Politics, recent, Right of Reply

On the IDW: A Response to Eric Weinstein

Over the past few weeks, I’ve published two Quillette articles encouraging the Intellectual Dark Web (IDW) to engage more with the ideas of identity, privilege, and structural oppression (often referred to collectively as “social justice”) that have become prevalent on the left.

On Friday, YouTube media channel Rebel Wisdom released an interview with IDW member Eric Weinstein—conducted by journalist David Fuller—responding to my two articles.

Weinstein’s response, as I understand it, explains why the IDW hasn’t engaged more with these views through the following:

  1. An “upgrade” has occurred recently on the left, redefining social justice activism as authoritarian, bigoted, and anti-intellectual.
  2. This has split the left into two parts: a part that has embraced the upgrade and therefore become authoritarian, bigoted, and anti-intellectual themselves (thus making them impossible to engage with productively); and a part that rejects the upgrade but has been intimidated and pushed out of the discourse.
  3. This second part has itself split into two parts: a part that thinks the left is never going back to what it was and has moved towards the right; and a part that has decided to remain on the left and fight for it to return to what it was (which includes Weinstein himself).

Eric Weinstein

Weinstein provides much more detail in the interview and it’s possible I’m misinterpreting some or all of his claims. (I recommend listening to the interview in full and judging for yourself.) Nevertheless, I’ll proceed with this as the basis for my response.

I agree with Weinstein that there has been an “upgrade” on the left, changing the way social justice activism is viewed. I also agree that this has led to some on the left becoming authoritarian, bigoted, and anti-intellectual (and thus impossible to engage with productively), and others to reject it and either move to the right or try to return the left to what it was pre-upgrade.

However, I think Weinstein is missing a third group: those who have accepted the upgrade, but haven’t become authoritarian, bigoted, or anti-intellectual. This group makes up the majority of the current mainstream cultural left, in my opinion. Relatedly, I disagree with Weinstein that the upgrade is necessarily authoritarian, bigoted, or anti-intellectual. It can be extended in that direction, certainly, but it doesn’t have to be.

Take the typical writer at The Guardian or at Vox, say, as an example of people in this group. For the most part, these are people who wouldn’t dream of demanding that Jordan Peterson’s books be banned or of declaring math a social construct. However, they devote a lot of their attention to pointing out racial or gender disparities, arguing that social norms confer privileges on white people, or suggesting that giving a platform to speakers lends credibility to their views in the eyes of impressionable viewers. One can agree or disagree with any of these views, but there’s nothing necessarily authoritarian, bigoted, or anti-intellectual about them. They’re factual claims, even if they are sometimes presented in emotionally or morally charged language.

I see no reason why the IDW shouldn’t engage more with people and views like this. In fact, Peterson did just that in an interview last year with Channel 4 News journalist Cathy Newman, which made for a very interesting dialogue. (Although it’s important to point out that Newman isn’t necessarily an expert on the positions she was defending as an interviewer.)

*   *  *

Let me elaborate on some of my points.

When I agree with Weinstein that an ”upgrade” has occurred on the left, these are the ideological shifts I’m thinking of:

  1. Increased scepticism towards the view of discourse as a “marketplace of ideas” where rational individuals participate and the best ideas win. Instead, a view of discourse as being intertwined with behaviour and often non-rational, so that participants instead rely on cues to form their opinions. As a consequence, a person’s views can seem legitimate to viewers when presented on a credible platform, or when their views go unchallenged by an interlocutor, or when they’re skilled in presentation, so one can’t necessarily expect the most factual views to be the most convincing.
  2. Increased scepticism towards the view of modern society as being mostly “identity-blind,” where the most competent people rise to the top. Instead, a view of society as being immersed in identity-dependent norms and structures that restrict people’s mobility. For example: class-based mannerisms and lack of role models making it difficult for poor people to rise in society; race influencing a person’s outcome in the justice system, in the health care system, and in the housing market; racially suggestive names influencing a person’s likelihood of getting an interview; gender norms influencing how women leaders are regarded.
  3. Increased scepticism towards the view of knowledge as being mostly identity-blind. Instead, a view of knowledge as being intertwined with identity through different experiences and in ways that can conceal identity-based blindspots.
  4. Increased scepticism towards the view of literature as being universal. Instead, a view that there is no such thing as a “view from nowhere” and that any literature invariably reflects a particular perspective and is tied to a particular identity, which might be unnoticeable to those whom the perspective reflects, but is often quite clear to those it doesn’t.

So, when I argue that the upgrade isn’t necessarily authoritarian, bigoted, or anti-intellectual, what I mean is that these ideological shifts all revolve around factual claims. They can be false, certainly, but there’s nothing inherently authoritarian, bigoted, or anti-intellectual about any of them. They’re attempts to describe society. If anything, they’re more nuanced and intellectual than the views they replace, since they try to take into account the complicated ways that discourse, behaviour, identity, and privilege intertwine.

However, it’s possible to extend them towards authoritarianism, bigotry, and anti-intellectualism. For example, the idea that platforming someone lends legitimacy to their views can be utilised in support of deplatforming people (which is authoritarian). Similarly, the idea that identity confers privilege on certain people can perhaps lead to demonising those people (bigotry). Likewise, the view that knowledge is influenced by identity can be extended to the point of, say, claiming that math is a Western construct (anti-intellectualism). And the idea that literature reflects identity can be extended to the point of wanting all curricula to be judged primarily by the amount of diversity amongst their authors (anti-intellectualism).

The point is that we need to distinguish between the ideas themselves and the activists who apply them overzealously. The challenge is to figure out how to embrace this more nuanced view of society without descending into authoritarianism, bigotry, or anti-intellectualism. It’s not obvious where the line is, but that’s what makes it interesting. There might not be a universally agreed upon line; people may well disagree on where the balance should be between allowing diversity of opinions and legitimising dangerous views, for example. It’s not obvious there is a good answer. This is where the IDW should participate, as these are some of the most important societal discussions. But anyone who doesn’t take these nuances into account isn’t going to be taken seriously.

This “upgrade” isn’t going away. We’re not going to return to a worldview that acts as if society is identity-blind. It clearly isn’t, and the world should be described as it is, not as we want it to be. This means that much of social justice activism and politics will continue to be built around identity, and will focus on things like pushing against social norms and emphasising diversity. It just won’t be possible, it seems to me, to dismiss these things and be taken seriously as a liberal.

Finally, to demonstrate something that clearly falls within the scope of identity-based research and activism that is neither authoritarian, bigoted, nor anti-intellectual, I suggest this New York Times article from last year, which is based on a study that examined class mobility for various demographic groups. What’s interesting about this research—and the Times article—is that it melds together hard data and social analysis to produce an elaborate picture of the challenges black men face in the U.S. that are unique to them.

For the IDW to have long-term success, it needs to be inclusive to research like this and the viewpoints associated with it. In fact, this might be the best way to combat the authoritarianism and other bad elements that exist on the fringes.


Uri Harris is on Twitter @safeortrue


  1. Iarla says

    Great response. Uri. Lots of interesting points. Not sure I completely agree with all, but certainly made me think.

    • doug deeper says

      @Larla & Uri,
      I believe the problem lies with the power of the leftist extremists and the cowardice of the “reasonable” leftists. The Left (to use a simple name) have effective control of nearly every institution in the West. They allow their extremists to rule the campus, social media, the corporate world, Hollywood, old media, etc., and go virtually unpunished.

      You two are saying, what about us, the reasonable Left? My answer would be, you are hiding behind your extremists. There is almost zero pushback by you against the bullying, even violent tactics of the leftist extremists. If the “reasonable” left had any strength whatsoever, the bullying would go down.
      But the bullying grows worse every day.

      Why should the IDF engage those who tolerate the bullying and violence without any effective, or even noticeable pushback. Such tacit supporters of bullies are simply too dangerous because they, consciously or unconsciously, set a trap for the IDF to have to deal with even more bigotry than they already have to deal with.

      I do not think the IDF is avoiding any of the issues you are concerned with, it is you who studiously avoid the issues the IDF is concerned with.

      Those who actually DO PUSHBACK become the IDW and their supporters.
      When you two start to push back against leftist bullying, you will likely have to join the IDW for some shelter. And I do not think you will tolerate the leftist bullies joining the only place left you can find shelter from their tactics.

      • David Bennett says

        Agreeing with the above. The New York Times is one of your “interlocutor” and the are presenting views that are becoming authoritarian but they are a leftist “credible platform”.

      • Iarla says

        @doug: Hmmm, is this just not more character assassination posing as a response/engagement? Some points:

        control of institutions: media is NOT “controlled by leftists”. Fox News?! Right leaning internet / print media is huge! I am from Europe and can see that UK right-wing/Tory press are massively powerful.
        Do you think “leftist” are the corporate funders of the republican party? Or leftist policies are guiding the financial services industry? I will give you some tech companies have such staff policies, but look at what FB or Google actually do!!
        I work in a university and can say that my experience across a number of European universities is not as you suggest. Some social sci leans left, but a medical school/physics/business school is not leftie. Maybe it is different in the states.
        Silent Liberals – In my country, mainstream left and right regularly push back against extreme left perspectives, because THAT is what GETS VOTES for them. Is that not what politicians do? Next to us, the UK Tory part are the same. Political correctness and identity politics is regularly attacked. I see Obama has made a point of regularly attacking it too.

        -twitter is not real life: both liberal and right-wing culture is at its worst online! https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/04/twitter-is-not-america/587770/

        Are you not just repeating conservative attack points? Might these be innaccurate?

        • doug deeper says

          larla, you wrote, “media is NOT “controlled by leftists”. Fox News?! Right leaning internet / print media is huge”

          I am sorry larla, but this statement has no basis in fact.

          It is literally Fox News against the rest of the TV world.

          Every newspaper in the US with the exception of the WSJ editorial (not news dept.) is left.

          I cannot debate someone who sees power in broadcasting and print distributed as you do. To claim something like equal power for the right as the left enjoys in these areas is without evidence, and therefore senseless to discuss with you.

          • Iarla says


            As mentioned, I do not live in U.S. so will not have local knowledge. Conservative media is v healthy over here.

            From where I am much of US media has a right wing balance. See also President of US and Rep recent control of both houses pre-mid term. Hard to see how that would occur without some media giving voters on the right what they wanna hear.

            I have heard this as a conservative talking point often, however..

          • Enrique says

            I find @larla s response interesting for three reasons

            Assassinate your character by implying you did it first.
            Gaslighting you by implying your criticism is hysterical and overblown i.e. you are not in your right mind.
            Pointing to Fox and saying that balances or tips the scale in favor of conservatives. Forgetting everything else from Jezebel to Huffpo to Washington Post, NYTimes, CNN, and more.

            It’s the old ‘your just an angry white guy’s trope.

        • hail to none says

          @Iarla: at least in the United States, the social sciences do not “lean” left– they are overwhelmingly left. See Heterodox.com for more information.

          • Iarla says

            @Enrique: Listen, laddie, do me a favour and point out where I did any of the following:

            -accused anyone of “doing it first”
            -character assassinated anyone
            – gaslighted someone,
            -suggested anyone was being “hysterical”,
            – accused anyone of being “white”.

            There’s a good fella.

        • Mark Brittingham says

          I think that there is a lot of wisdom in what you say. Clearly, Right-wing media have a huge impact on popular opinion. However, I think that you’ll get the push-back that they have little impact on elite opinion outside of that slice that is willing to declare itself out of the social mainstream (bearing the very real repercussions that that may entail). If you are a STEM professor and declare a fondness for Fox News, for example, you’re putting your career at risk at many institutions. If you simply hide it – be “not a leftie” – then you may well get by. Still, very good point that “Right” thinking remains quite popular and powerful is an important insight given how frequently they bemoan their powerlessness in the face of cultural change.

        • RB Glennie says

          The media is of course controlled by leftists – at least in the English speaking world. Every time someone tries to refute this, they bring up Fox News… and … and? I don’t even think `Fox News’ is controlled by rightists in any case.

      • Sam R says

        Spot on, I came here to say exactly this

      • Joel says

        It is hard to engage with these people. We’ve established they are unreasonable. Do you ‘pushback’ against the alt-right and white supremacists? No, of course not. You disagree and keep your distance because there isn’t much dialogue to be had. The reasonable Left wants to engage with you not the authoritarians. It seems to me your pleas of ‘but, but, control your extremists first’ seems like you are making excuses instead of dealing with the very real issues Harris points out.

        • skept-o-punk says


          There is a very BIG difference between “Far-Left” and “Far-Right”. The Far-Right are pariahs that even Conservatives work diligently to distance themselves from. Furthermore they have NO institutional power whatsoever. Whereas the Far-Left is at the very least tolerated, cheered on, or at the most embraced as some sort of “misguided but essentially well-meaning individuals working on the correct side of history”. The Far-Left has True Institutional Power as they control Academia, MSM, Hollywood, Music, and much of Politics. To suggest the Reasonable Left simply “keeps their distance from the kooks” just like the Conservatives do is truly disingenuous.

      • TWC says

        This is exactly what Weinstein points out, CLEARLY, in thst interview. That it is conveniently omitted is telling.

    • Amon Sûl says

      This Response is disappointing. It’s identity politics 101: collectivism, the primacy of group identities over the individual, the primacy of power over values and so on. It’s intellectually lazy and it runs into the ever-present intersectionality issue: you can’t define ‘identity’ properly as a concept of any value, and even if you could, you can fragment any given person along an infinite number of different characteristics until you get to the individual. You can’t stop fragmenting once you’ve started, and who gets to decide which identities folks belong to, and therefore to which grievances they are entitled, and which corrections and reparations, etc? You? I doubt it. The Intellectual Dark Web isn’t ‘not engaging’ with these ideas. They fundamentally oppose their philosophical basis – i.e. collectivism.

  2. Kanel Giffel says

    “I see no reason why the IDW shouldn’t engage more with people and views like this. In fact, Peterson did just that in an interview last year with Channel 4 Newsjournalist Cathy Newman, which made for a very interesting dialogue. (Although it’s important to point out that Newman isn’t necessarily an expert on the positions she was defending as an interviewer.) ”

    Did we even watch the same interview? Interesting dialogue in which one person is constantly trying to smear and misrepresent their views. It wasn’t even a conversation.

    • Iarla says

      Agree that it was a terrible interview. She actually made his case for him.

      JP is a good man for a strawman smear himself. Here is is being called on it. Note his failure to name or effectively explain any “PoMoNeoMarxists”. Zero…


      • trumfnator says

        This one Gotcha!-Moment from Zizek, although valid, is in itself a strawman of some sort. Only because JBP wasn’t able to name one (what does it proof, exactly?), doesn’t mean there is none. You would find various names of “PoMoNeoMarxists” at Evergreen, I suppose. Watch the documentary about Bret Weinstein and Evergreen and you’ll find them.

        Besides, Zizek was only arguing against the label Peterson was giving to those people. They both agreed on the problem.

        When JBP would call them with the correct label (Critical Theorists? Progressive-Liberalists?), the whole critique would stay the same.

        • Iarla says

          @trumfnater: Is it? Zizek corrected him on the one link to ((marxists)) quite clearly. There is zero link to Marxism, was the clear message from the exchange. Focault is the only name JP gave, which is innaccurate.

          Critical theories are also very against Marxism, and are different from post modernists. So….? My take was that JP read that Looney Stephen Hicks and has run with it… an objectiveist conspiracy theory. An upgrade on John Birch society?

          Zizek is critical of political correctness and victimhood theories (grievance studies). Zizek’ s criticism though, is that they are not revolutionart enough, a view he is able to clear argue without making a conspiracy theory. (I don’t agree with Z or GSs Btw, but also don’t like JPs grifting).

          • Heike says

            Simply put, Cultural Marxism is a facet of Marxism which is not about economics, but instead about culture. This means applying Marxist principles such as equity, wealth distribution, internationalism (i.e globalism) and class structures (i.e identity politics) onto a cultural critique of society. You need no Frankfurt School here. You need no Jewish scapegoat. If you’re not buying this, perhaps a good idea would be to look at the social justice movement and ask yourself exactly why it is that the majority of the flagbearers are self-proclaimed Marxists? Why do his protesters literally show up with hammer and sickle flags?

            JBP never suggests a conspiracy among the neo-Marxist Left. Many independent people acting independently in accordance with the same ideology still make a movement, and that is what everyone is concerned about.

            In the 1920s, the vast majority of Marxist-influenced academics were in Europe and America. They had expected that a war would cause the Workers to rise up, and rule in a Marxist Revolution, expecting this to spread after the Bolshevik uprising in Russia. When the ‘Communist uprising’ did not spread, two leading lights (Gramsci and Adorno) came to the same conclusion: A Revolution could not be guaranteed success (or to last, if it were successful) – if based only on Traditional Marxism; Western society was too ingrained with Christianity and the traditional values that it espoused, that the culture had to be changed first – before the Revolution could take root. Therefore – Christianity and traditional values must be destroyed. This is Cultural Marxism.

            Richard R. Weiner, 1981. Cultural Marxism and Political Sociology (SAGE Library of Social Research).


            A thorough examination and analysis of the tensions between political sociology and the culturally oriented Marxism that emerged in the 60s and 70s is presented in this volume.

            Dennis L. Dworkin, 1997. Cultural Marxism in Postwar Britain: History, the New Left, and the Origins of Cultural Studies.


            In this intellectual history of British cultural Marxism, Dennis Dworkin explores one of the most influential bodies of contemporary thought. Tracing its development from beginnings in postwar Britain, through its various transformations in the 1960s and 1970s, to the emergence of British cultural studies at Birmingham, and up to the advent of Thatcherism, Dworkin shows this history to be one of a coherent intellectual tradition, a tradition that represents an implicit and explicit theoretical effort to resolve the crisis of the postwar British Left.

          • Erick Crago says

            Looney Stephen Hicks? There you go, assassinating character again. Derrida and Foucault are the one who think everything is subjective, except their own statements. The ego that swallowed a whole generation.

            Alan Sokal affair? Postmodern generator? Just artifacts? And Hicks was not the only critic. Noam Chomsky isn’t a fan either. And he’s pretty left. There are more who compare postmodernism and communism, while acknowledging they shouldn’t coexist together. But that’s doublethink for you

        • Ray Andrews says


          Our state religion hides in plain sight by virtue of having no official name, no proscribed places of worship and no written liturgy. However the ritual we saw at Evergreen came very close to being a religious service, did it not?

          • Stephen Pierson says

            Yes, it did. It reminded me of what I read of what happened at Salem, Mass, in the early 17th century.

          • Iarla says

            @Ormond Otvos: I don’t have to. Zizek called him on it, which made his lack of clarity eminently clear. JPs opening about the commie manifesto also demonstrated he had not got a great understanding of the main attack you he has been using.

            I am not even a fan of socialism, so have no problem with his attacking it. Even with this, I can tell when someone is busted in their grifting.

          • Iarla says

            @ Erick Crago: I would agree with all of that. If you like Hicks, grand. I don’t. Life goes on…

            I am no fan of PoMo scholarship either, myself. Derrida was always a bollix to read. I just think Uri makes a very mild point about balance and listening. I don’t really see the controversy.

        • Andrew Roddy says

          Is not the astonishing thing about Zizek’s simple question to Peterson that no one had ever put it to him before? I suggest that this might because his interlocutors to date had been comprised of either those who were happy to uncritically buy into his postmodern, neo-marxist shtick or those who wanted to go down his throat over his egregious challenge to their sacred cows. ‘Jordan, who actually are these people you’ve being banging on about for years?’ belonged in the realm of the bleeding obvious but nobody asked. Nobody pointed out that the emporer was, in some regards, immodestly dressed. It was timely. Peterson needs some new material.

          • neilkenny2 says

            @Heike: Thank you for suggesting those books. I have not come across them and can see that sections are available on Google books. Dworkin also write about Ireland where I live, so I will be able to get a perspective on his view more generally from how he writes about here.

            As regards the suggestion that Adorno, one of the central figures in the Frankfurt school where Critical Theory originated was “a marxist”, I am afraid that can only be a polemic. The Frankfurt school were withering in their criticism of socialism. Suggesting that they were dishonest in this is surely an evidence free proposition. No? Is there any text where Adorno proposes the destruction of Christianity?? I have never see any.

            He did criticise the overt focus on technological modernism. In fact he also suggested that this was a problem due to the lack of focus on the non-rational aspects of humanity and culture that many religions also focus on. See the seminal “Education after Auschwitz” which is good at clarify this, and definitely is NOT suggesting “marxism”.


            I realise this has been a suggestion on the right-wing academic fringes for a great many years, but that does not make it factually accurate, or a true reflection of the work it seeks to attack. In fact, up to the late 70 in europe it was not necessary to attack marxist socialism as it was still a popular political force within many national politics (it still is in France believe it or not!).

            What many contemporary activists appear, to my eye anyway, to be promoting is actually NOT communist/marxism. Identity politics does not appear to have much links at all with Marxism. JP did not make a good case with Zizek to suggest a clear way of understanding his proposition that it did. Misrepresenting anti-communist/anti/marxists like Adorno or Foucauld is surely not a good strategy, both of these examples were explicit in their criticism of marxism.

            Finally, even some modern US politicians who claim to “democratic socialists” do not even appear to understand what they are talking about. Bernie, when asked to explain his policies, often outlines clearly socially democratic policies. Social democracy is essentially mainstream centrist European politics (Germany, Holland, Sweden …etc) hardly revolution!

          • Graeme Scott says

            Peterson did mention a study of social scientists in which I think it was 25% actually self identify as marxists. I can confirm that in Canada professors (and textbooks!) present Marxism as a useful lens through which to view the world, that is when they aren’t openly endorsing it. For example David Harvey is the darling of the geography department at my university – he is a pretty clear case of a PoMo Marxist. Also, at least one instructor at my school simultaneously claims to be both a postmodernist and a Marxist. I think the alliance/affiliation between PoMo and Marxism is a real phenomenon, despite the apparent contradiction. Either one is bad enough..

      • Ray Andrews says


        “Note his failure to name or effectively explain any “PoMoNeoMarxists”. Zero…”

        Is that fair? It’s like asking someone who claims it’s a nice day to point to the niceness. Peterson identifies a synthesis of two world-views. It is a zeitgeist that is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. It is our state religion, it is the church with no name yet many names: progressivism, correctness, SJ, identitarianism, etc. Students at any university are presumed to be communicants and are burned if found not to be. You can’t make a list of believers in PoMo/Marxism anymore than you can make a list of fish who believe in water.

        • Iarla says

          That isn’t the point! Neither Uri, nor I are claiming extremists are a problem. They certainly are. As is offense grievance activism.

          The point is JP has based his entire recent celebrity career on a number of conspiracy theories. These are:

          -NeoMarxistPoMo: Post modernists have Zero to do with Marxism. That is an idea he got from Hicks. It is an attempt to revive the bircher international communist conspiracy.

          Critical theorists (also opposed to Marxism) and PoMo academics are trying to destroy western civilisation. Lol! They are annoying alright, but are just being critical of existing society. Argue with them, they aren’t lizard aliens.
          Trans agenda enforced by Big Gov….. guess how many Canadian have been prosecuted for trans/gender pronoun infractions??… Zero. The Canadian Law society has corrected JPs misinformation on that issue a number of times… bit the conspiracy theory still lives.

          Extreme political correctness and identity politics ARE a big problem. Conspiracy theories are not the answer. Nor is demonizing anyone who hold liberal views.

          • Anonymouse says

            @Iarla re: “guess how many Canadian have been prosecuted for trans/gender pronoun infractions??… Zero.”

            There is that guy who was enjoined by the Supreme Court of BC from referring to his FtM daughter by female pronouns or her female name, on pain of prosecution for family violence. The court also forbade him from speaking to journalists about the case. To my limited understanding this wasn’t a prosecution under the law that JP became famous for objecting to, and may not specifically represent an example of the conspiracy theory you’re referencing here. I would say it certainly does provide an example of “Big Government” enforcing the trans agenda, however, not to mention represent a risible intrusion by the government into a man’s private beliefs and freedom of expression.

          • Saw file says

            “The point is JP has based his entire recent celebrity career on a number of conspiracy theories.”
            I was following JBP’s vids on youtube before his recent ‘celebrity’, and that statement is utter nonsense.
            His more recent celebrity has more to do with his ‘down home’ method of delivering a common sense approach to positively managing one’s own Life issues, than it has to do with “conspiracy theories” (wholly blaming others for one’s own issues).

          • Defenstrator says

            I can’t help but feel you are desperately looking at pretty trees in order to avoid seeing the dark forest. When people talk about Cultural Marxism it is a comparison of observed behaviour. Marxist’s obsessed over the inequality of class and defined anyone in the bourgeoisie as the oppressor of the workers. After a lot of murder and stupidity it became apparent that people weren’t going to follow them off that cliff to societal suicide. But the idea didn’t go away. The modern form is to declare white peoples are the oppressors and do the exactly the same thing but with a different group to hate. Needless to say people who are moral, intelligent, and not completely ignorant of history think this a bad idea.

          • Readacus says

            I agree that I don’t know of any prosecutions either, but how far are away are they? The Supreme Court in BC ruled that disagreeing with a 14 year old about taking hormones constituted family violence. The kid can’t have a beer but if her father expresses his opinion he could lose his parenting rights. I would argue that encouraging youth not to accept their bodies and go straight to drugs is also very harmful.


            This pseudonymed article with the father’s story is good for the context if you find the story interesting.


          • Tzimisces says

            “Critical theorists (also opposed to Marxism)”
            This is just dishonest- the Frankfurt School is well-known as a branch of Marxist thought.

            “Argue with them”- a lot of people have done just that and are being deplatformed, sacked and bullied for their troubles.

          • Graeme Scott says

            Peterson definitely doesn’t demonize the entire left, in fact he often makes the point that both the left and the right have valid points and both are required for a healthy political system.

            Also – you’re wrong about there being no prosecutions in Canada for misgendering. Bill Whatcott is being fined $55000, and the judge said “truth is not a defence”. I believe there is also a woman in the UK being prosecuted. Sorry, but this is worth worrying about!

        • Dero says

          Read Bloom’s ‘Closing of the American Mind’ (1987): the leftists from the 60s on were obsessed with culture and didn’t care about economics, but were ‘Marxists’ in that they hated the bourgeoisie. What “cultural Marxism” signifies (not Bloom’s term) is the thoroughgoing application of EGALITARIANISM to everything, i.e. the denial of the legitimacy of any kind or hierarchical ordering, any better or worse – of individuals, ways of life, cultures, civilizations. This is indeed, as you say, “a zeitgeist that is everywhere.” Bloom details how the academic post-modern left turned the resolutely anti-egalitarian Nietzsche into a left-winger (pp.146-52, 214, 221, 224-8,312-4).

          Our lobster messiah’s defense of hierarchies against post-modern Marxists makes sense if placed in this Bloomian tradition.

      • doug deeper says

        Oh my, my, these labels can be so confusing …. to the naive… or an obfuscator!

        JP answered Zizek perfectly when he said there are numerous studies of academics showing large percentages of academics are self-avowed Marxists. Back in 2012, the National Association of Scholars’ report, “A Crisis of Competence,” showed many of these studies, for instance, “The liberal professors, Gross and Simons, found that one quarter of the nation’s sociology professors self-identify as Marxists; in all of the social sciences one in five are Marxists.” It is likely higher today. Also, professors often hide their Marxism, so no doubt the number is, if anything, higher still.

        While the labels may be confusing to a novice, it is clear that a very high percentage of American professors are Marxists. Let me make this point a little clearer for Zizek, larla and those who choose to obfuscate the issue. Whether a professor or politician identifies as a Marxist, socialist, post-modern progressive, leftist identitarian, virtually every one is a radical anti-capitalist, anti-Christian, anti-Israel, anti-American who tolerates antifa, BLM, and all other violent leftists to shut down debate from anyone who does not toe their party line.
        I suspect the reason Zizek, larla and Uri may be blind to this is that they have never entered a campus as a conservative, practicing Christian, capitalist, Zionist or military veteran. Perhaps, they do not know anyone who has.

        • Iarla says

          @sawfile: His advice work/self-help work is, by far, the most positive and skilled aspect of JPs contribution. He has the ability to reach people that few others can, often folk who really need to get out of the nihilistic pit too. I admire this.

          It is, however, undoubtedly true that he got widely famous for the Trans rights and NeoMarxistPoMo conspiracy theories, both of which are quite dark.His thoughts on both of these are also very innaccurate.

          @dero: Cheers, I’ll check that book out. Without having read it, appears to be a similar conflation of critical theorists criticisms of society with marxism. The central being that politics never ends and always serves the interest of on section of a society but may also work to the detriment of out her societal members. Obviously, that is very different from Marx.

    • Daniel says

      Agreed. Or when Sam Harris spoke to Ezra Klein? I understand what you are asking for – I feel most IDW members (and followers) would agree with some of your points above, I think you and Eric Weinstein could have a productive discussion – is this on the cards at all?

    • mirrormere says

      Here’s one: “In spite of everything I’ve said, I believe in some amount of redistributive justice, including taking away about 99.9 percent of the fortunes of Bezos, Zuckerberg, and others, and turning the big tech companies into public utilities. I just think this should be done with good laws and broad public support, in such a way as to make it inevitable and ultimately painless for everyone (after all, these men would still be multimillionaires after the great confiscation).”

      Great confiscation. That’s unique.


      • neilkenny2 says

        @mirrormere: Well, I would settle with corporations and billionaires myself just agreeing to pay their taxes. Personally, I would not agree with the lads suggestions.

        More relevant, however, is how you feel quoting some randomer “proves” JPs great commie conspiracy claim. Is it not possible always to find some extremist say dopey stuff??!

  3. JB says

    I reject the assumptions behind all the premises.

    There are individual racists but society is not racist overall and its constantly getting better. Identity blindness was never something anybody assumed was established. However we strive for it and in doing so we get closer and closer over time. The proponents of the “upgrade” smear those of us who stick to the ideal as racist. They instead demand more attention to identity. So much so that it is not uncommon to see them demanding a return to segregation because us privileged ones are so abhorrent they can’t stand being around us. Their contempt is so bare that they don’t even try to hide it anymore and yet we are the bigots?

    The privilege lie is designed to undermine merit which while far from perfectly implemented is still the baseline everybody works from. Society itself would fall apart if we ever truly broke from this paradigm.

    Good ideas always win in the end. We know because society keeps gradually improving over time. If the marketplace of ideas was equal on both the good and bad side there would be no liberal societies that abhor racism. There would be none that abolished slavery and consider it an absolute moral atrocity. Humanity as a whole would have stagnated morally and culturally and be in the same state it was thousands of years ago. Good ideas win because eventually they get put to the test vs the bad ideas and shown to be superior.

    The final assumption I will address is the one that those of us on the “IDW side” refuse to engage with these “upgraded” ideas. Interesting the author here chooses to challenge a Weinstein with this premise. Brett lost his job, was threatened with physical violence and had to give up something he loved which he had spent years nurturing. Why? Because he engaged with these “upgraded” ideas. WE ARE ENGAGING. Its the other side that isn’t engaging. Instead they go straight to the tactics that lead to civil war.

    • Iarla says

      … but, you have ignored his main premise and gone straight to smearing him as an intersectional extremist/SJW. This is precisely the form of non-engagement he was pointing to. Pointing at someone, paraphrasing their views as dangerous and extremist, and suggesting they are “crazy” is not “engagement”.

      He is trying to make the suggestion that not everyone who hold some of the listed perspectives is also the kind of person who attacked BW. In fact, the vast majority are not, and do not support that.


      • JB says

        The problem is the extremists that did those things to Bret had the power to do those things. They also repeat it regularly in other places many of which are not university campuses. Its really hard to accept that the majority of people who hold the beliefs outlined in this article are not in the “everybody who disagrees with me is a monster and I can do whatever horrible things I want to them” camp when lives are getting ruined pretty much daily by the ideology.

        • Iarla says

          You are entitled to your belief, but how sure are you that you are correct?

          I would point out that right wing “deplatforming” or “call-outs” are also a regular thing. See below. Is it not true that:

          most extremists are arseholes (religious, anti vaxxers, climate change deniers etc), &
          there is a profitable industry ongoing from writing outrage piece about loopy student protests


        • Ray Andrews says


          “lives are getting ruined pretty much daily by the ideology”

          Some folks are interested in definitions and etymologies and lists of believers. What concerns me is that real people are being savaged by mobs of zealots and how you name those zealots and whether or not they are really Marxists is IMHO a secondary question. What is perhaps more relevant is how many of these zealots there really are, and it does seem that their power is out of proportion to their numbers. Like pornography, we may not be able to define it, but we know it when we see it and in my view it needs to be stopped. Dunno, one of the best labels I’ve seen for the snowflake/SJWs is simply ‘spoiled children’.

    • M. says

      “Good ideas always win in the end. We know because society keeps gradually improving over time. If the marketplace of ideas was equal on both the good and bad side there would be no liberal societies that abhor racism. There would be none that abolished slavery and consider it an absolute moral atrocity. Humanity as a whole would have stagnated morally and culturally and be in the same state it was thousands of years ago. Good ideas win because eventually they get put to the test vs the bad ideas and shown to be superior.”

      I understand what you are trying to say, but be very careful when arguing this. Your argument sounds very similar to the concept of Whig history, a predominantly liberal point of view that believes that history is a narrative of continuous progress. This point of view came under fire primarily in the 20th century after the horrors of events like World War I and World War II deeply challenged the concept of society undergoing continuous progress, not only for the mass destruction and death but also how the “fruits of progress” such as technology and industrialization were used to facilitate such horrors.

      Most individuals probably view slavery and racism as horrible, I do not dispute that. But you have to be very careful in how you frame your argument. Whig history is not exclusively criticized from either the left or the right; there are likely fairly reasonable individuals on both sides who have reasons to question the idea of society undergoing continuous progress. I am not sure if you actually believe the Whig history narrative or not, but be careful not to echo its sentiments, for Whig history is fairly easy to debunk.

      • JB says

        The basis for your objection is an assumption that my premise requires things to work perfectly all the time. Of course there were backslides, many of which were horrific. Incidentally look at the lessons we learned from those times and how we have improved society based on those lessons. Even in the worst cases we have turned it around into improvement.

        • M. says

          Aware that I may contradict myself, I will be clear that I will use the term “improvement” from the perspective that there are actions that are inherently morally wrong, such as murder,
          rape, torture, abuse, theft, lying, etc. that are agreed upon in most civillizatons.

          So my main critique of your response is going to rely on the premise that some of the consequences of a liberal society that are inherently detrimental cannot be corrected via liberal means
          without contradicting liberalism in itself.

          Probably the best example of illustrating this is the change in sexual norms. As this is highly thorny issue, I should probably narrow this down as otherwise we could theoretically go into
          hours of debate on the issue: I will critique same-sex marriage, transgender rights, as well as a skin-deep critique of the sexual revolution.

          I should probably start with the sexual revolution. This is inevitably an event that relies on liberal premises of liberty and equal rights; cultural de-stigmatisation of lifestyles
          outside of a heterosexual nuclear family unit is not likely to be supported by another means except via illiberal distortions of Marxism or progressivism, both of which inevitably stemmed
          from the roots that liberalism historically stemmed from in the first place. It is inevitable that there are highly catastrophic consequences from the sexual revolution that have poisoned
          relations between the sexes since the 1960s; men and women being more unhappy than ever, suicide rates, mental health, many of these things can be tied directly to the ideals of the sexual

          So why do I bring this up specifically? Well, these events are unlikely to happen outside of a liberal or illiberal progressive society for obvious reasons; even a totalitarian state is
          going to want to gender roles that will facilitate the continuation of the state in itself, even if some concessions such as legalization of abortion are made. Reversing these trends
          in an effective manner involves reversing a number of the main vines that branch from the sexual revolution, which would involve restricting declared rights under the law such as
          same-sex marriage and transgender rights, both of which I will critique later. Such actions are highly illiberal because they would be viewed under a liberal lens as a restriction of
          liberty or equal rights. Yet, not restricting them can perpetuate the same issues each sex is experiencing in the modern day.

          (As an aside: not mentioning birth control specifically may seem disingenuous, but it falls under the questions I raised earlier and discussing birth control, I would argue, needs a lot
          more economic and demographic context to make a fully coherent secular argument against).

          Now, I am going to critique same-sex marriage. This does not seem like something that is inherently harmful under liberal ideals, but it is inevitable that there will be consequences from
          this. From a survivalist perspective, strict monogamous relationships are meant to restrict sexual behavior from becoming inherently destructive. Examples of destructive behavior that
          very few people here would disagree with include sodomizing animals and children and encouraging children to embrace drag. Now I am not going to argue that same-sex marriage is, by any means,
          a moral equivalent to these two behaviors because I find doing such would be challenging given the extremity of the last two cases I described and is not necessarily relevant to the point
          I am trying to make.

