RSM welcomes Malcolm Harris and Erik Baker for a discussion of Palo Alto: A History of California, Capitalism, and the World, Harris’s national bestseller.
“Palo Alto’s weather is temperate, its people are educated and enterprising, its corporations are spiritually and materially ambitious and demonstrably world-changing. Palo Alto is also a haunted toxic waste dump built on stolen Indian burial grounds, and an integral part of the capitalist world system.
In PALO ALTO, the first comprehensive, global history of Silicon Valley, Malcolm Harris examines how and why Northern California evolved in the particular, consequential way it did, tracing the ideologies, technologies, and policies that have been engineered there over the course of 150 years of Anglo settler colonialism, from IQ tests to the “tragedy of the commons,” racial genetics, and “broken windows” theory. The Internet and computers, too. It’s a story about how a small American suburb became a powerful engine for economic growth and war, and how it came to lead the world into a surprisingly disastrous 21st century. PALO ALTO is an urgent and visionary history of the way we live now, one that ends with a clear-eyed, radical proposition for how we might begin to change course.”
Malcolm Harris is a freelance writer and the author of Kids These Days: The Making of Millennials and Shit is Fucked Up and Bullshit: History Since the End of History. He was born in Santa Cruz, CA and graduated from the University of Maryland.
Erik Baker is a lecturer in the Harvard History of Science Department and the director of the senior thesis program for the History & Science concentration. He received his PhD from Harvard and his BA from Northwestern University. His book project, Make Your Own Job: The Entrepreneurial Work Ethic in Modern America, explores the role of popular psychologists and management experts in transforming beliefs about work and success in the twentieth-century United States. He also writes widely for magazines such as n+1, The Baffler, and The Drift, where he is an associate editor.