Daily Balajisms – tech-Zionism
From memetic tribes in the noosphere to tech territorialism (and terraforming Mars)
I think Balaji Srinivasan tries to create society-as-a-service, a new kind of SaaS, but he also came up with something we can call (tech) tribe-as-a-territory.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin came up with the notion of noosphere some 100 years ago. Five years ago Peter Limberg described dozens of memetic tribes in his article The Memetic Tribes Of Culture War 2.0. I am sure we can find 100s of such memetic tribes today. Some 20 years ago Alexander Bard coined the terms netocrats and netocracy.
Balaji talks for years about technological progressives and now we have Marc Andreesen’s The Techno-Optimist Manifesto at a16z.
Anglo-Saxons have a tendency for deconstruction and over-analyzing. Because they are an atomist culture and not a communitarian one. You start with queer and soon you are in LGBTQIA2+.
Creating a tech tribe is the opposite of deconstruction - a communitarian and constructing move.
The internet is retribalizing the world, says Balaji. He tries to unite the techno-optimistic subcultures into the Grey tribe or a tech tribe. Polarization is good, he says - a Grey tribe is neither a Red tribe nor a Blue tribe.
Balaji sums this as tech-Zionism, or what we can call tech territorialism (also in the Thirty Years' War meaning of territorialism - a sovereign choosing the belief system of their own territory) and in today's context of an ongoing social war.
Creating a tech tribe is not a small feat, it is akin to creating a new tech proletariat (as opposed to the woke lumpenproletariat). A new counter-elite. Builders vs breakers. What Balaji calls the parallel establishment. And what Alexander Bard calls the netocrats.
Interestingly, Peter Thiel now criticizes Blue cities from both the libertarian and Marxist lens. The inability to build due to NIMBYism and bad regulation creates a massive transfers of wealth towards landlords.
Tech tribe can gradually build Internet values, our own class consciousness, Internet-first parallel societies and parallel services to first exit, and then reform the declining West.
Satoshi created a decentralized currency, Balaji in his book The Network State contemplates creating decentralized countries in an incremental/protopian approach from startup societies, through network unions and network archipelagos, to ultimately gaining diplomatic recognition by some kind of sovereign entity.
On the Moment of Zen podcast, Balaji presents an opposite strategy to his network state approach, which is fine for pragmatic libertarians and digital nomads who are quick to exit dysfunctional places. Crypto folks have already left SF for Miami or went abroad.
His tech-Zionism strategy is for SF maximalists who irrationally, or rather meta-rationally, love SF and want to sacrifice their financial, political and social capital - in the same way as bitcoin maximalists love bitcoin. We need both rational approaches and irrational attachments.
Balaji’s strategy is to hold in person meetups coordinated by various local SF influencers from the tech tribe and organize various collective actions - from crowdfunding brunches to crowdfunding buildings.
He proposes to take inspiration from Beautiful Trouble and engage in activism to build trust within tech tribe. From putting up tech symbols on the streets, while expecting them to be taken down by the Blue tribe, to organizing Grey Tribe Parades.
Balaji also proposes funding police charities and organizing events for local policemen and helping them recruit talent from all around US. The goal is to flip buildings and even whole streets to Grey tribe of technological progressives and recreate - and make SF streets clean and safe again - building by building, street by street and bloc by bloc.
He suggests something like a reverse broken window policy - the non-enforcement for builders, not breakers. Instead of destruction and deconstruction, we need construction - building and renovating - even without permits - like a (building) Favela Fest idea.
Nevertheless, Balaji thinks currently the chances to recapture and reform SF are low, because tech people will not be willing to sacrifice this much energy and prestige in a fight with the old Blue establishment.