Book Reviews, Charles, Political Discussion & Analysis, Post-Liberalism, Social Behavior, Wars To Come
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The Populist Delusion (Neema Parvini)

What is populism? The snap answer is rule by the people. The more accurate answer is rule by an elite who strongly claim that they govern on behalf of the whole people. That claim is sometimes true and sometimes false, but as Neema Parvini’s The Populist Delusion, a compact summary of what is often called elite theory, pithily shows, it is always an elite who actually rules. Thus, the key question for a society’s flourishing is whether it is ruled by a virtuous elite, who rules for the common good, or by a rotten elite, as America is ruled by now. Embedded in this question is another question, however—how an elite can be removed and replaced. This latter question is the most important question in 2022 America.

Parvini is an expert on Shakespeare who has become a presence in the dissident Right, under the moniker Academic Agent. He has a YouTube channel, has appeared on Alex Kaschuta’s eclectic and always excellent podcast, and is someone to whom you should pay attention (perhaps through listening to the recent series of podcasts on this book by the insightful Peter Quiñones). Parvini defines the “populist delusion” as the belief “if conditions get bad enough, if the plebians become too disgruntled with their leaders, then the people will rise up and overthrow them.” He asserts that the reality is that “if people want change even at a time of popular and widespread resentment of the ruling class, they can only hope to achieve that change by becoming a tightly knit and organised minority themselves and, in effect, displacing the old ruling class.” There is, as we will discuss, some truth to this, but Parvini ignores that, as José Ortega y Gasset said, force follows public opinion, and he therefore considerably overstates the degree to which radical change must begin, rather than end, with an organized minority in charge.

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Parvini ably summarizes and coheres the core thought of eight men (and in many ways this book, including Parvini’s incorrect belief that the desire for power is the only possible motive for nearly all human political action, is a sequel or update to James Burnham’s The Machiavellians, which analyzed three of the eight thinkers profiled here). Gaetano Mosca, the first modern political theorist to point out that every society always is ruled by an elite (usually one composed of two layers, what Parvini names the “governing elite” and the “non-governing elite”) and that all attempts to deny this end in disaster. Vilfredo Pareto, who offered a complex and highly original social analysis, showing that ruling class overthrow was not the result of competing ideologies, but of the inability of a calcified ruling class to absorb external talent. Robert Michels, who coined the Iron Law of Oligarchy, that every organization, not just every society, “becomes divided into a minority of directors and a majority of the directed” (something every person involved in an organization, or that horrible thing in business school and corporate work, a “team,” knows). Carl Schmitt, who piercingly analyzed sovereignty and legitimacy, and rejected the liberal delusion that democracy or parliamentarianism was in any way a more effective or more desirable system of government than ones which did not pretend the people ruled.

These four wrote before World War II, which birthed the world in which we live and changed, in many ways, the manifestation of elites in the West. The second set of four men Parvini profiles brings us up to the present. Bertrand de Jouvenal, theorist of power, who noted that democracy in practice was “the broadest highway to tyranny that has ever existed,” and described, in his “high-low-middle” mechanism, how the ruling high uses patronage handed out to the underclass low to drain power, and wealth, from the most populous group, the middle—and, not coincidentally, thereby destroys the intermediary institutions that are the bedrock of any successful society. James Burnham, who analyzed how modernity had introduced managers, who had absorbed the functions of both the governing and non-governing elite, a “fused political-economic apparatus.” (Parvini does not discuss what seems highly relevant to today, that Michels concluded that the necessary political end of all modern societies was Bonapartism, or that Schmitt concluded much the same in his The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, and Burnham largely agreed, in that he predicted a type of fractalized Bonapartism.) Samuel T. Francis, who updated Burnham’s thought to incorporate the explicit Left beliefs that had come to characterize the modern managerial elite, though he wrongly thought this largely cynical, a function rather than a set of core beliefs, and who called for a “revolution from the middle.” And, finally, Paul Gottfried (the only one of these men still alive), who identified the final stage of modern elite intentions, to change the people, who when they will not accept elite dictates are viewed as insane, through a twisted form of therapy, into a better people, willing to accept falsehood and unreality as truth and reality.

