Mike Solana on Wokeness in America

Mike Solana On How Woke People Are Destroying America | The Pomp Podcast #1072

Check out the Episode Page and Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • The average person in America is not woke; reducing people down to their race and gender is regressive, and seems to be the exact opposite of what society has worked to improve over the last several decades 
  • Mike believes the urgency to indoctrinate the next generation with wokeness is why college is forced so heavily on younger generations
  • People tend to navigate toward the extreme, the bizarre, the controversial on social media because that’s what is rewarded 
    • Mediocracy has the same voice; having a unique voice is the only thing that matters now 
  • The chaos of the world reveals itself when the people in charge are proven wrong; the Tom Cruises of the world have become completely normalized, and that is good for culture
  • The world of blindly following the narratives of the hegemonic media empires is over
  • In the modern information war, you are either an internet detective or you are clueless about what is going on 
  • The tech industry is powerful and worth critiquing, but it’s more productive to critique abuses of power than the concepts of business and capitalism in general 
  • America’s biggest problem is that it is so easy to succeed here; we have a lot of room to fail, and we’re still thriving.” – Mike Solana
  • The truth matters, but storytelling is of similar (or more) importance in the modern information war
  • In the long-term, it’s improbable for America to enter the dark ages; the more interesting question is whether or not America becomes great, and “culture” will be the deciding factor 
  • You can begin to solve the problems of the world by starting with your home; make where you are physically living a better place 

Intro

  • Mike Solana (@micsolana) is a vice president at Founders Fund focused on community and brand. He is also the founder of Pirate Wires, a media company that publishes newsletters, podcasts, and long-form essays that focus on technology, politics, and culture.  
  • In this conversation, Mike and Anthony Pompliano discuss problems facing American culture today. They cover a wide variety of topics, such as wokeness, the broken incentive structure of the internet, why Donald Trump and AOC are similar, Tom Cruise, the information war, Taiwan, why Americans love conspiracy theories, Hunter Biden, American Optimism, Elon Musk, the 2024 presidential race, and more.
  • Check out these Podcast Notes on conversations with other members of Founder’s Fund, such as Keith Rabois
  • Host – Anthony Pompliano (@APompliano

Books & Media Mentioned 

Pirate Wires 

  • Mike shares his thoughts and feelings about the world through his media company Pirate Wires
  • The internet is a chaotic ocean where empire ships roam the sea; Mike sends his observations of the chaos via pirate wires (Caribbean pirates, not Somali) 
  • Mike built the place that he wish existed online in Pirate Wires: a place to laugh at the BS and piece together what is happening online

Americans Were Insurgents 

  • The United States had no business beating Britain in the Revolutionary War
  • The American Revolution was an intellectual revolution where Americans determined that the concept of monarchy was stupid 
  • Mike used to think that America could be replicated in other nations and it was just a matter of philosophy, but he’s changed his mind on this 
  • Effectively replicating America depends on having the right geography and philosophy
  • America is peaceful with its ideologically aligned neighbors to the North and to the South, is natural resource-rich, and it inherited a legal system that valued property rights
    • These characteristics are not common for most nations around the globe

The New Religion of Wokeness

  • The average person is not woke; reducing people down to their race and gender is regressive and seems to be the exact opposite of what society has worked to improve over the last several decades 
  • You become more popular when you say “f*ck off” to people trying to cancel you 
  • Many colleges have turned into religion indoctrination campuses that study woke thinking
    • Mike believes the urgency to indoctrinate the next generation with wokeness is why college is forced so heavily on the younger generations

Monetizing Wokeness and the Incentive Structure of the Internet

  • Either novelty or extreme content drives attention on social media 
  • You learn what best drives engagement, and positive reinforcement causes you to do more of what receives that attention
  • People tend to navigate toward the extreme, the bizarre, the controversial on social media because that is what’s rewarded 

Why Donald Trump and AOC Are the Same Person 

  • “Donald Trump is the most successful clown in human history.” – Mike Solana
    • Mike means this almost as a compliment; Trump is an entertainer
    • Trump exposed what was going on behind the political curtain
  • Trump’s opponents need to acknowledge that he’s telling jokes and that the jokes are landing, or else they can’t compete with him because he’s playing a different game 
    • You need to have a sense of humor to survive a debate with Donald Trump
  • Trump was an unserious person pursuing the most serious position on the planet, and this is what drove his critics crazy  

How the Internet Changed America 

  • The mobile device changed everything because now everyone can walk around with the internet on their person, which caused many to start living inside the internet 
  • The rules of the internet changed how people think about the world
  • Trump couldn’t have been president without Twitter; AOC wouldn’t be a politician without the internet 
  • There are trade-offs with technology 
  • Changing the reward-structure of your life fundamentally changes you as a person 

Tom Cruise Predicted Everything 

  • Tom Cruise appeared on the Today Show in 2005 and claimed that there was no scientific evidence to suggest that depression was caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain
    • He was heavily criticized for these comments at the time
  • Seventeen years later in 2022, an umbrella study released by Molecular Psychiatry confirmed exactly what Tom Cruise said: we don’t know what causes depression
  • The Tom Cruise clip resurfacing sparked a whole conversation about what it means when the experts are wrong, a topic that is very interesting to Mike 
  • At the time, Tom Cruise seemed crazy and rude, but he seems extremely calm and rational if you rewatch it today because we’ve become accustomed to behavior that we previously identified as crazy 
  • The culture has changed in a huge way, and the Tom Cruises of the world have become completely normalized 
  • The idea of authority figures (doctors, lawyers, presidents) being “all-knowing” is not true; we don’t know most things 
  • The chaos of the world reveals itself when the people in charge are proven wrong or don’t know something they should know 

