The Intellectual Dark Web

Last week, Sam Harris hosted Ben Shapiro and Eric Weinstein at a live event. All three of them are always interesting, have something of value to say, and I listen to all of them regularly. Towards the end of the evening, Weinstein cleverly coined the term “intellectual dark web,” which I expect is going to really take off this year. He was referring to the alternative media, the media that is actually having a conversation about issues that people care about, and is doing so in a way that is so interesting and thought-provoking that it can’t help but draw in any rational ears thirsting for a return to times when we can sit down and have an honest conversation again.

I was heartened this morning when a liberal friend of mine posted the single most rational thing a leftist known to me personally has ever said. She acknowledged that she felt Trump was ignorant and offensive, but that we should not be letting that dominate the conversation. She asked politely who would really like to discuss immigration reform. I applauded her for her clear-cut thinking and sensible words and stated that I believe there is a growing mass of people that want exactly the same thing and that there are people rising to meet that demand. My response went over quite well.

First of all, I still see libertarian purists being divisive. I am an anarcho-capitalist at bottom. I will always be a radical, and I will always be working towards that end, but I have no interest in alienating everyone that doesn’t believe the exact same things that I do. I actually do not know if there is another person alive that thinks exactly like I do. I have not met that person. Even my cousin – the Bro-Co, I call him, because he’s more like a brother to me than a cousin – who is also an anarcho-capitalist, does not share my exact interpretation of the world. We have incredibly similar worldviews and interests, but we are not the same person. That would be boring, anyway.

This is a time to take heart. We have all felt despair, wondering if the message of liberty was dying, if the movement was irretrievably fractured, and if we would ever see any progress at all. I am not in despair at all. There are voices – so many voices! – that are now rising up for liberty. They want free speech, limited government, lasting peace with other nations, tolerance, and sound money. And the most fantastic part of this entire revelation is that they are coming from everywhere.

They are left, right, centrist, and libertarian, but they all have one thing in common, and that is that they want the best possible outcomes for the largest number of people. We are talking about leftists who acknowledge that socialism is terrible and that capitalism has done phenomenal good and will continue to do so. We are talking about people on the right who are tolerant and friendly towards all people. Best of all, we are talking about people that sincerely want to talk about ideas – real ideas, such as how to solve the issues that are going to come along with AI and AGI, true immigration reform, US intervention, racism, monetary problems, education, and how to give the most power back to the people with the least amount of pain. My God, these are real conversations!

I have seen quite a large number of libertarians dismiss some of these thinkers because they are too much of this and too little of that. The truth is that we are never going to have a consensus. Given this truth, we must start talking to people, and we must start talking to them intelligently and rationally while giving their opinions our ear.

What I am not doing here is advocating giving SJW types an ear. They should be ignored. In point of fact, they have already lost control of the narrative. The snake is eating itself on their end. There is a groundswell of sentiment coming to those on all sides that want a sincere, honest discussion about the problems we are currently facing. It is also time that libertarians allow that sometimes, when people state their grievances, especially if they are able to do so in a kind, intelligible way that holds water and makes sense, that there is perhaps an issue that needs its day in the light.

I think the great news in all of this is that the intellectual dark web is providing us forums for discussion where we can hear others’ ideas. We can expose them to the rigors of debate and public inquiry, and we can decide for ourselves based on the evidence which ones are worth pursuing. Do you want to know what the great news is in all of this? Liberty and freedom are themes that keep coming up. They are not just coming up from conservatives and libertarians; the left is joining in the chorus.

Bret Weinstein was on Joe Rogan back in December, and he talked a bit about “Game B,” which is defunct as a group, but its implications are utterly fascinating. The scenario comes from game theory, which you might expect, but the overarching idea that he was talking about reminded me strongly of agorism. He might debate that, but I would say that the notion of a game B, a market that rises up alongside the mainstream and functions in it and yet outside of it, is going to be key to the future. We are already seeing it. The intellectual dark web has arrived at the speed of an internet connection.

