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Rebecca Solnit, Hater of Silicon Valley, Is Starting to Plagiarize Herself

Scott Lucas | January 8, 2014 | Story Tech World

Reading Rebecca Solnit's latest missive in Guernica yesterday about the negative effects of the Google bus, you could be forgiven for feeling a nagging sense of deja vu. It didn't matter whether you agreed or disagreed with the writer, activist, and public intellectual—but it sure felt like you'd heard her say all of it before. The same metaphors, the same facts, even, in some cases, the same exact words. In fact, Solnit's strange form of literary echolalia stretches back more than a year, and runs across publications large and small, beginning in her February 7, 2013 essay in the London Review of Books, continuing in a follow-up treatise on Salon on June 25, and continuing still in a Q&A in Bloomberg Businessweek a few weeks ago. And now there was this.

Don't believe us? Here's evidence of Solnit's self-plagiarizing.

The buses are symbols of privatization
"The buses roll up to San Francisco’s bus stops in the morning and evening, but they are unmarked, or nearly so, and not for the public [...] Most of them are gleaming white, with dark-tinted windows, like limousines" —London Review of Books, February 7, 2013
"Those mostly unmarked white buses have become a symbol of the transformation of the city." —Salon, June 25, 2013
"They’re gated communities on wheels." —Bloomberg Businessweek, December 31, 2013
"The buses in question are in no way humble. Most of them are sleek, tinted-window, Wi-Fi-equipped gleaming white private coaches." —Guernica, January 7, 2014

They block public MUNI buses
"[T]hey ingest and disgorge their passengers slowly, while the brightly lit funky orange public buses wait behind them." —London Review of Books, February 7, 2013
The private shuttles "use our public bus stops, often blocking city buses and public transit passengers" —Salon, June 25, 2013
"We have these luxury coaches picking people up at public bus stops in such a way that they’re displacing the city buses."—
Bloomberg Businessweek, December 31, 2013
"At times they’re crowding actual funky public city buses out of the public bus stops." —Guernica, January 7, 2014

The techies are driving out the teachers, firefighters, street cleaners, etc...
"Boomtowns [...] drive out people who perform essential services for relatively modest salaries, the teachers, firefighters, mechanics and carpenters." —LRB
"Teachers, civil servants, bus drivers, librarians, firefighters—consider them representatives of the middle class under siege[.]" —Salon
"[W]orking-class people—firefighters, day-care providers, street cleaners, bus drivers—are the backbone of what keeps this place running and keeps it diverse." —Businessweek
"It’s unhealthy when firefighters and teachers can’t afford to live in the community they care for." —Guernica

They're turning San Francisco into a mining town
"I think of them as the company buses by which the coal miners get deposited at the minehead, and the work schedule involved would make a pit owner feel at home." —LRB
"It feels most like a mining town." —Businessweek
"We’re becoming akin to a mining boomtown." —Guernica

Their leaders don't measure up compared to a certain Renaissance family
"Medici in their machinations, they are not Medici-style patrons." —Salon
"The nouveaux technology riche may be like the Medicis in terms of politics, but they’re not like the Medicis in terms of culture." —Businessweek

The tech companies aren't diverse enough.
"The tech workers, many of them new to the region, are mostly white or Asian male nerds in their twenties and thirties[.]" —LRB
"[A]ccording to Mother Jones, 89% of the founding teams of these companies are all male; 82% are all white (the other 18% Asian/Pacific Islander); and women there make 49 cents to the male dollar." —Salon
"The new tech incursion is mostly white guys with some Asian guys and some women, though few women are in power[.]" —Businessweek
"You can go to Mother Jones to see how dismal its race and gender proportions are." —Guernica

Times are hard for poets, writers, activists, and other FOR (Friends of Rebecca).
San Francisco "still has a host of writers, artists, activists, environmentalists, eccentrics and others who don’t work sixty-hour weeks for corporations– though we may be a relic population." —LRB
"Friends of mine—a painter, a poet, a filmmaker, a photographer, all of whom have contributed to San Francisco’s culture — have been evicted so that more affluent people may replace them." —Salon
"The majority of people I know are renters, and I keep teasing my friends who are economically vulnerable that maybe they should go to Vallejo or Stockton, which are in economic crisis, and create a great, thriving bohemia there." —Businessweek
"And thus come the well-paid engineers to San Francisco, and thus go the longtime activists, idealists, artists, teachers, plumbers, all the less-well-paid people." —Guernica

At the end of the day, it's all about capitalism
"Sometimes the Google Bus just seems like one face of Janus-headed capitalism; it contains the people too valuable even to use public transport or drive themselves." —LRB
"Here’s what San Francisco is now: a front row seat on the most powerful corporations on Earth and the people who run them." —Salon
"We broke up the big trusts, notably Standard Oil, a century ago, and I think that some of these megacorporations with so much power and so little accountability should either be broken up or become public trusts[.]" —Businessweek
"I don’t like Silicon Valley." —Guernica

Okay, okay we get it. And, just to be clear, we think Solnit is just about one of the finest writers in town. We loved Infinite City. So it's more in sorrow than in anger that we have to tell you, Rebecca—you're becoming boring. Your raging hate-on for Silicon Valley is starting to make you commit the cardinal sin of writing: needless repetition. You won't convince anyone on the third or fourth time around with the same argument. It's just, well, mental masturbation.

Perhaps it's time to try a new script.

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