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Scared people are scary, and Chafkin's masterly evocation of his subject's galactic fear - of liberals, of the U.S. government, of death - turns Thiel himself into a threat. I tried to tell myself that Thiel is just another rapacious solipsist, in it for the money, but I used to tell myself that about another rapacious solipsist, and he became president
In the most intense kind of organization, members abandon the outside world and hang out only with other members. We have a word for such organizations: cults. Cultures of total dedication look crazy from the outside. But entrepreneurs should take cultures of extreme dedication seriously.
A person who has talked to each man about the other put it more succinctly: "(Elon) Musk thinks Peter is a sociopath, and Peter thinks Musk is a fraud and a braggart."
(Charles) Johnson also used his crowdfunding company, WeSearchr, to finance a campaign to uncover evidence that (Gawker Media founder Nick) Denton, had committed a crime so that he could be sent to prison. The WeSearchr page, which included an illustration of Denton in stripes and behind bars, raised $50,000, much of it contributed by Johnson himself. Because few people outside of the shadowy world of far-right politics knew of Thiel's patronage of the alt-right, the press mistook it as a grassroots uprising. The journal Quillette - an outlet that Thiel was secretly funding, according to Johnson - used the trending hashtag (#ThankYouPeter) as proof that "ordinary readers" were on Thiel's side, effectively making Johnson's campaign look organic.
In 1987, Thiel poured his sense of grievance into the launch of a right-wing newspaper, the Stanford Review. It was his first entrepreneurial venture and the beginning of a network that would eventually expand and dominate Silicon Valley. Thiel's primary innovation with the Review was to connect the parochial concerns of a small elite - conservative Stanford undergraduates - to mainstream national politics. Thus the optional $29 per year dues charged by the student senate became a microcosm of tax-and-spend liberalism and a plan to add non-white authors, like Zora Neale Hurston, to Stanford's Western Culture course became a civilization-level threat. A fundraising letter later sent to older alumni warned that a professor was teaching a course on Black hairstyles. It led to a flood of donations. These sorts of antics helped draw the attention of Ronald Reagan's secretary of Education, who came to speak at a Review event and made national news recapping it on PBS's MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.Thiel's newspaper was also fixated on sex. The first issue featured a satirical column, "Confessions of a Sexual Deviant," about a young straight man who'd chosen to be celibate. According to the Review, it was almost impossible to visit a men's restroom without witnessing a gay sex act or to cross the quad without having fistfuls of free condoms pressed into your hand. In 1987, presenting homosexuality as an addiction, a columnist wrote that "unnatural" gay men had "yielded to temptation so many times that the fires of lust burn within them, making it indeed difficult for them to control themselves." During Thiel's last year on campus, his close friend and Review collaborator Keith Rabois stood outside the home of a Stanford residential fellow and shouted at the top of his lungs, "Faggot! You are going to die of AIDS! You're going to get what's coming to you!"; two days later, the Review published "The Rape Issue," with an impassioned defense of a student who'd pleaded "no contest" to statutory rape.Thiel would go on to valorize Rabois as a free-speech martyr in a book, The Diversity Myth, co-written with the architect of the special issue, David Sacks. It's tempting to psychologize the book, with its lurid complaints about the supposed prevalence of "glory holes" across the Stanford campus. And some who know Thiel speculate, convincingly, that his mid-'90s homophobia was an expression of self-hatred. (Thiel is gay, as is Rabois.) But the book's incendiary qualities might just have easily been a product of Thiel's single-minded desire to provoke a reaction. He wanted to make his mark, and he surely knew that the prospect of recent graduates defending the guy who had shouted "Die, faggot!" on the quad of an elite university would get noticed.
...I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible. By tracing out the development of my thinking, I hope to frame some of the challenges faced by all classical liberals today...
...Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women — two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians — have rendered the notion of "capitalist democracy" into an oxymoron.
Thiel posted a clarification to Cato's website, in which he offered a non-apology for his comments about women. "While I don't think any class of people should be disenfranchised, I have little hope that voting will make things better," he wrote. Amazingly, this explanation, however thin, sort of worked. George Packer, in his otherwise rigorous account of Thiel's thinking in The New Yorker, reported that "Thiel didn't want to take away women's right to vote - instead, he wanted to find a way around democracy, which was incompatible with freedom," as if that was somehow exculpatory. It wasn't that Theil wanted to take away women's votes; he wanted, it seemed, to take away everyone's.
