First, read this article.

tl;dr Joe Lonsdale is “co-founding a new university dedicated to freedom of thought and study”

At first, you hear this and you think, this is great! The mainstream universities are falling apart, being consumed by ideologues, raise the tuition scammers, and huge bloated administrations. I’m so glad someone powerful is finally taking a stand against this!

But when you think about it a bit more, it doesn’t hold up. These people are either straight up supporters of Power or naive political children. I have many reasons to suspect the former, such as the fact that people like Joe Lonsdale, Sam Altman, and Marc Andreessen are very successful in the current system, but “never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”

First, to speak to the right. They gathered together all the “lightly cancelled” people who believe in “free thought”, aka the status quo of the 90s. People like “Bari Weiss”, who took a job at the New York Times as recently as 2017.

This article has lines like “Lantos Prize Recipient Ayaan Hirsi Ali will be part of the University of Austin’s faculty” and “Glenn C. Loury was a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the Merton P. Stoltz Professor of Economics at Brown University.” This is not a counter elite! This is a spin off of the exact same bs that’s everywhere. NGO awards and fake status signaling markers.

A testable prediction. If they don’t already have one at launch, the University of Austin will have a Diversity and Inclusion department in 10 years. But don’t worry, they stand against whatever new wacko left thing there is in 2030. Please don’t fall for it.

Second, to speak to the left, if you need more than that this was published in the New York Post.

“It’s up to us – especially those of us with the resources to do so — to build new institutions that reflect the principles that we want to define the future.”

Please tell me more, founder of Palantir. Tell me about your principles that we want to define the future. From the company that “builds software that empowers organizations to effectively integrate their data, decisions, and operations.” If people don’t talk in normal words, that’s a huge red flag.

Modern Silicon Valleyism is a grotesque ideology formed by psychopaths. Fuck you, I’m not a fucking piece of data. I will not be optimized, integrated, or transformed.

I am sorry I put words in your mouth here, but I’m very curious to see what you believe “the principles that we want to define the future” means. Can you tell a story that normal people can relate to?

The good news is that I think a lot of people get it. Elon Musk gets it. A lot of crypto twitter gets it. And the humanities are not dead, there still is great philosophy and political theory being produced in our time.

There is a new elite forming, but it’s not these “cancelled” people (this is just the old elite collapsing). It definitely isn’t the go back xx years conservative. It’s a way forward. It’s a positive vision for the future.

And that’s what it will take. I want to disrupt the universities so badly. But you don’t do it by defining yourself in opposition to the existing, you just build something 10x better. It will look weird and strange to begin with. Writing this almost makes me believe in Urbit. A VR Urbit like thing might actually work.

If someone is serious about the university project, I don’t believe it’s doable without also building a religion. A way to overcome the prisoners dilemma and an answer to the Unabomber Manifesto.

A narrative that compels normal people and tells them a believable story about their life. And yes, this is very very hard. But I suspect that until you do this you will fail, and you’ll end up with just more neoliberalism in fancier and fancier disguises.