I reviewed the new biography and documentary about Stewart Brand. The best part of both is where they dive into the tension between Brand’s techno-utopianism and environmentalism (even though I tend to side with Brand that the two can and should co-exist).
You can read the whole thing at The Economist, here’s an excerpt:
Mr Brand’s technophilia helped shape Silicon Valley. But it drove a wedge between him and his ecologically minded friends. He had always been an outlier, enjoying Ayn Rand’s libertarian books at university. His fascination with humans settling in space—he financed the subject’s first major conference in 1974—widened the divide. In 2009 Mr Brand distanced himself from his fellow environmentalists, advocating for genetically modified organisms and nuclear power. As for the eco-warriors, he labelled them “irrational, anti-scientific and very harmful”. In response George Monbiot, an activist, suggested that Mr Brand was a spokesperson for the fossil-fuel industry. The criticism echoed Mr Kesey’s remark decades earlier: “Stewart recognises power. And cleaves to it.”