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Peter Thiel’s Libertarian Dream – for New Zealand?

Written By: - Date published: 11:08 am, February 2nd, 2017 - 86 comments
Categories: uncategorized - Tags:

From a Business Insider article in the OIA papers:

“Thiel is an ambitious, long-term thinker, so what’s the big picture here? What could the contrarian investor see in a country of 4 million people whose economy is based on agriculture and tourism? Here’s a thought: maybe Peter Thiel wants to turn New Zealand into the next Silicon Valley. Or maybe even the libertarian utopia of his dreams.”

The name of Thiel’s firm Valar Ventures comes from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings universe. Thiel is a huge Tolkien fan and the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed in New Zealand. In Tolkien’s legendarium, the Valar are deities who created the world of Middle-Earth (portrayed by New Zealand in the movies) and then descended on it to help nurture its infancy and development.

Reached about this idea, Thiel said: “New Zealand is already utopia.  But Silicon Valley and New Zealand can learn a lot from each other, and we want to help make that happen.” So Thiel is clearly in it for the long run.

Thiel is very libertarian, and New Zealand already has some of the most free-market policies in the world. Thiel is also a donor to the Seasteading Institute, a foundation that wants to create libertarian self-sustaining colonies out at sea. A popular libertarian cause is the “Free State Project” to get tens of thousands of libertarians to emigrate to New Hampshire and take over the government democratically to reshape the state according to libertarian ideals.

In an essay for the Cato Institute in 2009 Thiel wrote that “he no longer believed the democracy and freedom are compatible,” an idea that also drove Roger Douglas.

So maybe Thiel is just not about tech startups. We live in a world where billionaires have turned their attention to politics, in many cases to protect their billions. We’ve had our multi-millionaire flyaway Prime Minister; we should not think that Thiel will stop there.

The Economist says Thiel is now more of a corporate Nietzschean:

He is now not so much a libertarian as a corporate Nietzschean, who believes in the power of gifted entrepreneurs to change the world through the sheer force of will and intellect.

New Zealand is vulnerable. Thiel is not averse to using his wealth against critics such as shutting down website Gawker. It was disappointing to hear Rod Drury suggest we should put aside our ideals of fairness in order to be more “rational” and accommodate the likes of Peter Thiel. Drury also thinks we should be inviting Bill Gates in – who has donated $440 million to set up charter schools in the US.

As Thiel, a chess grandmaster, says in the article quoted above “you always have to look at the end game.” Libertarian Utopia New Zealand (for billionaires) anyone?

 

86 comments on “Peter Thiel’s Libertarian Dream – for New Zealand?”

  1. AB 1

    Undoubtedly he will take a little time to assess the political landscape and then use his money and influence in the way he wants.
    We could make wealth a disqualification for immigration – precisely to prevent our democracy from being corrupted by the powerful.
    We could reform election campaign finance to allow donations only from individuals on the electoral roll, peg them at a maximum of 0.1% of the gross median wage and prohibit donations from non-persons such as companies, trusts, unions, etc.
    We could have a ‘values’ test for immigrants that included a commitment to democratic principles including the explicit statement that freedom is possible only through equality

  2. One Anonymous Bloke 2

    I’m sure there are lots of ways in which “Libertarians” and other neo-Nazis can be made to feel unwelcome here.

    • Brutus Iscariot 2.1

      Oh my god, it’s another NAZI!! NAZI’s everywhere!!

      Wait, he’s a rich gay libertarian.

      I think you need to repair your record, it’s a little scratched…

      • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.1

        Oh you can nitpick at the details. He works for Nazis, he says democracy is incompatible with (his) freedom (to do what exactly?). Appease them all you like: Turnbull just learned the contempt in which you’re held.

        • Richard McGrath 2.1.1.1

          Democracy IS incompatible with freedom – taken to its extreme it becomes majoritarian (mob) rule, where individual freedom is subject to the will of the majority, and inalienable rights vanish.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.1.1.1

            Fool, “inalienable rights” only exist because of strength in numbers. Learn some history.

            Then study Somalia for a practical example of your “system” at work.

