Steve Bannon's pal Curtis Yalvin blogs under the nom de plume Mencius Moldbug. Trump's plan for government patronage is definitely Moldbuggian.
Donald J. Moldbug: Love Child Of Peter Thiel And Steve Bannon
Credit: Donkey Hotey
July 24, 2022

In 2014, Corey Pein published a piece in The Baffler titled "Mouthbreathing Machiavellis Dream of a Silicon Reich." Pein told us about a self-important autodidact who'd developed a small but devoted following:

One day in March of this year, a Google engineer named Justine Tunney created a strange and ultimately doomed petition at the White House website. The petition proposed a three-point national referendum, as follows:

1. Retire all government employees with full pensions.
2. Transfer administrative authority to the tech industry.
3. Appoint [Google executive chairman] Eric Schmidt CEO of America.

... “Read Mencius Moldbug,” Tunney told her Twitter followers last month, referring to an aggressively dogmatic blogger with a reverent following in certain tech circles.

... Mencius Moldbug is the blogonym of Curtis Guy Yarvin, a San Francisco software developer....

When Justine Tunney posted her petition online, the press treated it like comic relief that came from nowhere. In fact, it is straight Moldbug. Item one, “retire all government employees,” comes verbatim from a 2012 talk that Yarvin gave to an approving crowd of California techies.... In his typical smarmy, meandering style, Yarvin concluded by calling for “a national CEO [or] what’s called a dictator.”

“If Americans want to change their government, they’re going to have to get over their dictator phobia,” Yarvin said in his talk.

Cut to early 2017. Donald Trump was president now, and The Atlantic's Rosie Gray told us this about the top presidential adviser at the time, Steve Bannon:

White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has been in contact via intermediaries with Curtis Yarvin, Politico Magazine reported this week. Yarvin, a software engineer and blogger, writes under the name Mencius Moldbug. His anti-egalitarian arguments have formed the basis for a movement called “neoreaction.”

... The fact that Bannon reportedly reads and has been in contact with Yarvin is another sign of the extent to which the Trump era has brought previously fringe right-wing ideologies into the spotlight....

Yarvin ... is focusing on a startup, Urbit, whose investors reportedly include Paypal co-founder and Trump backer Peter Thiel. (Thiel has himself questioned some of the fundamentals of American politics, writing in 2009, “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.”)

Now cut to the present day. Bannon left the Trump White House after a few months, but he remains a Trump adviser. Curtis Yarvin now inspires a loose agglomeration of so-called National Conservatives, including two Senate candidates, J.D. Vance in Ohio and Blake Masters in Arizona, who have worked for Thiel and are now bankrolled by him, and who have also been endorsed by Trump. Vanity Fair's James Pogue writes about a moment at a Masters campaign event:

... [Masters] took questions at the end.... One man raised his hand to ask how Masters planned to drain the swamp. He gave me a sly look. “Well, one of my friends has this acronym he calls RAGE,” he said. “Retire All Government Employees.” The crowd liked the sound of this and erupted in a cheer.

More from that Vanity Fair article:

In 2014, The Baffler published a lengthy look at [Yarvin's] influence, titled “Mouthbreathing Machiavellis Dream of a Silicon Reich.” The piece warned that Yarvin’s ideas were spreading among prominent figures like Thiel and Balaji Srinivasan, formerly the CTO of Coinbase....

In 2017, BuzzFeed News published an email exchange between Yarvin and Milo Yiannopoulis in which Yarvin said that he’d watched the 2016 election returns with Thiel. “He’s fully enlightened,” Yarvin wrote. “Just plays it very carefully.” Masters soon had an office in Trump Tower. He and Thiel worked, generally without success, to install figures like Srinivasan, whom they proposed to head the FDA, and who himself ... made common cause with figures like Steve Bannon, who wanted to pick apart the administrative state, an idea that at least had a hint of Yarvin’s RAGE proposal.

And now we're learning this from Axios's Jonathan Swan:

Former President Trump’s top allies are preparing to radically reshape the federal government if he is re-elected, purging potentially thousands of civil servants and filling career posts with loyalists to him and his "America First” ideology....

The impact could go well beyond typical conservative targets such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Internal Revenue Service. Trump allies are working on plans that would potentially strip layers at the Justice Department — including the FBI, and reaching into national security, intelligence, the State Department and the Pentagon....

Trump signed an executive order, “Creating Schedule F in the Excepted Service,” in October 2020, which established a new employment category for federal employees. It ... quickly was rescinded by President Biden.

Sources close to Trump say that if he were elected to a second term, he would immediately reimpose it.

Tens of thousands of civil servants who serve in roles deemed to have some influence over policy would be reassigned as “Schedule F” employees. Upon reassignment, they would lose their employment protections....

Trump, in theory, could fire tens of thousands of career government officials with no recourse for appeals. He could replace them with people he believes are more loyal to him and to his “America First” agenda.

I'm no expert on how these ideas flow from Thiel World to Trump World and back again. Nevertheless, it looks as if Trump is setting out to become the "“national CEO [or] what’s called a dictator” Yarvin called for.

Bannon was convicted of contempt of Congress today, but his ideas (and the ideas he's borrowed) are out there. Trump probably has no idea who Yarvin is, and his determination to be a dictator/CEO lacks the warped idealism of Yarvin, but in his narcissistic way, he's a Moldbuggian.

Published with permission of No More Mr. Nice Blog

Can you help us out?

For nearly 20 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.