          Why exactly should one oppose same-sex marriage? Well, it primarily has to deal with the effects of trying to veer from the traditional model of relationships. Granted, I have no intentions
          of arguing the morality of same-sex relationships or whether gays and bisexuals should have rights (on the rights issue, I agree in the context that putting gays to death, encouraging harassment,
          discriminating against them for jobs where their sexuality is mostly irrelevant, etc. is counterproductive and morally wrong). I instead, am going to argue from the premise that the model
          of a monogamous, stable, heterosexual, and nuclear marriage is the most stable, commendable, and ideal relationship.

          The issue with same-sex marriage, from a secular perspective, is more utilitarian than under religious perspectives. From a utilitarian perspective, the model of marriage I upheld is primarily
          one of stability, one that is used to encourage procreation without encouraging destructive sexual behavior, something that has been well known for centuries but has been undermined
          to an extent over the past 50 years. Same-sex marriage redefines marriage to an issue of love; granted, most modern heterosexual marriages in the west involve the concept of romantic ties
          but this is mostly possible through the sheer affluence and comfort that is available to most of the population in the modern day. If modern society was extremely impoverished, arranged
          marriages are much more practical than romantic marriages simply due to the hardships individuals in society will face; that is undeniable. Marriages in themselves, when done properly,
          are highly stable because the sexual restrictiveness and the complimentarity of male-female behavioral characteristics are conducive to carrying out tasks necessary for survival. This, in
          turn, is highly synced into human psychology in order to perpetuate it. Same-sex marriage undermines this by completely ignoring the reasons marriages exist in the first place. Yet, it
          is difficult under a liberal viewpoint to justify keeping same-sex marriage illegal because these issues are assumed to be more flexible than critics believe. This simply isn’t the case;
          the traditional matching between sex and gender is not universal, but is still highly prevalent, and most traditional views of sex and gender were reflections of this. Trying to bend
          the boundaries, in these cases, is not something that can be done recklessly, and same-sex marriage is, in itself, a highly reckless loosening of sexual constraints.

          Transgender rights (specifically the rights most modern activists demand) has its own fair share of issues that are contradictory to address under a liberal society. I doubt most people
          on Quillette would deny that transgender issues are highly difficult to address, and in some cases, have gone too far, especially when it comes to the issues of transgenderism and children.
          There are likely many arguments to support this, from Debra Soh arguing that these pursuits are, in fact, homophobic to more conservative arguments of mental health and/or precedent.
          Although there are people who argue that some people may be born as a “male in a female’s body” or a “female in a male’s body”, it is not entirely clear how effective of a treatment
          gender transitioning is; this lack of clear data makes it difficult to justify the treatment in itself. How does one know that this extreme form of treatment is a genuinely effective?
          The risks of people making decisions they will later regret, self-fulfilling prophecies, and undermining the rights of others by promoting transgender rights is well too-known.
          Granted, arguing that I am strawmanning you with the transgender question probably has more legitimacy than the same-sex marriage issue, as it can be argued that transgenderism can reflect
          a degree of ignorance and failure by the psychology community. But it is far too easy for individuals to justify transgenderism under liberal ideals, and it is quite clear from what we have
          seen that criticizing transgender issues are highly taboo.

          In essence, legitimizing transgenderism without awareness of how effective of a treatment transitioning actually is is, in itself, a bad idea. However, if transgenderism is in itself a
          highly destructive concept, due to the structure of liberal ideals and how arguing that transgenderism is not protected under liberty and equal rights is extremely difficult, then trying
          to address the problem is not likely to happen under a liberal and democratic society.

          I probably have some weak points here, but I was trying to make a case of how improvements under a liberal society, including “necessary” improvements, are not necessarily guaranteed to
          happen under a liberal society, and how some interpretations of improvements can, in themselves, be quite the opposite. I am open to critique.

          • JB says

            @M. I don’t agree with the reasons for the problems you identify.

            The sexual revolution could explain some of the unhappiness however it also happened with higher expectation of women engaging in the workforce. Which has numerous unmeasured consequences as well. We honestly cannot attribute the problems brought up here with only one source and how much any given factor contributes has not been effectively measured.

            You talk a lot on same sex marriage. I have a simple counter to all of it. Homosexuals have been recorded to exist in every society ever. Humanity and society are still here. Allowing homosexuals to engage in a resource sharing contract with each other does not interfere with heterosexual people’s ability to do the same. They aren’t removing heterosexual people from the pool of people engaging in marriage when doing this. Homosexual people work and pay taxes like anybody else. Denying them access to this specific type of contract has no reasonable objection.

            Trans rights is super thorny but only because it has a giant hysterical apparatus around it decrying trans oppression. You know why the T gets tacked onto GLBT so easily? Because as homosexuality has become more visible and accepted so has transsexualism. It fits into that same space in our psyche. So while yes, trans people have had some tough times. Those tough times have been a direct parallel to the tough times of the homosexual community. Including in the improvements won in the various civil rights movements. Are there still individual bigots that try to abuse homosexuals and trans people? Yes. Does that means society as a whole is abusive towards them? No.

            All of the backlash against “trans rights” has been the result of the trans movement making power plays and overstepping. You mentioned how they are going after children. It is absolutely absurd to declare a child that hasn’t even undergone puberty to understand and make long last health decisions related to sex. Its not even reasonable while they are undergoing or just after puberty too because almost everybody undergoes some confusion in that period. Its one of the longest lasting and well established societal memes. So the trans movement going after kids like this should provoke a backlash.

        • Svechin says

          Hmm, I’m not sure why anyone would “have to be careful” when arguing anything.

          Labeling something “Whig History” is a framing device to lump a thinking process together and then criticise it.

          The problem with the analysis of WW1 &2 being halts in human progress is that it was looked at from the perspective of people suffering the consequences of those wars personally, not through a lens of long term of historical progression. Their lens or viewing was on the 20-50 year scale not a true historical scale of say 200-500 years.

          The great wars of the 20th century were explosions of reaction to economic change, societal change caused by industrialisation leading to political ideologies arising that were fundamentally opposed to one another. Communism, Facism, Autocracy and Democracy were always going to warfight at some level. The question was at what level and how effective in implementing political change to their national benefit would those wars be?

          The positives of the wars were post war stability, a new economic order planet wide and a reluctance to reignite those wars, especially with the nuclear weapons available.

          Until WW 1 & 2 (which were basically one long war with a break) had been fought out many politicians and military men still assumed that grand strategy could achieve quick political ends as in the Napoleonic wars, Franco-Prussian war, Russo-Japanese war, American Civil war etc (signs that this view was flawed appear in all those wars to one degree or another -states came back from defeat, wars dragged on even after supposedly decisive battles, new armies were created etc).

          They had not truly understood the resiliency of a modern state and the resulting industrial power they could put forward. Those wars being fought finally changed that thinking, hopefully permanently. To that end they were progress for all of humanity when looked at through a wider lens.

    • ParticleMan says

      Well said, JB.

      Identity blindness was never something anybody assumed was established. However we strive for it and in doing so we get closer and closer over time. The proponents of the “upgrade” smear those of us who stick to the ideal as racist. They instead demand more attention to identity.

      Exactly. The current crop of progressives have massively over-corrected, lost sight of the destination – and redefined the destination. I didn’t sign up for getting on the wrong plane.

  4. Closed Range says

    The typical writer at the Guardian is usually the one feeding the bigoted left with outrage opinion pieces, and lets the mob do their dirty work for them. Given their tacit endorsement of left wing bigotry, they deserve to be labelled as bigoted as well. You can substitute the guardian for the new York times etc (or any other publication that regularly uses the words “white supremacy”, “oppression”, “decolonisation” etc)

    Sorry Uri, but I don’t think that pumping out any number of articles will help your point which was on shaky foundations from the start. It looks like you’re now shifting the goal posts by attempting to split hairs on portions of the left. Broadly almost none of the Quillette readership that commented on previous articles agrees with you.

  5. the gardner says

    I really don’t see how the three points described as “upgrades” can help but lead to authoritarianism, bigotry and anti-intellectualism. As I’ve read and re-read the three points, I found myself saying “so what?” to many of them and questioning the veracity of others. Literature tied to an identity—- So?? The most factual views aren’t the most convincing? Of course they aren’t, the most persuasive views are the most convincing even when they aren’t the most true. Persuasion is more powerful than facts, (just ask someone who has lectured on biotech crops to audiences who had been persuaded they were frankenfoods. Facts didn’t matter.) Of course knowledge is influenced by experience and thus identity— So? Class-based mannerisms make it difficult to rise in society? what, is it so hard to learn a few manners? Anyone ever go to another country for a while and have to learn a few do’s and don’ts in manners?
    America has become a rich and successful country, so much so that people and academicians actually have time to obsess about stuff like identity politics and indulge in the grievance that follows. Aren’t there more worthwhile fields of study than this?

    • Iarla says

      @The gardener: Hmmm, you appear to be conflating the points Uri made about liberal perspectives as :
      – anti progess/ technology
      – anti- American culture (western).

      This is clearly a Strawman. No?

  6. eurocrat says

    Uri Harris: “(4. ideological shift) Increased scepticism towards the view of literature as being universal. Instead, a view that there is no such thing as a “view from nowhere” and that any literature invariably reflects a particular perspective and is tied to a particular identity, which might be unnoticeable to those whom the perspective reflects, but is often quite clear to those it doesn’t”

    Uri Harris descrining these sifts: “If anything, they’re more nuanced and intellectual than the views they replace, since they try to take into account the complicated ways that discourse, behaviour, identity, and privilege intertwine”

    Universal does not mean a “view from nowhere”. Universal means that it can be applied, well, universally!

    I am not British, yet I can read works of Tolkien, George Orwell, John Le Carre (Smiley and pre-Smiley phase) or Shakespeare and find universal value in each of them. I am not Russian either, yet I can read, understand and identify with characters and messages in works of Dostoyevski, or Tolstoy, or Gogol, or any other great Russian writer.

    The fact of the matter is – great literature is universal – that is the very quality of great literate – and those who cannot comprehend it shouldn’t be even writing about literature.

    So, there is nothing nuanced and intellectual about fourth ideological shift. It is not a shift, rather an impotent, anti-intellectual, and yes, racist attempt to diminish the value of great works of literature by people who cannot comprehend great literature, or can and are angry that it has mostly been written by a race they hate, and thus should be ignored. And mocked. And told to bugger off.

    • Iarla says

      I think you are being a mite facetious. For example, would you argue that Historical literacture/texts do not reflect the perspective of the writer/culture/historical era of the writer. No?

      I doubt the author was talking about Shakespeare, who I would agree certainly has a Universalist appeal in many way. Maybe the issue is a poor scripting of the point he wished to make.

      Certainly, there remain serious issue with the scholarly literature in many domains, such as Economics or psychology that have led to replication crises and a loss of trust. This speaks much more toward the pt 4 you are critical of.

      What do you think?

      • eurocrat says

        Well, where I come from, literature is a work of art, not an educational tool in form of an historical text. If the problem is “poor scripting” then it’s the fault of the author of the text, meaning Uri Harris. I am not responsible to decipher what he really wanted to say, he had an abundance of space to make his point clear.

        So, in understanding literature as work of art, the author of the text is clearly wrong.

        Economics? There are many schools of thought and I really wish such pluralism could be observed in other social sciences.

        Psychology is a special case, as it is ruled by psychologists, obviously. Who cannot stand the fact that they are neither psychiatrists, nor psychoanalysts or psychotherapists, nor respected outside of the world of under-educated people who think that being a psychologist provides a person with some deeper insight. It does not. Psychology today serves anti-liberal progressives, meaning tribalists, identity politics promoters and corporations in order to ensure that some crumbs are left for them from contemporary divide et impera politics.

        To conclude, author did not provide a single argument for his fourth ideological shift. Instead, he makes a lazy argument that all ideological shifts he described are “more nuanced and intellectual than the views they replace”. Well, I do not find a single argument provided for the fourth one. So, I am not buying it, not for all the tea in China, not for all North Carolina.

        • Iarla says

          You clearly understand neither Economics or psychology at all.

          Fair point re: the scripting of the piece. It was only my suggestion either way, for which I could be wrong.

          Best leave it at that. Good luck.

          • Erick Crago says

            No, he seemed to understand it quite well. Economics needs plurality of theories, as they are disparate and emergent. Psychology has become monolithic and rigid within a pseudo-liberal framework. But impugning someone’s understanding to make a point is telling.


        • Tzimisces says

          I’m sorry but I don’t buy your characterisation of either economics or psychology.
          Neoclassical economics still dominates both teaching and research, although modified a bit by (some) behavioural concerns. Try getting a Post-Keynesian or Austrian article published in a top economics journal!
          Proper psychology i.e. away from a lot of the woo practised by psychotherapists, is a rigorous academic subject that is at the heart of the revolution in cognitive science.

          Having said that, at least both subjects are trying to be objective about social reality. A lot of the humanities have been reduced to ideological posturing in the service of ludicrous political ideas.

          • Marginalized in the middle says

            It is nice to know that there are sane psychologists out there. “Official” psychology, i.e., the APA, is a major purveyor of intersectionality, racial grievance-mongering, and politically motivated suppression of opinion.

      • David of Kirkland says

        Why should any art be universal? That doesn’t make sense as it always has the perspective of the person who created it, limited by their time/culture.
        Shakespeare isn’t universal. Few people around the world actually read and understand and like his work.
        Why would anything a human being create or do be universal? That just makes so little intuitive or practical sense?

  7. David Fuller says

    I think what’s missing here, Uri, is a key point – that Eric did make in the interview with me. Which is – if you acknowledge that there is an upsurge in authoritarianism on the left – who on the left is calling that out? Or are they all to afraid to do so? So who on the left is able to enter into the discussion in good faith?

    • David Fuller says

      The debate is being framed and manipulated by the worst actors and very few are willing to be disliked/rejected by their own tribe in order to call that out – the IDW – and in particular the left-leaning IDW members like Sam Harris and Bret Weinstein, have paid serious personal costs for doing so

    • Iarla says

      @Erick Crago: the point is that they are BOTH pluralist from a theoretical perspective, and both study emergent systems.

      … and both are seen as untrustworthy and politically biased

      He seems only to see the problem in psychology….

  8. Joana George says

    @Uri Harris

    I think we have similar views on this topic, which made reading your three articles a little frustrating as it felt like I was reading an internal conflict. I think you should try and be more specific in your suggestions and maybe, consequently, a little bit more realistic.

    The Cathy Newman interview was a trainreck (why would you choose that as an example?), there was nothing to engage with from JPs side. The two interviews I can think of that would have had potential were GQ lady – JP and Vox guy – Sam Harris (sorry, don’t really have the time to look up their names). Both those people raised some good arguments that didn’t get addressed, but they didn’t engage with what JP/Harris were saying either. I would have loved to hear an engaged version of those interviews, but the actual interviews were quite painful to listen to as nobody seemed able to actually hear the person they were talking to.

    This is where the part about being realistic comes in. The non-authoritarian “upgraded” left either heavily dislikes most members of the IDW (and that animosity is quite obvious) or they take a more condescending approach towards them (you do not yet realize the error of your ways, poor you). The matter is already personal.

    You are asking IDW members to basically engage with people who have attacked them with some pretty heavy personal insults in order to find out exactly which parts of the attackers insults have merit. “Oh, you likened me to Hitler? No problem, I’ll let that slide and engage in a conversation with you about the subtleties of free speech.”

    It’s kind of a lot to ask, don’t you think?

    Side note: The internal conflict I have is that I still want you to continue to ask for that and hope you’ll succeed!

    • Iarla says

      Don’t you think the likes of JP, Ben Shapiro or Ruben have actually made their entire career from attacking liberals who believe what Uri is describing?

      In the case of JP and BS it is mostly a crude and aggressive process too. Why would “liberal” have a positive reaction to these people?

      I genuinely can’t understand why this wouldn’t be obvious.

      • Joana George says


        I don’t think “liberals” should have a positive reaction to these people (I don’t have a positive reaction to all of them myself). I think journalists should have a professional reaction, refrain from exaggerated personal attacks and strive for un-biased reporting.

        • Iarla says

          @Joana: I feel the media is In the business of selling media , and will do what it needs to do to attract sales/clicks. On balance, I think Shapiro, Rubin or JP know this and are fairly sophisticated in how they attract attention/interviews/column inches. They are also mostlybselling media now.

          I think outrage is just the currency they operate on, all of them. Lay with dogs, get fleas. I don’t sympathiser.

          Ben made his name with flaming polemics against “Academia” and “Liberals”, before moving onto “DESTROY” youtube videos and trans-bating. Polemic is his stock n trade, attacking others IS his career. While he and Rubin now do something similar in their interview showns, being “against SJW’s” is certainly one of the main planks of their business/income. I stick to my point, but am happy for us to disagree.

          As for JP, you are surely not claiming his aggressive/attack style is not one of his central appeals. He got famous for refusing to adhere to some take Canadian Trans law, after all. (His successful Psych career is irrelevant mostly).

          BTW, most places would see Classical Liberals as being quite right-wing. In UK, the Tory Party would be the closest home for them. Either way, JP seems to be more similar to a religious conservative going on what he actually says/supports, so it might be irrelevant anyway.

          • IIC says

            I contend that JP’s “style” would not enjoy any sort of success if it was as aggressive and offensive as you suggest. There are many paths he could traverse to be in the same camp as the Hannitys of the world to maintain such notoriety and profit. His criticism of C16 would also have lacked any sort of staying power had he not been both a tenured professor and a seasoned psychologist. I’d also say his media presence, not to mention his book sales, would have suffered had he been one of the random credential-less throngs of kooky anti-liberal demagogues, so his psych career being “mostly irrelevant” is a very strange claim.

            In reference to “DESTROY” videos, those cannot solely be attributed to Shapiro or any of his conservative kin. For every “Ben Shapiro LECTURES ignorant socialist” there is an equal “Sam Seder SCHOOLS dummy conservative,” or “Cenk HUMBLES Tucker Carlson on Immigration!” and so on and so on, so perhaps to the greater point, Shapiro’s (and others’) success is partly to do with the viral nature of social media. Perhaps they warrant the ire you’re placing upon them, but their current crop maintain a level of humanity that places them apart from the robotic panels and punditry that currently occupy mainstream television. It’s the small victories, I suppose.

            Is there a particular Rubin interview you’re referencing when you talk about his attack style? I’ve watched a fair few, but he’s always been a rather timid host IMO.

          • Joana George says


            You touched on one of the good points the GQ lady raised in her interview with JP which I would have loved to see addressed properly.

            I think what you said applies to Rubin and to Shapiro (though he does seem to grow out of it), but not so much to JP and other IDW members like Sam Harris or the Weinsteins. With JP I think it’s hard to point out what his main appeal is. Personally, I find his critique of the “left” to only occupy a very small part of his message so it genuinely baffles me when I read statements like yours. On the other hand, looking at some click bait titles and comments it seems obvious that his put downs are what people find most appealing. The GQ lady mentioned that during his lecture he got the most applause when he took jabs at the left. This is completely at odds with my view of him but seems to fit with youtube comments quite well.

            I would be very curious to find out if the majority of his fans (for lack of a better word) see him as a political figure, a self-help figure or a philosopher.

          • Heike says

            JBP did something very clever on his Youtube. He did not set the flag that makes others unable to copy his content, and therefore anyone can clip a 12 minute portion from one of his appearances, slap a clickbait title on it, and post it. Look at the uploaders’ channels, you’ll see they do this all the time.

      • I wouldn’t say their entire careers, no. When Shapiro brought on Mike Rowe for his sunday interview, they didn’t spend the entire session laughing at silly college students, it was a productive discussion. Ben of course has his moments of tearing into the red meat of the days political events, since that’s the other part of his program and he is welcome to his own biases, but there are genuine moments in there that reflect upon him outside of his status as a Youtube Pundit. Same with Rubin. They’re both new-age interviewers replacing a dying medium (television) with more long-form discussions (internet streaming) and sometimes they can be enlightening.

        Rubin’s status as a former lefty, I’m not too familiar with his past unfortunately, may play into his “shtick” as a moderate, but I’ve yet to see him or Ben adopt the same frothy spout sessions as yesteryears liberal hatemongers, Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh. I’d consider them a bit of an improvement in that regard, no?

        As for Peterson, he was a well-respected professor and clinical psychologist for decades. While I enjoy his biblical lecture series and personally appreciate his existence, I can see why people think he’s an attack dog for the right, a point he continually tries to stress that he is not. His hatred is shared among SJWs and 4chan nazis alike, and I’m not quite sure what that says about his success. I would think, though, that if Peterson truly disliked liberals, he would never have self-described as a “classical liberal.”

        • Iarla says

          @Joana: I have posted this above, but feel it also addresses your point regarding JP. “His advice work/self-help work is, by far, the most positive and skilled aspect of JPs contribution. He has the ability to reach people that few others can, often folk who really need to get out of the nihilistic pit too. I admire this.

          It is, however, undoubtedly true that he got widely famous for the Trans rights and NeoMarxistPoMo conspiracy theories, both of which are quite dark.His thoughts on both of these are also very innaccurate.”

          I find that his melding of the latter conspiracy theories with his very positive guidance work aimed primarily at young men is perhaps the biggest problem I have with him. He at once gives very clear, concrete and disciplinary advice to younger men while also telling them the is a commie/feminist plot against them that is causing their problems. This is very dark.

          • Harland says

            “while also telling them the is a commie/feminist plot against them that is causing their problems. This is very dark.”

            Really? Communists and feminists are not trying to harm our men? Of course they are. They tell us how evil and deplorable white men are all the time, and how they need to be harmed in order to achieve the far left’s goals. Predictably, after hearing this shouted for decades, people started picking up on it.

          • Defenstrator says

            Not causing their problem? They’re the ones that came up with the idea of “Toxic Masculinity “. An idea so close to the Nazi’s idea of the poisonous Jew that I frankly cannot see anyone who uses the phrase seriously as anything other than the most repulsive of bigots.

        • Iarla says

          @IIC: You make many fair enough points, to be fair. I also agree with you kore than disagree.

          To explain my comment about JP career ad a psych, what I had meant (but didn’t clearly say) was that much of what he is famous for entails him speaking outside of his area of expertise. I do not mean his 12 rules stuff, I am referring to the Trans issues and the NeoMarxistPoMo conspiracy theories. Neither of his comments on either of these are based on his expertise in psych, but on his readings of Stephen Hicks, an objectivist Canadian prof. When I said “irrelevant”, that was my meaning (which was not at all clear, I acknowledge).

          I completely agree that his credentials have added much to his appeal. I think his talking style has been very attractive to many also. I also admire his ability to reach cohorts of young men in a positive way few others can (see above comment to Joana).

          I dislike the Young Turks as much as Shapiro to be honest. I completely agree regarding the shallow youtube media circus culture that promotes DESTROYING videos.

          I do have an appreciation for the long form “conversation” format that Sam Harris is particularly good at. I can like J Rogan sometimes also, but not always. It is a positive thing often. However, I find both Rubin and Shapiro utilise it in an overly partisans and un-nuanced way. I am maybe not their audience though, which is fine.

          Rubin is not an attack style character in the vein of JP/Shapiro, I admit. However, his mild delivery masks often extremist content of what he says. For example, the conversations with J Rogan about “What has the government ever gotten right?”/”I can’t think of anything the government coukd run better than..” was straight up Ayn Randian Liberatarian talking points. He is entitled to his opinion, alright, but they were extreme perspectives.

          • From what I gather in JPs video lectures, the NeoMarxist bits stem from his heavy study of Nazi Germany, Communist Russia / China, and his reading of Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, so I can’t say he’s completely unknowledgeable in that regard. Perhaps biased, and probably very cynical in his outlook, but not ignorant. In the Zizek talk, his question regarding “who are these marxist you speak of?” was something I had hoped JP would answer more completely, but I think he dodged it purposefully so as not to name names, since that’s such a GREAT idea in this modern environment. Or, if he’s riding on Haidt’s statistics, he does not KNOW any specific names, but is trusting the polling in the, what was it, 20% of professors claiming to be Marxists of some stripe? It seems their whole exchange was a question of terminology, and not so much of the ideologically possessed that are utilizing it.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=585&v=eY9ZBGFQNUE I think is the video in question about Rubin’s stance on government regulation. I admire his honesty, but I also think Rogan schooled him handily on regulation issues in construction and electricity.

      • OleK says

        @Iarla “Don’t you think the likes of JP, Ben Shapiro or Ruben have actually made their entire career from attacking liberals who believe what Uri is describing?”

        Not at all…only possibly Ben Shapiro. He admits he is a conservative Pundit. But….have you listened to his interview with Andrew Yang? Very respectable.

        JBP has made his career from being a professor and writing books – ones that are quite good and are solely non-political and for self improvement. It is only his protest of the Canadian bill C-16 and the ridiculous incoherent reactions to it that made him “viral”.

        Rubin has always been a left-leaning personality, only really coming into the limelight for his interviewing/podcasting. He hasn’t been compared to Larry King (and picked up by his TV channel for a spell) for nothing. Yes, his PragerU video helped too – but his “I didn’t leave the Left; the Left left me.” line applies to several others as well.

        • Iarla says

          @IIC: to be clear, I did not say he was “unknowing”, what I said was that his discussion of NeoMarxistPoMo is outside his area of expertise. Of course he could have read The Gulag Archipelago etc… but so could you or I.

          Either way, the NeoMarxistPoMo trying to destroy (((western civilisation))) is merely a right-wing theory. He demonstrated himself that his understanding of both PoMo or Marxism is not especially deep from how he presented with Zizek. This was quite obvious, not just an opinion of mine.

          As regards the Marxist profs., the actual finding was “About 18 percent of social scientists in the United States self-identify as Marxists, compared to only about 5 percent who identify as conservatives, (Dunn and Shields). I don’t find that particularly surprising, do you? Sociology profs, Political science profs, there are always a few socialists there.

          As regards Rubin on Rogans show, I agree Rogan argued with him. My point was that those Rubin opinions were on the extreme end of the spectrum. That was all.

          • I’m not sure JP has ever claimed neomarxists alone are going to become the harbingers of doom for western civilization (nice use of the 8chan brackets, btw). He’s specifically talked about the increasing liberal-conservative divide, and has placed blame appropriately on both extremes. He’s frequently said that the left-right synthesis is necessary to avoid catastrophe.

            What he has focused on specifically for the left is their level of influence in academia, and in corporations in terms of policy. He’s also asked “when does the extreme left go too far?” which was a portion of his Munk Debate with Goldberg, Dyson and Fry. I don’t think a precise answer was ever reached.

          • Defenstrator says

            See I think you are conflating obvious results with conspiracy theory. Marxist and post modernist doctrines are inimical to western society but it isn’t a grand conspiracy. Just the concerted efforts of people pushing a point of view they see as righteous. I don’t these people are evil. The fact they are on the road to hell has nothing to do with their intentions.

          • peterschaeffer says

            The PoMo’s should be critical (deeply critical) of Marxism, but in real life they aren’t. Most (all?) are Marxists after all. PoMo should be seen as a tool for attacking traditional value systems, not as a general critique. If they (the PoMo’s) were consistent, they would apply their critique to Marxism. However, that will never happen. They are Leftists, first, foremost, and always. The following is a Q&A with Francis Fukuyama.

            Q. You have an unusual background for a political scientist. You majored in classics at Cornell, then did graduate work in comparative literature at Yale, where you studied with Paul de Man. Later you spent time in Paris sitting in on classes with Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida. Any memories from this journey through deconstruction?

            A. I decided it was total bullshit. They were espousing a kind of Nietzschean relativism that said there is no truth, there is no argument that’s superior to any other argument. Yet most of them were committed to a basically Marxist agenda. That seemed completely contradictory. If you really are a moral relativist, there is no reason why you shouldn’t affirm National Socialism or the racial superiority of Europeans, because nothing is more true than anything else. I thought it was a bankrupt way of proceeding and decided to shift gears and go into political science.

      • I’m a liberal/progressive, but no longer an ideology-driven SJW, for the reasons JBP warns against: unforeseen consequences of poorly-thought out extreme views. It may be the results of comparing the late Fifties with the Media Lynch Mobs of today…in person. I’m kinda Old.

      • Defenstrator says

        No, because regressive leftists they are attacking are not liberal at all.

    • E. Olson says

      Good comment Joana – you wrote: “You are asking IDW members to basically engage with people who have attacked them with some pretty heavy personal insults in order to find out exactly which parts of the attackers insults have merit. “Oh, you likened me to Hitler? No problem, I’ll let that slide and engage in a conversation with you about the subtleties of free speech.””

      To which the SJ warrior would respond: “I’m not going to legitimize Hitler by debating with you. In fact, I’m going to protest to your employer to get you fired – so go away Nazi”.

      • Allan Revesz says

        It is such a terrible tactic….I’m amazed people who use it can’t see the possible results.

        What do they think happens to a person who loses their job due to mob outrage? Will that person magically transform into a ‘good’ person or will they hunker down, and possibly become extreme.

        Call someone a monster, treat them like a monster, have society treat them like a monster….and then stand by incredulous as an actual monster appears..

      • har says

        If there’s a table with a Nazi and ten people talking to him, you got a table with 11 Nazis.

        • clf says

          According to the Washington Post, prior to his election, Trump was/is a nazi. So, are there 62 million nazis out there. That’s a lotta nazis. See, all those airport TSA agents. Why? Nazis. Bodyguards for Nancy Pelosi when she goes to her hairstylist. Nazis. All those security cameras everywhere. More Nazis to watch out for. They’re everywhere.

  9. Emblem14 says

    You seem to be suggesting that there is a contingent of reasonable social justice activists who would be happy to discuss, and respond to critiques of the “ideological shifts” you outline in the second half of this essay.

    I think it’s incumbent on you, arguing that a strangely silent non-authoritarian social justice Left both exists and is ignored by the IDW, to identify who some of those people might be, because most of the commenters here are going to insist that they either don’t exist or have been cowed into obscurity by the more militant SJWs.

    You’re saying that there is a potentially fruitful intellectual discourse to be had between non-identitarian liberals or leftists (universalists, socialists etc) who may find themselves in IDW orbit, and non-authoritarian “upgraded” liberals and leftists. But where are they? Why haven’t these conversations organically emerged by now, given the wide sweep of youtube, twitter, etc?

    The caricature of the anti-SJWs in the IDW is that they have established a superficial cult of civility in which “ideas” can be exchanged and discussed dispassionately, without emotional outbursts, name-calling, ad hominem and accusations of bad faith, so that specific ideas which would otherwise be considered immoral, dangerous or highly offense can be aired with a gloss of credibility and legitimacy.

    They want the license and freedom to try to knock down powerful taboos by setting up rules of engagement that favor that enterprise (de-contextualized dispassionate analysis only) while neutralizing the rhetorical tools of those who want to maintain taboo (eg. shaming, smearing, intimidation). A “safe space” for (potentially) socially irresponsible, inflammatory, outrageous speech, in other words.

    One of the core claims of the “updated” Left is that discourse norms themselves are a powerful tool which can indirectly privilege certain people, identities and interests over others. It sets up a rigged game by provoking the people who are most emotionally impacted by a subject (perhaps because their lives or freedom are at stake) into disqualifying themselves from discussing it, while green-lighting even the most horrendous propositions so long as they’re made with the right language, affectation and erudition.

    Another claim is that because ideas do not exist in a vacuum, but both emerge from and proliferate within a certain sociocultural context, one can not “just” discuss ideas on a certain level without implicating social attitudes. Ideas both need to be interpreted through the attitudes and motives of the “idea-haver” in order to understand the intent of an idea, and the consequences of its proliferation need to be examined for social impact. Impact and intent can operate sympathetically or independently. Because this “idea-society” entanglement is inextricable, it is intellectual dishonesty to claim that all ideas must be given the same neutral status and value in the “marketplace”. There is no escaping context, or value judgements derived from morality or politics.

    With that in mind, if the IDW discourse culture tolerates attacking taboos initially erected to protect vulnerable groups from persecution, thought experiments or theoretical models which could be deployed to justify immoral or oppressive policies, or questioning the validity of other people’s “lived experiences” (the implication being, they are delusional and therefore their agency can be disregarded), this IN ITSELF is an affront to the premise of the “updated” Left. There can be no discussion when the act of discussion itself is a trojan horse for a dangerous agenda.

    Theoretically, it should be a natural progression of the deconstructionist/critical style to critique itself with its own tools. A theory of power that inspires a normative political orthodoxy is bankrupt if it doesn’t include itself into its own analysis. It shouldn’t be controversial to examine and “unpack” the concept of controversy itself, and ask what makes something a taboo, why, and is there a responsible mechanism for questioning/updating it?

    These are meta-level questions which look at the operating mechanisms of discourse itself instead of the specific, emotionally-laden object-level examples where those dynamics apply, and where most of the heat, drama and toxicity of the discourse manifest. Perhaps an area of convergence can be on these more abstract meta-level issues, which anyone of any ideology can participate in, and which have major implications for how we think about ideas generally, without fixating on polarizing culture war topics which, in the end, do nothing but short-circuit critical thought and exacerbate tribalism.

    • hail to none says

      @Emblem– great points. This gets to the heart of why it is so difficult to have a “conversation” about these issues. Many individuals become IDWers precisely because they tried to engage in honest conversation, and were cast out of the updated left as a result. This is a huge problem with Uri’s thesis.

    • MMS says

      “It sets up a rigged game by provoking the people who are most emotionally impacted by a subject (perhaps because their lives or freedom are at stake) into disqualifying themselves from discussing it, while green-lighting even the most horrendous propositions so long as they’re made with the right language, affectation and erudition…”

      I read this as an sophisticated excuse for the air-horn.

      • Emblem14 says

        Not really, it’s just an example of “chutzpah” when, under the veneer of debate, you can make implied existential threats against your opponents and then claim they’re irrational when they become hostile or upset.

        I think the concept of “tone policing” has major problems and has certainly been overextended and abused. However, it is a real phenomenon that has been used as a tactic to police social norms to the benefit of status quo interests and win debates on technicality – use inflammatory rhetoric to provoke an emotional response in your opponent and then claim victory when they become justifiably upset. The concept of “fighting words” could be useful here.

        A common example I’ve seen play out is trans people who refuse to engage with anyone who doesn’t think being transgender is a legitimate state of being. Some people will say that transgendered are simply mentally ill and contrary to accommodating them, society should instead dismiss their claims and treat them like we would schizophrenics. From a trans person’s perspective, this is indeed literal “silencing” and “erasure” of who they claim to be. If it became the basis for policy, It would also directly threaten their civil rights and bodily autonomy.

        I can understand why a “discussion” about transgenderism which includes this eradicationist stance as just one legitimate point of view among many would be considered as intrinsically hostile to trans people, and they would have nothing to gain in legitimizing such a discussion by agreeing to participate in it. In fact, they have a strong self preservation based case to do everything they can to shut down such a discussion and erect a taboo against having it.

        This kind of dynamic applies to many other culture war subjects as well, where at least some positions in the debate landscape are directly hostile to real people’s lives and liberty.

  10. Corrie says

    Uri’s well intentioned and articulated article hides the nefariousness of identity politics: that it is fundamentally illiberal. Therefore, Uri’s good intentions have no chance of success, and his position inevitably leads to authoritarianism and bigotry. Identity politics is identarianism and all the isms they claim to fight they embrace.

    • Craig Willms says

      Nicely said. Illiberal is the right word for it. Reasonable people don’t act like the radical SJW crowd. There is no way that vicious attacks sway opinions. The left at any level never allows the right to claim the radicals at the fringe are merely misguided in their actions but fundamentally right in their views. I don’t buy any of it. This piece is basically someone smoothing the feathers of a hideous vulture trying to convince us it’s a beautiful peacock underneath.

      • TarsTarkas says

        On the contrary vicious attacks do sway opinions. Those with contrary opinions either duck, hide, or fight back. But no matter what their opinions were they are longer the same as they were prior to the attack. You can’t unhear a word, you can only pretend to.

  11. Just Me says

    Interesting that Uri proposes the NYT article about “the unique challenges black men face in the U.S.” as as model of identity-based research and activism that is neither authoritarian, bigoted, nor anti-intellectual.

    And yet I see it as an example of just that.

    The title of the NYT article is the emotive and inflammatory “Extensive Data Shows Punishing
    Reach of Racism for Black Boys”.

    It quotes :

    “One of the most popular liberal post-racial ideas is the idea that the fundamental problem is class and not race, and clearly this study explodes that idea,” said Ibram Kendi, a professor and director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. “But for whatever reason, we’re unwilling to stare racism in the face.”

    And yet the key finding is actually that the crucial variable is the neighborhoods the boys live in: the authors “tried to identify neighborhoods where poor black boys do well, and as well as whites.

    “The problem,” Mr. Chetty said, “is that there are essentially no such neighborhoods in America.”

    The few neighborhoods that met this standard were in areas that showed less discrimination in surveys and tests of racial bias. They mostly had low poverty rates. And, intriguingly, these pockets *… were the places where many lower-income black children had fathers at home. Poor black boys did well in such places, whether their own fathers were present or not.

