Politics, recent

How the IDW Can Avoid the Tribalist Pull

In the year since the so-called “Intellectual Dark Web” made its first public appearance in a New York Times feature by Bari Weiss, the informal network of “renegade” scholars and journalists on the outs with the cultural establishment has continued to draw attention and controversy. One bone of contention is whether the IDW is a right-wing cabal as its detractors often assert, or a politically diverse group of mostly centrists and disaffected liberals as its defenders insist. Last month, a blogpost by cybersecurity expert Daniel Miessler making the case for the latter (and a related tweet from IDW stalwart Sam Harris) elicited a response from Quillette contributor Uri Harris arguing that in fact, the IDW skews too far to the right and does not engage sufficiently with progressive, left-wing views. This led to some Twitter fireworks, two follow-up essays by Harris responding to critics and clarifying his position, and more Twitter debate.

I consider myself a sympathetic and sometimes critical observer of the IDW, and arguably something of a fellow traveler. (I’m not overly fond of the term “Intellectual Dark Web,” but “Intellectual Dissent Web” would also work.) As such, I think Uri Harris makes some excellent points. It’s quite true, for instance, that while IDW-associated political commentator and YouTube show host Dave Rubin holds liberal positions on a number of issues, he is currently aligned with Republicans and with the pro-Donald Trump camp. It is also true that Jordan Peterson, the Canadian psychologist and best-selling author, is essentially a conservative figure—and one whose arguments are often not very conducive to bridge-building or dialogue across political divides. I also agree that if the IDW’s mission is to challenge orthodoxies and defend intellectual—and individual—freedom at a time when such a defense is essential, it has to be nonpartisan and guard against orthodoxies of its own.

However, Harris also misses the mark in some important respects. He argues that to be genuinely diverse politically, the IDW needs to be inclusive not just of traditional liberalism, but of what he calls liberalism’s recent “upgrade”: the “social justice” progressivism focused on “structural oppression,” identity, privilege, etc. Harris argues that, while SocJus progressivism can become authoritarian and bigoted, it doesn’t have to be, and its non-authoritarian forms can be engaged. He also disputes IDW claims that the left’s embrace of this ideology signifies abandonment of reason: on the contrary, he asserts, it is ascendant because “it provides a more coherent explanation of social phenomena and clearer solutions for improving society” than traditional liberalism.

Harris sums up several key points in this ideological shift. Modern progressives, he writes, distrust “the view of discourse as a ‘marketplace of ideas’ where rational individuals participate and the best ideas win”; instead, they believe that responses to discourse are often non-rational and that a factually wrong, but clever or emotionally appealing argument can prevail when given a credible platform. They also reject the view of modern Western society as an “identity-blind” meritocracy, pointing to ways in which minorities and women are held back by race or gender-based norms and prejudices or by lack of opportunity. Lastly, says Harris, the new progressivism sees knowledge and literature as inevitably wedded to a particular perspective and identity rather than universal and “identity-blind.”

But, first of all, this argument short-shrifts and even caricatures traditional liberalism. How many “old-style” liberals—or, for that matter, moderates or conservatives—ever believed that human beings respond to discourse as perfectly rational actors, or that a free “marketplace of ideas” will invariably thwart demagogues or fanatics? (You’d have to be stunningly ignorant of history to be that optimistic.) Rather, the “classical” liberal view is that, given the alternatives, maximal freedom of speech is best. It is also safe to say that even before the “Great Awokening” of the 2010s, most liberals and many non-liberals were well aware of the reality of racial, gender-based, or class barriers to equal opportunity; they just didn’t reduce all human behavior and interactions to a sum of oppressions and bigotries, or seek to remedy these problems by enshrining identity.

Secondly, I believe Harris significantly underrates the degree to which “upgraded” progressivism itself, not just its excesses, poses a danger to the foundational values of a free society—and to which the ideology itself makes these excesses highly likely.

Skepticism toward the free marketplace of ideas, especially coupled with the belief that speech hurtful to “marginalized people” equals “harm” and even “violence”—a core tenet of modern progressivism which Harris does not mention—logically leads to “deplatforming,” not only of cartoon neo-Nazis and other fringe extremists but of people with mainstream non-progressive views. The narrative of privilege and “structural oppression” almost by definition turns the “privileged” into witting or unwitting oppressors who can be easily demonized. The notion that ideas and artistic expression are inextricably bound to identity leads directly to the notion that people should “stay in their lane” when discussing issues or writing stories.

A comprehensive critique of “privilege theory” is beyond the scope of this article; but notably, this framework has been criticized not only by conservatives or IDW and “IDW-adjacent” types but by some leftists, such as Phoebe Maltz Bovy in the underrated 2017 book, The Perils of “Privilege.” The shift from racism and sexism to the discourse of “white privilege,” “male privilege,” and even “whiteness” and “toxic masculinity” shifts the focus from improvements for blacks or women to blaming whites or men; in many cases, it also reframes basic civil rights (such as fair treatment by the police and the courts) as unearned advantages to feel guilty about.

Does “modern progressivism” really offer either a superior insight into current problems, or better solutions? Harris cites no real evidence to back up that assertion. In fact, many key progressive claims fall apart under scrutiny. The notion that “implicit bias” tests can measure subconscious racism and that educating people about such bias can reduce actual racist behavior is largely discredited. So is the much-touted “stereotype threat” as a cause of racial or sexual gaps in performance on math tests and other tasks. The premise of the Black Lives Matter movement—that blacks in the U.S. are routinely slaughtered by the police—is called into question by data that paint a far more complicated picture: police officers are more likely to use force toward black suspects than white ones, but not deadly force. Accounts of rampant sexist bias in science are strongly challenged by major studies showing that women are now faring at least as well as men. Other theoretical constructs such as “white fragility” are based on pure speculation.

As for solutions, so far modern progressivism’s most notable achievement may have been helping elect Trump; at least some evidence points to a backlash against “political correctness” as a  factor. It almost certainly weakened left-wing activist movements such as the Women’s March with endless and nasty identity-based squabbles. It arguably undermines efforts to address social problems rooted in wealth disparities and economic disadvantage, since class barely exists on the “woke” radar, almost entirely eclipsed by racial/ethnic and sexual identities. Indeed, a recent study found that liberals sensitized to “white privilege” tend to become unsympathetic to the travails of the white poor.

Modern progressivism has other negative effects as well. While it’s too simplistic to assert that the apparent recent surge in white nationalism and other far-right extremism is fueled mainly by “PC culture,” there are certainly young people who get sucked into the extremist fringe after an encounter with SocJus excesses (The Washingtonian recently featured such a story). Identity-focused progressivism also effectively weakens the stigma against bigotry, both by concept-creeping it into meaninglessness and by making race and gender-based insults acceptable as long as they involve “punching up.”

So, while Harris is right that modern progressivism should not be caricatured or demonized as Nazi-like—and that some of its proponents are absolutely worth engaging in dialogue—I believe it’s entirely appropriate and even essential for an intellectual freedom movement today to define itself at least in part in opposition to the identitarian left.

However, it is equally essential for such a movement to stand against the identitarian/populist right, and that can be a blind spot for some IDW figures.

Rubin has a particularly troubling track record in this regard. (I should note that I was a guest on his show in 2016 and had an entirely positive experience.) He has been rightly criticized, not only by progressives but by libertarians such as Anthony Fisher, for providing a sympathetic forum to far-right activists including Paul Joseph Watson, Mike Cernovich, Stefan Molyneux, and Lauren Southern.

Rubin and his supporters typically respond that he cannot be faulted for interviewing controversial guests. True enough; however, he doesn’t simply have them on but treats them as allies against “SJWs” or “the regressive left” and allows them to masquerade as reasonable anti-PC centrists. There is a video compilation of Rubin addressing Watson (a YouTuber who has promoted conspiracy theories about water fluoridation, Barack Obama’s birth certificate, and the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting), Cernovich (who has flogged pedophilia panics and declared that “diversity is code for white genocide”), and Molyneux (who routinely rants against “low-IQ,” “rapey” minorities) as fellow members of a “new center.” When Southern, a Canadian ex-libertarian turned white identitarian, appeared on Rubin’s show, she argued—unchallenged—that alt-right icon Richard Spencer was not really a “white supremacist” but merely a supporter of a “white ethnostate.”

While these are particularly egregious examples, the problem is certainly bigger than one YouTube talk show host. Because the IDW coalesces around dissent from modern cultural orthodoxies, its discourse often addresses topics surrounded by taboos: possible negative effects of large-scale migration from Third World countries into the West; innate differences in cognitive skills and behavioral traits, particularly between different ethnic or racial groups; false accusations of sexual abuse; debate about transgender identities; critiques of Islam. Those are, of course, entirely legitimate questions. Unfortunately, they are also magnets for people who actually do fit the “woke” caricatures of racists, misogynists and bigots: those who liken migrants to vermin and viruses, who are obsessively preoccupied with stupid, lazy and criminal blacks or lying predatory women, who loathe transgender women as evil patriarchal usurpers of womanhood or see every Muslim as a potential jihadist.

This doesn’t mean dissenters should avoid hard topics; but these topics should be approached with awareness of their pitfalls. In a 2006 article about the study of genetically-based group differences, Steven Pinker wrote that liberalism provides us with “intellectual and moral tools to defuse the dangers” of tackling concepts that have been used to deny the full humanity of some groups: specifically, “a commitment to universal human rights, and to policies that treat people as individuals rather than as representatives of groups.” There is no question that today, this liberal idea is under assault from the nationalist/populist right as much as the “social justice” left, both movements rooted in identity/grievance politics. The IDW should be equally outspoken in criticizing the former as the latter. (Sam Harris’s 2017 blogpost on the Trump administration’s so-called “Muslim ban” is an admirable model of such a stance.)

There are several traps an IDW-type movement needs to avoid:

Beware of replacing PC narratives with simplistic, factually shaky counternarratives. The issue of Islamism, Islam, and Muslim immigrants in the West is an instructive one. There has certainly been an abysmal failure on the modern left to address the problem of Islamist extremism as well as the dominance of ultraconservatism in much of mainstream Islam, and the related problem of Muslim immigrant communities resistant to basic Western cultural norms from gender equality to religious pluralism. (Progressive schizophrenia on these issues has led to such bizarre moments as the 2015 controversy at Goldsmiths, University of London, where feminist and gay student organizations sided with a conservative Islamic group trying to no-platform Iranian-born ex-Muslim feminist and secularist Maryam Namazie in the name of protecting Muslim students’ “safe space.”)

But the anti-PC counternarrative has its own problems, from a tendency to generalize about Islam to a tendency toward panic-mongering about the “Muslim peril”—and toward shoddy treatment of facts. Are immigrants from majority-Muslim countries disproportionately implicated in sex offenses in some European countries such as Sweden? Yes, but it’s also true that the spike in reported sexual assaults in Sweden is partly related to the feminist-driven expansion of the definition of sexual assault. (Muslim panic meets feminist sex panic.) Do many Muslims living in Western countries harbor anti-gay and anti-Jewish prejudices as well as deeply reactionary views of women’s roles? Yes, but it’s also true that some depressing poll numbers need to be interpreted with caution: one such survey in the U.K. was limited to neighborhoods that are at least 20 percent Muslim, which leaves out about half of the UK’s Muslim residents and may skew the results toward a less assimilated, more socially conservative population.

The enemy of your enemy is not always your friend. Alliances with people with whom one has differences are essential to any movement’s success, but only if the lines are drawn somewhere. Any backlash against “political correctness” will attract not only genuine liberals and mainstream conservatives, but far-right extremists, white supremacists, misogynists and other odious characters—not to mention opportunistic grifters. Moral considerations aside, such allies can only discredit the movement. (The sorry saga of Milo Yiannopoulos is an instructive example.) Anti-white racism and anti-male sexism on the progressive left are entirely legitimate topics. But going on white supremacist podcasts to discuss them in friendly conversation with the hosts is a terrible idea, and criticism of such media appearances is not “guilt by association.”

Just because the social justice left routinely labels people racists, bigots, haters and Nazis for dissenting from its orthodoxies does not mean actual white supremacist, misogynistic, homophobic or fascistic rhetoric should be excused as “wrongthink” or as “edgy” defiance of SJW nannyism. I believe “hate speech” laws are pernicious—I fully agree with U.S. First Amendment jurisprudence on this point—but this does not preclude stigmatizing speech that promotes hatred or contempt toward groups of people, let alone speech that advocates violence or discrimination. Obviously, this stigma should rely on objective, narrow definitions of bigoted or violence-promoting speech and should extend to hateful rhetoric toward whites, males, and other “privileged” groups. But without it, civil conversation is impossible.

Yet, just this month, IDW-linked Twitter posters have championed a 14-year-old YouTuber who has made racist “comedy” videos, posted social media screeds advocating genocide of Muslims—whom she called “sandniggers”—and made explicit death threats against YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki over a YouTube policy disabling comments on videos with minors in them. One can debate whether YouTube should restrict such speech (which, as a private corporation, it has every right to do), or whether a teenager with a large far-right following is an appropriate target for a journalist exposé. However, some of the defenses did not merely advocate for the girl’s free speech rights but praised her “biting” commentary.

Criticize the mainstream media, but don’t go down the road of media-bashing and conspiracy theories. Progressive bias in the mainstream media is quite real and has been getting markedly worse in recent years. I myself have criticized biased “narrative journalism.” But this does not justify claiming that the New York Times or CNN are just as bad as Alex Jones’s conspiracy site, Infowars, or embracing the pro-Trump camp’s assertions that mainstream coverage of the Trump/Russia story amounted to a “hoax.”

Avoid the tribalist pull. In our polarized political and media environment, there are powerful forces that encourage tribalist alignment. When you develop a large conservative following—as IDW figures, even ones on the left such as former Evergreen College professor Bret Weinstein, tend to do—there is natural temptation not to alienate one’s supporters. The economics of crowdfunding add further incentives in that direction: one need not deliberately pander or engage in “grifting” to be mindful of the fact that some opinions may literally cost you.

Regardless of how one feels about the “IDW” brand, the heterodox movement associated with that label has had a significant and largely positive cultural impact. Its future depends on whether it can (1) avoid becoming the proverbial “herd of independent minds,” (2) steer clear of alliances that are at odds with its broad humanist, pro-freedom outlook, and (3) appeal to a broad range of politically diverse men and women who reject both left and right identitarianism.


Cathy Young is a Russian-born American journalist and author. You can follow her on Twitter @CathyYoung63

Feature photo by Andy Ngo.


  1. Very, very, very good. As you note, the IDW ‘enemy of my enemy’ stuff is not a sufficent foundation to builed a “movement.” The right and left factions of IDW are too different as we are now seeing. That’s fine. There is another subtle problem though – if right wingers are correct about the authoritarian left but wrong about other issues, that doesn’t mean that their criticism of the authoritarian left isn’t correct. I think we should look at the authoritarian left as a bad idea, like white nationalism or racism. I don’t think you need movements or parties that cross the left/right divide to do that. The issues that divide the center left and center right are pretty well known and not going away. They generally reflect actual division in opinion in the citizenry.

    • Roez says

      I would rather self-identified IDW members demonstrate through action a better alternative. Defining a movement almost presumes leaders, or a fight for control over direction. There are no gate keepers in the IDW. These discussions back and forth are good, providing they are discussions.

      I’ve appreciated Cathy’s writing for a very long time. Not that I agree, it’s that she always seems to capture a tone I respect, and she’s done it again here. Really nice article, even if I don’t agree with all of it.

      • Tersitus says

        Being already concerned that managed economies devolve toward command ones, why would I not fear that managed expression yields to command expression? Let free thought speak— the “incitement to violence” and “clear and present danger” tests seem sufficient protection to the public good— that, and the ever-present risk of revealing oneself a fool. We’ve got enough self-described victims without policies that make for even more.

      • Alex Paul says

        Agree. Cathy Young is one of the best critically-minded columnists out there today. I don’t agree with her always. But I’m hard pressed in any case to not admire her detail and depth of logic and argument. She is one of the best.

    • doug deeper says

      The article’s critique of the Left and its apologists was very articulate and good. Her critique of the IDW was another matter.

      Has Cathy Young written similar pieces about the totalitarian-inclined left that virtually controls the narrative of the US? Any comments from her on Google, FB, msm, Hollywood or academia having balanced views? Why should one of the only viable classical liberal platforms be the target for her critique?

      It is like criticizing Switzerland for staying neutral in WWII while ignoring Germany & Japan.

      If the means of propaganda in the US had some balance, I could take her critique of the IDW seriously. Perhaps she missed the last 50 years in which the left used every means possible including violence to chase everyone else out of the “public square.”

