What’s the Deal with Peter Thiel? Sociopathic Billionaire Man-Child Wants to Eat the World.

Composite image of Peter Thiel holding an inflatable globe and crushing it. Image Description: Composite image of Peter Thiel holding an inflatable globe and crushing it.

Summary: I’m not a doctor. But even I can certainly see that Peter Thiel is a sick, sick person. Bright, awkward and successful, Peter Thiel has risen to prominence in American society on the gamble that he can break it. A product of the Ivy League system who wants to take it down. A gay man who backs candidates that would degrade his civil rights. A hedge fund tech investor who thinks Silicon Valley hasn’t done anything innovative in 50 years. A Trump backer and advisor who walked away when he got what he wanted. Peter Thiel is known as a contrarian, but it may be simpler than that. He might just be a nihilistic asshole. 

Central to the conceit of The Social Network, the fictionalized account of Mark Zuckerberg’s rise, was the moment Sean Parker introduced Zuckerberg to Peter Thiel. This was the true spark of betrayal the conflict of the movie hinges upon. Recognizing that Eduardo Saverin held too much equity in the start up, venture capitalist Peter Thiel devises a new corporate structure to dilute Saverin’s shares and push him out of the company. Or so the story goes.

What’s interesting about this portrayal of Thiel as a Machiavellian villain is that sometimes truth is stranger, and more accurate, than fiction.

Why dedicate an entire episode to Peter Thiel? Primarily, because he’s fucking with our lives. Working out his own shit by subjecting us to his libertarian fantasies like mice in a box. Another master of the universe type who believes he’s somehow been ordained with gifts from on high, as evidenced by his disdain for all things fair. Democracy, multiculturalism, equity and inclusion, taxes, you name it.

Some of it is morbid curiosity, I admit. He’s hard to explain because every time you think you’ve got this guy nailed down, he zags.

The title of the lone biography about him is The Contrarian. And we’ll pull from it a good deal, but even through the book’s exhaustive interviews, there’s something missing from Thiel’s profile. I decided to pull the trigger on this episode because of Thiel’s influence as an individual, as well as what he represents. Both are terrifying and mystifying. And, if you’re not at all interested in learning about yet another fucking rich, tax evading, libertarian asshole hell bent on destroying democracy, I’ll save you some time and give you the punchline. Thiel is a sociopathic man-child who partakes in fiscal and political filial cannibalism.

Chapter One

So who the fuck is this guy?

Dark money is leveraged almost evenly on both sides of the political aisle. It’s fucked. But only Republicans seem to raise money from billionaires who have designs on tearing down the political system and clearing a path for tax evasion and financial corruption.

Such is the case with billionaire Paul Singer, the biggest vulture on Wall Street who buys sovereign debt, then holds countries hostage for repayment. Or our fair lady Rebekkkah Mercer, the money behind Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Steve Bannon. The elusive Wilks brothers who bankrolled PragerU. The DeVos family and their twin mission of creating a rogue mercenary army and crippling public education. Charles Koch and his dead brother, looking to abolish agencies like the EPA that hold them accountable for their pollution. Or Barre Seid, who gave a $1.6 billion endowment to the Federalist Society to continue its work packing the courts with far right extremists.

Each of them has demonstrated a willingness and desire to wrest control of the country for social and economic reasons that fit their worldview. Almost all of them avoid revealing their grand designs in public. And most of these have been at it longer and poured way more money into buying politicians than Thiel. Even though there are other billionaires who put their money into play, and unabashedly support conservative ideals, Thiel has emerged as something different altogether.

Peter Thiel is a self-styled intellectual who loves the spotlight, even though he’s a horrendous public speaker. He mostly refuses to speak on the record to the media, but frequently accepts offers to speak at conferences or debate in public forums. According to sources in the aforementioned biography, most people utterly despise him personally, but apparently he’s a fucking awesome guy to work for. These are the surface conflicts that make him hard to pin down. And, the deeper you go into this dude, the more contradictory things are.

