The Elon Musk Thread

Clinamenic

The Wild Drunkard
The destructive impulse of fascism I fully understand in tech - disrupt, move fast break things, build the new world on the ashes of the old

What I understand less is the other side of fascism - the appeal to traditionalism, return to a mythical golden age - which would seem to be totally at odds with that forward impulse of tech
I see the danger in tech being more about apathy or removedness from compassion, and less about the traditionalism and parochial cultural supremacy associated with fascism. Surely we can have fascists turn to technology as a political means, but the main political thrust of tech doesn't strike me as fascist. It could lead to totalitarian surveillance outcomes, but those don't necessarily need to take on a right-wing culture. Could also be a globalized, nominally progressive institutional culture.

I think the main dangers of this tech worldview, which I observe in my own thinking frequently, are a predisposition to a technical mode of problem-solving, and a tendency to excessively subordinate present suffering to long-term good.
 

Clinamenic

The Wild Drunkard
The long-termism is almost a necessary ideological outgrowth of the constraints associated with applying technical solutions to societal problems, IE the fact that it can take years or decades for the impact of a technology to really unfold.
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
it's not tech culture == fascism

it's that, ca 2022, you don't see any other American industry where people openly advocate for something like monarchism, or where CEOs or other prominent figures are so openly in bed with actual fascists
 
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Clinamenic

The Wild Drunkard
Part of me thinks that's mainly because IT-related tech happens to be the most lucrative (if even speculatively lucrative) industry at the moment, or at least number two or three. I think the kind of corruption you're talking about naturally gravitates toward these areas, which have perhaps always had something to do with the technological cutting edge.
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
The long-termism is almost a necessary ideological outgrowth of the constraints associated with applying technical solutions to societal problems, IE the fact that it can take years or decades for the impact of a technology to really unfold.
you're wrong here, tho

longtermism is the computer engineer's optimize everything approach applied to 19th-20th C type utopian impulses. it's a tiny clique of self-appointed philospher-kings deciding what the ideal future is for everyone and acting to impose that future on everyone.

one of the problem with those nominally utopian impulses is that some of them wound up killing tens of millions of people in the name of an ideal future. tbf so far longtermism has only managed to steal a bunch of people's life savings, so improvement I guess.
 

Clinamenic

The Wild Drunkard
you're wrong here, tho

longtermism is the computer engineer's optimize everything approach applied to 19th-20th C type utopian impulses. it's a tiny clique of self-appointed philospher-kings deciding what the ideal future is for everyone and acting to impose that future on everyone.

one of the problem with those nominally utopian impulses is that some of them wound up killing tens of millions of people in the name of an ideal future. tbf so far longtermism has only managed to steal a bunch of people's life savings, so improvement I guess.
Yeah maybe I just don't know what long-termism is, if its more of an established and fleshed-out ideology than it appears to be at first glance. I just mean an ideology where the long term good overrides the short term good.
 

Clinamenic

The Wild Drunkard
But if you're saying that the culture of the tech industry is more amenable to fascist values than most other sectors, I may agree with you there. Could be because the tech industry has been so disruptive that the post WWII nominally non-fascist global institutional order can't fully moderate it, seeing as much of it is far too technical for major insitutional actors to understand.
 

Clinamenic

The Wild Drunkard
The move fast / break things business mindset is, when we consider the aggregate effect this mindset has, a sort of technopolitical blitzkrieg launched from the private sector, insofar as it entails building out new infrastructure for human coordination and, by extension, the rules involved therein.
 

Clinamenic

The Wild Drunkard
But if you're saying that the culture of the tech industry is more amenable to fascist values than most other sectors, I may agree with you there. Could be because the tech industry has been so disruptive that the post WWII nominally non-fascist global institutional order can't fully moderate it, seeing as much of it is far too technical for major insitutional actors to understand.
That is to say, the cultural/institutional forces which have been keeping fascism below malignant levels are less efficacious in the more technologically advanced sectors, because these sectors are more technically esoteric and thus less conducive to external moderation.

Personally I can imagine how some of these dynamics play out. If you or your firm are releasing products (or in my case, public goods) which augment how humans interact, you are a sort of technocratic determinant of the status quo, to some extent. IE you can coin new terms and establish default rules while you are in this political vacuum.
 

suspended

Well-known member
you're wrong here, tho

longtermism is the computer engineer's optimize everything approach applied to 19th-20th C type utopian impulses. it's a tiny clique of self-appointed philospher-kings deciding what the ideal future is for everyone and acting to impose that future on everyone.

one of the problem with those nominally utopian impulses is that some of them wound up killing tens of millions of people in the name of an ideal future. tbf so far longtermism has only managed to steal a bunch of people's life savings, so improvement I guess.
(1) Longtermism isn't one thing, it's an umbrella that a ton of different people and projects are rallying under

(2) James C Scott is basically gospel in these communities, and the dangers of top-down engineering/imposition are precisely why many of them lean libertarian and anarchist.

