Secessionism of the Techno-Riche
By Matson Boyd
Fed up with the encumbrances of working in the United States, many in Silicon Valley have taken to dreaming of seceding or leaving to create their own state. Its not hard to imagine that someday the Techno-Riche could succeed in carving out or purchasing their own state. But what would such a society look like? Perhaps Dubai is the best comparable.
Like Dubai, such a techno-utopia would have to rely on a vast supply of imported labor to build the structures and keep society functioning. And like Dubai, Silicon Valley speaks a language that erases the contributions of those workers. At a recent conference, Balaji Srinivasan spoke “We need to build opt-in society, outside the US, run by technology.” Nevermind that labor is necessary even in our most technologically advanced places, Balaji has already removed it from the picture.
And his “opt-in society” is hardly a new idea, libertarians have long dreamt of such a world. Conveniently, in libertarian “opt-in” societies no company has to help take care of its workers after it uses them up, or help in the education of the next generation. It’s optional and forgotten.
The increasing techno-wealth in the Bay Area is contributing to a rise in class tensions, with the techno-riche less and less willing to stomach sharing the world with the rest of us. Former AngelHack CEO Greg Gopman apologized earlier this year for a series of posts on Facebook in which he said that homeless “trash” had no place in the “heart of our city,” San Francisco. He wrote:
The difference is in other cosmopolitan cities, the lower part of society keep to themselves. They sell small trinkets, beg coyly, stay quiet, and generally stay out of your way. They realize it’s a privilege to be in the civilized part of town and view themselves as guests. And that’s okay.
Thankfully Gopman apologized, but one can find many examples of these sentiments in his community, where the techno-riche press ahead to build their “opt-in” world. Let’s not let them build it.