It’s all an excellent summary. But what does elite theory tell us about this moment? No sensible person can deny that every society is dominated by the powerful, and by definition, the powerful are a minority. In no real society can everyone, or even most people, be powerful, or equal in power. To all Western societies before the so-called Enlightenment, this was a feature, not a bug. Because power must reside in the few, a well-run society was seen not as extending power to all, but as ensuring that power was used generally for the good of the whole—“for the people,” rather than “by the people.” If correctly done, this means most citizens need not, and should not, trouble themselves about power or politics. Given human nature, the success of this project has been mixed from a historical perspective—but it has a far better track record than Enlightenment-based chimeras that claim to distribute power to everyone, most notably so-called liberal democracy. These not only fail to actually distribute power, but destroy any society, as we are seeing unfold before our eyes today in the West.

Parvini, however, goes farther and concludes that popular action that seeks radical change, whether the (fantastic and excellent) Electoral Justice Protest, the Yellow Vests in France, the Canadian truckers, or other such bottom-up movements emerging from those denied power and harshly oppressed, will necessarily fail. This is, as I noted, his “populist delusion.” I think he is too hasty in this conclusion, because it is easy to demonstrate that under the correct circumstances, the populace can destroy a regime without being led by a counter-elite, or even without the existence of a counter-elite. The people of the tyrannized countries of Eastern and Central Europe (tyrannized less, for the most part, than we are today) did it in 1989 (and not because they wanted blue jeans and rock music, but for much deeper principles, and all this is well discussed in Stephen Kotkin’s Uncivil Society). Sri Lankans did it recently (although I claim no special insight into the politics of that country, or how successful mass action ultimately was), and the unhinged reaction of the extremely punchable Justin Trudeau and his filthy henchmen clearly suggested they feared a similar result from the trucker protests. It only takes a little historical reflection to see that the often-held belief, which is also Parvini’s, that a counter-elite must originate and control such an uprising by the common people for it to be successful is false, the exception rather than the rule, and that this false belief is usually held mostly by eggheads and monomaniacs who incorrectly think that they would be part of such an elite, which could be nothing without them. Yes, it is sometimes true that a counter-elite first organizes, and only then replaces an existing elite; Vladimir Lenin is the best Western historical example. But if you change a few minor variables in 1917, the Russian ruling class is still overthrown, yet not replaced by the Bolsheviks, which suggests it is mere happenstance that Lenin spent decades preparing for the role that history ultimately granted to him.

Thus, it is no doubt true, as Parvini states, that “tight organizational ability and iron discipline” are necessary for a new elite to ultimately take control, but it is a confusion to suggest that those virtues must be operative for an existing regime, particularly an extremely fragile one such as ours, to meet its well-deserved end. Put another way, it is false, what Parvini claims, that “Change always takes concerted organization.” Seizing power with finality takes concerted organization, but the rapid upheaval that makes such seizure possible is driven by the release of boiling, chaotic internal forces, sometimes with future elites bobbing within them, like a cork on a stormy ocean. Once the slate is wiped clean, elite leaders necessarily emerge to take and exercise power (Burnham called this gaining “social weight”)—but the point is that, at least at first, they will likely rule as the populace desires, not as the former ruling class desires (though often enough members of that class throw on a fresh coat of paint and try to insert themselves into the new elite, if they are not first dealt with adequately). We must remember that this consummation has, historically, been accomplished by the masses, who in such times of change have the chthonic power, if they can stay the course in the face of ever-more-desperate attacks by the regime (such as “President” Biden’s bizarre and incompetent, hateful yet inevitable, speech the other day, a spectacular sign of regime fragility), to destroy a regime. Thereby the people hold a veto over when and how the new begins, even if they do not directly create the new elite, which emerges organically.

