Wikipedia has become a bulletin board for corporate and imperial interests under the watch of its Randian founder, Jimmy Wales, and the veteran US regime-change operative who heads the Wikimedia Foundation, Katherine Maher.
by Ben Norton and Max Blumenthal
Part 2 - Jimmy Wales’ Randian philosophy, corporate and national security ties come to the surface
Born from seemingly humble beginnings, the Wikimedia Foundation is today swimming in cash and invested in many of the powerful interests that benefit from its lax editorial policy.
The foundation’s largest donors include corporate tech giants Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Craigslist. With more than $145 million in assets in 2018, nearly $105 million in annual revenue, and a massive headquarters in San Francisco, Wikimedia has carved out a space for itself next to these Big Tech oligarchs in the Silicon Valley bubble.
It is also impossible to separate Wikipedia as a project from the ideology of its creator. When he co-founded the platform in 2001, Jimmy “Jimbo” Wales was a conservative libertarian and devoted disciple of right-wing fanatic Ayn Rand.
A former futures and options trader, Wales openly preached the gospel of “Objectivism,” Rand’s ultra-capitalist ideology that sees government and society itself as the root of all evil, heralding individual capitalists as gods.
Wales described his philosophy behind Wikipedia in specifically Randian terms. In a video clip from a 2008 interview, published by the Atlas Society, an organization dedicated to evangelizing on behalf of Objectivism, Wales explained that he was influenced by Howard Roark, the protagonist of Rand’s novel The Fountainhead.
Wikipedia’s structure was expressly meant to reflect the ideology of its libertarian tech entrepreneur founder, and Wales openly said as much.
At the same time, however, Wikipedia editors have upheld the diehard Objectivist Jimmy Wales, as the New York Times put it in 2008, as a “benevolent dictator, constitutional monarch, digital evangelist and spiritual leader.”
Wales has always balanced his libertarian inclinations with old-fashioned American patriotism. He was summoned before the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Operations in 2007 to further explain how Wikipedia and its related technologies could be of service to Uncle Sam.
Wales began his remarks stating, “I am grateful to be here today to testify about the potential for the Wikipedia model of collaboration and information sharing which may be helpful to government operations and homeland security.”
“At a time when the United States has been increasingly criticized around the world, I believe that Wikipedia is an incredible carrier of traditional American values of generosity, hard work, and freedom of speech,” Wales continued, implicitly referencing the George Bush administration’s military occupation of Iraq.
The Wikipedia founder added, “The US government has always been premised on responsiveness to citizens, and I think we all believe good government comes from broad, open public dialogue. I therefore also recommend that US agencies consider the use of wikis for public facing projects to gather information from citizens and to seek new ways of effectively collaborating with the public to generate solutions to the problem that citizens face.”
In 2012, Wales married Kate Garvey, the former diary secretary of ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Their wedding, according to the conservative UK Telegraph, was “witnessed by guests from the world of politics and celebrity.”
Wales’ status-quo-friendly politics have only grown more pronounced over the years. In 2018, for instance, he publicly cheered on Israel’s bombing of the besieged Gaza strip and portrayed Britain’s leftist former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn as an anti-Semite.