The Origin Story

Thiel was born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1968 to a very Christian family. He spent some of his early years in Cleveland, where his father Klaus landed a job in engineering, specializing in oil refineries and heavy industry. A few years later, his father moved the family to apartheid South Africa where Peter would get his formative education at an “elite” whites-only school.

So far, this makes sense.

His father would switch from consulting oil companies to uranium mining in Namibia on behalf of the South African government. What a swell family. As biographer Max Chafkin writes in The Contrarian:

“A report published after the end of Apartheid by the Namibia Support Committee, a pro-independence group, described conditions at the mine in grim terms, including an account of a contract laborer on the construction project—the project Klaus’s company was helping to oversee—who said workers had not been told they were building a uranium mine and were thus unaware of the risks of radiation. The only clue had been that white employees would hand out wages from behind glass, seemingly trying to avoid contamination themselves. The report mentioned workers ‘dying like flies,’ in 1976, while the mine was under construction.”

The Thiels moved back to Cleveland for a cup of coffee after the mine opened, but then landed in California, overseeing the opening of a gold mine. Peter read Tolkien, enjoyed Dungeon & Dragons, played chess obsessively, had few friends and signed every yearbook with “have a good life.”

Peter proved to be an exceptional student, which earned him a spot at Stanford, where he rocked a 4.0. While he was still painfully antisocial, he joined the college Republicans, started reading Ayn Rand and apparently told classmates that “concern about Apartheid was overblown,” according to Chafkin’s interviews.

Outside of chess and developing an early affinity for white supremacy, Thiel had a devout Christian upbringing. Although, he appeared to be unmoved by religion until he became enamored with the teachings of René Girard, a philosopher who maintained that Christ was the ultimate scapegoat of history at the center of his teachings, and that humans are driven by envy to imitate what they saw before them.

According to a profile of Thiel in The Atlantic:

“In Girard’s telling, imitation generated conflict, as people fought for the same things—the same jobs, schools and material possessions—even though such trophies would fail to make them happier. Life, Thiel eventually would come to realize, could be cast as a struggle to escape the false siren of copycat cravings. To be free, you had to carve your own path. You had to be a contrarian.”

Under Girard’s influence, Thiel would rekindle his relationship with his religion and lean hard into the conservative aspects of Christianity. To this day, he has the ability to move seamlessly between lessons from Tolkien fantasy and those found in the Bible, often quoting both in public lectures.

During his time at Stanford, he started the Stanford Review, modeled closely after the Dartmouth Review, which was founded by another hard right libertarian douchenozzle named Dinesh D’Souza. Unf*ckers probably know him. If you don’t, look him up. He’s awful. And a joke. But it was his publication of a book called The Diversity Myth, which blamed women for rape and contained homophobic sentiments, that earned him his first bit of notoriety. A spark of fame that would finally ignite a fire in Thiel to be seen, heard and followed.

Thiel in the Wild

After graduation, he was accepted into Stanford Law, where he flourished academically as well. Armed with a law degree, he took a job at a white shoe firm in New York, but didn’t last very long. He quickly left the law behind and became a derivatives trader, but was uninspired and unhappy in the job. So Thiel packed up, left New York and headed back to the west coast to start a hedge fund. Because, why not?

It must have been difficult to start a hedge fund when you only have a law degree and didn’t last more than a year in two different jobs.

Actually, Thiel managed to cobble together $1 million from friends and family to start his fund.

Oh. Okay, so how did that go?

Not bad, I guess. Even though this was the late ‘90s and nearly everyone investing in California was able to make a killing before the dot-com bubble burst, Thiel outsmarted everyone and decided to invest in currencies instead.

Wow. Right. The “contrarian.” So he killed it?

Sort of. He killed his investors because he lost so much money. But he still had some money left over, so he switched from hedge fund investor to venture capitalist, and this time things worked out a little bit better.

