In a recent lecture on race relations in America, John McWhorter describes the prevailing thoughts on causes and solutions for racial disparity as akin to religious fundamentalism. McWhorter asserts, “It has become a matter of ‘religious faith’ among educated white people…to ‘come to terms with their racism’…Every third story at Slate (on racism) is a ‘church service,’ every third story on NPR (on racism) is a ‘church service’.”
This kind of behavior certainly matches my religious experiences. As a young adult, I converted into a fundamentalist sect of Christianity. I rapidly discovered the sect would reject me if I violated any of its taboos, rules, and rituals. In an effort to escape this oppressive subculture, I entered a master’s program in a far-left environment, where I found simply another version of the fundamentalism I was so desperately trying to escape.
While this version of religious fundamentalism had different taboos, rules, and rituals, the punishments for violating their standards were just as strict and damning, if not more so, than my former Christian fundamentalist community. Violating the taboos of fundamentalist group-think in favor of individual ideas and opinions has fostered the so-called “Intellectual Dark Web” (IDW). These high-profile public intellectuals have coalesced and achieved notoriety for being rejected in some form by the “fundamentalist left.”
Some, such as noted atheist Sam Harris and Muslim activist Maajid Nawaz, have been tagged as promoting “hate speech” by the Southern Poverty Law Center simply for challenging Islam. Bret Weinstein and his wife Heather Heying were forced from their tenured teaching positions by harassment and threats at Evergreen State by merely questioning a “Day of Absence” event on campus that promoted racial separation.
Others, such as Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, and Charles Murray, are demonized simply because they trend toward conservativism, which automatically brands them with the scarlet letters for “racist,” “bigot,” and “homophobe.”
These intellectuals have used YouTube to usurp media gate keepers. One of the major themes of IDW content is “red pilling.” The idea is that once a person comes into contact with these “dark intellectuals,” they’ll want more. One video, podcast, or personality leads to another, then yet others.
The rabbit hole goes deep. Before you know it, you’re listening to Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Riley give a lecture on race at Claremont-McKenna that you can barely hear but is enormously entertaining as he shoots down college snowflake after college snowflake who think they’re “woke” to race in America. If you want to get a flavor of what’s going on down the rabbit hole, here’s a set of videos to introduce you to this Internet phenomenon.
One of the IDW’s major themes is analyzing the philosophies at work behind the scenes in Western politics. In this episode, clinical psychologist Peterson interviews philosopher Stephen Hicks on the cultural effects of postmodern philosophy. The men discuss how the notion of economic power (i.e., the “proletariat” versus the “bourgeois”) has been replaced with the notion of sociopolitical power specifically in race and gender via the media of post-structuralist or post-modernist literary critique.
While that might sound a bit dry and intellectual, the conversation is quite accessible. It helps one make sense of why certain actors in the realm of “social justice” act bizarrely. Additionally, this exchange is foundational to understanding many IDW discussions. Indeed, this is where most on the IDW find their common ground.
Of course the common ground between, say, a Sam Harris (a left-leaning atheist) and a Ben Shapiro (a politically and socially conservative orthodox Jew) might have been sparked by abuses from the far, progressive left, but ultimately, their agreement on philosophical approaches unites these men. Put simply, personalities on the IDW agree that cultural Marxism, as it were, must be combated, above all else, if the Western experiment is to continue. Peterson and Hicks, in this interview, lay out this foundation in clear and understandable terms.
In this episode of The Rubin Report YouTube show, commentator Larry Elder challenges Rubin on what he means by the phrase “systemic racism.” Rubin is stumped and, to his credit, leaves this portion of the interview in the video for all to see.
Here, Elder exposes the notion of “systemic racism” as a ploy of “cultural Marxism.” It is a fascinating exchange, because it leaves the audience with a very simple choice: either label the entire American experiment as inherently racist from its founding or seek alternatives for solving the social and economic disparities blacks experience in America.
Another major theme of the IDW is religion and traditional sexuality. The major theme in this video is that, from an evolutionary standpoint, monogamous heterosexual relationships that produce children are by far the most fulfilling sexual experiences human beings have, especially when compared with the veritable smorgasbord of options in Western culture today.
While this episode of “The Joe Rogan Experience” does not address religion specifically, it upholds and affirms the values of human sexuality known for millennia by those who enjoy the Judeo-Christian tradition.
In this debate, sponsored by Pangburn Philosophy, IDW personalities’ major disagreement is placed front and center. That disagreement is over whether religion plays a positive role in helping to shape and correct modern Western culture.
These types of discussions are probably the most informative and entertaining on the IDW. Some on the IDW (like Dillahunty) will argue that the West has always been about moving away from religion and toward further “Enlightenment progress,” while others (such as Peterson) argue the narratives that religion has given us are foundational and sustain Western mores as we know them. The atheists maintain that religion hinders human flourishing, while the theists hold that human flourishing is without a philosophical foundation without religion.
The IDW is a deep well. However, it is proving to be a refuge for millions of people from the superficiality of sound bites and three-minute interviews from the traditional media outlets. Indeed, it is the news behind the news. Are you having trouble understanding why “Good Morning America” insists that racism is rampant and you’re to blame? Or that the next show on the dial insists that you’re a victim of an unjust system? The Intellectual Dark Web may have your answers.
The IDW displays unusual bedfellows spending copious amounts of time having genuine and heartfelt conversations. It’s more than we can say for some of our elected officials. If nothing else, this absorbing “new media” coalition clarifies the issues and should not be ignored.