    The crucial factor is something conservatives have been arguing for decades…the crucial role of fathers!

    “That is a pathbreaking finding,” said William Julius Wilson, a Harvard sociologist whose books have chronicled the economic struggles of black men. “They’re not talking about the direct effects of a boy’s own parents’ marital status. They’re talking about the presence of fathers in a given census tract.”

    Other fathers in the community can provide boys with role models and mentors, researchers say, and their presence may indicate other neighborhood factors that benefit families, like lower incarceration rates and better job opportunities.”

    But after this crucial point…the article veers off again into blaming racism and stereotypes of black male criminality, without examining, for example, whether there is a vicious circle at work there.

    This is precisely an example of how the progressive view distorts the interpretation of even quality data.

    • Captain Obvious says

      He slipped in other pseudo-scientific arguments in there as well, such as the old gem that your “black sounding name” will make it harder to get a job interview. This study has been debunked, just as around 75% of the studies coming out of modern SJW social science departments have been. It is in fact not science as is is not replicable. So Uri appears to be using his articles of faith to try and persuade a crowd of intellectuals who are grounded in science. Yeah, that’s going to work.

    • GL No. 2 says

      @ Just Me

      You are exactly correct. The NYT completely warped that research to fit its SJW narrative. You don’t get more anti intellectual than that. Uri’s failure to recognize this makes him dishonest or a nitwit.

    • asdf says

      The entire NYTimes article, like all of Vox and all of SJWism, collapses once you account for what was written in The Bell Curve and other similar sources.

      That’s why Vox had to attack Charles Murray so hard, because their entire worldview collapses once you accept his facts.

      SJWism vindicates Murray’s claim that there is no way to use genetic-denialism as a kind of “noble lie”. Inevitably, people like Vox weaponize the noble lie for their own nefarious purposes.

  12. bohicad says

    He says that there are a majority of people on the left that believes in social justice but do not want to be authoritarian/bigoted/anti-intellectual. That may well be true, but the problems is that this majority (if it exists at all) is afraid to speak out against their own authoritarian side because the instant they do, they will be labeled a nazi/fascist/racist etc.

    • E. Olson says

      Fear of reprisal is certainly a major reason why social justice/Leftist “moderates” (to the extent they exist) fail to speak out or otherwise attempt to stop the extremists, and their fears are no doubt magnified due to the Left’s inherent lack of bravery and masculinity, especially when they are unmasked and alone. Like the surveys of “moderate” Muslims that consistently find 25 to 50% supporting Jihad and bombings against “infidels”, however, I also wonder if the lack of effort among “moderate” Leftists in reigning in the excesses of the extreme Left is because they largely support the extremist viewpoints and admire the extremist tactics against the MAGA “Nazis”.

    • Craig Willms says

      right, bohicad, a tactic/reaction eerily similar to radical Islam.

    • Heike says

      That’s what happened to Weinstein. He is a far leftist himself, and thought his impeccable far left credentials would allow him to speak to the SJWs fairly. He was wrong.

      He was called a Nazi, deplatformed, and had his excellent academic career ruined. Now he wanders the wilderness as a member of the IDW.

  13. E. Olson says

    Why is the movement of social justice activism towards authoritarian, bigoted, and anti-intellectualism called an “upgrade”, because it sounds like a clear downgrade to me. I also think that what this article ignores the history that has led to this downgrade in social justice activism, because history clearly explains why social justice activism can’t do anything except move towards being authoritarian, bigoted, and anti-intellectual.

    Slavery ended in 1865, women have had the vote since the 1920s, the welfare state has been expanding to “end poverty” since the New Deal in the 1930s and War on Poverty in the 1960s, Jim Crow ended in the 1960s, and discrimination due to religion, gender, or race has been illegal since the mid-1960s, affirmative action and gender and racial quotas have been practiced by schools and mandated/protected by law for government employment and contracts since the late 1960s, laws against homosexuality were rescinded or not enforced since the 1970s, women have made up more than half the university student population since the 1970s and nearly half of professional/graduate school populations since the 1980s, the Reagan, Bush Jr. and Trump tax cuts have made US taxes the most progressive in the Western world as nearly half the population pays zero income taxes or actually gets money back from the earned income tax credit, and in 2008 a majority of white citizens voted an inexperienced Leftist man into the US Presidency mostly because he was black.

    What this history means is that nobody in the US (and most Western countries) less than 70 years old today has ever experienced real discrimination or poverty except for the white males whose former spots at elite schools and employers have been given to “victim” classes via affirmative action, quotas, and subsidies. And yet gaps persist as blacks, Hispanics, and women still lag behind on many measures of income, educational/career status, and wealth, although other former “victim” classes such as Jews, Asians, and homosexuals now surpass whites on most measures of success. On other measures, blacks and Hispanics have actually fallen further behind despite all the “help” they have received, as their share of criminality, poverty, drug abuse, and single parenthood have continued to be far above their share of the population. And despite highly progressive taxation and massive redistribution of wealth, rich people continue to get richer.

    In other words, the policy prescriptions of the social justice Left have been implemented and tried for 50+ years and haven’t worked in large part because they do not account for human nature or the variability and unequal distribution of human ability, talent, and culture. Yet the Left just can’t admit to their failure so now they are pushing for further education/indoctrination, regulation, and reparations to overcome the negative effects of micro-aggression, implicit bias, stereotype expectations anxiety, racist/sexist math, science (especially IQ research), and literature, and a continuing legacy of slavery. The failures of Leftist policies and the desire to “double-down” on the policies has led to push-back by people who pay taxes, obey the laws, and try to be fair, but who the Left insists are racist, sexist, toxic, deplorable simply because they are relatively successful and want to keep what they earn instead of continuing to pay for programs that don’t work at fixing social problems they are not responsible for. It is precisely this “push back” on social justice failure and the Leftist desire to double-down on that failure that requires the Left to become fascists, because the social justice warriors can’t debate when the facts are not on their side and won’t admit failure.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @E. Olson

      If the snake oil is not working, that just means you need to take more snake oil.

      • E. Olson says

        Ray – that only works until the snakes decides they have contributed enough oil to the cause, which is why snake oil salespeople always end up being snake oil authoritarians.

        • Saw file says

          The Right (even moderate Right centrists) are continually called out to denounce the “Alt-Right” as nondemocratic/antisocial (names: ad infinitum),etc…
          Slick e-propogandists from the Left then, eventually, attempt to explain how their not like the Alt-Left. Because, well, ‘reasons’ because of the Right and the Left isn’t the Alt-Left. They’re the sane majority of the Left, and they don’t have to expunge them because they aren’t really the ‘us’.
          The reason hamster wheels squeak so much is because of the frequency of use, but not by the real hamsters, of course…

  14. Peter from Oz says

    “Upgrade” isn’t the word that comes to mind when I think of the modern left. “Downgrade” is the real word. Surely, Mr Harris, the one thing you should be sceptical about is the fact that if identity is all, then identity is nothing.
    Let me explain. In essence you four points all deny universality. But in fact you are positing a universal rule: that there can be no universality. You are thus trapped in a logic feedback loop as your own theory says your conclusion cannot be right.
    This has been the flaw of the critical theorists’ argument from the beginning. If nothing is objectively true, then the statement that nothing is objectively true cannot itself be objectively true.
    Until you realise that individuals matter more than groups, you will continue to go down an intellectual cul de sac that renders you unfit to take place in any civilised conversation. You can huff and puff as much as you will, Mr Harris but why should the IDW give a toss if your arguments are just the same old leftist stuff dressed up as “moderate”?

  15. Alan Appel says

    I don’t think that the IDW needs to be told what its members need to do to achieve their “long term success.” Each of them appears to me to have taken on precisely the load that they are best suited and willing to bear. The IDW members are most valuable when they model as individuals alternative ways of participating in and addressing the issues of our society. I have yet to see from the Left an comprehensive description of the society they are working towards that does not devolve into Gulags and thought-crime trials. I have two young grandchildren, and I fear greatly for their futures especially if Evergreen is the “model” for colleges of the future. Thank you.

    • cfkane1941 says

      This gets closer to the point I have been wanting to make since Uri Harris started writing about the IDW. It is condescending and high-handed for Harris to tell a loose affiliation of individuals what they “need” to do. If Harris has a problem with the IDW, he is absolutely free not to listen to a word they say. If they do not follow his prescriptions and their popularity wanes, that is their responsibility, not his.

      In short, no one asked you, Mr. Harris. At this point, he should probably heed The First Rule of Holes.

  16. Royce Cooliage says

    “Take the typical writer at The Guardian or at Vox, say, as an example of people in this group. For the most part, these are people who wouldn’t dream of demanding that Jordan Peterson’s books be banned or of declaring math a social construct.”

    Have you ever read an opinion piece on The Guardian website? While The Guardian are smart enough not to demand his books be banned outright I’m pretty sure they would love to see it happen. They are quite active in agitating against Jordan Peterson and anyone who does not believe in their ideology. If the UK or some EU country banned his books do you believe The Guardian the would defend him? I don’t.

    • C Young says

      The Guardian celebrated a New Zealand bookseller who threw Peterson’s books away, saying that he would offer those who asked for them a book by Marx …

  17. Vasily Nosikov says

    I think the author is wrong in his conclusions here. Yes, the average vox reader doesn’t want to ban everything she doesn’t like, but she will also not protest when other people from the Left will do it. She will find excuses for the authoritarians and also provide some intellectual cover for their actions.

    I think if IDW wants to survive their priority should be not letting people, who wants to destroy them, in. Yes a lot of people on the left do not explicitly want it, but the majority will be ok with it and will not defend them when they come under attack.

    Unless the person on the left doesn’t explicitly condone SJW-practices there should be no place for him in IDW, or IDW will be destroyed.

  18. Farris says

    “There might not be a universally agreed upon line; people may well disagree on where the balance should be between allowing diversity of opinions and legitimising dangerous views, for example.”

    The term “dangerous views” is part of the problem, it is vague and subjective. Discredited views are easily debated but the heavy lifting and research must be done. Once one begins dismissing views as dangerous it becomes a slippery slope, in which the intellectual lazy can rely to justify non engagement or deplatforming.

    If the “upgrade”on the Left is not authoritarian, bigoted, and anti-intellectual. It is incumbent upon members of the Left to call out its authoritarian, bigoted and anti-intellectual members. Otherwise silence becomes acquiescence. Conservatives faced a similar problem over fifty years ago and responded by expelling the John Birchers and their ilk.

    • E. Olson says

      Good comment Farris, and your point about “Conservatives faced a similar problem over fifty years ago and responded by expelling the John Birchers and their ilk” is very interesting.

      The John Birchers were almost entirely concerned about Communist infiltration into the US government, higher education, and the arts/entertainment, which they thought posed a threat to national sovereignty, democracy, capitalism, and Western culture generally. As it turned out, there were a lot of Communist/USSR sympathizers/spies hidden in the federal bureaucracy under FDR, Truman and Eisenhower, and in the Hollywood and the mainstream media, although the worst threats were over by the time the group formed in 1958. This is largely why the Birchers were deemed extremist and were disavowed by the mainstream Right. It could be argued, however, that the recent “upgrading” of the social justice Left is a movement in the very direction that brought about John Birch society in large part because the “moderate” Left never spoke up against the Communist threat in the 1940s and 50s. The biggest difference between then and now, however, is that the extreme Left is almost entirely and unapologetically in charge of the federal bureaucracy, education from K to PhD, popular culture, and the mainstream media, which is something that extreme Right groups such as the John Birch Society have never attained.

      • Farris says

        Thank you for your response.

        The Birchers were so extreme they viewed the Vietnam war as a communist plot and were opposed to fluoridation of water, among other things.

        “I consider the Birch Society futile, because they are not for capitalism but merely against communism. No country can be destroyed by a mere conspiracy, it can be destroyed only be ideas.”
        Ayn Rand Playboy 1964

        • E. Olson says

          I think Rand was wrong about the Bircher’s supposed dislike for capitalism, because all the leaders were business people, although like many they probably were suspicious of Jewish bankers in New York.

  19. Gabriel says

    Excellent article, once again. Unless the IDW adopts the basic tenets of any centrist, common-sense position (intersectionality, cultural relativism and structural racism), it will go nowhere. Opening up to the reasonable left (e.g. The Guardian, Vox, The New Statesman, The Nation) is also fundamental, as well as kicking out some of its far-right elements (Ben Shapiro, Dave Rubin, Tim Pool, Sam Harris).

    • Closed Range says


      May we assume you are being sarcastic? It’s hard to tell these days.

      • Captain Obvious says

        I think that’s a safe bet.

    • “…centrist, common-sense position (intersectionality, cultural relativism and structural racism)…”

      Nothing like a little offbeat humor!

    • Heike says

      The problem is for far leftists like yourself, anyone to the right of Mao Zedong looks like the far right to you. A problem your comment illustrates all too well.

      • Closed Range says


        He was being sarcastic – we’ve seen Gabriel comment elsewhere and it is not far leftist.

    • Defenstrator says

      Intersectionality, cultural relativism, and structural racism are not centrist positions. They are radically left dogmas. The ideas put forth by the IDW are far more centrist. So of course they are not going to accept them. Instead they are doing their best to drag things back to reality.

  20. Big Poppa Steve says

    This whole series of articles is puzzling in the extreme. It seems that the author is of the opinion that the IDW wants to be taken seriously as liberals. I’m pretty sure they don’t.

  21. Geof says

    Weinstein says that these new ideas were around before they were seized on as part of the current social justice craze. I concur. One can agree with them without subscribing to identity politics. Most importantly, the critique of rationality is well founded. But the literature I have studied (e.g. the Frankfurt School) is not nearly so sweeping or lacking in nuance as one would think from the assertions of identity warriors. In fact, it provides ample arguments against them. One can criticize reason without abandoning it.

    Harris writes about “Increased scepticism towards the view of discourse as a “marketplace of ideas” where rational individuals participate and the best ideas win.” Absolutely. Objectivity is not possible. It is often a worthy aspiration, but it can never be entirely achieved. Journalism is a prime example. Journalists are influenced by their class, professional culture and practices, the work of their peers, the economic imperatives of their business, and by their image of themselves as objective. This all applies in spades to identity warriors in the media today.

    One of Jonathan Haidt’s key psychological findings is that reason is the servant, not the master. Everyone starts with a perspective and with interests. This is not a bad thing: one can’t start from nowhere, and with no motivations. The chief problem with claims to rationality is that htey can be used to disguise these interests, pretending that they are facts.

    Reason is a trade off that entails eliding particulars in order to make generalizations that can then be applied elsewhere. There is no one objective choice when it comes to which particulars to ignored and which generalizations to make. Different people make different choices; these choices are liable to be influenced by interests. In the real world where people deliberate and make decisions, the ultimate decision is not reason itself, but social agreement. As Thomas Kuhn explains, community, not fact, is the ultimate foundation of science.

    But to take this and say “therefore everything is socially constructed” is as ridiculous as saying that because referees are the ultimate arbiters in a game of football, that there is no such thing as a goal: everything is just referee whim.

    Reason is not just “one way of knowing” among many. If it were, there would be no need for such critique! Science in particular is still one of the best ways we have of making sense of the world. It is powerful because it is empirical: but also because it is skeptical. It never arrives at a final answer, only better ones. This is inherently compatible with a critical stance.

    The critique of reason is not a new insight; it draws on debates going back to antiquity. But it has been taken up and used to justify “centering” everything on “identity,” where “identity” is one of a short list of things (gender, race, sexual orientation). Most of the interests and perspectives that the literature I have studied talk about are more concrete than such abstract social categories: things like economic gain, social status, professional culture, and so on.

    If you’re a manager at an unnamed aircraft manufacturer, and your engineers are saying a device may not be safe – but you’re up for review, and your boss is breathing down your neck about a project that’s already late: well then, you may find a reason to justify why the device is in fact safe. You elide certain particulars as irrelevant (training for new behaviour) while generalizing others (pilots will disengage it when necessary by doing what they would already do).

    Replace the Boeing engineer with a journalist writing about identity politics, talk a bit more about how he needs the job more than the company needs him, about how he overcomes his doubts by convincing himself that his writing is objective, about how this isn’t just a one-off but happens all over the place, about how he and his colleagues enforce the orthodoxy… does this sound familiar?

    The critique of rationality does not have to be about identity. It is actually a powerful tool for deconstructing identity politcis. Every criticism they make applies in spades to the zealots of that movement. Why is there so little use of the theory to criticize the politics? Well, the scholars with knowledge of it have perspectives and interests…

    • Euan MacIsaac says

      Geoff, that’s the most persuasive description of the current political malaise I’ve seen recently. If anyone wants to doubt you they should read Daniel Kahnemans Thinking Fast and Slow. The intellectual class need to abandon the nostrums of psychoanalytic theory before we can move beyond this phoney but profitable culture war we are stuck in.
      To prepare for the problems of the future we must be humble about what we have and our role as individuals in creating our current reality.

    • neoteny says

      One can criticize reason without abandoning it.

      What is the point of critiquing reason without abandoning those parts which are found to be false by some critique?

      As Thomas Kuhn explains, community, not fact, is the ultimate foundation of science.

      Hardly; the (infinite) set of prime numbers doesn’t depend on any community (agreeing or not). Even the definition of a prime number (those natural numbers which can’t be divided without a remainder by any other natural numbers except themselves and 1) doesn’t depend on any community (agreeing or not): no one is able to arrange a prime number of pebbles in a rectangle of which both sides are greater than 1. 4 pebbles can be arranged in a 2×2 rectangle; 9 pebbles can be arranged in a 3×3 rectangle; 15 pebbles can be arranged in a 3×5 rectangle; but 101 can be arranged only in a 1×101 rectangle; 103 can be arranged only in a 1×103 rectangle; 107 can be arranged only in a 1×107 rectangle; and 109 can be arranged only in a 1×109 rectangle.

    • Rev. Wazoo! says

      Good points; the last is especially interesting and timely. You’ve managed to turn the tables whilst avoiding using the odious language and tactics which both reasonable and purely partisan ant-SJWs are loath to adopt but difficult to avoid.

      Throwing back that white males are a marginalised group on campus is true, turns their own nomenclature against them and much easier but leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Congrats!

      Nonetheless, I feel it might be time for both your use of underpinnings for undermining but also some reduction ab absurdam tactics. Demand the words ‘of thought’ be added to your local department of diversity be it in the public or private sector.

      ” Our Chief Diversity Officer must be a Chief Diversity of Thought Officer!” Make them explain why they think this is a bad idea.

