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"You can't 3-D-print a highway"
October 22, 2013 7:47 AM   Subscribe

Stanford lecturer and genetics startup co-founder Balaji Srinivasan delivered a talk entitled "Silicon Valley's Ultimate Exit", at the Y Combinator startup school on Saturday. The provocative talk, described as "a fantasy of seceding from the U.S." with "undertones of class hostility as well as simple naïveté", is just the latest escalation of the techno-utopian and often anti-government rhetoric from Silicon Valley's elite class (previously: 1, 2, 3).
posted by tonycpsu (123 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Is there anything more precious than Silicon Valley Shruggalos ?
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:52 AM on October 22, 2013 [40 favorites]


Do it! Dooooo it.
posted by Iridic at 7:54 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Any time I hear talk of 'the singularity' it makes me heinously uncomfortable, because it seems so clear to me that if such a thing were to occur, it would NOT be something freely available for everyone to participate in. But try having that conversation with a techno-libertarian white male engineer.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:55 AM on October 22, 2013 [20 favorites]


Let's see, the valley has brilliant folks, great software infrastructure. The USA has HUGE SCARY GUNS. Let's do it the gentlemanly way, cage fight between hackers (they can take their tablets and smart phones) and Special Forces or Seals. Taking bets now.
posted by sammyo at 7:56 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Silicon Valley Shruggalos

haha, i'm stealing that. then selling it to Google.
posted by slater at 7:56 AM on October 22, 2013


Someday one of these people is going to actually attempt this. Among the possible outcomes:
- complete collapse owing to interpersonal conflicts a la every commune ever
- robot apocalypse
posted by Z. Aurelius Fraught at 7:57 AM on October 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


You know that episode of The Simpsons where the local chapter of Mensa tries to run Springfield? I'm pretty sure this idea would go about as well.
posted by dortmunder at 7:58 AM on October 22, 2013 [13 favorites]


Whatever happened to that guy who was going to make technolibertarian utopias on oil platforms?
posted by rtha at 8:00 AM on October 22, 2013


We, now, if you're seriously talking another planet, calling it an "Opt in Society" is a bit treacly, but in a way unless it's a military installation or exclusively a single country's citizens, then Opt in Mars may have a bit of truth to it. Be a while before we're shipping off criminals to another planet (New Australia).
posted by sammyo at 8:03 AM on October 22, 2013


Not until they develop matter fabrication. 3d printing is a nice first crawling motion though, quite adorable.
posted by Slackermagee at 8:03 AM on October 22, 2013


A finger mashing an upvote button -- forever.
posted by R. Schlock at 8:03 AM on October 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, they'd be damn good at selling ads
posted by thelonius at 8:04 AM on October 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


"Every rebel is a closet aristocrat".

How do these wannabe Galts acknowledge their debt to the advanced, relatively safe, full-of-potential society that birthed and nurtured them long enough for them to turn around and give it the finger?
posted by fatbird at 8:05 AM on October 22, 2013 [28 favorites]


One hour later...
posted by jquinby at 8:06 AM on October 22, 2013 [16 favorites]


I think there's a big difference between a group of people who think that the US government is doing it wrong and they could do it better, and a group of people who think that the US government is wrong and NO government is better. The whole Silicon Valley thing is misleading, here. This is just yet another person who is in love with the romantic notion of libertarianism, and in the US those are a dime a dozen right now.
posted by Sequence at 8:06 AM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


"We need to run the experiment, to show what a society run by Silicon Valley looks like..."

Go for broke, guys! Let me know how your arcology turns out when you realize what happens when 100% of the preservation of physical infrastructure needs to be either volunteered for or imported from abroad.
posted by griphus at 8:06 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Overeducated people with real talent/genius in one specific area simplistically think that their talent/genius is universally applicable to every subject/will solve every problem. Film at 11.
posted by CosmicRayCharles at 8:07 AM on October 22, 2013 [37 favorites]


It would be Utopia Armed and Utopia-With-Indentured-Servants, that's what it would be. Picture all these guys (and a few women) - they'd import trophy wives and sex workers and butlers and scullery maids, they'd have to have guns at the border to keep out the desperate, they don't want a tax structure so everything would be dependent on the good will/whims of the richest people....I'm just assuming that they could actually run a society on a cash basis, but it would be a hideous nightmare for everyone who wasn't a successful tech person or one of their high-status servants/chattel.
posted by Frowner at 8:07 AM on October 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


Change the way capital gains taxes are handled in the U.S. and watch the mirage disappear overnight.
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:08 AM on October 22, 2013 [24 favorites]


Because when I think back on my time in the Valley, the first word that pops into my mind is "egalitarian."

This feels more like a plan for establishing a New Deadwood. A place just a few miles outside the law, where the powerful can machinate against each other for a few years while they try to get a little richer. At least until the rest of society, assisted by a few powerful folk with designs on running society rather than running from it, build their paved roads and declare the frontier reincorporated.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 8:08 AM on October 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Why don't we just Open Source the highway system then everyone will build highways to whatever they want? Heh, eat it, government.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:08 AM on October 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm totally in favor of them trying (just not here). I don't think it will work, but it will keep them occupied for a bit and, hey, maybe I'm wrong.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 8:09 AM on October 22, 2013


It would be Utopia Armed and Utopia-With-Indentured-Servants, that's what it would be.

We'll call it ... Dubai 2.0.
posted by griphus at 8:09 AM on October 22, 2013 [37 favorites]


Anyone trying to build a society "where government can't meddle" makes me nervous. The idea of a guy whose money comes from genomics doing it sounds even worse.
posted by maryr at 8:11 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


The full slidedeck for this talk can be found here

Whatever you think of the ideas ( count me as skeptical...) , it is a great preso.
posted by Bwithh at 8:12 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


A bit ironically, one of the best takedowns of this basic idea is a fairly throwaway line from Avi in Cryptonomicon: governments always find ways to get their taxes. Your brilliant scheme to dine and dash on a national scale will always fail.