Not everyone is going to be able to see Game B. Game B exists on a different TV screen, to apply Scott Adams’s analogy about there being two different movies playing in this country. There are two different movies. There is the movie that everyone, including sleepers, can see, and there is the movie that the remnant can see. The remnant is growing, and it is quietly asserting itself. It is coming from all corners, and it is creating a web, a series of intricate but powerful links between different groups. These groups share small and large goals in common, and they will work together to realize them. The people who can see Game B and who are actively participating in it will be able to pivot, and that is something that Game A cannot do. Game A is a leviathan, and although the leviathan can crush, it cannot squeeze into corners, and cannot turn on a dime the way that Game B can.

So take heart, Liberland. You are not alone. If you are lamenting the fact that you cannot find anyone that thinks the way you do, you are thinking about the world the wrong way. There are plenty of people that think like you do. They may disagree to some extent on the means, but they are out there, and they want to talk. Now is not the time for divisiveness. Now is the time to present our beliefs clearly, articulately, and peaceably.


Now that the meat of the article is over, I would like to hear from readers. Eric Weinstein Tweeted out a request this morning, asking people to reply with lists of their top 10 intellectual dark web participants.

Here is my current list, in no particular order:

1.     Tom Woods

2.     Dave Rubin

3.     Eric & Bret Weinstein (They’re brothers, so twofer!)

4.     Joe Rogan

5.     Thaddeus Russell

6.     Sam Harris

7.     Scott Adams

8.     Jordan B. Peterson

9.     Michael Malice

10. Christina Hoff Sommers


Honorable mentions to:

-       Camille Paglia (She only lost to Hoff Sommers because Dr. Sommers has more public reach.)

-       Ben Shapiro

-       Ayan Hirsi Ali

-       Scott Horton

What Is a Flag For, If Not To Burn?

I have been listening to Scott Adams quite a bit lately.  I gave his Periscope videos an honorable mention in my list of favorite podcasts, but he’s creeping up the ladder.  I still don’t agree with him on everything – not by a long shot – but he makes me think, and I appreciate being pushed in different directions than I might not normally be inclined to venture on my own.

I was listening to a couple of archived videos while I made dinner today, and he was talking about the Colin Kaepernick/NFL/take a knee controversy that was the talk of the town until Las Vegas happened.  He said something interesting with which I did not initially agree, but having given it some further thought as I have gone about the duties of the evening beyond dinner, I’m not sure that I disagree.  Minimally, I don’t think I disagree to the same extent that I imagined a few hours ago. 

“Flaggot” is not an unknown slur in Ancapistan.  A flaggot is someone that is a flagrant statist and flag worshipper, someone clearly incapable of rational thought and worthy of being mocked.  It is more commonly used against the police and military that like to speak about duty to country and that sort of thing.  Most all ancaps recoil in disgust at the thought of such things.  I will admit that there is not much love in my heart for agents of the state, but I pity their ignorance more than anything else. 

What is the American flag?  As Nelson Muntz of The Simpsons fame put it in the classic episode Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington, is it, “Six red stripes, seven white stripes, and a helluva lotta stars?”  Is that all there is?  I think most people would argue that the flag is certainly something more.  It is a symbol of American greatness.  E pluribus unum.  Freedom.  Autonomy.  Success.  Green grass, apple pie, outdoor concerts, Fourth of July parades, and a youthful, plucky spirit.  A tad naïve, perhaps, but with the best of intentions.  The flag is something that everyone is supposed to be able to rally under, something that pulls the masses together as individuals and unites us as a whole. 

It should come as no surprise to anyone that, being an anarchist, I balk somewhat at the thought of belonging to any group.  It’s a strange conundrum sometimes, the fact of being an anarchist.  All of the ancaps that I have met are naysayers and individualists down to the core that seem to resent the notion of belonging to any unit larger than a family.  There is even some reticence at belonging under the label of anarcho-capitalist, and I can safely include myself in that number.  I don’t like labels, as such, and I don’t want to get too comfortable with something, even though I have a fair idea of my place in the world right now.  I think when you get too comfortable with things, you rule out the possibility of change and forward momentum, and if you aren’t evolving, you’re dying on the vine.