Although the end always comes, any elite can survive longer by taking shrewd (the word used by Pareto) actions, most of all by absorbing and coopting those outside the elite. Michels noted that his conclusions did not imply that oligarchs could do whatever they wanted without consequences. Quite the contrary—they had to be smart, and know both what the masses wanted, and if they themselves did not want what the masses wanted, what they could get away with. The relationship between elites and the governed is a complex relationship, not the caricature we have absorbed from the movies, which tend to posit either demagogues whipping up a stupid populace, or sinister men pulling the strings from behind the scenes. But even with shrewdness, the elite can only survive if those outside the elite do not become too hostile to the governing elite; I suspect we have long passed the point at which the American regime could recover. No matter, since our regime is the very opposite of shrewd, so we will never know if it could have retained its power by taking actions such as coopting those outside the elite.

Not everyone sees our regime as irredeemably incompetent. One can argue, for example, that our regime does coopt those outside the elite, bringing them into the professional-managerial elite, and despite elite-overproduction, managing to devote ever more stolen resources to ensuring these new entrants are able to live adequately well. After all, a majority of the talented young still aspire to join the PME, to go to a credentialing college which will indoctrinate them in regime loyalty and Left principles, and then to obtain a well-paid, or at least decently-paid and socially reasonably prestigious, job that marks them as part of the PME. Viewed from one angle, this process, successfully operated for decades by the Left, skims the cream of America’s young people, leaving few of the most talented to operate on the Right—and, not coincidentally, making it hard for a counter-elite to rise, even an inchoate one.

This is a problem for overthrowing the regime, but it’s a problem that is rapidly fixing itself, because whatever such cooption took place in the past, it is rapidly failing now. Our current elite deliberately and insanely selects as the beneficiary of money and honors anybody but those who have been the backbone of every successful Western elite ever—unfeminized heterosexual white men, whom the regime today instead aims to harm, and announces their aim through a megaphone. Yes, a few such men, though ever fewer, are admitted to the track leading to today’s elite, if they abase themselves adequately. But an ever-growing pool of such men exists completely outside the elite, and it is from these men that the new elite will be formed, after the chaos that will rise from below, sweeping everything before it.

If, as I claim, our current elite is foundering before our eyes, and will shortly be replaced, what does that imply an ambitious young man should do right now, at this moment? He cannot aim at joining the current elite, but there is no other elite yet taking applicants. It is yet aborning, and no action can offer a direct path to something that does not exist, meaning all choices must be based on gambles about the future. What such a man should do is a crucial question, and I discussed this in my recent article “My Advice to the Young”—though I said little about how a young man can become part of the future elite.

Now, it is true that I look, and walk, and talk, like an elite. Thus, as with the proverbial duck, am I not elite? And if that is true, what I am doing drawing a line between myself and today’s elite? Well, it’s not actually clear that I am part of today’s elite. If I wanted to be socially accepted by, say, Chicago high society (Indianapolis has no high society; while nobody likes to admit it, and as much as I love my state, this really is the provinces, even more so than other Midwestern states), that would not work out for me; I would be reviled, despite my notable good looks and undeniable charm. Still, I have many personal connections in various segments of America’s regime elite, because I came of age in a different time, when the regime was both less malicious and more competent. And my wealth necessarily creates around me a distortion field in some elite quarters, as well as insulates me from nearly all attacks by those who take offense at my beliefs, making such attacks stillborn, so far at least. If, in some future, I lead some segment of the Right as it ascends to full-spectrum dominance, or I become the local leader of a successful armed patronage network, then I will be fully elite, and that will be a good thing. I will celebrate by wearing only clothes shot through with gold thread. There is nothing wrong in the least with being elite; the problem is being a bad elite.