That said, he hinted at a good point, and one that's been articulated before by lesbian separatists in the 70s: There are degrees of separatism. There's swimming out to the artificial island offshore, and then there's going off the grid with solar panels. The point he seems to be feeling his way around is that technology offers a much higher degree of lifestyle separatism than was possible before. You don't need IKEA when you have a 3D printer.
posted by fatbird at 8:12 AM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


it would be a hideous nightmare for everyone who wasn't a successful tech person or one of their high-status servants/chattel.

Pretty sure John MacAfee already beat them to it.
posted by backseatpilot at 8:16 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is just the latest generation of technocrats, who typically conjure up simplistic, ill-thought-out and downright anti-human technology to complex societal problems. I guess this generation has learnt its lesson and decided that in order for their ideas to work, they need to get rid of pesky details such as nations and their citizens.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:16 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


You don't need Ikea at all. Or a 3d printer. You don't need anything besides community, sustenance and home and there are a LOT of people that know that already.

I'm going to go read old Monday 2000 issues.
posted by n9 at 8:17 AM on October 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also, were I the U.S. Government encountering such a proposal, I'd say "ok, go ahead" and then just tariff the everloving shit out of any income derived from exporting goods and services to Valleystan.

Oh you guys need food and raw materials and bus drivers? How's 500% over market sound?
posted by griphus at 8:17 AM on October 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Foci -- in technocratese: my system would be perfect if it were not for the users!
posted by n9 at 8:19 AM on October 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


How do these wannabe Galts acknowledge their debt to the advanced, relatively safe, full-of-potential society that birthed and nurtured them long enough for them to turn around and give it the finger?

I was trying to explain to a friend last weekend how I see this modern libertarianism (and in particular, I suppose, techno-libertarianism) as a case of fuck-you-got-mine, but I was pretty drunk and I'm not sure he would have gotten it, anyway (he's the kind of guy who hates the ADA because he had to make the bathrooms in his bar accessible and it was "too expensive").

So yeah, good luck getting along with an entire techno-anarchy full of guys like him.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:20 AM on October 22, 2013


It's nice to be rich, especially when most of the work is done by unpaid interns and underpaid employees that get locked in at night. That's what silicon valley is based on. Try creating a workers utopia first and then we'll talk.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:20 AM on October 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Another look at this topic, more directly calling out the class issues embedded throughout, from Jacobin Magazine: Delusions of the Tech Bro Intelligentsia.
posted by twsf at 8:21 AM on October 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


"Monday 2000"? One is enough.

#huehuehue
posted by andreaazure at 8:21 AM on October 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


You know, secession isn't a plan reserved for the right; I've recently encountered a Pacific Northwest movement to secede from both the US and Canada, effectively pissing off twice the number of armed nation-states as this puny plan from Silicon Valley. Their goals:
Our work connects, supports and advances our society in the Pacific Northwest by promoting policies for increased direct democracy, land rights, individual rights, environmental sustainability, social justice and freedom.
posted by pwnguin at 8:23 AM on October 22, 2013


I've said it before and I'll say it again. if you feel the tug of The Singularity (aka the Dorknarok) or any other techno-futurist Utopian fantasy, hie thee at once to RISKS-L and subscribe to the digest.
posted by jquinby at 8:23 AM on October 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


2 weeks into it, something like this might happen...


[Knock knock]

TECHTOPIA: Who is it?

CHINA: CHINA, BITCH.

TECHTOPIA: LOL you sound like Jesse from Breaking Bad.

CHINA: OPEN THE DOOR.

TECHTOPIA: Uh yeah, so what can I do for you, China?

CHINA: YOU CAN OPEN THE FUCKING DOOR RIGHT NOW.

TECHTOPIA: Not sure I want to do that, to be–

SFX: CRUNCH CRACK BOOM!

CHINA: WHY DIDN'T YOU OPEN THE DOOR?

TECHTOPIA: Hey listen, this isn't cool, I don't really want you in here, CHINA.

CHINA: I ONLY NEED A FEW MOMENTS OF YOUR TIME–

TECHTOPIA: Oh good, that's a relief.

CHINA: YOU DIDN'T LET ME FINISH. I ONLY NEED A FEW MINUTES OF YOUR TIME TO TAKE ALL YOUR STUFF AND PROBABLY KILL YOU.

TECHTOPIA: I miss America.

~~Fin~~
posted by Mister_A at 8:24 AM on October 22, 2013 [23 favorites]


There are degrees of separatism. There's swimming out to the artificial island offshore, and then there's going off the grid with solar panels.

"Srinivasan sees exiting happening all the time, thanks to the Internet. "Simply going on Reddit instead of watching television is a version of opting out," he said."

Oh for chrissake. Why did I waste my time reading even that far?

Yeah, you don't need an IKEA when you have a 3D printer, but you'll be making lots of trips to buy new furniture jet cartridges.
posted by three blind mice at 8:24 AM on October 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


pwnguin: "You know, secession isn't a plan reserved for the right"

I love the smell of burning straw in the morning.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:25 AM on October 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


As a 40 (41 now.. damn it.) year old software guy, the libertarian vein that runs through this industry is maddening.

I cannot fathom why we think we're worth so goddamn much money. Every member of my family does things that are more important, and make less than half what I make. I thought my generation was as bad as it would get. But the "bro-grammer" culture and precious we're smarter than everyone stuff just keeps getting worse and worse.
posted by DigDoug at 8:26 AM on October 22, 2013 [44 favorites]


This looks like the second in a series, since the writer wrote about this before (more about the shutdown, but still):

The Government Shutdown Has Revealed Silicon Valley’s Dysfunction Fetish
But the bigger takeaway from Palihapitiya's rant is that a certain strain of influential Silicon Valley thought has moved past passive political apathy and into a kind of anarchist cheerleading. Dysfunction and shutdowns are good, this line of thinking goes, because it hamstrings Washington's ability to mess with the private sector's profit-making schemes. And as long as the Bay Area is still churning out successful start-ups, what does it matter if hundreds of thousands of government workers are furloughed, essential services are cut off for low-income Americans, and the threat of a sovereign default endangers the entire economy?
[...]
But the message they're pushing isn't as simple as small-government libertarianism or selfish profit-seeking. It's a kind of regional declaration of independence. The entrepreneurial community in San Francisco and Silicon Valley increasingly thinks of itself as a semi-autonomous region within the U.S. — one that has its own funding scheme, its own leaders, and its own paths to success. And the message they're sending is simple: We matter, you don't.

It would be an easy view to write off, if it weren't so influential. Silicon Valley is, after all, the country's most lucrative economic engine right now, and it is accumulating political capital to accompany its profits. If tech leaders like Palihapitiya and groups like FWD.us have their way, future bouts of dysfunction in Washington might not just be about the tea party clashing with Democrats and the Republican Establishment. One day, they might be carried in by a Bay Area breeze.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:32 AM on October 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Entrepreneurial governments make for innovative economies:

"Ms. Mazzucato goes several giant steps further in arguing that the most radical and ground-changing new technologies – such as information and communications technologies – are the result of far-sighted investments by a risk-taking, innovative state that “picks winners” (quite contrary to the conventional wisdom), and also plays a major role in ensuring the widespread adoption and diffusion of system-changing new technologies by a risk-averse private sector with short-term horizons."


THE ENTREPRENEURIAL STATE, by Mariana Mazzucato (pdf):

"Across the globe we are hearing that the state has to be cut back in order to foster a post-crisis recovery, unleashing the power of entrepreneurship and innovation in the private
sector. This feeds a perceived contrast that is repeatedly drawn by the media, business and libertarian politicians of a dynamic, innovative, competitive private sector versus a sluggish, bureaucratic, inertial, ‘meddling’ public sector. So much so that it is virtually accepted by the public as a ‘common sense’ truth.....The evidence presented in this pamphlet challenges this minimalist view of the state in the field of economic policy, arguing that a far more proactive role is required"
posted by elmono at 8:40 AM on October 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


Fundamentally, this seems to be yet another iteration of what I've seen called "Engineers Disease" -- the idea that, because I am expert in one area, I must also be an undiscovered expert in all areas. Moreover, because I am an expert in this one area, if you reject my claims in other areas it is because you are opposed to all that is Good and Smart.
posted by aramaic at 8:47 AM on October 22, 2013 [17 favorites]


These sad saps. They come to Rapture, thinking they're gonna be captains of industry. But they all forget that somebody's gotta scrub the toilets.

--Frank Fontaine
posted by tyllwin at 8:48 AM on October 22, 2013 [25 favorites]


You all have missed the most delicious irony about this asshole

his company, Counsyl, is a by mail service for genetic screening for people who want to become pregnant. Basically they perform a simple biological technique called polymerase chain reaction (PCR, nobel prize winning discovery, government funded research) hundreds to thousands of times to sequence areas where genetic mutations can lead to serious diseases such as huntingtins or down syndrome. US-Government research has played a significant role in identifying and characterizing every single one of these hotspots in our DNA that this company is looking at. This allows them to sompare your DNA to what we consider normal and tell you if you have any reason to be concerned. Now, on their website they claim that their big advance was in making these types of screens affordable, but the reason large scale genetic sequencing is now relatively fast and cheap is because of the tens of millions of tax dollars poured into the public/private partnership that was the human genome project (Which, by the way, is going to have one of the biggest ROIs in a LONG time).

So, basically: Asshole has idea to create the Netflix of genetic testing services based on government funded techniques to screen for dangerous genetic mutations identified in government sponsored labs and then bitches about how his taxes are too high and that he is a titan among men.
posted by slapshot57 at 8:48 AM on October 22, 2013 [118 favorites]


I actually had a more politically-charged version of this post with that first nymag.com piece linked, but didn't want this to devolve into yet another government shutdown thread, so I trimmed it down a bit. I do think there are some similarities between Tea Party type secessionists and these techbro Dunning-Krugerites, but my hunch is that the physical separation and lack of cultural affinity between the two groups will keep them from uniting or working toward the same end state.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:49 AM on October 22, 2013


slapshot57: " So, basically: Asshole has idea to create the Netflix of genetic testing services based on government funded techniques to screen for dangerous genetic mutations identified in government sponsored labs and then bitches about how his taxes are too high and that he is a titan among men."

Not a whole lot different from the early startups (Yahoo, Google, etc.) who piggy-backed on the publicly funded Internet to earn a profit by exploiting inefficiencies in the larger society. And now they want to leave that society. If these techbros are so brilliant, who's going to create new inefficiencies to exploit?
posted by tonycpsu at 8:51 AM on October 22, 2013


...my hunch is that the physical separation and lack of cultural affinity between the two groups will keep them from uniting or working toward the same end state.

The trick would be to bring both the Eloi and Morlocks together and then totally isolate them from the rest of society.
posted by griphus at 8:52 AM on October 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


If Techno Libertarian is going to be in a cage match it's gotta be against Techno Viking first. There can only be one!
posted by Hairy Lobster at 8:53 AM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


griphus: " The trick would be to bring both the Eloi and Morlocks together and then totally isolate them from the rest of society."

If my wife's Facebook feed is any indication, the best vehicle to make this happen is probably Zynga.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:58 AM on October 22, 2013


Man, I miss TechnoViking.
posted by aramaic at 8:59 AM on October 22, 2013


Previously... sort of.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:01 AM on October 22, 2013


His remarks weren't that far off from ones made earlier by Silicon Valley bigwigs like Google CEO Larry Page, who wants to "set aside a part of the world" for regulation-free technological experimentation

Well, if they are going to do it right, the place will have to have a volcano, those sliding metal doors that make that 'whooshpfft' sound, and jumpsuits - lots of jumpsuits. Its like Timothy Leary's Spaceship Earth, but re-concepted into a open-sourced Bond Villain Business Plan that's funded by a venture capital and a kickstarter program.

