City Journal essay, “The Case for Black Patriotism”

John Burn-Murdoch’s Financial Times piece, “America is undergoing a racial realignment”

Abigail Schrier’s book, Bad Therapy: Why the Kids Aren’t Growing Up

Jonathan Haidt’s book, The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood Is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness

Rob Henderson’s book, Troubled: A Memoir of Foster Care, Family, and Social Class

Glenn’s conversation with Rob Henderson


Glenn Loury
The Glenn Show
Race, inequality, and economics in the US and throughout the world from Glenn Loury, Professor of Economics at Brown University and Paulson Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute