#THREAD

A handful of antidemocratic right-wing libertarian billionaires - not least, Peter Thiel - are primarily concerned with increasing their unimaginable wealth & power, & protecting it from Governments, democracy, & the people.

What's their strategy, & who is Peter Thiel? Image
Most people know how Big Tobacco denied the link between cancer for decades by deploying 'the dark arts', & most people are aware of how the Koch brothers spent $billions using the same techniques to promote climate change denial & support Right-libertarian political parties.
Most people know that billionaires Rupert Murdoch (Fox News, Times Radio, TalkRadio, Times, Sun (& soon to launch talkTV), the Barclays (Telegraph, Spectator) & Lord Rothermere (Mail) invest heavily in stoking a divisive culture war in order to keep voters distracted & divided. Image
However, far fewer people know about Peter Thiel (who in terms of individuals rather than ideas) represents of the biggest threats to democracy today.

He's the new darling of the hard/far/libertarian-Right, & he pioneered & got very rich from the ideology of 'disruption'.
A recent book, called The Contrarian, by Max Chafkin, focuses on Peter Thiel.

It reveals the extent of the threat from these individuals to our fragile democracies, & many of the recent developments & techniques resulting in dangerously authoritarian Govts & polarised societies. ImageImage
This is a short #thread as @moiragweigel's review of Chafkin's book says almost everything I wanted to say.

Thiel pioneered #contrarianism, both as a media strategy & a business strategy: this is crucial to understanding the cultural logic of our time.

newrepublic.com/article/164768…
The book covers Thiel's formative years, his venture capitalism, & his links to Trump, Zuckerberg & the hard/far/libertarian right, as well as his significant role in the origins of the Silicon Valley culture wars, out of which Thiel has emerged as the best-known figurehead.
Thiel is is a German-American billionaire venture capitalist - a co-founder of PayPal & Palantir Technologies, & the first outside investor in Facebook.

Like the structure of contemporary media, the structure of contemporary venture capital rewards increasingly extreme behavior.
Venture capital investors are not avoiding risk, but managing it: out of every 100 bets, 99 will be wrong, but the one that's right will scale globally, & can pay for the rest & more.

This structure incentivizes more & more outrageous bids, but also maps onto political strategy. Image
In both the culture wars & investing, contrarianism is presented as heroic.

However, in both cases, if they play their cards right, the contrarian protects themself from risk: be outrageous - it may backfire, but when it works, you can use it to leverage your social capital. Image
At Stanford University Yhiel founded a magazine of right-wing provocation, which railed against what we would now call "wokeism".

His big successes have come mainly from venture capitalism: eg the early investments that he made in the likes of PayPal, Facebook, Airbnb & Spotify.
A vociferous opponent of 'liberal culture', Thiel was a prominent Trump backer, & is linked to some of Silicon Valley’s wackier concepts eg autonomous sea-based communities, & the anti-ageing therapy parabiosis (“transfusions of blood from young people to older ones”).
Thiel mentored Mark Zuckerberg in the techniques of disruption & libertarianism.

Thiel supported Trump, & found him appealing not only for his political views, but also because his anti-establishment attitude was right in line with how Thiel sees the world. Image
Peter Thiel is a key player in a global ecosystem of opportunist libertarianism which wants to bypass democracy, funds or supports sympathetic Govts, & invests in contrarian media, with a goal of protecting & enhancing their power by removing human & environmental protections. Image
There is a “weird personality cult” surrounding Thiel, composed mainly of young, right-wing men. Chafkin’s account suggests that Thiel isn’t a visionary at all, but someone defined only by what he (& other billionaire libertarians) is against: 'liberal elites' & multiculturalism.
Chafkin characterizes Thiel as unable to believe in any basis for human connection other than power, or in relationships that do not boil down to transactions: “Thiel’s life has been full of important relationships, but few that seem to transcend money or power.” Sound familiar? Image
Peter Thiel is one of the world's most important venture capitalists, with tentacles into everything from MAGA to Facebook to the military-industrial complex.

Max Chafkin's book is a great introduction to who Peter Thiel is, & why we should be very concerned about his influence. Image
Peter Thiel is of course linked to a wider global network of hard-right libertarians - manifested in the UK in the Tufton St libertarian think tanks - whose dark money poses a threat to democracies across the world - but especially America's & Britain's:

In his co-authored 2014 book 'Zero to One', Thiel emphasises the kind of rule he'd prefer: a heightened vision of what a single leader can do, the veneration for more ancient & direct forms of leadership, the praise for authoritative decision-making, & disdain for bureaucracies.
A network of academics influencing Govt policy on ‘free speech’ in universities is being steered by lobbyists & donors linked to billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel – Chair & co-founder of CIA-backed data analytics giant #Palantir Technologies.

bylinetimes.com/2021/12/10/pet…
Link to another #THREAD about the dangers to #democracy from the more libertarian strand of #neoliberalism, featuring Peter Thiel & Palantir.