Actually, I kinda think they should try this - but not here. Do it on the Moon - less chance of them messing up this planet when one of the "regulation-free technological experiments" goes wrong. They get their own little kingdom, and the rest of us benefit from the tech required for them to make it happen.
posted by chambers at 9:04 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


New Scientist has a fascinating article that is not yet online called "Pattern Behind the Shutdown" which describes a theory by Peter Turchin (Previously). He says the shutdown is a manifestation of increasing competition among the elite class. As the elite class gets bigger, there is an increase in competition among them resulting in increasing polarization. This is not a new phenomenon in history and there are many previous examples and they usually result in political violence eventually. This Silicon Valley libertarian strain as one part of the inter-elite competition, it's SV vs. the Washington politicians: elite vs elite.
posted by stbalbach at 9:04 AM on October 22, 2013 [12 favorites]


These guys woke up on 3rd base and thought they hit a trip -

Wait, there's no more food? What's that arriving off of our coastal waters? I would have made it to this meeting but my car is broke and the roads are also and my kid is sick because the Internet is down.

Yes, we'll all go quietly. Yes, I'll turn off the lights, Sargeant.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 9:05 AM on October 22, 2013


"Fuck you, I would if I could!"
posted by symbioid at 9:05 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is just the latest generation of technocrats, who typically conjure up simplistic, ill-thought-out and downright anti-human technology to complex societal problems. I guess this generation has learnt its lesson and decided that in order for their ideas to work, they need to get rid of pesky details such as nations and their citizens.

Yuuup. It just reminds me of that post-Industrial Revolution technological utopianism of "Our glorious new systems will solve all of society's ills and we'll make out like bandits, what's not to love? Oh yeah, society's made of other people, that's kind of annoying... let me tell you about my friends eugenics and social Darwinism, they'll fix that right up."
posted by jason_steakums at 9:07 AM on October 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Hey now, this libertarian bullshit only comes from one part of "Silicon Valley's elite class". Typically its younger, maler, pre-childrearing part. The Y Combinator world in particular attracts this nonsense, often reinforced in the Hacker News echo chamber. But there's a lot of good leftist liberals in Silicon Valley too, building idealistic technologies and funding Democratic candidates and generally trying to do good.

Here's a short profile on Srinivasan.
posted by Nelson at 9:11 AM on October 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Actually, I kinda think they should try this - but not here. Do it on the Moon - less chance of them messing up this planet when one of the "regulation-free technological experiments" goes wrong. They get their own little kingdom, and the rest of us benefit from the tech required for them to make it happen.


Of course, they'll have difficulty importing labor, so they'll probably wind up taking prisoners from whichever authoritarian kleptocracies are left down the gravity well. Eventually, those prisoners will reproduce and establish their own society based on radical individualist entrepreneurial values, while still being a permanent underclass.


Let's hope they don't get a-hold of the space catapult!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:11 AM on October 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


Of course, they'll have difficulty importing labor, so they'll probably wind up taking prisoners from whichever authoritarian kleptocracies are left down the gravity well. Eventually, those prisoners will reproduce and establish their own society based on radical individualist entrepreneurial values, while still being a permanent underclass.

We shall call it... Spacestralia.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:13 AM on October 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Naturally, Srinivasan is also a Bitcoin evangelist.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:13 AM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


When all you have is a compiler, every problem looks like source code. Silicon Valley is hardly the only place that does this sort of thing but we do get a lot of exposure because we're pretty tightly intertwined with the (now, mostly digital) media. Nobody every seems to think much about how food will get grown or houses built in these thought experiments. And they really are thought experiments, nobody actually wants to do that. Why leave a society where you're among the richest people? To start over from nothing so you don't have to deal with taxicab or data retention regulations? Not worth it, and these guys know it.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:15 AM on October 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Outsource about half of Silicon Valley jobs, and halve the wages of the survivors, and we'll see just how quickly this delusional thinking crumbles.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:17 AM on October 22, 2013


tylerkaraszewski: "And they really are thought experiments, nobody actually wants to do that."

Were it only so. These guys are using their public platform to push a viewpoint that government is irrevocably broken, with the only logical solution being to escape its reach. I'll give you that very few of them are actually voting with their feet yet, but that's only because of the logistical problems being discussed here (lack of a labor force, lack of basic infrastructure, etc.) that they hope to solve by bringing along a shitload of rubes with them.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:17 AM on October 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


secession isn't a plan reserved for the right; I've recently encountered a Pacific Northwest movement to secede from both the US and Canada, effectively pissing off twice the number of armed nation-states as this puny plan from Silicon Valley

Yeah, plus I'm pretty sure the rest of the continent needs water more than they need late nite food delivery phone apps.
posted by scose at 9:18 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


And for some more historical context, let's not forget that Paulina Borsook wrote about this topic more than a decade ago in Cyberselfish: A Critical Romp through the Terribly Libertarian Culture of High Tech.
posted by twsf at 9:23 AM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


The sci-fi novel, Beggars in Spain, is based on the notion of a relatively small group of technologically and genetically superior people seceding from the U.S. They move to a private community in upstate New York and eventually end up on a gigantic space station called Sanctuary Orbital. The book deals with the issues of needing a mostly terrestrial workforce to support them and what happens to the people who don't/can't/won't fit into that workforce. Imagine Idiocracy if Ayn Rand had written the screenplay and if she'd had a sense of humor.
posted by fuse theorem at 9:27 AM on October 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Okay we're seceding. You there! You're writing iOS apps! You! You're getting our Clojure backend scalable! And you! Your job is to run around spraying air freshener the whole day because the stench from this river of raw sewage running through the office is making me gag!"
posted by PenDevil at 9:29 AM on October 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


These guys are using their public platform to push a viewpoint that government is irrevocably broken, with the only logical solution being to escape its reach.

This is the "I'm a speaker at a tech conference!" version of saying "If Obamacare passes, I'm moving to Canada!" people are angry but not actually motivated to act. Plenty of the Silicon Valley elite could afford to buy their own islands (Larry Ellison actually *did*), but none have tried to set up their own tech utopia where they solve all the fundamental problems of civilization with nothing but python code and 3D printers. You know why? Because they have nothing to gain. They're already flying in private jets to private islands where their "currently the world's largest!" pissing-contest yachts are waiting for them.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:30 AM on October 22, 2013


Outsource about half of Silicon Valley jobs, and halve the wages of the survivors, and we'll see just how quickly this delusional thinking crumbles.


