"Soylent Tastes Better Without the Utopian Rhetoric" (New Republic article)

Article from the New Republic: “Soylent Tastes Better Without the Utopian Rhetoric


A little utopian rhetoric never hurt anybody, and is actually quite filling and nutritious.


Rob Rhinehart isn’t going to break into your kitchen and rip your garlic scape pesto from your fists and force you to drink Soylent 2.0. He simply doesn’t have that power.

One of my big concerns with Soylent has been the ever present possibility of Rob breaking into my house and disposing of my laundry in some environmentally friendly way that I don’t really have any interest in understanding, so it is a relief to learn that he doesn’t have that power (yet).

Consider: Soylent isn’t actually that bad… something rather useful and benign—a relatively cheap, durable, and increasingly sustainable source of nutrition for those times that a leisurely al fresco meal with a crisp Riesling just isn’t feasible…

…The trouble is that the Valley’s discourse is so both so hyperbolic and tone deaf that we end up conflating the innocuous with the genuinely worrying.

Although I don’t really agree with anything New Republic would happen to write on a day to day basis I agree with the sentiment behind this. At least I do now that I replaced their obnoxious proselytizing with ellipses.


Gotta be one of the most ridiculous articles I’ve read about Soylent. I mean, sure, it may have had less misinformation than most, but that is only because it had hardly any info at all.

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I’m fairly certain @rob is responsible for the lone sock that goes missing from my clothes dryer each month.


Don’t go jumpin’ the gun now, I’ve heard rumors that the underpants gnomes have been expanding into socks. They’re still working out step two though.


Utopianism has been a dirty word for 100 years now. People need to get over it. The world might actually be perfect one day and it scares the crap out of them… because then what will you paint the headlines with?

The blood of the innocent


Oh there will still be headlines, utopia simply means globalization, sustainability, elimination of poverty/famine, and political non-aggression. People will still do stupid and rotten things.

Every man has a price.

I actually thought the article was pretty good. The article doesn’t criticize the idea of utopianism, just the way in which owners of tech start-ups have utopian ideology behind the products and services they own, while ignoring the realities and potentially damaging implications their own products and ideologies (such as Facebook and privacy issues) and the market as a whole.

This isn’t to say that aspiring to be or do something is bad, having a vision is important, just don’t make it the only thing you have to say.

The problem isn’t so much the quality of the article, though it’s quality IS disputable, so much as that it said almost nothing directly related to Soylent despite it being the first word in it’s title. The article wasn’t really even about Soylent, other than it’s dubious use as an excuse for the author to go off on a semi-luddite tirade.


I don’t follow why the article should have to describe the product, it’s not a product review or evaluation which is made clear by the headline, they just felt that the way Soylent is discussed by its creator is indicative of a larger trend in the tech industry and wanted to discuss it. You can dispute the quality of the article if you want (although nothing strikes me as either particularly insightful or bad about it), but the topic is perfectly justifiable for an opinion/analysis piece.

If I had known I could get Rob to come to my apartment just by ordering Soylent I would have done it like a year earlier. Ever since Jobs died, Rob and Elon have been like my heroes.

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