Aside from me, who will be elite in the new Right-dominated society, after the “circulation of elites,” when the Right has definitively wiped out the power and presence of the Left? The percentage of today’s elite who are Right is vanishingly low, and completely invisible. This is in part due to deliberate Left exclusion of those who fail loyalty tests, and also due to herd behavior, but one way or another, it is almost impossible to ascend or remain in the elite if one is Right. (The exception, or quasi-exception, is Right pundits, who have one foot in the elite, to the extent they can claim to be public intellectuals—but it is a very crippled, conditional form of elite status.) Obviously the Republican Party, which does contain some elites, is not Right; only a trivial number of prominent Republicans are other than handmaidens of the Left, and, sadly, many of those are simply charlatans and clowns with a tenuous grasp of reality, little charisma, and very desirous of attention to them as its own end, rather than as a tool. None of them would know what to do with power if they had it, and thus cannot be considered elite. Long ago and far away there was a Right that seemed to have power, exemplified by William F. Buckley and National Review. But it was all lies; we were betrayed, and it ended in tears for those who followed those supposed leaders (and Left-funded sinecures for the Judas sheep, such as Jonah Goldberg and David French, though the most guilty, such as Buckley himself, have mostly died). True, there exists the dissident Right, and it has many interesting voices, but it has no elite, for an elite must have power, and the dissident Right has none at all. It seeks power, but there is a long way from here to there, although that ground can, in the right circumstances, be covered fast as lightning. Thus, the answer to the question who will be elite is—we cannot know, for history twists and turns. We can only say it will be revealed to us.

What, then, should young men do on the Right to prepare to be part of the future elite? Some claim, as Scott Greer did in a recent somewhat-confused article, in which he seemed unable to determine at whom his thoughts were aimed, that the best path to joining the future elite is to continue treading the current path to joining the PME. To do this, you must go to college. He claims that without college, you can’t be qualified for a decent job, you’ll be poor, and you’ll always be irrelevant—by implication, even in future changed circumstances. Greer’s real, if hidden, objection is that he can’t imagine not being in the PME, even in the very junior and subordinated role he occupies there, and he doesn’t really believe the PME is going to disappear. He can’t imagine himself, so he can’t imagine anyone else, risking being forever excluded from the PME, so he counsels passivism and giving in to the sweet embrace of terminal inertia (he is not alone in this; it is the entire program of Curtis Yarvin, for example).

As I have recently analyzed, there are high costs associated with refusing to go to college. But Greer spreads the falsehood that a person on the Right can tread the PME path and continue being Right. Only for a tiny percentage is this true—most will become Left, to a greater or lesser degree, because pressure and indoctrination is extreme, and that is the path of least resistance and greatest opportunity for (short-term) personal gain. What Greer really aspires to, and recommends others aspire to, is becoming part of the twenty percent of society accurately dubbed the premium mediocre, the central focus of whose existence is being able to feel that they are not part of those outside the PME, even though they offer nothing to society and their existence is wholly parasitical. Men who follow that path will never be the elite of anything, in this dispensation or the next. And let’s be honest—if it’s necessary to overthrow the regime by force, the foot soldiers of that effort will be men who didn’t go to college, and most likely the new elite will emerge from these men who did the heavy lifting.

What a young man on the Right should do, instead of chasing membership in the present elite, is seek excellence—but not a passive excellence, nor one dependent for its future on the current frame. Rather a preparatory excellence, the details of which I have, as I say, recently discussed, making himself ready to both accept and successfully pass through the risks that will come along with overthrowing the current regime. On the other side, he will, maybe, reap the rewards.

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  1. cavernario.breve says

    Regarding your point about universities, there was an interesting discussion on the recent Good Old Boyz podcast with Michael Lind when they comment how many of those positions didn’t require a university education, they used to be available through apprenticeship or just local recruitment of smart guys, so that allowed for a growth of local elites.

    Shipping all the local smart guys for mental standardization in some far away regime-approved education center is a terrible idea, even if universities were less “woke”. After seeing some people react to the recent wars or Pelosi’s trip, I fear the day when the regime starts switching the propaganda to “go die for globalism, but you get to wave a based flag while doing it”. A lot of people seem immune to 2022 propaganda with blatant sexual deviancy, but roll it back slightly to 90s propaganda, sprinkle a bit of pandering and some nice symbols, and too many guys on the right seem ready to jump back into the regime sweet’s embrace.

    In the end this will not go anywhere for material decay reasons, but it would be nice if we could avoid that detour and pointless embarrassment.

    • Charles Haywood says

      From what (little) I know of her, I would not say exactly “Right,” but certainly sensible in many ways.

