Palo Alto: The city that's helped define America, capitalism and the world
In the heart of California's famed Silicon Valley is a city called Palo Alto.
Over recent decades, it's developed a mythical reputation as a promised land for innovators and tech entrepreneurs, becoming one of the wealthiest addresses on the planet along the way.
But according to an author who grew up in Palo Alto, behind this veneer is a city with a fraught past and a broken present.
"It's sunny 300 days a year. People there are really well-educated and tend to be very wealthy … [But] over the entire 160-year history of this place, it's pretty creepy at the same time," Malcolm Harris tells ABC RN's Late Night Live.
Harris unpicks and reassesses the story of his former city in a new book, Palo Alto: A History of California, Capitalism and the World.
"[It's the core] of modern American history … I was surprised just how much material I was finding and how central it ends up being to this second period of American history."
Today, Palo Alto and Silicon Valley more broadly are synonymous with the highs and lows of big tech. But its history stretches far back. 
For many centuries, the Ohlone Native American people lived in what is today this part of northern California.
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Then the outsiders arrived. First this land was part of the Spanish Empire, then part of Mexico and then part of the US (California became an American state in 1850).
All these groups committed violence against Native American peoples – and Harris stresses this includes the Anglo-Americans.
"The history involves really brutal acts of genocide that happened in the second half of the 19th century by Anglo-American colonisers [in this area]," Harris says.
"And despite there being a ban on slavery in California as a state … capitalists find ways to enslave [Indigenous people] and then make workers dependent upon them," he says.
"They find ways to create wage slavery."
Harris claims exploitation and profiteering became a mainstay in California – setting the stage for the coming centuries.
And Harris points out that even capitalism's arch rival Karl Marx noticed.
When Marx wrote about California in a letter to a friend in 1880, he said: "Nowhere else has the upheaval most shamelessly caused by capitalist centralisation taken place with such speed".
In 1891, a university opened on Palo Alto farmland. It would come to define the city, for better or, in some cases, for worse.
Stanford University was founded by railroad tycoon Leland Stanford and his wife Jane Stanford, and named in memory of their son Leland Stanford Jr, who died young.
Its first president was David Starr Jordan, who researched ichthyology, or the study of fish. But he also had a much darker interest.
"[He was] a world-renowned eugenicist," Harris says.
With Jordan at the helm, "Stanford became a real centre of eugenics in the US and even in the world … into the 20th century," Harris says.
"This is in the pre-Hitler period where German eugenicists and Californian eugenicists were collaborating. They [later] find themselves in conflict as the Germans decide they will try and conquer the world – those were the implications of eugenics."
The university has since renamed the campus spaces that were named after Jordan.
As the 20th century progressed, Stanford University continued to define Palo Alto.
"In the radio age … Stanford was involved in the production of cutting-edge technology, starting with Federal Telegraph, which is a company that produced the first vacuum triodes – the precursor to the transistor," Harris says.
He says Stanford's mining and engineering graduates exported the "California model" of resource exploitation to the rest of the country and the world.
"Including, and particularly, Australia, and that comes in large part through one of the members of the first class at Stanford University, who was a mining engineer by the name of Herbert Hoover, who later became president of the US."
Hoover also gave his name to the Hoover Institution at Stanford, an important part of the future Republican Party.
"One of the most important backrooms in the conservative political complex is at Stanford University … It was created as this bulwark of anti-communism by Hoover, who really took the anti-colonial and left-wing revolts around the world personally," he says.
Harris says certain technological developments from Stanford had massive geopolitical effects.
"People might think of the nuclear missile as this large metal object full of explosives, but in terms of its composition by value, so much of that is the cutting-edge electronics," he says.
"The first generation of silicon chips [that were developed there] all go into the Minuteman I nuclear missile."
Palo Alto and its surrounds gradually became known as Silicon Valley (named after the region's association with silicon-based transistors and chips).
Palo Alto alone is the birthplace or has been the HQ of a long list of significant tech companies, including Hewlett-Packard (HP), Google, Apple, Facebook, Tesla and PayPal.
Landmarks of this legendary past remain. For example, the garage where HP was founded in the 1930s has since been designated a California Historical Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
While some may say these companies have changed our lives for the better, Harris disagrees.
"In the late 1990s or early 2000s, there was this promise that efficiencies of information technology would mean that, as consumers, we would get better things for less money, faster," he says.
"And instead, we might have gotten faster, but it's more money and worse things."
Harris, who uses much of his book to take down what capitalism has meant for the US, says new tech is replicating a system which he claims is flawed.
"The innovations that they keep coming up with are so often about the labour relations rather than any sort of technological improvement. Instead, efficiency is derived through attacks on labour."
Behind the pastel colours and showy launches of Silicon Valley, there's a stark economic divide, which Harris says is a microcosm of the country more broadly.
Palo Alto is one of the most expensive areas in the US and the world. But just across the highway is East Palo Alto, where little if any of Silicon Valley's prosperity has flowed.
"Highway 101, which runs through Palo Alto, is really a tool of what we call ghettoisation, where it made the economic and racial division of the town concrete … It split the town permanently in half," he says.
"East Palo Alto begins as a black part of town. And … you see Mexican and Central American immigrants, as well as Pacific Islanders, occupy it as well."
Harris says services are limited there and many opportunities, which are available a few neighbourhoods away, do not exist.
The latest chapter in Silicon Valley's story is the recent collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank.
Harris says this fits into the overall story of the area and predicts what is to come.
"If you look at the history, at the end of all these bubbles that are supposed to pop in Silicon Valley, people just keep getting richer … They keep accumulating more," he says.
"So I think if we look a year or two down the line from now, the Silicon Valley Bank collapse isn't going to be a hit to Silicon Valley, it's just going to be another one step backwards, then [companies] take some steps forward."
Harris hopes for a symbolic change in the area – even if it seems highly unlikely. He'd like to see Stanford University return the land it sits on to the Ohlone Native American group.
"I don't think that they are able to, within their structures, return all 8,000 acres or all US$30 billion ($45 billion) of the endowment," he says.
"But … Stanford has an opportunity to at least start moving in a direction of repair by ceding some of that land back, and ceding some of those resources back."
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