What was discussed in an earlier post, “Sharing Rides, Hoarding Profits: How the SF Bay area’s technology elite are destroying poor & people of color’s incomes by Disruptive Innovation" is only one aspect of the "Tech Savvy" feudal-libertarian Socially Darwinian idea of how societies, their workforces, and the wealth generated, should be for their benefit alone.

According to Busque, in February 2008, she and her husband realized that their dog was out of dog food. Not wanting to go to the store, she discussed founding a website to run tasks with her husband, Kevin.

Poor dog, I hope she eventually fed it. I wouldn’t want to wait for someone to build a website whenever I needed a basic need met.


In summer 2012, Thiel’s (Peter Thiel, PayPal founder) venture-capital group Founders Fund became a key investor in the new ideological startup Taskrabbit. While it nominally exists to turn a profit, Taskrabbit is an ingenious vehicle for social engineering which aims to lessen the control of government not over money, but work. By exploiting high unemployment as an opportunity to diminish workers’ rights, Taskrabbit aims to create an alternate, privatized set of norms based on the labor paradigm of the 1920s: “liberty of contract.”


The Ten Ninety Nihilists

By Empire-Logistics

In the United States a new form of casualized work is being hyped by Silicon Valley tech-utopian Randians, based on a free market right-wing libertarian ideology of “liberty of contract.” Empire-Logistics participant Kevin Carhart exposes this new form of class exploitation.

Ever since the advent of the New Deal institutions in the 1930s, a coalition of businessmen and ideologues have fought tooth and nail to diminish, and ultimately to annihilate, these institutions. They resented the encroachment of regulation and the advent of state backing for labor unions and what this meant for their freedom to operate as they wished.

“In the boom of the second half of the 1920s,” said economist James Crotty, “there was little regulation of business, very low taxes on business and rich households, a crippled union movement, a powerful financial sector that rained money on the wealthy, and a political system dominated by economic elites. From 1923 to 1929, 70% of the growth in income went to the richest 1% and only 15% went to the bottom 90% of the income distribution. This was a right-wing dream world.”1

The turning back of Roosevelt’s new programs, said historian Kim Phillips-Fein, “was a question not only of the bottom line, but of the deepest social principles.”2

Many espoused a sort of social Darwinism: the high station of the captains of industry, and their ability to act with impunity, was a manifestation of the survival of the fittest. They resented government’s interference in what they were entitled to do.

“They believed that the free market was equivalent to freedom itself,” Phillips-Fein said.3

In their long and varied efforts for deregulation, unionbusting, privatization and tax cuts, the thinkers and writers within the coalition have evolved the underlying rationales that they present to the public, according to pragmatism or what will sell. As anti-communism and social issues became less effective underlying stories in the 1990s, the Internet and dotcom hype became a new pretext for the drive towards laissez-faire.

Today, it is not the Long Boom but the Great Recession that is being used as a pretext. Sequestration, and the current bipartisan consensus for austerity “is a major victory for the coalition,” Crotty said, “… because it will sustain their onslaught against domestic government spending.”4

For business conservatives such as the Koch brothers, Crotty said, “or from a long-term perspective of a lot of these really rich people, this is an opportunity for them, essentially, to defeat the forces that created the social welfare system … this may be an important historic moment.”5


Taskrabbit

In recent years, components of the coalition such as the Koch brothers and the broadly reviled Goldman Sachs have received well-deserved scrutiny from Jane Mayer, Matt Taibbi and many others. One additional piece of the coalition that may be underscrutinized, though, is the pervasive libertarian, tech-utopian and Randian sentiment among the business conservatives of Silicon Valley startup and venture-capitalist culture.

As Phillips-Fein described, wealthy businessmen in the coalition have long been keen to spend their money to promote free-market ideas through a wide variety of vehicles: think tanks, dedicated TV and radio series, media appearances and punditry, lobbyists, position papers and amicus briefs, among other creative approaches.

Silicon Valley brings something new to the table: the ideological startup. A tech-savvy investor or CEO - with Peter Thiel as a prominent example - can endow an Internet startup company which has ideological assumptions baked into the cake of its relationship with a population of users. Thiel, who also gave two million dollars to the far-right Club for Growth PAC during the 2012 electoral cycle, has been involved with two major ideological startups: Paypal and Taskrabbit.

When Thiel co-founded Paypal in 1999, his goal was not merely to create a profitable company, but to drive radical deregulation. Thiel wanted to “lessen the control of government over money” by building an audience for an alternate, privatized currency.6

Thiel, said former Paypal Marketing VP Eric Jackson in his memoir, “was pledging to turn the company into nothing less than an initiator of the ‘creative destruction’ that Joseph Schumpeter described sixty years earlier. He genuinely seemed to believe that this little startup had the ability to upend the world’s financial systems by giving consumers unparalleled power over their own finances.”7

Thiel has been candid and consistent in his support for laissez-faire. Jacob Weisberg described Thiel’s belief system as “a mixture of unapologetic selfishness and economic Darwinism.”8

“I think we are going to see some sort of a return to the classic economic thinking of the 19th and 20th centuries,” Thiel said on the website Big Think. “I knew Milton Friedman, so that’s probably the one I’m personally the most biased towards.”9

In summer 2012, Thiel’s venture-capital group Founders Fund became a key investor in the new ideological startup Taskrabbit. While it nominally exists to turn a profit, Taskrabbit is an ingenious vehicle for social engineering which aims to lessen the control of government not over money, but work.

By exploiting high unemployment as an opportunity to diminish workers’ rights, Taskrabbit aims to create an alternate, privatized set of norms based on the labor paradigm of the 1920s: “liberty of contract.”

The Ten Ninety Nihilists in full with annotations @Libcom