  22. If Uri, if there is a contingent of non-authoritarian, identity politics believing progressives, where are they? You cite Vox and Guardian, yet both publications have been silent on the recent sacking of Roger Scruton. And that’s just the latest case of the authoritarians taking a scalp while your hypothesized great silent majority of progressives sit idly by.

    If there are so many of them, where are they?

    More pertinently to your subject, when facing a SJW warrior outrage mob, no one should ever have to ask “is this group of progressives disagreeing with my ideas, or do they just want to demean/ fire/ bankrupt/ kill me?”

    If intellectuals even think that before speaking, serious inquiry is doomed.

    • Daniel V says

      Peterson’s graduate students are actually doing work that helps show it’s true there is nothing inherently authoritarian about the left anymore than there is with the right. It comes down to the individuals.

      With Peterson’s students they split people into two groups: egalitarian and authoritarian. The former have high verbal abilities whereas the later do not. My personal distinctions between the two would be the authoritarians are approaching things as Either Or while the egalitarians approach things as Both And.

      If you restrict your perspective to Either Or your ideology will always end up authoratrairian because by its nature it must exclude anything that it isn’t. It’s only by looking at things from a Both And perspective that alternate view can be allowed and thought about.

      The IDW shouldn’t reject progressive ideology or post modernism or whatever you want to call it out of hand because for the most part it’s an accurate reflection of one aspect of reality that can’t be factually rejected. It has to be dealt with. Instead of fighting a strawman against authoritarian SJWs and going on endlessly about how stupid people unable to grasp nuance have stupid views the IDW should be looking to help evolve out existing systems in the right direction.

      Honestly why don’t we see more on the meta modern movement that is dealing with all these issue? And lost importantly isn’t coming from the intellectual cesspool of Either Or thought that is America?

      • Peter from Oz says

        It why do just about all the authoritarians these days stand on the side of “equality”?
        The egalitarians are the authoritarians in our modern world.

        • Defenstrator says

          Not true. Egalitarians favour equality of opportunity. The authoritarian left favours equality of outcome. These are very different.

    • Harland says

      They do a good job staying hidden. Hillary should have put them in charge of her email server.

      • TarsTarkas says

        She might have if they paid her to.

  23. Garry says

    Question, would any of this article or it comments be discussed in an open classroom in any western university (sorry for the use of western, I know it is a “construct” and all)? Not easily if at all is the answer. Until that changes, the group woke psychosis will only get worse. When we start treating each other as individuals, then progress can be made.

    • Closed Range says


      The answer is sadly no. As the sacking of Noah Carl proves, and countless many men and women before him, if you ever dare to ask a question that makes anyone on the regressive left ever so slightly uncomfortable then the universities will quickly shut you down and cast you out on the street.

  24. Captain Obvious says

    Let’s face it, Uri is religious and claims that many of the tenets of his religion are “facts” without providing any evidence. And sure, many religious people can eschew the nastier aspects of their religion and live decent lives, but that being the case why bother with it in the first place? Just cut out the anti-intellectualism, the woo woo, the bigotry and just be a decent person.

    The left has a reputation for treating people equally, this new “upgrade” is antithetical to that position.

    Oh and one last pet peeve that gets at the heart of this. He claimes, “…racially suggestive names influencing a person’s likelihood of getting an interview.” That single study has been debunked countless times and is not scientific, along with 75% of modern studies that come out of the social sciences. The fact that you would hold that up as evidence is exactly why social justice is anti-intellectual pseudoscience and should be dismissed in any intelligent conversation.

  25. Geofiz says

    Harris is dreaming the impossible dream. Identity politics of any sort is a zero-sum game. It is the ethnic nationalism that has typified human society for nearly all of its existence. If there are oppressed, then there must be oppressors, who are by their definition – evil. To give preference to an “oppressed group” (ex. African Americans) means that an oppressor group (Asians) has to suffer. In contrast old fashioned liberals sought to make the pie bigger and increase opportunity for everyone. In fact, we used to call identity politics racism. How quaint!!!

    To paraphrase Krauthammer, The SJW’s start out with the best of intentions. But some people do not want to go along with their utopian vision. More and more coercion is necessary to make them toe the line. Sooner, rather than later, you have the Gulag.

    Identify politics, as opposed to liberalism, is simply not compatible with democracy, Democracy and liberalism unite. Identity politics divides.

    • E. Olson says

      Good comment Geofiz, and in particular your observation that “In contrast old fashioned liberals sought to make the pie bigger and increase opportunity for everyone.”.

      Of course the problems with this “old fashioned” growth oriented liberalism are: 1) economic growth caused global warming, and 2) rich people always manage to get more than their “fair share” of the growth. Therefore the new liberalism is much fairer because it saves the planet from overheating by making everyone equally miserable and poor (except for the leadership who deserve their private jets and mansions for all they do for the rest of us).

      • Kencathedrus says

        @E. Olson: You echo my thoughts exactly about climate change. It’s not really about saving the planet but about reducing the quality of life for millions of people while being cheered on by the gullible.

  26. Eigen Eagle says

    Whether or not racism and sexism exist in society and whether or not they are sufficient create the discrepancies seen in society today are two completely different questions. Few in the IDW would probably say there’s no racism or sexism in society, just that they can’t be blamed for every discrepancy between different groups. There’s zero evidence (for example) that women earning less then men because of systematic discrimination, and that point of view doesn’t make a lot of sense to begin with. Similarly, you need to have a good explanation for why countries where women have more rights and choices and fewer social and family pressures that there’s less female participation in STEM. I have yet to see a good answer to that question.

    I would also completely and entirely disagree with the notion that it’s the IDW that has a problem with open dialogue. Christina Hoff Sommers (for example) will have a public discussion with any feminist any time any place, yet gender feminist loons like Amanda Marcotte call her a right-wing troll and Roxanne Gay implies she’s “white supremacist adjacent” (whatever the hell that is). You won’t find the IDW calling for anyone to be deplatformed either, unlike with the regressive left.

  27. Scott says

    Interesting article(s) and well worth reading and thinking about. Especially your proposition to “engage more with the ideas of identity, privilege, and structural oppression”. In my view this is not done most often for two reasons. First, those not on the left, like myself, outright reject these claims of “social justice”. Second, engaging can often be suicidal both professionally and socially which reinforces my first point.

    Of note, the repeated claim you make in your article of “fact” and “factual” when you should really be using the terms “view” or “opinion”. This is an important distinction. Facts are distinct and discrete items, opinions are based on select groups of facts and NOTHING can include all facts.

    Next, identity is often self-imposed in many of the examples you cite, things like names and language which you claim to be discriminatory are largely choices made by parents and imposed upon their children. I am from humble beginnings yet my parents pushed me to learn, speak and act differently than they did in order to assimilate and increase my chances of exceeding them. It worked at great sacrifice to them. That said, I reject the premise of identity discrimination except at the margins. Sadly, human nature will never change and eliminate this completely and while it would be wonderful if it did, it is far less prevalent than popular culture would have you think.

    Most often, people choose to stand apart, choose to succumb to adversity and choose to be a victim because that is what they are now taught. Did the people living during the depression blame others? No, they worked harder, sacrificed, accomplished great things and got on with life.

    Our true privilege in this country is lack of real hardship or oppression. This gives people the freedom to make both good and bad choices which is as it should be. We should help those who truly need it but also hold people accountable for their actions and choices.

    “Identity” is what you make of it …

    • E. Olson says

      You make too much sense Scott – off to the re-education camp you go to get your privilege checked.

  28. Pointless says

    These are not upgrades in left-wing thought. These ideas are all well-known across ideological and intellectual positions. To make one example, any “Increased scepticism towards the view of discourse as a ‘marketplace of ideas’…” must be considered in the context that Socrates already made this case to Gorgias; rhetoric does not produce virtue, but rather agreement.

    No one cares if the IDW is left or right, blue or green. No one cares which pathetic social clique accepted or excluded some sophomoric pontificators of pretentious pabulum. The best messages people can find in the lived experiences both JP and SZ are to read everything and listen to everyone and choose being openminded instead of being right.

  29. Onchare Nyamete says

    The thing that frustrates me about articles and others like it is that it does nothing to address different cultures and the impact that has on different societal and economic outcomes. The article that Uri refers to written in the Times that he claims to be completely unbiased mentions that black children born with the same income, access to good schools, and the list goes on, will eventually end up making less than their white counterparts. While I do not disagree with the statistical conclusion, I disagree with what he and other like him attribute to this outcome. Once money, access, and upward mobility have been accounted for, the default is to immediately go to forces outside of the home such as the criminal justice system. But, there is never anything mentioned about how values your culture holds can influence in what direction you head financially and socially. For example, as a young black kid, I remember being ridiculed for ever displaying even moderate levels of intelligence. I do not know of any other culture that does that. Now, do people on the extreme ends of the spectrum which are commonly referred to as “nerds” get ridiculed in every culture? Absolutely. But the habit of ridiculing the charming and charismatic individual if they show any type of intelligence is something I have found unique to black culture. Who knows what long term effect this has on young black men and women when they are actively trying to suppress their intelligence? And this is just one example of cultural differences I noticed growing up in the black community that seemed like active approaches to lowering ones standing in society. Tell me another culture that values prison time and the ability to murder without hesitation? I know these are extremely hard conversations to have but if we continue to tiptoe around what i think is the most vital aspect of this conversation, we will forever be chasing our tails.

    • Geofiz says

      Well put. The fact that I worry about black on black crime doesn’t make me a racist

    • E. Olson says

      Another dangerous comment. Onchare you need to go directly to the re-education camp, and don’t come back until you properly learn that you are a victim and require reparations. The very thought that victims are even partly responsible for their own poor outcomes must be banished.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @Onchare Nyamete

      “Tell me another culture that values prison time and the ability to murder without hesitation? ”

      Alas, these are the things that are selected for. As so many Black intellectuals understand, whitey’s coddling has long since passed the point of encouraging success, it now quite overtly encourages failure, AKA victimhood.

    • GrumpyBear says

      “For example, as a young black kid, I remember being ridiculed for ever displaying even moderate levels of intelligence.”

      I went to a racially mixed high school – maybe 50% white, 40% black, and 10% Asian. The amount of shit that the smart, hard-working black boys had to put up with from their “friends” was really sad. Not just being called “Oreo” – there was one kid who kept his books in the classroom because otherwise he would be physically harassed for carrying too many books around.

  30. Blue Lobster says

    Weinstein’s position that the social justice left is necessarily authoritarian, or at least coercive, is largely correct. It seems that humans have an innate desire for justice, justice being defined as getting one’s just desserts. The difference that I have perceived between those whose politics lean left vs those whose politics lean right is that right-leaners appear to more often agree that people generally get what they deserve than left-leaners, especially post the great leftward lurch of the mid-twenty teens. Since all people, more or less, desire justice, then the belief that human society is unjust is necessarily accompanied by prescriptions to remedy the perceived deficiency. These prescriptions will be coercive toward those who sincerely believe that people do get what they deserve. A left-leaning system of government and associated regulations designed to produce the desired corrections to the unjust society are likely to be viewed as authoritarian by those who believe that society is just. Of course, the problem with all of this is that the conception of what is just varies between individuals. While my preference is for what I believe to be just, and justice is necessarily a matter of belief, I recognize that the practical reality is what I think I deserve or what I think anyone else deserves is a fantasy of mine and that, ultimately, a roll of the dice will decide whether I or anyone else rises or falls, lives or dies. As fans of the film Unforgiven may agree: “deserve’s got nothing to do with it.”

    • Daniel says

      Blue Lobster,
      Good point when you said: “The difference that I have perceived between those whose politics lean left vs those whose politics lean right is that right-leaners appear to more often agree that people generally get what they deserve than left-leaners,”

      I’d amend that to the right acknowledges more of the role of an individual’s choice in getting what they deserve. In fact, one of the cultural values of the right is to evaluate success based on what someone has done with their privilege or lack thereof: a person who inherited wealth, but lost it is judged more harshly than someone who was born poor; a person who is born poor, but builds great wealth is more admirable than someone who just kept the wealth they inherited.

  31. David K. says

    This is a better piece than Harris’ first two on the subject. But I’m still not convinced he understands the distinction between postmodern critique and postmodernism. Or maybe he’s just unwilling to spell it out.
    Postmodern critique, as found in Kuhn’s seminal book and elsewhere, is a legitimate and valuable response to arrogance and hubris displayed by people in positions of power and authority. Harris lays this out quite well.
    Postmodernism is a very different thing. This is a literalist zero-sum dogma system featuring claims & tenets that are beyond questioning and must simply be accepted by the faithful. Among these claims is this: human beings are first & foremost faceless, interchangeable group representatives. Your sense of self as an individual is a distortion that must be corrected. Another claim: some groups are innately destructive and oppressive and morally inferior to the rest. Though they cannot overcome this they can minimize their inherent harmfulness by admitting guilt & inferiority, and by otherwise withdrawing from culture and society. Other groups, by contrast, are inherently saintly and thus beyond reproach, no matter what else appearances & behaviors may suggest. That such claims lead straight to mass dehumanization should be obvious to anyone not among the faithful.
    Harris notes that some beneficiaries of the Left’s “upgrade” take things to extremes, but he then fails to account for why. The why lies precisely in the mutation of critiquing methodology into fundamentalist belief. Championing the former will get you nowhere good unless & until you deal honestly and firmly with the latter.

  32. Zachary Snowdon Smith says

    I’m glad Quillette is continuing to publish these – at this rate, Uri Harris will soon become the official in-good-faith critic of the IDW.

    “In fact, Peterson did just that in an interview last year with Channel 4 News journalist Cathy Newman, which made for a very interesting dialogue. (Although it’s important to point out that Newman isn’t necessarily an expert on the positions she was defending as an interviewer.)”

    That’s one way of describing that interview.

  33. Jon says

    As with the writer’s last two piece on this same subject, this article continues to resist recognizing that those he claims refuse to engage with ideas currently popular among progressives (intersectionality, identity, etc.) are ACTIVELY ENGAGED with others on these very issues. The fact that this engagement takes the form of criticism does not mean engagement is not taking place, unless you define engagement as unconditional acceptance of ideas you disagree with in advance.

    What we may be seeing here is an variation of Argumentation from Moderation, a fallacy that involves setting your preferred beliefs as the reasonable middle ground between extremes. The classic example of this fallacy is someone calling for a 50% tax rate as a moderate compromise between radicals who want to eliminate taxes entirely, and those who want to “soak the rich” for everything they have (ignoring that the extremes the arguer places herself between are not representative of mainstream opinion or realistic alternatives).

    In this case, the writer seems to want certain positions (intersectionality et al) to be given pride of place in progressive thought without having to argue for the superiority of these positions over others. Terming such opinions an “upgrade” (vs. an “alternative”) represents a similar attempt to win an argument without having to make one.

    • Closed Range says

      Well spotted Jon, indeed the autbor takes it for granted that intersectionality and other ideas have merit, and he thinks that apparently if not every regressive leftist is a bigotted totalitarian, then they deserve to be accepted. It is also unsurprising that he uses the weasel word “engage” to mean accept, when the current IDW position of refusal and rebuttal is good enough engagement.

      Let’s be honest here, I support Quillette to write the truth about the regressive left among other things, not to give them credence. We all watch and listen to the IDW because they refute the arguments and ideas of the totalitarians on the left.

  34. Constantin says

    He is not giving up, is he?
    I regret to say that the sleaze this snake is peddling makes me gag. He openly admits that the so called “skepticism” he is peddling fuels resentment and invites totalitarian attitudes and responses. From there, he claims that leftist intellectuals jumping ship after realizing the Frankenstein this allegedly “nuanced” view of society brought into existence fail to embrace the inevitability of these great discoveries in skepticism and further fail in their duty to find an acceptable compromise. There is no compromise and there is no non-totalitarian utopia at the end of a road that disputes rationality, interprets all arguments as a power play and focuses on the platform instead of the idea, and so forth. I do not think that the members of this fabricated and bizarre concept called the “Intellectual Dark Web” failed in any way by failing to recognize the historical inevitability of a doctrine of inequality elevated to an extreme that assaults the very basic rights and institutions of a liberal society. The announced their solution and are anything but ambiguous in their concerted call to amputate this mental gangrene before it becomes as inevitable as Mr. Harris believes it to be. Not everything that appears “inevitable” and “nuanced” to self-adulating and irresponsible politicized intellectual elite is also inevitable for the rest of us.
    I simply cannot believe the hubris and lack of humility of describing one’s own ideas as an inevitable “upgrade”! It would be helpful to first establish why all enormously divisive and hostility inducing narrative is an upgrade from anything at all. The most disgusting, as far as I am concerned, paragraph in this essay is the following:

    “There might not be a universally agreed upon line; people may well disagree on where the balance should be between allowing diversity of opinions and legitimizing dangerous views, for example. It’s not obvious there is a good answer. This is where the IDW should participate, as these are some of the most important societal discussions. But anyone who doesn’t take these nuances into account isn’t going to be taken seriously.”

    I was going to begin by saying that free societies have long understood that freedom is dependent of drawing the line on free speech as close as possible to making it an absolute and fundamental right and look with hostility and suspicion at self-entitled do-gooders who think that re-defining those boundaries is a good idea.

    It does not necessitate a PhD in social or political science to figure out that one who talks about “allowing diversity of opinions” is not talking about a fundamental and inalienable right. Instead he is envisaging a society in which we can haggle and move the line according to what somebody or another deems to be dangerous views. The good news is that we have been there and tried that, and freedom came at an unimaginable human cost and effort.

    So what is Mr. Uri Harris’ peace making project, you will ask? It is simple: he would like these astute and influential left wing intellectuals to join his project and help move the boundary of what the society accepts as “dangerous views” based on the moral “upgrade’ Mr. Urris believes to be historically inevitable and somehow correct.

    I am very relieved that they plugged their ears to this obvious “Sirens’ call” and are not interested to participate in a nakedly partisan political game. Be so kind Mr. Harris and list for us the things that need to move into the forbidden territory in order conform to your “nuanced upgrade” view on society. Are discussions about appropriate vs. unhealthy levels of immigration “dangerous”? How about the notion that a nation should remain attached to a certain identity and mode of living? Come-on, let us see your list!

    Most of us are hostile to forceful social engineering and are not in a hurry to see any of the changes your kind sees as “inevitable”. We also prefer that absolute diversity of opinion remains absolutely free in matters of policy direction. Look around you for a moment and realize that nation after nation is waking up and, so long as they are still democratic, are moving irresistibly towards throwing your inevitable world view on the garbage pile where it belongs. You may not be happy that some genuine left wing intellectuals recognized the snake your worldview represents and forcefully sounds the alarm at a time when many related policies fail miserably and instill only fear and resentment in increasingly divided societies. We are not interested! Please stop these articles. We understand what ideas you advocate for and what you want to do, and we dislike it so much that it causes us distress to be exposed to them again and again. Enough is enough!