      • Richard McGrath 2.1.2

        OAB’s Naziphobic.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.2.1

          Richard’s Naziphilic.

          • Richard McGrath 2.1.2.1.1

            Response to OAB’s comments on rights and that hoary old chestnut, Somalia:

            Utter rubbish – inalienable rights exist because of our status as rational beings with free will, nothing to do with “strength in numbers”.

            As for Somalia, the relatively peaceful northern states of Somaliland and Puntland have broken away from the south, which is dominated by Islamists imposing Shariah law but which with intervention via a foreign backed government is slowly improving. The “system” which better approaches a model of respect for individual rights and rule of law seems to be working well in the northern parts of Somalia. The southern part is infested with al-Quaeda and other Islamist terrorist organisations who have little respect for human life.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.2.1.1.1

              Rights (inalienable or otherwise) exist where the rule of law persists.

              The Magna Carta didn’t happen because Physics, it arose from power dynamics. Likewise the UDoHR.

              When your drivel asserts that you want to live in peace without harming anyone, I have two words: Carbon Dioxide.

          • Richard McGrath 2.1.2.1.2

            “Richard’s Naziphilic.”

            Sorry OAB, libertarians dislike collectivists of all stripes – race-based, class-based, whatever

            • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.2.1.2.1

              😆

              Apart from your membership of the Dunning-Kruger collective, that is. To be blunt, confirmation bias and the self-attribution fallacy explain everything you assert. 100% of your beliefs.

              Get over it.

    • Brutus Iscariot 2.2

      This should help you educate yourself:

      http://interglacial.com/pub/text/Umberto_Eco_-_Eternal_Fascism.html

    • HDCAFriendlyTroll 2.3

      Wow, I never knew Kelly Clarkson, Drew Carey, Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Penn Jillette and Bruce Willis are all neo-Nazis. You learn something new everyday.

      http://libertyupward.com/famous-people-you-probably-didnt-know-were-libertarian/

    • HDCAFriendlyTroll 2.4

      Well if you can punch a Nazi I’m sure you can hit a Libertarian.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 2.4.1

        I suggest you go and read my comment on that thread.

        • HDCAFriendlyTroll 2.4.1.1

          I saw it before. You don’t agree with hitting Nazis but a few other people do. So just in case anyone got the wrong idea you personally wouldn’t have “punching a Libertarian” in the list of ways to make someone feel unwelcome. Got it.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 2.4.1.1.1

            Not quite: I don’t agree with punching random blockleiters because it’s ineffective. As events in the USA unfold, we’ll find out whether the law and other democratic institutions are sufficiently powerful weapons. They’ve certainly failed against the depredations of common-or-garden Libertarian drivel, cf: Flint Michigan, Alan Greenspan.

            On the one hand it’s fascinating to see you “centre-right” followers tying yourself in knots in the pretence that your support for the POTUS is compatible with your self-regard. Or anything approaching humanity.

            On the other, there is real hurt being done to your victims. A five year old boy in handcuffs. No, punching is entirely inadequate.

            • Jerko 2.4.1.1.1.1

              Good observation OAB, we will find out whether the “law and other Democratic institutions are sufficiently powerful weapons” as things are pretty much moving in a direction that will prove this point – that they are not. The GOP lead Government of The USA are quickly changing the rules as we write. That, and the way they used and are still using their propaganda machine to convince their voter that what they are doing is in their best interest is frightening. Lets be clear the USA is no longer a Democracy.The recent election was a Coup by stealth and wealth.It is not a democracy when the majority of voters voted against the regime. The only hope is an increasing opposition of GOP supporters to their elected officials. But I’m not holding my breath. Thankfully I live in a State that has started to collect signatures for the inclusion of a ballot proposal for the Secession of the State. http://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-california-secession-calexit-htmlstory.html

    • rocco siffred 2.5

      What about those Illinois Nazis? I hate Illinois Nazis.

  3. Goodshepherd 3

    Genuine question.

    What are the pros and cons of dual citizenship?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1

      Genuine answer: if both countries are tax havens, you can avoid tax everywhere.