      • Alex Paul says

        If you’ve read Cathy Young, you can confidently answer your question with Yes. Cathy Young has been writing pieces critical of the “totalitarian-inclined left” for many years.

        • JC says

          Alex Paul

          “Rather, the “classical” liberal view is that, given the alternatives, maximal freedom of speech is best. It is also safe to say that even before the “Great Awokening” of the 2010s, most liberals and many non-liberals were well aware of the reality of racial, gender-based, or class barriers to equal opportunity; they just didn’t reduce all human behavior and interactions to a sum of oppressions and bigotries, or seek to remedy these problems by enshrining identity.”

          Yeah, what a thoughtful writer she is. I would as a progressive hate to see my views caricatured into a totalitarian framework, so good thing we have nuanced criticisms like this.

          First of all, the criticism isn’t that liberals have zero understanding of prejudice or class barriers. It’s that during the neo-liberal era of the past forty or so years, they made them worse by supporting what were and are essentially far right wing economic positions as well as creating new class barriers by turning everybody who broke the law into maniac who we might need to lock away for the rest of his or her life, mostly effecting black and hispanic men of course. There’s also their support of both the Iraq War and the Patriot Act that those of us who give a shit about morality and personal freedom are still furious about. We actually have a serious critique of their politics, which a dishonest imbecile like Cathy Young couldn’t be bothered to fairly represent because she’s to busy grifting away about the virtues of intellectual freedom.

          Secondly, enshrining identity is a meaningless and stupid phrasing. Identity is simply a reality of politics. You have to love the idiots who only get mad at this basic reality when it is coming from the left. Imbeciles like Cathy Young refuse to see that most of the realities of political identities the left chooses to highlight are in response to the realities of the Republican Party and the identities that inform its politics. This is just another a wonderful example of how dull conservative thinking is in general. You have one party that is overwhelmingly white and Christian (90%) and you have a very diverse party on the other side. The idea that the strongest political identity and the one that should receive the most concern and criticism isn’t the white, Christian identity is stupid. My favorite thing about idiots like Young is just how backwards their point of view obviously is. The dominant political identity receives virtually no criticism while she obsesses over groups who are most often responding to that identity’s politics because that identity holds most of the political power in this country. That her dull narrative is taken seriously is a testament to how absolutely silly the intellectual freedom brigade constantly shows itself to be.

          “I believe it’s entirely appropriate and even essential for an intellectual freedom movement today to define itself at least in part in opposition to the identitarian left.”

          Almost too stupid to deserve a response, but the idea that an intellectual freedom movement starts by outlining which ideas should be considered evil is just a wonderful testament to how silly the concept of an intellectual freedom movement coming from conservatives is. For one, there is zero evidence conservatives care more about intellectual freedom than do progressives. This can be seen a plethora of ways, one of which is to maybe take seriously how little debate ever happens at conservative Christian colleges, of which there are millions of graduates. The idea that there is less debate at liberal universities relative to these sorts of conservative universities is laughable, as is screaming at progressives over the concept of intellectual freedom and ignoring where dissent really is stifled among young people. But since this isn’t in any way a serious point of view, grift away I suppose at the morons who will believe that progressives are murdering freedom of thought. From the outside looking in however, you all look like a group of dolts who couldn’t possibly come to an accurate view of the world.

          • Michael Kearney says

            This screed makes Ms. Young’s case better than you could ever imagine, from trotting out typical progressive bete noires such as “conservative Christian..” etc. to over-heated language that borders on the hyperbolic.Really, how can one give any credence to ad hominem statements like “there is zero evidence that conservatives care more about intellectual freedom than do progressives.” And, of course, the affected Olympian disdain of “From the outside looking in however, you all look like a group of dolts who couldn’t possibly come to an accurate view of the world.” Only you, eh, are so privileged to have an accurate of the world (whatever world that is).

            I think you have the wrong forum. Better can go back to the hive.

      • Anne Greene says

        Couldn’t agree more. I found Quillette through Dave Rubin’s interview of Claire Lehmann and usually enjoy the articles here. This one was disappointing for the reasons you articulate. Makes me lose some respect for Cathy Young and Quillette in general.

      • Anne Greene says

        My comment was intended as a response to “doug deeper.”

  2. Respek Wahmen says

    If the IDW were to accept the “upgrade,” it would just be the DW, and what would be the point of that? That Uri guy was rightly admonished as “in over his head.” (was it weinstein?)

    Also, in balance, soph is funny, refreshing and a force for good.

    And CNN or MSNBC is more dangerous than info wars because they’re perceived as credible. Almost nobody doesn’t think Alex Jones is cray cray. He said himself that he’s” slightly retarded. “. Has Don Lemon or Rachel Maddow ever admitted as much? I rest my case.

    • Darren says

      Soph is fearless and unbelievably funny. If she were my kid, I’d beam with pride

  3. E. Olson says

    “Rubin has a particularly troubling track record in this regard. (I should note that I was a guest on his show in 2016 and had an entirely positive experience.) He has been rightly criticized, not only by progressives but by libertarians such as Anthony Fisher, for providing a sympathetic forum to far-right activists including Paul Joseph Watson, Mike Cernovich, Stefan Molyneux, and Lauren Southern.”

    Perhaps before you and others criticize Rubin for his politically incorrect guest list, it might be useful to know the following:

    Has Rubin invited guests from the “social justice Left” and have they accepted?

    Has Rubin treated such SJL guests (if any) more rudely or asked tougher questions of them than he has when interviewing Watson, Cernovich, et al.?

    Does objective fact checking about the content of these interviews reveal more lies and faulty statistics by the SJL guests or the the politically incorrect guests?

    Do his interviews with SJL guests get the same or higher number of views as his right leaning guests, and do they generate the same level of hostility among audience members on the Left or Right?

    I suspect the answers to such questions would make the entire basis of the Rubin criticisms fall apart.

    • GL says

      I don’t see how any of that undermines the critizism that he should push back more on his guests.

      • EK says

        Whether Rubin or any host “pushes back” on all, some or none of his guests is a matter for the host to decide not Cathy Young or your honorable self.

        Let the audience decide; not officious intermeddlers who write like elementary school teachers wishing all the children would just play nicely with each other. People like Cathy will always be far more indulgent with SJWish opinions than others.

      • E. Olson says

        GL – perhaps he wants to be friendly to all his guests so that he can in the future continue to book people with a wide variety of viewpoints by not getting the reputation as a difficult or biased questioner? Or perhaps he believes that the audience is there to hear the guests speak and not to listen to him ask “gottcha” questions?

        • GL says

          EK – I don’t see any problem with commentary on someone’s product. It’s just an opinion, not intermeddling. Not sure why you seem so agitated about it.

          EO – He need not be a jerk or ask gottcha questions. And he is of course welcome to whatever format he wants. I happen to agree with (the intermeddling honorable SJW indulgent elementary teacher) CY that his interviews would be better served by more push back, whether or not he agrees with them. I prefere a more devil’s advocate interview style that is simultaneously aware of not comming off as an argumentative jerk. That’s just my opinion of course, and I may or may not be in minority.

          Having said that, I enjoy his Rubin’s work in any case.

          • David of Kirkland says

            An interview that just allows the speaker to say what he wants without challenging is just publicity. Hoping the listener has all the facts and knowledge is fruitless as they are listening to hear ideas. It’s easy to B.S. people with stats or statements that may or may be well reasoned.

    • Just Me says

      I like Rubin although I don’t listen to him regularly.

      As far as I can tell, he has not interviewed left-wing SJWs because they refuse to engage with him, not because he doesn’t want to.

      But that means, imo, it is up to the members of the IDW to critically engage social justice ideas themselves, providing alternative solutions to the issues the SJWs claim to address, with a better answer.

      I like Peterson too, but find it frustrating that he keeps hinting that there are better solutions, but never actually proposes any.

      Being negative and contrarian and in opposition to the SJW extremists and against censorship is a good first step, but that stage has lasted long enough, time to move on to actual civil discussion of issues by “strongmanning” the SJW views and providing the alternative view.

      Give the Weinsteins and Heather Heying more airplay for a start.

      • DrBrainBox says

        This is false, multiple leftists have asked him repeatedly to discuss (Contrapoints, David Pakman, Kyle Kulinski, Sam Seder) and he refuses, calling them bad actors, which is just false with the possible exception of Sam seder

        • HughMBehavior says

          Contrapoints has been known to be shady from what I hear. Pakman or Kulinski are the obvious good candidates imo. In ascending order.

    • Andrew Miller says

      Rubin is an intellectual lightweight, who once he gets beyond repeating phrase ‘regressive left’ is almost immediately out of his depth. His interview with the bigot Tommy Robinson is a case in point. He was far to dim and blind to his own biases to spot Robinson routinely going beyond Islamism or even Islam to dehumanise ordinary Muslim.
      Rubin’s welcome to provide a platform to people with these repugnant views, but no one should be fooled into thinking he’s somehow an important ally for those looking to challenge the SJW/authoritarian left.

      • Where has Robinson “dehumanized ordinary Muslims?!

        Tommy Robinson regularly and clearly points this out, that his criticism is never directed against Muslims, that his best friends when he grew up were Muslims, and that he has nothing against Muslims.

        You should listen to some long form interview with him some time.

      • HughMBehavior says

        I have heard a fair amount of recent Tommy, and I can’t recall him “dehumanizing Muslims.” Define your terms.

        When you do so, please remember the disturbing-as-Hell results of the Pew poll of Muslim attitudes in Britain. Also please recall that “Islam” and “political Islam” are synonymous. I don’t give a fuck about terrorism because I can do math. As a person that can do math, I DO care about the fact that it’s real hard to find a country that went from zero to twenty percent Muslim & ever became governed by non-Muslims again. That I care about.

        Tommy may have held worse opinions in the past (I don’t know for sure), but people do change. Especially people under heavy scrutiny. From what I can tell Tommy’s main method of “Dehumanizing Muslims” is the absolutely sinful behavior of “not attending the right sort of schools” & not having a posh accent. The Westminster Bubble is a THICK bubble. And a despicable one.

        Wanting the beat the fuck out of Owen Bennett Jones is a sin… but hardly a cardinal sin. I would not personally beat the fuck out of Owen Bennett Jones unless & until he threw the first punch, but Owen Bennett Jones could OH so use a severe beating. It would teach him that “speech” cannot really be “violence” for one.

        I get the feeling you still take the Guardian seriously @Andrew Miller. I get it, but you should probably stop doing so forthwith. That shit is SO 2011.

        I went to the “right sort of schools” Stateside, but me n’ my mate Tommy are sympatico on that.

    • DrBrainBox says

      The only time Rubin invites a leftist on he asks someone way out of his league like Bernie Sanders or AOC, so he can feign that the left doesn’t want to engage with him.

      In fact, many SJL or even just genuine leftists that are haveon Rubin’s level have asked repeatedly to go on Rubin’s show (Contrapoints, Kyle Kulinski, David Pakman, Sam Seder) and Rubin refuses again and again and accusés Them of lying or being bad actors (which is false, especially when you consider the far right propagandists) he’s had on.

    • Tom Reagan says

      All of that is fair and might suffice if Rubin’s twitter feed didn’t exist. There we see a timeline effectively indistinguishable from a Charlie Kirk, Candace Owens, or any other garden-variety Trumpist slattern. Of course, this was a central claim to Uri’s initial argument. How do we parse a person who is pro gay marriage, but loosely, unironically uses the term Trump Derangement Syndrome as a routine bulwark? And then re-tweets Don Jr? And has never tweeted a bad word about the ogre in the oval office? FFS, Ben Shairo says more bad things about Trump, but Dave is the “liberal”. At some point a Duck test might be in order.

      I think Eric Weinstein put it best: Dave found a bunch of new friends on the right and really liked it, got too cozy with the whole community and dropped some principles. It’s understandable, but still worth criticizing. I think Dave is a sweetheart, not a bad guy at all. He just got caught up in a thing. NBD, but we should be honest about it.

    • This article does not address the key point you make and the one Uri failed to substantiate, namely that many progressives refuse to debate. Difficult to get balance if one side won’t engage. I also don’t like the declamatory nature of much of this. Who is she to state who are acceptable guests; what creed or belief is to be challenged: and who is to be stigmatised?

    • Anton says

      He won’t debate Sam Seder, David Pakman and Kyle Kulinski

    • Lee D says

      Sam Seder, Michael Brooks, David Pakman, Natalie Wynn (Contrapoints), Kyle Kulinski, Ana Kasparian and iirc Richard Wolff have all Offered to goon Dave’s show yet Dave ignores them. Dave even said that Samos not allowed because Michael called him stupid (despite Dave insulting plenty of progressives he asks on, and calling progressivism a mental disorder) and that Pakman constantly lies about him (which not only isn’t true and another example of hypocrisy since Dave has invited Warren on and claimed she wants to nationalise the banks).
      The problem with Dave’s interview style is that he throws too many soft balls and doesn’t have the intelligence to actually question his guests. He invites dangerous people on but never talks about why they’re dangerous or questions their obviously false claims. David Horowitz for example claimed on Dave’s show that Obama was a communist yet Dave didn’t even bother to ask a follow up question.
      The constant fact checking wouldn’t have to exist if Dave asked harder questions, and I’d have to watch all of Dave’s interviews for a fair comparison, but there have several right wing guests such as Lauren southern, David Horowitz, Steven Crowder, Alex Epstein, Imam Twaihidi and Stefan Molyneux who have all told blatant lies which require basic research on the topic at hand to know they’re wrong yet Dave has not sought to question any of them.
      As for your last point, Dave interviews right leaning YouTubers with just over 100,000 subscribers, all the lefties who I’ve suggested have over 500,000. When Dave invites lefties he asks for presidential candidates or internationally famous celebrities, for right wing guests they can be completely beneath the radar.

    • Muh says

      Pay attention. Go and look into guys like Sam Seder or Kyle Kulinski, leftists he won’t have on for a debate because they won’t let him turn the entire show into talking about SJWs. Go ask Rubin if he would debate those guy, they’re chomping at the bit to debate him on his show. He won’t though.

    • Ja says

      Firstly, there are plenty of podcast hosts who allow the guest to talk openly. Joe Rogan and Russell Brand are two examples. No, sunlight isn’t the best disinfectant because guys like Stefan Molyneaux and Richard Spence are savvy enough to know what the counter-argument is to any controversial viewpoints and so can give a legitimate answer to a highly dubious opinion. It is not my, nor your role to have to spend hours googling to figure out if what the guest said is true or whether it would hold up to any fair critiques. It’s the host’s role to scrutinise and do this for us, regardless of what your style is. And the most dangerous people, are those who can normalise concerning opinions with a friendly smile. Rubin falls for it every time.

      Secondly, for someone so obsessed about the dangers of identity politics, he doesn’t half harp on about being a classical liberal. Today, he livestreamed while wearing a ‘classical liberal’ tee shirt which I thought was the height of hypocrisy for someone who rails against identity politics.

      Thirdly, offering to host Pete Buttegieg isn’t the balance to hosting Stefan Molyneaux or Lauren Southern. Hosting a gender studies or black studies professor would be. But we both know that won’t be something he’ll do. Let alone having someone like David Packman on. Having maybe one left-leaning person on every 6 months isn’t balance. And I can’t think of anyone particularly left-leaning he’s had on apart from maybe Amy Chua. And I don’t think she’s especially left.

      Fourthly, if fact checking were a legitimate endeavour by Rubin’s fans, then they wouldn’t all populate primarily one part of the political spectrum. There may be some exceptions but only some.

      Some other points, as far as I’m aware there’s no correlation between his view count and where the guest is politically. Without looking, I’m going to say Ben Shapiro is one of the highest viewed. Also, he hasn’t asked tougher questions of sjl guests because he hasn’t had enough on. Surely, if you believed in true freedom of speech, you’d have as many of these guys on? The guy favoured airing significantly right leaning guests for a long time before it became obvious that was his bias. If people on the left don’t go on his show its because of two reasons: 1)it’s been a right-wing safe space for years (ie how Alex Epstein has been on to talk about climate change I don’t know. He also had Judith Curry and Patrick Michaels on at the same time, how’s that for balance?) and 2) they believe they’re going on a show to preach to people who, best case scenario, will respectfully listen but have no interest in having their minds changed. Believe in balance? Throw on Linda Sarsour rather than villainising her without a chance to respond. She has been made a scapegoat for the right and yet with all the youtube I’ve watched, I barely see her anywhere. But for Rubin, she’s everywhere and dangerous.

  4. Ken Bashford says

    Just a reminder that Bari Weiss, a year ago, introduced/proposed this cautionary posture by wondering if the IDW should have ‘gatekeepers’ and who they might be. Excellent essay, Ms Young.