  35. augustine says

    Attempting to build new political narratives from observations of the subjective nature of social intercourse is silly. Another commenter essentially said of the author’s four points, “So what?” and I agree.

    Similarly, the idea that identity confers privilege on certain people can perhaps lead to demonising those people (bigotry). Why the perhaps qualifier here? It is difficult to take Mr. Harris seriously with this kind of disingenuousness. There is no “perhaps” about it is all too obvious that many liberals today are reveling in their public demonizing of those they feel are not progressive enough.

    The point is that we need to distinguish between the ideas themselves and the activists who apply them overzealously. So the idea of Germany as a racially “pure” aryan state– the idea in the abstract– is OK, so long as no one gets carried away in executing the dream. As long as we keep the extremists in check. Got it. Can’t some ideas just be bad?

    Mr. Harris writes as though he is blind to the frequently vicious, even violent tone of those who support the main SJW ideas he supports. Also overlooked is the fact that the established norms these activists seek to “replace” did not succeed because of grievances or Jacobin-like movements. How ideas succeed, who holds them and why, matters. There are always a subjective aspects to social developments and some groups and individuals will be favored over others by fate and by might. That subjectivity in itself merits critical study and discussion but it is not a good rationale for global changes or “upgrades”.

    If Mr. Harris seeks greater equality in society (my assumption) then he will necessarily advocate an identity-blind process. Which one is more valuable?

  36. WW says

    When you reference Vox and the Guardian as voices of reason on the left, you are REALLY underestimating how hard towards totalitarianism the left is lurching…

  37. CTE says

    Of all the the IDW I find Eric the most interesting. I’m a bit surprised by this criticism because he seems fairly open to engaging with others I’ve thought (especially someone from Quillette I imagine). In fact I’m curious why the author hasn’t himself engaged with Eric. Was that option not available?

    I would love to see more engagement but the author must be aware of how Vox and others were more than happy to associate, based on pretty suspicious adjacency, the IDW with the worst kinds of bigots. Are these the people that the IDW should engage with? Haven’t some of these outlets already used some of the same smearing tactics against Quillette?

    Regardless, be the first to engage Eric and others, let’s see where that goes. At this point it’s three articles in without any direct engagement, I really hope you don’t do a fourth.

  38. CA says

    Seems to me one bunch of lefties realized another bunch of their fellow lefties became deranged. Now they want to assure us they are not deranged. Good for them.

    I’m sure Eric Weinstein and Uri Harris are very nice unauthoritarian people and I think it quite wonderful that the IDW is “politically diverse”. But what does that have to do with generating a better understanding of who we are and how reality functions? Or have I completely mistaken the nature and purpose of the IDW?

    If the ideal of the IDW is to be politically diverse, then include me out.

  39. Reader says

    Being sincere: I don’t understand how “knowledge is inseparable from identity,” a major underlying principle that – from what I’ve seen of Derrick Bell’s work, from what I’ve seen of Robin DiAngelo amd Crenshaw, from the clear pattern of this stuff in (ie) culture writing – is backed up by the academics who made these theories, doesn’t inherently create a huge threat to empiricism and justify the worst kind of essentialism.

    I don’t understand the ‘moderate’ version of this point in particular, what Uri describes in point 3. I would hate to be a liberal professor in the social sciences and “be on the right” due to fundamentally rejecting this concept.

  40. Greg McKnight says

    Brilliant article Uri. You are clearly identifying what is missing from an otherwise brilliant IDW. There is a lot of defensiveness here in the comments section. Here is why I believe that is:

    Feelings/emotions are present in lower mammals dating back 200 million years. Rationality appeared on a large scale around 1700 AD. Rationality is a more complex epistemological tool to interpret reality. By 1850, all subjectivity had been dismissed as nonsense by almost all intellectuals in the West (“God is dead”).

    Around 1960, a new tool appeared on a large scale. It recognized that rationality is a foundation rather than an endpoint. It recognized 1) that pure rationality strips away subjectivity and meaning 2) there is validity in both objective AND subjective perspectives and 3) tried to balance individual and collective. This was what lead to postmodernism. It was originally POST-rational not PRE-rational (i.e. included phenomenology, hermeneutics, etc.). It can differentiate more perspectives than modernism but does not know how to integrate them. Therefore it is just a new layer of complexity on top of modernism/classical liberalism — but it is just a layer, NOT a replacement. There are other future layers that will go on top of both modernism and postmodernism — and they will include rather than repress traditionalism (which has been under siege for the last 100 years, and especially the last 25).

    70% of the West thinks Piaget’s formal operations is the final cognitive stage of development. They have yet to develop this new capacity. Combined with postmodernism being hijacked by very loud people that are not developmentally POST-rational and are most often PRE-rational (i.e. SJWs, deplatforming, call-out culture, etc.), it is easy to caricature the entire perspective.

    This does NOT mean there are no hierarchies and everyone will be equal. Hierarchies are natural if they are based on complexity and contribution. If they are based solely on power, they are dominator hierarchies. We need to eliminate dominator hierarchies and promote natural hierarchies.

    People that “virtue signal” are generally not interested in social justice. They are looking to “flip the script” and gain power for their group or their own ego. Postmodernism has gone off the rails. We need to put on the brakes, back out of postmodernism, firm up the rational foundation, get more people beyond formops, and soon revisit the differentiation of these more nuanced perspectives and ultimately integrate them.

  41. Donald Collins says

    Since this site does not have a way of just clicking a I agree button and couldn’t say it better myself I will just repost the response a fellow commenter gave because it is true

    doug deeper
    May 7, 2019
    @Larla & Uri,
    I believe the problem lies with the power of the leftist extremists and the cowardice of the “reasonable” leftists. The Left (to use a simple name) have effective control of nearly every institution in the West. They allow their extremists to rule the campus, social media, the corporate world, Hollywood, old media, etc., and go virtually unpunished.

    You two are saying, what about us, the reasonable Left? My answer would be, you are hiding behind your extremists. There is almost zero pushback by you against the bullying, even violent tactics of the leftist extremists. If the “reasonable” left had any strength whatsoever, the bullying would go down.
    But the bullying grows worse every day.

  42. Stephen Pierson says

    Uri, how does increased skepticism toward any of the things you name constitute a “factual claim”? It seems to constitute a fact, not a claim, that there is increased skepticism on the Left toward the things named. Put differently, I fail to see how increased skepticism toward literature as universal (whatever the means) is a claim of any kind. I strikes me as little more than an observation. In other words, if I say certain of my friends exhibit increased skepticism toward whiteness studies, how is this a claim of any type, if what I say is factual?

  43. Daniel says

    That’s all very well and good, but by the Postmoderns’ own measure, the claim that the “upgrade” is composed of factual claims is itself a power grab. To pretend that these thoughts are in any way objective is just as much a hegemonic attempt to ostracize non-like-minded “others” as any religious claims to Truth.

    So what’s the answer? If there’s no objective standard, what are we to do? We might not be able to incontrovertibly define the right way to interpret the world, but we can generate a hella long list of WRONG ways to interpret the world. The ones that aren’t clearly maladaptive, dysfunctional, hateful or idiotic are systems of interpretation that just might work. You try them out and see if it matches with reality. Then you have the humility to acknowledge if it doesn’t work, and you make an adjustment and try something else.

    The SJW “upgrades” are systems of interpretation that are actually quite useful in describing and navigating authoritarian, deeply immoral structures, like North Korea, Nazi Germany, or today’s University faculty culture. In describing everyday life, though, they are utterly useless. They belong squarely on the list of interpretive systems that are maladaptive, dysfunctional etc.; right between dealing-with-problems-by-drinking-battery-acid (a useless way of understanding the world if there ever was one!), and crawling-under-a-table-and-crying-whenever-confronted-with-something-new.

    So what is an interpretive framework that is valid? Look around you and see what works. Ask people questions. We’re all muddling through this together. But know this: we wouldn’t be faced with this gawd-awful mess on the Left if their thinking had any correspondence to everyday life.

    • Reader says

      “That’s all very well and good, but by the Postmoderns’ own measure, the claim that the “upgrade” is composed of factual claims is itself a power grab. To pretend that these thoughts are in any way objective is just as much a hegemonic attempt to ostracize non-like-minded “others” as any religious claims to Truth.”

      This is a great point.

  44. Closed Range says

    As far as I’m concerned, the IDW are doing just fine as they are, and telling it like it is about the left is engaging enough. Since this is the third article reiterating Uri Harris’s rather disingenuous point, what worries me is that Quillette will keep publishing rehashes of this same thing. It’s time for Uri to admit it wasn’t his finest moment, to stop digging a hole in the ground, and to move on to a different subject. I will be looking forward to seeing him write something a little bit better.

    • jw says

      It is interesting to watch Uri react to the IDW’s message of “this totalitarian push towards a false Diversity is evil” with “ummm yeah, but why isn’t the IDW more diverse”.

      The entire point of the IDW is flying 10,000 feet over his head.

      • augustine says

        Good point. How diverse does the opposition to totalitarian ideas have to be to satisfy Uri Harris?

        • hans says

          It would appear it must be diverse enough to include all the ideas that support and produce totalitarian policies. Or maybe even the totalitarian policies themselves as well?!

  45. Lydia says

    ” I think Weinstein is missing a third group: those who have accepted the upgrade, but haven’t become authoritarian, bigoted, or anti-intellectual. This group makes up the majority of the current mainstream cultural left, in my opinion.”

    Who are these ” current mainstream cultural left”? Where are they? Are they in the universities? Silicon valley? Are they government bureaucrats? Non-profit activists? I find all of the above very scary. Statists.

    IOW, your message is don’t broad brush paint people like we do you. When we do it it’s sound reasoning. Yawn.

    From my perspective you guys are nothing but a lot of sin sniffing thought policing Puritans who have had the power to ruin people for having different views. I am from the “leave people alone faction”.stop trying to social engineer our lives. After doing so to the point of marginalizing and ruining people, you seem shocked that there is push back. An arrogant enough to view yourselves as the arbiters of the IDW. Sigh.

  46. Peter says

    “If anything, they’re more nuanced and intellectual than the views they replace, since they try to take into account the complicated ways that discourse, behaviour, identity, and privilege intertwine.”

    This is so wrong. I avoid reading anything personal about the identity or personal life of my favourite writers. Why? Because in my experience there is a profound disconnection between excellent literary work and the author.

    I spent a lot of time in the company of poets, novelists etc. There was an apparatchik, who would fire you immediately if you told a joke critical of the Communist Party. But he wrote very good romantic/erotic literature.

    An excellent novelist in one of his last works described a disturbing case of sexual misconduct/abuse in which he participated as a teenager. He was obnoxious personally, too. But he had photographic memory and was an excellent observer.

    An extremely talented and intelligent poet was a nice person, as far as I could tell. But his neighbours wanted to move away from him ASAP because of wild parties, violent quarrels with his girlfriends…

    Many in the literary society had problems with alcohol, but as a rule did not write about it. Some were of course ruined by substance abuse.

    Italian writer Ignazio Silone, who wrote some excellent work, has been now exposed as an informant for the nasty Mussolini’s secret police OVRA, snitching on his colleagues from the Communist Party, which he later deserted. But he was one of the rare European intellectuals who exposed the duplicity and lies of the communists in detail even before Stalin’s death.

  47. John Galt says

    The good, say the mystics of muscle, is Society—a thing which they define as an organism that possesses no physical form, a super-being embodied in no one in particular and everyone in general except yourself….Man’s mind, say the mystics of muscle, must be subordinated to the will of Society…. Man’s standard of value, say the mystics of muscle, is the pleasure of Society, whose standards are beyond man’s right of judgment and must be obeyed as a primary absolute. The purpose of man’s life, [say the mystics of muscle] is to become an abject zombie who serves a purpose he does not know, for reasons he is not to question…. His reward, say the mystics of muscle, will be given on earth—to his great-grandchildren.

  48. thatsmysecretcap says

    The author seems to be missing the point. It’s true that denying the realities of modern life is wrong, but I don’t think you will find most serious IDW commentators denying the facts. What the author actually wants is “compromise” in the sense that the conversation should focus on their ideas and interests, which can only lead to and their only reason for insisting is to eventually enact policy and public action in alignment with their ideology. This is the conflict. Human civilization works better to the extent that it is merit based, race blind, non discriminatory, and all the other aspirational ideas that lofty documents like the constitution talk about. The fact that reality doesn’t match the aspirations isn’t a reason to endlessly flagellate ourselves and each other while enacting racist, discriminatory policies in a constant battle of unintended consequences. If the activists were focused on cleaning up government policy and behavior to make it more closely match the aspirations, they would have the support of people like me, and I would think the IDW. Insisting that the IDW “talk” to the intersectionalists is like insisting that the patient compromise with cancer.

  49. Defenstrator says

    I watched that video when it came out, and will make the same comment. The change to the left is not an upgrade. It is a regression to the parochial thinking of earlier times.

  50. maxmagnus says

    ” I think Weinstein is missing a third group: those who have accepted the upgrade, but haven’t become authoritarian, bigoted, or anti-intellectual. This group makes up the majority of the current mainstream cultural left, in my opinion.”

    Extremely weird claim.
    The whole point of the “upgraded left ” is to make a superior power (government, big techs like twitter or FB …) enforce their ideology and censure opposing views, without any democratic debate.
    Vox is

  51. Owntown Darts Scene says

    As some toxic dead white male put it, “confusion now hath made his masterpiece.” Did the author by any chance miss the latest example of good faith engagement with the Special Justice intellectuals of the New Statesman attempted by Sir Roger Scruton, and what ensued?

    I suppose I ought to make a longer effort to “rebut” this monumentally misguided piece, but Eric Weinstein already did an excellent job in the video linked within the article itself. Maybe Mr. Harris should watch it again. There’s a whole lot more of that nuance and intellect he is pining for in that video than any seminar of sleight-of-tongue grievance merchants you could summon up in the vaunted Ivy League.

    As a final note, this series of “call-outs” (as I believe the hip kids know them) is seriously making me question the worth of supporting Quillette. I realize the measly pittance I contribute isn’t going to make much of a dent in the publication either way, but it does mean something to me. So that’s a bummer. To be sure, Quillette still publishes good stuff too. But going partially “woke” is never going to work out for the better, funding rounds notwithstanding.

    • Rational Number says

      “As some toxic dead white male put it,” – Owntown Darts Scene.

      Would this sound less offensive if it read thus – ” As some toxic dead black male put it ” ?

  52. Richard says

    Maybe this is no big deal, but I am always taken aback a little when I see lines like this:
    We’re not going to return to a worldview that acts as if society is identity-blind. It clearly isn’t, and the world should be described as it is, not as we want it to be.
    This assumes that people should act in a sort of descriptive manner, according to the way things are. That’s a legitimate way of doing things and should be considered. However, you can’t just shrug away the idea of acting aspirationally, that is, acting the way one would like the world to be so as to create that world. I don’t think most of the IDW would disagree that identity and group identity are influential to both one’s psychology and how one is treated in society. Uri Harris clearly believes that since many problems are most easily analyzed and/or identified at the level of identity groups, the best way to solve these problems is to approach them at the level of group identity. I think most of the IDW simply disagrees with this approach (at least, the big names seem to). To my mind, though I’m sure there is diversity of opinion in the IDW on this issue, it tends to believe that focusing on group identity is more likely to continue the same mode of thought, the same cognitive schema, that led to the group identity problems in the first place, not to mention decrease social cohesion within the nation (though this always begs the question: compared to what/when?).

    • thatsmysecretcap says

      This matches my thoughts exactly. Nobody who’s serious denies that inequality and dysfunction exists. The left wants to focus on the inequality and keep subdividing and subdividing people while slyly engaging in their own kind of discrimination and favoritism. The problem with this is the same problem with communism. People are not capable of consistently, fairly, and appropriately managing these situations in a “manual” fashion. The only way to reliably handle these complex society level systems is to set up fair and just rules and effective means of enforcement (equal opportunity), then work hard to make sure things stay fair and just. There is no place in that for focused discrimination to serve the interests of an especially loud activist class. The left just wants to compromise with a little talk about victim status. How about a compromise by taking a little poison. We improve by more closely aligning with our aspirations, not getting mired down in arguing about how we should jerk our system around to serve the loudest complainers.

  53. hans says

    You cannot accept the axioms of intersectional theory and create any polices that are not authoritarian. If you see the world in terms of groups acting in their own interests, instead of in terms of free individuals, then you cannot produce policies that respect individual freedom. If you see the role of government as the SJW does an organization obligated to solve and rectify every inequality and perceived discrimination, then you cannot allow free individuals to make the decisions that lead to these inequalities. There is no liberty for collectives, there can only be a powerful centralized government willing and capable of doing what is “right” for this or that unprivileged and deserving group. All societies with any freedom are based around the idea of individuals, and all soceities based around this new “updated” social justice view of the world are as authoritarian as they are egalitarian.

    • Outraged says

      This is simply arguing in a circle; the definition of “authoritarian” is any government policy you disagree with, while the definition of “individualist” is anyone who disagrees with a government policy you favor. I’ll point out the right is and has been plenty willing to come out in favor of “authoritarian” policies like the military draft, stop-and-frisk “law-and-order” policies (and other abuses by law enforcement like civil asset forfeiture on the “war on drugs”), and remember “are you now, or have you ever been…?” Ah, but all those things are bad, and society has the right to use coercive measures to suppress them, since no one has the “freedom” to do things that are bad. Well, that’s just what the left says regarding “decisions that lead to inequalities”, and it is a species of knowledge constructivism to maintain that the relevant question is whether one “sees the world” in terms of groups acting in their own interests, as opposed to whether that actually is an accurate description of the world.

      • Peter says

        “Stop-and-frisk” policies are as a rule applied to people who do minor transgressions – jumping the subway gates, smelling of marijuana etc. Of course, police sometimes are not partcularly smart. I learned it is not a good idea to cross border controls unshaven or with a shabby straw hat.

        But it is a minor inconvenience compared to the risk of crime, terrorism…

    • Closed Range says


      Totally agree – our freedom and our happiness is predicated on the idea of the individual. Otherwise we are nothing but tokens to be played with by those who rule us.

      In many ways, modern times have given a new way of interpreting Margaret Thatcher’s comment “There is no such thing as society, there is only the individual.” Perhaps the one good thing we can draw from this episode of madness is the wisdom of the philosophy of the individual.

  54. Outraged says

    The right took a nap while the left was making the long march through the institutions, and is now paying the price.