  2. William P. Baumgarth says

    In my opinion, this is among the best of your always thoughtful (and engaging ) essays. Since you brought it up, what are we to make of Brandon’s Satanic speech? To whom was it pitched and for what reason? The “Marines” had to be from central casting: look at their hand positions: not appropriate for “at attention” or “at ease”. Everybody has noted the creepy background. On another note, not everything from the Left needs to be dismissed out of hand. The Maoist practice of parading the public enemy through the streets in clown apparel makes great sense regarding what to do with the Corona engineers: nothing people like Tony hate more than humiliation. By this time, though, Tony and company have purchased tickets to countries not having extradition agreements with USA, where they can live out the remainder of their Satanically extended lives.

    • Charles Haywood says

      I’m not sure. Since my baseline belief is regime fragility and incompetence, and nearly all their actions being emergent properties from chaotic incompetence, most likely it was just a confused effort to re-set the narrative. You’re right about humiliation, of course. (Who’s Tony?)

  3. Marcus says

    “elite must originate and control such a[n] uprising by the common people for it to be”

    Charles, hoping to be of service here: I believe you are missing the letter N above and I am not trying to be a pedant in this case. I re-read the sentence 7 times as I figured there was a missing word my brain was trying to place then I caught it, the N was not there in front of ‘uprising’.

    • Charles Haywood says

      Ah, yes. My first reaction is that humiliation would be inadequate for his crimes, but it might, as you suggest, be the more broadly effective solution.

    • Drew C says

      Thanks for the link to the article, items like that is the main reason to go to comment sections and find new area – such as what probably brought me to the Worthy House.

      Charles – Congratulation in getting well deserved additional attention and good luck with dealing with the downside as seen in the comments.

  4. Arthur Rutherford Jermin says

    You know who Charles Haywood reminds me of? Elizabeth Holmes. You both truly believe that simply being smart enough and capitalist enough will allow you to take over any old thing and show it who is boss. Well, it turns out that medicine and philosophy cannot be convinced as easily as a weak company in a hostile takeover. Turns out that being a business wiz kid is insufficient qualification for having something to offer in the fields of medicine and philosophy, who would have thought? So Charles Haywood should humble himself the way Elizabeth Holmes was humbled. Being a C-E-O does not mean you are a G-O-D, and it is quite clear that, ironically, you are a poor man’s Nietzsche, a male Ayn Rand, which is really really embarrassing.

    • Samuelhyde says

      I’m not sure if Elizabeth Holmes could even read. The comparison with Maximum Leader is strange!

    • Marcus says

      Elizabeth Holmes is a deluded mid-range narcissist who figured she was one step ahead of everyone, all of the time. Getting caught was just a matter of time. Ask Bernie Madoff, Jeffrey Epstein (well, inquire at your next seance), or even Harvey Weinstein; the clock is always ticking.

      I am two years older than Charles and note by simple observation, at this point: the true test of your socio-political convictions is the sum total of how your life is lived. You become your own test of time — over decades of acting out what you believe is best, through reading, subtle observation, and direct experience. You’re either someone who others want to emulate or you can be various degrees of a public trainwreck.

      Those of us on this blog for the last few years know Charles is doing quite well for himself, for his family, and in his business ventures.

      The garbled logic of your post tells me you’re like the lonely guy in the shattered bus shelter, late at night, who sniffs his own socks and stops for a moment to yell at traffic.

      • Charles Haywood says

        Thank you, Marcus. I will make sure you get an extra allocation of Thielbucks in the next distribution!

      • Carlos Danger says

        Marcus, I agree with your glowing words about Charles, but not about criticisms of Elizabeth Holmes. Like you, many people think she was a fraud like Bernie Madoff, but she was anything but. She did raise a lot of money and her company Theranos went bust, but she was a failure not a fraud.

        Elizabeth Holmes sweated blood 24/7 for 15 years to improve the Theranos technology. All the money invested in Theranos went toward developing the medical testing technology or was returned to shareholders. And all investors in Theranos private placements were accredited and sophisticated investors who knew how risky an investment in Theranos was.

