The Rise of the Anti-Tech California Left

When I moved out to Silicon Valley from New Jersey in 1997, Internet fever was just about to peak (literally so, in the form of the bursting tech bubble that decimated the NASDAQ three years later). Silicon Valley was seen as the next big thing, ushering America into the wonders of the 21st century -- and possibly saving the increasing bloated state government of California in the process. Wired magazine, based in San Francisco, was still owned by founder Louis Rossetto, and maintained its quirky but libertarian vibe, before Rosetto sold the magazine to the mammoth reactionary left Conde Nast publishing empire four year later. For those of us who had started computing on Altair 8800s and TRS-80s twenty years earlier, the mid-to-late 1990s was quite a ride.

It was fun while it lasted.

In his latest USA Today column, Glenn Reynolds writes that these days, "Silicon Valley Scares Americans:"

Silicon Valley has a trust problem, and it's growing. Some of this is the result of National Security Agency spying — and the tech community's cooperation with same — and some of it is based on other things tech leaders are doing. But the worst of it is based on who our tech overlords have become.

The NSA spying has already done harm enough. As Glenn Derene warned in Popular Mechanics when the story first broke, fear of NSA spying is giving a boost to offshore competitors, as companies and users seek hardware and software without back doors and compromised security standards. Some foreign customers feel betrayed by Google, Facebook, and other tech giants.

But even at home, the tech community is hurting. According to a study by Harris Interactive last week, people are actually reducing their Internet usage because of the Edward Snowden revelations and general fears about privacy. The study found that 47% say they have changed their behavior online, and 26% say they're doing less online shopping. Among younger users, aged 18 to 34, the online shopping number was 33%. The Wall Street Journal quotes Stephen Cobb of information security company ESET: "In the technology industry, companies are finding that the sales cycle is getting longer, as customers ask questions such as whether an Internet router is NSA proof. 'People are asking questions they didn't ask before. To be in this place now, given the history of this industry, is just amazing. There is a level of suspicion and confusion we haven't had before.'"

The California far left has always been confused -- but their suspicion regarding their fellow high-tech mavens in Northern California is reaching new and paranoid heights, which Richard Fernandez explores in his latest Belmont Club post here at PJ Media, titled "Vanishing Point:"

There was an interesting postscript to the Eich saga in the bizarre protest held against Internet entreprenuer Kevin Rose.  The San Francisco Chronicle reports that protesters stood with signs and flyers outside of the Google Ventures partner and entrepreneur’s home in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood Sunday, calling him a ‘parasite’ and a ‘leech.’  Techcrunch has a copy of the flyer:

‘As a partner venture capitalist at Google Ventures, Kevin directs the flow of capital from Google into the tech startup bubble that is destroying San Francisco. The start-ups that he funds bring the swarms of young entrepreneurs that have ravaged the landscapes of San Francisco and Oakland.’

The flyer claims to speak for the service workers who “serve them coffee, deliver them food, suck their c***s [?], watch their kids, and mop their floors” and goes on to complain that most techies are “just like Kevin Rose,” though again, it’s short on specific criticisms, aside from pointing out that techies make a lot of money.

A supposed manifesto from an organization called “The Counterforce” makes demands believed to be related to the protest.

To this end, we now make our first clear demand of Google. We demand that Google give three billion dollars to an anarchist organization of our choosing. This money will then be used to create autonomous, anti-capitalist, and anti-racist communities throughout the Bay Area and Northern California. In these communities, whether in San Francisco or in the woods, no one will ever have to pay rent and housing will be free. With this three billion from Google, we will solve the housing crisis in the Bay Area and prove to the world that an anarchist world is not only possible but in fact irrepressible. If given the chance, most humans will pursue a course towards increased freedom and greater liberty. As it stands, only people like Kevin Rose are given the opportunity to reshape their world, and look at what they do with those opportunities.

There is no direct relationship between the Eich and Rose incidents, besides the sheer outré character of the events, but one can’t help get the feeling that they emanate from the same strange universe, whatever universe that might be.  But it’s all shadows with nothing besides fantastic flashbacks of “Scorpio” from Dirty Harry and the People’s Temple crowds bellowing for an airlift to Russia to lend it shape.

Business Insider suggests the protests were something more prosaic. It’s social unrest. It’s poor people fighting for their share of the hipster pie outraged at the high rents in the Bay Area and the outrageous pricing of goodies beyond their reach. It’s the rebellion of “social equals” who find they are financial inferiors. It’s the outcry of people who thought they were part of a great movement who discover they are, after all, only menials. That makes it all the more pathetic.

Transportation seems to be a curious obsession with the anti-tech California left. For several months, they've been fixated upon the so-called "Google Busses," corporate busses which transport Google and Yahoo employees around the Bay Area. It's an interesting equation -- mass transit, which the left once viewed as an unalloyed good, versus a comfortable vehicle (well, relatively comfortable: at 6'2" and all legs, I have to scrunch to fit into most bus or coach airline seats) used solely by corporate employees.

Which the San Francisco left view as bad. Very Bad. So Incredibly, Stupendously, Intolerably Bad, it can make you throw up:

A protester so aghast with Silicon Valley's impact on the Bay Area has gone as far as to vomit on a Yahoo shuttle bus.

The mystery demonstrator was among a group of protesters picketing the buses that ferry employees of the big tech corporations to work, deeming them indicative of everything wrong with the hyper-gentrified Silicon Valley.

On Tuesday, the group blocked an intersection in San Francisco's Mission area, and protestors consisted of dancers in clown suit onesies.

But reported that in Oakland, almost 50 'rebels' blocked a pick up zone for tech buses and one apparently vomited on the windshield of a Yahoo bus from its roof.

I guess there weren't any police cars around to poop on.

As we'll explore after the page break, the Google Bus's polar opposite vehicle, the tiny Weeble-sized Smart Car, is also under attack in San Francisco.