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Is Trump mulling Peter Thiel for a top intelligence advisory post? (vanityfair.com)
132 points by dlp211 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 169 comments



Rumours of Theils maleavolence are greatly exaggerated. His bio better resembles a modern day Ross Perot, libertarian and all. Network analysis and data mining inteilligence toolsets were used in the intel comminity lkng before Palantir, same as mercenaries were vighting foreign wars ling before Blackwater. A real problem in government is lack of domain expetise in oversight. Heres a chance to have some of that if the article is correct.


Perot was in favor of direct democracy, Theil believes that democracy is making things too difficult for capitalism. Perot was in favor of increasing taxes on the rich, Theil is effectively a feudalist.

Both men were billionaires who invested in computing and were involved in the 'military industrial complex'. But the word 'libertarian' has been dragged so far to the right in the US in recent years that it's not a meaningful category to compare the two with.


I'm tired of two so wide spread dogmas - "will of majority is absolute good", "rich owes money to society, so we need rip them off".

I lived in Sweden and now I live in the Netherlands. You have better chance to meet alien from another galactic than a person who doesn't believe in these dogmas. So I definitely see absolute political monogamy here.

In centralized democracy high earners have absolutely no voice. I.e. formally they can vote but they will be always in the minority. So middle class and ultra-rich rule the game. Ones through voting, others through lobbying.

So middle class can very effectively rips off high earners (a good example - Sweden). In other words, middle class strive to "equalize" them as they are not normal. They completely forgot that high earners already brought value to society while earning their money.

The culture in many western european countries despise those who want to stand out of the crowd. So in this sense the crowd is against highly motivated and ambitious people.

That's why I don't believe that Europe could beat Silicon Valley without significant cultural shift.

Here are things I deeply hate in Swedish culture:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_Jante

Very similar ideologically thing in Dutch culture "Doe Normaal" which often translates to English as "Act normal, it's already crazy enough".

Fortunately not every swede or dutch likes these "normality" things.


That is certainly not true. In the US, republicans control the presidency and congress. It means that somewhere around 50% of american people believe that the rich should be taxed much less. I believe a similar fraction of European countries believe that too.

The rich (whether they're on the left or on the right) have a massive impact on the media. Think Rupert Murdoch, think Oprah.

There are 27 billionaires in Sweden. For a population of 10 million people. Per capita, that's about twice as much as the US.

Stop feeling victimized for being on the right. The rich pay taxes, so that society seems fairer to those millions of people who make everything that the rich consume. Tough luck, but guess what, you can still become super rich, so what's the issue?

You can talk to anyone who's worth more than 100 million: being twice as rich won't change a damn thing to their way of life. At this stage, it's only a matter of power and counting points.


In Sweden, you will pay 58% from your every Swedish krona for monthly salary above 55000 SEK (6873 USD). So social-democrats believe you are already rich having monthly income just above 6873 USD. At that level of income you have absolutely no vote over majority and you have zero lobby power and you obviously don't control any media. Having that level of income is already not normal and according to social-democrats you have to be "equalized".

So when I hear "rich should pay their fair share", I know they are going after me! I've never seen social-democrat policies which touch only billionaires as they constantly claim!

The pretty similar situation all across Europe with exception of German cantons of Switzerland.

Yet ripping off upper middle class so effectively, western European socialists still constantly complain about "inequality". Which means, they are not satisfied to taking only 58% from me, they want more, much more. In fact, I believe they will be not satisfied until everybody is completely "equalized to death".

I honestly do NOT believe that I owe anything to poor people. And I'm saying that as a person who born in Uzbekistan and lived in extreme poverty (my income in 2003 was ... 10 USD per month).


Classic "squeezed middle"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle-class_squeeze

"I honestly do NOT believe that I owe anything to poor people."

Every human is capable of making a contribution to society, those like you who are more capable than most (and have been given the opportunity to immigrate, in your case) have a joint responsibility to pay things forward and ensure that others are given the opportunity and support needed to be all they can be. That's how a healthy society works.

Exaggerating to make a point: Mark Zuckerberg wouldn't be a billionaire for long if every Facebook user starved to death or couldn't afford internet access. Being the only one in your village who can afford a fancy car makes you feel good. Being the only one in your village who can afford to eat makes you feel awful. The problem is that billionaires increasingly don't live in the same villages, or indeed the same planet, as those they depend on for their wealth.


> I honestly do NOT believe that I owe anything to poor people. And I'm saying that as a person who born in Uzbekistan and lived in extreme poverty (my income in 2003 was ... 10 USD per month).

May I ask you why you moved to Sweden? or Amsterdam? Where they also have the "Doe Normaal" mindset which you say you take issue with.

You say that you don't believe that you owe anything, but immediately afterwards say that you were poor not even 15 years ago.

Are you absolutely certain that you are 100% responsible for your success, or is it possible that the luxuries of both these "socialist" countries awarded you the opportunities not found in your (original) homeland?

I don't doubt that the tax brackets could be improved, inefficiencies in government could be ironed out, etc, but it's a bit much to criticize two systems that awarded you such success, don't you think?


> May I ask you why you moved to Sweden? or Amsterdam?

I moved here because choose least worst option, not because I appreciate socialism and high taxes. In Uzbekistan, taxation is also very high but in different dimension - the government squeeze you via high inflation (by printing money) and unofficial taxation (corruption).

I'm logically consistent since Uzbekistan is on 148th place in rating of economy freedom (read it as how economically liberal the government), Russia (my second country) is on 114th place, Sweden (my third country) is on 19th place, the Netherlands is on 15th place.

So as you can see I move to more liberal country each time in terms of economy freedom and taxation (in Russia real taxes are high by the same reason as in Uzbekistan).

Liberal economic policies are core reason why western Europe stays afloat despite (!) socialist policies and high taxation.

People in Uzbekistan and Russia are less capitalist than in western Europe.

Yes, I'm absolutely sure that my little success is despite socialist polities and more generally the Government (Uzbekistan, Russia, Sweden, the Netherlands).

Look, I've never received any help from government. I don't have any formal education (neither school nor university). I'm self-taught. I have zero inheritance. Everything I've earn was from private enterprise.


Look, if they had you pay 40% you'd only make 18k more per year on every 100k over the limit. Yes, that's a significant number, but it's not life-changing either.

Will that change your motivation? Are you demotivated because you earn 18k less than what you could earn in a more liberal country? I don't think so!

You're not pissed about the actual numbers, you're pissed because of the principles...


> In the US, republicans control the presidency and congress. It means that somewhere around 50% of american people believe that the rich should be taxed much less.

It does not. Democrats have always policed their taxation language towards "high income" and never "rich". The difference between the two is that the second group does not have to work to generate such income. The money flowing from inheritance, trust fund, municipal bonds, oil wells or massive land holdings is good enough.

How many wealth taxes have Democrats proposed while controlling various branches and enjoying a supermajority back in the days?


There are 27 billionaires in Sweden.

No there are 27 billionaires with Swedish citizenship. I'd estimate that less than half of them live full time in Sweden.

Also over 50% of them are from 1 of 4 families. and only 2 of them made their money by founding an actual company (as opposed to a hedge fund or trading company).


Ok, good to know. This only gives more reasons to increase taxes on inheritance and capital return...


