The ‘pariah of Silicon Valley’ on China, TikTok, AI, Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, Florida and California, God, new moonshots, and how to make America great again.
“Wokeness is Christianity without forgiveness” is a statement I’ve heard many times before, and it’s worth repeating over and over again because of how true it is. The increased secularization among non-immigrant Americans is what has proved ripe for a new belief system that brands you with Original Sin (being part of an “oppressor group”), with no way out of it. Christians at least know that Jesus always forgives. Wokesters know that if they ever step out of line, there may be no coming back from being cancelled.
Great interview, Bari. Wokeness is replacing reality with absurdity. Men can have babies. Gender is a personal choice unrelated to XX or XY chromosomes in each of our 25 billion cells. Israel is the most evil country in the Middle East. A mandatory vaccine that does not prevent infection, does not prevent transmission does not lessen severity if you do get infected, and whose horrific adverse effects we are just beginning to discover, especially in children and young adults. The list is endless. Math is racist. Merit is white supremacy. When conventional wisdom is absurd, human progress dies. The enemy is woke Absurdism.
Regarding the transcript, conspicuously absent from this conversation was the government censorship issue raised by Shellenberger and Taibbi. The future of democracy depends on the courage to discuss this issue. We will devolve into China or have a civil war otherwise.
The People That Don’t Like To Share
-Their Jet Fuel
-Their Gated Communities
-Their Private Clubs
& Their Television Networks
Are Aligned With The People That Naively Demand
That Everything Be Shared With Them.
Spoiler Alert: That Ain’t Gonna Happen.
Not In A Million Years.
No. We do not have any problems bigger than wokeness.
Wokeness is the biggest threat facing America today.
This is really good . . . Thank you, Bari and Peter.
At the end of the day, we still need a Donald Trump in office. Someone who can bring Washington to its knees. America is broken. Let’s figure out a way to fix it.
I am UK based but it seems clear to me that the entire Western world has no issue bigger than wokeness. Clearly PT does not understand that without beating wokeness we will have slavery rather than liberty, total economic collapse rather than earned success, totalitarianism (even if still pretending to be democracy) rather than any real citizenry etc.
I thought this was absolutely brilliant and courageous in many different ways. Thank you. I was impressed how well-informed, observant and originally thoughtful he is about issues like China, the enlightenment and the French Revolution, European society, etc.
For all the hype about his “rejection” of Trump, I didn’t really see any backing off from his fundamental values, or being Republican, just re where he was going to put his money in the near future. I think he is pretty pessimistic about any progress coming from Washington ever, more confident of innovation at the local level, which makes a lot of sense. Depressing but could be true.
Awesome interview. Three big nuggets for me:
"And then it was a much broader debate about our whole culture, and the simultaneously parochial and patricidal approach to our culture, had to go."
Interesting perspective... we have been both guilty of too myopic tribalism while also fixated on taking out our fathers. This reminds me of the lessons from Joseph Campbell in the power of myth... the story-telling passed down from generation to generation so that the culture had continuity and longevity. For some reason in the West we have a tendency to think of that as progress-killing and reject it. And thus I see what PT is talking about here and agree that it is a problem as without that foundation the entire structure gets top-heavy and will topple down.
"You don’t have real diversity when you have a group of people who look different and think alike."
Love this and have been saying the same for years.
"I think there are fewer parts of the U.S. that are still getting any benefit from China. There certainly still are parts of Wall Street, parts of Hollywood and the universities. Those are the three sectors."
This is really helpful. I had never thought of these three sectors as being the primary connection with China (include professional sports which are really just part of Hollywood), but it makes sense. And since American politics has become a bad reality TV show, we can add it to the Hollywood connection.
So legislation to break these connections would seem to serve us well. I would start with the universities that have been training Chinese students to take back American intellectual capital to China to then compete with our private industry.
I don't know much about Peter Thiel, but the gist of his comments seem to center around the fact that we have a lot of important issues we aren't addressing: economic and productivity growth, infrastructure decay, advancement in areas key to improved human outcomes, and so on. At the same time, he says we are obsessed about the gymnastics of gender dysphoria and iPhone innovations, relatively trivial issues. I find it hard to argue with that. It was interesting also that a former Trump supporter refused to endorse Trump but said he would support DeSantis. My last observation is that it must have been lonely being a conservative in the world of Silicon Valley. That probably helped Thiel develop his contrarian muscles.
"For us to go back to a society that’s progressing in many ways from generation to generation, in many real ways, I think it’s necessary to defeat the woke mind virus. I don’t think it’s sufficient."
For a philosophy major, Peter often has economic tunnel vision. He's correct of course, but even if you do defeat wokeness, you're still left with a giant philosophical hole in American culture.
Wokeness is a weed. Pulling out the weeds is important, but unless you plant something else in their place, they keep coming back. Wokeness took root because Western society abandoned the idea of sacredness. Neitzsche killed God and expected supermen (ubermensch) to take His place. Only that didn't happen -- we got Hitler and Stalin instead -- and we've been trying to fill the void He left ever since. Peter identifies it correctly: "a yearning for God, for meaning, for what it all means".
Wokeness answers that question. "The meaning of life is to make the world more equal by helping the oppressed and tearing down the oppressors". It's a not-unappealing and (as Peter says) distinctly Judeo-Christian answer. The problem is in defining "oppressed" and "oppressors", which is really just a subset of how to define "right" and "wrong" without a transcendental/divine source of some kind? Turns out, God took Western man's moral compass to the grave with him.
So while Peter's correct that defeating the "woke mind virus" (got to love Musk's term) is insufficient without economic renewal, he leaves out a critical middle step, which is planting a philosophical non-weed to anchor that social and cultural and economic renewal. Without that, the whole thing is just a hydroponics experiment. (OK, so maybe that last line strained the metaphor a little.)
GenZ has an insatiable need for belonging that fuels all that woke gender-wars crap we see and it will likely take yet another generation to see the end of it (just my opinion of course). I don't think I've ever witnessed such a fervent need for people to "belong" as we see with these woke ideologies.
I'm just glad my 3 Grandsons see it for the pathetic waste of time it is.... they know where I stand on it all (maybe I had some influence?..)
Thiel is correct in that we need to end the poisonous Culture Wars (right AND left; the right-wing snipe hunt for drag queens is as bad as the left-wing snipe hunt for misgendering) to focus on our real problem: the crushing stagnation of our economy, cultural energy, and institutions. That the IRS still uses the computer equivalent of dial phones is maddening. That MAGA and WOKE suck so much oxygen out the room, leaving none for anything else, strangles our potential.
Problem is the monied and chattering classes love Culture Wars. For the former it's a cloak for their looting of America via tax cuts and price-gouging; for the latter, it fills air time and generates likes, clicks, and ad dollars. Politicians understand this and act accordingly--not in our best interest, but in that of the people who pay them. So the change we so desperately need isn't going to happen.
As for the third Great Awakening, Bari, count me out. Every time Christianity "re-awakens," Jews and other religious minorities catch hell. I like Christians just fine, but when they turn their cross into a "terrible swift sword," bad things happen to good people.
Peter was right to destroy Gawker, it tried to destroy him.
Still waiting on the Tara Reade story...