Over the weekend, author John Ganz told a truth no one is supposed to say out loud: German-born, South African-raised billionaire Peter Thiel “is a fascist.” The openly gay Thiel is trying to buy 2 Senate seats by financing a couple of sub-par fascist candidates who would have never gotten to first base without Thiel— who paid off Trump to endorse them both: J.D. Vance (OH) and Blake Masters (AZ), the latter now married to a woman but rumored to have once been one of Thiel’s lovers. Thiel is also married now, but to a man. MAGAs in Ohio and Arizona probably are unaware that the guy who plans to control their open Senate seats has not just spent almost $30 million on the two races but that he is also a fascist and that he and his husband Matt have adopted 2 children. No one ever mentions that last part, but the fascist thing is now considered fair game.
Ganz noted that people have trouble grasping the fascist thing. He noted that Max Chafkin, Thiel’s biographer wrote ““The Thiel ideology is complicated and, in parts, self-contradictory, and will take many of the pages that follow to explore, but it combines an obsession with technological progress with nationalist politics— a politics that at times has seemingly flirted with white supremacy.” Ganz: “Let’s see, we’ve go some futurism, nationalism, maybe a little bit of racism here and there… hmm, what does that all add up to? What a mystery this guy is!… Thiel’s libertarianism is about freedom— freedom for him and people like him, the entrepreneurial elite of the capitalist class. He’s openly antidemocratic. In an essay for the Cato Institute, Thiel once wrote, ‘I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible…’ Why? Because if you empower the demos, they will eventually vote for restrictions on the power of capitalists. and therefore, restrictions on their ‘freedom.’ He continues, ‘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.’ In that 2009 essay, Thiel imagines a kind of futurist program of utopian projects ‘beyond politics’ in cyberspace or ‘seasteading,’ but it’s clear now he’s returned to believing in politics, or at least an anti-political form of politics.”
The brand of radical libertarianism favored by Thiel and his crony Curtis Yarvin has long looked to crackpot authoritarian solutions that would enable unalloyed capitalist domination. In the ’90s, Murray Rothbard, who took his primary political inspiration from the America First movement, conceived of a “Right-Wing Populist” strategy that envisioned a Trump-like figure who could “short-circuit” the political establishment and smash the remnants of the New Deal order. He also made common cause on occasion with holocaust deniers. Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Rothbard’s protege, has advocated monarchism and “covenant communities” organized on essentially totalitarian basis. His book Democracy: The God That Failed divides humanity into producers and subhuman, parasitic “pests.”
But being anti-democratic is one thing, but how could the libertarian, the defender of individual freedom, the believer in the market ever really be a fascist, an ideology that celebrates the collective masses and the state? I think part of the problem is that there is still a very cartoonish notion of what actually-existing fascism looked like.
It’s important to remember that fascism, especially in its original incarnation in Italy, was never a fully coherent ideology. Like the symbol of the fasces itself, it was a bundle of things bound together, a syncretic and cobbled-together system of politics that encompassed several ideological tendencies. As the Madonna song goes, it brought together the bourgeoisie and the rebel. Mussolini’s party began with avant-garde futurists and radical syndicalists in the cities, but within a couple years attracted the most conservative sections of the bourgeoisie in the countryside. The historian Alexander de Grand calls this intrinsic fragmentation hiding behind consensus “hyphenated fascism”: so, you had conservative-fascism, nationalist-fascism, technocratic-fascism, syndicalist-fascism, Catholic-fascism etc. Not all fascists ticked every box: some were more interested in the idea of squads of thugs beating up socialists, some more in the idea of labor integration with industry, some more in a technocratic program of revitalizing national infrastructure. These tendencies and factions viewed each other as rivals for the overall direction of the fascist ideal. But each saw in the fascist movement and state the possibility of realizing their own program. This was made possible because of the excessively abstract terms of fascist pronouncements and the tactical flexibility and mercurial nature of fascist leaders. The focus was put on being opposed to common enemies like liberalism and Marxism while at the same time “restoring national greatness.” Everybody had their own idea about what that looked like. But all would gladly replace tiresome and frustrating regime of democratic political contestation with the rule of competenze, or, what the sociologist of fascism Dylan Riley calls the “a technocratic rejection of politics as such.”
…Ludwig von Mises, the Austrian economist and godfather of the type of radical libertarianism professed by Thiel, wrote in 1927, “It cannot be denied that Fascism and similar movements aiming at the establishment of dictatorships are full of the best intentions and that their intervention has, for the moment, saved European civilization. The merit that Fascism has thereby won for itself will live on eternally in history. But though its policy has brought salvation for the moment, it is not of the kind which could promise continued success. Fascism was an emergency makeshift. To view it as something more would be a fatal error.”
