In 2013, publisher Zed Books, based in north London, released The Global Minotaur as part of his Economic controversies series. The book detailed the deep history of the eurozone and global economic crises, and traced their roots to the Great Crash of 1929 and the restructuring of global finance in the 1970s. Its Greek author used the figure of the Cretan minotaur, fed on an endless stream of Athenian youth sent in homage, as a model of how Europe and the rest of the world had increasingly poured its capital into Wall Street, giving it financial muscle to explode in the ’80s – and drag everyone into the’ 00s.
In early 2015, this author, the economist Yanis Varoufakis, became public when he was appointed Greek Minister of Finance under the newly elected Syriza government, with the responsibility of renegotiating Greece’s financial relations with the EU. In just a few days, Zed published a free ebook, Europe after the Minotaur, an updated excerpt from the previous book covering the central points of Varoufakis’ thinking and strategy for restructuring European finance, just as Varoufakis himself was beginning to put them into practice, under enormous media scrutiny. .
The speed with which Zed was able to respond to world events was made possible by electronic publishing, but its implementation owed just as much to Zed’s unique structure and goals. Zed is a collective, owned and managed by all of its employees, who receive equal pay, and âcollective decision-making means ministerial decisions can be made while easily using the expertise of people in different departmentsâ. Zed’s structure is political and supports its political goals: to expand access and engagement with contemporary politics and economics. As in the case of Europe after the Minotaur, digital projects can be accelerated within the corporate structure, using digital technology to have an impact that goes beyond simply changing the way we read.