What We Are Reading Today: Varoufakis on how Marx predicted our present crisis

Updated 23 April 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Varoufakis on how Marx predicted our present crisis

‘Marx predicted our present crisis and points the way out,’  writes Yanis Varoufakis in The Guardian’s Long Read Series.

Most people think communism has been consigned to the dustbin of history, but Yanis Varoufakis, former Greek finance minister, goes back to the source and examines “The Communist Manifesto,” written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, and published in 1848.

Varoufakis said the book remains unsurpassed as a work of literature that foresaw the predatory global capitalism of the 21st century.

“Today, a similar dilemma faces young people: conform to an established order that is crumbling and incapable of reproducing itself, or oppose it, at considerable personal cost, in search of new ways of working, playing and living together?” Varoufakis wrote. “Even though communist parties have disappeared almost entirely from the political scene, the spirit of communism driving the manifesto is proving hard to silence.”

Marx and Engels forecast that a powerful minority would prove “unfit to rule” over polarized societies.

“The manifesto gives its 21st-century reader an opportunity to see through this mess and to recognize what needs to be done so that the majority can escape from discontent into new social arrangements,” Varoufakis said.


What We Are Reading Today: The Discrete Charm of the Machine by Ken Steiglitz

Updated 17 January 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: The Discrete Charm of the Machine by Ken Steiglitz

A few short decades ago, we were informed by the smooth signals of analog television and radio; we communicated using our analog telephones; and we even computed with analog computers.

Today our world is digital, built with zeros and ones.

Why did this revolution occur? The Discrete Charm of the Machine explains, in an engaging and accessible manner, the varied physical and logical reasons behind this radical transformation, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.

The spark of individual genius shines through this story of innovation: The stored program of Jacquard’s loom; Charles Babbage’s logical branching; Alan Turing’s brilliant abstraction of the discrete machine; Harry Nyquist’s foundation for digital signal processing; Claude Shannon’s breakthrough insights into the meaning of information and bandwidth; and Richard Feynman’s prescient proposals for nanotechnology and quantum computing. Ken Steiglitz follows the progression of these ideas in the building of our digital world.