The hard-working staff here at Spoiler Alerts will be in Hong Kong for most of this week to give a variety of talks, including one on "The Ideas Industry," which I may or may not have mentioned will be out in paperback this December.
It occurs to me, however, that a few books have come out since "The Ideas Industry" that touch on similar themes. These books are less competitors than complements. The authors develop themes about the marketplace of ideas that mesh well with the arguments I made. The point is, if you liked "The Ideas Industry," then I suspect that you will also like these three books, so go and read them:
1. Franklin Foer, "World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech." "The Ideas Industry" referenced some of the odder intellectual habits that Silicon Valley founders tend to possess. Foer's book, which came out last year, looks at this in much greater detail. I talked with Foer briefly about his project as I was putting the finishing touches on "The Ideas Industry," and I remember wishing that I could have read his book before finishing my own. Silicon Valley founders will continue to find themselves flaming out or under the microscope. Foer's book will be an invaluable guide to how they found themselves in this mess.
2. Brink Lindsey and Steven M. Teles, "The Captured Economy: How the Powerful Enrich Themselves, Slow Down Growth, and Increase Inequality." Two of my favorite books from this century are Lindsey's "Against the Dead Hand" and Teles's "Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement." Here they join forces to tackle how, exactly, the United States has wound up in a world of low growth and high inequality. This matters greatly for the marketplace of ideas, as these sources of malaise are a key driver for thought leaders declaring that the status quo is broken. Lindsey and Teles argue that what's happening is a captured political system in which the government stacks the deck for those at the top. The problem is, neither major party recognizes the problem. They write that "it is this bipartisan blind spot that helps explain the market for a huckster like Donald Trump." I want to read more on this topic.
3. Anand Giridharadas, "Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World." "The Ideas Industry" argued that the rise of plutocrats was skewing the marketplace for ideas in specific and not-terribly-healthy ways. Giridharadas pushes much harder on this point, arguing that philanthrocapitalists are preventing more serious reforms of the global economy. While acknowledging that do-gooders actually do some good, his book also points out the ways that this kind of philanthropy forestalls debates about the concentration of income and wealth at the top. Like Lindsey and Teles's book, there is a Trump angle here as well. Giridharadas writes, "Trump is the reductio ad absurdum of a culture that tasks elites with reforming the very systems that have made them and left others in the dust." I do not know if I am going to agree with such a radical claim, but I am damn sure going to take it seriously.