The Self-Serving Myths of Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley’s innovations are not going to save the world — despite what its prophets predict.

Illustration by Angus Greig

Capitalism is an effervescent elixir. People clamour to catch a lift upward on the latest bubble even though deep down, most know there is only air beneath them. Stocks, tech valuations, real-estate speculation — it’s not the stuff of the economy that really matters, but rather, the timely exit from each overvalued market. A few people win, most lose, and the victors tend to be those already advantaged by their class position. Nevertheless, we suppress that knowledge, because facing the truth is too painful. It’s nice to have something to hope, and to work, for.

In his new book, Live, Work, Work, Work, Die: A Journey into the Savage Heart of Silicon Valley (Metropolitan Books, 2018), journalist and writer Corey Pein offers us a glimpse at the apotheosis of contemporary capitalism: Silicon Valley. The narrative cheekily casts Pein as a freshly unemployed prospector, going west to strike venture capital gold. The word is out that Silicon Valley is practically minting millionaires and billionaires — who’s to say he can’t be one of them?

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