Haha, next will you suggest that making Wal-Mart workers lives even worse will bring the Waltons to their senses?
posted by Space Coyote at 9:31 AM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Let me know how your arcology turns out when you realize what happens when 100% of the preservation of physical infrastructure needs to be either volunteered for or imported from abroad.

What happens?

You have Dubai and Doha.
posted by ambient2 at 9:35 AM on October 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


tylerkaraszewski: "You know why? Because they have nothing to gain. They're already flying in private jets to private islands where their "currently the world's largest!" pissing-contest yachts are waiting for them."

Yes, I agree -- my only argument is that it's not just a thought experiment when you have that kind of platform and use it to push anti-government ideology. It's an explicit call for people to give up on the (admittedly flawed) systems we all can benefit from instead of working to improve them.

Maybe these 0.01 percenters know that they'll never actually get their utopia, but the people they're speaking to might not know that. My fear is that this kind of rhetoric is going to cause a lot of smart technical people to eschew careers in the public sector (or in private sector projects that can help improve the public sector), instead creating islands of profit-skimmers whose works don't feed back into the larger society.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:37 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anyone trying to build a society "where government can't meddle" makes me nervous. The idea of a guy whose money comes from genomics doing it sounds even worse.

So basically the Island of Dr. Moreau.

I can almost...almost...feel sympathy for young, intelligent folks, who are realizing how effed-up things are, wanting to make radical changes in order to improve things. But past a certain age, you are simply an uneducated, ignorant maroon if you believe that human society can be easily transformed in any way.

History is littered with failed experiments (and a few hard-won successes), and if you can't be bothered to learn about them, you are just going to repeat them, and very probably, cause a lot of suffering to others who get roped in/affected by your schemes.
posted by emjaybee at 9:41 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


When Androids sleep, they dream of being TechnoViking.
posted by nubs at 9:43 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Outsource about half of Silicon Valley jobs, and halve the wages of the survivors, and we'll see just how quickly this delusional thinking crumbles.

The Entrepreneur and VC Elite are already doing it, and it's contributed heavily to their Fuck You Money holdings.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:47 AM on October 22, 2013


secession isn't a plan reserved for the right; I've recently encountered a Pacific Northwest movement to secede from both the US and Canada, effectively pissing off twice the number of armed nation-states as this puny plan from Silicon Valley

Perhaps the two groups can be combined. You know, I've always found this to be a softly totalitarian vision.

The book is set in 1999 (25 years in the future from 1974) and consists of diary entries and reports of journalist William Weston, who is the first American mainstream media reporter to investigate Ecotopia. (Ecotopia is a small country that broke away from the USA in 1980.) Prior to Weston's reporting, most Americans had been barred from entering the new country, which is depicted as being on continual guard against revanchism. The new nation of Ecotopia consists of Northern California, Oregon, and Washington; it is hinted that Southern California is a lost cause.

Hm, they're correct on the last part.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:51 AM on October 22, 2013


OK. *Now* I understand the sentiments behind Google+.
posted by Twang at 9:59 AM on October 22, 2013


I'm sure that Silitopia (Sillytopia?) would be very efficient. What it wouldn't be is resilient.

You can shut down the American government for two weeks and pick it right up where it left off. But one prolonged power outage, or they run out of rare metals, or they get hacked by Belarusians and that's the end of Silitopia.
posted by Roentgen at 10:18 AM on October 22, 2013


Naturally, Srinivasan is also a Bitcoin evangelist.

This sentence goes on the pile with "Naturally, Srinivasan requires oxygen in order to live" or "Naturally, Srinivasan is a bilaterally symmetric vertebrate".
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 10:21 AM on October 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


CosmicRayCharles: "Overeducated people with real talent/genius in one specific area simplistically think that their talent/genius is universally applicable to every subject/will solve every problem. Film at 11."

aramaic: "Fundamentally, this seems to be yet another iteration of what I've seen called "Engineers Disease" -- the idea that, because I am expert in one area, I must also be an undiscovered expert in all areas. Moreover, because I am an expert in this one area, if you reject my claims in other areas it is because you are opposed to all that is Good and Smart."

It's the Apology of Socrates all the way down!
At last I went to the artisans, for I was conscious that I knew nothing at all, as I may say, and I was sure that they knew many fine things; and in this I was not mistaken, for they did know many things of which I was ignorant, and in this they certainly were wiser than I was. But I observed that even the good artisans fell into the same error as the poets; because they were good workmen they thought that they also knew all sorts of high matters, and this defect in them overshadowed their wisdom ...
Sometimes I assign annoying, ignorant people reading lists before they're allowed to talk to me again. I assign all of these good gentlemen the above, plus a 2500-word theme on "why being good at programming does not make me good at governing," and an additional 10-item reading list of books about government, to be researched and proposed by the student and approved by the instructor, that they will read and digest before making further suggestions about government, in which all items must predate the Industrial Revolution. Any use of the words "utilize" or "actionable" or "deliverable" in any assignment will result in immediate failure and assignment to remedial civics and community service hours of trash-picking along the highway.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:28 AM on October 22, 2013 [28 favorites]


Many of you have talked about the myopia of having expertise in one area and generalizing it, especially for the engineer.

This actually seems to be an invariant across at least Western civilization. From the Apology of Socrates:

At last I went to the artisans. I was conscious that I knew nothing at all, as I may say, and I was sure that they knew many fine things; and here I was not mistaken, for they did know many things of which I was ignorant, and in this they certainly were wiser than I was. But I observed that even the good artisans fell into the same error as the poets; -- because they were good workmen they thought that they also knew all sorts o high matters, and this defect in them overshadowed their wisdom; and therefore I asked myself on behalf of the oracle, whether I would like to be as I was , neither having their knowledge nor their ignorance, or like them in both; and I made answer to myself and to the oracle that I was better off as I was.
posted by curuinor at 10:28 AM on October 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


... woah
posted by curuinor at 10:29 AM on October 22, 2013 [20 favorites]


That was the best jinx ever.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:30 AM on October 22, 2013 [28 favorites]