As a far left thinker myself, I too hate this obsession with taxing income. If we are going to tax the rich, we should tax equity not income. Tax the land the rich own, tax the resources they extract, tax the patents and intellectual property rights they hold. Tax only that. How free would we all be, if there was no tax on economic activity?

I like to use the analogy of two boys in a playing field kicking a ball back and forth. Lets value the ball at $10. Each time they pass the ball from one to the other, they "create" $10 worth of economic activity, and under a simplified version of current logic, they should pay the state $2 for each pass. But what should really be taxed is the ball itself, and the land upon which they play. Not the number of times the ball changes hands.


You're not in the minority bud, sorry to break the news to you but the majority of people are selfish assholes who think all the opportunity in their life is simply the outcome of a god given right and ignore the centuries of oppression and theft that has enabled them to reach such a social status.


The Law of Jante seems similar to the british concept of "don't get ideas above your station" which is the cultural expression of the class system which acts as a block on social mobility.

In the UK, thanks the the billionaire-owned tabloid political agenda, we have:

Ultra-rich (old money, luck, extreme talent/charisma) Middle class (strivers, value creators, good people) Working class (tyrannical majority of freeloaders) Underclass (don't vote, who cares, lazy sub-human thieves)

So in Scandinavia, it looks like this?

Ultra-rich (old money, luck, extreme talent/charisma) Upper middle class (strivers, value creators, good people) Middle class (tyrannical majority of freeloaders, pretty bad people) (not mentioned) - Working class (lazy don't vote, who cares, sub-human thieves?)

As a middle class, socially immobile value creator myself, I feel your pain, but why does your anger seem directed mainly at those below you in the hierarchy? Without getting too Marxist about it, value creation is a function of the entire system, genius and value creation can't happen in isolation. Billionaires drive on roads built by unskilled labourers, hedge fund managers still need their toilets cleaned and computer hardware upgraded. Human underachievement in advanced economies is a tragedy, but there are systemic roadblocks, it's not just moral and cultural degeneracy by a grasping, entitled populist majority.


Well said. I have been trying to pinpoint these sentiments for a while, but haven't quite figured it out. The ultra-rich and the middle-class ruling above others is a very eloquent way of phrasing it.

Your description hits my native Norway very well. It is very difficult to excel and get recognition for it. In a discussion with my SO the other day, I was trying to find a Norwegian word for 'excel' and realized that we do not have this word in our language.


In Swedish we have the word "överträffa" and I was sure there must be a corresponding Norwegian word.

However, after looking at several different dictionaries, I really can't find a Norwegian word that translates to this. Two separate sources translates it with "stige" which doesn't sound right at all.


"overtreffe" is a Norwegian word. However they mean more to surpass some previous set benchmark. You have to "överträffa" something (either a set goal, someone else or your own previous effort), you cannot just "överträffa".


Specifically, I can't find a Norwegian word for "apply yourself to improve, be the best that you are able to and succeed". I think this is reflective of Norwegian culture, at least the parts that I have seen for the last 30ish years.


Would it be fair to say that US libertarians are anarcho-capitalists while the leftist libertarians are anarcho-syndicalists?


Not really, no. Libertarian is, on the political compass, the opposite of authoritarian. As such, there's actually a whole spectrum of beliefs.

Anarchists believe in no laws. Libertarians believe in increased liberty for the individual. This can be manifest as a reduction of laws, it may be as extreme as a desire for anarchy.

Libertarian really is (was?) about increasing and protecting the individual liberties, maximizing one's ability to make use of their freedoms.

To put those words into a descriptive use, I prefer this; You are free to kill me, you are not at liberty to do so. If you try to kill me, I have the right to defend myself.

So, libertarians are concerned with increasing personal liberties and typically for everyone. So, no, to use the above example, a libertarian would not suggest they have the right to kill people because that's reducing the right of the other person to live. Typically, a libertarian would have wanted to ensure one can most appreciate their freedoms while protecting the commons.

I use the past tense because the usual perception of libertarian is the current incarnation which is mostly made up of ashamed republicans who can no longer feel comfortable being associated with the republican party.

Really, Ayn Rand was an idiot and adoption of her book was absolutely not libertarian in nature. Liberties are for everyone, not just those who can afford them. The goal is to maximize the ability to enjoy your freedoms, and that isn't just reserved for the wealthy. Furthermore, wealth isn't an indicator of productivity or value to society. Wealth is an absolutely horrible metric for determining liberties or rights.

Way back when, libertarians were considered the kooky left. Now, they are seen as the crazy right. Really, it's a very broad spectrum that isn't easy to pin down and put onto a bumper sticker.

I identify as a libertarian, I'd probably be considered close to a Scandinavian Social-Democrat but with a touch of greater rights and expecting a bit more personal responsibility. I believe in things like a strong social safety net, inexpensive health care, inexpensive education, and a right to individual autonomy.

On the political compass, I'm fairly far to the left (very far by US standards) and down in the lower quadrant, as a libertarian.

Sorry for the novella, but hopefully this makes sense. For the most part, the leftist leaning libertarians are extinct in the US. The party has been usurped. Even before that, there weren't many calls for anarchy.

I kinda wish this could be more succinct. Again, sorry about that.


You are free to kill me, you are not at liberty to do so. If you try to kill me, I have the right to defend myself.

...

Liberties are for everyone, not just those who can afford them.

How do you square these two lines of reasoning? If you can afford making sure I get killed and I cannot afford to defend myself against you what difference my theoretical right to defend myself make? If the only rights I have are the ones I can personally defend then only the rich have rights.


By making murder illegal and punishable in a court of law. The goal is equal opportunity, not equal outcomes. Bad things are still going to happen, abuses will always happen. The goal is to minimize the risks and to ensure a punitive response to unlawful behavior.

The goal being to maximize your ability to enjoy your freedoms does not mean you'll be able to maximize them as much as someone else with greater assets.

An example would be public parks. A wealthy person may be able to put a giant boat on the lake, but you may only be able to afford to swim in the lake. You should still be allowed to swim in the lake and enjoy the park.

You, the individual, are still responsible for you. Equal opportunity doesn't ensure equal outcome. So, we must still protect the commons and have a strong social safety net.

Unlike most libertarians, given the power to do so, I'd tax the hell out of the wealthy. For the record, I'm considered wealthy. I pay a lot of taxes, but could easily pay more without even really reducing my ability to enjoy my freedoms.

It is my responsibility to help pay for your social safety net. Not only that, it is financially sound for me to do so.

I want you to be healthy, you're more productive. I want you to be educated, you're more innovative. I want you to have the ability to try to start a business, so I can sell your business products and services. I want you happy, because happy people are more productive. I want you to not have to worry about health care expenses, because keeping you healthy is less expensive than fixing you up after you become unhealthy.

It's just good sense, I think. Killing you is still illegal and no system is going to recent that. Laws aren't really meant to stop people, they are meant to indicate those actions will be punished.


You should still be allowed to swim in the lake and enjoy the park.

That sounds naive to me. Without regulation on boat traffic what is to stop it becoming unfeasible to swim in the lake due to all the giant boats and all their docks clogging the lake. Being allowed to do something doesn't matter much if actually doing so in practice is impossible or highly impractical.


Where did you get the idea of no regulations? Only a few people want a world without laws, I'd submit that those people aren't very bright.

