Archive for April 7th, 2015

Abstract Thought-Crime

What Peter Thiel has to say is almost always interesting, but it’s what he doesn’t say that is the real treasure. The species of abstract horror that is abstract thought-crime is turned into a special zone of expertise:

Everyone has ideas. Everyone has things they believe to be true that other people won’t agree with you on. But they’re not things you want to say. … You know, the ideas that are really controversial are the ones I don’t even want to tell you. I want to be more careful than that. I gave you these halfway, in-between ideas that are a little bit edgier. […] But I will also go a little bit out on a limb: I think the monopoly idea, that the goal of every successful business is to have a monopoly, that’s on the border of what I want to say. But the really good ideas are way more dangerous than that.

Here’s the Biblical application:

I think for the most part, it was necessary for Christ to be very careful how he expressed himself. It was mostly in these extremely parabolic, indirect modalities, because if it had been too direct, it would have been very dangerous. […] It was John Locke, in The Reasonableness of Christianity, said that Christ obviously had to mislead people, since if he had not done so, the authorities might have tried to kill him. … That’s the Straussian interpretation of Christ. It didn’t end in a particularly Straussian way, but it was at least true for most of his ministry.

In the Q&A, asked about his 2009 Cato Unbound article (a crucial catalyst for the Dark Enlightenment), he remarks — more than a little evasively:

Writing is always such a dangerous thing. […] I remember a professor once told me back in the ’80s that writing a book was more dangerous than having a child because you could always disown a child if it turned out badly. […] You could never disown anything that you’ve written. The Cato Unbound article, it was a thousand-word essay. It was late at night. I quickly typed it off. I sent it to someone else to review, who said, “There’s nothing controversial in here at all.” … My retrospective was that if you actually ask someone to double-check things for whether or not it’s controversial, you already deep-down know that you should double-check it yourself. … My updated version on it would be that — I made the case that I thought democracy and capitalism weren’t quite compatible [*facepalm*] — the updated version I would give is it’s not at all clear that we’re living in anything resembling a democracy. …

Rarely has anything been unsaid with comparable agility.

April 7, 2015admin 49 Comments »
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