One can 3d print a road. I mean if that's your rebuttal, god help us.
posted by humanfont at 10:30 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is the same sort of mental disorder that leads past-life fanatics to believe that they were kings and queens and princesses. No one was ever the scullery-maid.
posted by marylynn at 10:36 AM on October 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


While I'm in general agreement I will throw in a small contrarian note. It is significant that when Barack Obama wants to win an election and is not obliged to use the existing machineries of government, you get Project Narwhal, created by a dream team of Silicon Valley hotshots. When he wants to implement a government website, you get the current healthcare.gov mess created by an absolutely typical government contractor and when its creaking gears don't turn, you get the ludicrous spectacle of people talking with a straight face about a tech "surge".
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:38 AM on October 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


George_Spiggott: "When he wants to implement a government website, you get the current healthcare.gov mess created by an absolutely typical government contractor"

How is this contrarian? I haven't read anyone here or in the FPP links saying that the "existing machineries of government" aren't, in fact, littered with bureaucratic obstacles. Of course they are. But why is the impulse to just get up and leave instead of trying to use technology to solve those problems? Let's figure out why the ACA rollout has been a clusterfuck compared to the Obama campaign's technical wizardry. Let's use technology to break down bureaucratic obstacles.

Also, the private sector isn't without its own bureaucracy, and, in fact, many of Srinivasan's complaints are aimed at existing systems in private sector (Wall Street, the establishment media, etc.) For every success story like Project Narwhal, there's a Project Orca somewhere to be found -- the only reason we don't hear more about the private sector failures is that there's only one (federal) government, but many private sector companies.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:46 AM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


tonycpsu, I'll stipulate to all that. Like I said, I'm not in disagreement. In fact this whole thing -- if nobody's said it yet and they probably have -- smells of the same naive, self-regarding "let's run government like a business" brainfarts of the corporatists. But I thought I'd point it out.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:50 AM on October 22, 2013


Also let's not forget that Silicon Valley runs on failure: it's one part Hollywood, where the occasional megahit keeps the dream alive for a thousand other attempts ranging from good but uncommercial to complete pieces of shit, and one part textbook capitalism evolution-in-overdrive; nature red in tooth and claw. It works because it's embedded in a larger socioeconomic reality acting as both source and sink. What happens when you try to take it out? I think the Elysium reference in the first article is about right.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:09 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


"We need to run the experiment, to show what a society run by Silicon Valley looks like..."

I'm sure everything would go well for these guys and their friends, at the expense of the rest of us, and would be declared a huge success. Life gets a lot easier when you wear gold-plated blinders.
posted by Foam Pants at 11:10 AM on October 22, 2013


Luckily, everyone but me is expendable.
posted by ckape at 11:27 AM on October 22, 2013


From Plato's Republic onwards, designing a more perfect society has always been on of the great thought experiments. I don't begrudge people from indulging in it, though it seems kind of masturbatory if you're not thinking deeply enough to come up with useful ideas and are more focused on useless fantasies of continuing to extract the benefits of highly governed society while shirking the basic responsibility to keep the ladders in place for others. To make out like robber-barons, basically.

I think I might try using the word "society" instead of "government". You can't do XYZ asshole thing because it's against government society rules.
posted by anonymisc at 11:54 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well yeah, what techno-libertarians don't understand is the entire reason they can faff around doing stuff like this is the government monopoly on force is what keeps the guys that beat them up in high school from rolling up Mad Max style and putting them to work in the nerd mines.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 12:25 PM on October 22, 2013 [20 favorites]


aramaic: "Fundamentally, this seems to be yet another iteration of what I've seen called "Engineers Disease" -- the idea that, because I am expert in one area, I must also be an undiscovered expert in all areas."

Whenever I encounter this, I try to gently remind my interlocutor that the greatest basketball player of his generation (and possibly of all time) was only pretty mediocre at baseball.

Also, in slide 9 ("US: shaped by both Voice & Exit") in the presentation, the author talks about various "exit" events which shaped the US. But, the progression goes from Puritans fleeing England to the American revolution to East Coasters populating the Western frontier to escaping Pograms, Nazism and Communism. I can't help but think there might have been another significant exit event in America's history, maybe around the time of Western frontier. What am I thinking of? It's on the tip of my tongue... Oh, that's right -- the motherfucking Civil War.
posted by mhum at 12:43 PM on October 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


If they truly had better ideas, then they should be able to convince a majority and get them enacted. That's how government works. If instead their ideas boil down to "we don't want to be taxed or regulated" and "abandon the poors and the sicks" then it's easy to see why the rest of us would be opposed.
posted by newdaddy at 12:54 PM on October 22, 2013


For every head-in-the-sky thinker you need a dozen ditch diggers.

Thing is, for a healthy society you need both, and you need both to thrive, because
the head-head-in-the-sky may advance us, but the ditch digger sustains us.

Who is building the sewage systems, the power plants, selling the cheetos, planting the corn, taking care of the disabled, watching the kids, mowing the grass, changing the oil..etfuckingc? Because they are the sustainer. And from a day-to-day point of view they are more valuable then some agreved jackass with delusions of saviortude.

Strip him of his American dollars, toss him in the desert and let him have a go at it.
posted by edgeways at 12:59 PM on October 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


The guy taught a MOOC for coursera on how to start a startup. This also is a subject which has miniscule overlap with his expertise in genetics so one question is: did anybody think it was a valuable class? The coursera web page doesn't obviously link to any reviews.
posted by bukvich at 1:00 PM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah this crowd gonna need some Cheetos, good point edgeways.
posted by Mister_A at 1:06 PM on October 22, 2013


mhum: "Oh, that's right -- the motherfucking Civil War."

Imagine these assholes a hundred years from now re-enacting "The War of n00bish Aggression" in front of mountainside sculptures of Generals Thiel, Musk, and Page.

"The Mouths Will Rise Again!"
posted by tonycpsu at 1:16 PM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm picturing a farm run by agile teams and I'm just about in tears imagining how hilarious it would be.
posted by winna at 1:33 PM on October 22, 2013 [18 favorites]


"We all got stack ranked, and somehow a goat is now our team leader."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:51 PM on October 22, 2013 [23 favorites]


Also, were I the U.S. Government encountering such a proposal, I'd say "ok, go ahead" and then just tariff the everloving shit out of any income derived from exporting goods and services to Valleystan.