So, just to recap. Peter Thiel went to Stanford undergrad, then Stanford law. Became a lawyer for less than a year before switching to derivatives trader for a few months, only to move back to California to start a hedge fund despite having no experience. Failed at his first round of investments, then decided to become a venture capitalist.

That’s pretty much it!

Just another made it from nothing, pull yourself up by the bootstraps kind of story that libertarians love, provided you’re a fan of Apartheid, have the family support to get two advanced degrees from Ivy League schools, the ability to leave three different professions while getting bankrolled with a million bucks.

Yes, and it gets even better from here. As many of you probably already know, Thiel actually did hit the next one out of the park by investing in a little piece of technology created by a kid named Max Levchin. Levchin was a coder who programmed a way to pass information securely between PalmPilots. Levchin called it Fieldlink.

Never heard of it.

Me neither. But you might have heard of what it morphed into. Fieldlink’s security profile made it ideal for passing payments securely, even though it was originally for the narrow purpose of PalmPilots. But the code would morph and the company adopted the name Confinity, with Thiel at the helm. He had seeded the company with $250,000 left over from the friends and family money built up in the hedge fund days.

Never heard of Confinity either, to be honest.

Perhaps. But you’ve probably heard of the system it used to transfer money: PayPal.

Chapter Two

Where did all his money come from, and can I have some?

Alright. Back to Chafkin’s profile:

“In its earliest days, PayPal employed no women, and there were no black employees. Years later, Levchin would boast about rejecting a candidate who’d used the word hoops, instead of saying basketball.”

Thiel wasn’t the only white dude who grew up in South Africa running a payment company with a bunch of tech bros. In fact, the other one—literally right next door—was called x.com, run by a fellow named Elon Musk. While this makes for fun storytelling, we’ll make it quick and give you the highlights:

  • Both men had gone to Stanford, though Musk only for a graduate degree.

  • Musk had already cashed out of a startup, netting a cool $22 million after being ousted by his investors for being an unmanageable asshole.

  • They both landed in California with a similar idea to address payments, though Musk’s idea was far more ambitious in scope.

  • Believe it or not, the two companies knew nothing about one another until Thiel’s engineers found plans in the shared dumpster behind the building. The race was on.

Long story short, both companies were signing people up at a furious pace and raising eye-popping sums of money.

Not to downplay their accomplishments, but there was a catch to all this. They were signing up users by paying them. Their respective platforms were free. But this was the heyday pre-bubble burst where it was all ‘build it today, figure out how to charge for it tomorrow’.

Musk’s solution was burning cash, but growing its user base. Thiel’s solution struck gold by aligning with eBay as its preferred payment system.

In a relatively short period of time, users went from hundreds, to thousands to hundreds of thousands, and the two were on a collision course with one another, their partners and investors as the air began to leak from the dot-com bubble.

And so, they merged. With Musk at the helm and a fresh capitalization of $100 million. And then…pop!

The dot-com bubble burst.

Here’s where we see the first flashes of Thiel as Sun Tzu. As soon as the market began to crater, he quit. He left his own company and left Musk to his own devices.

Over the next several months, x.com and PayPal would come under increasing pressure to get lean and make money. Up until this point, neither Musk nor Thiel had put much effort into building a revenue model. It was all about users and investors. Get the money, pay the users, go back for more. Becoming the biggest was the operative. So big that they couldn’t be ignored by their investors or potential suitors. But there was a bigger problem looming that the carefree Musk had chosen to ignore. Fraud.

The company was raking in users and had begun taking small fees, which irked partners like eBay, but the gamble that PayPal would become too big to push around worked. So the company started charging money; cents on the dollar for transfers. It would soon become apparent that fully one-third of PayPal’s revenue was coming from gaming and porn sites; a fact that bothered literally no one at the company, including the devout Christians who were given space to pray together on a daily basis in the office. More troubling was the discovery that PayPal was being used to launder money by some pretty bad actors.

