What is Discontents?

Discontents is a Substack collective of writers and podcasters on the left who have no bosses telling us what we can say or write. Right now media is becoming more isolated and more atomized, and more corporate. Your choices are reduced to whatever the management at legacy media thinks is within the bounds of Acceptable Discourse. If you want to break out you’re left to navigate countless individual newsletters, podcasts, and blogs, an overwhelming and often mind-numbing task.

All of us are discontented with this state of affairs, and if you’re here we think maybe you are too. Our goal is to create a hub for some of those small outlets here at Substack, without stifling what makes all their individual voices unique. We aim to build a new community of writers, podcasters, readers, and listeners within Substack and to help elevate new voices and perspectives that you might not find elsewhere.

Right now we’re starting with a weekly newsletter that will share what we’ve been doing at our individual Substack outlets with you. We have plans to grow beyond that, but one step at a time. We hope you’ll subscribe (for free!) and check in with what’s happening on the Substack left each and every week:

Who is Discontents?

Discontents is brought to you by the collective effort of several individual Substack writers and podcasters, who write and podcast on a range of topics from social issues to foreign affairs to culture and beyond. We’re always growing, but at the moment this is who we are:

Welcome to Hell World by Luke O’Neil is a “vital and despairing collection of essays on modern American life” (Longreads). A “mix of reporting, essay-writing, memoir, song lyrics, music videos…all written in a stream-of-consciousness style that eschews commas, leans into run-on sentences, and is often thousands of words long. It can get grim, but it’s incisive in a way most other newsletters aren’t.” (Boston Magazine).

Foreign Exchanges is a newsletter and podcast from writer Derek Davison that aims to help people stay on top of international news and offers a left-wing perspective on US foreign policy. Come for the regular updates on world news and stay for the occasional forays into Middle Eastern history.

A Lonely Impulse of Delight is a newsletter from writer and podcaster Connor Wroe Southard that explores how stories work, along with occasional detours into an array of arts and culture topics. Plus every week there’s an in-depth analysis of a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, a poem, and other fun things.

Air Gordon pt. 2 is a newsletter from Jeremy Gordon that looks at the cultural forces that make up the world and tries to resolve their conflicts and intersections into something that makes sense, but in a non-boring way.

Cruel and Usual is a newsletter about crime, punishment, and incarceration in America by Shane Ferro, a writer and public defender living in New York City. It focuses on the many ways the State exercises its monopoly on “legitimate” violence, and the cultural and legal frameworks that allow such cruelty to thrive.

no love in fear is a newsletter from infrequent writer and Twitter addict André Carlisle. Its focuses will range from racism in America to women’s soccer to songs that don’t get the respect they deserve (Stevie Wonder – ‘Skeletons’). I won’t bother you daily, but when I do I hope what’s inside makes you think, laugh or smile.

The Insurgents is a news and politics podcast and newsletter from Jordan Uhl, Rob Rousseau & (occasionally) Ken Klippenstein that combines serious discussion of the important international events shaping our increasingly grim reality with extremely self-indulgent navel gazing done for comedic effect.

Discourse Blog is a leftist politics and culture newsletter started in March 2020 by the former staff of Splinter. We write a lot about: political movements, the inept Democratic establishment, the conservative death cult, labor and worker rights, and cultural moments shaping the national conversation.

BORDER/LINES is a newsletter about immigration from reporters Gaby Del Valle and Felipe De La Hoz. Each week, it focuses on one new development in immigration policy, delivering a full breakdown of its historical context, legal precedent, and how it could play out. The newsletter also looks at important new stories that flew under the radar, and takes a look at what to expect for the week ahead.

Perspectives: Past, Present, and Future by Patrick Wyman, host of the Tides of History podcast, features essays on current events in historical perspective along with regular posts about everything from human evolution and prehistory to discussions of books that are worth your time.

Wars of Future Past is a newsletter by military technology journalist Kelsey D. Atherton. Every other week, it offers a deep dive into the stories, background details, and big questions behind the tools humans use against other humans. Telling these stories means treating technology as neither inevitable nor incidental. Technology is a thing humans do, the technology of war is a thing humans do to each other. These machines, live and real in the present world, are inherited legacies, weapons built in anticipation of futures now past.

Sick Note is a newsletter by journalist Libby Watson that digs into the ups and downs (mostly downs) about American healthcare. It tells stories from real people about their health and healthcare. Subscribers receive weekly interviews about healthcare (on Tuesdays), plus a roundup of healthcare news (on Fridays), and more.

Trashberg is writer Ashley Feinberg’s place to write about all the grotesque things she loves and the infuriating things she hates.

Be the Spark, by journalist and organizer Kim Kelly, focuses on heavy metal music and culture as well as on labor, radical politics, antifascism, and various other areas of interest.