Tribeca Film ‘General Magic’ Shows How Capitalism Pulls Big Success Out Of Big Failures
One of the great paradoxes of Silicon Valley is that while its denizens are monolithically progressive, its creatives and entrepreneurs illustrate in their own lives the virtues of the free enterprise system that progressives loathe.

While the propensity for risk-taking is in part cultural, the ability to create and bring new goods and services to the public requires favorable social, political and economic conditions. This is why a communist nation like China resorts to stealing intellectual property to compete. It’s why innovation in progressive Europe pales in comparison to what we see in America.

Innovation requires the protection of individual liberty, private property rights and free markets. But Silicon Valley’s progressive political allies are often hostile to these principles.

A compelling new film featured at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival reflects this tension. While the liberal audience at the world premiere for “General Magic” — a new documentary about the “failed” tech company of that name — might not have realized it, the movie is an exceptional story about capitalism that viewers of all stripes will appreciate.

I recently reviewed this documentary at The Federalist.

Here’s a taste from the piece:

Incredibly successful people may believe that their success in one area foretells success in others. Worse is when they believe that on account of their success, they are superior and thus have a moral duty to impose their views on others, including by government coercion. Like the technocratic progressives in the early 20th century, one can easily see how Silicon Valley’s masters of the universe might see themselves as best able to “manage” society. This Utopic aim may explain in part why entrepreneurs would support progressive politics that seek to organize society accordingly.

In response to albeit leading questions posed to many of the integral players in the company who were on hand for the premiere of General Magic, most focused on climate change and lack of diversity in tech (not of the ideological kind) as major problems. It was very clear that challenges to the prevailing progressive views on these issues would have been dismissed with contempt…

To the degree to which Silicon Valley holds progressive views and creates voluntary initiatives in furtherance of such views, that is its prerogative. But given its politics, how long until it shifts from private efforts to public ones? If the pesky Deplorables will not go along voluntarily, will the progressives of Silicon Valley deem it legitimate to impose their favored policies through the state, for our own good?

General Magic is an amazing story of a company that embodies and illustrates much about the virtues of capitalism. Were it only that Silicon Valley realized the importance of protecting the system on which capitalism relies, rather than siding with those who would sacrifice it all for power over their fellow man.