Musk’s desire all along had been to turn the company into a bank. Deposits, checking accounts, international transfers and so on. His overreach was tremendous, and his attention to detail was absent. Between his wild management style, inability to crack down on fraud, money pouring out and expenses creeping up, the investors and the board were getting nervous. Thiel, sensing his moment had arrived, devised a plan with key staff members still loyal to him to oust Musk while Elon was on his honeymoon. Ostensibly, the first vacation he’d taken in years.

The plan worked. Musk was out. Thiel was back in.

Once back at the helm, Thiel went on the offensive rooting out fraud that was mostly coming from Russian hackers, tightening controls in every corner of the company and playing investors, Wall Street and partners against one another in the ultimate game of value chess. Long story short, he created an urgency around the value of PayPal and got Meg Whitman at eBay, who hated Thiel by the way, to pursue the company lest Thiel get too big for his britches. But Thiel had another plan. To go public.

Playing everyone against one another, Thiel brought the IPO across the finish line, but not before making one last strategic move on the chess board. He forced the board to part with more equity at the eleventh hour, which they reluctantly awarded him through a loan to purchase more shares.

And then he did something so fucking crafty that even I have to give it a tip of the old cap:

“The late Sen. William Roth Jr., a Delaware Republican, pushed through a law establishing the Roth IRA in 1997 to allow ‘hard-working, middle-class Americans’ to stow money away, tax-free, for retirement. The Clinton administration didn’t want to give a fat tax break to wealthy people who were likely to save anyway, so it blocked Americans making more than $110,000 ($160,000 for a couple) per year from using them and capped annual contributions back then at $2,000.”

That’s the lede to a ProPublica article on Peter Thiel’s ingenious move.

When Thiel forced the board’s hand to give him the money to purchase shares in the PayPal IPO, he used $500,000 in his Roth IRA to purchase more. There were three important devices that allowed him to do this. One, you cannot use Roth IRA money to purchase shares in a company you control. He didn’t have control of PayPal, just a stake. Two, it had to be valued under a certain amount, which it was, since this was pre-IPO. And, three, you have a be a real fucking douchebag, which he is.

Essentially, all the gains on the shares of stock from that point forward grew inside the Roth account, and Thiel can extract these gains tax free when he turns 59. He’s 55. Thiel would repeat this maneuver over his career, as would many others when Congress relaxed the rules on contributions even further. According to ProPublica, at the end of 2019, Thiel’s Roth IRA was valued at $5 billion.

Back to ProPublica to close this section out:

“Thiel, a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, by then had brought his Roth under the auspices of a family trust company called Rivendell Trust. In ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ Rivendell is a secret valley populated by elves, a misty sanctuary against forces of darkness. And, thanks to the Roth, Thiel’s fortune is far more vast than even experts in tallying the wealth of the rich believed. In 2019, Forbes put Thiel’s total net worth at just $2.3 billion. That was less than half of what his Roth alone was worth.”

Chapter Three

We’re all just pawns on Peter’s board.

There are key elements in Thiel’s origin story that are essential to his character. Most of the bios and wiki entries are consumed with his investment prowess, and now his political interventions. Thiel would indeed go on to provide the seed funding for Facebook after cashing out from PayPal.

His investments now include Elon Musk’s SpaceX— yes, he has since made up with Elon Musk—Stripe, Airbnb, Asana, Spotify, Twilio, Lyft, Oculus, CreditKarma, ZocDoc and dozens of other tech companies that have changed the world, or are in the process of it. Despite the fact that Thiel is on record routinely criticizing Silicon Valley for its lack of innovation.