In case no one's noticed, regulatory capture in this regard has been laughably easy since Reagan. Our government is doing the opposite of tarrifing American industrialists that go offshore. It's why our economy is shit.
posted by clarknova at 1:53 PM on October 22, 2013


none have tried to set up their own tech utopia where they solve all the fundamental problems of civilization with nothing but python code and 3D printers

Actually, I'm reminded of Dean Kamen. Though TBH some of these bros make him seem positively sane and sensible by comparison.
posted by mstokes650 at 1:57 PM on October 22, 2013


three blind mice: Yeah, you don't need an IKEA when you have a 3D printer, but you'll be making lots of trips to buy new furniture jet cartridges.

This is a fantastic piece of analysis.
posted by wormwood23 at 2:21 PM on October 22, 2013


mhum: "aramaic: "Fundamentally, this seems to be yet another iteration of what I've seen called "Engineers Disease" -- the idea that, because I am expert in one area, I must also be an undiscovered expert in all areas."

Whenever I encounter this, I try to gently remind my interlocutor that the greatest basketball player of his generation (and possibly of all time) was only pretty mediocre at baseball.
"

Or maybe an even better way to put this is that Michael Jordan was best at basketball and while still better than probably all of us in baseball, still had no business doing it for a living.

I've got no doubt that a lot of these guys would be better than many other people at fixing society's ills. But better isn't always best. Or even good.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:28 PM on October 22, 2013


"Fundamentally, this seems to be yet another iteration of what I've seen called "Engineers Disease" -- the idea that, because I am expert in one area, I must also be an undiscovered expert in all areas."

I think it's more that you assume that problems not in your area are simple, so anyone can solve them. Musk suffers from this. The engineering problems with the Hyperloop were discussed in some detail. The non-engineering problems were hand-waved away as being easy. Which is ridiculous, because it isn't technological problems that are making high speed rail so expensive in California, it's everything else.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 3:42 PM on October 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


"We need to run the experiment, to show what a society run by Silicon Valley looks like..."

We've already got that slight but cute short story by Cory Doctorow about when society was temporarily being run by sysadmins. That should cover whatever real need for this there may be.
posted by jfuller at 3:48 PM on October 22, 2013


"I'm going to go read old Monday 2000 issues."

Edited by R.U. Garfield?
posted by klangklangston at 4:16 PM on October 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'll join up if I can drive one of the small scale trains through the hills.
posted by sammyo at 4:48 PM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


did anybody think it was a valuable class? The coursera web page doesn't obviously link to any reviews..

I took the class. I thought his focus on bitcoin-based crowdfunding was a little weird, but other than that he seemed like a very smart guy with some excellent insights about technology and business--despite the course title being "Startup Engineering" a significant part of the course covered topics like market research, the importance of social/mobile/local, regulation & disruption. I actually got a lot out of it.

It looks like class projects raised $27,000 USD equivalent in Bitcoin.

My project was (mostly just thinking about the idea of) an easy to use drone system to document police misconduct during peaceful assemblies: http://www.civileyes.me/
posted by jjwiseman at 4:56 PM on October 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


(You can see some reviews at http://coursetalk.org/coursera/startup-engineering.)
posted by jjwiseman at 4:58 PM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Change the way capital gains taxes are handled in the U.S. and watch the mirage disappear overnight.

A simple note on wealth taxes.
posted by kliuless at 5:19 PM on October 22, 2013


Anyone trying to build a society "where government can't meddle" makes me nervous. The idea of a guy whose money comes from genomics doing it sounds even worse.

Where's Solid Snake when we need him?
posted by gucci mane at 6:09 PM on October 22, 2013


klieless link in actual text (from a paper by the IMF "Taxing Times, October 2013"):
Box 6. A One-Off Capital Levy?

The sharp deterioration of the public finances in many countries has revived interest in a “capital levy”— a one-off tax on private wealth—as an exceptional measure to restore debt sustainability.¹ The appeal is that such a tax, if it is implemented before avoidance is possible and there is a belief that it will never be repeated, does not distort behavior (and may be seen by some as fair). There have been illustrious supporters, including Pigou, Ricardo, Schumpeter, and—until he changed his mind—Keynes. The conditions for success are strong, but also need to be weighed against the risks of the alternatives, which include repudiating public debt or inflating it away (these, in turn, are a particular form of wealth tax—on bondholders—that also falls on nonresidents).

There is a surprisingly large amount of experience to draw on, as such levies were widely adopted in Europe after World War I and in Germany and Japan after World War II. Reviewed in Eichengreen (1990), this experience suggests that more notable than any loss of credibility was a simple failure to achieve debt reduction, largely because the delay in introduction gave space for extensive avoidance and capital flight—in turn spurring inflation.

The tax rates needed to bring down public debt to precrisis levels, moreover, are sizable: reducing debt ratios to end-2007 levels would require (for a sample of 15 euro area countries) a tax rate of about 10 percent on households with positive net wealth.²

1 As for instance in Bach (2012).

2 IMF staff calculation using the Eurosystem’s Household Finance and Consumption Survey (Household Finance and Consumption Network, 2013); unweighted average."
I guess this is supposed to be some sort of death-knell for the idea, and seems to be generating lots of "there cummin fer are welth Obbamma commy pinkoes" comments on far-right sites, but it sounds sensible to me. Very, very few households would fall into the "positive net wealth" category, and a simple "over the first $10,000,000 of net wealth" would eliminate 99% of those few. The rest are leeches on the system and the rate should be per year until you fall under the cap.

The tech world is so insular. Because there is a lot of capital chasing ideas in the area at the moment (and, hey, I make a living, such as it is, from that, so, yay?), people in that world have a hugely outsized idea of their actual importance and how temporary it is likely to be. I don't think most of these people are as "agile" as they think...take away web sites which remove vowels and provide picture filters and a way to "like" things, and they'd be out of work.
posted by maxwelton at 8:21 PM on October 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


> The rest are leeches on the system and the rate should be per year until you fall under the cap.

