The blogosphere is abuzz with the revelation that the James O'Keefe "documentary" is a fraud. This documentary purportedly shows ACORN employees advising O'Keefe and another woman (who supposedly dressed and presented themselves as a pimp and a prostitute) on how to start a child prostitution ring. As a direct result of this "documentary," Congress voted to cut federal funding for ACORN, and, although that action was later overturned, ACORN almost went into bankruptcy. After heavy investigations and allegations of criminal activity (violations of the Invasion of Privacy Act), O'Keefe turned over the full, unedited tapes to avoid prosecution. These tapes show that the "documentary" was heavily edited and that none of the employees advised him on establishing a child prostitution ring. Rather, one employee attempted to gather information on O'Keefe and later contacted law enforcement about the incident. Another employee, supposedly advising O'Keefe's associate on the child prostitution ring, was actually advising her on getting a home loan. More here.
It's definitely scandalous, but it's even more interesting to me, because there is an aspect of this story that involves the transhumanist movement. What you may not know is that Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook, directly or indirectly funded O'Keefe. Thiel has admitted to giving O'Keefe $10,000, but denied knowing anything about the documentary. He claimed it was for another project.
Whether Thiel donated money directly to the production of the documentary or to another O'Keefe project, this is arguing over a technicality. Shrewd investors are good at complicating the paper trail. It is abundantly clear that the spirit of Thiel's intentions was to undermine an organization that does a lot of good for poor people who are underrepresented in the democratic process. You see, poor people vote against Thiel's privileged interests, just like women do, which is why he appears to hold them and democracy itself in contempt: "Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the [voting] franchise to women — two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians — have rendered the notion of 'capitalist democracy' into an oxymoron." His solution is to escape the very system that made him rich: "The critical question then becomes one of means, of how to escape not via politics but beyond it. Because there are no truly free places left in our world, I suspect that the mode for escape must involve some sort of new and hitherto untried process that leads us to some undiscovered country..."
This sheds some light on why he's an investor in the Seasteading Institute, and transhumanism-affiliated organizations like The Singularity Institute and The Methuselah Foundation. The main point here is that Peter Thiel is a quintessential example of the privileged selfish interests that guide certain currents of transhumanist thought. He is literally the rich, white guy who hates democracy that Dale Carrico so often writes about, when he excoriates the transhumanist community. Thiel wants to build artificial islands to escape Western civilization, John Galt style, and establish an anarcho-capitalist dreamland. Democracy is tyranny on the rich and must be abandoned.
Follow the link to Martin's Veritas Curat to read the whole piece, which continues on from there.
Two pieces of mine in which I have taken up these issues myself are Dispatches from Libertopia: Going Galt on the High Seas (To Infinity and Beyond!) and Democracy at the Transhumanapalooza, in which Thiel has a cameo, among other Ayn Raelian types.