The Advent of Cryptocurrencies: A Reason to Rethink Currency in the 21st Century

Cryptocurrencies are another step in the evolution of a society in which mathematics and cryptography can replace or augment traditional trust-based centralized infrastructure in financial services and monetary politics. While flawed, they can serve as a catalyst for an important debate of the future of currency.

Related: read Johannes Lenhard’s analysis of alternative currencies.

‘Crisis ordinariness’: Grangetown, Middlesbrough

People in Grangetown have always been told to look forward, encouraged to do so by the production of projects and spaces intended to carry hope. But what is it that they should look to? Joshua Oware describes how people cope living in a community that has been dragged between habit and shock, a community continually told to ‘look to a future’ that always fades into indeterminacy.

Butterflies, Mimesis and ‘The Double’

Richard Ayoade’s film ‘The Double’ (2013) — based on the Dostoevsky novella of the same name — showcases the modern Doppelgänger: a figure who stems from a mimetic crisis. Mimesis, the urge to copy, to reproduce – in art, in nature, in all social interaction – is a project haunted by its own failure, by all the bits that copying leaves out. Ayoade’s ‘double’ figures out these left-overs. He’s a perfect copy, and he’s everything that isn’t: a figure made of semblance and alterity in equal measure, anxious proof of the phoniness of social identity and all our concurrent fears of replaceability and double-talk.

Accumulation and All That

Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century raises a host of interesting questions about inequality and capitalist development. But how are his findings related to other trends, such as the rising equality of incomes at the global level? What use are grand-historical research projects to economists? And what is the importance of his plea for a smarter and more ambitious tax state?

The Doxa of Gillian Tett

An email exchange with Financial Times assistant editor Gillian Tett prompts reflections on the profit motive, technology, inequality and moral blindness. Tett takes the lead role, with guest appearances by Adam Smith, Silvio Berlusconi, and “Amalgamated Product Giant Shipping Worldwide Inc”.

On the moral void in contemporary China

The lack of an effective moral framework in post-reform China means that people’s daily activities are easily exposed to the anomic consequences of profit-seeking and unconstrained desires. The moral crisis underlies the crisis of the government that fails to be the moral exemplar for the people.

“2014”: The Return of Big Brother

Legal scholar Eva Nanopoulos meets Jemima Stratford QC, one of two barristers who advised MPs on the legality of GCHQ’s electronic surveillance activities. She uses the opportunity to consider, via Orwell and Zamyatin, whether the legislation that seemingly authorises those activities is itself illegal under domestic law and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Related: read our interview with Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger.

A Ukrainian Thesaurus in Russian

Today, the intricate relationship between Russia and Ukraine is, as ever, decisive for the future of this part of the world. And, as ever, it remains largely simplified as either antagonistic or fraternal. Russian‐speakers in Ukraine effectively topple this dichotomy, Tanya Zaharchenko argues.

Black Legends of the Fallen

Some legends stick like magnets to our minds and blur the lines between what is, and is not. When in crisis, this can have detrimental effects. How will we perceive Spain’s economic crisis in the future? Will we see Spain as an overblown and excessive public spender that had to be put in its place? While Spain’s condition has various roots, none of them grew from overblown public expenditures or labour protection. A call to leave the legends to the tourist guides and take a closer look at the young democracy.

An Interview with Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal

King’s College Provost Michael Proctor in conversation with Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal, on subjects as varied as the past and future of cosmology, our knowledge of the the Big Bang, and the possibility of extraterrestrial life.

Who Will Educate the Educators? An Interview with Gayatri Spivak

“When Du Bois wrote about the recently emancipated slaves, he said they certainly need food, clothing and shelter, but at the same time, to learn to communicate with the stars. Now that fourth item is not something about which you can just say, “oh well, that will be easily taught, because after all, they’ve suffered, and so they’re pure of soul”. All these mantras of “feminism is the secret”, or “the indigenous know the answer”, that one can just do anything with any group and they will just retain their purity. That is a very idealistic denial of history.”

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