Monday, April 15, 2019

Good article: "The 'Intellectual Dark Web' is Nothing New"

I wasn't aware of the LA Review of Books article entitled The "Intellectual Dark Web" is Nothing New by Jacob Hamburger until recently. I'm sorry it took so long to find it, it has a lot of good stuff.

Favorite bits:
...What exactly are the ideas that have made people like Weinstein, Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson, Joe Rogan, Dave Rubin, Ben Shapiro, and Christina Hoff Sommers into what a recent New York Times profile described as intellectual “renegades”? According to the Times writer Bari Weiss, most emphasize the biological differences between men and women, a feeling that free speech is “under siege,” and a fear that “identity politics” is a threat to the United States’s social fabric. 
A listener of Harris’s podcast might add to the list a vociferous defense of the validity of genetic explanations for IQ differences between racial groups, a follower of Peterson’s videos might insist on the nefarious influence of “postmodern neo-Marxism” on college campuses, and a fan of Ben Shapiro might contribute a skepticism toward the reality of “transgenderism..."
Right on the money. These two paragraphs list several of Quillette's political positions: pro-race science, pro-evolutionary psychology, anti-trans, anti-left.
Though opposed to political “tribalism,” as one writer put it in the online magazine Quillette — the closest thing there is to a party organ of the dark web — the movement does tend to think of liberals, progressives, and leftists as its primary adversaries. But not only do these thinkers oppose themself to “the left,” broadly speaking, they recycle the neoconservative indictment of “postmodernism” in order to explain why this left has been taken in by political correctness.
Check check - the pretense that Quillette is centrist while it is obsessed with attacking the left-of-center.

I was surprised though, that Hamburger doesn't seem to be aware that in addition to Decter and Himmelfarb, Sommers herself is associated with the AEI.
...Despite some of the novelty attributed to the dark web intellectuals, perhaps the signs of their belonging to the right have always been there. Dave Rubin’s YouTube show and Harris’s podcast, for example, have featured a number of mainstays of the old PC debates, including D’Souza and Charles Murray. And though Christina Hoff Sommers may appear to break with neoconservative opponents of the women’s movement such as Midge Decter and Gertrude Himmelfarb by calling her video blog “The Factual Feminist,” one should not fail to notice that the channel is hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, the think tank where both elder women were once affiliates.
He's absolutely right that the Intellectual Dark Web is just a variation on traditional conservatism. And Sommers is old enough to have been part of that tradition, long before Claire Lehmann rolled onto the public stage. I think the only thing that is different between the older and the newer conservatives is that conservatives were once very anti-gay, as Mother Jones remembers in its article Remember How Dinesh D’Souza Outed Gay Classmates—and Thought It Was Awesome? This new iteration of the Right has accepted gay rights.

Unlike every other article on the IDW I've found in mainstream sources, Hamburger recognizes the political potential of the IDW:
...this intellectual right in waiting has amassed an incredibly large audience through its various social media platforms. Much of this audience is composed of young men for whom these entertaining take-downs of political correctness is their first exposure to “intellectual” discussions of politics and culture. When this dark web finally does come out of the shadows, it may prove a formidable weapon for the next iteration of the conservative movement.
And he didn't even mention the Koch connections or the fact that Claire Lehmann was working for Ezra Levant right up until the connections between Rebel Media and the Charlottesville atrocity became well-known.

And there is little doubt that many of these young - and I suspect mostly white - men being cultivated by the IDW are happy to learn via race science and evolutionary psychology that white men are naturally more intelligent (among other virtues) than people who are not white and not men.

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