Developmental utopia

How to democratize development? Annabelle Wittels sets out on a journey to find some ideas in between power play, empathy, human failure, corruption and grand utopia. She argues there are three challenges in between the status quo and a more democratic development: information is costly and hard to come by, open dialogue and democratic decision-making process are complicated to establish and the accountability of donors, governments and international actors is opaque. A daydream about a new kind of bureaucracy and more direct democracy could be a start for tackling these issues.

Solidarity

A perplexing party involving fashion models and Bangladeshi labour activists inspires Theo Di Castri and the King’s Review to explore the meaning of solidarity in the twenty first century.

Debt and disorder in Athens

Two and a half thousand years ago, Athens was in crisis. It was struck by a crisis of private debt. Not unlike today, the Athenians were looking for a saviour and found Solon. Daniel Unruh traces – partly through original translation of Solon’s poetry – how he abolished debt-slaves, relieved all existing debts and established a system of universal vote. Who is going to be today’s boundary stone between the rich and the poor, the honest and neutral broker who can bring the people together?

‘Research’

Rowan Williams delivered this text as a Sermon Before the University King’s College Chapel, Cambridge on Sunday 17th March 2015. It was the fourth in a series commissioned, as part of King’s commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the completion of the stonework of the Chapel, to examine ‘Education’, ‘Religion’, ‘Learning ‘ and ‘Research’ – the four purposes of the College as defined in the nineteenth century. The sermon explores what it is realistic to expect to from the activity of research, not only in terms of direct outcomes but also as an indirect consequence of exploring the unknown. The impact of questioning on the questioner is offered as a subject of practical, intellectual and spiritual importance.

Ledgers and Law in the Blockchain

The blockchain underlying Bitcoin is moving beyond money and into record keeping and law. This essay explores recent efforts to harness the ledger-like qualities of blockchains to create contracts. Along the way, it considers the forms and functions of other historical examples of ledgers, the dynamics of visibility and publicity, and shifts in the incentive structure of blockchain systems. Distributed, autonomously-executing contracts sound like science fiction. Their non-contractual basis in social relations, cultural assumptions, and human-computer labor, together with their particular system of incentives, may make of contract a kind of game with real-world consequences.

What is Neo-liberalism? Part II

In the second of his two-part series, Paul Sagar suggests that to understand what Neo-liberalism is not, we would do well to look at the intellectual history of recent economic theory. Drawing on work by James Forder, he suggests that we presently labour under a collective misapprehension about the terms of modern political economy.

What is Neo-liberalism? Part I

The term Neo-liberalism is a staple of contemporary political discourse. But what does it actually mean? In this two-part article Paul Sagar draws on recent work in political economy to suggest that we are astonishingly unclear about what this key term signifies. Engaging with recent work by Helen Thompson and Martin Wolf, he argues that it is in fact hard to pin down where neoliberalism or its alternatives stand between the market and politics.

Bitcoin‘s monetary bluff

Bitcoin represents a fascinating technological innovation which might have a number of potential applications. In contrast to the aspirations of some of its supporters, rivaling existing money is not among its likely uses. This results from an underappreciation in Bitcoin’s design of what are important features of money, argues Beat Weber, economist at the Austrian Central Bank.

On Not Going Gentle

A selection of poems on the struggle for autonomy in dietary choices and in old age, from writer and professor of philosophy Felicia Nimue Ackerman.

Sustaining hierarchy – Uber isn’t sharing

Today’s most known representatives of the sharing economy discussed in global media are online platforms built on top of venture capital backed, hierarchically structured organizations. Francesca Pick and Julia Dreher argue that there is a fundamental misunderstanding today in the discussion of the subject: the sharing economy is built on rhizomatic network structures holding the potential for deeper societal transformation.

Leading and following at the ‘Pink Jukebox’

Anita Datta thinks about the significance of leading and following in Ballroom and Latin dancing. How would a newly open way of dancing really look like? Drawing on her experiences at ‘Pink Jukebox’, an LGBT dance club in London, she explores the queer and feminist way of thinking about dancing as a start.

On the loss of a mother

In an unflinching account, Raffaella Taylor-Seymour traces her mother’s life and death and the insight it has generated. She unpicks the expectations surrounding bereavement, both from ourselves and others, in the hope of breaking the silence that shrouds death.

The Palestinian Enclaves Struggle: An Interview with Ilan Pappé

The KR editors spoke to one of the most important historians of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Ilan Pappe, about recent and historic violence in Gaza and Palestine, the two-state solution, Israel’s endgame, Hamas’ perspective and goals as well as the most recent elections. Pappe is pessimistic: “Either Palestinians accept life in Bantustans or they will feel the strength of the military brutality if they resist.”

Strange Behaviour

During the recent surge in university occupations, ‘neoliberalism’ has been the enemy du jour. But does it still even exist? Did it ever exist? Jack Browne believes we shouldn’t care. The occupations are affirming political ideals that are outside of the norms of the twenty-first century university. We too need to abandon the inertia of terminological infighting and articulate the unexpected.

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