Today, he’s a bogeyman to those on the left who see his involvement in free speech platform Rumble as evidence that even his investment strategy is moving to the far right, and not just his political contributions. And many wonder if they go beyond speech to real world destruction of the political system. Take, for example, Palantir—a company that Thiel was instrumental in funding and generating connections for lucrative contracts. You might remember Palantir’s involvement in hunting down undocumented immigrants during the Trump years. As The Intercept wrote in 2017:

“Palantir has never masked its ambitions, in particular the desire to sell its services to the U.S. government — the CIA itself was an early investor in the startup through In-Q-Tel, the agency’s venture capital branch. But Palantir refuses to discuss or even name its government clientele, despite landing “at least $1.2 billion” in federal contracts since 2009.”

Some see this as evidence that Thiel, through proxy investment Palantir, had designs on supporting some of Trump’s most evil policies. But while Thiel was certainly a vocal supporter of Trump, even snagging a prime time slot at the 2016 Republican Convention, the fact is that Palantir did even better under Obama. It’s also true that most of Thiel’s recommendations for hires as a member of Trump’s transition team weren’t chosen, and that Thiel eventually pulled support for Trump’s re-election bid.

Like I said, this dude’s hard to pin down.

As The Atlantic piece points out, “Thiel’s greatest start-up hits share no particular industry theme, but most reflect this appetite for radical outsiderism.”

Another quick piece of information to file away for later, by the way, is the fact that Palantir’s IPO filings showed that the company hadn’t yet turned a profit by 2020, despite years of lucrative contracts. Hold that thought.

Aside from his investments, which are a matter of public record and have won him accolades in financial circles, I find his backstory more illuminating. The outsider. The contrarian. Self-made billionaire. These are compelling narratives that when matched with wealth, buy you access and a voice in the public square. But to accomplish what? To say what?

In 2009, Thiel wrote, “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible,” lamenting that “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.”

This is where Thiel gets interesting later in life. If you can judge someone by the company they keep and the things they do, then it creates a devastating circumstantial picture of someone who is more than an opportunistic investor.

People like Thiel are characterized these days as “incels” when they’re young. Disassociated misogynists who live largely online and are incapable of relationships. Then there’s the alt-right wing of the Republican Party that does things like storm the Capitol. We’ve got white Christian nationalists who are anti-immigration, xenophobic survivalists who want to give power to the states. And we have the billionaire libertarian tax evaders who support far right candidates to clear a path for the groups above and their patrons to avoid taxes.

In the center of this venn diagram sits Peter Thiel.

The brilliant Natasha Leonard wrote a piece for The Intercept earlier this year that speaks to the formation of the New Right. Here’s an excerpt:

“Now, in our era of Trumpian reaction, we are seeing reports about a new New Right. Like the New Rights that came before it, it’s a loose constellation of self-identifying anti-establishment, allegedly heterodox reactionaries. The newest of the Rights is similarly fueled by disaffection with liberal progress myths and united by white supremacist backlash — this time, with funding largely from billionaire Peter Thiel.”

In our politics, it shows up in the form of donations, but also candidate selection. This is where Thiel has upped the ante compared to billionaire funders of years past. Candidates have always sought the approval and funding of the billionaire libertarian set. What’s different about Thiel is that he’s literally constructing candidates in his likeness from the ground up. Take, for example, Blake Masters running for Senate in Ohio on an anti-immigration, pro gun, homophobic, transphobic, pro-life, state’s rights platform. His background? His only real world experience is working for Peter Thiel, including the Thiel Foundation that pays kids to drop out of college.

Then, of course, we have this professional dick running in Ohio, J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy and former employee of, you guessed it. In fact, not only did he work at one of Thiel’s firms, he started his own with Thiel’s backing, and Vance was the recipient of the largest campaign contribution in history by none other than Peter Thiel. There’s no other way to say it. J.D. Vance is bought and paid for by Thiel.

So, he wants his very own Senate candidates. Unf*ckers, these aren’t just terrible humans that took Thiel’s money. They’re literally his former employees. And they have a fucking shot at becoming U.S. Senators.

Okay. Let’s actually hear from Thiel himself to see if we can discern a world view and figure out what he’s after.