    • Roe V. Amazon says

      I think the question posed by Bari Weiss thinking the IDW needs “gatekeepers” is a reason the IDW exists in the first place. Who is Bari or anyone to decide who the gatekeepers are? This entitlement needs to end.

      Is it me or is Quillette slowly beginning to allow the identitarian-left to control its content? A lot of articles lately stating that the IDW should embrace less of what we can’t get anywhere else for more of what we can get everywhere else. Should we keep an eye out for the sale of Quillette shares or has that already happened? It’s starting to sound like someone new is buttering their bread. This isn’t good. I want platforms for everybody without apologies or excuses and I don’t think I am alone.

      I am already beginning to miss Quillette Magazine.

  5. Felix says

    A great and important opinion piece! It’s heartening that the Quilette team really has the level of maturity to accept critical pieces and to encourage an open discussion about its own role.

    • Andrew Roddy says

      When you say critical – critical of what?

    • Jack Meoff says

      I agree. However, it seems that a vocal contingent of their readership lack this level of maturity. You can see this reflected in the comments on this article as well as the comments left on any Quillette article which is even remotely critical right wing ideas.

      “…but CNN IS fake news! And what about that child prostitution pizzeria owned by the Clintons!”

      Sometimes it makes me question whether anything positive can come from reading Quillette.

      • Yes to Jack. I think this article is brilliant (and thanks to Harris for starting this discussion) and Quillette a potential force for good BUT everytime I read the comments to Quillette articles I wonder if what Quillette’s general readership want is simply material providing justification for their bigotry and thrilling sense of victimisation? Good luck to Quillette in opening any of those minds.

        • Jay says

          Have you ever read comments on NYTimes? You can’t judge a publication by those who comment on it.

          • Stephanie says

            This is pretty typical Quillette: pushback against the SJW left, with just enough unexamined, unexplained throwaway slander against the right to continue proclaiming itself liberal.

            It would be preferable if they presented coherent criticism of right-wing ideas, but the fact they don’t leads to the left thinking they are secretly conservative, and right-wing readers getting annoyed at the unnecessary, context-less, performative insults. Hence the tendency for many commenters to correct the authors’ hastily made leftist assumptions, mistakes, overgeneralizations, and straw men.

            If you would prefer not to hear conservative opinions, perhaps don’t read the comments. Or maybe Huffington Post or Vice are better outlets for you?

  6. Emma says

    “It is also true that Jordan Peterson, the Canadian psychologist and best-selling author, is essentially a conservative figure—and one whose arguments are often not very conducive to bridge-building or dialogue across political divides.”

    Really? Please provide evidence that Jordan Peterson hampers dialogue across political divides. Is it because he does not pander to the SJW mob? Give me a break. Much of Peterson says is common sense and supported by research.

    • Denny Sinnoh says

      I thought the same thing.
      No one is more interested in listening to all sides than JP.

      My BS detector went off at that point.

    • MMS says

      @Emma – love this article overall however I don’t see JP as a conservative either….

    • Emblem14 says

      Peterson sadly contradicts himself sometimes. In long-form discussions, he clearly appreciates the need for dialogue across political divides and explicitly states that both liberalism and conservatism are necessary and useful.

      On the other hand, he posts videos on his channel with titles like “The Marxist lie of White Privilege”, which is inaccurate, hyperbolic and typical of dumb right-wing rhetoric.

      Depending on what somebody sees first, they will form very different impressions, unfortunately.

      • CTE says

        I think that Peterson does overstate his case in exaggerated terms, but I would love to understand why it’s just “inaccurate” as opposed to “hyperbolic”.

        Further, Peterson has said many times that we know when the right has gone too far, but we don’t seem to have the same intellectual checks for the left. This in part is why he pushes so hard against the left because he is making the case for these checks and trying to show that there is a lot of the same underlying extremes in the progressive left that were observable in extreme left regimes of the past.

        I think he can go too far, and can connect a few too many dots for my comfort between the progressive left and communist Russia, but I also agree that we focus way too much on right wing extremism gone wrong and not the counter example.

      • Denny Sinnoh says

        He was not wrong about the Marxist lies.
        What was something not correct in that speech?

      • Jairo Melchor says

        @Emblem14 While JP is more often than not a “right winger” sympathethic, he isn’t precisely a right winger himself.

        A valid critique is that he often uses terms that some right wingers use but he has explained several times why he uses those terms and who did he came to that conclusion. In your example, i think the most recent explanation of his to call the regressive left “marxists” is found in the Zizek/Peterson discussion of Happiness, Marxism and Capitalism (the entire discussion can be found on JP Youtube channel). Now, on the “lie of white privilege”, is it not a lie? Considering the very recent article here on Quillette about precisely this subject. I’ll leave it at that.

        JP does have a blind spot in a form of pseudo commentary about spirituality and religious perspectives, but those opinions of his are very much only an aspect, it does not diminish his contribution to the general conversation about the current political climate.

  7. Kafkaberry. says

    Somehow, while asking us all to “avoid the tribalist pull”, the tenor of this article becomes tribalist in essence.

    Why the hell does that seem to always happen? Is it just human nature? No, I think its more specific than that. Somehow, the whole milieu of the Web, focuses all the worst of human nature, and filters out the best. Empirically, it seems like “intellectual” and “web” are an oxymoron.

    It all makes me very sad. I am one of those people who was using the Internet before the Web existed, before most of you had heard of either. There are articles from us all over the Web these days, all wondering in anguished puzzlement how the early dream went so awfully wrong. It never dawned on us that what has become the whole problem, would be a problem at all. We were terribly naive.

    It seems to me now that “intellectual” and “web” form an oxymoron. The Web is just a mob, a mob of mobs, each orders of magnitude more massive than any mob humans could form before the social networks enabled them. That, and attention attacking commercial advertising, seem to be all that the network has evolved to. With hindsight, I suppose that was all that was ever possible.

    • Surface Reflection says

      The problem in fact does arise from our human nature which is heavily emotional – which we deny in many different ways, living in a delusion of pure reasonable thinking. From that false dichotomy that majority of humans doesnt even notice, that we are not aware of, further specific Fundamental faults develop and influence us in extreme ways.

      One of those faults that can be easily noticed everywhere is “tendency to think in binary extremes”, for example. Look at all the “left vs right” and “men vs women” recent issues. Many others too.
      Tribalism itself is a product of several of these fundamental faults working together and combining, which they easily do all the time, which makes their influence all the worse and difficult to handle.

      That is the reason why the web focuses on on our worst and filters out, or marginalizes large quantities of “our best.” Which is also done by the media which is a large part of the “web” and has become a basic source of various facts and even science for too many people.

      And none of that will be solvable as long as we are blind to the actual cause.

  8. E. Olson says

    “While it’s too simplistic to assert that the apparent recent surge in white nationalism and other far-right extremism is fueled mainly by “PC culture,” there are certainly young people who get sucked into the extremist fringe after an encounter with SocJus excesses (The Washingtonian recently featured such a story).”

    What apparent surge in white nationalism and far right extremism? Could the author be more specific than a single case featured in the Washingtonian? Are you talking about the 50 “nazis” in Charlottesville who legally gathered to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue, and were attacked by over 1,000 counter-protesters who did not have a permit? Or are you going international and talking about the single crazed gunman in Norway who shot the children of Leftist politicians in favor of open borders, or the crazed single gunman in New Zealand who shot up a Mosque to deadly effect? If so, can you please provide some examples of sympathetic media coverage or indications of popular support for these “surges” of white nationalism?

    Or is the far right extremism the author is referring to the rising popular support for enforcing immigration laws and policing the border – the same exact issues that Harry Reid, the Clintons, Obama, Schumer and other Democrats supported until about 10 years ago? Or is the “extremism” based on the Right’s continued support for the Bill of Rights (i.e free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, gun rights, etc.) that the Left continually attacks?

    In other words, I think the author should provide some more explicit examples to support claims of surging white nationalism and far-right extremism rather than take the word of MSNBC and CNN.

    • CTE says


      You make a good point. I must admit that I totally buy into the argument that it’s on the rise too, but for more hypothetical reasons that I hope are wrong.

      Part of me just believes that the progressive left is playing a very cynical and dangerous game. When you make a core tenet of your platform identity-based tribalism (not that they would put it that way) then good luck keeping that genie in the bottle.

      We are all wired to think this way, they’ve shown that as young as 3 mos old we will prefer our own skin color vs the other. As I see it this identity based left is doing half the work, or more, for white nationalists. They’ve already made the case that people are their identity, how much more work is it for white nationalists to convince white people to join with their identity group? I surmise that all it takes is a slight, like being told you have white privilege even if you come from a disadvantaged background, to make a strong case.

      I hope my points above are wrong and too simplistic, but this is why I worry that white nationalism is on the rise and won’t stop until the left stops defining individuals by their group.

    • Shawn T says

      E. I think the “surge” is akin to periodic surges in shark attacks. They make captivating news, the news curators look for more to captivate their audiences and, voila!, a surge. We are fed even more if the topic supports a narrative (left or right, really). We should be smarter in how we consume our news and serious authors should be more cautious deploying such statements to make a case. At the same time, given the information available to us all, the weak links in articles compound to take on a similar shark attack trend in our own perception. The flaws have always been there, we are just able to see them more clearly more often.

  9. MMS says

    I red this without noticing the authors name initially but of corse such a perfect balance of logic, reason, and practicality has to be Cathy Young… We are damn lucky to have her insight and rational mind!

  10. Memetic Tribe says

    White pride is different than white supremacy. Culture, by definition, has boundaries.

    I am “proud” to have survived countless assaults from black and Hispanic gangs through early 90’s, often while I was alone and solely because of my white complexion. I never let ideas of revenge consume me. I never sought political violence.

    But if others can express cultural pride freely, then so can I. I am proud to be white.

    Increasingly, many white women don’t share this sentiment, and are dedicated to literally breeding white men out if society. While others don’t breed at all, forcing us to import hostile populations through a porous border. Oh well. We had a good run.

    • Good grief Memetic, for someone who says they’re not for white supremacy, you certainly repeat some white nationalist boilerplate here, especially in the last paragraph. The idea that we have to maintain a strong breeding population for the best ideas of our civilization to survive is racialism, pure and simple, and a good deal more extreme than even the kind of identity politics so ascendent on the left.

      Second, of all the ethnic identities to feel a pride in, why “white”, as opposed to, say, German-American or whatever?

      And finally, why is ethnic pride such a great virtue, and if you really want to think this through, what do you think of ethnic shame? If I were to repeat the SJW claim that you as a white person should feel some deep-seated shame over the history of slavery, colonialism, and native genocide, most people here would reject that – as an individual, you cannot be held morally responsible for wrongs that happened well before you even existed. But the flipside of that is that you can’t take pride in acomplishments that you had no part in either. (I will say, though, that the individual does have control over how they treat the residual legacy of historical sins or accomplishments and does bear moral responsibility there.)

      • Memetic Tribe says

        We’ll, maybe the last paragraph was a bit much. It’s just that some European ancestors of mine fostered a centuries long captive breeding/genetic engineering experiment on Africans.

        It was pure evil but was not a part of it. I will not apologize for it, though my contemporaries have dedicated their lives to this lifelong, unending apology. Their very existence is an apology. White culture has become a personification of regret, shame, hopelessness, futility. We are characterized by droopy, demoralized, cathartic men while African Americans personify both a gladiator class (nfl, nba, ufc) and an increasingly influencial victimhood class simultaneously.

        White men are being erased from popular culture – literally removed from commercials, leading roles, influence, status. (Remember ‘Rogue One’? How about Bird Box, Handmaid’s, etc.) Almost EVERY cultural cue is a depiction of the white woman, black male connection.

        It seems like another social engineering experiment is underway. The apology – which essentially started in 1865 – has not been accepted. So what the hell…I’m proud to be white.

        Y’all were gonna call me racist anyway…

      • “(I will say, though, that the individual does have control over how they treat the residual legacy of historical sins or accomplishments and does bear moral responsibility there.)”

        We all have a moral responsibility to be fair and decent humans, but that responsibility is not greater or lesser based on the actions of our ancestors. It simply doesn’t work like that.

      • Surface Reflection says

        Yeah well, if we are going to ascribe racial or ethnic shame due to past misdeeds then all races and ethnicities of humans on this planet should be more or less equally ashamed.
        Thats what the actual facts about human behavior would demand, unless we specifically focus on only one “race”.

        Yes, memetic tribe is taking things too far, especially in further replies, but i just want to point out that your reply isnt really correct either in that sense.

    • hans says

      “hostile populations”
      “breeding white men out if society”

      Sorry, but this made me laugh so hard. I want to be polite and nuanced but yikes this is some edgy stuff here, your power level is almost at the level of the 14 word meme. Has somebody been spending too much time on /pol/?

      On a more serious note can you explain to me:
      What the white race is,
      why you feel to be a part of the “white race”,
      why thats is a good thing(something to be proud of),
      And also why you are proud of it when it is none of your doing

      Not trying to attack you here, I am genuinely curious why you feel this way, and why you don’t seem to think of this as racial tribalism?

      • Stephanie says

        Hans, European-American ethnic pride is similar to African-American ethnic pride in that they are so far removed from the national identity of their original country and culture that it is difficult to feel pride or connection to it, even if they know what it is. As a result, they have new identities planted in their ancestral home of the last few hundred years, and it is just as understandable and justifiable for that to be the case for black and white people.

        When modern white Americans talk about ethnic pride, they are talking about what whites in the US have built. The negative aspects are a part of it, but they should indeed be proud to have gone from a slavery-ridden colony to the world’s greatest superpower and force for good in the world. If the history had been squeaky clean from the start, the transformation wouldn’t have been so impressive.

  11. KD says

    A healthy distinction between political activism and realistic description might help clarify the situation. The hallmark of progressivism is a political activist cult which accepts certain doctrine on faith, and devotes its efforts to “discrediting” realistic descriptions of reality that contradict “God’s Truth” as it were. From a totalitarian perspective, this is important, as you need to destroy any sense of internal truth in people, to be useful, they must value the movement over their conscience. In fact, this is why SJW is a Maoist, totalitarian movement and much of the post-modern philosophy underpinning it is about constructing theoretical justifications for denying objective truth and pushing “social constructivism” as part of its ideological justification. That is what “political correctness” is — lies that are politically useful to the movement — and “political correctness” is intended to replace the question “but was what X said true?”

    The push back against progressives, especially in its totalitarian, activist form, includes people who share some commitment to objective truth, and oppose progressives because they are committed to lies and suppression of alternative viewpoints. (De-platforming is an obvious sign that you cannot rationally justify your positions unless you are up against strawmen and clowns).

    The other contingent is counter-political activists, people engaged in political activism in causes opposed to progressive activism. These folks follow the same rules as progressives, but on behalf of different causes, so the end product is different (if you are advocating for white interests, your ideological pronouncements will be different from someone advocating for black interests, but you will be motivated based on whether its furthers the cause). The counter-activists are happy to use descriptionists, but will chuck the descriptionists as soon as the description conflicts with perceived political interests.

    This creates several points of tension. The descriptionists are put off by the activists, and vice versa. The honor students, filled with pride, recognize that the descriptionists are correct, but they don’t want to take down the school, they want to be made head mistress of the school. They haven’t put together that if you are the head of the Soviet University system, you can’t simultaneously be discussing why unregulated markets work better in the real world than command economies. If you want to realize your ambitions, embrace the lie and go along with the movement. If in your heart, you know that embracing the lie will mean you are a different kind of person then you are meant to be, then recognize you will have to sacrifice your ambitions to maintain your integrity.

    The problem with progressivism, as currently formulated, is that it does not provide a realistic description of how human social orders actually function, and so it does not provide actual answers as to how those social orders can be preserved or reformed. It works primarily to attain identity-based spoils for its activists, with no actual capacity for governance of anything. It is comparable to the mafia. It produces myths, not histories, and fights against all attempts to incorporate biology into the social sciences, and it is dismissive of huge swaths of the social sciences themselves such as psychometric testing. Being parasitic, it is destined to collapse eventually, but the Soviets milked it for 79 years or so.

    Descriptionism is fundamentally anti-progressive, the same way descriptionism in the Soviet Union was fundamentally anti-Marxist Leninist. When descriptionism triumphs, modern progressivism will collapse the same way Medieval Catholicism collapsed in the wake of Galileo and Luther. But descriptionism is not ultimately activism, but activists will steal from descriptionists in forging something new.

