Over the last decade, author and activist Astra Taylor has helped shift the national conversation on topics including technology, inequality, indebtedness, and democracy. The essays collected here reveal the range and depth of her thinking, with Taylor tackling the rising popularity of socialism, the problem of automation, the politics of listening, the possibility of rights for the natural and non-human world, the future of the university, the temporal challenge of climate catastrophe, and more. Addressing some of the most pressing social problems of our day, Taylor invites us to imagine how things could be different while never losing sight of the strategic question of how change actually happens. Curious and searching, these historically informed and hopeful essays are as engaging as they are challenging and as urgent as they are timeless. Taylor ‘s unique philosophical style has a political edge that speaks directly to the growing conviction that a radical transformation of our economy and society is required.
a radical economic theory born in the 1970s. It broadly means shrinking rather than growing economies, to use less of the world’s dwindling resources. Detractors of degrowth say economic growth has given the world everything from cancer treatments to indoor plumbing. Supporters argue that degrowth doesn’t mean “living in caves with candles” – but just living a bit more simply. How do we save our planet? Some economists believe the only way is to radically scale back our global consumption of resources. This is a key premise of degrowth – a political and economic theory that is gaining traction as fears grow over climate change. But is it workable? What is degrowth? Degrowth broadly means shrinking rather than growing economies, so we use less of the world’s energy and resources and put wellbeing ahead of profit. The idea is that by pursuing degrowth policies, economies can help themselves, their citizens and the planet by becoming more sustainable. Practical degrowth actions might include buying less stuff, growing your own food and using empty houses instead of building new ones. Degrowth as a term was coined in 1972 by Austrian-French social philosopher André Gorz, according to the website Degrowth.info. As a movement, degrowth started to take off in the early 2000s, according to media platform openDemocracy. Modern degrowth protagonists include French economist Serge Latouche, who argues that society’s current model of economic growth is unsustainable. Why does Degrowth matter? Government policies have focused on growing and expanding economies ever since. With increasing awareness about climate change, the degrowth debate has accelerated. If economic growth continues to be the default goal, it will lead to climate catastrophe, the argument goes, with no hope of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. It seems to be no coincidence that global warming caused by humans started around the 1830s, scientists believe, when the world’s […]
Walter Isaacson is the author of biographies of Jennifer Doudna, Leonardo da Vinci, Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin, and Albert Einstein. This is the intimate story of one of the most fascinating and controversial innovators of our era—a rule-breaking visionary who helped to lead the world into the era of electric vehicles, private space exploration, and artificial intelligence. And took over Twitter. When Elon Musk was a kid in South Africa, he was regularly beaten by bullies. One day a group pushed him down some concrete steps and kicked him until his face was a swollen ball of flesh. He was in the hospital for a week. But the physical scars were minor compared to the emotional ones inflicted by his father, an engineer, rogue, and charismatic fantasist. His father’s impact on his psyche would linger. He developed into a tough yet vulnerable man-child, prone to abrupt Jekyll-and-Hyde mood swings, with an exceedingly high tolerance for risk, a craving for drama, an epic sense of mission, and a maniacal intensity that was callous and at times destructive. At the beginning of 2022—after a year marked by SpaceX launching thirty-one rockets into orbit, Tesla selling a million cars, and him becoming the richest man on earth—Musk spoke ruefully about his compulsion to stir up dramas. “I need to shift my mindset away from being in crisis mode, which it has been for about fourteen years now, or arguably most of my life,” he said. It was a wistful comment, not a New Year’s resolution. Even as he said it, he was secretly buying up shares of Twitter, the world’s ultimate playground. Over the years, whenever he was in a dark place, his mind went back to being bullied on the playground. Now he had the chance to own the playground. For two […]
Jonathan Taplin is director emeritus of the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California and author of Move Fast and Break Things, which was nominated for the Financial Times / McKinsey Business Book of the Year. This is a brilliant takedown and exposé of the great con job of the twenty-first century—the metaverse, crypto, space travel, transhumanism—being sold by Peter Thiel, Mark Zuckerberg, Marc Andreesen, Elon Musk, leading to the degeneration and bankruptcy of our society. At a time when the crises of income inequality, climate, and democracy are compounding to create epic wealth disparity, these four business men are hyping schemes, designed to divert our attention away from issues that really matter. Each scheme—the metaverse, cryptocurrency, space travel, and transhumanism—is an existential threat in moral, political, and economic terms. In The End of Reality¸ Jonathan Taplin provides perceptive insight into the personal backgrounds and cultural power of Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Marc Andreesen and shows how their tech monopolies have brought middle-class wage stagnation, the hollowing out of many American towns, a radical increase in income inequality, and unbounded public acrimony. Meanwhile, the enormous amount of taxpayer money to be funneled into the dystopian ventures of “The Four,” the benefits of which will accrue to billionaires, exacerbate these disturbing trends. The End of Reality is both scathing critique and reform agenda that replaces the warped worldview of “The Four” with a vision of regenerative economics that seeks to build a sustainable society with healthy growth and full employment.
