Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Thiel speech

I suppose one would not expect Gawker to give a glowing review of Peter Thiel's speech yesterday, but yes, they were underwhelmed.  (Something I noticed was that the Convention floor barely seemed to be paying attention for the first 2 or 3 minutes of a 6 minute speech.  He also is pretty terrible at teleprompter delivery.)

The Gawker article notes that Thiel makes for a peculiar libertarian, in that he longs for the days of some ultra big government projects such as Apollo.  But I see today that  he has said before that he's not ideological on the matter of size of government.  I suppose that should make me think he's at least an independent thinker, but actually it makes me think more that he's just a purely opportunistic, self interested one - he's a fan of space exploration generally, but because he has that odd idea that space colonies will, of course, establish a techno based libertarian utopia.  It probably comes from taking Heinlein too seriously, and I think it was a theme in Kim Stanley Robertson's Mars trilogy too?  (I only read the first book, though - I don't think he's that entertaining as a writer.)

Anyway, I just can't take Thiel seriously in light of his 2009 essay at Cato Unbound, where he dissed democracy, and regretted women got the vote because they're generally too pragmatic to be libertarian. (Well, you tell me what he meant if you think I'm being unfair.)  And in his postscript to that article, he wrote this, the first three sentences of which makes a joke of his support of a candidate who (with the one exception of not caring much about LGBT issues) is as intensely and deliberately divisive as possible:
I believe that politics is way too intense. That’s why I’m a libertarian. Politics gets people angry, destroys relationships, and polarizes peoples’ vision: the world is us versus them; good people versus the other. Politics is about interfering with other people’s lives without their consent. That’s probably why, in the past, libertarians have made little progress in the political sphere. Thus, I advocate focusing energy elsewhere, onto peaceful projects that some consider utopian.
He's also a fence sitter on climate change, although because nuclear power is all Gee Whiz technology, he still advocates for its massive expansion anyway.

I see that The Atlantic has a good article explaining his nonsensical positions, especially his Trump support.  Perhaps I should have just linked to that...

Update:   Vox criticised Thiel's speech and position, too, and included this paragraph:
It’s not just that Trump has a long string of business failures, from Atlantic City casinos to Trump steaks. Thiel himself described Trump as "symptomatic of everything that is wrong with New York City" just two years ago — he’s under no illusions that Trump is a great businessman.

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