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?
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.
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.
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.
An encounter: Steven J. Fowler is a British poet and artist working in the modernist and avant garde traditions. KR chats to him about the place and politics of his poetry.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.”
For the first time ever, architectural photography takes centre stage at a London exhibition in Barbican’s Constructing Worlds. Max Vickers takes this as an opportunity to explore the continually intertwining histories of photography and architecture, from the invention of the medium through to its Instagramisation.
Bitcoin proponents argue that it is a force for empowerment, privacy, financial inclusion and cheap financial transfers. These claims are subject to various lines of critique: there is unequal access to the technology, that it can be abused by those who use it, and that it will fail to deliver collective benefits. In this piece, Brett Scott claims that despite this, Bitcoin remains one of the few systems that could act as a partial future counterpower to our existing electronic bank payments system.
What is ‘wellbeing’ and how can we reach it? What are strategies and ways that people employ to increase their happiness? Professor Mike Kelly, Director of the Public Health Excellence Centre at the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in Cambridge gives us some answers on the International Day of Happiness.
Although its long-term impact is most likely to be seen in various applications of blockchain technology, Bitcoin raises some important and challenging questions about the future of money. Nigel Dodd argues that it is important that we do not pass up the opportunity that Bitcoin, and cryptocurrency more generally, give us to think more deeply about the nature of money, particularly its social nature.
A perplexing party in the East Village, New York, 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.Jun 26
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.May 15
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.Apr 17
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.Apr 8
Occupy LSE recently protested the neoliberal university. But, what does ‘neoliberalism’ actually mean? Eric Lybeck suggests the term denotes an historical epoch which is nearly over. Bankers are more often trained in business schools than advanced economic science, which is itself undergoing curricular change as we speak. Further criticism of neoliberalism is therefore unnecessary. Instead, we should focus on the intellectual incoherence of evolutionary psychology and behavioural economics which is the wave of the future.Feb 10
A long history of coups d’état dating back to the respective Independence days, have not delivered political or economic stability in sub-Saharan African. Mary Serumaga argues that the pattern is for an elite class of politicians and their collaborators capturing the organs of state for their own benefit and to the detriment of what are variously called the urban and rural poor living on a dollar a day.Nov 27
Let’s talk about ethnic conflict and national politics. Take the example of one country, where an ethnic group makes up 80% of the population, yet the remaining four ethnic groups exert considerable political influence. These minority ethnic groups together have …Nov 19
Eric Lybeck sympathizes with the thousands of students who are going to be on the streets of London today protesting for ‘Free Education’. While declining public funding for universities and student debt are serious problems, Lybeck argues that the root of the injustice is not that wealth defines who can go to university or that working class students suffer over proportionately from paying back the debt. For him, the problem is that future generations will have to pay for what we think is a collective good.Oct 27
Clément Mouhot and Lorna Finlayson reflect on the enduring crisis in Palestine and respond to critics who say that singling out Israel is “misguided”, “myopic”, or “immoral”.Sep 24
Kara Walker’s installation at the Domino Sugar Refinery has received a lot of attention, much of it problematic. It is Walker’s ironic enlistment of racist stereotypes that gives her work its power, but this can also lead to inappropriate laughter and racist reactions. Kyle Stoneman explores how we tackle race and female bodies in a museum setting, looking at the installation and its impact.