Additionally, I'm not sure how you would read my posts and think I was in favor of no regulations? Libertarian != anarchist. Maybe you missed the part about protecting the commons? Maybe you missed my comments explaining what libertarian means? I dunno...

If you're really curious, there is a pretty good Wikipedia article on the subject. Again, it is a broad spectrum that encompasses quite a lot of variations.


You're views (which I largely agree with) with ideas like strict regulations, higher taxation and solid safety nets sound more like European Liberal views rather than anything most people would recognize as libertarian. But I do understand that most political labels are pretty meaningless in isolation.


They were the most common of libertarian values until recently. Libertarians used to be the kooky left but are now the crazy right, at least as far as perception goes.

The thing is, we weren't ever a large group. When what I call ashamed republicans took over the party, it moved perception strongly to the right. We can't really kick them out of the party, that would kinda be antithetical to our stated beliefs.

So, here we are. I can understand why people would be confused when I say I'm a libertarian. I can understand why they'd immediately think I'm a Randian. So, I try to explain it, but it's rather verbose and not exactly easy to sum up.


> I can understand why people would be confused when I say I'm a libertarian

Indeed. Do you think it is possible that you are mislabeling yourself? From this thread, I'd say most people would label you a social democrat (and no, not because you reject Ayn Rand).


Not really, no. I didn't change, the party changed and the public perception changed. It is hard to put people into boxes. In my case, my goal is to maximize liberty. That's my primary concern.


Libertarianism ought to be, in my view, maximum freedom with minimum externalities. You should be able to justify drug legalisation and strict pollution regulations within this model.


> Anarchists believe in no laws.

This is incorrect. Anarchists believe in no rulers. Laws can be agreed between consenting parties.


Are those really laws? They don't sound like laws to me. Laws are enforced and don't require consent of everyone subjected to them. I'm not sure those qualify as laws, but as agreements.


Why does a law require a lack of consent? Consent makes it enforceable, if you don't consent than you shouldn't be in a situation where the law can be broken.


Because we are humans and some of us won't consent so it must be forced. There are people who feel that rape, murder, and arson are all things they should be allowed to do. They don't consent to the laws. That's why they are in prison. It's a necessary thing, assuming you want a functional society.


They didn't consent to the laws, removal from society is already necessary for them. Forcing their consent doesn't make them any more likely to follow those laws.


You mean by moving somewhere else?

The point of laws in a democracy is that they're (theoretically, without corruption) consented to by a maximum amount of people. If you don't have rulers, then whatever your group of 10 people consent to as an unwritten rule will be broken by me, much to my gain.


By being removed from society somehow. Democracy still works, you can consent to accept certain laws the majority impose. And I don't see how a ruler changes that last point, if you don't consent to the laws those ten don't have to put up with your crap.


"Laws can be agreed between consenting parties."

That doesn't sound like a law - that sounds like a contract.


With no party to enforce it.


So basically social norms and conventions.


All the parties who agreed to the contract are responsible for enforcing it.


Against non-agreeing parties? So in the end it's just an elected government?


No more than your neighbors constitute an elected government.


> "For the most part, the leftist leaning libertarians are extinct in the US."

Actually there is a recent trend of leftwing libertains in America under the names "free-market anti-capitalist", "thick libertarianism", " market-anarchism", and even "libertarian socialism", all working inside and outside of the Libertarian Party.


There is. It's still vanishingly small. I probably could have phrased it better.

I sometimes describe myself as 'classic libertarian' but 'libertarian socialist' is also pretty close to my ideals.

Notably, I'm nearing 60 and I've never once had political representation. Not one elected politician has represented my ideals, at least not at the national level. There may be some at local levels, but they wouldn't be in any of the areas where I live(d).

No, no I don't usually vote for the Libertarian Party candidate these days.


Wow this comment is confusing a lot of stuff.

- "Free-market anti-capitalist" is a term used by people who want to call themselves "mutualists" but lost the rhetorical shell game trying to compare themselves to Proudhon, with whom they in reality share nothing.

- Thick vs thin libertarianism is orthogonal to the discussion here, though I think it's discussed almost exclusively by ancaps; as far as I know the distinction was created to discuss two different attitudes towards the NAP. Anarchists and other socialists don't put much faith in NAPs.

- "Market anarchism" is a synonym for full-on Rothbard ancap.

- "Libertarian socialism" is identified with anarchism back into the 19th century. Any attempt to use the term to describe "free market" policies is incoherent appropriation for the sake of (probably populist) branding.

No libertarian socialists of note work within the Libertarian Party in the US. When the term "left libertarian" is used in that context, the "left" is only relative to the paleoconservative parts of it.


> Now, they are seen as the crazy right

Crazy right makes them sound very far to the right.

I'd consider them more kooky right, but in such a way that the result of their policies would be extremely far right. If everyone was a libertarian then maybe it would work better.


Ayn Rand was not an idiot. You just misunderstood what her book was, as did many other people who have never lived under a communist regime. I have lived under a communist regime, and I remember it well, so I can tell you that her book is basically a fantasy world diameterally opposed to communism, or to be exact the form of it that the Soviet Union was aiming for. Nothing more, nothing less.


Yes, a fantasy world. A world which isn't going to exist, presented as a serious topic.

Maybe idiot was too strong a word, but it was shorter than the alternatives. If she'd left it as a work of fantasy, and not encouraged adoption, I'd be less inclined to be disrespectful. However, she gave many talks on the subject and pushed her views as serious political philosophy. This was adopted by others and has pretty much ruined the whole party and platform.

So, maybe she isn't an idiot but is actually a genius for undermining a once viable political platform and duping young people into believing in fairy tales.


I'll also add to that, that the notion of an "opposite" to something so complicated as a _world_ is idiotic, because in running away from the bad of that one, you run into bad in the other.

TL;DR: The "opposite" of a bad world isn't necessarily a good world.


Yeah, but sometimes we have to reduce things to a more simple nature as things must be optimized for brevity and attention span.

It really is a broad spectrum and it's quite possible to have both authoritarian ideals in one category while having libertarian values in a different category.

I do favor the simplicity of the political compass with four points. It has a specific name but I can't think of it at the moment. It is simplistic, and reductionist, but it is handy enough for a forum post and adequate for generalized conversations.

But, as you suggest, it's much more complicated than that. We humans really do like putting things into boxes, or so it seems.


Sure, she wasn’t one to turn down an easy buck and a bit of fame. Can you fault her?

Libertarianism was never viable. It goes against human nature, just in the opposite direction from communism. Communism postulates that lazy people deserve everything (“to each according to his need”), so the wealthy and aspiring hate it. Libertarianism postulates they deserve nothing (“taxation is theft”) so the poor hate it. The gray reality is somewhere in between. The underlying truth of the situation is that when the poor have nothing to eat, they eat the rich, and moral absolutes do not help either side.


It's almost as if you didn't read my posts. You're confused about what a libertarian is. I'm one, and I don't believe I am taxed at a high enough level.

Libertarian is the opposite of authoritarian. Again, it's a broad spectrum on the political compass. There is still left and right. There are extremes and moderates. You're claiming absolutes and being polarized by assuming the loudest speak for every one.