-Oliver Franklin-Wallis An award-winning investigative journalist takes a deep dive into the global waste crisis, exposing the hidden world that enables our modern economy—and finds out the dirty truth behind a simple question: what really happens to what we throw away? In Wasteland, journalist Oliver Franklin-Wallis takes us on a shocking journey inside the waste industry—the secretive multi-billion dollar world that underpins the modern economy, quietly profiting from what we leave behind. In India, he meets the waste-pickers on the front line of the plastic crisis. In the UK, he journeys down sewers to confront our oldest—and newest—waste crisis, and comes face-to-face with nuclear waste. In Ghana, he follows the after-life of our technology and explores the global export network that results in goodwill donations clogging African landfills. From an incinerator to an Oklahoma ghost-town, Franklin-Wallis travels in search of the people and companies that really handle waste—and on the way, meets the innovators and campaigners pushing for a cleaner and less wasteful future. With this mesmerising, thought-provoking, and occasionally terrifying investigation, Oliver Franklin-Wallis tells a new story of humanity based on what we leave behind, and along the way, he shares a blueprint for building a healthier, more sustainable world—before we’re all buried in trash.
-Jayne Mayer Why live in an age of profound economic inequality? Why, despite the desperate need to address climate change, have even modest environmental efforts been defeated again and again? Why have protections for employees been decimated? Why do hedge-fund billionaires pay a far lower tax rate than middle-class workers? The conventional answer is that a popular uprising against “big government” led to the ascendancy of a broad-based conservative movement. But as Jane Mayer shows in this powerful, meticulously reported history, a network of exceedingly wealthy people with extreme libertarian views bankrolled a systematic, step-by-step plan to fundamentally alter the American political system. The network has brought together some of the richest people on the planet. Their core beliefs—that taxes are a form of tyranny; that government oversight of business is an assault on freedom—are sincerely held. But these beliefs also advance their personal and corporate interests: Many of their companies have run afoul of federal pollution, worker safety, securities, and tax laws. The chief figures in the network are Charles and David Koch, whose father made his fortune in part by building oil refineries in Stalin’s Russia and Hitler’s Germany. The patriarch later was a founding member of the John Birch Society, whose politics were so radical it believed Dwight Eisenhower was a communist. The brothers were schooled in a political philosophy that asserted the only role of government is to provide security and to enforce property rights. When libertarian ideas proved decidedly unpopular with voters, the Koch brothers and their allies chose another path. If they pooled their vast resources, they could fund an interlocking array of organisations that could work in tandem to influence and ultimately control academic institutions, think tanks, the courts, statehouses, Congress, and, they hoped, the presidency. Richard Mellon Scaife, the mercurial heir to […]
The dramatic rise-and unimaginable fall-of America’s most iconic corporation. -William D. Cohan No company embodied American ingenuity, innovation, and industrial power more spectacularly and more consistently than the General Electric Company. GE once developed and manufactured many of the inventions we take for granted today, nearly everything from the lightbulb to the jet engine. GE also built a cult of financial and leadership success envied across the globe and became the world’s most valuable and most admired company. But even at the height of its prestige and influence, cracks were forming in its formidable foundation. In a masterful re-appraisal of a company that once claimed to “bring good things to life,” William D. Cohan argues that the incredible story of GE’s rise and fall is not only a paragon, but also a prism through which we can better understand American capitalism. Beginning with its founding, innovations, and exponential growth through acquisitions and mergers, Cohan plumbs the depths of GE’s storied management culture, its pioneering doctrine of shareholder value, and its seemingly hidden blind spots, to reveal that GE wasn’t immune from the hubris and avoidable mistakes suffered by many other corporations. In Power Failure, Cohan punctures the myth of GE, exploring in a rich narrative how a once-great company wound up broken and in tatters-a cautionary tale for the ages.
Think the Google Guys, Larry Ellison and lots of billionaires who benefitted from technology and its current place in the world.
The submarines will be patrolling the waters, keeping an eye out for the ‘wolf warrior”.
“Too many companies don’t know how to walk the walk of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Getting to Diversity shows them how.”—Lori George Billingsley, former Global Chief DEI Officer, Coca-Cola Company In an authoritative, data-driven account, two of the world’s leading management experts challenge dominant approaches to increasing workplace diversity and provide a comprehensive account of what really works. Every year America becomes more diverse, but change in the makeup of the management ranks has stalled. The problem has become an urgent matter of national debate. How do we fix it? Bestselling books preach moral reformation. Employers, however well intentioned, follow guesswork and whatever their peers happen to be doing. Arguing that it’s time to focus on changing systems rather than individuals, two of the world’s leading experts on workplace diversity show us a better way in the first comprehensive, data-driven analysis of what succeeds and what fails. Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev draw on more than thirty years of data from eight hundred companies as well as in-depth interviews with managers. The research shows just how little companies gain from standard practice: sending managers to diversity training to reveal their biases, then following up with hiring and promotion rules, and sanctions, to shape their behavior. Almost nothing changes. It’s time, Dobbin and Kalev argue, to focus on changing the management systems that make it hard for women and people of color to succeed. They show us how the best firms are pioneering new recruitment, mentoring, and skill training systems, and implementing strategies for mixing segregated work groups to increase diversity. They explain what a difference ambitious work–life programs make. And they argue that as firms adopt new systems, the key to making them work is to make them accessible to all—not just the favored few. Powerful, authoritative, and driven by a commitment […]