“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
A radical statement that was in a time of optimism, and a radical statement it remains in a time when some claim free speech is under threat, and some others claim immigrants are being scapegoated (although none of the so called Intellectual Dark Web has much good to say of immigrants as far as we are aware).
After two decades of war the pen is finally rising to face the guns, for when the pen goes silent guns go sounding. While others might say some of these intellectuals are “promoting” different sorts of guns.
When a British MP was assassinated in 2016, it became clear to many that we had reached a dangerous point. Silence was no longer a choice for the pen was under attack from all sides. Intellectuals had to rise to take a stand to uphold still and lift that lamp beside the golden door. Yet what are they saying?
“The Economist: But he does. Postmodernism is his catch-all term for a world without authoritative ideas and theories. Harari, Peterson and yourself are all providing an essentially similar diagnosis and appealing to very different audiences.
Mr Curtis: That probably means we’re right. People want a big narrative. What people don’t want are rants and columns. They want a story out of which you can draw ideas.”
That’s how low the intellectuals of our age have fallen. Stories! Adam Curtis has some very interesting ones, including some told in an interesting interview with the Economist. Yet stories are for entertainment or escape, hence perhaps why Mr Curtis isn’t usually mentioned alongside the Intellectual Web.
“Not all cultures are equally conducive to human flourishing. Some are superior to others.” That’s what Sam Harris says and for that he gets the label of an Intellectual of the Dark Web.
Perhaps rightly. He could have chosen a better word than culture. Culture usually refers to people, or long traditions. What he must have meant is: Not all knowledge is equally conducive to human flourishing. Some truths are superior to others.
Thus we enter into the impartial realm of objectivity, allowing us to ask what knowledge is lacking, do some have such knowledge, if so, how can they transfer it to where it is lacking.
“Instead of pitting the proletariat, the working class, against the bourgeois, they started to pit the oppressed against the oppressor.
That opened up the avenue to identifying any number of groups as oppressed and oppressor and to continue the same narrative under a different name…
The people who hold this doctrine – this radical, postmodern, communitarian doctrine that makes racial identity or sexual identity or gender identity or some kind of group identity paramount – they’ve got control over most low-to-mid level bureaucratic structures, and many governments as well.”
So says Jordan Peterson, an Intellectual of the Dark Web. Dark perhaps because you’d think postmodernism is more of a Nietzsche like romanticism.
In plainer terms, postmodernism is the modern version of medieval superstition, this idea that truth doesn’t quite exist and that it can be whatever you want it to be.
That is a very dangerous idea which, in an age when intellectuals had not fallen so low, would have been tackled head on. For truth does exist and you can’t make your own. Descartes proved it long ago with just five words: I think therefore I am.
Peterson however appears himself to be a postmodernist by our definition. He has taken this escapist romanticism of some intellectuals and appears to have turned it into a political weapon of us v them. Them being some communist conspiracy with French roots, while us presumably here is those on the right.
That said, identity politics has gotten a bit out of hand. From both sides we must say for it is not just the left that engages in identity politics. The right does too and in a more crude manner. The difference is that anyone of position on the right wouldn’t quite say what some a bit lower do, while on the left it is more acceptable to talk of say positive discrimination.
You’d expect intellectuals to provide clarity in this maze, but of course any intellectual interested in solutions, rather than conflict or stories, doesn’t say “I’ve figured out how to monetize social justice warriors,” as Peterson said.
That monetization of rage in a spectacle of sorts, in an escapist pantomime where common sense has left long ago, is now under threat.
“Crowdfunding site Patreon this week banned the accounts of several controversial public figures, part of a wider push by tech companies to de-platform users linked to the alt-right and far right.”
So says Vice. Closing my Patreon account, was the response of Harris. “When a service provider and a hypothetically independent payment provider collude to deny a service they both provide, are they acting illegally as a a cartel?” – asks Peterson.
They’re rallying in support of Sargon of Akkad, a British YouTuber born as Carl Benjamin. He came to prominence during the Gamergate controversy in 2014. What happened there differs by who tells it, but ordinary mostly young men with no care of politics, but games, discovered or believed to have discovered widespread collusion or group think or streamlined agenda pushing in the gaming media.
