“The only time I’m not thinking about Palantir…”

If you’re not following Palantir, it’s on track to be one of the most important new American firms in geopolitics and security, and it just launched its IPO on September 30. (For what it’s worth, my buy stop is around $12 right now.)

Founded by real-life Ozymandias and California Ideology archon Peter Thiel, and governed by Freud Institute-bloodline parvenu Alex Karp, Thiel has said it will be every bit as important as Facebook is today.

Reading this profile of CEO Alex Karp, in which Karp laments his loss of anonymity and all its hedonistic red-light opportunities, while building a billion-dollar big data company to empower clients like the CIA, reminds me of a quote from Getting Straight.

Why haven’t you learned anything?

It’s all there, it’s all there in Toynbee and those books on the shelf!

Suppression breeds violence!

You’re going to raise the curfew an hour?

Will you look outside?

You see that kid?

Last week he just wanted to get laid.

Now he wants to kill somebody!

Sunday Poetry: Adorno about traffic lights

I hate the Frankfurt School. Even more, I hate Theodor W. Adorno. Apart from his atrocious Sociology (I think his philosophy is ridiculous too, but I have not dealt with it in depth yet), he had a very bizarre opinion on Jazz.
However, he seemed to be a heavy fan of traffic lights. In 1962 he wrote the following words to the local newspaper:

“When crossing the Senckenberg plant, near the corner of Dantestraße, one of our secretaries was run over and seriously injured after a passerby had been killed in an accident at the same place a few days earlier. On the way to university, one has to run across the street in an unworthy way, as if one was running for his life. If a student, or a professor, is in the state that is actually appropriate for him, namely in his mind, then the threat of death is immediately prevalent.” 

In consequence of his rant, albeit 25 years later, the city built the now-famous Adorno-Ampel in Frankfurt near his faculty. Kind of lovely anecdote.

I wish you all pleasant Sunday.

Why Cultural Marxism is a big deal for Brazil, and also for you

I already heard the criticism that cultural Marxism is not a real thing. It’s just a scary word, like neoliberalism, that doesn’t mean anything really. Well, for those who think that way, please pay a visit to Brazil.

When I talk about cultural Marxism, here is what I have in mind: I’m not a specialist in Marx or Marxism by any means, but what I understand is that Marx gravitated towards economic theory in his life. He began his intellectual journey more like a general philosopher but ended more like an economist. A very bad economist. Marx’s economic theory in The Capital is based on the premise of the labor theory of value: things cost what they cost depending on how much work it takes to produce them. Of course, this theory does not represent reality. You take the labor theory of value, Marx’s economic theory crumbles down. That is what Mises explained on paper at the beginning of the 20th century and reality proved throughout it everywhere and every time people tried to put Marxism into practice.

Although Marx’s economic theory didn’t work, Marx’s admirers didn’t give up. In Russia Lenin tried to explain that capitalism survived because of imperialism. Many Marxists working in International Relations make a similar claim. In Italy Gramsci tried to explain that capitalism survived because capitalist elites exercise cultural hegemony. The Frankfurt Schools said the same. It is mostly Gramsci and the Frankfurt School, sometimes collectively called critical theory, that I call cultural Marxism.

Marxism arrived in Brazil mainly in the beginning of the 20th century. Very early then, a communist party was founded there. This communist country was initially very orthodox, following whatever Moscow told them to. However, after WWII and especially after the Military Coup of 1964, Brazilian Marxists started to gravitate towards Gramsci. During the Military Dictatorship, many leftists tried to fight guerrillas, but others simply chose to get into universities, newspapers, churches and other places, and try to overthrow capitalism from there.

In general, I am not a great fan of John Maynard Keynes, but there is a quote from him that I absolutely adore: ““Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist”. That’s how I see most Brazilian intellectuals. They are of a superficial brand of Marxism. It would certainly be incorrect to call them Marxist in an orthodox sense, but I understand that they are what Marxism has become: something vaguely anti-establishment, anti-capitalism, in favor of big government and very entitled.

Why is this important for you? Because Brazil is the second largest country in America in population, territory, and economy. That’s why. The economy is a win-win game. An economically free, prosperous Brazil would be good for everyone, not just for Brazilians. But that can only happen if we first defeat the mentality that capitalism is bad and that the state should be an instrument for some vague sort of social justice.

“How could Nixon have won? Nobody I know voted for him”

It’s always nice, now and then, to remind people in the press and in academia of Pauline Kael’s famous (or infamous) quote referring to George McGovern’s loss to Richard Nixon in the 1972 presidential election. Apparently, it is a misquote, but I don’t think that it matters all that much.

The fact is that too many people in the press and in academia live in a leftist cultural bubble. This bubble made many people blind to Trump’s favoritism in the last US presidential election. The same bubble is happening in Brazil now, where journalists and political analysts are disconcerted by Jair Bolsonaro’s favoritism in the October elections.

The fact is that people in different social circles have different Overton windows. Created by Joseph P. Overton, the Overton window, or the window of discourse, describes the range of ideas tolerated in public discourse. But by “public” many people consider only their close social circle. People grow up in specific neighborhoods, go to specific universities, work in specific places, and are never or rarely exposed to different thoughts. And this is not entirely accidental. Cultural Marxism (Gramsci and Frankfurt School) want to create a cultural hegemony of the left, making sure that alternative discourse is thrown out of the acceptable range of ideas.

The result is a lot of Pauline Kaels.