  4. joe90 4

    “you always have to look at the end game.”

    Burn the house down?.

    Blossoming on the Internet like a fetid rose, a mysterious new political movement has generated a serious and not un-terrifying critique of modern society. Its members are loud and growing in number, and they demand nothing less than the elimination of the democratic system. Mostly white, male and angry, they lie in wait for the imminent collapse of civilization.

    Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Dark Enlightenment. The Empire is striking back.

    http://www.vocativ.com/culture/uncategorized/dark-enlightenment-creepy-internet-movement-youd-better-take-seriously/

    http://www.thedarkenlightenment.com/the-dark-enlightenment-by-nick-land/

  5. Guerilla Surgeon 5

    “Libertarian: a conservative who wants to smoke pot and get laid.” Can’t remember who said it – possibly PJ O’Rourke all Bill Maher. Personally I think it’s just someone who hasn’t grown up yet.

  6. Guerilla Surgeon 6

    “Libertarian: a conservative who wants to smoke pot and get laid.” Can’t remember who said it – possibly PJ O’Rourke or Bill Maher. Personally I think it’s just someone who hasn’t grown up yet.

    • Richard McGrath 6.1

      Heard you the first time.

    • greywarshark 6.2

      Guerilla Surgeon
      As you have a lot of deep thoughts about our political processes would you have time to pass those on after taking part in a reading group thinking about a good old but relevant political book and being in a hopefully, great discussion about it? Good to read your thoughts, if you have time to do this. I’ll put my spiel below explaining it and could you reply to this comment, today Friday if you can, like soon. Thanks from
      greywarbler @ Bowalley.

      You always bring good political ideas and a breadth of vision to the problems facing us.
      We need new approaches to get through this maze we wander in. I had the idea that new ideas and thoughts could spring from studying books on the important subjects relating to our politics. Could you find the time to be in this – over a month first reading and noting about E F Schumaker and his Small is Beautiful and then having a great discussion on a Sunday post at end of month? It would be great if you could be in. Could you reply to this comment today if poss. Thanks.

      I am writing similarly to other regular commenters who I feel would be interested, but of course it is a matter of time available. Regards.

  7. UncookedSelachimorpha 7

    Who cares what one rich guy thinks? Unlikely his ideas are spectacularly better than anyone else’s. The only thing you know for sure about him is that he has amassed wealth for himself.

    Remember – the rich don’t care about what is good for others, or good for nations.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/13/super-rich-dont-care-about-us-taxes

    http://www.upworthy.com/science-explains-why-rich-people-dont-care-about-you

    • McFlock 7.1

      Koch Brothers.

      Being obscenely wealthy makes it easy to use one’s wealth to disrupt democracy.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1.1

        …and the behaviour isn’t confined to “family” businesses; cf: Exxon.

      • Richard McGrath 7.1.2

        Yep, that’s called free speech. You forgot mention George Soros there too.

        • McFlock 7.1.2.1

          It’s not free if you pay people to say it.

          • Richard McGrath 7.1.2.1.1

            Of course it is. Free refers to freedom of action. You are free to pay people to broadcast your ideas if you want to.

            • McFlock 7.1.2.1.1.1

              I’m also free to flap my wings and fly, all I lack are wings.

              And prisoners are always free to leave, they just lack bolt cutters.

              And the starving are always free to eat, they just lack food.

              • Richard McGrath

                Ridiculous comments – humans are creative enough to overcome barriers such as a lack of wings and shortages of food; we can now fly in jet-powered aeroplanes despite our bodies lacking wings, and there is an abundance of food thanks to technology including the genetic engineering of crops.

                • McFlock

                  And yet we still have people falling to their deaths, we still have people living in prisons, and we still have people dying of starvation.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1.2.2

          George Soros did it too? (I doubt that, because you said it, but hey, let’s suspend disbelief for a moment). How your much-vaunted ethics melt away at the first straw.

          Your argument is piss-weak, and you don’t have a better one.

  8. RedLogix 8

    John Key’s replacement?