Follow up article from @BylineTimes, warning how the 'free speech in Universities' debate, pushed by the Right, may be being used to rehabilitate Nazi-inspired pseudoscience & enable the uncritical promotion of far-right propaganda at Cambridge University.
bylinetimes.com/2021/12/23/cam…

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More from @docrussjackson

Jul 6
Seriously though, when a country has a dysfunctional leader, a dysfunctional government & a dysfunctional economy, it doesn't take very long for *everything* else to become dysfunctional too.

Scratch the surface & the signs are *everywhere*.

Imho, Britain is on a knife edge. ImageImageImage
HMRC disclosed in FOI requests that UK residents had £850BILLION in overseas accounts — of which £570bn was based in tax havens — in 2019, the latest year HMRC has released statistics for. It has no idea how much tax is being evaded.

#CostOfLivingCrisis

ft.com/content/a14162…
Read 6 tweets
Jul 6
#THREAD

Boris Johnson, who once claimed he 'needed lots of women on the go because he was bursting with spunk', & "forgot" being warned about Pincher when he appointed him, has now appointed Zahawi, who was embroiled in the Presidents Club sex scandal!

theguardian.com/society/2018/j…
In 2018 Zahawi was given a “dressing down” by the Tory chief whip after attending The Presidents Club charity, which was forced to close after widespread outrage at the way some guests were said to have groped & sexually propositioned women employed at an event at the Dorchester. Image
The joint chair of the club David Meller was forced to stand down as a board member of the Dept for Education as a result of his involvement.

Zahawi, then minister for children & families, was given a “dressing down” by Julian Smith, after he admitted having attended the event. ImageImage
Read 23 tweets
Jul 6
Important, nuanced & balanced @BBCRadio4 programme featuring film & theatre producer @aakhtar, who visits schools & explores diversity & the curriculum, asking questions about difficult topics such as segregation & the importance of an inclusive education.
bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0…
"I think EVERY child should know Britain didn't stand alone in WWII, there were 2,5 million Indian soldiers there, of whom a million were Muslim, as well as Caribbean, Australian & Canadian regiments."

Children need to know more about the contribution of minorities to Britain.
Too many contributions to important developments & professions in Britain from black & Asian communities are too often neglected or overlooked in the UK schools curriculum.

Teacher training should deliver the ability to teach in ANY classroom eg a good knowledge of Islamophobia.
Read 4 tweets
Jul 5
#Thread

Taken from @Wonkhe, "the home of HE policy, bringing the sector together through expert analysis, debate and insight. A community of diverse voices, providing platforms to drive the policy conversation forward."

wonkhe.com/about-us/
"Has higher education become the ultimate wedge issue? Casual observers of the news would be forgiven for thinking that universities have become chilly places where debate is stifled and the original purposes of higher education have been corrupted by sinister woke forces."
"Such is the nature of the Westminster government’s culture war that while its own political fortunes wane, it’s able to prosecute that war with ever-increasing ferocity and effect."
Read 24 tweets
Jul 5
The UK Government's answer to almost everything is to 'cut red tape'. It's utter nonsense of course.

“The government has been knowingly underfunding the early-years sector for years, & it is this — not ‘red tape’ — that is driving up early-years costs.”

ft.com/content/e2d560…
The idea that “meaningful reform” could be achieved without the government spending “a single extra penny” was “laughable”.

“Keeping pay levels in the sector so low that 40% of our workforce are actively considering leaving” - Neil Leitch, chief exec of the Early Years Alliance.
Read 4 tweets
Jul 5
Last year, leading expert on populism, Ruth Wodak, was asked: "When & how do populist parties become unsuccessful? Is there a way to defeat them at the ballot box?"

@Keir_Starmer, @AngelaRayner, @DavidLammy, @westreeting & everyone in @UKLabour would do well to heed her advice.
Wodak was also asked: "US President Joe Biden defeated one of the strongest populist leaders in the world, Mr. Trump. Are there any lessons for Europe to take as it deals with its own populist leaders?"

"Yes, absolutely....
"One really big factor was that Trump failed in the Covid crisis. He spent a lot of money to start producing the vaccines, but he relativized the danger of the Covid crisis and, of course, the hundreds of thousands of dead Americans could not be dismissed."
Read 11 tweets

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