sarahpessin@sarahpessin.com

Present Voices

Some thinkers and books being named in credible academic materials on emerging anti-democratic trends.

Note: I explore thinkers based on one or both of two criteria: Their anti-democracy ideas are (1) in the public record (publications, talks, credible interviews, etc.) and/or (2) being referenced (described, analyzed, etc.) in credible scholarship or news sources as actively influencing contemporary anti-democracy efforts. While I myself find anti-democracy dangerous, it does not follow that someone who explores anti-democracy is dangerous: It is possible that they are or that they are not; but regardless of their intentions, it is possible that their ideas generate dangerous possibilities that they did not envision.

Peter Thiel

  • Overview in progress: Based on a neocon misreading of Leo Strauss and an instrumental deployment of aspects Girardian mimetic theory, Thiel moves in related ways: (1) an interest in anarcho-capitalist corporate domination, (2) radical free speech and radical free market free for all (‘may the best man win’), tied up with (3) use of mimetic* dynamics to gain control of large groups — for fiscal and political advancement. *Re mimetics: (3a) On the one hand, Thiel and Yarvin — following James Burnham — see current day democracies as oligarchies run by a small group who use mass mimetic magic (propaganda and other sleights of hand) to make the average person think they’re living in a democracy; and (3b) Given Thiel’s resources and contacts with tech-bro know-how it seems plausible that Theil and his colleagues have already successfully prototyped a mimetic sweep (e.g. social medial meets mainstream press mimetic takeovers ; i.e. if you and your people know how the tech details work, then you can accomplish Gamestop level takeovers, only much bigger and using social media and other influence / mimetic tech so that suddenly, you can have everyone talking about, say, red umbrellas; modern-day magicians able to mesmerize large portions of a population; disproportionate power with strong economic implications and, as such, strong implications for the future of democracy)

Curtis Yarvin (aka Mencius Moldbug) (b. 1973- )

Click here for a Yarvin ‘fact sheet’ page.

Michael Anissimov: A Critique of Democracy: A Guide for Neoreactionaries (2015)

  • Arguments against democracy

Nick Land; British philosopher; neoreactionary | goodbye democracy hello monarchism | Dark Enlightenment transhumanist accelerationism | inspired by Deleuze and Guattari and Bataille | humans are doomed and we should just accept that

Walter Kirn

Rod Dreher

Alexander Dugin (‘Putin’s brain’) | The Fourth Political Theory (2009)

  • Overview essay here
  • Eurasianism: deep ideology behind Putin’s vision
  • Contested translator of Dugin’s work and author of books on the thinker, Michael Millerman, discusses Dugin in this 18 minute interview

Steve Bannon

  • He likes the book The Fourth Turning (1996) which claims to forecast inevitable, destined historic trends, including a time of ‘crisis’; in short, it’s an iffy book about ‘destiny’ and he uses it to support his sense of a necessary violent revolution on the horizon
  • “The Man Who Wants to Unmake the West,” by Michael Crowley (Politico, March/April 2017)
  • “Inside the Secret, Strange Origins of Steve Bannon’s Nationalist Fantasia,” by Joshua Green – book excerpt (Vanity Fair, 7.17.17)
  • “Inside Steve Bannon’s Apocalyptic Ideology,” by Andrew Prokop (Vox, 7.21.17)

Michael Anton, “The Flight 93 Election” (2016)

Blake Masters (funded by Peter Thiel)

Josh Hawley (vs big tech; conservative populism)

  • On fatherhood and against big tech (interview, May 2021)

Additional books

Leaving aside the intention of the authors, these books are currently being cited by anti-democratic figures.

The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy – What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny (1996) | Authors: William Strauss and Neil Howe

Some Websites, Orgs, et al.

Turning Point USA (org)

Human Dignity Institute (org)

Breitbart News (website)

Bannon’s War Room (podcast)

QAnon (movement)

National Policy Institution (think-tank)

Some Political Figures

Blake Masters
provocative pro-guns campaign ad about the right to kill people

‘He ran Thiel’s personal investment fund and his foundation and co-wrote Thiel’s business memoir, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future. He parlayed his Thiel connections into a long-shot Senate run, starting with a generous $10 million super PAC contribution from his former mentor’ (from Max Chafkin’s writeup in Bloomberg, August 2022)

Also from Chafkin 2022:

  • “Masters is the proud owner of a 3D-printed “ghost gun.” He called it “very legal and very cool.””
  • Masters finds the Unabomber’s ideas “underrated.”
  • Masters supports “creating a “strategic reserve of Bitcoin” known as “Fort Nakamoto”—effectively arguing that the US government accelerate the adoption of a virtual currency in which Thiel has invested—and praised Thiel-backed defense contractors.”
JD Vance

“Like Vance, Masters promoted a version of the racist Great Replacement conspiracy theory, claiming that Democrats were deliberately trying to “import” immigrants in an attempt to “replace Americans who were born here” (from Max Chafkin’s writeup in Bloomberg, August 2022)

TRUMP-THIEL GOP ALLIANCE

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt– Thiel funded