Of all of the Republican candidates with Peter Thiel’s open checkbook and hand up their ass, Blake Masters might be the most reactionary of all:
It was in another essay, in 2009, “The Education of a Libertarian,” that Thiel declared he no longer believed that democracy and freedom were compatible. “Since 1920,” he argued, “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.” (Thiel, known for playing things close to the vest, would later say about that essay, “Writing is always such a dangerous thing.”) Thiel stressed that he still considered himself a libertarian because he opposed “confiscatory taxes, totalitarian collectives, and the ideology of the inevitability of the death of every individual.”
The most revealing of Thiel’s 19 lectures, though, was Masters’ favorite, “Founder as Victim, Founder as God.” Thiel told students that ancient societies resolved internal tensions by scapegoating founderlike figures who were often worshipped before being sacrificed, a circumstance that startup leaders also risked. Monarchy, Thiel speculated, might have arisen when scapegoats figured out how to become kings and avoid the sacrificial altar. “Wearing the crown is obviously an attractive thing,” Thiel said. “The question is whether you can decouple it with getting executed.” He concluded with a plea on behalf of the would-be techno-kings willing to break the rules. “Maybe they are, in some key way, the most important,” Thiel said. “Maybe we should let them off the hook.”
Intentionally or not, Masters is following a strategy championed decades ago by one of his old favorites, Murray Rothbard, who died in 1995. A libertarian economist and philosopher, Rothbard appreciated the potential of yoking libertarianism to right-wing populism, as the writer John Ganz has explained. In a 1992 essay that began by expressing sympathy for David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader who had recently lost his bid for governor in Louisiana, Rothbard laid out an eight-plank platform for advancing libertarianism: cutting taxes, slashing welfare, abolishing racial privileges, crushing criminals (“I mean, of course, not ‘white collar criminals’”), getting rid of “bums,” eliminating the Federal Reserve, being “America First,” and defending family values.
Rothbard called this “paleolibertarianism,” and Masters has brought it up to date. The Masters incarnation favors the Trump tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefited the wealthiest Americans; sees the end of entitlement programs as an inevitability; labels critical race theory “anti-white racism”; shot a campaign video in which he walks through a San Francisco homeless encampment; courts anti-Fed crypto bros; describes the situation at the US-Mexico border as an “invasion”; and says marriage is between “a man and a woman” after spending most of the past decade working for a man who is now married to another man.
Extremists have taken notice and approved. VDare, a white nationalist site named after the first English child born in the Americas, has called Masters “the America First contender” in Arizona. Andrew Anglin, the founder of the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website, is another fan, although Masters has rejected his support. “Masters is better than Vance,” Anglin explained. “Masters is woke on Uncle Ted”—a reference to the Unabomber—“he’s married to a white women [sic]…and now he’s dropping the red pills we all wanted to hear.” (Vance’s wife is Indian American.)
I recommend the whole piece, which is both interesting and terrifying.