If you read my posts, you'd see that I think Ayn Rand was a moron. You'd also already know that it is far more than just Randians. There's a wonderful Wikipedia article on the subject, if you don't believe me.


don't know why you're being downvoted - guess being sane and actually using your brain for figuring out stuff from first principles instead of political axioms isn't fashionable. perhaps never was.

i just wanted to add that the poor don't eat the rich when they have nothing to eat. they do it much sooner, when they notice that the rich eat better and better and the quality of their food increases way quicker than theirs. that's when the biggest revolutions happen, anyway.

(guess what - i actually live in a post-communist country, too. most people here probably have no idea what they're talking about when they say communism.)


This is is irrelevant with regard to Thiel, because, as the parent points out, he’s a neo-feudalist working for the abolition of democracy. He funds several “Dark Enlightment” figures like Curtis Yarvin and even says as much himself:

https://www.theverge.com/2017/2/21/14671978/alt-right-menciu...

https://www.cato-unbound.org/2009/04/13/peter-thiel/educatio...


Democracy does not equal liberty. It may, arguably, be the best way of preserving liberty. But then again it may not.

"Many will be shocked to learn that the word “democracy” was neither used in the Declaration of Independence nor in the Constitution. Indeed, the Founding Fathers were anxious and fearful of allowing any form of tyranny, including the tyranny of the majority." [1]

[1] https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/democracy-versu...


We call what the founders described a representative democracy, whether they used the word or not isn't relevant as what they meant by democracy is more aptly called direct democracy today. You are objecting to the use of a term because you aren't using the term in the modern way, and that's a silly semantic debate. The United States is a democracy according to the modern use of the word, please just accept it and stop making this silly argument.


I think parent's point was simply that being critical of democracy does not automatically make you a "neo-feudalist". For example, countries with a strong constitution like the USA have a more constrained democratic process.


> I think parent's point was simply that being critical of democracy does not automatically make you a "neo-feudalist".

alphonsegaston's point is the exact opposite.


Many US libertarians are anarcho-capitalists, but certainly not all. Most are just minarchists.


Most US libertarians are just proponents of classical liberalism. "Left libertarianism" is very niche and sounds a bit like an oxymoron to me. I don't know much about Peter Thiel but it's hard for me to reconcile his outspoken support for Trump with the "libertarian" label.


Isn't "liberal" often used as an insult in the US by the likes of Ann Coulter and other far-right xenophobic conservatives?

I think the confusion is that the term is used for all sorts of things like economic liberals (neo-liberal de-regulators), social liberals (into multi-culturalism and identity politics) and Ayn Randian sea-steaders and techno-utopians, which is where classical liberals often seem to end up on a diet of extreme capitalism and sociopathy?

In Europe, left libertarianism is very much a thing, as identity politics and re-distributive economic socialism often find common ground in empathy for those who are disadvantaged in different ways. The right to exploit others does not trump the right to not be exploited, unless I am badly mis-remembering John Stuart Mill?


Recent trend is to try and brand certain types of conservatism as "classical liberalism".

Don't really know why, but it's what they seem to want to do.


The term was invented by anarcho-communists and co-opted by the right:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarianism#Etymology


The question I was replying to was specifically about the US. From the same Wikipedia article:

> The term libertarianism was first used in the U.S. as a synonym for classic liberalism in May 1955 by writer Dean Russell, a colleague of Leonard Read and a classic liberal himself.

What precedes that paragraph is mainly about the French word "libertaire" which is not the French translation for "libertarian" but does shares a root with it (liberty).

Interestingly, the French Wikipedia article[0] claims that the word "libertarian" was coined specifically to distinguish classical liberals from modern liberals in the US.

In the US at least, libertarians very rarely identify with the "left" label.

[0] https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarianisme


You stated that left-libertarianism was an oxymoron, which is untrue and historically inaccurate, even within the US context. The sources in the the Wikipedia etymology section point this out if you need further reference:

Colin Ward (2004), Anarchism: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 62.

"For a century, anarchists have used the word 'libertarian' as a synonym for 'anarchist', both as a noun and an adjective. The celebrated anarchist journal Le Libertaire was founded in 1896. However, much more recently the word has been appropriated by various American free-market philosophers."

No one’s denying that it’s modern connotations hem toward the right-wing cooption that that took place in the 1950s. Their project was to dress up reactionary ideology as radicalism and was undeniably successful.


Another great late 19th century American libertarianism was Benjamin Tucker who advocated for a form of anarchist socialism called mutualism in his periodical "Liberty". In the past decade there has been a bit of a revival of many left-libertarain anarchist schools of thought in America.


The "oxymoron" bit was my own opinion, I just can't make sense of the term. I understand that some people use it. I lost you at the last sentence though, it's sounds a bit too much like a conspiracy theory. I'll stick with the more simple explanation given in the French Wikipedia article.


I imagine the downvotes are out of disbelief, but this is not really disputed (it's worth clicking the link).


And also avoid things like entries in the Oxford English Dictionary to prevent becoming similarly enraged.


Perhaps for the better, as it's hardly a subject that does any good when driven by emotional impulses.


Thiel is hardly alone in this view. Many libertarians are in favour of a constitutional republic over a democracy where 51% of the people have absolute power.


A key point in the philosophical foundation of democracy is that it is a good system for making decisions of consequence.

One can fashion a simplistic thought experiment where a simple majority votes to take resources from the minority, presumably against the minoritys' will. That seems rather unjust, or unfair.

What this glosses over is that governments need to make policy and decisions. Inevitably, there will be winners and losers.

Just because decision making power is taken away from the majority does not mean that more fair outcomes are likely. Some other method of making decisions, let's say by rule of a (hopefully enlightened) monarch, still needs to be implemented. And these decisions will have major consequences on the population, creating some winners and losers in the outcome.

The argument for Democracy is that it, on balance, will protect the population from potential tyranny of a despotic or corrupt ruler, better than other forms of government.

The political structure of the US government has built in protection against a tyrannical reign by the majority of the population over the minority. The system of "checks and balances" is a good idea, however imperfectly it is implemented.

As a practical matter, the "power of the people" is limited in any case. There is an actual "elite" in the US, and members of the elite hold disproportionate power. For better or worse.


Usually it is not a monarch but a law that limits the power of the 51%. In some countries you need a two thirds majority to make constitution changes, for instance.


It's one thing to consider problems that might be in play if a bare majority had arbitrary power. Worth doing, but then again, an odd point to underscore considering that such considerations are already well-woven into most western democracies, including the United States.

It's another thing to propose that where representative government itself is in tension with capital... the problem is representation. Or perhaps even civic/state power in general.


> It's one thing to consider problems that might be in play if a bare majority had arbitrary power. ..... including the United States

The last election for the POTUS had the declared winner elected by an overall loss of 3mm votes.

The UK is plowing ahead with a hard brexit with a 52% majority on a 72% turnout (38% of the electorate explicitly said they wanted to leave), with a minority government propped up by a bribe with a minor political party from Northern Ireland.

I'm sure I can find more examples (and I'm aware that I'm cherry picking examples too), but to say that that you require a "supermajority" in most western countries isn't strictly true. (excuse the phrasing)


> The last election for the POTUS had the declared winner elected by an overall loss of 3mm votes.

