Silicon Valley Vampire

David Runciman

Libertarians would have us believe that unregulated, free-market capitalism is somehow diametrically opposed to state capitalism. One encourages innovation; the other stifles it. What Peter Thiel demonstrates is that unregulated, free-market capitalism is in fact closely aligned to state capitalism. Deregulation means that nothing constrains the monopoly power of the security state and nothing gets in the way of people selling it their bogus and corrupting wares. This alliance helps explain the weird anomaly of Thiel’s persona. He’s like a cross between Joe Pesci in Goodfellas – a man who will stab you in the eye with a ballpoint pen if you cross him – and Richard Branson, another so-called entrepreneur who makes most of his money by capturing state-controlled contracts (Virgin Rail, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Media). Branson, unlike Thiel, is a bit of a hippy and mouths most of the liberal pieties, including about climate change. But it doesn’t really matter what the philosophy is. The business model is the same: get as close as you can to the people who control the protection rackets. 

 

Velázquez’s Distance

T.J. Clark

Expressions, especially ones as charged and impenetrable as this, are for where words fail us, where we’re lost for them. Aesop’s original muteness – the original muteness of each individual, the stumbling of the infant into speech – is part of his power.

 

Who owns the oil?

Laleh Khalili

Rotterdam​ city centre sits a few miles inland from the North Sea, its skyscrapers and office buildings lining the New Meuse River, a tributary of the Rhine. A ferry tour takes you past ship repair yards, grain silos, terminals receiving coal and iron ore for Ruhr Valley industries, and even a massive orange juice storage facility that receives its cargo from Latin America. If you want to...

 

What Sally did next

Christian Lorentzen

SallyRooney’s emergence in recent years as the avatar of literary success and its online scapegoat is not unrelated to the content of her novels. Normal People begins with its protagonists, Marianne and Connell, comparing their grades at secondary school and ends with Connell getting onto a graduate creative writing programme. In the first pages of Conversations with Friends, the...

 

Learned Behaviour

Luke Jennings

When​ the Royal Ballet returned to Covent Garden earlier this year after fourteen months of cancelled shows and empty auditoriums, its public announcements were upbeat. The new season (which has just opened) would include world premieres by Wayne McGregor, Christopher Wheeldon and Kyle Abraham, alongside classic ballets by Kenneth MacMillan and Frederick Ashton. In May and June, ahead of the...

Away with Words

Away with Words

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Reproduction Anxiety

Madeleine Schwartz

It’s hard not to read the title of Mieko Kawakami’s first novel, Breasts and Eggs, as some kind of provocation. I keep seeing them in front of me – a perverted breakfast, breasts over easy, with a side of ketchup. What are they doing there, those breasts and eggs? It turns out this is misleading: the eggs are the kind that give human life. But the title is appropriate....

 

Flocculent and Feculent

Susan Pedersen

Of the many​ hardships visited on New York in the first months of the pandemic, food shortages weren’t among them. Supply chains held. Cleaning products vanished from supermarket shelves but there was still plenty to eat. The system showed its tensile strength, its eerie ability to deliver food of all kinds even to a population pinned in place, unequally able to purchase it. When the...

 

Black Marseille

Kevin Okoth

When​ Claude McKay first visited Marseille he was immediately taken with the vagabond social life of the Vieux Port. In his early twenties he had moved from Jamaica to the US, where he spent a few years before setting off to travel Europe. He had reported for Sylvia Pankhurst’s Workers’ Dreadnought in London, attended the Fourth World Congress of the Communist International in...

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