  9. greywarshark 9

    Interesting thought Redlogix. NZ becomes the emerald gem for the wealthy to put in their collection?

    Interesting that we fought in WW2 against fascism in Germany and Italy and now we have a different sort of fascism from the USA. Ralph Nader announced in 2013 that there is American fascism. American (and Australian business) wants to take over our world.
    https://www.democracynow.org/2013/6/4/american_fascism_ralph_nader_decries_how
    This is also called Corporatocracy.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporatocracy
    Here’s how it works and why government is such a fascinating, heady place to work in.
    http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/24465-a-300-billion-example-of-how-corporations-control-our-government

    And Rod Drury is for it. Peter Thiel s like the young man he used to be, lean and hungry only more astute, not full-faced from too much dining and wining and self-satisfaction. Xero has done well out of Thiel’s input, its worked for me he thinks, that’s what’s important.

    Has anyone noticed the incipient jowls on Thiel. The little pouches beside his mouth. Perhaps that is where he keeps gold coins for super-special tips for good service. Or that’s where he keeps the implanted miniboards with slots to fit in the memory sticks that contain codes to his secret financial stash. Or recording devices so he can sue the shirt off anyone who impugns him, or enable voice recognition of anyone who attacks him. Perhaps Xero is working on a program for these right now.

    Just a few outrageous and improbable ideas to add to those already occurring across the globe.

    The usual dictionary meaning of fascism doesn’t measure up to today’s reality.
    google – an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.
    This doesn’t say anything about business. Yet while men and women were fighting against the enemy in WW2, business was doing very well out of the war, and chemical and machinery companies got big contracts in Germany. In Italy top companies like Fiat were doing very well.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.1

      The usual dictionary meaning of fascism doesn’t measure up to today’s reality.
      google – an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.
      This doesn’t say anything about business.

      Yeah, pointing out that the whole fascist movement was driven by businessmen would probably start people questioning the morality of business in general.

      Fascism and Big Business (1938)

      A few supplementary explanations are necessary here. The fact is undeniable that the industrialists who subsidized and put fascism in power are not entirely satisfied with their own creation. In the first place the regime is terribly expensive. The maintenance of the excessive bureaucracy of the state, the party and the numerous semi-governmental bodies costs unheard-of sums and adds to the financial difficulties of the government. In their memorandum of June, 1937, to Hitler, the industrialists wrote:

      “It used to be estimated that there was one functionary for every twelve persons in productive occupations. Today, if the official party organizations and the semi-official and corporative services with their functionaries and employes are included, it is estimated that there is one person on the state payroll for every eight persons in productive occupations.”

      Abandoning any attempt to “estimate the amount of personal and material expenses required by the administrative machine,” the authors of the memorandum complained of the “incalculable losses arising from a lack of contact between the old and the new authorities, and the overlapping of functions between the old and new state services and the party.” [2] They wished the day would come when “in accordance with a definite principle, a final organization of the internal political apparatus of the state will be possible …”

      While the state must carry huge incidental expenses, the big capitalists themselves have to stand a certain number: “voluntary contributions” extorted by the party and its “welfare” undertakings; various subscriptions; “graft” and seats on the boards of directors of big companies for the “upper crust” of the fascist leaders, etc. But these incidental expenses, the importance of which must not be exaggerated, are less annoying to big business than the demagogic agitation indulged in by the fascist plebeians – agitation which, despite purges and repressions, periodically reappears, though within constantly narrower limits.

      • greywarshark 9.1.1

        DracoTBastard
        Oh thanks for that little pearl DTB. Damn it it doesn’t matter what wonderful idea there is for dealing with the masses the efficiency thing comes in.

        The Conchords singing about the robots getting rid of the humans I don’t think dealt with what happened after they used their poisonous gases and got rid of our asses. Victor Klemperer who survived the Nazis when the Communists got in and he got his university job back, found they had much the same administration as the previous regime, neither being satisfactory.

  10. Ad 10

    The .01% of the world got there through spectacular greed and utter life focus.
    Not a single one is a socialist. The occasional few will get there, then give much of it away. They are interesting largely because they are so rare.