  55. Take the typical writer at The Guardian or at Vox, say, as an example of people in this group. For the most part, these are people who wouldn’t dream of demanding that Jordan Peterson’s books be banned ….

    No, they just selectively edit his interviews, and willfully misrepresent his positions, to paint him in the word possible way. And then lazy thinkers like Michelle Goldberg repeat the lies.

  56. SurfaceReflection says

    Mr Uri,
    Ive just watched the rebelwisdom video yesterday as i appreciate mr Weinstein a lot and try to listen to most of his interviews as he always provides very interesting and often novel insights into various themes. But once i got whats this one about i was a bit disappointed. I didnt think your article even needed any specific response as it was just another media product trying to create an issue out of nothing. Erics response was on those lines as well and now i see you didnt fully understood what he said and that your starting position is in itself incorrect assumption.

    Ill not speak for Eric, of course, but i think i can point out a few things…

    You say there is a third option to that “upgrade” which is really a downgrade. But nobody sees any representation of it. All those who have accepted the downgrade inexorably become authoritarian and regressive simply because that path doesnt lead nowhere else.

    The issues you mention as examples of woes we all should generally acknowledge and worry about and take steps to correct dont exclusively belong to that “downgrade” group. Those issues are all known and accepted as such already – which was one of the points of Erics response.
    To accuse someone of being blind to them, or unaware is a false accusation.

    Secondly, your four points…
    Im always somewhat astounded how people who profess those points dont see how paradoxical and self defeating they are. Although im mostly resigned to it.

    Its the sweet seduction of making oneself believe those other people just dont see those issues, which makes them less then those who do, who then feel superior. Its nothing but broken logic fueled by egos. And egos cant come up with anything better because that kind of thinking is not supposed to be done by the ego. Its not capable of it.

    This doesnt apply to all issues and problems but is blatantly a part of these specific ideas, because:

    “Increased scepticism towards the view of discourse as a “marketplace of ideas” where rational individuals participate and the best ideas win.”

    Well then, how is it that there is no scepticism among those who preach this towards their own ideas? How come these ideas are free from those same issues and influences of behavior and non rationality? Btw, there is no such group that so strongly believes in that notion except some misguided individuals who you can find in any group or category of people. We all see that.

    “Increased scepticism towards the view of modern society as being mostly “identity-blind,” where the most competent people rise to the top. Instead, a view of society as being immersed in identity-dependent norms and structures that restrict people’s mobility.”

    Who really holds that view in such a rigid, dogmatic simplified and superficial form?
    Arent you just making up a gross accusation to make yourself seem superior? And how come your third group is free from such influences itself? So pure, unspoiled and clean?

    Increased skepticism towards the view of knowledge as being mostly identity-blind. Instead, a view of knowledge as being intertwined with identity through different experiences and in ways that can conceal identity-based blindspots.

    Again, same objection. And what kind of knowledge are we talking about here exactly? We dont have just one kind of knowledge that covers everything in our reality. At the very least there is a category of empirical knowledge about specific areas of reality that cannot be denied, if one wants to be considered sane. Physics, biology, chemistry, material sciences, for example. There are other categories of knowledge that are less researched, less agreed upon and those that evolve and change as we do so cant be resolved into fixed facts as some other categories can. Are we then to dismiss all knowledge as corrupted and not correct? If so… how come your side knowledge, including this very idea you wrote is free of that corruption and influence? Where is skepticism towards your own words? How come those are absolute and completely true?

    Increased scepticism towards the view of literature as being universal. Instead, a view that there is no such thing as a “view from nowhere” and that any literature invariably reflects a particular perspective and is tied to a particular identity, which might be unnoticeable to those whom the perspective reflects,

    You dont say? Isnt that just hilarious? Notice anything ironic in there? Or is that mirror you are looking into non reflective?
    Again, i cant even fathom who this mysterious group who thinks “literature is universal” is. I never heard of it and have never seen any example of it. But the absurd accusation tells a story by itself.
    Might wanna keep those words in mind when you are reading your preferred type of literature and think about your own identity. Or… you are so pure, clean, faultless and perfect it doesnt apply to you and your group?

    I doubt there is any large specific organized groups of people that actually think or subscribe to those absurdities you list. Although no doubt there are individuals who think in such crude, calcified ways.

    None of them are in IDW though. And most of us all are generally very well aware of such issues.
    We have been aware for … probably a few millenia already. probably even before Socrates, Plato, Heraclitus or any other ancient philosopher and early scientists, because we lost much of the records of earlier ages than that.

  57. Rational Number says

    Utter nonsense. There is no current gender or racial bias in modern western nations. Well there is, but I dont expect to see you taking up the cause of oppressed white males, as even though this is the case, it doesnt fit the narrative youre looking for.
    Things are in general, even and fair across the board. The screaming lynch mob left, however, continues to reinvent the meaning of words to justify their cause and existence.
    Society and companies just need the Kahunas to ignore the social media noise.

  58. Peter says

    Uri, please stop this nonsense about identity, privilege etc. One of my favorite books in youth was the fascinating Gods, Graves and Scholars: The Story of Archaeology by C. W. Ceram. Published originally in German in 1949 and later in 27 other languages, Ceram’s book sold over 5 million copies, and is still in print today.

    According to Wikipedia: “The author chose to write under a pseudonym to distance himself from his earlier work as a propagandist for Hitler’s Third Reich.”

    This did not prevent it from being translated and published in Eastern Europe when it was under communist rule. I wonder what the virtuous crowd would do today if it chose to pick on author’s background.

  59. estepheavfm says

    Yes, Beethoven quartets are Western. It is true that “identity” can explain why this music has zero value to many persons. It can also help us understand the burning of the library at Alexandria.

  60. Rev. Wazoo! says

    Congratulations and welcome to the IDW!

    Mr Harris,

    Welcome to the IDW!
    The iterative process of presenting your arguments, listening to counter-arguments and honing your own into considerably better shape combined with examination of topics some consider taboo qualifies you on the intellectual side and publishing in Quillette certifies the dark web element.

    Third time’s a charm, it seems, and you’ve now produced a piece short on guilt by association or misconstrual and long on reasoned argument. Your notable insight that most conservatives have now adopted most liberal social positions is important but unfortunately you’ve buried this light under a bushel of entitlement and denial of others’ lived experiences. The IDW doesn’t owe the Radical Left anything (what you euphemistically term the modern left) and are mostly just what they have experienced: liberals who’ve been marginalized “with extreme prejudice” by that Radical Left and have rebelled against it.

    You’ve dropped the misdirection of guilt-by-association barbs marring your first article (“Rubin…regularly appears at speaking events with conservative organisations… and frequently retweets—and is retweeted by—prominent conservatives…” ) Also, you’ve used less blatant projection/accusation of your own faults as in your second piece. Its title, “Caricaturing the Left Doesn’t Benefit the Intellectual Dark Web” was a tour-de-force of that which most accurately reveals your ideological fragility and would most accurately read, “Caricaturing the Intellectual Dark Web Doesn’t Benefit the (Radical) Left.” It’s precisely the intentionally malicious and wildly inaccurate caricaturing of the IDW that have constituted such a series of blunderous own goals that you now sue for peace. Or at least a piece of the action…

    Meanwhile, you sadly continue with the re-definitional bait-and-switch technique endemic on the Radical Left which has led it into multiple cul-de-sacs and attendent disrepute. I recommend you drop this too. Initially demanding the IDW “engage with “…pointing out racial or gender disparities, arguing that social norms confer privileges on white people, or suggesting that giving a platform to speakers lends credibility to their views in the eyes of impressionable viewers,” is revealed as an ingenuous bait-and-switch in your third piece when “embrace” is finally switched with “engage with” completely changing the ostensible meaning but revealing intent. Indeed, detractors of your IDW colleagues often fault them for doing nothing but engaging with Radical Left intersectional issues.

    Did you think no one would notice that you used the word “engage” when meaning “embrace” or did you yourself not even notice? (An admittedly difficult confession, if so…) Having succeeded with the legitimate encouragement to “engage” doesn’t endow the petitioner to substitute “embrace” in its place like a shell-game huckster. As a member of the IDW, we expect more of you than employing such cheap tricks and trust you’ll continue to up your intellectual game in future.

    We welcome your contribution and look forward to your next one.

  61. There is no such thing as “the left”. For a long time, there were the liberal left and the radical left. Those were relatively recently joined by a third side, the identitarian left. This one is not an upgrade, but a new branch. It did not split the left in two sides (because there already were two sides), but created a new, much deeper split between the universalism of the liberal and radical left and the particularism of the identitarians.

    Universalist believe, that every human being should have the same rights and obligations, totally independent from its identity. Meanwhile the particularists believe, that ones identity can grant extra rights or obligations.

    The identitarian left is often viewed as authoritarian, bigoted, and anti-intellectual because very loud and visible parts are behaving exactly like this, at least in the eyes of a liberal. Judging people by their unchangeable identity while totally ignoring context just feels wrong and outdated and shares at least something very fundamental with the identitarian right.

    Being liberal leftish myself, I have no problems with different views and finding compromises. This openness and pragmatism might be what made ideas of the liberal left so successful, that they’re not even viewed as left anymore, but are mainstream now. It’s still far away from being perfect, but it’s a huge leap ahead compared to some decades ago. With this successes behind, it really sucks to be treated like shit by identitarien lefts just because we have different opinions and are open for compromises. Whike the identitarians might have their own successes, I firmly believe, that it does more harm than good by alienating huge parts of society, which incorrectly sees them as “the left” and totally forgets about the rest.

  62. RB Glennie says

    I’m really glad that this exchange is happening here at Quillette. Ironically, it verifies that the marketplace of ideas' is the best method of getting at the truth, or least a truth... as Uri Harris published his first piece, which was criticized in turn; he then published the second piece, to clarify, which was also criticized by Eric Weinstein. Harris now published this third piece, to clarify again his points, which as I said I'm very happy he did because it exposes the falsity of his original proposition, which is that thewoke’ / SJW / `social justice’ left-wing philosophy is NOT inherently authoritarian, illiberal, anti-Enlightenment and racist and sexist to add. It clearly is these things and this is why the neo-socialist left is so dead against the marketplace of ideas.

  63. Mercury says

    I don’t see how that NYT article proves anything about systemic racism against blacks in America. Show me a group of kids whose parents stay together, where family and education are high-value, constant themes during their childhood and adolescence (like pretty much every dirt-poor Asian family in the country), and I’ll show you a group of kids who WAY outperform, as a group, kids who don’t meet this criteria.

    The some-father-somewhere-in-the-general-vicinity canard is pure BS. Yes, if you grow up fatherless, you’re better off having some adult male role models around than not, but it’s not the same and, in a country where 70+% of black kids are born fatherless, there simply aren’t enough of these adult, male role models around in black populations to move the needle very much.

    The one guy they single out as being a black, American success story (who has an African-immigrant-American father and therefore a slightly different cultural background BTW) had an intact family structure at home when he was a kid, parents who didn’t name him after a consumer product and who makes an effort not to dress or act like a gangster. Imagine that.

  64. “This means that much of social justice activism and politics will continue to be built around identity, and will focus on things like pushing against social norms and emphasizing diversity. It just won’t be possible, it seems to me, to dismiss these things and be taken seriously as a liberal.”

    I agree 100%. To me, this is proof that the social justice movements on the left have become a cult-like, authoritarian religion. If we part ways with accepting Critical Race Theory for example, as anything less than established fact, we are associated with ‘the right.’ We’re racists if we’re white, ‘Uncle Tom’ if we’re a POC. There are countless academic papers on CRT to cite after-all, like a Bible. There is no longer a middle ground.

    For instance, Jordan Peterson never hesitates to accept that gender identity is learned, socially constructed. This doesn’t matter, he’s still not taken seriously by most liberals. What he argues is that gender is not 100% socially constructed, we don’t really know to what extent this is true. We need more research and open, free debate to further our knowledge. There’s clearly a biological factor also. When evidence that comes from evolutionary biology contradicts the accepted ideology of 3rd wave feminism or gender and sexual studies, it is heresy. A person is labeled ‘alt right’, a misogynist or transphobe, etc.

    I don’t know how many people who identify as liberal might be questioning this extremism, it’s clear that it’s not safe to part ways with the SJWs much, without risk of social ostracism, even loss of reputation and employment in some circumstances.

  65. Simon Newman says

    If talking to extremists requires accepting their Narrative Frame, it may be best not to engage with them. That applies whether the extremists frame the Source of All Evil as the Jews, the Bourgeoisie, or the Straight White Men.

    Uri Harris appears to define “engage with” as “Accept Narrative Frame of”, so I think his call is best rejected. Of course IDW should debate with social justice activists – but without accepting their most abhorrent premises.

  66. Jon G says

    “We’re not going to return to a worldview that acts as if society is identity-blind. It clearly isn’t, and the world should be described as it is, not as we want it to be.”

    Fair ‘nuf. But the core of the intent of social activism is homogeneity of the resulting culture – as defined by them. “Multi-cultural” by definition means that some members of one culture will believe and do things that some members of another disagree with, or perhaps vociferously deride. So-called social justice activists seek to remove all objectionable thoughts and behaviors. What Uri explores is the degree to which such SJA participants choose to use violence/force in achieving said homogeneity, trying to split-out the overtly violent from the more passive Useful Idiots.

    It’s an intellectual smoke and mirrors defense for an intellectual Black Block tactic.

    It’s no different from the claim that “all Muslims are not terrorists” but only the individual bad actors – so one must accept all Muslims and not pre-judge. Noting that this appears to be a debating tactic, rather than a real philosophy, as the same folks who market this moralism insist that all gun-owners must comply with draconian rules because there are some bad-actor gun owners.

    The article strains to tease-out the distinction between the muggers who a) say they have a knife, b) show you they have a knife, and c) hold the knife to your throat while insisting that you surrender your grandmother’s gold locket.

  67. Love Liberty says

    Claims which are worth investigating, and when shown and measured can then be acted upon. But what the ideologues want to do is take their conjecture and use it to change society.

    No, first do the studies, make measurements, show that the claimed effects are real and big enough to be worth acting upon.

  68. Ullrich Fischer says

    The Authoritarian Left are not Social Justice Warriors, nor are they Social Justice Activists, they are in a cult: The Cult of the Woke (COW for short) which has certain elements of religious cults. They have a dogma consisting of beliefs which cannot be questioned. They have a puritanical mindset which consigns all who disagree with any tenet of the dogma to the outer darkness. They even have their own version of original sin (being cis-hetero-white-male). In addition to those unlovely characteristics, they embrace guilt by association and a highly divisive hierarchy of oppression. By pushing all these things, they are achieving more credibility for the far right which is precisely the opposite of their avowed aims. The COW are doing almost exactly the same things as Senator McCarthy was doing during the height of the communist scare of the 1950s. Sadly, so far no one has confronted one of their spokesmodels (maybe Glenn Greenwald would be a good example of one) with the historic rebuke which marked the end of the McCarthy era: “Have you no decency, sir?”

  69. Robin Collins says

    Does the identitarian left EVEN WANT an identity-blind society one day? If not, let’s stop pretending they’re just realists. They’re actively fighting against an identity-blind world and for an identitarian divided world. That’s a peculiar strategy for solidarity. The victors here are the right identitarians.

  70. ALAN WHITE says

    The inevitable fracturing of the progressive far left has begun….

  71. Malek al Kuffar says

    Are intellectual darkies classified as people of color?

  72. Red Allover says

    What strikes one most about this discussion is its lack of reference or quotes or seemingly any sound knowledge of actual Marxist theories or texts. Instead we get the usual Boris Badanov cartoon caricature based on ignorance. I am sorry but, by global standards, the level of knowledge of Marxism here is comical or perhaps pathetic. This is not your fault–it is the sinister effect of seven decades of McCarthyism. Back in 1956, when FBI agents padlocked the Communist Party’s Jefferson School in Manhattan, it had five thousand students learning about Socialism, the history of the working class, etc. This is what we need today. What makes the workers weak in America is our lack of class consciousness. For working people, studying Marxism is imperative if we are to free ourselves.

  73. Colin Turfus says

    “The point is that we need to distinguish between the ideas themselves and the activists who apply them overzealously.” It would be very nice if those who “try to take into account the complicated ways that discourse, behaviour, identity, and privilege intertwine” were to apply such distinctions between factual statements and overzealous activists when dealing with their critics and to offer a stout defence on that basis to prevent them from being hounded out of employment on the basis of what overzealous activists might or might not do, purportedly on account of their hearing certain facts being stated. Am I seeing a double standard here? Or am I just not being nuanced enough?

  74. Interesting. I am also unconvinced about the argument that the Left has become authoritarian. It has seemed that Libertarians enjoy that sort of name calling, as they crusade against anything authoritarian. It makes them feel morally superior. I believe it is better to accurately note that most on the Left believe things that are not true. Some are caught up in cultist groupthink while some are sociopathic. They understand that they can use false narratives to alter society to gain power. Beneath all of it is anti-whiteness, the religion of the Left.

  75. Rachelle Halpern says

    I don’t agree with Uri. I see that the authoritarian bigoted anti-intellectual trend has penetrated deeply into everyday folks who consider themselves “the liberal left”. It is very visible in Internet forums composed of people who share that political/social perspective and see it as the hallmark of morality. Making a comment which deviates from the prevailing view brings on instant attacks. The first one is always in moral terms: your opinions are bad, sick, etc. Not only is there no discussion about the intellectual merits of the statement, there is an absolute rejection to consider the thinking when their “moral” principle is not satisfied. There is bigotry and plenty of it. You might be told that as a “white” person, even a “white Jew”, you should keep quiet, not talk, listen and learn, when an issue relates to race, even told GTFOH!. Even in matters not related to race or even the American experience, the experience one shares with other discriminated groups is deemed as nothing that a “woman of color” could not understand just as well. Invalidation of the experience of being white (or passing as white) in our race obsessed society is now common among the entire combined left, media, Hollywood, and average subscribers. It’s much much deeper than what Uri claims.

  76. Paul Ivor says

    The trouble is it’s not ‘more nuanced’ and it’s not new. It has a trickle-down lineage all the way down from Nietzsche’s perspectivism and it’s become very watered down in the process.

  77. asdf says

    The entire NYTimes article, like all of Vox and all of SJWism, collapses once you account for what was written in The Bell Curve and other similar sources.

    That’s why Vox had to attack Charles Murray so hard, because their entire worldview collapses once you accept his facts.

    SJWism vindicates Murray’s claim that there is no way to use genetic-denialism as a kind of “noble lie”. Inevitably, people like Vox weaponize the noble lie for their own nefarious purposes.

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