Well, one way to address the problem of the tyranny of the majority is to make minority rule plausible. :b

> to say that that you require a "supermajority" in most western countries isn't strictly true.

A supermajority isn't necessary for many things; a plurality will do for a lot of operations, including becoming POTUS. But in the US there's also some legal concepts that you can only do away with via a supermajority and one spread out over different branches of government at that. Doing away with any of the bill of rights is not happening with a plurality in an election.... because the US already is a republic with a democratically elected representative government based on rule of law set down in a constitution that can't be changed without supermajority buy-in.

Most western democracies that I'm familiar with have some similar sets of principles that aren't up for democratic election (at least, according to the stated rules of the governance game -- unofficially, any principle is always vulnerable to contention and falling out of value, that's a reality of governing human beings, not a flaw in a system of government).


> Well, one way to address the problem of the tyranny of the majority is to make minority rule plausible. :b

It is in some places - the UK had it in 2010, and technically has it right now too. You can't really do miniority rule in a two party system though.

> a plurality will do for a lot of operations,

a plurality in a two party system seems ironic to me, but I understand your point.


> The UK is plowing ahead with a hard brexit with a 52% majority on a 72% turnout (38% of the electorate explicitly said they wanted to leave), with a minority government propped up by a bribe with a minor political party from Northern Ireland.

Well, that's how referendums work, there is never 100% turnout. So the amount of people who votes constitute the "100%" and you only need 51% of that to win a referendum.

Your argument is also not good because by following your logic we could say that almost no US president has ever gotten elected by majority, at least from top of my head I am not aware of anybody actually being elected by getting votes of 51% or more of all eligible voters.


The US presidential elections, referendums and UK parliament elections can't be compared equally, so extending the logic like that doesn't make sense.

For the POTUS elections, trump lost on a count of just shy of 2.9million votes, but won by the electoral college.

By applying that logic to the brexit referendum, breaking up over the 5 countries that voted (england, scotland, NI, wales, gibralter) remain would have won. By dividing up the 382 counting areas [0] I'm sure you get a different result too.

For a UK parliament vote, I'm not sure on what the result would be if you took a voter turnout by percentage across the countries, and then evenly distributed the MPs based on those number of votes, but I'm sure someone has done the analysis somewhere.

To go back on topic, my point was (supposed to be) more about how a tyranny of the majority can happen, and does happen, in western countries (with some slightly alternative points such as the fact that majorities aren't always majorities)

[0] https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/find-information-by-s...


> The UK is plowing ahead with a hard brexit with a 52% majority on a 72% turnout (38% of the electorate explicitly said they wanted to leave)

I hate this argument because you would just not count if brexit had been rejected as you wish it had been. You would just say "sigh it's normal, i'm happy people are not that stupid" and you wouldn't bother arguing with "stupid people".

Even if i wanted to argue on that level, you can say there was - 38% who explicitly said they wanted to leave - 37% who explicitly said they wanted to stay - 25% who had no opinion / didn't care

so it make absolute sense to leave in that case.

EDIT: To be clear i'm not pro-brexit, i just think "echo chamber blah blah biaised opinions" like this one are the reason people "can't understand" election such as brexit and trump and question the legitimacy...


> I hate this argument because you would just not count if Brexit had been rejected as you wish it had been.

That's absolutely not true. I never said that Brexit shouldn't happen based on that majority. I was simply pointing out that a bare majority in this case _has_ provided arbitrary power. Reading anything further into my comment is disingenuous.


so it make absolute sense to leave in that case.

That's one way to look it at it. Another is to take the result and say there is no clear majority either way, and since there is no clear public majority for either option it should be up parliament to decide since that's their job.


American "libertarianism" has gotten pretty, um, corrupted compared to the philosophic ideals it's allegedly based on:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2017/0...

It’s probably true that some of the overlap between libertarians and alt-righters can be explained by their companionship as members of the political fringe. But it’s not purely accidental, either. Historically, prominent libertarian thinkers have made the decision to cultivate ties with the nationalist far right, and have viewed racial demagoguery both as an efficacious political tool and an intellectually defensible position. The libertarian-to-fascist pipeline may have been forged partially by coincidence, but it was also crafted and maintained.


Historically there was a far greater overlap between socialism and racism, so the historical argument doesn't hold much water. Libertarianism (no govt control over the economy) is the polar opposite of fascism (almost full govt control over the economy), so if people went from one to the other they either radically changed their position or were incorrectly calling themselves libertarian. The article insinuates that "America first" economic nationalism has something to do with libertarianism, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Libertarianism is staunchly opposed to tariffs and special treatment of chosen companies. The so-called "globalism" that the alt right rails against is textbook libertarianism: open borders for goods, services, and people.


I have no doubt that your personal libertarianism finds racism, nationalism and isolationism distasteful.

I also have no doubt that prominent people who identify and are accepted as libertarian, and sites which are cited as and claim to be libertarian, have cultivated alliances with racist/nationalist/isolationist groups. To those groups, many libertarian positions are appealing: sweeping away all government regulation, for example, would get rid of those pesky laws that make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race. Holding private contracts to be sacred and doing away with government interference in their performance means exploitative contracts -- close or even identical to actual slavery -- "entered" into on extremely coercive terms become perfectly acceptable. And so on and so forth.


> the alt-right, which is a small, far-right movement that seeks a whites-only state.

It amuses me to see every article about the "alt right" define it as something different.


Precisely. Because 51% affords far too much voice for the rabble. Relevant:

http://dalependell.com/essays/remembering-the-regulation-cal...


Studies [1] on this question show exactly the opposite. The view of the majority of the population shows no meaningful impact on the policies that our government actually chooses to adopt. The interests of "economic elites" (to use the phrasing of the paper) do tend to be predictive of what passes. Their 'disinterests' tend to be very strongly predictive of what does not pass. The study concludes that the US has already devolved into an oligarchy though "Americans [still] enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise."

On the other hand, I am always reluctant to link to social papers since data can be so easily massaged to affirm nearly any presupposed conclusion. Do you have any evidence or logic to support your view that the masses have any substantive and, more importantly, lasting effect on policy? I do not think it's self evident that the masses are having any direct effect on the current themes of net neutrality and PIPA/SOPA/CISPA/CISA. The apparent effect seems more due to the fact that very influential "economic elites" are themselves divided on the issues.

[1] - http://www.princeton.edu/~mgilens/Gilens%20homepage%20materi...


Wow, that was an amazing read. I'm adding Dale Pendell to my list of blogs to follow. Thanks for sharing!


Yeah, why bother with any kind of personal ethics? If you don’t take the dirty money, someone else will always be found, so it might as well be you, right? I mean look around, those guys over there got away with literal war crimes.

For that matter, why should you let common law precedent or the rule of law prevent you from secretly funding third-party lawsuits as part of your personal revenge scheme? This is America and money should be able to do whatever it wants.

And oh, funding the campaign an openly white supremacist, brags-about-sexual-assualt, famous fraudster and charlatan with no credentials who is obviously unprepared and poorly suited temperamentally to be president? Hey, if the bet pays off there’s great personal upside, so who cares if it would be terrible for the society?


I think I agree in part, though the framing of it in the Gizmodo piece that he seems "less" worried about Facebook is concerning. Google I get, Amazon sure, but why not Facebook? That seems like the most massive surveillance vector to ever exist and a company which might have a penchant for what's not too different from mind control.

