The series “55 Voices for Democracy” is modeled after the BBC radio speeches, through which Thomas Mann, from his home in California, turned to listeners in Germany, Switzerland and occupied Netherlands and Czechia during the war. From 1940 until November 1945, Thomas Mann pleaded to thousands of listeners to resist the Nazi regime and thus became the most important German voice in exile. In this election year, Thomas Mann’s conviction that the “social renewal of democracy” is condition and warrant for its victory seems more relevant than ever.

"55 Voices for Democracy"  is an initiative launched by the Thomas Mann House in October 2019. With the new podcast series, Los Angeles Review of Books, Thomas Mann House, Goethe-Institute Boston, the Goethe Pop Up Seattle and WunderbarTogether expand the successful series. Tom Zoellner and his co-hosts will engage in vivid conversationd with intellectuals, artists, and activists about the question of how to renew democracy today. Among the first guests are Rebecca Solnit, the political scientist Chantal Mouffe, novelist Daniel Kehlmann and the Belarusian opposition politicians Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and Franak Viačorka.

Tom Zoellner (host) is the New York Times bestselling author of eight nonfiction books, including Uranium Train, and The Heartless Stone. He teaches at Chapman University and Dartmouth College. A former reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, he is the politics editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Aida Baghernejad (co-host) is a (pop) culture and food journalist based in Berlin. Her work has appeared in a number of regional, national and international media outlets, among them the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the San Francisco Chronicle, tipBerlin, Intro Magazine, Spex and Deutschlandfunk Kultur. She has previously taught at King’s College London and the Humboldt Universität Berlin.

Tom Lutz (producer) is a Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at the UC Riverside, the founding editor in chief of the Los Angeles Review of Books, founder of The LARB Radio Hour, The LARB Quarterly Journal, The LARB Publishing Workshop, and LARB Books. He is the author of nine books for academic and trade presses and winner of the American Book Award.

Episodes:

5. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya & Franak Viačorka on the Crisis in Belarus

The guests in this episode are the Belarusian opposition politicians Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and Franak Viačorka. Tsikhanouskaya, who ran for president in the 2020 elections, is currently in exile in Lithuania. She is considered to be one the most important voices of the democratic opposition in Belarus. Viačorka is journalist, blogger and an activist in the Belarusian struggle for democracy and personal freedom. The two talk to host Tom Zoellner and co-host Aida Baghernejad about the situation in Belarus and their experiences in the election year.

         https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly81NXZvaWNlcy5saWJzeW4uY29tL3Jzcw/episode/Y2NkZmYxM2QtZDBmYi00OTUyLWIwNDEtMjFmOWU1N2VkN2Nh?sa=X&ved=0CAcQuIEEahcKEwiww_Kqh-XsAhUAAAAAHQAAAAAQAQ    

4. Dipayan Ghosh on Digital Democracy

How should democracies deal with the increasing power of tech companies? This episode features Dipayan Ghosh, a former technology and economic policy advisor in the Obama White House. Ghosh conducts research on digital piracy, artificial intelligence and civil rights at the Harvard Kennedy School. His recently published and critically acclaimed report "Utilities for Democracy – Why and How the Algorithmic Infrastructure of Facebook and Google must be regulated“ serves as a starting point for a conversation with host Tom Zoellner.

         https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly81NXZvaWNlcy5saWJzeW4uY29tL3Jzcw/episode/Y2NkZmYxM2QtZDBmYi00OTUyLWIwNDEtMjFmOWU1N2VkN2Nh?sa=X&ved=0CAcQuIEEahcKEwiww_Kqh-XsAhUAAAAAHQAAAAAQAQ    

3. Conny McCormack on Election Mechanics

Conny McCormack has served as an international observer of fair elections in Albania, Ecuador, Finland, Panama, Zambia and other countries. She had been the Registrar-Recorder and County Clerk for Los Angeles County from 1995 to 2008 and was in similar positions in San Diego and Dallas counties. In this episode she talks to host Tom Zoellner about what she calls "the frontline of democracy:" the day-to-day work of making an election happen, the inevitability of human error in the process and the well-established lack of fraud in American elections over the last century.

         https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly81NXZvaWNlcy5saWJzeW4uY29tL3Jzcw/episode/Y2NkZmYxM2QtZDBmYi00OTUyLWIwNDEtMjFmOWU1N2VkN2Nh?sa=X&ved=0CAcQuIEEahcKEwiww_Kqh-XsAhUAAAAAHQAAAAAQAQ    

2. David Shimer on the Vulnerability of the Electoral Process

David Shimer is a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and an Associate Fellow at Yale University. His reporting and analysis have appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Washington Post and Foreign Affairs. He is pursuing a doctorate in international relations at the University of Oxford as a Marshall Scholar and received his master’s degrees in history from Yale University. In this episode he discusses his book Rigged: America, Russia, and 100 Years of Electoral Interference with Tom Zoellner and talks about what foreign meddling means for the future of democracy in the digital age.

         https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly81NXZvaWNlcy5saWJzeW4uY29tL3Jzcw/episode/Y2NkZmYxM2QtZDBmYi00OTUyLWIwNDEtMjFmOWU1N2VkN2Nh?sa=X&ved=0CAcQuIEEahcKEwiww_Kqh-XsAhUAAAAAHQAAAAAQAQ    

1. Rebecca Solnit on Hope in Politically Dark Times

Polymath author of twenty books, writer, historian, essayist, urban geographer and activist Rebecca Solnit is our inaugural guest on 55 Voices for Democracy. The author of, among other books, Men Explain Things to Me, Savage Dreams, Infinite City, A Paradise Built in Hell, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Hope in the Dark, Recollections of My Nonexistence, and her recent The Mother of All Questions, she is a thinker dedicated to furthering radical equality and economic justice, for whom “a commitment to the future makes the present inhabitable.”  She is interviewed by Tom Zoellner and co-host Amal Khaled (Project Director of Wunderbar Together).

         https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly81NXZvaWNlcy5saWJzeW4uY29tL3Jzcw/episode/Y2NkZmYxM2QtZDBmYi00OTUyLWIwNDEtMjFmOWU1N2VkN2Nh?sa=X&ved=0CAcQuIEEahcKEwiww_Kqh-XsAhUAAAAAHQAAAAAQAQ    

 


In collaboration with Los Angeles Review of Books, Goethe-Institut Boston, Goethe Pop Up Seattle and Wunderbar Together. With friendly support of Dublab.

      


Villa Aurora & Thomas Mann House e. V. is supported by the German Federal Foreign Office and Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.