If you’re familiar with the ‘intellectual dark web’, chances are that you’ve heard the name Eric Weinstein before – in fact, he’s responsible for coining the phrase. A regular guest on The Rubin Report– a popular podcast talk show, tackling taboo subjects – Weinstein often voices his opinions and predictions around American politics and the country’s economy. Both an academic and business leader, his calculated take on the present and possible future leaves us with much to ponder on, irrespective of our socio-economic background.
Why Weinstein’s Relevant
Why should we take his views seriously? Firstly, he’s a mathematician. Secondly, he’s an economist. And thirdly, he’s the MD of a very successful investment firm, Thiel Capital. So one could say that he’s got a knack for numbers and predictions. Aside from sharing his views during interviews and public speaking engagements, he’s also an avid writer, covering topics ranging from investments, immigration, elite labour, science, mathematics and of course, capitalism.
Technology and Capitalism
Weinstein believes that capitalism, as we’ve come to know it, is coming to an end. He highlights that we’ve grown up in an era where you could train briefly in your youth to require a skill, with minor add-ons along the way that would lead to a life-long career. However, this system now seems to be breaking, mostly due to the rapid evolution of technology. Since the Industrial Revolution, technology has been a great help to push repetitive behaviours of higher value activities. But today, computer technology threatens to replace all human activity based on cyclic behaviours or routinised actions – a huge part of what today’s workforce is responsible for. Where economy is based on one-off opportunities, we as humans still have the advantage over technology. Engineers and creatives fall into this category as their primary task is to do something not done before. That said, it still leaves us with a problem, as the current educational system is mostly geared towards creating employable individuals, responsible for performing routine functions and not singular activities required in our future economy.
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Capitalism and Socialism
Another topic Weinstein has strong views about, circles around capitalism requiring socialist principles to save it. He believes that middle management types have taken the place in leadership positions, working their way to the top by means of charm and not necessarily smarts. Instead, technical talent needs to be valued and utilised more to build a more optimistic future. He argues that China is a prime example of where this mindset, last seen in America in the mid-20th century, is catapulting them ahead of the rest of the world. Weinstein believes that capitalism should become less confined to give the so-called minority of minds, who have the talent to create, enough opportunity to innovate and invent the wonders that our future economy will be built upon. He echoes the sentiment that the increasing separation of the super-rich from everyone else and the resulting effect of them becoming largely insensitive to their concerns, is one of the greatest dangers we’re facing today.
Other Economic Views
A problem, Weinstein believes, the whole world seems to be facing in a steady state, is an embedded growth hypotheses, which simply cannot be sustained. Instead of lying to employees, owners need to own up, or introduce a new business model, rather than creating smoke and mirrors. Furthermore, he’s justifiably concerned about the recoil of income inequality, differential access to technology and financial markets, and how it’s posing a threat to the post WW2 economic stability. He reiterates that when the economy starts to fail, individuals become ever more aware of things that pose a danger to their livelihood, and likely act on it. He believes the magical thinking that the world is stable, but that we should be aware that it could turn on a dime.
While some might view this as a pessimistic outlook, others could argue that he’s simply being a realist – after all, his deductions and predictions are based on hard facts.