Edit: after reading the Vanity Fair essay (which is much better than this Gizmodo thing) I'm I think more skeptical, though it's more explicitly stated that Facebook is viewed in a more nefarious light.


> but why not Facebook?

Early investor, made him untold millions, tight with zucc, who's sacrificed personal capital to keep him on the board (despite his far-right politics).


Can you explain how his politics are "far-right"? I don't really consider Libertarianism an element of what's become the emergence of right wing authoritarianism.


- He believes that capitalism and democracy are incompatible.

- He is strongly opposed to multiculturalism, and attributes many evils to it. Though when put under pressure to justify some of the views he published in his book on the subject (such as that women reporting rape is an organized leftist conspiracy to undermine white men), he simply said he never thought them. Genius!

- He promotes political figures on the far right of US politics, like race-baiter Ann Coulter.

Whether you consider him a libertarian or not, I can't do much about. Normally I'm against Americans abusing words with perfectly well established meanings for marketing purposes, but I fear this one is a lost cause.


The left used to opposed multiculturalism in favor of promoting cultural globalisation. Its only in recent 40-50 years that majority of the left has swung on that issue, now being in favor of multiculturalism and against cultural globalisation.


And the Republican party defeated the group that fought for slavery. Things change over generations.


Slavery was a 19th century issue.

Cultural globalisation was favored by the left during the 1970's and lost favor during the 1980's and later.

Is slavery and Cultural globalisation a fair comparison?


[1] Most libertarians agree with this.

[2] "Enforcement of Multi culturalism" is opposed by most libertarians.

[3] This shows he is supporting conservatives, not really far right.

Perhaps your definition of far right is not what I understand.


On your first point, that doesn't seem like an idea unique to the Far Right at all. Plenty of Left Wing friends of mine don't think Capitalism works within a Democracy (though I'm sure for different reasons than Thiel).

On your second, I think the virtue of Multiculturalism is at least worth debating. If he calls it "evil" that's not something I'd agree with, but that would align with a lot of Far Right thought.

As for Coulter, she's just as much of a race baiter as any of the others on the Left that seem to attribute any problem they see to some race-based variable. I don't know of any instance where Theil has actively promoted her or her ideas but I'm ready to be proven wrong.

Not sure what to make of that last paragraph. My guess is you're taking issue with "Libertarian" and implying that Thiel is in fact not one, and is using it to appeal to nominal "actual" Libertarians by hyjacking the word. This is of course quite possible.


It isn't that Thiel thinks 'Capitalism and Democracy are incompatible' that makes him right-wing, it is that given he believes they are incompatible, he concludes Democracy should be discarded to preserve Capitalism, rather than the other way around. This is a far-right view.


Interesting. Can you link something that more explicitly explains this view? I've long been skeptical of the virtue of Capitalism so I'm open to exploring the other end of that spectrum.


The general school of thought (that Thiel is linked to) is called neoreaction or the Dark Enlightenment. Here's a fairly good intro by Scott Alexander: http://slatestarcodex.com/2013/03/03/reactionary-philosophy-...


Not necessarily far-right because the political spectrum has more than one dimension.


So first, this retort is vacuous because the whole point of Thiel's supposition is that the dimensions are not orthogonal. The meaning of the quote is that he is willing to move right on others (political structure, social issues, surveillance state, etc) to be able to move right on another (economic policy).

But even putting that aside, on which dimension is Thiel not on the far-right? He's hardcore capitalist who supports (self-described!) monopolist policies; he sits on the board of a public surveillance company and is the chairman of a second military-industrial one; he published a book in which he called a substantial portion of rape victims liars; and we're talking about him getting an appointment in a right-wing movement in the federal government.


How white supremacist do you have to be, to be acceptably labelled 'malevolent'?

* Enough to consistently regard ethnic minorities as threatening?

* Enough to consume white supremacist literature?

* Enough to endorse white supremacist literature to those around you?

* Enough to write white supremacist literature?

Your threat model is a caricature. When individuals with track-records like Thiel are selected for positions of power, it makes all of us less safe: No amount of domain expertise will protect us from Thiel himself.


What the hell are you talking about? It reads like you are accusing Thiel of being a white supremacist. If so, please provide citations.


I refer you Thiel's multiple published articles on multiculturalism during his time at Stanford for the journal 'Academic Questions', such as 'Multiculturalism and the decline of Stanford', followed by the book he co-authored called "the Diversity Myth", about how multiculturalism is horrific and how multiculturalism exists to destroy white culture, are where you should look if you wish to get a good idea of what is going on in that man's mind.


Is anyone who prefer cultural globalisation over multiculturalism a white supremacist?


Of course not. But Thiel didn't write a book simply expressing a preference against multiculturalism, he wrote a book claiming that multiculturalism exists to destroy white culture.

'White culture is under threat' is a core belief of white supremacists.


>'White culture is under threat' is a core belief of white supremacists.

It's also a well known fact. All you have to do is look at the demographic changes in Western countries.

Wanting white culture to survive still doesn't make one a white supremacist. I even want Japanese culture to survive. Does this make me a Japanese supremacist?


> Wanting white culture to survive still doesn't make one a white supremacist.

You change the original point. Professing "white culture" is under threat and that other cultures should survive someplace else does indeed make you a white supremacist.

The U.S. was multi-cultural from the start, even if some cultures (natives or blacks) wanted nothing to do with it. This is what made it later stand out and attract people all over the world. You can't re-neg it without turning into a genocidal shithole.


> It's also a well known fact. All you have to do is look at the demographic changes in Western countries.

What do you mean by this?

Are you saying that American culture is "white" culture? If so, then you might want to do some self-reflection.


Not too long ago many people in the US would have claimed that White Culture died the day the Irish, Italians or Polish started to be considered 'white'


White culture does not exist.


I don't find statements like that particularly helpful.

It is fair to say that most organised attempts to advocate for 'White Culture' -such as White Pride events and a staggering proportion of 'European Students Associations' etc are explicitly racist in practice. This by itself should be concerning enough to lead observers to scrutinise very carefully organisations or publications devoted to securing 'White Culture'.


This is a factual statement. But I see how it can be seen as an emotionally charged one.

White people are too ambigously defined a group to have one common culture. Hence the term is nonsense.


Black culture does not exist.

Is this statement morally equivalent? Why or why not?


I don't think this is a moral question, but rather a question of reality. Black culture does not exist globally. Black culture of the United States does exist, because black people in the U.S. have a common history and common societal experience that binds them together.

White people are too diverse a group to have one single culture. I am white and not from the U.S. Based on these facts people cannot guess what my values are, what my traditions are, whether people of my ethnicity were ever opressed or were the opressors, or even what language I speak, or what religion I have. Hence the term "white culture" does not make sense.


That would make the 'White culture is under threat' the core message of your post, not "how multiculturalism is horrific". The post you made (and I replied to) talked primarily about criticism to multiculturalism, and white culture is only mentioned a single time.

Cultural globalisation merges all cultures into one common. Small (or less vocal) cultures get less representation in the global culture, while large ones get incorporated more wholesale. Cultural diversity in contrast try to keep cultures distinctive, while also trying to dodge cultural tensions. White supremacists generally require that cultures stay distinctive, but they don't care to decrease cultural tensions. That doesn't seems to fit well for either side, and makes attempts to do so to look as political attempt of associating white supremacists with criticism to multiculturalism.