America Loves Conspiracy Theories 

  • The world of blindly following the narratives of the hegemonic media empires is over
  • People are turning to independent people that they trust to make sense of the chaos, like Joe Rogan 
  • Rogan is curious and he uses the internet to get to the bottom of things, and that’s very attractive to people 
  • The answers to everything exist online, but the problem is navigating the overwhelming amount of information and the propaganda 

Internet Detectives

  • In the modern information war, you are either an internet detective or you are clueless about what is going on 
  • Most people are fine with not knowing what’s going on, but they do want to know an internet detective who is tuned in 
  • Twitter is the colosseum of internet detectives 

The Dictionary Is the New Battle Ground 

  • The dictionary has become a battleground for concepts and words
  • The information war is causing dictionary definitions to change for political points 
  • “I don’t like knowing what political party my dictionary votes for.” – Mike Solana 
  • The dictionary already works for the state and the establishment; the few people that agree with the political consensus, and are incentivized to agree, control the dictionaries 
  • Language does change, but the alarming part is how fast these changes are implemented and accepted 

People Are Offended By Everything 

  • Mike wonders if the offended people actually have the power, or if the people they target are just cowards 
  • Navigating cancel culture becomes more complicated if your following consists of people who are easily offended (singers, woke politicians, etc.); it’s much easier to deal with cancel culture if your following isn’t into it 
  • “Wokeness has infected every edifice of power in the country.” – Mike Solana 

Why the Mainstream Media Targets Tech

  • Mike speculates that most of the writers in media don’t actually care about the topics they’re arguing about online; they just don’t like business 
  • The tech industry is powerful and worth critiquing, but it’s more productive to critique abuses of power rather than the concept of business and capitalism in general 
  • Counter-culture eventually becomes the culture
  • Mike feels that the culture is shifting away from cultural authoritarianism, which he believes peaked in 2017 
    • The average person doesn’t like hall monitors

Mainstream Media Cover-Ups

  • The media didn’t allow the origins of the coronavirus to be questioned for an entire year, and then it turns out that the people questioning the origin of it were probably right 
    • “You can’t ever look at the media the same way again.” – Mike Solana 
  • The media weaponized censorship against the United States’ best interest 
  • To this day, we don’t know if a potentially existential virus can escape from that lab

The Taiwan Conflict

  • The populous right is “America first”: if something is not in America’s interest, then we should not be doing it (Mike agrees with this and thinks every politician should as well)
    • But this thinking is used as a reason for the U.S. to stay out of the China and Taiwan conflict, a situation that does affect America 
  • Decades of globalization hollowed out America’s manufacturing base and made it increasingly reliant on other countries for vital technologies, such as semiconductors
  • You can’t just turn these manufacturing capabilities back on; they take time to rebuild, and the U.S. will remain at the mercy of global supply chains for the foreseeable future 

The Hunter Biden Controversy 

  • Private sector people in the intelligence community went to the social platforms and told them that the Hunter Biden laptop story was Russian disinformation 
  • Facebook implemented measures to slow down the virality of the story, and Twitter didn’t even allow the link to the story to be shared
  • A year after the news broke, the New York Times legitimized many of the claims from the initial story 
  • Why does the Ukrainian company Burisma pay Hunter Biden $500k annually to advise them? What is he qualified to do for this company?
  • The “most extreme” theory of the Hunter Biden saga: the deep state leaked the Hunter Biden videos because it wants Joe Biden out of office 

American Optimism 

  • America’s biggest problem is that it is so easy to succeed here; we have a lot of room to fail, and we’re still thriving.” – Mike Solana 
  • America’s relative geographic isolation, abundant resources, and wealth contribute to the country allowing “things to get pretty bad”
  • Mike believes it’s improbable for America to enter the dark ages in the long term; the more interesting question is whether or not America becomes great 
  • He thinks “culture” is the deciding factor on whether or not America will be great 
    • The things that we want to determine the shape of our world

The Problem With American Culture 

  • America has abandoned the basics and we have not taken ownership over the things that we can control 
  • We’ve adopted a someone-else-will-do-it attitude to solving our problems 
  • You can begin to solve the problems of the world by starting with your home; make where you are physically living a better place

The State of the Media 

  •  Mike does not agree with “diversity of thought” when it comes to the big things, such as values
    • Diversity-of-thought is fine for everything but the foundational principles that require shared values 
  • He wants to make Pirate Wires the biggest media company in the world
  • “Media has completely changed. The old model is dead.” – Mike Solana 
  • Some forms of new media are trying to rebuild the old model, and that is a mistake 
  • Mediocracy has the same voice; having a unique voice is the only thing that matters now 

The 2024 Presidential Race

  • The best story is Newsom vs. DeSantis, so that’s what will probably happen  
    • This race would embody the national conversation about the ideological differences between Florida and California 
  • It’ll be hard for Donald Trump to run for president without his Twitter account 

Elon Musk and Twitter 

  • Mike selfishly wants Elon Musk to buy Twitter, and he plans on being the Twitter CEO following the acquisition 
  • Pomp thinks that Elon taking over Twitter would “make the internet fun again”
  • Elon taps into people’s desire to stop being miserable; he is a pressure relief valve
  • The hottest status symbol in Silicon Valley is getting subpoenaed for the Elon vs. Twitter lawsuit
    • Mike eagerly awaits to be served 

Additional Notes

  • It is telling when the mainstream media establishment doesn’t come to defend someone that they’d typically rush to defend 
  • AOC is very good at storytelling; the truth matters, but storytelling is of similar importance in the modern information war 
  • History is starting again as we enter a multi-polar world consisting of the United States, China, and Russia
  • Hire people that amplify your voice first, and then find talented people who are doing their own thing, but care about the same thing
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Notes By Stan Rizzo

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