A one-time capital levy is thinkable as an emergency measure, even to me. That other thing is, beyond the least rational doubt, Obbamma commy pinkoes cummin fer are welth. Gramsci approves.
posted by jfuller at 6:58 AM on October 23, 2013


"Fundamentally, this seems to be yet another iteration of what I've seen called "Engineers Disease" -- the idea that, because I am expert in one area, I must also be an undiscovered expert in all areas."

Programmer's Disease is even worse than Engineer's Disease, because it's Engineer's Disease without regard for any physical constraints related to materials or environment.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 7:17 AM on October 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Welcome to the Dilded Age
Much of this public jerkiness has come from Wall Street. But over the past few years, Silicon Valley seems to have taken over as the capital of the Dilded Age. Here, the dilding is usually carried out by people who call themselves "libertarian." On economic matters, there's no real difference between libertarianism and the "conservatism" that drove the Gilded Age's plutocrats and baron-monopolists. There isn't much actual political philosophy (which might be defined as "a theory for how to order the world to achieve the best results of the largest number of people") behind these people's worldviews. Then, as now, they were motivated by pure self-interest. "Libertarianism" in these cases is the chosen worldview because it's considered cooler than just being a conservative. After the '60s and '70s, it had become a mark of deep uncoolness to be thought of as conservative, with good reason. If you're a libertarian, you can still espouse conservative ideas but also smoke weed, watch dirty movies, and dig rock music, man. The libertarian label offers a free out.

[...]

For that to happen, he envisions a mass "opting out," all under the framework of private enterprise. This, he says, is because civil society has failed, because it refused to take its lead from the tech sector. Eventually, he said "they are going to try to blame the economy on Silicon Valley."

"They" means "us," presumably. The losers. The sheeple (OK, he didn't use that word, but he might as well have). The people who don't know any venture capitalists who will finance some dumb mobile app that few people will ever use and that will never make any money.

[...]

It's actually not real clear what the fuck he was talking about, but he seemed to be trying to ape John Galt's "taking our toys and going home" speech at the end of Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged," ironically perhaps the whiniest bit of speechmaking ever conceived by a rugged-individualist champion of the capitalist ideal.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:06 AM on October 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have no faith in these people, I worked for them in the 80's and 90's listen to while reading this article, that will make you depressed.
posted by boilermonster at 9:18 AM on October 23, 2013


For what it's worth, Srinivasan is saying he was misunderstood:
It "looks like there has been a bit of telephone with respect to the original presentation," Srinivasan writes me in an email. "I'm not a libertarian, don't believe in secession, am a registered Democrat, etcetera etcetera.

"This is really a talk that is more about emigration and exit," he adds. "The US is a nation of immigrants, so it's also a nation of emigrants. There's nothing wrong with thinking about leaving the country of your birth in search of a better life, especially when children are worse off than their parents for the first time in US history. Most of this country originated from people who did exactly that. Contrariwise, most of the population (in any country) likes it just fine and doesn't want to leave."
I'd love to see video of the talk to get a sense of how he presented the material beyond the slides and the pull-quotes, but I'm willing to take him at his word that he doesn't personally believe in seceding.
posted by tonycpsu at 3:12 PM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ha, hand one of them a mop, hammer or chef's knife. Let's see how 'seperate' they are then.
P.S. Drunk commenting, so, grain of salt, eh?
posted by Gadgetenvy at 7:07 PM on October 25, 2013


There isn't much actual political philosophy

yea, _Exit, Voice, and Loyalty_ doesn't seem like a bad place to start, but i guess he should have also kept in mind Hirschman on the passions:
Hirschman wants to know how the pursuit of personal gain came to be viewed as the central human virtue, the foundational assumption of much of the social sciences, and the foundation of the liberal ideal of society. And implicitly, he wants to know if we can arrive at a more adequate theory of the good society by reconsidering some of those assumptions.

One way of characterizing Hirschman's leading intuition in this book is the question of whether different kinds of society reflect different mentalities at the level of the ordinary actors within them. Is there a "spirit" of capitalism, a characteristic set of motives and ways of thinking that its denizens possess? Is this spirit different from those associated with feudalism or the socioeconomic system of the ancient world? And how would various passions be linked to various features of the social order?

...we might say that greed and self-interest are the spirit of capitalism, honor is the spirit of feudalism, and power is the spirit of the ancient world. And it turns out that each of these ideas corresponds to a passion in traditional philosophy of action (greed for material wealth, quest for glory, thirst for power)...

On this genealogy, interest started out as one of the three primary passions -- love of power, lust, and avarice. The passions were thought to produce bad behavior; so a recurring question was how to harness the passions in more socially constructive ways. And many thinkers came to the conclusion that only the passions themselves could serve to regulate the passions -- not pure reason. In particular, it was maintained that a strong regard for one's own interests could lead to self-regulation. But the most interesting part of the evolution of meanings is that interests came to be normatively favored, and they came to be understood to be distinct from the passions...

We might call this the intellectual history of economic liberalism as a political ideology. And it is an ideology that Hirschman finds ultimately flawed... More generally, the anti-capitalist critiques associated with Marx, Durkheim, and the anarchists were powerful: the pure pursuit of gain has resulted in a society in which poverty, coercion, and anomie have become the lot of the majority of society.
also see A Signpost In These Strange Times:
Alienated from both the Old South and the New America, Binx staggers towards the same sobering realization that dogged Jimmy Carter in the summer of 1979. "We've discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning," Carter preached in his speech. "We've learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose."
which i think opens the door for altruism as a new spirit of/passion for the post-capitalist cooperative age!

oh and btw Malcolm Gladwell on The Gift of Doubt: Albert O. Hirschman and the power of failure

A One-Off Capital Levy?

-Why the 1% should pay tax at 80%
-Why the Wealthiest Are in the Taxman's Crosshairs
posted by kliuless at 11:09 PM on October 28, 2013


Evgeny Morozov: Why We Are Allowed to Hate Silicon Valley
posted by homunculus at 9:08 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


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