One day I heard a rumor that Peter defended apartheid (which was then still the law of the land in South Africa), which I found morally repugnant. To know that a fellow student, a dormmate for that matter, might defend such a brutally oppressive race-based caste system gave me the willies. But I wanted to give Peter the benefit of the doubt, so I mustered the courage to go to his room to ask him about it. He said, with no facial affect, that apartheid was a sound economic system working efficiently, and moral issues were irrelevant. He made no effort to even acknowledge the pain the concept of apartheid could possibly raise for me, a Black woman. Needless to say, the chill up my spine didn't go away that day; if anything my fear was now greater knowing I was living with someone who seemed indifferent to human suffering or felt that oppressing whole swaths of humans was a rational, justifiable element of a system of governance. The looming threat of a Trump presidency makes me feel the exact same way."Thiel's defending apartheid is horrific, but it's the way he did it that gives the impression he's a psychopath: "He said, with no facial affect, that apartheid was a sound economic system working efficiently, and moral issues were irrelevant."
...an employee told me that it was common to hear talk about climate change denial and to see web browsers open to VDARE, a far-right website with a long record of publishing white nationalist writing. There were liberals at Clarion, but they understood that it was best to keep those views quiet.
Now run by the VDARE Foundation, the site is a place where relatively intellectually inclined leaders of the anti-immigrant movement share their opinions. VDARE.com also regularly publishes articles by prominent white nationalists, race scientists and anti-Semites.
Another myth is that preferences simply give minority applicants a small "plus." In reality, the average SAT disparity between Stanford's African-American and white admittees reached 171 points in 1992, according to data compiled by the Consortium on Financing Higher Education and cited in Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray's book, The Bell Curve.
A former (Stanford Review) editor reported that at the same event in 2015 where Thiel obliquely referenced the imminent destruction of what turned out to be Gawker, he also endorsed cutting immigration to the United States by "80 percent," but at the same time supported increasing "high-skilled" immigration. Another former editor described Thiel's views on immigration as "foundationalist": "He believes that the people who come into a country are the identity of that country, and a decision to change the people who come in irrevocably alters the identity of that country." (Thiel was born in Germany, and his parents immigrated to the US when he was one; he also lived in South Africa and what is now Namibia for part of his childhood.)
Another former Review editor told me that in fall 2014, also at Thiel's home, during a discussion of Charles Murray's controversial book on IQ, The Bell Curve, Thiel wanted to "entertain" the thought of there being a biological reason for racial gaps in test scores. The editor said Thiel cited the ancient Chinese administration, which he described as a situation in which the people who scored higher on tests got more power and were more sexually successful, and he seemed curious about the idea that a civilization could, over time, end up being more intelligent than others.
We contacted Thiel's office with all the quotes sources attributed to him to see if he would elaborate on or dispute any of them; through a spokesperson, Thiel declined to comment on any of them.
Last year, (Vance) appeared with Thiel, Senator Josh Hawley, and other luminaries at a conference on "national conservatism," where he criticized libertarianism, then attacked pornography and the government itself for allowing such obscene material to exist. On labor rights, meanwhile, he is relatively silent. He has complained about the "abortion lobby" and has worried - frequently and publicly - about declining American fertility rates. In 2016, during a talk with Charles Murray of Bell Curve infamy, the two joked about their "pretty clean Scotch-Irish blood" before Vance asserted "there's definitely a sort of ethnic component to what's going on" in areas like Appalachia.
"But since a multicultural rape charge may indicate nothing more than belated regret, a woman might 'realize' that she had been 'raped' the next day or even many days later. Under these circumstances, it is unclear who should be held responsible. If the alcohol made both of them do it, then why should the woman's consent be obviated any more than the man's? Why is all blame placed on the man?"
As the Guardian said:
In his apology 20 years later, Thiel said in a statement, "More than two decades ago, I co-wrote a book with several insensitive, crudely argued statements," Forbes reports. "As I've said before, I wish I'd never written those things. I'm sorry for it. Rape in all forms is a crime. I regret writing passages that have been taken to suggest otherwise."
...the following year at a Stanford Review event, he reportedly told a student editor the apology had been for show. "Sometimes you have to tell them what they want to hear," he said.