Ferenstein: Breitbart Correctly Identified a Conflict Between Silicon Valley and Nationalism

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

The growing divide between conservatives and Silicon Valley is no accident. In a recently released survey of over 600 tech founders, I and my co-authors identified fundamental philosophical differences between Trump voters and technologists. Namely, Silicon Valley is about as “globalist” as it gets, supporting both free trade and immigration much more than the typical self-identified Republican.

To its credit, Breitbart identified this conflict long before most, if not all, of my media colleagues. Way back in 2016, I would see headlines on this site slamming tech CEOs and columns explicitly calling out “Silicon Valley’s globalist agenda.

While our study identified key policy differences between the typical tech founder and Trump voter, there exists a deeper philosophical divide. At its core, most of the Valley does believe in global citizenship and earnestly endeavors to bring together all cultures. Indeed, the Founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, once said“I believe in the elimination of borders and free commerce as a route to peace. Barriers necessarily imply violence.”

To be sure, Wales may represent an extreme belief even within tech, but many are avid believers in reducing barriers between countries. Technologists actively build products that bring people from all over the world closer together. In a way, globalization was a promise of the Internet; it allowed people from anywhere in the world to instantly share ideas and experiences.

One thing that I’ve learned from writing for Breitbart is that this political difference in belief (partly) endures because folks out in the Valley tend not believe that there is a “zero-sum” relationship between other countries and the US; they believe immigrants create jobs, new customs improve culture, and free trade increases economic welfare. They tend to discount the threats from other countries and play up the benefits.

Now, it’s no secret that I’m an avid globalist. I share Silicon Valley’s positive sum view of the world. But, writing for Breitbart has helped me hear from more of the people who have been harmed by globalization and fear an erosion of their cultural values.

Ultimately, I’m optimistic that both globalists and conservative nationalists can come together to resolve their differences through conversation and debate. This process starts, I believe, with truly understand both sides and the very real differences that exist.

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