The Lawfare Podcast: Crack-Up Capitalism with Quinn Slobodian

By Jen Patja Howell
Thursday, May 18, 2023, 5:01 AM

Think about the world. You might be picturing a globe in a classroom, with its patchwork of multi-colored nations. Or perhaps you have an image of a 2-D map in your head, the famous Mercator projection, a static jigsaw puzzle of borders and countries. From elementary school classrooms to the Olympic stage, the globe and the map tell a story of how the world works, one in which state sovereignty reigns supreme, from the Treaty of Westphalia until now. 

But what if that’s only part of the story? As Quinn Slobodian writes, “The modern world is pockmarked, perforated, tattered and jagged, ripped up and pinpricked. Inside the containers of nations are unusual legal spaces, anomalous territories and peculiar jurisdictions.”

Lawfare Managing Editor Tyler McBrien spoke with Quinn, Professor of History at Wellesley College, to discuss his new book, “Crack-Up Capitalism: Market Radicals and the Dream of a World Without Democracy.” They talked about some of these sites of exception—the city-states, havens, enclaves, free ports, high-tech parks, duty-free districts, and other spaces Quinn calls zones; why states give up these slivers of sovereignty; and how the world actually works, as Quinn sees it.