    “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.”

    There’s a phrase ‘necessary evil’, and this class of people may or may not be necessary to New Zealand, but I do think they are evil.

    • Richard McGrath 10.1

      Are they evil because they’re rich?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 10.2

      The .01% of the world got there through spectacular greed and utter life focus

      They got there by chance, period.

      • Richard McGrath 10.2.1

        No hard work, innovation or dedication involved – yeah right

        • One Anonymous Bloke 10.2.1.1

          Of course there was, but the overwhelming majority do those things.

          If hard work is all it takes, nurses (who have enough to deal with putting up with assholes doctors, never mind patients) would all be millionaires. Ditto coal miners, fruitpickers, and slaves.

          Can you give me some examples of influential, world-shaking innovations that weren’t the result of collective endeavour?

          Everything you believe can be destroyed with feathers. Get over it.

  11. rhinocrates 11

    The Economist comments on Silicon Valley tech companies’ tensions with Trump. On one hand they oppose his immigration ban because they depend on immigrants, and are instinctive far more Liberally-aligned than most American companies, but it concludes lambasting their naïveté, servility to other dictatorial regimes and hypocritically cynical practice of capitalism (eg. tax avoidance).

    http://www.economist.com/news/business/21716020-tech-firms-are-last-departing-their-see-no-evil-stance-society-and-politics

  12. Craig H 12

    Peter Thiel is not a chess grandmaster (or any of the lower titles) according to FIDE and ICCF, although he is a strong player.

  13. One Two 13

    The ‘libertarian dream’ which Theil and ilk may partake in, could be very different from what the ‘common folk’ might describe, or imagine

    Following ‘libertarian’ to its extremity……anything goes!

    Anything!

    • Richard McGrath 13.1

      Anything… except violating the rights of others; by living in peaceful co-existence. The libertarian ideal.

    • HDCAFriendlyTroll 13.2

      “Libertarianism” taken to extreme is anarchy. Fact is we need laws and Libertarianism provides a kind of framework for those laws. So you can think of Libertarianism as pragmatic anarchy! 🙂

      • Richard McGrath 13.2.1

        Libertarianism means small government, NOT no government, as laws are needed to protect people’s right to live peacefully. That’s small government devoted to upholding law and order and providing national defence and justice systems. Everything else can be supplied by markets, charities and non profit organisations.

        • greywarshark 13.2.1.1

          We must be about up to saturation point of Richard McGrath over the past days. On the 2nd Feb I counted 11 mostly one liners between 7.49 and 8.16 pm. I don’t think he can afford to spend his few synapses so improvidently.

        • McFlock 13.2.1.2

          And any democracy that chooses libertarianaism leaves the people helped by those charities and NPOs dependant the famously soft hearts of libertarians.

          There’s one flaw in your proposition right there.

          • Richard McGrath 13.2.1.2.1

            Why would one person helping another lead to “dependence” of the latter on the former? You’re assuming people can’t be incentivised and encouraged into developing better life management and coping skills.

            • McFlock 13.2.1.2.1.1

              Glad to know the libertarian utopia has such a comprehensive safety net. It might be as helpful as Dickensian England.

              • Richard McGrath

                Safety nets don’t have to come from the state.

                • adam

                  Of course, but when you accept a state like you do Richard, why not go the extra step.

                  • HDCAFriendlyTroll

                    Because that would be Anarchy and as explained above, Libertarianism is not Anarchy.

                    • Rae

                      Tell that to Rodney Hide, a self professed anarchist. Libertarian is exactly what anarchy is, no government, that is it. It is just that the word “libertarian” has been hi-jacked by the right, and the word “anarchy” probably demonized by the same.
                      There is a form of libertarianism that could work, it is called left-libertarian. It would require no government because everyone would voluntarily live by this one thing “do unto others as you would have done to you”. It was from that I realized the person who is referred to as Jesus Christ was probably one of the original libertarian-lefties. It gives me no end of entertainment thinking how his strongest worshipers are right wing conservatives – diametrically opposed. (Note – I am an atheist, but accept that a someone existed back then with those views, otherwise, there’d be no Christianity).
                      The problem with libertarianism, is human nature I am afraid. As long as we keep trying to do each other in, or accumulating much for ourselves while depriving others, we can never, ever have a libertarian society.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      …everyone would voluntarily live by this one thing “do unto others as you would have done to you”. It was from that I realized the person who is referred to as Jesus Christ…

                      No, they “wouldn’t”. This never happens anywhere government breaks down.

