Image of Uri Harris, David Fuller, and Eric Weinstein
So I want to comment on the dialogue that is taking place right now about the faction of the liberalism that’s splintering from the mainstream left.
I just got done watching Eric Weinstein’s conversation with David Fuller, and I thought even they were missing what I see to be an extremely simple narrative for this whole thing.
This started when I wrote a piece called A Visual Breakdown of IDW Political Positions, which showed a spreadsheet view of multiple classic dividing line topics, such as man-made climate change, abortion, stronger gun laws, being for or against immigration, drug legalization, single-payer healthcare, etc.
A Visual Breakdown of Intellectual Dark Web (IDW) Political Positions | Daniel Miessler https://t.co/EldWPSxhF4— Sam Harris (@SamHarrisOrg) April 6, 2019
What I did was go and track down what the positions of the IDW members on all those topics, and lo and behold—they were vastly liberal. Sam Harris, Eric Weinstein, Joe Rogan—all extremely liberal on those issues. Even Dave Rubin and Jordan Peterson showed heavily liberal on a lot of things. Only Shapiro stood apart from the rest.
Anyway, I sent it to Sam Harris, who I corrected one of his positions for, and he made it viral when he tweeted it out.
A few days later, Uri Harris wrote a piece for Quillette, that—honestly—I just didn’t understand. I could tell he was disagreeing with me, but I don’t know what he was correcting.
But just now watching the Weinstein and Harris conversation, I realize what he was saying. He was saying that the things I had in my original list—which are the typical issues that divide the left and right—are no longer the dividing line.
Ok, I 100% agree. That’s what it means for there to be a schism—you have a break where there wasn’t one before.
But the point of my piece wasn’t to say that the IDW was part of the new leftist exodus—it was to say that they’re not part of any version of the right.
And there’s a huge difference between those two things.
What we have is a bunch of people who support abortion, climate change, immigration, stronger gun laws, believe income disparity is a huge problem, are pro-drugs, are pro-gender rights, pro-gay marriage, pro-marijuana, etc.—being called alt-right by the New Left faction.
That is the move I’m objecting to, and that I was trying to highlight in my piece.
Now, David mentioned that Eric likes to steel man arguments, and Eric seems confused about what the new leftist exodus is saying. So let me give this a shot.
- Politics are getting more extreme
- The right is rising
- We have more Nazis coming out of the woodwork
- We have more right-leaning hate crime
- All this has been facilitated by Trump taking office
- Basically, the extreme right is becoming vocal and dangerous
- At the same time, the rich are getting richer and richer
- Minorities continue struggle
- LGBT people continue to struggle
- And we don’t have the goddamn time for centrists
- We don’t have time for subtlety or both-siding arguments
- There are fucking nazis on the streets in Portland
- We don’t need a gentle and passive left
- We need an activist left
- A left that will acknowledge that the deck has been stacked against those at the bottom for a long time
- And if you want to be a centrist, and both-sidser, then you’re part of the fucking problem
- You enable the extreme right with your silence and/or nuance, and during wartime you must be treated like them
- THAT is why I label you alt-right—because you’re not part of the only faction that has the courage to stand up and do what’s right
Wow, ok, I really channeled it well there. I can do that because I’m a liberal myself, and I sometimes vibrate at that frequency as well.
So—to Eric—that (unless I’m very wrong) is what this new branch of progressivism is saying. That is the movement.
And to turn this into a clean and explanatory narrative, here is the state of the union.
Pressure causes separation
We used to have a left and right, and the issues in my piece were largely where the lines were drawn between them.
Then Trump happened, and the pressure in our country increased exponentially.
That pressure caused the left to fragment, and a new extreme faction has carved off into it’s own thing, which people call different things. Modern Progressives, Extreme Left, the Leftist Exodus—whatever.
Because that new faction’s entire point is that the status quo of passivity is NOT GOOD ENOUGH, they are taking an aggressive stance against anyone who is not in their faction. It’s pretty standard as far as extremist groups go—you have to maintain their level of fervor or you can’t participate.
Now, this whole dynamic leaves one particular group stranded—people previously known as liberals, but who are still open-minded, empathic, prone to listening to both sides of a conversation and looking for common ground. And their primary means of maintaining this lifestyle has always been conversation.
That’s who formed the early IDW. The liberals who stayed behind when the new faction left on their exodus, because they wanted to use conversation to work their way through this mess.
But the new faction isn’t having it—because you don’t talk to Nazis. Conversation in their minds is the same old tactic that clearly hasn’t worked, and now we have Trump and his acolytes terrorizing the streets.
So you’re either with them or you’re against them.
That is the way to encapsulate this.
Now, me personally—I’m part of those who were left behind. Born and raised in the SF Bay Area, liberal down the line, voted for Obama both times, etc.
My personal opinion is that a strongly principled center—powered by good-faith conversation—is not the problem, but in fact the only way out of this.
- I think the IDW / left-behinds need to acknowledge that the New Left is mostly good-willed; they’re just young, under a lot of pressure, and angry.
- I think the New Left needs to be willing to talk to their bretheren they abandoned. We’re not the enemy, and in most cases neither is your enemy. The true right extemistts are the real problem, and we need to unite to fight them. We don’t accomplish anything by fighting amongst ourselves.
- And all of us need to reach out and talk to the center and moderate right types. Most of them are decent, and we need to make sure we don’t produce such a bad taste and smell that they prefer Nazis to us.
In all cases, conversation is the weapon of choice.
Anyway, that’s my read on all of this, and I hope it helps someone orient things in their minds.
If Eric or Uri (or anyone else) disagrees, I’m happy to be shown that I’m wrong and modify my opinion.