    What I am saying is that anyone who is committed to objective truth, and developing an empirical model of how human affairs operate in the real world is an enemy of progressivism, and will be perceived as enemies by progressives. Moreover, reorienting institutions like the Academy from political activism back to disinterested description constitutes a fundamental threat to the status quo. You will never be permitted to be respectable. In fact, social justice is coming to the engineering departments and the physics departments in short order, just like communism cleansed the Soviet Academy.

    Second, you are opening political space to other types of activists, the same way Galileo, who was not a political activist, opened space for new political forms and currents after his discoveries. You are not going to have your cake and eat it too. That is part of the cost of maintaining integrity: the 30 years war didn’t just happen, and there is no reason to believe that the good guys will win.

    • Russ Hanneman says

      Woah. I’m just gonna say it. This guy fucks. amirite? Cos i’m looking at the rest of you guys, and this is the guy in the house doing all the fucking.

    • hail to none says

      @KD- nice description! I find your analysis very applicable to my neck of the wood in the social sciences. Those pursuing political ends are great at obfuscation, with disciplinary jargon as the tool of the trade.

    • Northern Observer says

      The awful truth. And something our opinion leaders need to recognize.

    • Lydia says

      ” From a totalitarian perspective, this is important, as you need to destroy any sense of internal truth in people, to be useful, they must value the movement over their conscience”

      Yes. This. This is exactly how cults operate.

  12. Anonymous says

    “….Watson (a YouTuber who has promoted conspiracy theories about water fluoridation, Barack Obama’s birth certificate, and the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting)…”

    This is crap. Gutter-level smears. I’ve watched dozens of Paul Joseph Watson videos, and he strikes me as being one of the most logical and reasonable people on Youtube.

    I’m pretty sure he could destroy the superficial author of this boring article in a debate on just about any topic.

    • Stephanie says

      Yea, pretty weak stuff on the author’s part. If this is the worst she can dig up about Watson, colour me unimpressed.

      Ironically, an article concerned about bridging political divides makes it quite clear that the divide between the left and the half of the country that is conservative doesn’t need to be bridge. The important bridge we need is between the sane left and the radical left – yea, sure! This article is surreal in its lack of self-awareness.

  13. Andre says

    “One bone of contention is whether the IDW is a right-wing cabal as its detractors often assert, or a politically diverse group of mostly centrists and disaffected liberals as its defenders insist.”

    There’s no bone of contention. Anyone who thinks this is an issue is an outsider trying to impose orthodox thinking and labels. The whole point of the IDW isn’t to go left or right or center: it is to follow the truth, especially when the truth is outside the Overton window.

    • Heike says

      I think, in a very strange way, that the far left are jealous of the IDW. The IDW is genuinely edgy, and it is dangerous to associate yourself with it. As in, physically dangerous, Red Guards may well bash your head in with a bike lock or open fire on your baseball practice. It is very easy to get unpersoned today and being a real live thought criminal is sexy as hell. There are real consequences to speaking your mind and it’s obvious to everyone who the brave ones are.

      This piece seems to be a “let us in, we want some of that sweet human status to flaunt, too!” Don’t think the far (aka progressive) left doesn’t know what they look like to the outside. I think they’ve taken their role change from outsiders to dominant intellectual culture badly, and kind of wish they could have their old position back.

      There’s always the dull, tedious evil empire and the raucous, merry band of rebels. We’re the band of rebels. If the far left ever wins, well, we all know what that looks like. I don’t think even the far left wants to live in a nightmare society like that. They much prefer living in our society, accepting all the benefits while hurling hurtful insults and vile abuse at us. So satisfying!

      • Tersitus says

        H— I think you’re largely correct about that jealousy thing, and that the self-styled avant-garde often prove more reactionary than those they demonize. Think Tom Wolfe’s Radical Chic and the Mau Maus. Who wants to be upstaged on the rebel-chic walkway? Otherwise, so many revolutions wouldn’t end up as genocides eating their own on the way over the cliff and comfortably establishing themselves as totalitarian regimes. I doubt Obama fully appreciated the irony of his claim to lead from behind. Where all that led (like this post) is harder to discern in medias res, especially from the rear, but I don’t think that particularly troubled him. Enough that he was sainted as a “transformative” figure by a world of fools and a lickspittle press before he’d done anything more than pontificate airily and vote “present” two hundred and however many times. Now it’s just a matter of maintaining the power to police the narrative and cement the “legacy.” The spectacle of the would-be left defending the honor and prerogatives of the intelligence state his tools made tools of is most instructive.

      • cfkane1941 says

        I think this is on the mark. All the things the Progressives do to earn their bona fides do not really require any kind of courage, since all of the people they associate with believe exactly the same way. Also, they don’t tend to act against conservatives unless they’re sure they’re invested with more power.

        There’s a word for that. It’s called bullying. And even Progressives know it doesn’t look good. Still, some do it anyway and claim they’re being brave. But I bet they wish they were actually being brave.

        Question: if their actions required bravery, would they even do them?

  14. AJ says

    I am often amused by articles talking about collections of people defined by a few simialr views or attitudes who are at most loosely associated as if it is an organised movement with tight centralised control. The IDW is a term to describe a loose collection of people who are interested in political and cultural debate and tolerate diversity of viewpoints. It is essentially defined as those outside a modern intellectual culture dominated by ideologies which are intolerant and reject debate and the use of evidence and logic. IDW is too diverse to expect it to have a homogeneous set of believes or react in a specific way.

  15. northernobserver says

    There is something off with this article but I can’t quite put my finger on it. I think at root where C Young fell down was in her labeling of the “unacceptable”. The characterization felt off. It was as if she found the worse content they had ever produced and held it up as a representation of their character as a whole. It doesn’t hold water. Paul Joseph Watson in particular is simply a social conservative critic of modernity in his videos. His infowars stuff is quite old now. Why crucify a dead idea, to kill the man of today?

    Second, keeping these voices out of the conversation seems counter productive to the goal of civility in an open society. De-radicalization can not occur if radical ideas are kept off the stage instead of addressed. This is the censors temptation and it has failed every time a culture or a state has reached for it, sometimes slowly but always. If you wont debate you ain’t that great – that is what people see, even if they are silent.

    I think this is illustrative of the whole: < “Richard Spencer was not really a “white supremacist” but merely a supporter of a “white ethnostate.” >
    The problem being that this statement is entirely correct, and understanding how it is correct and why Spencer builds his argument this way is the first step towards knowledge, understanding and arguments that can refute his ethnostate vision. Carl Benjamin did the hard work of taking these ideas on and refuting them with liberal ones, it is a shame that Cathy Young seems to not even have bothered, but then if we look at the price Carl has paid for taking on the alt right (demonetization by youtube, banning by patreon and demonization by the activist press) well then it is perhaps understandable the Cathy does not want to go there. It is a shame however to see her embrace a strategy and a “moral” stance that will make such necessary conversations impossible due to censorship and reputation destruction. If we “sensible ones” are embracing shaming and segregation as an intellectual and political strategy then things are dark indeed.

    • Respek Wahmen says

      “There is something off with this article but I can’t quite put my finger on it.”

      Just speculation, but the author has been slammed in the past for being critical of “anti-rape advocacy,” and called “anti-feminist,” for her seemingly sensible ideas about gamersgate etc. Quillette has been called a soapbox of sorts, for the “closed minded.”

      So she’s probably been restricted from mainstream platforms. And Quillette has an interest in appearing objective by including pieces critical of the IDW, even if it’s rubbish.

      She gets to make penance and virtue signal, and Quillette get ever softening coverage of their content, as we see recently.

    • Just Me says


      “Richard Spencer was not really a “white supremacist” but merely a supporter of a “white ethnostate.” >

      “The problem being that this statement is entirely correct, and understanding how it is correct and why Spencer builds his argument this way is the first step towards knowledge, understanding and arguments that can refute his ethnostate vision.”

      Exactly. And acknowledging distinctions between being a white supremacist and feeling western civilisation is valuable and worth defending against those blaming it for all the world’s woes, is the first step.

      • josh says

        There is a much bigger distinction between feeling western civilization is valuable and calling for a white ethnostate. They are in fact in stark tension since ethnic plurality and integration is one of the accomplishments of western civilization.

        One can of course entertain the theoretical distinction between supremacy and separatism, but neither is a respectable position. In practice though, Spencer has made numerous allusions to Nazism so it’s obviously a polite fiction that he is anything but a white supremacist. If it walks, quacks, and salutes like a duck…

  16. bumble bee says

    There are many social topics that either seem to be hijacked by progressives, or social movements that just need to be exhaustively discussed.

    Perhaps, there needs to be a venue where small discussion groups could dialogue about certain topics rather than just have the media being the only source we hear from.

    For instance, if there was a place for people to dialogue about, privilege, removing statues, abortion, racism, equality, etc so that society discusses this together and we can get a first hand understanding of these polarizing issues. Since the media has abandoned their duty to provide unbiased, evidentiary facts, we must do that job ourselves and struggle for mutually beneficial outcomes.

  17. asdf says

    This article essentially attempts to shame IDE critics of collectivism social justice ideology by using the usual social justice sophistry. It’s not going to work.

  18. derek says

    Are there robes you journalists wear? I mean as preachers? That give you authority to set the rules and bounds of debate?

    Do you know what i dislike about journalists and how they interview? I learn more about the journalist and their thoughts and prejudices than about the person they are interviewing. And frankly I’m not interested in the thoughts of journalists.

    Uri Harris (the are two Harrises involved) has as he said a complete and tidy worldview and resents that anyone has the right or platform to say anything that would puncture it. He and his ilk have made it, by design, difficult or costly in many ways to have an opposing opinion.

    As usual being buzzword compliant misses the point. Tribes are a way to gain protection from attack. What you are saying to these people whose common characteristic is that they were attacked in some way because of what they said should stand alone to be more vulnerable to attack. Just to please your aesthetic tastes or something. What a ridiculous suggestion, and frankly I stopped reading right there.

    I enjoy Rubin interviewing everyone, and his low key style gets people talking. He isn’t preaching, he is allowing the divine power of free speech full reign. People who are silly will confirm it quite quickly if you just let them talk.

    Coming from organizations and a culture who purported to be moral arbiters, you might actually stop and learn from these a little. Shed the robes, share what you know, trust your audience. I might then read to the end of one of your articles.

    • Emblem14 says

      Rubin has turned out to be a hack with an undiscerning sympathy for anyone who shares his contempt for SJWs. It’s not as if he doesn’t know how to be critical – he’s constantly bashing SJWism, and goading his guests to do the same. He’s constantly selecting guests who bolster his favorite narrative: the unjust persecution of “wrongthink” by the crazy SJWs.

      But he is conspicuously uncritical of any other views coming from the far right that might conflict with his self proclaimed “liberal” values; He does not confront or challenge his more controversial guests on the subjects which make them controversial with anywhere NEAR the same intensity or scrutiny he has for SJW assertions – he just glosses over them in order to maintain a somewhat phoney sense of camaraderie and intellectual openness – the very simple minded “enemy of my enemy is my friend” thinking rightly criticized in this piece.

      From this inconsistent adversarial posture and selective application of concern, it’s very easy to derive that he has a bias for right wingers.

      • Memetic Tribe says

        “He (Rubin) is conspicuously uncritical of other views coming from the far right that might conflict with his “liberal” values…”

        So getting his face mushed into the end of the sofa every night by his new husband isn’t enough to establish his progressive pedigree? Working for years at TYT and the justice Democrats isn’t good enough…? How about challenging antisemitism due to the fact that he was raised jewish?

        And if Rubin is far right, who is near right? Who is middle right? Surely you’ve identified all the fixed points on the conservative spectrum, rather than just label everyone you dislike as “far right”.

        • Emblem14 says

          Harris’s original article dealt with this realignment of political tribes around culture war 2.0 issues. It has made for bedfellows like Rubin, a self described classical liberal, getting chummy with people who have endorsed right-wing collectivist stances of one form or another, because they share an antipathy for SJWs.

          I define the Far Right as people with reactionary social visions who see human beings primarily in terms of tribal identity categories, instead of individuals. So basically, the mirror image of SJWs.

          His being gay has nothing to do with that. Incidentally, I would bet a lot of money that despite being appreciative of the platform he provides them, some of his guests think he’s a disgusting degenerate who would be remarginalized or even persecuted in their preferred utopia.

          as far as his “challenging” anything, he has a very clear pattern of taking offense at things that affect him directly (attacks on white men, attacks on Jews, [curiously he’s able to let anti-gay stuff slide as “disagreement” ]), while treating ideas that attack other groups in similar ways as benign fodder for open conversation.

  19. Emblem14 says

    Very good piece. It is not enough to be “anti-SJW”, make friends with anyone who shares that posture, and call it a day. White Nationalists are anti-SJW. Lines do need to be drawn.

    When some of these contentious topics are discussed on this site, the odious characters described in this article will settle into the comments section like fleas. One shouldn’t be surprised then, when other respectable people don’t want to go near something infested with fleas.

    In my experience, the #1 mental block to honest engagement from anyone outside of this “dissenter” intellectual culture is the (often) accurate perception of a friendliness or at least irresponsible neglect of truly abhorrent elements who cross-pollinate in the anti-SJW space. People have become so afraid of associating with anything that provides “cover” for immoral ideologies since what some call the “Awokening” (i.e. a greater sensitivity to personal moral complicity in systems of oppression), permeated mainstream left of center thought.

    Given this, it seems impossible to have honest conversations about hard topics in public if there is even the faintest stink of sympathy or endorsement of “bad” ideology (ethnonationalism, TERFism, etc).

    I guess a basic question must be, is the general IDW “community” going to be hospitable to Reactionaries and Far-Right figures, or will it reject those elements as vociferously as it opposes the core assertions of SJW orthodoxy?

    Some outlets and public figures may already be too tainted. Choices were made and benefit-of-the-doubt was rescinded.

    A good rule of thumb in cultivating a subculture: it’s ultimately the case that any given subculture has to exclude in order to distinguish itself from other subcultures. Saying “everyone is welcome” just ultimately means “the people most willing to put up with shit are welcome” because “everyone” includes the worst, shittiest people, who will inevitably drive most decent people away with their awfulness. Saying “the only requirement is civility” means even the most disgusting ideas are acceptable if couched in civil language, which ultimately means “only the most dispassionate, thick skinned robotic personalities are welcome” which alienates most decent people.

    If you create a true free speech haven, without witch-hunts, you end up with a few principled libertarians, a few truly original thinkers and a horde of witches (HT: SSC). This may be acceptable as a pluralistic metacultural standard which is indifferent to the quality and content of ideas, but not for a subculture with particular values.

    • JWatts says

      “If you create a true free speech haven, without witch-hunts, you end up with a few principled libertarians, a few truly original thinkers and a horde of witches ..but not for a subculture with particular values.”

      You are advocating for witch hunts to maintain purity. I think you are on the wrong web site.

      • Emblem14 says

        It’s a figure of speech. I’m talking about any attempt of enforcing behavioral or intellectual standards for a definable group.

        Maybe the group has no standards, in which case, what I described will occur.

        Maybe it is such an incoherent, loosely constructed group, it’s impossible to enforce any standards, in which case, what I describe will occur. If that’s the case, it barely meets the criteria for a discreet group, and we shouldn’t pretend it is one.

        But surely you would draw a line somewhere for any group you wanted to be associated with? If you do have a line, then it’s just a matter of negotiating where it should be.

        The answer to that will determine whether the group can become popular or remain on the fringes.

    • Heike says

      “infested with fleas” disease metaphor. Interesting. That’s a disgust reaction, one typically held by right wingers who feel their purity violated by that which would harm them. The appropriate reaction is to cleanse, with fire or rodent fumigation. Typically leftists are high in openness and have no disgust reactions to such stimuli.

      • Which also explains why Leftists will tolerate filth that the Right calls out and shuns. Compare Fox News’ on NeoNazis vs CNN or MSNBC on Antifa.

  20. Geofiz says


    1) I believe that you miss the point about what the IDW is supposed to be. It should IMO be first and foremost about free speech. The first amendment was not designed to protect polite discourse among erudite liberals. It was designed to protect speech that both you and I find offensive and objectionable. That means Uri gets his say and so does Jordan Peterson. It also means Louis Farrakhan and Alex Jones also get their say. YOU DO NOT GET TO DECIDE WHO SPEAKS! And neither do I. When Sam Harris interviews an extreme right-wing nutcase, that does not mean I agree with that nutcase. But it would be a huge mistake to install gatekeepers (you???) to determine who and who not Sam Harris can interview. If you were the gatekeeper, would you ban Jordan Peterson? That sounds pretty scary to me.