                      The Golden Rule predates Jesus™ by several centuries.

                      “”Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.” — Confucius 500 BCE

                      PS: Confucious was no-one’s idea of a “Lefty”, let alone a Libertarian..

                    • Rae

                      OAB I don’t think you read what I wrote all the way through

                • McFlock

                  If all the private sector offers to people who need food and shelter is “incentivising” and “encouragement”, then yes, yes they do.

              • HDCAFriendlyTroll

                The anti-Libertarian argument in a nutshell:

                “What about the poor?”

                In other words, the security of the people. Having the State look after you is a form of security, right?

                Well, as they say, those who give up freedom for security deserve neither.

                More security, less freedom. Less freedom, more security.

                The Libertarian ideal is to have just enough security so that people can live in peace. The anti-Libertarian ideal is big government which ensures everyone is looked after but in exchange the people give up their freedom.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  The anti-Libertarian ideal is paying attention to evidence and reality, as opposed to self-serving drivel.

                • McFlock

                  “The libertarian ideal” recognises that the state should protect one’s right to property, but not one’s right to life.

                  BTW, when Franklin wrote the comment about liberty that you tortured, it was pretty much about the time he owned slaves. Oh, and he was asking for a tax to help kill native americans when he wrote it. But rock on, anyway.

                  • Richard McGrath

                    ‘ “The libertarian ideal” recognises that the state should protect one’s right to property, but not one’s right to life.’

                    Not so – the state should protect the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

                    • McFlock

                      So police funded by the government save your life and liberty by catching/stopping the bad guys.

                      Who saves your life by giving you fod and shelter?

                      Who saves your life by treating your cancer?

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Affirmative action then.

                      How is the government of Randistan going to facilitate the pursuit of happiness without it?

                      Not to mention that personally, I think contentment is a far more attractive goal than happiness, so at the moment it’s my vote against yours.

                • Carolyn_nth

                  The right wing libertarian ideal, puts property front and centre. It privileges property owners – so freedom for the well off, FOff for the non-property owners.

                  And the right wing libertarian ideal assumes a level playing field with everyone having access to owning property – except for slaves, and/or colonisation of indigenous lands, and/or monarchist inequality was actually the starting point historically.

            • Chris 13.2.1.2.1.2

              There’s no such assumption. You’re the one making the unfounded assumption here, which is that everyone can be “incentivised” (what ever that means – it’s a problematic term in itself) but which rests on a further assumption which is that everybody’s the same. And that is the falsehood that’s at heart of probably most right-wing thinking when it comes to capitalism and how certain groups get by. How Shipley used to frame things is a pretty good example, and Key’s backstory was used in the same way. The shit that comes out of Bennett’s mouth is probably the most blatant of recent examples. The basic point is that not everyone’s the same, and that’s where your mistake is.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 13.2.1.3

          It “can” be. Oh really? In some future vision of yours, eh.

          Shilling for wealthy vested interests is obviously some sort of cunning strategy I can’t quite grasp.

        • Pat 13.2.1.4

          lmao…good luck with your government small enough to drown in a bath….if libertarians achieved their goal the size of “government” required to maintain their nirvana would grow at an exponential rate ….bloody difficult to maintain property rights when so few own property.

  14. Incognito 14

    Admittedly, I don’t know much about Thiel but I do feel some sympathy for him; he comes across as a ‘seeker’ and also as a deeply lonely human.

  15. ian 15

    If, as Thiel contends, democracy and freedom are no longer compatible, it is because finance capitalism ruined them.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 15.1

      The kind of “freedom” Thiel wants has never been compatible with humanity, let alone democracy.

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