There's an obvious correlation, and the language of the former is also used as cover for self-identified white supremacists who until recently found themselves obliged to cloak or mute their views.

NB: that correlation is less obvious for those who have the "right" culture.


Not only that, but there is implicit violence in taking a "racial nationalist" stance in a country that is not and has never been racially homogeneous. These people couch their ideas in ostensibly neutral terms like "preserving white culture", yet how else is their ideal society attainable without the forced removal of non-white people? To expect that non-white Americans will adopt a worldview that involves leaving the only country they've ever known is obviously completely unrealistic, and of course it would never occur to these imbeciles that their own position entails going straight back to Europe.


"how else is their ideal society attainable without the forced removal of non-white people?"

Um, how about just reducing immigration a lot and giving it time? It's not that complicated.

I think you're just obscuring the obvious non-Hitler solutions because you want easy moral superiority. Easy to slag someone when you can pretend they just want to commit genocide. Much harder when you take their views charitably.

But, this is common, which is why I generally agree with Thiel here: Nobody had ever tried to convince me otherwise, only accused me of wanting things I don't want.


> Um, how about just reducing immigration a lot and giving it time? It's not that complicated.

You have still completely glossed over what specifically you expect ought to to happen to the non-white people who already reside in whichever country you're talking about, and their descendents, and anyone they interbreed with, even presupposing some weird test for who does or does not count as white. I don't think it's inappropriate for readers to be quite alarmed about all of that.

This is also completely ignoring crucial context about where these white people you refer to came from or which lands they should be entitled to, and begs the question of why white people should be the ones who get to turn their nation of birth into an ethnostate for them rather than the ones being excluded.

Of all the things one might say about Ethnostates, the blithe claim that "it's not that complicated" is profoundly scary.


> Um, how about just reducing immigration a lot and giving it time? It's not that complicated.

But not reducing immigration from most of Europe, right? And in turn should white Americans not be allowed to live abroad in most of the rest of the world?

I should have refrained from saying "imbeciles", because that's not conducive to discussion and obviously there are some smart people like Thiel and yourself who end up advocating these ideas. It's hard to even begin a discussion about racial nationalism though, because I think it's pretty clear that the idea of race itself is scientifically shaky.

I'd like to convince you though. But first, what exactly is it that you're advocating?

And some questions I have...

1) Can you clarify your stance on immigration?

2) Can you give me a coherent definition of race?

3) What entitles one particular race (I'm assuming "white" people in this case) to predominate in America?

4) What if anything should happen to non-white people that are currently legal US citizens?

5) What should happen to Americans like myself who are married to non-white, non-US-citizens? Won't we end up in limbo with no place to go? I can assure you that I am not just looking for moral superiority -- I feel that my very wellbeing is threatened by the ideas that I hear espoused by racial nationalists.

6) Would you break apart the United States to give, for example, a black nationalist movement their own country? Seems only fair considering whites forcibly brought them to this country. And Native Americans? If so, what are the logistics of this and who gets what?

7) Do you feel that there is something fundamental connecting culture and "race"? What specific elements of the cultures of other races do you see as harmful? Are these differences fundamentally irreconcilable and why? Surely there are other white people (myself probably) who hold opinions that are equally divergent, so why not separate on that basis rather than purely on race?

Again, I find myself halting while even typing out these questions because I have to keep referring back to this ill-defined idea of race. But, I guess the discussion has to start somewhere unless we plan on wiping each other out.


He's definitely a libertarian although his definition of libertarian is completely malleable.


> “Peter has indicated that if he takes the P.I.A.B. position he intends to take a comprehensive look at the U.S. intelligence community’s information-technology architecture. He is super-concerned about Amazon and Google”—and Facebook, less so.

Is that because he invested in Facebook early on?


Any mention of massive conflicts of interest with Palantir?


He's on the board.


> Thiel reportedly doubled-down and immediately donated $1.25 million to Trump’s campaign

Can someone describe corruption and help me understand how it differs from this situation?


Personally, I find an explicit campaign contribution to be considerably less sleazy than paying a politician hundreds of thousands of dollars for "making a speech" (a very popular ruse with the Clintons, and now Obama). Less sleazy in that campaign funds have to be accounted for (i.e., actually spent on the campaign, or retained for a future campaign) while "speaking fees" can be spent any way you want.


This is a very American point of view, in the rest of the western world we consider buying off politicians to be be immoral, a corrosive thing inimical with democracy


So the wealthy don't donate to politicians in the rest of the western world?


Actually in Europe, it depends of the country but it is pretty heavily regulated. Parties are paid with a mix of public funding (propotional to the number of vote at the last elections, or number of elected public figures) and private donations.

Then for private donation (individual or corporation) there are really low limits. For example in Ireland, the maximum donation for a party per year is about 6,000€.

So sure wealthy people can pay up to that amount, but you cannot really be "bought" for that price. I don't think it is comparable to US campaign finance.

The system is not perfect either because public funding heavily favours existing parties and so, it is harder to run as an independent.


Andrej Babiš a Czech Billionaire, payed for the political campaign that put his party, ANO, into power out of pocket. It is certainly not true that all European countries have strict regulations.


As far as I'm aware, in the UK, no.

Wealthy individuals can donate to political parties, but not to individual politicians, and that is tightly regulated.

If an individual politician was accepting donations from a wealthy individual or company, it would be a scandal.


You can donate to individual politicians.

Here's one list: https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/find-information-by-s...

Here's some more information: https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/find-information-by-s...


I stand corrected, thanks!


Actually there are many holdouts were this is frowned upon.


Frounded upon. Sounds like they still do it.


False equivalence. Campaign contributions and personal income are separate categories.

It might feel unsavory that those speeches are indeed personal income for the long list of politicians, from both left and right, who have engaged in that practice. But those events aren't about buying influence, they're about rich wankers feeling special because they get to hear some bullshit commencement address from important people behind closed doors.

Those private speeches don't buy any more influence than campaign contributions... which is to say rather little for the presidency. The higher the office, the more visibility and intervening forces there are to keep you from making arbitrary policy in favor of donors.

To be clear, I agree these things are bad. And we should strive to remove them entirely from our democracy. But the magnitude of both campaign contributions and private event income is routinely overstated these days.


>It might feel unsavory that those speeches are indeed personal income for the long list of politicians, from both left and right, who have engaged in that practice. But those events aren't about buying influence, they're about rich wankers feeling special because they get to hear some bullshit commencement address from important people behind closed doors.

Also about the fact that people are more likely to sign over millions of dollars in accounts to be managed after they are hanging out in the glow after shaking the hands of somebody they admire. The bank hires Neil Degrasse Tyson or any other celebrity for the same reason. They make money even after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars.


> False equivalence. Campaign contributions and personal income are separate categories.

"False equivalence"? I wasn't "equating" anything. The fact that they are separate categories was the entire point. Namely, that campaign contributions have to (at least in theory) be spent on the campaign, while "speaking fees" are pure slush that can be used for anything the politician desires.

> Those private speeches don't buy any more influence than campaign contributions... which is to say rather little for the presidency.

