Crack-Up Capitalism: Market Radicals and the Dream of a World Without Democracy (Paperback)
  • Crack-Up Capitalism: Market Radicals and the Dream of a World Without Democracy (Paperback)

Crack-Up Capitalism: Market Radicals and the Dream of a World Without Democracy (Paperback)

Paperback 352 Pages
Published: 04/04/2024
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'Gonzo brilliance ... unique and highly entertaining' Financial Times

'Revelatory reading' Adam Tooze, author of Crashed

'After reading Quinn Slobodian's new book, you are not likely to think about capitalism the same way' Jacobin

Look at a map of the world and you'll see a neat patchwork of nation-states. But this is not where power actually resides. From the 1990s onwards, globalization has shattered the map, leading to an explosion of new legal entities: tax havens, free ports, city-states, gated enclaves and special economic zones. These new spaces are freed from ordinary forms of regulation, taxation and mutual obligation - and with them, ultracapitalists believe that it is possible to escape the bonds of democratic government and oversight altogether.

Historian Quinn Slobodian follows the most notorious radical libertarians - from Milton Friedman to Peter Thiel - around the globe as they search for the perfect home for their free market fantasy. The hunt leads from Hong Kong in the 1970s to South Africa in the late days of apartheid, from the neo-Confederate South to the medieval City of London, and finally into the world's oceans and war zones, charting the relentless quest for a blank slate where capitalism and democracy can be finally uncoupled.

Crack-Up Capitalism is a propulsive history of the recent past, and an alarming view of our near future.

Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
ISBN: 9780141993768
Number of pages: 352
Weight: 259 g
Dimensions: 197 x 128 x 20 mm


Timely and important, eye-opening ... Slobodian has done us a great service, identifying a phenomenon that needs unmasking. - Will Hutton, The Observer

Gonzo brilliance ... Unique and highly entertaining. - Felix Martin, Financial Times

Excellent ... A new generation of swashbuckling billionaires entertain the prospect of secession, using their money to realize fantasies of escape, whether through seasteading or spaceships. - Jennifer Szalai, New York Times

After reading historian Quinn Slobodian's new book, you are not likely to think about capitalism the same way ... great fun to read ... an important guide to the current struggle over how the ruling class rules. And Slobodian ultimately raises the question of whether there are cracks in the system, or whether the cracks are the system. - Max B. Sawicky, Jacobin

An important historical corrective to the myths, fantasies and occlusions that have allowed dystopias such as Dubai to be presented as models for "the west" to learn from. Many of the men whose manifestos and dreams Slobodian surveys simply don't know what they're talking about. One wonders if they ever wanted to learn in the first place. - William Davies, The Guardian

Ranging from Liechtenstein to Somalia, and from Hong Kong to Silicon Valley, Quinn Slobodian's Crack-Up Capitalism exposes how zones of exception promise capitalism an escape from the confines of the modern state and the constraints of democracy. Revelatory reading. A worthy successor to Slobodian's brilliant Globalists. - Adam Tooze, author of Crashed

Slobodian has written a fascinating account of the sheer hubris of the market radicals who have sought to free capitalism from democracy first by transforming the world's political geography and now by abandoning the material world. He tells this important story with verve and considerable insight. - Helen Thompson

Lively ... an engaging and fluently written account of the dreams of many philosophers, economists and, frankly, oddballs who have grown impatient with the shackles of the big state. ... Slobodian is keen to highlight the often anti-democratic impulses of libertarian thinkers. ... While the yearning is simple and admirable, the road map to reaching utopia is quite complicated. - Kwasi Kwarteng, The Spectator

Compelling ... a challenge not just to traditional narratives of political power, but also to liberal assumptions about freedom. - Kojo Koram, Times Literary Supplement

A fascinating and important book, which brings to the surface some of the deepest political undercurrents of our times. Crack-Up Capitalism is an exemplary use of history to illuminate the present, forcing us to reassess what we thought we knew about the contemporary world. - Hari Kunzru, author of Red Pill

Revelatory. In this head-spinner of a book, Quinn Slobodian shows how zones, islands, micronations, gated communities, and cyber realms are remaking our planet. The capitalist future they portend isn't a borderless utopia but a jurisdictional shatter belt, where democracy is a distant dream. - Daniel Immerwahr, author of How to Hide an Empire

With each new book, Quinn Slobodian adds extraordinary new detail to his ongoing account of 21st-century political and economic arrangements. Crack-up Capitalism is concerned with the "zones" of global space: the micro-divisions and gradations from which the real atomic force of our system derives. It's very convincing: get ready to throw out all previous maps. - Rana Dasgupta

In Crack-Up Capitalism, Quinn Slobodian takes us on a wild ride through the fenced-in compounds and failed states of today's capitalist world. This sharp and wickedly entertaining book is a necessary field guide to the LARPers, bloggers, and grifters of the libertarian and anarcho-capitalist world, a warning that they are closer to fulfilling their fantasies than we might think, and a clarion call for collective action to preserve - and greatly expand - democracy as we know it. - Sarah Jaffe, author of Work Won’t Love You Back

Richly documented exposé ... An insightful piercing of the veil of nation-states to reveal capitalism's frightening, anti-democratic tendencies. - Kirkus

A gifted storyteller ... a critical wake-up call .... revealing the roots of a rot many have hitherto been unable to name and confront. By opening that portal, Slobodian trusts us to take the next steps, confident that in knowing the beast, we might better be able to slay it. - Quill & Quire

Slobodian's vivid description of zones shows us why our political system can no longer be said to be democratic ... Slobodian wakes us up to democracy's underthrow: decentralization is a strategy for its unraveling, not its salvation. - Jodi Dean, Los Angeles Review of Books

Democracy is already facing numerous threats from factions on the right who question the legitimacy of election results that don't go their way. Crack-Up Capitalism is a reminder that this political challenge is only one of a number of fronts in the sustained attack on American democracy. - Adam M. Lowenstein, The Atlantic

A sound intellectual investment, an insightful read ... Would definitely recommend. - The British Army Review

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