The thing about all anarcho-capitalists, whether they lean socially liberal or socially conservative, they all value certain things.  Individuality.  Free markets.  Ideas.  Freedom of expression.  Sound money.  Free trade.  And perhaps above all things, anarcho-capitalists value peace.  Peace is at the core of all of these things.  I have long made the argument that peace and sound money and fiscal policy are inextricably linked, that anyone that believes that we can have world peace before we fix economic problems is living in a world of wind and ghosts. 

Looking at the list of things that ancaps value, you might wonder what the difference is between that list and the one above.  In what version of America do those values not belong?  Friend, I’ll tell you: today’s America. 

We have been at war in Afghanistan for 16 years now.  The government are so many tens of trillions of dollars in debt – is it $20tn or $30tn, and does it mathematically matter? – that it can never repay it.  It is actually impossible to repay the current debt.  When you start realizing that we fight unjust wars in far-flung places to service a debt that can’t be repaid to fund a lifestyle that we cannot afford, it gets harder and harder to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 

Some libertarians stand because of the principles on which the government was founded.  They maintain that the Constitution was the greatest document ever written by man, and I would be somewhat inclined to agree.  Unfortunately, by making the Constitution a “living document,” we render it worthless, and the government so long ago ceased to even pretend that it mattered that it seems almost laughable to me to bring it into the conversation when we talk about shrinking government.  I think, in all honesty, it was fair to say that, although the experiment was great for a time, the so-called “Great Experiment” has failed.  The United States is no longer a republic, but a democracy grown too large to for the pygmies in charge.  Democracies are a thinly veiled reiteration of “might makes right,” and although I think people feel that this is true, they don’t know that it’s true.  They still believe they can vote themselves to freedom.

I still feel pangs when I see the flag at major events, but it is a pang of sorrow for a place that I once felt was deserving of such a powerful anthem and such a lovely flag.  But I know now that the government that flag represents does not represent me, and I know that there are millions and millions of Americans that feel the same thing.  Even if they cannot identify it with perhaps the same precision that I can, they sense that something is wrong.  They can feel the rot creeping out of the swamp.  As the tentacles slip up out of the ichor of the Potomac and roll slowly and quietly across the landscape, we can smell it coming, that wet, fishy smell, but we don’t know how to stop it, and most of us can’t even name it.  We only know that it’s bad, and that we don’t want it, that it doesn’t represent us.

A lot of ancaps may argue with me and say that the flag is just a symbol of the government and that you cannot have a symbol like that represent so many different people with so many different ideals.  There will always be dissidents, but the fact remains that, at one point, there was enough cohesion in this corner of the world that people could rally around the flag.  The flag was not just the government; it was a set of ideals.  It was a broad set of ideals, but everyone could agree on freedom, the pursuit of happiness, and ice cream at a ball game. 

I have often entertained the idea of buying an anarcho-capitalist flag and hanging it off of my back deck.  I may yet do it.  Although I have a tense relationship in my heart, with one side pulling towards being an iconoclast and the other desiring to belong to a structure that suits my sensibilities, I have discovered lately that there is value in structure.  A group has to have a set of mores in order to function.  There must also necessarily be a dissenter or two, to point out the little imperfections and to force us to recheck those same sensibilities and perhaps readjust as circumstances change. 

What is a flag for, if not to burn?  What is a flag for, if not to worship?  We worship when the ideal we have in our mind matches the embodiment of the philosophy that we see around us.  The flag encapsulates what is around us, be it good, evil, or indifferent.  When the embodiment ceases to reflect the ideal, sparks start to fly, and folks, it has been a hot, dry summer.