It would be easy to beat up on von Mises, but he’s just performing his ideological role as spokesman of the capitalist class: this rationalization of a “limited” fascism as a sort of “custodial dictatorship” that would fix things up for capitalism and “civilization’s” sake was virtually a commonplace among the interwar bourgeoisie. In fact, this was basically what the ruling class in Italy thought they were acceding to when they helped bring the fascists to power. And, while Mussolini’s regime still retained some constitutional trappings and moved toward conservative normalization, that still seemed like a plausible-enough outcome. It’s worth noting that it’s this sort of “emergency-fascism” that predominates in the thinking of Michael Anton and Curtis Yarvin, both Thiel cronies. (Thiel helped Anton, the author of the “Flight 93 Election” essay, get a job on the National Security Council.)
Borrowing his own terminology of going “back to the future” or doing “retro-futurism,” Thiel is a throwback to the era of the fascist industrialist. Some, like Fritz Thyssen, came to regret their association with the regimes they helped bring to power and had to flee, but others stuck around and took advantage of lucrative government contracts and slave labor.
But Thiel’s politics participates in fascism among several other hyphenated axes, as well. Looking at his biography, on consistent strand that he has a deeply elitist worldview and he’s obsessed with fantasies of power and control. This shouldn’t be surprising when you take into consideration at his childhood. Born to conservative parents in West Germany, Thiel spent his childhood in Namibia, then under administration by apartheid South Africa. His father was in charge of engineers in a uranium mine, where a black workforce from the “homelands” were lorded over by white mangers like the Thiels.
…I once called Thiel’s ideology baasskapp, an Afrikaans word meaning “boss-hood,” without fully realizing his intimate connection with apartheid. I think this experience still forms the core of his entire worldview, that of a petit-bourgeois or professional-managerial adjunct to this particularly raw and brutal form of colonialism and capitalist exploitation: there are highly-competent, technical managers with a crystalline vision, the engineers, and then there is a biologically-inferior, racial underclass of labor that has to be kept in line. There is a nationalist and national security dimension here, too: this uranium mine was part of South Africa’s clandestine attempt to develop a nuclear weapons program, to ensure its sovereignty in a sea of increasingly unfriendly nations. Thiel might be himself now a high industrialist but he still retains much of the worldview of an “organic intellectual” to borrow Gramsci’s term, an intermediary manager, in the apartheid system.
You can see hints of the kind of nasty, direct elitism when Thiel talks about himself as belong to a “high IQ” group and disdaining the herd, but usually it is mystified and laundered through fantasy, literally so, as his conceptions are highly informed by Dungeons & Dragons and J.R.R. Tolkien that he absorbed as a child. But tellingly he identifies with the “bad guys” in these worlds. He named his company Palantir, after a very dark piece of magic from Tolkien’s novels.
…If this all doesn’t sound fascist enough for you, consider his network of political and social connections. In the White House, he was allied with Steve Bannon’s ultra-right populist wing. In 2016, he addressed the Property and Freedom Society, a group founded by the economist Hans-Hermann Hoppe, that brings together radical libertarians and white nationalists. His associate and former employee Jeff Giesea is a funder and organizer of alt-right causes, so much so he is purportedly the author of “How to Fund the Alt-Right.” In Chafkin’s biography there are dozens of points of contact with the far right from dinners with VDARE contributors to a meeting with Milo Yiannopoulis. Then, of course, is his primary court philosopher Curtis Yarvin… the neo-reactionary intellectual and Thiel’s longtime friend….He published an essay that claimed that voters in “urban communities” had, through some mix of manipulation by organizers and actual voter fraud, stolen the election for Biden, or “China Joe,” as he called the president-elect, referring to Biden’s supposed deference to Beijing. Then Yarvin suggested that Republicans execute what he called a “very legal coup” to “steal the election back” by getting Republican-controlled state legislatures to invalidate the vote, and then having Trump claim emergency powers, ignoring any interference from Congress or the judiciary and using the National Guard to enforce his orders. After that, Yarvin argued, Trump could “liquidate the powerful, prestigious, and/or wealthy institutions of the old regime, inside and outside the formal government,” which, he said, would be followed by the achievement of “a singular vision of utopia.”
If that’s not the product of a fascist imagination, I don’t know what possibly could be.
