Marco D’Eramo in Sidecar:
He’s not as rich as Jeff Bezos, not a social media star like Elon Musk, nor an icon like Bill Gates. Yet he is the most interesting of the Silicon Valley tycoons, for more than any other he embodies the new breed of capitalist ideologue. Rather than using politics to make money, he uses his billions for politics, in the hope of emancipating the rich from ‘the exploitation of the capitalists by the workers’. Peter Thiel (b. 1967): German by birth, American and South African by upbringing; according to Forbes, he is worth $4.2 billion. Equipped, in contrast to his peers, with a degree in philosophy and a doctorate in law, he likes to affect the posture of a philosopher king. In his most ambitious piece of writing, The Straussian Moment (2004), he sketches a kind of Geistes Weltgeschichte in light of 9/11, citing with carefully cultivated intellectual effrontery Oswald Spengler, Carl Schmitt, Leo Strauss, Pierre Manent, Roberto Calasso, and name-checking Machiavelli, Montaigne, Hobbes, Locke, Hegel, Nietzsche and Kojève.
Ever since his university days, Thiel has been devoted to a kind of impudence of position, always embracing the most conservative one possible (he has been an admirer of Reagan since high school). According to his biographer Max Chafkin, Thiel felt that ‘mainstream liberals had accepted communists, but conservatives were unable to bring themselves to associate with members of the far-right…He really wished the right would become more like the left’.