The interesting thing about watching interviews and lectures from him over the years is watching him get increasingly comfortable. He is, by nature, a terrible public speaker. I mean, awful. But he has been practicing certain lines and themes as he hones his world view. Here’s a talking point from a lecture he gave last year that I’ve now heard multiple times. His way of framing consensus as a bad thing and thereby democracy as inherently dangerous:

“We always think of, you know, democracy as a good thing. But in a democracy, the majority is more right than wrong, if you get 51% it’s more right than 49%, and 70% is even more right. But you know if you get to 99.9% maybe that’s totally right or maybe you’re in North Korea.”

This is his way of attacking conformity through media censorship.

Here’s how he feels about public policy as it relates to climate science:

You see this with all the genuflections to science with a capital “S.” You know, ‘in this household we believe in science.’ That’s sort of, uh, evidence that you don’t. Or, uh, even just the assertion, you know, I always think that if you have to call things science, you know they aren’t. Like climate science or political science. We don’t use physical science or chemical science because you don’t need to push it quite that hard.”

Here’s his philosophy truly on display using the coded nationalist language of anti-globalism:

“Relating this a little bit to the theme of this conference of the question of nationalism, um, it strikes me that, uh, one of the ways the question of nationalism always gets misperceived is that it is, um, it is seen as not so much on the side of individuals or classical liberalism or even conservatism. Um, and yet this seems to be very wrong because the place where we have the worst mob—the most homogenized forms of thinking possible—are in the context of globalization, and if we think of nationalism as a corrective to the sort of you know homogenizing, you know brain dead, one world state that's totalitarian and where there's no no dissent no individualism is allowed, it is um it is the the sort of all-important corrective at this point and…and I keep thinking that the the worst forms of this sort of um fake consensus, fake dangerous centralization, ministry of truth are all the uh the globalist versions.”

This is where Thiel gets a little tricky. So, let’s pause for a minute before we hear more from him. We know nationalism is a bad thing when it takes the form of mob rule and organizes against those it perceives as “other.” Like Nazi Germany. Stalinist Russia. But he does a head fake criticizing nationalism as the only antidote to the so-called “one world state that’s totalitarian.”

He says on multiple occasions that he prefers misinformation to a “ministry of truth,” and makes not-so-subtle allusions to U.S. media as such a ministry. So, in his world, nationalism is preferable to globalism, but only to the extent that it still allows for individualism. Essentially, nationalism is the best way to protect the individual against globalism, but we need to remove as much power from the state as possible to prevent it from cultivating groupthink and suppressing dissent.

Strip it all away, and there’s a very simple narrative thread here. Objectivism.

Ultimately, Thiel sees himself as Howard Roark or any such protagonist in Ayn Rand fiction. And he’s willing to do anything to prevent people from moving through the same systems of power that he did so he can rise above like Luke Wilson, waking up in the future in Idiocracy to discover he’s the smartest person in the world. It’s one of the reasons that he is so opposed to institutions of higher education, despite earning two advanced degrees himself. Here’s Thiel on education:

“There’s probably a degree to which, um, Silicon Valley, the work force in Silicon Valley is the most educated in the country, has the most, you know, advanced degrees, college degrees and advanced degrees from the elite universities and maybe the more education you have the more brainwashed you are.”

Chapter Four

Bring it home, Max.

So let’s rack up the inconsistencies that he likes to frame as contrarian.

  • Two advanced degrees from Ivy League schools, but calls the education system corrupt and has a fellowship to pay entrepreneurs to drop out of college.

  • He’s a devout Christian who evades taxes and quotes Tolkien.

  • He’s a gay man who backs openly homophobic candidates like Blake Masters and wrote in his book, the Diversity Myth, that Stanford should seal its glory holes and that women are to blame for redefining coercion and seduction as rape.

  • He routinely shits on California. But he lives in California.

  • Famously ousted Elon Musk from PayPal when Musk was on his honeymoon. Then became an investor in Musk’s SpaceX.

  • He believes the government is evil and the surveillance state is corrupt. But co-founded his surveillance company Palantir with the CIA.

  • Took money from friends and family and bombed as a hedge fund, only to start PayPal because he saw it as a way to bring down governments by replacing currency.

  • As a white dude who thinks Apartheid was a fine system, he sees no merit in the idea of privilege.

  • Is again, a white dude from a family that made its money from engineering oil refineries, uranium mines and strip mining. The same Apartheid apologist family who supported their friendless child through not one, but two Ivy League degrees, only to watch him piss them away when he quit the legal profession, quit being a derivatives trader and blew almost all of his friends and family’s money in his hedge fund.

  • A dude who took that remaining money and backed a technology he believed could destabilize governments, earned revenue from porn and gambling, looked the other way at money laundering and global fraud, fucked his business partner and never made a fucking penny because he worked his contacts in the investment community to take on millions that he gave to customers to sign up for his free product. Then, he took that money and hid it in a tax shelter, thereby abusing a system that was designed to help low to middle income earners.

Nihilist Prick

Peter Thiel failed as a lawyer. Failed as a hedge fund manager. Leveraged every ounce of his white privilege to invest in something that never turned a profit. Palantir never turned a profit, but its largest customer is the government, the very thing Peter Thiel wants to destroy. SpaceX’s largest customer is also the government, which Peter Thiel wants to destroy. He backed Trump because he wanted to tear down the wall of government institutions, then abandoned Trump when he didn’t get any of the appointments that he wanted. Now, he’s trying to take over the government by installing hand picked Senators and backing myriad other “big lie” candidates. He shits all over Silicon Valley for its lack of innovation, yet runs a fund that invests in Silicon Valley companies.

He appears at conferences to talk about entrepreneurship, Christianity, libertarianism and is even giving foreign policy speeches. He can quote philosophy and the Bible. Probably hold his own against a grandmaster in chess. And he’s made a bloody fortune rolling the dice on ideas that have the ability to hasten the creative destruction of legacy industries and society.

Please check out this video of Cornel West and Peter Thiel engaged in dialogue. It’s too long and rich to quote, but here’s my impression. Thiel holds his own against one of the most intelligent, but also gracious, polemicists in the country. He bobs and weaves his way through by mixing quotes from philosophers and leaders, but the through-line of it all is Ayn Rand, which is why the only time he struggles is when West presses him on issues of humanity and society. These are foreign constructs to Thiel.

He truly appears to be incapable of perceiving or even feigning empathy. And that’s really the story here.

Peter Thiel is trying to hijack what’s left of our democracy, because democracy attempts to organize political and economic realism in a way that supports humanity and society. So, of course, Thiel doesn’t get it. He’s acquired the financial wherewithal to participate actively in the destruction of this democracy for the very same ruthless reasons. He has a chip missing. And that would be almost fine, I suppose, if he left well enough alone. But he won’t. He’s not content being Howard Roark. He wants to be John Galt. Or Caesar. Whatever.

If ever there was a living, breathing, thinking—but not feeling—reason to get money the fuck out of politics, this guy is it. Look, there are things I obviously despise about where our country is headed, but I’m not willing to burn the barn to get to the nails. But he is. Because he thinks he’s better than you, smarter than you and more deserving of riches, even though he himself has never earned a fucking dime in his entire life and wouldn’t know work if it hit him in his stupid fucking smug face.

Peter Thiel is mad at the world because he doesn’t fit into it.

He’s a petulant child with too much money.

Ol’ Pete’s a nihilistic prick.

Here endeth the lesson.

Max is a basic, middle-aged white guy who developed his cultural tastes in the 80s (Miami Vice, NY Mets), became politically aware in the 90s (as a Republican), started actually thinking and writing in the 2000s (shifting left), became completely jaded in the 2010s (moving further left) and eventually decided to launch UNFTR in the 2020s (completely left).