    2) If the mainstream press spends the greater part of two years advocating a position, not in the editorial pages but on the front pages, that turns out not to be true – Russian collusion, why is it not a hoax. Liberal Matt Taibbi seems to think it is.

    3) On one side you have much of the media, academia, and popular culture. On the other side we have, a few YouTubers and Quillette. And yet a 14-year-old girl poses an existential threat to the sanctity of this thing we call the IDW…Give me a break!!!

    “If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.” John Stuart Mill; On Liberty

    • I think #1 is an overly simplistic take. Real free speech means, first, that the state doesn’t get to say who can and can’t speak, and also, that mobs or powerful private interests don’t get to chase someone off of multiple platforms until they’re effectively silenced. However, freedom of speech does not mean freedom from criticism, and it ddes not guarantee someone is necissarily going get a hearing – if the most people find someone like Stephan Molyneaux (or anybody who would align with him) to be beyond the pale, that’s just how the “marketplace of ideas” works. And before you get your back up about that, consider the fact that this Quillette writers routinely label many social justice and left-wing people and ideas as so extreme as to be beyond the realm of respectable discourse. But it’s somehow not fair game when the kind of people Dave Rubin has made common cause with get similarly criticized? I think it is.

      • Geofiz says

        Of course criticism is fair game. That was precisely my point. What is not fair game is de-platforming – by anyone, progressive or conservative!. Free speech is messy. And it should be.

        Read my post again. We agree!

        • Geofiz says

          Dave Rubin has the right to invite whoever he likes on his show. It is HIS show. And you have the right to criticize him for doing so as well as to criticize the persons he invites.

          What you do not have and should not have is the right to tell him who he can and cannot invite. Neither does Cathy Young, even if you both believe that the guests ideas are “beyond the pale and even if you believe that his guests do not serve the “greater good of the IDW” as you define it.

          I will give the Progressives credit. There is no such angst on their part. Antisemitism – No problem. Misandry – No Problem. Racism against whites – No problem. Discrimination against Christians – No problem. Maybe that is why they have won the culture war.

      • Antonio says

        Could you kindly provide me with a link to unacceptable things said by Steven Molyneaux?

  21. Ray Andrews says

    I’m not sure this article says anything that is not obvious. Every ‘movement’, especially one as vaguely construed as the IDW, will attract various undesirable folks out on the tails of the bell-curve of the people who are attracted to it. The IDW is essentially opposition to SJW extremism so it is inevitable that it it skews to the right. Is this news? It will attract peripheral people out to the very rightmost edge but hopefully their numbers diminish as one gets further and further away from the center. In the same way, some lefty-centered group will attract people out to the leftmost edge. If America’s Maoists were likely to vote for Bernie I don’t think that makes Bernie a Maoist. If Nazis vote Republican, that doesn’t make Jeff Flake a Nazi. And naturally we should try to engage with reasonable folks on the other side, but there aren’t many of them especially since they are now explicitly rejecting dialogue and even rationality as tools of the white oppressor. What can you do?

    • GL says

      One of the great mysteries of the IDW is that most of it seems pretty center of the road and obvious. Yet people freak out. This article itself seems pretty tame and balanced to me, yet look at some of the panicked responses, and this is from people who self-identify with the IDW!

      I also don’t see it as anti-SJW focused. I’m an atheist (or agnostic if I’m being true to science), but there are a near infinite quantity of ideas in the world, and I’m hardly defined in my opposition to them (I’m an a-easter-bunny also). I can see, however, if you are an SJW or a deity believer that I would appear to you to be focused on my opposition to them, if only because my view disregards the core of your being.

  22. Memetic Tribe says

    Quillette is just an Irish wake for Western Civilization.

    It’s a vestige of the maligned and increasingly insignificant culture that spawned the greatest, most egalitarian civilization in history. Quillette throws a final few ornamental nods of appreciation at individualism and self determination, but the undercurrent of the writing clearly purveys a certain feeling – that it’s over.

    It’s just another extremely subtle version of mainstream authoritarianism.

  23. Morgan Foster says

    “… Quillette contributor Uri Harris arguing that in fact, the IDW skews too far to the right and does not engage sufficiently with progressive, left-wing views.”

    How will we know when the IDW “sufficiently” engages with progressive, left-wing views? How will we see that the engagement has been sufficient?

    When the IDW skews back to the left, one supposes.

  24. KD says

    So in our timidity, let each of us make a choice: Whether consciously, to remain a servant of falsehood—of course, it is not out of inclination, but to feed one’s family, that one raises his children in the spirit of lies—or to shrug off the lies and become an honest man worthy of respect both by one’s children and contemporaries.

    And from that day onward he:

    Will not henceforth write, sign, or print in any way a single phrase which in his opinion distorts the truth.
    Will utter such a phrase neither in private conversation not in the presence of many people, neither on his own behalf not at the prompting of someone else, either in the role of agitator, teacher, educator, not in a theatrical role.
    Will not depict, foster or broadcast a single idea which he can only see is false or a distortion of the truth whether it be in painting, sculpture, photography, technical science, or music.
    Will not cite out of context, either orally or written, a single quotation so as to please someone, to feather his own nest, to achieve success in his work, if he does not share completely the idea which is quoted, or if it does not accurately reflect the matter at issue.
    Will not allow himself to be compelled to attend demonstrations or meetings if they are contrary to his desire or will, will neither take into hand not raise into the air a poster or slogan which he does not completely accept.
    Will not raise his hand to vote for a proposal with which he does not sincerely sympathize, will vote neither openly nor secretly for a person whom he considers unworthy or of doubtful abilities.
    Will not allow himself to be dragged to a meeting where there can be expected a forced or distorted discussion of a question. Will immediately talk out of a meeting, session, lecture, performance or film showing if he hears a speaker tell lies, or purvey ideological nonsense or shameless propaganda.
    Will not subscribe to or buy a newspaper or magazine in which information is distorted and primary facts are concealed. Of course we have not listed all of the possible and necessary deviations from falsehood. But a person who purifies himself will easily distinguish other instances with his purified outlook.
    No, it will not be the same for everybody at first. Some, at first, will lose their jobs. For young people who want to live with truth, this will, in the beginning, complicate their young lives very much, because the required recitations are stuffed with lies, and it is necessary to make a choice.

    But there are no loopholes for anybody who wants to be honest. On any given day any one of us will be confronted with at least one of the above-mentioned choices even in the most secure of the technical sciences. Either truth or falsehood: Toward spiritual independence or toward spiritual servitude.

    And he who is not sufficiently courageous even to defend his soul—don’t let him be proud of his “progressive” views, don’t let him boast that he is an academician or a people’s artist, a merited figure, or a general—let him say to himself: I am in the herd, and a coward. It’s all the same to me as long as I’m fed and warm.

    -Alexander Solzhenitsyn

    • scribblerg says

      @KD – I read the Gulag Archipelago at the tender age of 11. 4 month project. In 1973. Changed me forever. It saddens me that being a supporter of classical liberal ideas and the philosophy brought about by the age of enlightenment makes me a “right winger”, somehow suspect from the outset.

      The very idea of individual sovereignty is at stake in the West, nothing less. And all the Left can do in this discussion is scream and rant and rave and insult and refuse to cooperate in good faith to run our self-governing society. They are in constant revolt and emotionalism.

      We can’t share a self-governing nation without our fellow citizens treating the Right with good will. This will come to war, and sadly for the Left (in all its forms) that war will be over in a week cuz what many men in the U.S. on the Right have done is arm up and train. We sit silently for the most part, on the sidelines watching the inane arguments and pieces of excrement like Ilhan Omar denigrate this great nation and bide our time. We aren’t powerless, we aren’t overrun. We are just waiting for the right moment.

      What, do Leftists really think American conservatives like me are going to sit by and watch socialists shove this nation into an early grave? I don’t care if someone calls me a fascist for that – talking time is over.

      Wake the fuck up. The left will bring about more repression and more conservatism with its antics, not less. Don’t believe me? Go to the “3 pcters” site and research the many groups of conservatives arming, training and organizing. We don’t waste our time mentally masturbating at virtue signaling rallies that accomplish nothing. In fact, we were told after Obama that we should get busy organizing and winning elections. So we did that – from the Tea Party to Trump.

      And now we are told we aren’t fit to govern. Take abortion – you’d think that half the country doesn’t have major issues with abortion and always has. You’d think there weren’t millions of women who want to outlaw abortion utterly. But no, my love of life (due to my mother dying in childbirth, knowing she might die) isn’t due to my personal moral compass, nope, it’s that I’ve declared “War on Women”. Women, who I’ve provided for and protected since my teen years. Women who I treated like “ladies” as my generation was ordered to do. Women, who I adore. But because I’m not a fan of babykilling, I’m nothing more than a hater.

      I don’t take such people’s words seriously. I instead work on my marskmanship. Don’t take this comment the wrong way – I’m not threatening anybody. Rather, the threats I see leave me with only one, horrible option to remain free. I am not ready to exercise it yet, but I think that makes many Leftists believe we never will. That’s a huge miscalculation by the Left.

      Being “fed and warm” isn’t good enough for me or millions of armed conservative men. I’m afraid this nation is going to find that out in a very unpleasant way in the not too distant future.

      • KD says

        But freedom is an attitude, its not conditioned on the other person. Solzhenitsyn focused on being a free soul, and he was able to find freedom even in Stalinist Russia in a Gulag, because of the power of Truth. These times require marksmanship of the soul, not of the body.

      • So let’s get this straight, scribblerg, the left can be tolerated as long as they don’t actually achieve anything. But if left-wing ideas actually gain some popularity and are implemented via the democratic process, with full respect for existing constitutional rights, then what? You and your gang of rough, tough conservative men are going to rise up and give the deluded leftist population a dose of the full Pinochet?

        FFS, man, I can say quite clearly that whatever’s motivating you, it isn’t ‘freedom’ in any broad meaningful sense.

        • asdf says

          Absent immigration, there is zero probability of leftist winning democratic elections. Whites vote for the right in a landslide.

      • Emblem14 says

        lol. How do you envision this war actually playing out? Will progressives and reactionaries line up to face each other on the Main streets of America like blue coats and grey coats? Will domestic terrorists start assassinating prominent political figures?

        Your raging impotence to stop changes to society you don’t like is palpable. I know it seems attractive to go down fighting in glorious and honorable battle instead of enduring the constant stream of humiliation you feel everyday by your political enemies. Unfortunately you can’t win a violent civil conflict without disposing of the constitution, the rule of law, etc. If you think fascism is preferable to a society in which people like you have less power, don’t get mad when people call you fascist.

        But if you start fighting, your biggest concern won’t be masked Leftists in the street, it will be the govt. of the USA you want to reclaim coming in to crush your rebellion with overwhelming force.

        • Stephanie says

          It’s a hard “no” on socialism, particularly the white- and Jew-hating version so popular on the left now. If it came to civil war, the left would lose hard because the right has geography, bullets, and testosterone on their side. The left may have the self-awareness to know their sheltered city soyboys stand no chance, so they will try death by a thousand cuts. Take the guns away, indoctrinate the kids, limit career options, redistribute wealth, bring in compliant new populations with high birth rates, concentrate power in unelected bureaucracies…

          It’s hard to imagine what single event would trigger a counter-revolution when the revolution has been coming on slowly for a long time already. Disarmament might do it.

          Preparing to fight back against a tyrannical government is our responsibility as citizens, but equally important is having as many children as possible and inoculating them against progressivism.

      • Erik Nielsen says

        To scribblerg: Maybe you should spend less of your time attacking progressive, who you admit are just mentally masturbating, and more time raising awareness of the threat posed by the right wing who you say are arming, training and organizing. If the left is just engaging in virtue signalling while the far right is preparing for a takeover, then how is it that the current left is a bigger threat? It seems more likely that the far right will send people into gulags. They’ve already started with migrant families…

  25. EK says

    So, Cathy’s all in with deplatforming and so Cathy is part pf the problem.

  26. Couldn’t make it past the second paragraph. I don’t understand how someone could write “JP’s arguments are often not very conducive to bridge-building or dialogue across political divides,” without providing a single example or piece of evidence to support the claim. It seems to me to be fairly obvious Peterson’s main focus is outside the political realm, and his work attracts people from all political backgrounds (except far-left).

    • derek says

      This is why I don’t pay attention to journalists. The desire for bridge building is a common trope when there are serious issues to decide and they want to control the conversation.

      The desire to control oozes from this article. The proliferation of journalists on Twitter has shown that the gate keeper function was to keep a lid on the journalists themselves. Otherwise they would call for harm to come upon sixteen year old kids who remind them of someone they didn’t like at school.

      • Lydia says

        “The desire to control oozes from this article”

        That was my takeaway.

    • Morgan Foster says


      “Bridge-building or dialogue across political divides” always operates in the following way:

      Left talks to Right.
      Right talks to Left.
      Right agrees with Left and becomes Left.

      Any other outcome means there has been no bridge-building and no dialogue took place.

    • I have a feeling you’re defining the “far left” pretty broadly here, though. I could certainly see someone who finds many of Peterson’s ideas to be regressive and unapplealing could do so a simply be a bit left of center in the grand scheme of things. And this is where I take issue with the IDW’s framing – basically anybody to the left of Brett Weinstein is automatically an extremist.

      Now I’ll say two things about Peterson that came out of the Zizek vs Peterson debate – 1) Peterson truly doesn’t understand most left-wing ideas beyond a strawman version, so he’s not good at critiquing them, hence, a lot of leftists simply write him off for good reason. And 2) Peterson actually can be engaged with from the left if approached in the right way, and I think Zizek managed to this, actually finding common ground with him on some issues. Then again, Zizek is much more of a humanist than is typical of the left right now.

      • You’re doing the same thing I was criticizing the author for, which is making a claim then providing no evidence or reasoning to support it. Of course, you’re commenting, which makes it more forgivable. However it’s no more convincing.

      • Larry Czaplyski says

        I think Peterson fully understands left wing ideas. Leftists write him off because they have difficulties with his arguments.

  27. Blue Lobster says

    Good to see the usual suspects of the Quillette comment section triggered by this excellent piece! Well done Cathy and Quillette! Articles like this get at the heart of what Quillette is supposed to be about. It’s been awhile since since the political center has enjoyed anything this balanced, well-written and well-argued on this site.

  28. “in many cases, it also reframes basic civil rights (such as fair treatment by the police and the courts) as unearned advantages to feel guilty about.”

    Indeed, that critique has been made 10 years ago by Africana Studies scholar Lewis Gordon, in a “whiteness studies” anthology no less:

    “A privilege is something that not everyone needs, but a right is the opposite. Given this distinction, an insidious dimension of the white-privilege argument emerges. It requires condemning whites for possessing, in the concrete, features of contemporary life that should be available to all, and if this is correct, how can whites be expected to give up such things?”

    Longer book section here: https://books.google.ie/books?id=wY3p8sE4de0C&lpg=PP1&pg=PA173#v=onepage&q&f=false

    Like so much of the left-wing antiauthoritarian intellectual legacy, it’s a damn shame that so many current leftists and rightists alike seem to not know it even exits.

    • Just Me says


      Thanks for this citation.

      I’ve been making the same argument for a long time, and never knew someone else had actually made it in print.

      I will now quote it.

    • Stephanie says

      Galway, the discussion of whether privilege or rights rhetoric best suits the left’s narrative should occur after it has been firmly established that there even is a significant racial difference. In the case of both police and the courts, once relevant factors are taken into account there is no substantial difference in outcomes between ethnic groups. Like the gender pay gap, the perception of such relies on an incomplete or purposefully-misconstrued treatment of the statistics.

  29. ga gamba says

    Ms Young’s blind spot is she fails to recognise the give-’em-enough-rope-and-they’ll-hang-themselves tactic is a legitimate way to conduct an interview. Interviews don’t have to be a battle of wills and words. And, as well, interviewers have imperfect knowledge, make mistakes, miss opportunities, etc.

    One of the best documentaries I’ve seen about North Korea is Polish director Andrzej Fidyk’s Defilada (The Parade). Filmed in 1988, prior to the collapse of communism in Europe, Fidyk didn’t challenge anyone. There’s no commentary by the film maker whatsoever. He doesn’t debunk claims – not even mild skepticism is voiced. No interview of opponents. No counterpoints to the totalitarian personality cult are made. No gotcha moment. In fact, the entire film is North Koreans hand-picked by the regime to talk to foreigners, the spokespeople’s pronouncements, and the narrator reading the propaganda found at the many showcase sites visited; many of these are howlers – this was when the totalitarian state was less media savvy. At first the regime itself praised the film and thanked Fidyk.

    Does watching Defilada make its viewer an adherent of Kim’s juche philosophy, an admirer of the Great Leader, and a wisher of turning Seoul into a sea of fire? No.