Are you seriously arguing that politicians aren't influenced when people give them $400,000 of free money (allegedly for standing in front of a crowd and spouting nonsense for 20 minutes)? Dude, these are politicians, not saints.


Paid speeches aren't partisan, nearly every politician does it - from Giuliani and Bush to Clinton and Gore. I don't even think you can use funds like that as you describe. You'd have to loan the money to your campaign to get past the FEC.


Corruption is all about quid quo pro.

So getting sweetheart speaking gigs after you leave office isn't all that likely to lead to corruption charges (unless, say, you believe that Obama has a lot of influence over the present government).

The speaking fees the Clinton's accepted during her interregnum were heavily investigated, because they were an easy target. I wonder if a better prosecutor than Chaffetz would have found something.


Proper corruption typically includes:

* Lack of transparency. It's tough to be corrupt in plain sight.

* Payment to someone who currently possesses power -- not a public contribution to a political candidate seeking a new office of power.


> * Payment to someone who currently possesses power -- not a public contribution to a political candidate seeking a new office of power.

The difference is negligible if you consider it a hedge on that person getting into office, upon which time you get rewarded through appointment. A theme that has become a pattern.


I agree that some people and corporations strategically donate to multiple candidates with the expectation that they'll subsequently have influence.

I don't think the difference is neglible though. In particular, voters incorporate the campaign financing into their decision (as we saw people not voting for HRC because of all the cash she got from Wall Street)


Trump was a private citizen at the time. That was a donation from Thiel to Trump presidential campaign. Corruption is mostly reservered for government favouritism.


The point of the donation was a bet, to receive government favoritism in the event of election. Is that non-obvious?


Which is why basically every big corporation and donor donates to both side of the campaign. This is nothing new. Only difference is that here, Thiel donated to a candidate that didn't get many other big donations because it was presumed he had no chance of winning.


"Government favoritism" is markedly different from the actual "leadership role in the newly elected government"


> “Peter has indicated that if he takes the P.I.A.B. position he intends to take a comprehensive look at the U.S. intelligence community’s information-technology architecture. He is super-concerned about Amazon and Google”—and Facebook, less so. “He feels they have become New Age global fascists in terms of how they’re controlling the media, how they’re controlling information flows to the public, even how they’re purging people from think tanks. He’s concerned about the monopolistic tendencies of [all three] companies and how they deny economic well-being to people they disagree with.

I'm confused. I thought Thiel loved monopolies. Isn't that all he preaches about in one of his books, that you should create a monopoly ASAP? Or does he only love his monopolies or the ones he's been involved in - such as Facebook? And is that why he's willing to give Facebook a pass?


If you read the book, he directly explains that what's ideal for a company isn't necessarily what's ideal for society. For a company's founders or investors, it's pretty much always good to become a monopoly and that's completely legal, too. The anti-trust problems happen after a company already is a monopoly. The US government seems to have essentially ignored anti-trust issues during the Bush/Obama era, but enforcement used to be common.

During the MS anti-trust case in the 90s, it was common to hear things like "becoming a monopoly should be the goal of any business but once they succeed they can't use that monopoly to compete unfairly for another." It was lauded that the created the DOS/Windows monopoly, but it was illegal to force suppliers to bundle MS Word, IE or Media Player with each system and it was illegal to prevent them from pre-installing Word Perfect, Netscape or Real Player.

I don't think MS would have survived so unscathed if Gore had won, but it's impossible to know for sure. The political administration has a huge effect on how much these things are pursued, and it would be a huge deal if the Trump administration were to pursue anti-trust cases as aggressively as the Clinton administration did.


I don't think this bodes well for Amazon, in particular. Trump has a grudge against Bezos and it won't be out of character for Trump to hint to Thiel to express his loyalty by being harsh on Amazon


>> Peter Theil's mastery of Dark Arts...

I mean providing Data Mining and Intelligence analysis software for Intel organizations is Dark Arts now?


Given Intel ME, mmm yes?


You can read this the following way. The 'analogs', represented by Trump, realize they are losing power, that regulation may be their best shot even if that has proven to not work well, and are launching a full-force attack against the 'digitals' (eg Valley).

This event is more meaningful for the world economy and safety than North Korea playing with nuclear weapons. The sides of a possible WW III are analogs vs digitals.

What do you think? I'm thinking about writing a blog post expanding on the idea.


I would like to see Thiel involved in government more, but where, and doing what I am not sure. I think his talents would be useful. The question remains, however, if the President's ego will let him.


Wait, I thought Thiel approved of monopolies...


Only the ones he has invested in.


Here is the Vanity Fair article this piece references and recommends ("You can read the whole, absurd story here. Highly recommended.")

> "here" --> https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/09/donald-trump-peter-t...


Yep, mods should consider changing to this URL, IMO.


This article is exactly as objective and as "inciteful" as one would expect given the source.

Gizmodo's parent company, Gawker, outed Thiel for being gay and he later helped fund a lawsuit someone else brought against them (for taking and publishing a recording of a private sexual encounter). That lawsuit put Gawker out of business.


I recommend the documentary "Nobody Speak" on Netflix for an overview of how the lawsuit unfolded and why it's so problematic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHow1B32WZw


Finally


This position is about intelligence oversight. What's the link with being harsh on Google and Amazon?

What the article makes it sound like is that Thiel is against forms of censorship at the level of companies like Google and Amazon, which in a way is fine, right? (Or maybe I misunderstood?).

Also it sounds like Thiel would very much want to limit the role of the NSA in matters of domestic privacy, which is kind of what everybody wanted Obama to do.

Don't get me wrong, I really dislike libertarianism in that it necessarily leads to very unbalanced societies. And I especially dislike it when it's incoherent (like when libertarians are against immigration/freedom of movement).

But in matters of personal privacy, it's kind of good, no?

EDIT: ok - whoever downvotes this - please send a comment regarding why you think my comment is inappropriate / not interesting?


> Also it sounds like Thiel would very much want to limit the role of the NSA in matters of domestic privacy, which is kind of what everybody wanted Obama to do.

He founded and directly profits from Palantir, a huge private surveillance company that makes its money from government surveillance contracts. He's already got some sweet deals for the company after working for Trump, especially new contracts for ICE.

It's possible that he'd like to privatize surveillance work for his own profit, but given that he's spent the last 13 years working on superior mass surveillance systems, it seems unlikely that the views you seem to attribute to him are true. This is all outside of him being on the board of Facebook (which I'd argue is single greatest force against domestic privacy in the US, and an extremely large ingest source for the NSA).


> EDIT: ok - whoever downvotes this - please send a comment regarding why you think my comment is inappropriate / not interesting?

Not me, but:

> What the article makes it sound like is that Thiel is against forms of censorship at the level of companies like Google and Amazon, which in a way is fine, right? (Or maybe I misunderstood?).

He's on the board of Facebook, and I don't think I'm pessimistic in assuming that will be a executive factor in his actions.

I also don't think it's unreasonable to suggest he's only being considered for his support and donations to Trump, not for his qualifications (like most Trump appointees).

> Also it sounds like Thiel would very much want to limit the role of the NSA in matters of domestic privacy, which is kind of what everybody wanted Obama to do.

I don't believe anyone is hesitant out of dislike of the concept, but clouded judgement of the individual.




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