Cyberculture to Counterculture – Fred Turner

This is my favourite book of the year. This book seeks to answer the question: why do technology and the internet have a symbolic connection with ‘hip’ culture, LSD and eastern spirituality? What it finds is that the values of the new communalists in the 60s have values that make technology appealing.

The commune building subculture sought to build a world that was united, without hierarchies and subordination, and one where the whole globe lives as one big community in peace and harmony. These values then got co-opted by technologist and used for marketing their products. This, then, gave ideological cover to deregulation in the tech industry and the gig-economy, characterised by short-term insecure work, to play a growing role in our economy. This book is vital in debunking the mythologies, that are extremely prevalent today, that surround tech-entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk. Biel Schreuder Obiols

Elon Musk at Bloomberg Vanity Fair After Party 2015.

Storyville: The Black Panther Party – BBC 4 

I came across this documentary flicking through the channels as one does during lockdown. It gave a good overview of the key figures in the Black Panther Party using archival footage and the voices of journalists, former and current Black Panther members, white supporters, the police and the FBI.

It did not hold back on covering the monstrosities committed by the US state, such as the murder of Frederick Hampton. I feel it’s important we understand this history if we want to make things right today. I did think the end of the documentary put a lot of blame on Huey Newton for the derailing of the movement and I wonder whether there could have been a more nuanced analysis. Nonetheless, this is a vibrant and engaging chronicle of the Black Panther movement. If you are like me and feel there were omissions or misrepresentations in your schools’ syllabus on black civil rights movements, give this a go. Ellie Stainforth-Mallison

Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Black Panther Party, at John Sinclair Freedom Rally

Liquid Modernity – Zygmunt Bauman

In this book, Bauman looks at the essential characteristic of late modern society. He takes a different perspective to postmodern thinkers, arguing that the unique features of society today are an outcome of an extension in the values of modernity, rather than the result of a paradigmatic shift beyond modernity, as postmodernists argue. It primarily focuses on how modernity ‘liquifies’ institutions and hierarchies, creating a more fluid, individualised society. It covers a vast range of topics including work, community, self-identity, nationalism, war and our relationship with time and space. Biel Schreuder Obiols

Photo-credits (Elon Musk) from Haddad Media. Under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license.

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