“In every revolution, there are winners and losers. Every dystopia is a utopia for somebody else. It just depends where you are. Are you in the class that benefits, or are you in the class that’s not?”
– Ken Liu
“It took me a while to read this piece,” I just wrote to my son Meritt, who helps craft social media strategy on The Wiggin Sessions, “I don’t know any of the characters. It seemed strange to me, but it echoes some of the stuff I’ve been thinking about and writing since talking to John Robb, this week…”
The article, Inside the New Right, Where Peter Thiel Is Placing His Biggest Bets, is from Vanity Fair.
Peter Thiel, one of the founders of PayPal, whom we’ll discuss at length next week, has been funding a group of political candidates Vanity Fair loosely describes as members of the New Right – made up primarily of wealthy-ish middle class 20 and 30-something’s.
The New Right’s worldview, according to author James Pogue, “runs counter to the American narrative of the last century – that economic growth and technological innovation inevitably lead us toward a better future.”
Not so, say this new breed of non-Trump thinkers on the right side of the political spectrum.
Rather, they see something much more bleak: a world in which “individualist, liberal ideology, increasingly bureaucratic governments and big tech are all combining into a world that is tyrannical, chaotic, and devoid of systems of value and morality that give human life richness and meaning.”
One of the characters in the story, Blake Masters, a 30-something running for a Senate seat in Arizona, calls it a “dystopian hell-world.”
You may recall, after speaking to John Robb for an hour or so, I was left wondering how you can hold this kind of world view and continue to think and write every day. It’s a bleak one.
Masters, for his part, is running for the Senate seat on a platform similar to the antitrust laws passed during the Gilded Age… or the application of the Sherman Antitrust Laws which broke up the communications giant AT&T in 1984. He’s proposing the tech giants get disassembled in a similar way to preserve first amendment rights to free speech among other things.
John Robb’s own work advocating digital rights is reminiscent of this move to curb the power of big tech to deplatform anyone who disagrees with their worldview. “I don’t really have an opinion yet,” I told my son, “on the so-called New Right, but I do share their skepticism that all technology leads to ‘progress’.”
Interesting, too, that Peter Thiel who’s become a billionaire through PayPal and his Palantir venture capital firm, has funded two Senate candidacies for those who share a skepticism of technological “progress”. (If you’ve had the chance to read it, our own Financial Reckoning Day takes on the idea of progress in chapter two.)
“It seems like a frightening thing to be considering on a daily basis,” I said to John Robb during our interview, “as you write and talk to people.”
“It sucks being right, too,” Mr. Robb replied. “We’re already seeing this network influence corporate behavior, and we don’t have any protections in our society against corporate excesses for the most part. Like we do against government excess, meaning, freedom of speech and speedy resolution of any kind of charge being levied against us. Corporations can disconnect you and not tell you. Most of the people I know that have been disconnected by Facebook and others, the only reason they got reconnected is because they knew somebody on the backside, inside the corporate structure that was able to intervene on their behalf.”
As you know, we were discussing John’s view of a global “network swarm” as it pertains to the response to the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. Our discussion got far deeper and wider ranging than the hot war. Check it out here, if you haven’t already.
Follow your bliss,
Founder, The Wiggin Sessions
P.S. We’ll be talking a lot about Peter Thiel and Elon Musk next week when we welcome Jimmy Soni to the Wiggin Sessions. Jimmy is the author of The Founders: The Story of PayPal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley. You’ll likely be as surprised as I was where some of these founders are placing their own money right now.