The Trump-endorsed Senate candidate Blake Masters wants you to believe he's a nationalist. This Arizonan wants you to think he's trying to "Make America Great Again."
But he's not a nationalist. He's not just about building a wall. He wants to build a new world — one where nations are obsolete.
Masters is a protege and pawn of PayPal's co-founder and Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, who has bragged about participating in "the erosion of the nation-state."
A 35-year-old crypto evangelist, Masters is cribbing the nativist script to convince you he'll stop the so-called border "invasion." He even touts slashing legal immigration in half. He's the Hollywood-actor version of Stephen Miller, the architect of former President Donald Trump's most draconian immigration policies.
His performance is pretty good. Neo-Nazi publisher Andrew Anglin and other white nationalists, who've publicly cheered him on, seem convinced. Masters parrots their hateful rhetoric about Democrats changing U.S. demographics: "It's about a small group of elites who want to destroy this country," he said.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson calls him the GOP's "future." A spokeswoman for Masters declined to comment for this article.
Masters' nativism is a Trojan horse for something more ominous: a world where literally nobody has a voice except a small group of elites with all-seeing, all-powerful technology. Thiel put more than $13 million into Masters' campaign. He's also backing Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance and helped Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley win in 2018.
But Masters is so close to Thiel that if he scores a Senate seat, his longtime boss would "effectively have a seat of his own," journalist Noah Lanard argues in his recent profile of Masters in Mother Jones.
It's not hard to figure out what a Masters victory could mean. Thiel wrote in 2009: "I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible." He has also revealed the book that most shaped him: 1997's "The Sovereign Individual" by James Dale Davidson and William Rees-Mogg.
The book prophesied the collapse of nation-states. The authors depict this as an exciting future for elites freed of regulation, interacting "on terms that echo the relation among the gods in Greek myth." Elites control everything, hiring private militias as the rest of us descend into destitution and random violence.
Tax evasion by elites like Thiel, if left unchecked, could turn that story into a self-fulfilling prophecy: shielding billions from taxation, they erode the power of nation-states to improve lives — turning citizens into slaves or exiles. (See: mass migration.)
Glen Weyl, a leading thinker in the Web3 community who has criticized the authors' predictions through his think tank RadicalxChange, believes Masters' xenophobic rhetoric is a tool Thiel is using to fast-forward to the book's dystopia.
From the Senate, wannabe god-kings can accelerate the nation-state's decline by promoting digital extremism, tax loopholes and bitcoin maximalism.
"The strategy these guys follow is to do a lot of rabble-rousing and to look really right-wing," Weyl told me, "and to then get the mainstream media to hate on them for being right-wing, and to use that to bring these far-right people close to them."
But, he added: "Their worldview is one in which 'dumb white Americans' starve to death."
Weyl calls their ideas perilous to "participation in the political process by anyone other than the god-kings."
He told me an associate of Thiel's summoned him to Thiel's L.A. offices in 2018. In the meeting, Weyl recalls Thiel saying: "You sound like a threat to my position. How seriously should I take that threat?" Weyl believes Thiel felt threatened by Weyl's tech-forward wealth tax proposal in his book "Radical Markets." Thiel didn't respond to my requests for comment.
Max Chafkin, author of the well-regarded Thiel biography "The Contrarian," described Masters to me as "an extension of Thiel." He believes Thiel is motivated by hunger for money and power.
Masters and Thiel met in 2012, when Masters took a class taught by Thiel at Stanford Law. They went to dinner and became close, co-writing a pro-monopoly book, "Zero to One."
Thiel hired Masters as president of his foundation in 2015 and worked with him on Trump's transition team after Thiel helped Trump win the 2016 election. Masters became friendly with Steve Bannon, who was convicted Friday of contempt of Congress for withholding information about the Jan. 6 coup attempt.
Masters is also a longtime admirer of blogger Curtis Yarvin, who has written that some people are "more suited to slavery" than others. He argues that we should get over our "dictator-phobia."
It's no wonder Masters has been promoting Trump's "Big Lie," the ultimate expression of dictatorial dreams.
Masters' affinity for people with such views is as much of a threat to white people as to anyone. His patron and partner Thiel is a central figure in the rise of surveillance capitalism, in which tech companies harvest our data for the manipulation of our desires and doings. He was the first major outside investor in Facebook, and his biggest equity holding is in Palantir, a data mining company that contracts with government agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.
Those partnerships should raise red flags for the MAGA world, which complains of FBI overreach.
Predictably, Masters has been promoting the expansion of the border surveillance empire. Nearly 2 out of 3 Americans live in the 100-mile border zone, where border officers already can search people without a warrant. And the Supreme Court recently gave border officers free rein to violate your rights.
To MAGA devotees decrying attacks on freedom: You're onto something. But immigrants aren't the enemy. Democrats aren't the enemy. They're decoys to distract you as Thiel and company create a world in which privacy and liberties are only for the elite.
Those of us who love this country must join forces to stop them.