(3) Can you actually point me to top-down engineering projects being done by long-termists? Because the long-termists I've encountered are interested in things like information logistics, seed banks, gene banks, time capsules, infrastructure investments, and growth. They're trying to figure out how nuclear waste can be safely stored over 10,000 year periods, or how we can communicate to civilizations as culturally distant from us as we are to, say, cavemen.

If your rebuttal to this stuff is "Zuckerberg's trying to start a virtual feudal society," sure, I don't disagree. But pointing to the philosophy an expansionist billionaire pays lip service to, as emblematic of the philosophy itself, isn't charitable. I've never criticized e.g. woke ideology on the grounds that corporations appropriate it to move product.

Long-termism as a genuine intellectual movement looks like Stewart Brand, the Oxford radical altruists, and some of the GMU economists.
 

suspended

Well-known member
This claim that Silicon Valley is openly in bed with monarchists is also a dramatic overstatement/misread of the situation. Curtis Yarvin is more popular with the fucking downtown literary scene these days than he is in Silicon Valley. Tech is the main industry/subculture I participate in—have for a decade—and monarchism is a very rare, and very marginalized perspective even in techie intellectual scenes. Where are you getting your information? Who of prominence besides Peter Thiel—himself incredibly controversial within tech—is openly advocating for these ideas? And do you actually think that monarchism is a threat to American democracy? Do you actually think that neomonarchism is gonna suddenly catch on and take hold of the American public's imagination? What are you actually afraid of?
 

suspended

Well-known member
There are far more evil, demonic ideas circulating in US government and military industrial complex than there are in tech. Coca-Cola and Ford and Hearst were the very engine of American imperialist ambition in the 20th C, from Latin America to the Philippines. I'm not sure why "tech" is is such a bugbear for you, but it has very little to do with the reality, which is very very boring: people make mediocre mobile games and notetaking apps served up with banner ads and microtransactions, the end. Every once in a while someone who made a lot of money off these banner ads gives a million dollars to a controversial blogger and the Internet loses its mind. Meanwhile the original app bans anyone who expresses views about COVID that go against the liberal media consensus. Who's really setting the national narrative? Yawn.
 
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suspended

Well-known member
But if you're saying that the culture of the tech industry is more amenable to fascist values than most other sectors, I may agree with you there. Could be because the tech industry has been so disruptive that the post WWII nominally non-fascist global institutional order can't fully moderate it, seeing as much of it is far too technical for major insitutional actors to understand.
The move fast / break things business mindset is, when we consider the aggregate effect this mindset has, a sort of technopolitical blitzkrieg launched from the private sector, insofar as it entails building out new infrastructure for human coordination and, by extension, the rules involved therein.
All this stuff is super abstract/theoretical. "Yeah this mindset could lend itself to ideology, I can see a sympathy or resonance." Maybe! But super speculative, if we were playing "lawyer" we could argue it either way.

Stan, tell us about the people around you who are in tech. What sort of beliefs do they hold? What sort of projects are they working on? You've been on the Internet and in tech-/tech-adjacent spheres for a while. Are you regularly encountering fascists and monarchists? Give us a report on what you know from experience.
 
I always thought the current batch of right-leaning tech lads ended up embedded with the alt-right lads after the btc crash in 2018, might be wrong but it feels like that anyway. The likes of Bannon jumping in headfirst on btc around this time and in 2019 press coverage in a lot of centre/right-ish places does start to change a lot, even before the really big covid uplift where we all made stupid money off idiots.

"Twitter is full of fascists" is a bit of a strong take but I always assumed Musk's problem is that he clearly doesn't have many actual mates and lives online. These alt-right lads blowing smoke up his arse straight after a divorce has took him down a certain route

It's a lot like when Glinner went full anti-trans tbh. Twitter is a pretty good vehicle for it

That's my armchair psychology for the day anyway
 

Clinamenic

The Wild Drunkard
All this stuff is super abstract/theoretical. "Yeah this mindset could lend itself to ideology, I can see a sympathy or resonance." Maybe! But super speculative, if we were playing "lawyer" we could argue it either way.

Stan, tell us about the people around you who are in tech. What sort of beliefs do they hold? What sort of projects are they working on? You've been on the Internet and in tech-/tech-adjacent spheres for a while. Are you regularly encountering fascists and monarchists? Give us a report on what you know from experience.
I’m mainly in the public goods / “impact” sector of web3, and the prevailing beliefs are that governance should be more transparent than what we’re used to, that the people should be closer to the policy making process, and that there should be a robust open-source commons for digital-era society. Not once have I crossed paths with someone in this sphere who is a fascist or who actually believes in monarchy.
 

HMGovt

Bamber Clatscoigne
it's not tech culture == fascism

it's that, ca 2022, you don't see any other American industry where people openly advocate for something like monarchism, or where CEOs or other prominent figures are so openly in bed with actual fascists

Is that better or worse than being in bed with actual international paedophile rings, COVID authoritarians, money launderers and election stealers? The pendulum, it swings.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Is that better or worse than being in bed with actual international paedophile rings, COVID authoritarians, money launderers and election stealers? The pendulum, it swings.
Lol, you really are a prize bellend, aren't you.
 
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