The battle lines were quickly drawn there with one side saying they are sexist and part of the oppressive patriarchy that doesn’t want to give women gender equality, while the other side said they are agenda pushing feminist supremacists and more importantly they have corrupted the media to act as a propaganda arm.
The interesting story here, as was later discovered in 2016, as was previously discovered in 2003, and as some might now be discovering with this on-going de-platforming, is that of what we call “the signal” in homage of They Live.
That was a warning for our times by the 60s intellectuals who saw how the TV can be used as a controlling tool by the elite.
The young gamers discovered part of that signal in their own gaming media, so they rose up against it. There was no intellectual, however, with an interest to take up that cause and amplify their voice, but there were others with their own political aims who effectively co-opted that energy and turned it into a right vs left issue.
Now they even say it openly that gamergate is a gateway drug to right-wing or in some views far-right wing politics. The bigger issue here, the signal, so effectively brushed under the carpet. But as they brush that dirt keeps piling up and that main theme from gamergate keeps coming up and up again. Including now with this de-platforming or as some call it, political censorship.
“Benjamin identifies as a classical liberal. The New York Times said that Benjamin criticises feminism and identity politics. Vox has described Benjamin as anti-progressive and Nieman Journalism Lab, Vice, and Mic have described him as “right-wing”, while Redbrick and Salon have described him as “alt-right” and an “alt-right sympathiser”, respectively.
Benjamin has denied associations with the alt-right. He has criticised the alt-right for “collectivist” and “authoritarian” thinking, and argued that the movement is a reaction to comparable leftist racism.
A piece in The Daily Dot said that Benjamin is not part of the alt-right, although his videos concern “favourite alt-right targets [such as] feminism, Islam, Black Lives Matter, and the notion of straight white male privilege.””
Based solely on the above, we’d describe him as an individual with ambitions of being a classic liberal, but unable to quite abide by such ambitions perhaps because he thinks other groups are claiming supremacy, thus he feels he has to claim his own group identity and thus engage in us vs them.
In other words, he might have fallen into a trap of not wanting to play identity politics while in fact playing them. According to Patreon he was banned for using “racial and homophobic slurs to degrade another individual.”
We have no doubt that individuals like Benjamin are pretty decent good men and women with good intentions as he probably really wants to be a classic liberal. We don’t know him or his writings/statements, but we doubt he is actually homophobic or racist. He and the entire movement of sorts is or appears to be a sort of counter-reaction to what we call Arab nationalism.
They felt under threat and effectively said enough is enough. To do so it seems they felt they needed to breach certain main principles of classic liberalism, such as being socially liberal. On the other hand they perhaps feel they can’t be socially liberal because there may be certain very illiberal groups who might want to impose that illiberalism on them.
The solution they have found or attempted is to not quite address that illiberalism in an intellectual manner, but to create a group politics that can in many ways be described as illiberal for the political gains of mainly the conservative party.
In other words they’ve botched it because one can easily see these two illiberal groups feeding off each other to sleepwalk towards a place no one wants to go.
The middle here, as always, has been left unoccupied. There is no “real” classical liberal voice that actually espouses liberal views on both the economy and social matters. That’s because it would take quite some skill to rationally and impartially address certain illiberalism in a way that enlightens, even opponents, rather than provokes.
Faced with this provoking language that might raise tensions, the middle is perhaps looking at this de-platforming or censorship and is sort of tacitly approving it because the rhetoric does have to calm down, especially now that we might have general global peace in sight.
On the other hand, the dangers of the signal are real, hence why the very first amendment grants the right to free speech and guarantees the freedom of the press. The middle therefore is quite uneasy about what can be seen as censorship.
Our tools in this space are neutral by design. These pages too have to be neutral. Even Satoshi Nakamoto couldn’t stop Wikileaks from accepting bitcoin donations in 2010.
There may be some who might say bitcoin or crypto should have no association with the Intellectuals of the Dark Web, but that’s like saying water shouldn’t have such association after they drink some, or Audi shouldn’t if they happen to be driving an Audi.
Cryptos are like electricity, providing light to all who know how to put together those plus and minus electrons. In this case, keeping that guarantee of free speech so that the pen can keep on writing lest the gun takes its place.