Against the Vortex: 
Zardoz and Degrowth Utopias in the Seventies and Today 
By Anthony Galluzzo 
Zer0 Books, 88 pages, $9.95

Walking around in New York in 2024 is an odd experience. While the framework of street life, to the naked eye, is largely the same as it was, say, 20 years ago, there are flashes—touches—of dystopian science fiction. Uptown, where I live, it’s genuinely dangerous to cross the street, because half a dozen electric bikes on their way to deliver DoorDash or an equivalent product speed by, indifferent to human life: theirs and yours.

Just the other day, I saw a 4-year-old step into the street and get screamed at by a man on an electric scooter who refused to slow down. The child wasn’t struck, thankfully, but the whole encounter happened so fast that life just continued on, as if this were perfectly normal. But of course, this isn’t normal. A semi-permanent underclass of migrants serves the upper middle class of tech, finance, law, medicine, and government. The delivery cyclist racing through the Upper East Side doesn’t acknowledge pedestrians not only because of the imperative to maximize profit (though that’s part of it), but because an invisible barrier separates the service worker from the affluent elite he serves; they exist in separate spheres. Members of the overclass might tip the delivery guy or the Uber driver or the barista, but they won’t talk to him.

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