Ezra Klein has a long piece of the bizarro ideas of Silicon Valley, particularly the fetish of the ancient world where MEN WERE MEN AND THERE WAS NO POLITICAL CORRECTNESS. God, these people are just the biggest fucking dorks of all time. And yet, people legitimately see them as heroes, as they did with Musk before he immolated himself buying and destroying Twitter. Just a short bit from this shitshow of “ideas”:
In July, Marc Andreessen — the godfather of the web browser, one of the founders of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and arguably the chief ideologist of the Silicon Valley elite — published a Substack piece that struck me as unusually revealing.
This was back when Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk were considering whether to settle their differences once and for all by beating on each other in a cage. Andreessen, who sits on Meta’s board of directors, was asked about the possible fight at the Allen & Company conference, a gathering for the wealthy and well connected in Sun Valley, Idaho. What he told the assembled, and what he now wanted to tell the rest of us, was that he thought it was great. “I consider Mark and Elon to be role models to children in their embrace of fighting,” Andreessen writes.
Andreessen’s argument goes like this: Combat sports play a primal role in human civilization. An M.M.A.-like sport, pankration, was part of the ancient Greek games beginning in 648 B.C. and was used to train Greek soldiers. (“If the hair on the back of your neck isn’t going up as you read this …” Andreessen writes, after quoting a few paragraphs from Wikipedia.) Modern American society, at least in the big cities, is turning on law enforcement and tolerating crime, so you need combat skills to protect your loved ones. We are also fat and depressed, and learning to fight might help on both counts. In conclusion, “if it was good enough for Heracles and Theseus, it’s good enough for us.”
I’m sympathetic to the virtues of combat sports — I was a middling but committed high school wrestler, with a particularly quick head-and-arm throw — even if Andreessen overstates his case. But what caught my eye was the veneration of the virile aggression of the Greeks, the call to rediscover the ways of the ancients. A list of things that were good enough for the Greeks but not good enough for us would run long: Slavery, pederasty and bloodletting come to mind. But that would take Andreessen too literally. As Paul Valéry, the French poet, once said, “Ancient Greece is the most beautiful invention of the modern age.” To treat Andreessen’s essay as an argument misses the point. It’s a vibe. And the vibe is reactionary.
We are used to thinking of our ideological divide as cleaving conservatives from liberals. I think the Republican Party’s collapse into incoherence reflects the fact that much of the modern right is reactionary, not conservative. This is what connects figures as disparate as Jordan Peterson and J.D. Vance and Peter Thiel and Donald Trump. These are the ideas that unite both the mainstream and the weirder figures of the so-called postliberal right, from Patrick Deneen to the writer Bronze Age Pervert. This is not a coalition that cares about tax cuts. It’s a coalition obsessed with where we went wrong: the weakness, the political correctness, the liberalism, the trigger warnings, the smug elites. It’s a coalition that believes we were once hard and have become soft; worse, we have come to lionize softness and punish hardness.
Here’s an idea–let’s trust these people with the economy! They can sit around, get stoned, and watch 300 on repeat while dreaming up how to apply this totally factual history to today. DISRUPTION BITCHES!!!!!!