    The regime soon learnt that it had actually subverted itself with its own words. Fidyk presented the unfiltered message and the audience came to understand the horror of the place without benefit of the director explicitly telling them so. People, even those living in the then Warsaw Pact, were, and are, able to figure things out.

    Over the past few years I’ve often read and heard criticism made by progressives of an interviewer’s style and conduct. Generally, they don’t want any platform for those they hate, but, when one is given, it seems they expect the interviewer beat the subject with a (metaphorical) truncheon. Failing that, then the interviewee’s message has been let loose amongst us and we’re at risk of unquestioning acceptance. Without the right thinking journalists to make sense for the public, and to monopolise this influence, all these bad ideas will escape and like gremlins wrack havoc on the system.

    I’m not a regular viewer of Dave Rubin’s interviews, but I know they are narrowcast live. He does not allow himself the luxury of collecting sixty to one hundred-twenty minutes of footage to be edited down to several minutes, a few minutes that may not only be edited to put the subject in the least (or most) flattering light but also hide Rubin’s shortcomings as an interviewer. Rubin allows his flaws to be exposed near daily, and some interviews such as the one with Blair White and Candace Owens were a shambles. This is far braver and more honest than the pre-recorded and heavily edited – and even recontextualised – bilge commonly served up by the broadcast media. This polished product, a photoshopping of the news to fit a preferred narrative, has distorted our expectation and given too much authority to the gatekeepers.

    As for the label IDW, that’s just superficial. I’m more interested in the discussion, even if it fails to meet a particular person’s expectation of how these are to be conducted and who may participate.

    • EK says

      Have you ever watched some of Dick Cavett’s interviews from the late 60s and early 70s on the topic of the Vietnam War?

    • Stephanie says

      I’ve missed you, ga gamba. Hope you’ve been well.

      • ga gamba says

        Thanks for the well wishes, Stephanie. Had a nice holiday in Hokkaido, Japan and received a ’71 Marcos to rebuild, so I’m busy and doing great. Hope you’re well too.

  30. Jairo Melchor says

    Very good article, but i’ll have to disagree with the no engaging with perceived extremists.

    This notion comes with the conclusion that if a rational person engages in a space with an extremist, the rational will become an extremist but somehow the opposite conclusion (extremist turned into rational) never becomes the subject.

    We have to be very wary of extremists masquerading themselves as rational and very humanists, but trying to understand their view and perspective may be a good starting point to create (as regressives would say) a more inclusive world. First, understand and then try to change. Alienate them would only create more bitterness in the long run, it should only be a very last minute resource in the marketplace of ideas.

  31. hans says

    The entire concept of an IDW is promising and inspiring to me, but I think nuanced constructive criticism like this should be supported as it can only make the dialogue better. It is often sad to see intellectuals originally trying to reject the PC narrative in favor of higher level dialogue, bend when they are put in front of crowds that cheer whenever the PC narrative is broken only because they respect the courage needed to break that narrative. Milo is the perfect example of this, he fights against PC culture with very convoluted and often ironic ideas that often aren’t really useful or precise, and that reduces him to nothing but a provocateur who irreversibly polarizes almost discussion or debate he enters.

  32. asdf says

    “While these are particularly egregious examples, the problem is certainly bigger than one YouTube talk show host. Because the IDW coalesces around dissent from modern cultural orthodoxies, its discourse often addresses topics surrounded by taboos: possible negative effects of large-scale migration from Third World countries into the West; innate differences in cognitive skills and behavioral traits, particularly between different ethnic or racial groups; false accusations of sexual abuse; debate about transgender identities; critiques of Islam. Those are, of course, entirely legitimate questions. Unfortunately, they are also magnets for people who actually do fit the “woke” caricatures of racists, misogynists and bigots: those who liken migrants to vermin and viruses, who are obsessively preoccupied with stupid, lazy and criminal blacks or lying predatory women, who loathe transgender women as evil patriarchal usurpers of womanhood or see every Muslim as a potential jihadist.”

    Look, is this just tone policing?

    Are low IQ immigrants good for the West or not?

    Go down the list. You keep saying “entirely legitimate question.” But what are the answers to these questions? Basically the racist ones.

    It’s certainly racist to say that people from certain countries would make poor immigrants because of their bad genetics…but it is true. If I rephrase those words more politely, does it really change the answer?

    • asdf says

      P.S. I followed your link to a this takedown of Stefan Molyneux. It boils down to the same damn thing I see every time.

      We can change IQ!

      No, we can’t.

      The rest follows logically.

      If we can’t change IQ, bad but true stuff.

      People don’t like the bad but true stuff, so they claim we can change IQ (we can’t) or that IQ isn’t that important (it is).

      This isn’t a game. These changes happening to our society have huge long term implications. People don’t want to politely surrender their children future just to be considered “one of the good ones.”

      • Just Me says

        Providing optimal environmental conditions, already impossible to do for everyone, can change I.Q., but not significantly enough to make a difference in people’s life outcomes.

        So the question has to be, what to do about the low I.Q. portion of the population. One can have different political positions on that, but if one can’t even get to ask the question…

        • asdf says

          The starting point on the right is:

          1) Don’t blame me for other people being low IQ (disparity talk).

          2) Don’t ignore IQ so you can justify bad policy in the name of low IQ people.

          3) Don’t force me to be responsible for the whole world’s low IQ (at best one has some obligations to the low IQ in their own country due to shared history and common culture, not the entire planet).

          If the IDW touches these positions, it’s reprimanded. Because ultimately the SJW goal is.

          3) Import enough low IQ people to win electoral majorities whether whites like it or not.

          2) Use this electoral majority to pass policy benefitting SJWs regardless of whether it works (who will be administering all dem programs).

          1) Use the cultural cudgel of designating people racist based on personal will to power to justify injustice for personal gain and the sick thrill of it…

          “But always – do not forget this, Winston – always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – for ever.” (3.3.34, O’Brien)

    • Emblem14 says

      I don’t think it’s true that these “difficult questions” are just a trojan horse for bigotry (although a progressive would definitely endorse your take on it).

      “possible negative effects of large-scale migration from Third World countries into the West”

      There is absolutely a pragmatic argument about assimilation and implications for political stability to be made here without impugning the worthiness of the immigrants themselves. There’s also a racist argument that does hinge on worthiness.

      “innate differences in cognitive skills and behavioral traits, particularly between different ethnic or racial groups”

      This is an area of legitimate study for biologists and social scientists, because it’s a simple fact. There’s also a version that uses the fact of group averages to justify personal prejudice and mass stereotyping, which is a bigoted misapplication of this information that ignores other important factors like variability and magnitude.

      “false accusations of sexual abuse”

      Most people support due process and will not sacrifice it as a principle just to appear “woke”.
      However there are some people who reflexively cast doubt women’s accusations regardless of the circumstances, which is part of what #meetoo was trying to change.

      “debate about transgender identities”

      There’s an interesting conflict that goes to the basic philosophy and metaphysics of gender, and what constitutes natural lines of delineation between conceptual categories. You can have that discussion without threatening the civil rights of trans people. However, some participants want to codify an understanding of gender that truly does erase trans people and treat them simply as mentally ill people in need of treatment against their will, like schizophrenics.

      “critiques of Islam”

      Of course it’s possible to criticize the doctrines of Islam, or Christianity, or Hinduism, without inferring that one should persecute adherents of the faith merely for their beliefs. It’s also possible to argue that adherents of a faith represent a mortal danger due to their beliefs, and should therefore be persecuted to prevent them from gaining too much political or social power.

      So, this is not just “tone policing”. There are frameworks that address these questions with due respect for liberal values and the inalienable rights of other people, and frameworks that resort to authoritarianism.

      The problem is that the authoritarians want to blur the lines so they can insinuate their preferred solutions without being accused of being authoritarians. Motte and Bailey doctrine. Progressives who want to maintain taboos against the authoritarian “solutions” to these problems decide it’s easier to assume everyone who violates the taboo is dangerous. They think every unchallenged violation of the taboo helps the authoritarians gain influence. Preventing the anti-progressives from gaining influence is a higher priority than acknowledging there are liberal-compatible arguments that complicate the taboo without endorsing the authoritarian conclusions.

      • asdf says

        “There is absolutely a pragmatic argument about assimilation and implications for political stability to be made here without impugning the worthiness of the immigrants themselves. There’s also a racist argument that does hinge on worthiness.”

        But if they were worthy…then we wouldn’t be worried about assimilation and political stability. We would assume it would occur much as it did with the immigrant waves of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. But they were able to integrate utlimately because they were “worthy” (white, high IQ). This experience is used to justify how, whatever difficulties, the “unworthy” people will ultimately do the same (but they won’t, because their genetics are different).

        It’s also the case that immigration of those that are “worthy” doesn’t seem to bother people that much. It’s only immigration of the “unworthy” that bothers people.

        “There’s also a version that uses the fact of group averages to justify personal prejudice and mass stereotyping, which is a bigoted misapplication of this information that ignores other important factors like variability and magnitude.”

        In what way? Our legal code and social mores demand there are no differences and that all “disparate impact” is due to racism. Ignoring racial genetics is used to justify mass injustice and inequality before the law (AA) and in the operation of our day to day lives.

        “However there are some people who reflexively cast doubt women’s accusations regardless of the circumstances, which is part of what #meetoo was trying to change.”

        Who are these people? What evidence do we have that they mattered on any kind of statistically meaningful scale?

        “You can have that discussion without threatening the civil rights of trans people. ”

        What are the civil rights of trans people?

        “However, some participants want to codify an understanding of gender that truly does erase trans people and treat them simply as mentally ill people in need of treatment against their will, like schizophrenics.”

        Is this incorrect? It does seem like a mental illness. Lots of psychologist have backed this up. I’m reminded of this NYTimes article. If you don’t think this author is mentally ill, I don’t know what to tell you. Ordinarily if a medical procedure will harm the patient and bring with it a high chance of suicide, you would consider the hypocratic oath.


        I just don’t see your arguments as justified. The proposed “injustices” you can’t provide evidence for. You want to stifle debate about facts when those facts have meaningful political and social implications you don’t like.

  33. codadmin says

    “…it provides a more coherent explanation of social phenomena and clearer solutions for improving society” than traditional liberalism…”

    There is no such thing as ‘traditional liberalism’ or ‘classical liberalism’. There is liberalism and anyone who isn’t a liberal is not liberal.

    Leftists, or progressives, or whatever you want to call them are not liberal.

    Uri Harris is not liberal.

  34. B Nelson says

    Why is it that any group that “skews right” is excoriated and expected to instantly put leftist views in for “balance.” Leftists have nearly every web platform, newspaper, vlog, nowcast. Go excoriate them and blast them for not being balanced.

  35. Raging Hewbrew says

    This article is a great example of why Cathy Young and her tepid brand of conservatism are obsolete. In this article about identity and the Intellectual Dark Web Cathy Young does not mention the most important identifying feature of the IDW; that most of it’s members are Jewish. When you see that you quickly see that the IDW has already fallen prey to tribalism since while the IDW has a pretense of being objective and pro free speech they are silent when it comes to criticizing Israel or anything Jewish–like say laws that make criticizing Jews/Israel or supporting BDS illegal. Imagine writing an article about the tribalist pull and the IDW without mentioning most of the IDW are from the SAME TRIBE!!!!

    As for Cathy I have been reading her for years and I can sum her up as follows: Cathy wants open borders for Western countries and nationalism for Israel. In her world view the Enlightenment means Israel gets to stay majority Jewish while Western countries do not get stay majority White and if White people want what Israel has they are Nazis. I suspect the real reason she hates Lauren Southern is that Southern went too far in defending white people. Southern is one of the few journalists that honestly talk about how Europe is becoming minority White and the racially motivated slaughter of South African Whites by the Bantu majority. Does it really matter if Southern said something nice about Richard Spencer once?

    As a Jew I want Israel to be majority Jewish. How could I tell an English man he is wrong for wanting England the remain majority White English? I can’t, but Cathy and the IDW will gladly do it.

    Also Cathy is a fellow at Cato, so maybe she wants open borders in America so that her Koch masters can have cheap labor.

  36. Another C Young says

    Great piece – well balanced.
    I question the attack on Peterson. He’s more of a conservative by temperament than by politics.
    If you push back on the progressive left, you are immediately demonised. Hard to engage in one-sided Kum By Yah singing once you’ve been on the wrong side of that for a year or so.

  37. CA says

    “There are several traps an IDW-type movement needs to avoid:”

    The author seems to be perpetuating a particular understanding of the so-called “Intellectual Dark Web”. Namely that it consists of a kind of political debate generally consisting of certain more or less certified IDWers like Sam Harris, Dave Rubin etc. opposed to a more general force of Progressives.

    This debate is in fact going on and there seems to be all kinds of self appointed advisors –like the current author, like Uri Harris, etc – as to how this debate should be conducted in order to avoid certain “traps” as alluded to above. In my opinion this is all well and good but generally misses what seems to me to be the historic significance of the IDW.

    I believe the best way to understand the emergence of the IDW is in a much larger historical context. The emergence and dominance of Progressivism is the product of certain ways of thinking and ideas which go back at least a couple of centuries. Ultimately these ideas do have particular political consequences and they are often not pretty – hence the emergence of the IDW.

    But to really understand the nature of Progressivism requires more than relatively narrow political debates about it’s current manifestations. And the whole issue of free speech is essential but only a beginning – what good is free speech if no one has anything to say?.

    I believe confronting Progressivism requires raising more elemental philosophical questions. The kinds of questions which are found in the writings of the likes of Shelley, Baudelaire, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Kandinsky, Conrad, Heidegger and dozens of others. Many “certified” IDWers are to be commended to the extent they engage these larger issues.

    I tend to think the emergence of the IDW represents the beginning of the end of modernism itself. Those who are most capable of confronting this will tend to be those who write their own rules. I don’t think they need to spend much time worrying about sticking to the rules and avoiding “traps”.

  38. Elton H says

    “liberalism’s recent “upgrade”: the “social justice” progressivism focused on “structural oppression,” identity, privilege,”

    This is not an upgrade. This is descent into the hell of Marxism.

  39. Loic the Stoic says

    I agree with this but a few things. 1) The thing on Muslims wasn’t skewed – it was accurate according to John Curtice. Most Muslims live in segregated areas in UK (which also speaks to the issue), 2) the point so much isn’t that migrants rape more but why politicians felt unable to talk about it – and left this to the far right, 3) the transgender criticism I think is a straw man of radical feminist opinions on the subject. It’s not that transgender people are loathed, rather that transgenderism is a threat to any concept of womanhood as it renders “woman” meaningless for the privilege of men. That’s the issue. It may be that some radical feminists dislike trans women but that’s because they dislike men full stop. The issue isn’t bigotry but anti-male prejudice, 4) Apart from that, this was very well written and very good. Especially on Rubin.

  40. S.Cheung says

    Ms. Young’s piece is far more compelling than Uri Harris’ 2 recent efforts on the subject, but I still feel she has missed the bottom line. To her credit, she is more pointed in her criticism of some of the failings of the SJWs, and is more precise in what the IDW can or perhaps should do about it from their end. Nonetheless, she appears to ascribe characteristics of a “club” to the IDW, with membership, vetting of applications, and considerations of affiliation (enemies of enemy) and implicit adjacency. I feel that is the incorrect frame of reference.

    Instead, I would consider the IDW more as a philosophy, or mode of thought. One that values freedom of speech, freedom of inquiry, intellectual honesty, and exchange of ideas. One that assumes its audience to be capable of independent thought, logic and reason, and of resisting tribalist instincts. One that appreciates “sunlight as the ultimate disinfectant” (to borrow directly from Rubin…but which is essentially a reboot of “democracy dies in the darkness”, which itself is only the tagline of WaPo, which seems plenty MSM).

    When you subscribe to a mode of thinking, rather than to a “club”, there are no explicit “membership rules”…but you are judged by how closely you adhere to that guiding mode of thinking, at any given time. So each individual who claims to be “IDW” may be more “IDW” some days than others, and/or as applied to some topics more than others. It would be foolish for anyone to claim they are free of bias, or of blindspots…and so we shouldn’t expect that of IDW thinkers. But we can examine their workproduct individually and on their own merits. So Rubin maybe whiffs on a few interviews with some seedy types, or he leaves his curveball hanging from time to time. That’s ok. He’s letting his guests express their opinion, and he’s assuming his audience can discern for themselves better than he can for them. When he starts shutting down ideas rather than examining them, then maybe we start wondering if he’s lost his affection for the IDW frame of mind.

