Around 2012, shortly before what Matthew Yglesias would later term the “Great Awokening”, Marc Andreessen began to notice things going haywire in Silicon Valley and in the wider culture: authority figures saying things that made no sense to him, people behaving in ways he did not understand, and ideas he had believed to have been long discredited and discarded being advocated by movements that seemed to spring up out of nowhere.
He decided to take a deep dive into the intellectual foundations of both the political left and right to better understand the origins of the ideas contending for power and the motivations of those promoting these ideas. In this conversation, he discusses his conclusions. Why do the independent thinkers who create new technologies, products, and companies all seemingly fall into lockstep endorsement of the collectivist “woke” agenda once they become successful? What are the master and slave mentalities, and how to they inform the current social landscape? Can the woke élites be reformed, or must they be replaced by a better élite or, perhaps, none at all?
Do Elon Musk’s ventures such as SpaceX, Starlink, and 𝕏 herald the return of the kind of “bourgeois capitalism” exemplified by industrialists such as Henry Ford, whose “name was on the building” and guided their enterprises based upon what they thought was best, as opposed to the fickle sentiments of “stakeholders”, politicians, media, “activists”, and public fads and fancies? Is this a good or a bad thing, and can it be sustained?
(From my own observation of the Silicon Valley scene from afar, it seemed to me that things began to go pear shaped quite a bit earlier, shortly after the year 2000. Seemingly without any warning, both people I had known for decades and thought completely apolitical or leaning mildly libertarian and cynical about the whole political sphere were all railing about “Chimpy Mc Bushitler”, going on (or off) about “9/11 was an inside job”, and jumping on every fad and chanting every slogan from groups I considered completely deranged. Perhaps these were early warning signs of a mind virus which would take a few more years to bubble up into the executive suites of the emerging tech titans and the jackal bins of politics and media.)