        Elizabeth Holmes’s basic vision was that medical testing needs to be done at the point of care rather than at central labs like Quest and LabCorp. The Covid-19 pandemic vindicated that vision. Central lab PCR testing for Covid-19 turned out to be expensive and useless while point of care testing was cheap and effective.

        Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou with his book Bad Blood paints himself as a hero reporter uncovering massive fraud. That picture is false (but he made millions of dollars painting it). The US attorneys who prosecuted Elizabeth Holmes also made a federal case out of nothing more than ordinary failure. Her conviction was a disgrace.

        I’m happy to give more details on my view of what happened with Theranos if anyone wants to read them. Though I was not directly involved in due diligence on Theranos before things went dicey, I was indirectly involved and know a lot about what went on.

        Based on that knowledge, I speak out against those who criticize Elizabeth Holmes for fraud. Not that I’m a fan of hers, as I’m not. She made some big mistakes, and Theranos was hyped more than it should have been. A lot of what John Carreyrou wrote in his Wall Street Journal articles was accurate.

        But in my view, we need more people like Elizabeth Holmes who have a vision on how to change the world and work their butts off to execute that vision. Most will fail, but we all benefit from their efforts, and we should not criminalize failure but instead encourage entrepreneurs and investors to take risks.

        Venture capitalist Tim Draper was an early investor in Theranos and thinks Elizabeth Holmes was wrongly convicted. He got it right when he said, “A willingness to bet on these entrepreneurs and their visions has made Silicon Valley the innovation engine of the world.”

        That’s true. Innovation requires a lot of risky bets, and that means a lot of failure. We should punish Bernie Madoff-style fraud, but not Elizabeth Holmes-style failure.

        • Marcus says

          “I’m happy to give more details on my view of what happened with Theranos if anyone wants to read them.”

          This is brilliant as the items I read made it appear as if she was no more than a black-clad gossamer Madoff.

          Anything to enlarge my sphere of what I know is more than welcome. Our good squire, The Right Honourable Chas. Haywood, has me covered via my ongoing tab of Theilbucks, so it is there I will start my I.O.U. for both your post above, and any follow up!

          • Carlos Danger says

            As I’m not sure when I will be able to write something new, let me just post for now my August 2018 review of Bad Blood on Amazon:

            Bad Blood is interesting to read — a fast-paced thriller filled with heroes and villains — but it has little to do with real life. That’s fine with fiction. We expect writers of fiction to portray characters sketchily and craft simple rather than complex plots. Fiction that reflected the intricate characters of people and the complexities of their interactions in real life would bore us. You just can’t sell that kind of fiction. Too quotidian. Too pedestrian. Too trite.

            In that sense, Bad Blood is more like fiction than a work of fact. Sure, the book has a lot of fact mixed in it. And I could not find many factual errors in the book (though I did find some — I’ve worked in Silicon Valley as an M&A lawyer for almost 30 years, and know a few of the people named in the book). But the tone of this book and the way it is written disturbs me. It makes Elizabeth Holmes a caricature of evil, and it reduces a complex situation to a simple morality play of right versus wrong. I think that kind of book deserves more scorn than praise.

            Take this excerpt from pages 164-65, for example: “With a despotic boss like [then Theranos president] Sunny [Bulwani] holding their fates in his hands, it was akin to indentured servitude. Sunny, in fact, had the master-servant mentality common among an older generation of Indian businessmen. Employees were his minions. He expected them to be at his disposal at all hours of the day or night and on weekends. He checked the security logs every morning to see when they badged in and out. Every evening, around seven thirty, he made a fly-by of the engineering department to make sure people were still at their desks working.”

            That kind of passage works in fiction. The author of a thriller is omniscient, and knows everything. After all, the thriller is the author’s creation. But in nonfiction, the author can’t know everything. He or she has to write based on knowledge and facts. How can John Carreyrou know what Sunny Bulwani did every morning and every evening? How can he make the character judgments he makes? I don’t think he can. Failing to limit his prose to facts rather than opinion weakens the book. It’s not reporting, even investigative reporting. It’s muckraking.