    And when it resolves around how you behave, rather than to whom you pay your dues, then Shapiro on many days (when he is not in his Daily Wire persona) IMO qualifies as much as the next guy. And his politics differ from most of the others. But his mode of inquiry and how he reasons to his particular POV (on most days and on most matters) are consistent with his IDW mind-brethren, even if his political affiliation isn’t.

    This lack of hierarchy, and lack of oversight, does leave the viewer/listener with a lot of responsibility. But I think that is part of the appeal.

  41. AntonyG says

    The far-left have been at the epicenter of major cultural change in the West over the last 30-40 years. Almost all of that cultural change should be considered potentially dangerous because most of it was birthed and grew popular in academic and societal environments populated by fascistically narrow-minded people.

    Most of that change has been promoted under a tyrannical group-think i.e. anyone in opposition has been shouted down and perniciously labeled. Almost none has been vigorously debated and scrutinized. Many libertarians agree with this cultural change because they are oblivious of the neo-Marxist agenda. They have allowed the shifting Overton window—which is continuing to be dragged further and further to the extreme left by the most caustic human beings imaginable—to swamp their moral and rational worldview.

    Neo-Marxists are obsessed with identity & race—a fascistic way of thinking. And they are obsessed with equity—a Marxist way of thinking. Effectively a Marxist/fascist hybrid. Arguably the most dangerous group of people that have ever existed. Someone like Sam Harris is not quite as dangerous as your average far-left activist but just being in favor of free speech doesn’t offset all of the seriously disturbing neo-Marxist BS that he and other libertarians seem to accept as true.

  42. maxmagnus says

    I couldn’t read the whole article- it is not written well enough to be so long- so I’m not entering in any criticism other that it seems to miss the main point about IDW.
    IDW members want topics to be discussed. SJW types don’t.

    • Denis Leonard says

      You’ve addressed the only/best point. Unfortunately for those who fall under the IDW brand, they’ve allowed themselves to be “identified,” boxed, and shelved. Both a blessing and a curse.

  43. Antonio says

    This is where I stopped reading the article. “He has been rightly criticized, not only by progressives but by libertarians such as Anthony Fisher, for providing a sympathetic forum to far-right activists including Paul Joseph Watson, Mike Cernovich, Stefan Molyneux, and Lauren Southern”

  44. Owntown Darts Scene says

    Significant that the social media pull quote and illustration for this article are all about putting the boot into Dave Rubin, even though the article seems (rightly) to have far more meaningful reservations about the sadly deluded appeals to the SocJus priesthood advocated by Uri Harris. This casts the whole affair in a distinct light of clique anxiety. As I have a measure of respect for the independence of Ms. Young as a thinker (dating back to my first acquaintance with her work regarding an earlier pushback to corrupt Wokery spuriously constructed as a “movement” by certain vested media interests), I’m sorry to see her so preoccupied with pointless distancing efforts.

    Look, I think Milo Yiannopoulos has deep personal issues that interfere with his functioning. I find Dave Rubin not a very profound thinker. And I’m even sure Jordan Peterson misspoke that one time in 1979 or whatever. The point is that it shouldn’t be required of me to provide such ritual disavowals in order to be on the same side of a specific, major issue as them. For me, the galloping Special Justice lunacy is such a major issue. We need a broad popular resistance, not a self-celebrating clique in order to address the plague. After that, we can get back to the finer points of brand cultivation. The whole “IDW” concept has been blown out of proportion in any case.

    • Alf says

      “Look, I think Milo Yiannopoulos has deep personal issues that interfere with his functioning. I find Dave Rubin not a very profound thinker. And I’m even sure Jordan Peterson misspoke that one time in 1979 or whatever. The point is that it shouldn’t be required of me to provide such ritual disavowals in order to be on the same side of a specific, major issue as them.”

      Exactly. This is why the recent interview with Ben Shapiro (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VixqvOcK8E) was so annoying. Sure, Ben has tweeted some obnoxious and controversial stuff. That does not mean his book is absent of important views or that one must agree with everything he has ever said in order to agree with his main political points. The guy says about a million words a day. That they had to go back to 2012 to find something offensive is pretty pathetic.

  45. Gary says

    Great stuff Cathy.

    Mostly agree. Although I should point out that Lauren’s point that “White surpremacy” is different from “White nationalism” or “White separatism” is an entirely legitimate point.

    That wasn’t just her trying to sanitise Spencer. They are genuinely different positions. (I don’t subscribe to any of them, but that’s just true)

  46. Arfan says

    This article is a bit too idealistic and misses the point on several issues. 1 the “dark” part of IDW refers to the nonexistence of these thinkers on MSM (the coined of the term Eric Weinstein explains it himself). 2 You assume that Dave Rubin and other podcasters meticulously background check every individual they have on their shows, how could a low budget enterprise hope to do that? Also it would be against the point, MSM model is already to have people on and grill them about all the dumbest, least thought out things they have ever said publicly. Most IDW shows are concerned with discussing topics and ideas, not trying to play gotcha with whoever it might be. I watched the Milo interviews and laughed at his absurdity. Was everything he said 100% wrong? No. But did I suddenly start seeing him as a scholar of the cultural zeitgeist? Of course not.

  47. Andrew Roddy says

    ‘Skepticism toward the free marketplace of ideas, especially coupled with the belief that speech hurtful to “marginalized people” equals “harm” and even “violence”—a core tenet of modern progressivism which Harris does not mention—logically leads to “deplatforming,” ‘

    This seems a little pat. This notion of a free marketplace of ideas demands and deserves scrutiny and scepticism – most obviously according to its own lights. Whether or not you feel speech can equate to violence depends on how you choose to view it. If you insist on taking a strict semantic position you are likely to conclude it cannot. It appears clear to me that speech can cause harm and can be seen as a kind of violence. I think of a spouse being told daily and repeatedly that they are ‘fucking useless’. A person who is not, for whatever combination of reasons, psychologically fit to protect themselves from such a sustained and habitual denigration will self-evidently incur harm. I see no particular benefit from not accepting that this is a kind of violence. That a similar kind of violence might exist in broader social contexts – broader than the marital or domestic – seems, at the very least, a reasonable view.

    But what I don’t see is that either of these positions lead ‘logically’ to deplatforming. Rather you might ask are arguments against deplatforming dependent on the idea that speech cannot be equated with violence – which would leave you on very shaky ground. People should have the opportunity to be exposed to ideas that challenge their own. They should not be exposed to speech they consider hurtful against their will but neither should they deny others the right to hear ideas which they themselves find objectionable.

  48. Mark Groubert says

    “but this does not preclude stigmatizing speech that promotes hatred or contempt toward groups of people, let alone speech that advocates violence or discrimination. Obviously, this stigma should rely on objective, narrow definitions of bigoted or violence-promoting speech and should extend to hateful rhetoric toward whites, males, and other “privileged” groups. But without it, civil conversation is impossible.”

    Cathy, it is quite obvious you either do not understand or do not support free speech as we Americans see it.

  49. Andrew Roddy says

    It would be a remarkable thing if Americans spoke with one voice on this.

  50. Doug F says

    I am a bit confused. Are you for free speech or not? It seems as if you think free speech needs boundaries, you just want to pick lines not as egregious as main stream SJW.

    You find some of the people they allow on (in some cases where you and I would both agree that were horrible people) as past your line of acceptable free speech. You are kinda missing the point. You want them to cow-tow to your particular ideas of the boundaries instead of realizing that they do not want free speech to have boundaries. We can all decide for ourselves whether the ideas are good or bad – we do not need people monitoring the line, because once you give up your right to decide what is right and what is wrong, and give it to a monitoring institution, you no longer have free speech.

    Do you believe in free speech, or just free speech that you, who seem less easily offended than the average SJW, do not find offensive? And how is that free speech?

  51. Geofiz says

    I have seen this movie before. I used to comment on the Heterodox Academy website as JP. I changed my moniker to Geofiz so as not to engender confusion with the far more famous “other JP”. The people who run the site are largely left of center. The people who commented were largely right of center. Periodically one of the founders would muse about what to do about the “irascible conservatives” that frequented the site. The answer was to eliminate all comments. Last year they held a conference on viewpoint diversity, which lacked viewpoint diversity. All but three participants were left of center. Some were far to the left. As one wag put it on Quillette, the room was divided between people who thought C.K. Murray should not speak because he was “literally Hitler” and those who felt he should speak even though he is “literally Hitler” One panelist, commenting on the Milo controversy remarked: “he is not even an intellectual”…As if left-wing speakers such as Madonna are serious scholars. I still strongly support HxA. It is a great organization, but viewpoint diversity in a world dominated by the far left is quite difficult to achieve. It is pretty much an oxymoron. That is the raison d’etre for the existence of the IDW

    Like many, but not all of the HxA panelists, Cathy Young and Uri Harris earnestly believe in viewpoint diversity, as long as we keep the riff-raff out. Many here cry Marxism, but they are barking up the wrong tree. Instead of Marx, they should focus on Pareto, Mosca and Michels, who were founders of the Italian School of elitism in the middle 1800’s. The philosophy of the Italian school of elitism was based on the fact that elites have personal resources, for instance intelligence and skills, and a vested interest in the government; while the rest are incompetent and do not have the capabilities of governing themselves.

    In academia, and journalism you get to be a big fish in a small pond. You are a teacher, an influencer, and a commentator. You live in a bubble where everyone thinks the same way. It is easy to fall into the trap of considering yourself to be a superior form of life – one of the intellectual elites, who naturally should be in charge. I know! I WAS a professor. The greatest fear for those intellectual elites is not conservatism, it is populism – the idea the unwashed ignorant proles might rise up and contaminate the social contract. TDS has far less to do with Trump’s politics and far more to do with the fact that he represents those proles. Periodically, academics wonder: “What’s the Matter with Kansas” – why do these people vote against their own interests. Don’t they know what is best for them? Others make anthropological expeditions to flyover country (ex. Hochschild; Strangers in Their Own Land). But most simply fear what they don’t know. Trump supporters are deplorables – they are racist misogynistic, homophobic etc. etc. etc. Harris and Young want to protect us from those evil people and their evil ideas.

    Harris thinks that the IDW should be subsumed by the left, not realizing why it exists in the first place. Young recognizes that there are members of the intellectual elite that are not progressives (Most commenters here ARE members of an intellectual elite, whether they want to admit it or not) but wants to limit entry into the club to those members with appropriate political views. Young has bought into the notion that there is some vast evil alt-right movement out there that is an existential threat to the survival of democracy despite precious little evidence of it. She plans to protect us from it. We should all be grateful that she is looking out for us (LOL).

    Most of us are not so fearful. As a proud Zionist Jew, I can tell you that it takes more than 50 fat guys carrying tiki torches to scare me. And Cathy, I am a big boy now. I don’t want your supervision. If Dave Rubin interviews a nutcase, I am fully capable of determining that he or she is a nutcase. I don’t need you to protect me from deviant opinions. Nor do I need Rubin to point out that the interviewee is a nutcase. I prefer to make my own decisions. Sorry Cathy, but free speech is messy. It is sometimes offensive. But the IDW is about free speech and we do not advance the cause of free speech by limiting it. If some, like Uri Harris, in the SJW crowd are so offended by this that they refuse to participate- so be it.

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      Thomas Frank was writing about economic choices, primarily. And he was exactly correct as Brownback’s Kansas turned into an economic shitshow of the worst kind for average Kansans. Last year, Kansas moved further to the left in the midterms because they’d had enough.

      Geofiz, you’re painting with too broad a brush. You’re also part of the problem when you reduce everything to an IDW v. SJW binary. And have you read some of the disturbingly sexist and racist comments that appear here occasionally? Some people (like that woman murdered in Charlottesville) might see this as more than an issue of “deviant opinions.”

      • Geofiz says

        1) Thomas Frank “thought” he was writing about economic issues. What he never realized is that his social inferiors understood that the paternalistic hand of big government comes with strings. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. In contrast to Hochschild, Frank never tried to understand the people he wrote about. He was too busy looking down his nose at them.

        2) I agree that Brownback’s policies were a disaster for Kansas. But they have moved to competence, not to the left. Although Laura Kelly is a Democrat, she is hardly a Progressive. She was endorsed by 28 former Republican lawmakers, including the former Kansas Governor Bill Graves; former Lt. Governor and U.S. Senator Sheila Frahm, and former Lt. Gov. Gary Sherrer. She may have had more key Republican endorsements that her Republican opponent. In addition, Brownback was not governor in 2004 when Frank wrote his book

        3) I do not deny that there have been racist/sexist posts on this website. It is the web. Any wacko with a computer can write a post. But they don’t scare me.

        4) I also do not deny that there are violent far right extremists. I’m Jewish. I fully understand that they want to kill me. But there is no vast alt-right movement. The right-wing extremists are criminals and losers with no influence on policy. In contrast, the haters and wackos on the left are professors and pundits (Ex. Why Can’t We Hate Men; WP; 6/2018). A few are congresswomen. What does scare me is the my VERY LIBERAL friend cannot send his daughter to multiple colleges because of the rampant left-wing anti-Semitism on those campuses. One of my daughter’s friends transferred from Columbia to Indiana University because of the harassment she received at Columbia for being Jewish. That should scare you as well.

        • Geofiz says

          4) You also completely and totally missed my point,. I never stated that racism does not exist nor did I state that it should not be opposed. What I stated is that I do not want or need Ms Young to protect from evil 14 year old girls.

          What part of “I am a big boy” did you not understand?

        • Surface Reflection says

          Its relatively funny how you base your whole first post on the feeling of resentment that someone else is trying protect you and “put you under supervision” (which isnt the case at all, factually but a delusion created by your ego which found itself “offended”, as it tends to do since its not capable of correctly understanding reality) since you are a “big boy now” yet you end by telling us all we should be afraid of what you deem to be scary.

      • Tersitus says

        The pizza man drops another one on the Kansas doorstep, steps in it, blames Brownback and gestures toward a new governor whose name no one remembers or troubles themselves trying to, leaves Geo a plastic fork, then tells him he’s “painting with too broad a brush.” “Had enough” of what? Being pushed to pay more taxes for the same orange coned streets and educational “specialists” who spend even more days in “curriculum development” and send home the same confused kids they took in. Barring seismic shift or 40 more days and nights of rain, Kansas is going nowhere much beyond where it goes year after year, election after election— round and round the same challenges and concerns among the same stakeholders. Limited resources, relatively slow growth and job creation, pork barrel politicians promising loaves and fishes and Cancun vacations and trying to milk the same rangy cows for creamy tax revenues, the same forgettable journalists citing Thomas Frank and Dorothy as nauseum and telling nobody who cares that the Democrats know and attend to more of their interests than they themselves.
        Come to Kansas. It’s still here. It’s not going anywhere soon. And, by the way— What happened to California? What’s the matter with Illinois?

    • Morgan Foster says


      “I still strongly support HxA.”

      I used to, but no longer. I originally sought it out because Jonathan Haidt was involved and I liked some of his work.

      When I realized that Heterodox Academy was more orthodox than hetero, I lost interest.

    • CA says


      “The greatest fear for those intellectual elites is not conservatism, it is populism”

      There’s a great deal of truth to this statement. Having lived somewhat in both worlds I’ve found many educated people tend to hide their distrust of the great unwashed with patronizing condescension.

      People who are highly educated live in a world in which a facility with abstract concepts are valued. Lesser formally educated people aren’t very interested in thinking which is disconnected from doing. The lesser formally educated distrust of the educated is, in my opinion, healthy especially as one of the defining characteristics of modern thinking is its disconnection from doing.

      Those who are overly fixated on ideas are precisely the kinds of people who try to make reality conform to their ideas. This disconnect of ideas from reality, seems to me, is a large part of the reason for the emergence of the IDW – insofar as the IDW is a place for real discussion and not some club with a suitably “diverse” membership.

      And you are right – this discussion is “messy” – probably not a good place for the intellectually anal retentive.

  52. Jean Yu says

    Soph is an excellent writer, funny as hell, and wicked in her trolling.

    • Morgan Foster says

      @Jean Yu

      I don’t know if she writes her own material, but whether it’s her or one of her parents, Quillette editors, please get Soph to submit articles here.

      She’s not just funny, she has serious, thought-provoking things to say about topics that Quillette has been following.

      • Owntown Darts Scene says

        @Morgan Foster

        Nope, bad idea. I’m not familiar with this Soph’s work myself, but I find the idea of actual kids as pundits in these hysterical times a little disturbing, whether Greta Thunberg, “Soph” or someone else. I’m very glad I wasn’t given the opportunity to make myself an astonishment, a proverb and a byword at that age.

