California's Tech Secessionists

California's Tech Secessionists

The New York Times reports Tuesday that Silicon Valley is breeding a secessionist movement. It is attracting tech gurus who are frustrated with society’s refusal to listen to them, and its insistence on regulating them. Entrepreneur Balaji S. Srinivasan, who is leading the charge, is winning applause by promoting ‘Silicon Valley’s ultimate exit…an opt-in society, ultimately outside the United States, run by technology.”

What is happening sounds vaguely like the plot of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged–with 3-D printing providing a new manufacturing base, Bitcoins providing a new currency, and Quantified Self providing a new health care system. But these barons of the Internet age are not the exploited business class of Rand’s novel. They are, the Times notes, already “members of a digital overclass whose decisions shape ever more of our lives.

They are also members of a cohort that has contributed disproportionately to the coffers and operations of the Obama campaign, enthusiastically supporting many of its left-wing policies. Some are libertarians, but many hoped that the supposedly tech-savvy Barack Obama would offer them the opportunity to remake the U.S. government in their own image–a hope dashed forever by the failure of the Obamacare rollout.

They are not, it seems, blaming Obama, but rather the rest of the country, who failed to live up to their high utopian ideals. They see no hope in opposition politics–at least not beyond moderate Republican Chris Christie, who has attracted some support from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and others. Better, then, to start over in a self-contained universe–on a floating island, on Mars, in a tax haven hidden in plain sight.

News of the new secession movement comes just as more bad news hits Silicon Valley–this time, the announcement of 899 layoffs by networking giant Cisco, the area’s top employer. The stagnant American economy has reached even an area thought to be largely immune from it, even as the press continues to praise Gov. Jerry Brown for supposedly turning the state around, on the basis of one year’s budget.

Whether “Silicon Valley’s ultimate exit” is ultimately built remains unlikely (though it has a better chance than California’s high-speed rail boondoggle). One thing is certain, however: the utopians of the Valley will never receive the kind of media scorn that has faced the Tea Party, which is accused of wanting to return to the old Confederacy. What is evil on the right is considered quaint when it comes, openly, from the left.



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