            That matters. The advertising for this book calls Theranos the “Enron of Silicon Valley”. Some people compare Elizabeth Holmes to Bernie Madoff. Those are gross exaggerations. The truth is that Theranos’s technology worked. Not well enough, and it didn’t improve fast enough. (Theranos competitors DNA Medical Institute and Genalyte are still in business, making some progress though still facing obstacles.) But the technology does work, and Theranos was nothing like the frauds of Enron and Madoff. The book should make that clear. It doesn’t.

            Elizabeth Holmes did oversell what she had. Promises were made and were not kept. But that’s the way Silicon Valley works. It’s a jungle here, full of chaos and uncertainty. And like it or not, that’s a feature, not a bug. Without that kind of raw competition, we would not have the results — innovation unmatched anywhere else in the world. If investors want low risk, they shouldn’t invest in a private company like Theranos. Low risk means low reward. High reward means high risk. That’s the way it always works.

            Elizabeth Holmes failed with Theranos, and a lot of investors lost a lot of money. But she dedicated her life to bringing this technology to market. At age 19 in 2003 she dropped out of Stanford and spent the next 15 years driving toward her goal with ferocity and single-mindedness, pushing others to deliver as well. That’s good, and it’s bad. It’s a complicated and complex story. Bad Blood doesn’t present it that way.

            Some say that we need to keep in mind that history is written by the winners. That’s certainly true with Bad Blood. John Carreyrou came out the winner here, and this book reflects his views. Had the book been presented more as a nonjudgmental and undramatic laying out of history, and had Elizabeth Holmes’s side of the story been given any voice, it would have been a much better book.

            But not one that would sell as well as this one-sided history, written like a fictional thriller, starring John Carreyrou. Which is why John Carreyrou wrote it that way.

  5. Marcus says

    Mister Danger, I just purchased Carreyrou’s “Bad Blood” online and am hugely looking forward to having my perspective changed / updated over this weekend. Thank you!

    • Carlos Danger says

      Marcus, have fun with your reading. As you can tell from my review, I think Bad Blood is a bad book. But if you look at Charles Haywood’s review of Bad Blood here at The Worthy House, he thinks the book is exceptional. Opinions do differ.

    • Carlos Danger says

      Interesting news about Elizabeth Holmes. A key witness against her was the head of Theranos’s laboratory, Adam Rosendorff. This summer he showed up disheveled and distraught at her house and tried to talk to her, saying that the government in her trial had made everything look worse than it was. The judge has now put off her sentencing to hold a short hearing to hear from Adam Rosendorff about this.

      I doubt this new wrinkle will change anything but it is just another indication to me that the whole case was prosecutorial overreach. As a lawyer in Silicon Valley for 30 years now, I’m tired of all the government regulation that does no good and lots of harm. I’ve been involved in many private placements. What Elizabeth Holmes said in boosting Theranos that was supposedly criminally fraudulent was no worse than the kind of thing my clients said all the time. Her conviction borders on the ridiculous.

      Criticism of Elizabeth Holmes seems based on things like John Carreyrou’s sensationalist book Bad Blood or other reports by people who have no idea of what goes on in the private placement world. Comparisons of her to Bernie Madoff or to Enron’s Ken Lay, Jeff Skilling or Andy Fastow are facile and false. She’s nothing like them.

      I’m no fan of Elizabeth Holmes, but she does deserve justice. Too bad she’s not getting it.

    • Charles Haywood says

      This is a very good article, and Substack, particularly its excellent parsing of Schmitt.

  6. Eric Bennett Rasmusen says

    Schumpeter on the entrepreneur in The Theory of Economic Development: “In the breast of one who wishes to do something new, the forces of habit rise up and bear witness against the embryonic project. It is no part of his function to find or create new possibilities. They are always present, abundantly accumulated by all sorts of people. Often they are also generally known and being discussed by scientific or literary writers. For its success, keenness and vigor are not more essential than a certain narrowness which seizes the immediate chance and nothing else.” Does this apply to political entrepreneurs too?

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