        • Morgan Foster says

          @Owntown Darts Scene

          Bit ageist, don’t you think? And comparing Soph to Greta Thunberg isn’t really fair. Thunberg has genuine mental health issues, and I am not referring to her political beliefs.

          I’m confident that the editors here are capable of judging a submission’s worth on its own merits, as well as the maturity of its author. And, as I point out, it may actually be one of Soph’s parents who is writing her materiel.

          • Once you understand that Little Ms Thunberg is “channelling” Rosa Klebb, and that Physiognomy is Destiny, it all makes perfect sense.

  53. Just listened to Rubin and Molyneux. Seems like M was just pretty factual, while doing the usual disavowal of racism, which sounded sincere. He said that he would love the Black-White IQ gap to be “just racism,” because that would be solvable.

    Seems he gets in trouble with people because he lays out facts about IQ, crime, etc as they relate to ethnicity.

  54. I think this was a pretty good article. I’ve noticed it surprisingly easy as a conservative to occasionally find oneself in pretty weird company. When that happens I don’t feel all that thrilled.

    It’s a good sanity check to keep an eye on the sanity of the people who are trying to make the same case as you are. If they’re losing the plot, I hope someone makes the effort to distinguish their loopy version from the more centrist argument so they don’t ruin it for the rest of us.

    For example, in my opinion that kid soph is not funny or insightful. In my opinion she’s an intentional agitator who weaves quite a lot of bigotry into stock arguments that are also hardly new. What good does that all do? I’m genuinely conservative, and I have no interest in all that agitation.

  55. Tom USA says

    For the IDW to work you need freedom to articulate, be truthful, be wrong and potentially offend. Such conversations are much more interesting and useful. I do get SJW cringe fatigue. There are tons of other interesting things out there like Eric Weinstein talking about E8. Joe Rogan has a more varied mix.

    I think of the Covingtion Catholic High School boys story. Narrative driven established media presented a typical fabricated story. The real truth was a far more interesting circus.

    The Black Hebrew Israelites had something to say but the established media ignored them and pushed a lie instead. True they are openly racist yet seem more respectable than NBC or CNN. Strangely enough nutty forbidden banned Alex Jone’s Info Wars will question and report on the Black Hebrew Israelites.

    If you put all the IDW on a cable channel it would be number 1 with no close competition.

  56. gda53 says

    “But this does not justify claiming that the New York Times or CNN are just as bad as Alex Jones’s conspiracy site, Infowars, or embracing the pro-Trump camp’s assertions that mainstream coverage of the Trump/Russia story amounted to a “hoax.”

    Sorry, but you lost it here.

    We EXPECT (or used to expect) the NYT to provide truth and fact in NEWS (“all the NEWS thats fit to print”)
    We don’t expect Alex Jones to offer the same. Any half-sensible person KNOWS he’s suspect at best.

    The MSM coverage of the hoax was a case of pushing a narrative that was clearly a tribal fantasy and should have been obvious in the early to any clear-headed journalist. Sites like TheConservativeTreehouse were on that BS like white on rice.
    But there were none of those at the NYT. Only propaganda pushers for their “tribe”.

    Are you naive, or simply of that tribe?

    And to add insult to injury, your next invective is to “avoid the tribalist pull………”

    Can’t make this up ladies and gentlemen.

    • Respek Wahmen says

      To be fair, she’s also Russian, so imagine the reaction if she did defy the MSM and acknowledge the obvious hoax/attempted coup. Imagine the crap Quillette would receive if they published it.

  57. Charles Johnson says

    This was an embarrassing piece for Quillette to publish. As a supporter of the Rubin reporter I like how he has guests which are controversial.

    Does Cathy really want a world where you can’t interview anyone controversial?

  58. Anybody purporting to write knowledgeably on the right intellectual blogosphere, but who pegs Stefan Molyneaux as some kind of raciss nazi just can’t be taken seriously!

  59. Alexandria Mau says

    While I feel most of the arguments given are thoughtful and the criticism is fair; there is still a bit of caricature in how some of the suggestions are frame. In response to her criticism of the defenders of Soph, it should be noted that the calling her a “YouTuber who has made racist ‘comedy’ videos, posted social media screeds advocating genocide of Muslims…and made explicit death threats against YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki…” is not fully accurate in that it leaves out the fact that she is a satirizing situations she finds ridiculous and not actually advocating for any group or persons death.

    Many who have watched her or followed her are not conservative or alt-right. I found out about her because of the buzz from Libertarians and Classical Liberals. I’ve also watch quite a few of her videos (including the one You Tube banned) and it’s obvious she is be satirical.

    I understand that not everyone has the same sense of humor and what one person finds funny, another finds offensive. It may definitely be argued that her material and expressions could be considered coarse or over the line. However, characterizing her as a racist is unfair. There have been plenty of edgier adult commentators, artist and writers past and present who have crossed the proverbial line and are still respected. That a 14 year old girl may not use diplomatic speech in conveying her ideas is hardly surprising.

    But the real point here is that her defenders are arguing that she deserves the right to free speech, not that her speech is somehow beyond criticism. Hence the argument that somehow defending Soph is defense of “actual white supremacist, misogynistic, homophobic or fascistic rhetoric” is actually unfounded.

  60. Ben says

    Paul Watson is not far right, and if conspiracy theories make him so, damn better add CNN to the far right. Ruined an otherwise good article.

  61. Scott Perey says

    Fantastic article, thank you. So…. speaking of Dave Rubin and, much later, Alex Jones: is there anyone else out there at all who remembers when Rubin went on InfoWars, or did I just dream that whole thing up?? 😛

    Seriously, I recall it being the week immediately following Rubin’s posting on about “Almost at 10,000 followers, gang!” which was a little cheesy to begin with. So it certainly rang like he was on this big promotional blitz as he sat up there all chummy next to Jones, commiserating with him about how “everyone’s always taking us out of context, waah!” It was rather pathetic actually, and I have never watched his show or have been able to take him seriously since. I don’t know if that’s fair of me or not, but as this piece mentioned, we do have to have lines, and that crossed one for me.

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  63. As a long-term subscriber to/fan of/patron of (Insert name of preferred IDW member here,) I felt the inclusion of (IDW member) was unfair because they actually aren’t as (insert -ism[s] IDW member is accused of,) as the article describes. Other than including (preferred IDW member,) the article makes some good points about the tribalism among rest of the IDW.

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  65. Not Cathy Young says

    Hello Intellectual Dark Webbers,

    Though I officially grant you permission to discuss [insert edgy topic], you cannot do so with [insert villain figure] because of [insert the worst 8 year old quote as if it is all they have to say], unless your interview is a non-stop inquisition about that 8 year old quote. Nor can you associate with [insert villian figure], because they are a white supremacist. Do not ask me to provide an argument as to why they are a white supremacist or explain what I mean when I use the term.

    Not Cathy Young

  66. Luke W says

    this is interesting because I understand the value of being open to different perspectives and I personally try to always keep an open mind on as many opinions as possible. However, I have rarely ever come across a critique of Sam Harris that accurately summarizes his views. It is either that people do not want to put in the time of understanding his views, cannot grasp the nuances and complexity of his arguments, or they want to maliciously discredit him. I actually thought he was a right winger based on what commentators wrote about him, until I actually just listened to a podcast of his. And after listening to and making an effort to understand his arguments. It is so shocking to read an article like this. The author makes Sam out to be an advocate of radical social justice warriors. But he is actually diametrically opposed to this sort of public discourse. In fact most of his work has been a pitched battle against radical leftists who make him out to be a bigoted, genocidal maniac, who hates muslims because they are “brown”. In fact Sam Harris as a public figure is best described as somebody who believes rationalism and sound arguments should be the ultimate adjudicators in one’s personal and public life. Watch or listen to any of his conversations with Jordan Peterson (or any religious person for that matter) and you will hear this point being made by Harris ad nauseam. One final point, the author claims that the only thing that can be attributed to progressives is how they ineptly lead to the rise of Trump. This is correct, but what is astonishing is that i’ve actually heard this point argued most often from Harris himself. In fact one can go to his website and find a post titled “The end of Liberalism?” in which Harris worries that the radical left is leading to the rise of the far right, especially in Europe. If you still don’t believe me go listen to his podcasts with Ezra Klein, Omer Aziz, or Cenk from The Young Turks in which Harris argues against identity politics and argues for the primacy of free speech and public conversations guided by facts and reason. Seriously, it is fine to disagree with somebody but disagree with them with respect to positions they actually hold. The failure of this article to accurately summarize a persons position, especially when the points the author makes against the subject are actually points the subject of the article agrees with and has made central to their work, is shocking.

    • Barnpot says

      This article is referring to Uri Harris and not Sam Harris. Cathy should have made that more clear.

  67. Stop using the word fascistic. It’s a corny, bitchass way of saying “well, you’re not really a fascist, but I wanna call you that anyway because it’s rhetorically effective, and it provides an easy way for me to backpedal if necessary.”

  68. Anthony G Warren says

    There seems to be scant relationship between progressives and traditional liberalism. Since the author claims the opposite, I would love to see some evidence to support the claim. The article doesn’t address that issue well at all.

    If the premise is that the word ‘progressives’ always means ‘traditional liberal’ that claim has never been true and certainly isn’t know.

  69. DBruce says

    Jung pointed out that the resolution of a tension of opposites is the transcendent function, a mysterious third element that relatives the opposites through the attainment of a wider vision. The transcendent function to the Left and the Right is the Single Tax – that strangely forgotten core tenet of classical liberalism.
    It’s the land stupid.

  70. Lydia says

    The author reads like a thought policing,sin sniffing Puritan who considers herself the arbiter of proper communication. Didn’t your parents ever suggest you just ignore what you don’t like? Avoid such types? We have no choice these days but to point out the thought policing school marm acts because you all are out to ruin people over words! Ruin people. It’s so woke.

    Dave Rubin-giving aid to the enemy! You guys need to chill. Maybe do some labor intensive work with rednecks at a factory or something. Salt of the earth types that know how to fix a car or air conditioner. Sheesh!

  71. Barnpot says

    From the article: “One bone of contention is whether the IDW is a right-wing cabal as its detractors often assert, or a politically diverse group of mostly centrists and disaffected liberals as its defenders insist.” — Who is claiming that the IDW contains Marxists, Trotskyists, Maoists, Postmodernists, Cultural neo-Marxists, etc.? Nobody.

    Fact is that for some, if you uphold private property and private ownership of the means of production, then they call you “on the right”. Well, 80% of the population is thus “on the right”, including social democrats, classical liberals, left-liberals, etc. This is a strawman by Cathy Young.

    • Barnpot says

      Correction — This is a strawman argument by Uri Harris (not Young).

  72. Barnpot says

    Well, that was a good load of criticism by Cathy Young. It is a good article and I recommend for all to read. However I am not convinced that people like Southern or Molineaux represent white supremacy or identitarians. I wonder if Cathy has ever met real white supremacists and neo-Nazis? And nationalism does not immediately translate into supremacy. However I agree that the EGWs (egalitarian justice warriors) have not adequately criticized people on the far right, and that allows the SJWs to hammer the egalitarians.

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  74. Morgan Allen says

    I agree that Rubin could stand to grill some of his guests more thoroughly, but his general rejoinder on this point is that left-wing pundits simply won’t appear on his show. Make of that what you will.

  75. Willhelm says

    I hate this “Dave Rubin isn’t hard enough on people I don’t like” line. How on earth do you intend to hold everyone to this standard and measure if they are within acceptable limits of “balance”? It seems impossible and sounds like a breeding ground for endless arguments.

    Also, why do people making these arguments assume that everyone is stupid and needs to be spoon-fed the idea of maintaining a healthy level of skepticism when a right-winger says something outrageous on Rubin’s show? Why does Rubin have to act as moral policeman in such cases?

    If you like watching people who want to tell you what to think, subscribe to TYT.

    I was taken by surprise by Claire Lehmann’s behaviour towards Rubin. I expected better, but I will also admit that I might have been overly impressed with people associating themselves with the IDW. Having been sufficiently disillusioned with these silly articles and Claire’s embarrassing snarky tweets about Rubin, I am finally beginning to see the silly self-congratulating pomposity encapsulated in the slogan “free thought lives”.

  76. John says

    Wow, it almost looks like we should form an IDW tribe and let Cathy Young decide who is in or out! This is exactly why people can’t stand the guilt by association, identity politics. The pretentiousness of it, as if the IDW momentum isn’t far bigger and wider than The NY Times or Quilette would like. (Whatever happened to http://www.intellectualdark.web? That site had it right.) The condescending attitude toward stupid mortals who can’t judge good and bad ideas for themselves. (I don’t often agree with a Marxist, but Cathy Young and Quilette would do well to listen to some Brendan O’Neill on that.) It is only because of Rubin and like minded shows that any of us are even able to know—and ourselves critique—what new cultural figures believe. This is truly the type of regressive talk that would never have let the IDW happen and would put it in an early grave. I’ll end with the obligatory disclaimer that I’m against racism, bigotry etc etc etc.

  77. John says

    I definitely cannot say it better myself so I will wholeheartedly endorse Willhelm’s previous comment. It deserved to be said again: “I hate this “Dave Rubin isn’t hard enough on people I don’t like” line. How on earth do you intend to hold everyone to this standard and measure if they are within acceptable limits of “balance”? It seems impossible and sounds like a breeding ground for endless arguments.

    Also, why do people making these arguments assume that everyone is stupid and needs to be spoon-fed the idea of maintaining a healthy level of skepticism when a right-winger says something outrageous on Rubin’s show? Why does Rubin have to act as moral policeman in such cases?

    If you like watching people who want to tell you what to think, subscribe to TYT.

    I was taken by surprise by Claire Lehmann’s behaviour towards Rubin. I expected better, but I will also admit that I might have been overly impressed with people associating themselves with the IDW. Having been sufficiently disillusioned with these silly articles and Claire’s embarrassing snarky tweets about Rubin, I am finally beginning to see the silly self-congratulating pomposity encapsulated in the slogan “free thought lives”.”

  78. aNanyMouse says

    @ Chris (May 24), on Young dissing JP, “without providing a single example or piece of evidence to support the claim”:
    and, without providing links to back ANY claims about anyone.

  79. aNanyMouse says

    and, “his work attracts people from all political backgrounds (except far-left).”
    I rather doubt that his work attracts many people from the far-right, esp. once Bannon was dropped.

  80. One of the more amusing characteristics of most of the commentary on the issue of the ideology of various commentators and writers on political and cultural matters today is the trap of making g a qualified call for moderation in viewing a particular perspective. This article falls into that trap. The fact of the matter is that in a liberal democracy a person, unless they incite violence or call for crimes to be committed, they are free to express any opinion, any opinion, they like. That is the essence of liberal democracy and liberal democracy has left all other forms of governance in its dust. If it hasn’t, then how do we account for the oft made claims of imperialist world dominance made against it by the progressive left and ‘woke’ communities and even the hard right?

    The strength of liberal democracy is, incitement to criminality aside, that it strives to allow all voices to be heard. In the cacophony of opinion, fact, counter fact and propaganda, it is left to the mass of the people, possibly utilising the law of group averages, to isolate out the workable from the unworkable. To date, this has succeeded very well indeed. Thus, if it is working, why do reasonable people insert the need to confine the legal speech of anyone in their argument for free speech? The reality is that they do not understand that totalitarianism is not binary. It is not an ‘on’ – ‘off’ setting on a machine, although that is the materialist perspective beloved of both the left and the right.

    Totalitarianism is the gradual restriction of freedoms in the service of very good social and political objectives. The road to totalitarian hells is not paved with evil intentions. No one becomes a servant of totalitarianism on the promise to do evil and cruel things to their friends and neighbours. The decision to become a servant of totalitarianism is rather driven by a call to do good, even to those who do not want that good. The road to totalitarian hells is paved with good intentions and this author’s intentions are good but downward.

    That said, the argument above is worth making, as are all of the arguments and all of the views being put by all of the players no matter how distasteful those arguments or perspectives are. As soon as a single viewpoint or argument is quarantined from the discussion, the discussion is no longer free and, from a liberal democratic perspective, valid. The real issue we face today is not having to listen to perspective we do not agree with, it is the need for us to grow up and actively engage with perspectives we do not agree with and to do so by actually enabling the holders of those perspectives to speak. Yet, this is not the real hard part. The real hard part for all of us is to sit back and allow the broader society to decide. This means learning to lose and to lose in a grown up way by acknowledging that our philosophy is unacceptable to the broad church of our fellow citizens. It is in the broader society that I put my trust and in free speech to inform them and then in the law of group averages. The common people, a cacophony of voices and group averaging has served liberal democracy very well. You only have to observe the wreckage of totalitarian statehoods to see the difference.

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