Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Peter Thiel Is Still Winner-Whining and Tech-Evangelizing But People Just Aren't Buying It Anymore

Libertechbrotarian gAy-list bigot and Singularitarian Robot Cultist Peter Thiel is still winner-whining about how bad things are for the 1% and how gizmo-fetishizing popular culture isn't worshiping skim-scam celebrity tech-CEOs like him enough for all the shitty apps they keep repackaging as novelty for their own profit-taking and our own good, it seems. I dispensed with this nonsense at length already here, but I draw your attention to this latest lame retread of his evangelizing over at SFGate simply because the comments are so interesting. Of course, every one of the handful of dead-ender right-wingnuts who still live in the Bay Area do chime in to declare anybody who disagrees with Thiel must be a communist in love with Stalin because derp, but I was thrilled to see, as I have been seeing more and more lately, what I have been pining to see for years: a whole lot of people now see futurological flim-flammery as marketing hyperbole and now see libertopian pieties as rationalizations for authoritarian plutocracy and are even seeing connections between the the can-do bullshit of vacuous promises from incumbent elites of techno-transcendence and spontaneous market order.

I will add that I was a bit surprised to see Thiel declare Star Trek a possible exception to the general anti-technology bias he discerns in Hollywood's literally unending pageant of technicolor techno-pornographic advertorial drooling. Quite apart from the self-refuting hilarity of declaring as an "exception" to a science-fictional trend what happens to be the single greatest most abiding more or less definitive science fiction phenomenon presumably under discussion, it is well worth noting that it is the Federation's tolerant multicultural democratic socialism that has made technology more progressive than not in the Star Trek universe. Progress is a political phenomenon, not a technical one. It is only in the equitable distribution of costs, risks, and benefits of technoscientific change to all the stakeholders of that change that "technology" can be regarded as a progressive force. This is, of course, a recurring recognition and theme in Star Trek. Thiel himself is famously opposed to everything the Federation stands for, that is to say to all of the devotion to equity and diversity enabling technoscience in the hands of people devoted to the common good to be a force for good in the first place. It is true, of course, that the Federation often fails to live up to its own ideals in order to provide the villains and plot-twists that enable Star Trek to function as a critical comment on our own intolerance and greed and aggression and short-sightedness today (more or less the mission of all the shows and missions -- especially if we pretend Enterprise, the mercifully brief experiment in George W. Bush-accessible Trek fail never happened) -- but if in those moments Star Trek might seem to be a bit too "anti-technology" for Thiel's tastes it is only because Star Trek is, to speak bluntly, being anti-Thiel most of all, and hence most truly itself.


Jas Johl said...

I very much appreciated this. I recently came across Thiel's book he wrote while at Stanford:

This guy is all kinds of delusional.

Dale Carrico said...

Good to hear from you! How long has it been?