skinny on the outside, fat on the inside

La Monumental, Barcelona, Spain.

Rodarte S/S 2018.

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably heard of Peter Thiel, and if you’ve heard of Peter Thiel you surely have opinions. You might see him as a prolific venture capitalist, a savvy political strategist, and a visionary investor in Facebook, SpaceX, Palantir, etc. You might think he’s the devil incarnate for his role supporting the Trump transition, his avowed distaste for popular democracy, and his bald profiteering off of invasive tracking technologies.

I’m not here to weigh in on whether Peter Thiel is a goody or a baddy. But I do have some thoughts on the nature of his famous “turn” from outspoken libertarian to Trump-adjacent nationalist over the past half-decade. So, at the risk of giving him more credit as a political thinker than he deserves, here goes. 

Thiel was recently in the news because of some statements he made about how Bitcoin is being bought and sold. While claiming to be pro-cryptocurrency— that’s money produced and distributed ostensibly outside the clutches of the state—he portrayed the most important such currency as a potential threat to American security.

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These days we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Paris Commune which lasted exactly 2 months and 10 days (from March 18 till May 28 1871). After the infamous defeat of France in the war with Germany, with Germany army at the doors of Paris, the people of Paris took over and quickly organized outside the coordinates of existing state power. Once the French government forces crashed the Paris Commune (and killed many Communards in the so-called “Bloody Week”), the government organized an inquest into the causes of the uprising: “The inquest concluded that the main cause of the insurrection was a lack of belief in God, and that this problem had to be corrected immediately. It was decided that a moral revival was needed, and a key part of this was deporting 4,500 Communards to New Caledonia. There was a two-part goal in this: the government also hoped that the Communards would civilize the native Kanak people on the island, and that being exposed to the order of nature would return the Communards to the side of ‘good’.”

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Grande Arche, Paris.

The Journal of Controversial Ideas offers a forum for careful, rigorous, unpolemical discussion of issues that are widely considered controversial, in the sense that certain views about them might be regarded by many people as morally, socially, or ideologically objectionable or offensive. The journal offers authors the option to publish their articles under a pseudonym, in order to protect themselves from threats to their careers or physical safety.  We hope that this will also encourage readers to attend to the arguments and evidence in an essay rather than to who wrote it. Pseudonymous authors may choose to claim the authorship of their work at a later time, or to reveal it only to selected people (such as employers or prospective employers), or to keep their identity undisclosed indefinitely. Standard submissions using the authors’ actual names are also encouraged.

We welcome submissions in all areas of academic research insofar as the topics discussed are relevant to society at large.

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I would like to challenge the idea of “being informed” about national and international politics as something that we, as citizens, should strive for and value.

Since the Feb. 1 military coup, Myanmar has rapidly destabilized into widespread protests and indiscriminate violence. According to the monitoring group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, at least 614 protesters have been killed and 2,857 detained as of April 8. The Tatmadaw, as Myanmar’s military is called, appears unwilling to back down despite growing international pressure.

Beyond the protests in the cities, however, the role that Myanmar’s ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) choose to adopt could become key to the country’s long-term stability. As the U.N. special envoy for Myanmar warned, the situation could descend into an outright civil war, with profound implications not only for the people of Myanmar but also for regional stability.

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Farmers across France will receive government support after the agriculture minister acknowledged the damage the cold had wreaked on crops; with the cold snap set to continue across the country.

Minister of Agriculture Julien Denormandie confirmed a state of “calamité agricole” - or farming disaster - yesterday (April 8), to acknowledge the damage that many farmers had suffered to their crops as a result of the freezing weather.

He told FranceInfo: “[We confirm] the implementation of what we call the calamité agricole scheme

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Stará Plynárna, Hřensko, Czech Republic.

Lanvin Fall 2021.

Dependence of our society on digital infrastructures is growing daily, confronting us with an urgent task of building ethical and democratic alternatives to monopolistic big-tech platforms. We call upon the scientific community to put our talents to this challenge by creating decentralised infrastructures for trust-based economic and social cooperation. We empirically demonstrate that a public infrastructure to establish trust between peers in decentralized networks is possible at significant scale. Our work is based on over 15 years of improving our distributed systems which were used by more than a million people. We present six stringent criteria for designing trustworthy infrastructure, called zero-server architecture. Adhering to these principles, we designed a novel trustworthy networking infrastructure, called P2P-Apps. It enables smartphone apps to communicate without any servers, by forming a scalable overlay that uses our generic mechanism to build trust between peers, Trustchain. P2P-Apps are generic and can be expanded to serve as an alternative to centralized infrastructure owned by Big Tech.

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Seen from a distance, Die LINKE might seem pretty cool: A party that opposes war, capitalism, and all border controls gets up to 10 percent in national elections. But it is also a government party, and has applied racist and neoliberal policies since its founding. What would Rosa Luxemburg say?