Discover more from In My Tribe
Richard Hanania on the Tech Right
One of his best essays, IMO
The Tech Right combines the acceptance of inequality of the right with the openness to change of the left. The pro-change, anti-equality quadrant is the sweet spot for support for capitalism, so of course they tend to favor free market economic policies. This explains the enthusiasm in this world for Bitcoin, which represents the longstanding libertarian dream of society moving away from fiat currency.
Back in 2000, Paulina Borsook came out with Cyberselfish, about the libertarian tech faction. Honestly, I think they looked more formidable then than they do now. And although I probably align more closely with the Tech Right than any other faction, I have not drunk the Bitcoin Kool-Aid.
Hanania, no doubt looking at Patrick Deneen and the NatCons (is that a good name for a rock group?), writes,
If you think the Enlightenment was a mistake because eventually we got transgenderism, you need some perspective.
And while I’m highlighting fun sentences, there is
As soon as an open-minded individual starts thinking about crime and urban disorder, they find that misguided compassion and anti-racism are why the country can’t have nice things.
And then this:
Universities have become a kind of halfway house for the most neurotic and conformist members of the educated class.
Gee, I wonder why. Hint: look up the literature on average gender differences in the Big Five trait of neuroticism.
Hanania has an interesting argument that academia selects for people who like conformity and paperwork, while tech selects for people with pure intellectual curiosity and a taste for innovation. I hope you know me well enough to grasp that I am on the latter end of the spectrum. As much as I like to acquire knowledge and to write, when I’m with a group of academics I feel like a fish out of water. I had that same feeling working at the Fed. At Freddie Mac, I took on the role of intrapreneur. When I started one of the first Web businesses, I was in my element. And if I were younger and more focused, I would be trying to turn one of my LLM app ideas into a business right now.
I like to talk about an un-conference I attended in SF about six years ago. There was an economist Nobel Laureate participating, and had this been an academic event he would have been surrounded by people eager to hang on his every word. But he did not get much attention, and it turned out that tech luminaries like Patrick Collison and Eric Weinstein were more interested in talking with Noah Smith or me. I found that highly flattering.
Anyway, back to Hanania.
The Tech Right is in many ways anti-populist, and will hopefully stand in the way of those trying to make Republicans more friendly to labor unions, entitlement spending, and economic regulation. There’s been something of a marriage of convenience between populists and the Tech Right based on the fact that both are anti-woke, but in the end decisions about how to govern have to be made.
…My belief is that whatever economic populism currently exists on the right is only skin deep, something that is most aggressively championed when it can make Biden look bad, while free market ideals, particularly when it comes to not raising taxes, still have a stronger hold on the minds of educated conservatives. … Heading off economic populism now and not letting conservatives become too attached to protecting entitlements needs to be a top priority.
Here, Hanania sounds to me like a Paul Ryan Republican. As it stands today, that faction is under the bus, having been tossed there by Donald Trump and his supporters. If Hanania is counting on the Tech Right to reverse that under-bussing, I have to say that is wishful thinking.
Substacks referenced above: