Thiel, Tech and the Hard Right Turn

Everything in our politics and society today seems stuck, hanging, thrusting forward in a foreboding moment of transition in which essentially nothing seems good but just where it’s all going isn’t at all clear. One of the big transitions is the shift of the tech world from its general indifference to politics in the first decade of the century, to a generally D-aligned engagement, to one that is increasingly but by no means universally aligned with the right and the hard right. In general many of us are accustomed to think of the tech high flyers as reflexively laissez-faire on economics while being cosmopolitan/libertarian on social issues. That latter stance isn’t liberalism, though it’s fairly close in the context of U.S. politics. This is changing rapidly, however, and I want to note some particulars about a development you may have heard about.

Blake Masters is a Trumpite candidate for Senate from Arizona. He’s not the frontrunner but he’s definitely in the mix. He wants states to again be able to outlaw contraception, though he says he has no personal opposition to contraception and would not support laws banning it. But he posted on his website that if he is elected he will only vote to confirm judges “who understand that Roe and Griswold  and Casey were wrongly decided, and that there is no constitutional right to abortion.”

Well, Masters is another of Peter Thiel’s favored candidates, like JD Vance. Indeed, he’s the President of Thiel’s foundation and coauthored a book with him. He’s a VC himself. As near as I can tell his entire career from law school has been tied to Thiel.

I generally don’t think of even the far right folks from the tech world being terribly hung up about banning contraception. And Masters isn’t necessarily representative of tech or VCs in this sense. But he’s no exception or outlier either. I assume Masters must just be a conservative in ways that predate his involvement with Thiel and even with the tech and VC world. But this is still the direction of things. Anti-democratic thinking, authoritarianism and embrace of rightist revanchism are building rapidly in this milieu which controls enough capital to have a thundering voice in our politics going forward. What seemed like outliers almost a decade ago, the acolytes around Curtis Yarvin’s blog and the like, now seem like they’re moving to the center of the action.

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