So, let’s sum up. Peter Thiel believes he belongs to an elite group, often understood in implicitly or explicitly racial terms, that is entitled to set aside democratic governance in favor of pursuing a program of technological progress and national restoration. He believes the political means to accomplish this is through a charismatic leader with manipulative, populist appeals to past national glory and against parasitic immigrants and culturally decadent liberalism. For him, even the most milquetoast, reformist liberalism is “tantamount to communism.” He’s obsessed with romanticized fantasies of absolute power, domination, and control. He dreams of wielding the the national security state against enemies both foreign and domestic. He envisioned a kind of imperialist world-state controlled not through deliberative bodies like the U.N. but directly by the intelligence and secret police bureaus. He combines the ideology of white collar, petit-bourgeois intermediary class with its emphases direct management techniques and closely-held ownership with the grandiose, world-spanning designs of an industrial titan.There’s really no contradiction within Peter Thiel’s politics, they are quite consistent. He’s just realized, more clearly than his opponents often, that there’s ultimately a contradiction between the rule of capital and democracy, and the way to deal with this contradiction, as far as he’s concerned, is to do away with democracy.
What else do you really need to know? The man is a fascist, whether he fully admits to himself or not. He’s probably the most clearly fascist prominent figure in the U.S. today, including Trump. I suspect that he’s actually fully self-conscious about it, but knows that it would be politically counter-productive to come out as such and he probably views his ideas as some new, updated “Fascism 2.0.” In any case, we should not deceive ourselves or beat about the bush any longer.
Jim Lamon, a bit of a fascist himself, is one of the candidates taking on Thiel’s boy Blake Masters. Lamon had spent over $14.6 million as of July 13. That’s more than the 4 other Republicans in the Senate race combined. And its almost entirely out of his own pocket. Lamon self-funded $14 million into his campaign. Masters has only raised $4.9 million but Daddy Warbucks Thiel has a lot more money than Lamon and he’s been funneling it into Master’ campaign through a SuperPAC, Saving Arizona which had spent $13.5 million on behalf of Masters by last week. Thiel personally put in $15 million. So Lamon isn’t just attacking Masters; he’s also going after Thiel. “[S]ince being passed over for the Trump endorsement, Lamon has been hammering Masters over his relationship with Thiel and labeling the conservative tech billionaire as a ‘globalist Facebook board member’ while trying to recast his relationship with Silicon Valley into well-worn Republican narratives. ‘Oh by the way, just a little tidbit— again, because I'm on a little rail here about Big Tech,’ said Lamon as he addressed a question about ‘burdensome regulations’ from government agencies. ‘Palantir, which is a Peter Thiel company, is one of the largest companies that the federal government is doing business with to spy on Americans.’… ‘Oh and by the way, Blake, stop trying to tell us that you're not a puppet for big tech, because you are,’ said Lamon at the event, prompting a murmur of agreement among the attendees.”
Lamon has gone as far as to create an entire website of negative attacks on Masters.
"That's right," reads one section of the site. "The same Big Tech that's censoring conservatives and selling our country out to China are funding Fake Blake Masters' faux conservative campaign.
…Milling around the hotel's Goldwater ballroom following Lamon's town hall, attendees told Insider that what they've heard about Thiel is giving them pause.
"It bothers me a great deal," Steve Zipperman, a candidate for state Senate in the Prescott-based 1st legislative district, told Insider following the town hall. "I'm looking at Peter Thiel as being the same kind of guy that George Soros is, trying to control things and manipulate things from outside."
Pat Newbert, 66, told Insider at the event that she had ultimately decided to support Lamon despite some of her friends' enthusiasm for Masters.
"Well, Trump endorsed him, so he must have looked into him and everything. But yeah, he also endorsed Dr. Oz," said Newbert, referring to Pennsylvania Senate candidate Mehmet Oz. She added that she doesn't "necessarily agree with a lot of people that Trump's backing."
She added that Lamon's broadsides against Thiel and his connection to Facebook were an "eye opener" that had convinced her to not support Masters.
"I don't know why Trump's backing Masters after everything that I've learned about him now," she said. "Because Facebook is— I mean, they're squashing our First Amendment."
It was at that point that her husband Ray, 71, interjected.
"I just got out of Facebook jail," he said. "For posting the truth!"
Thiel's candidates. Whomever put this together forgot Josh "runner" Hawley (R-MO). The only woman on the list, Harriet Hageman (R-WY), was included in deference to Señor Trumpanzee: