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The members of the Intellectual Dark Web have declared the start of a new era of utilising modern technological communication for the exchange of advanced cultural ideas. If you are unaware of this group of intelligentsia who are currently brainstorming seminars, lectures, debates, and YouTube channels everywhere then you should put your thinking cap on and get involved.
The foundations for this new band of intellectuals have been seemingly pre-laid by the rise of the “Social Justice Warrior” phenomenon. The millennial generation have grown up in the west surrounded by extreme cultural confusion. This has seen a rise in the deplatforming and the banning of speakers in various North American liberal leaning universities. The IDW have sprung to infamy by defending freedom of speech and fighting back against the tyranny of what they refer to as the radical left.
Long form podcasts may be ten-a-penny nowadays but they are still a fairly new phenomenon in the development of online media streams. Pioneers in the format have introduced us to a new realm of lively debate. Some people used to scoff at the mention of the Joe Rogan Experience or the Rubin Report but now these popular podcasts are loved by tens of millions who are desperate to be introduced to fresh perspectives. Acting as base camps for intellectual exhibitionism, shows like Rogan’s and Rubin’s have allowed for multifaceted debates on subjects such as race, gender, religion, politics, and science to advance.
The Intellectual Dark Web have used these relatively new social platforms to shoot to fame. So who are they and why should everybody take notice?
Jordan B. Peterson
There are few professional and talented orators with the experience and abilities of Jordan B. Peterson. Born in Alberta, Canada, Peterson has spent his life as a clinical psychologist, professor, and as a dedicated family man. His verbal eloquence is striking and seductive, his advice is motivating and life changing for many, and his criticisms of cultural Marxism and Postmodernism are poignant.
It was the introduction of bill C-16 into Canadian law that awoke the beast who is Jordan B. Peterson. Bill C-16 compelled the format of speech surrounding transgender pronouns by including gender expression and gender identity as protected under the Canadian Human Rights Act; but Peterson refused to be compelled. Fighting the process publically and almost losing his position at the University of Toronto during the ensuing months, Peterson’s complaints were not simply related to his opinion on sexuality or gender but rather his clearly stated motivation was to protect freedom of speech.
As people discovered more about Jordan Peterson’s body of work he released his critically acclaimed self help book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. The book not only rocketted to worldwide success but also launched Peterson into the global limelight. Reporters pounced on his reputation for a battle and began to attempt to frame Peterson’s character in their interviews. However, Peterson’s years as a practicing clinical psychologist makes for combative entertainment. Channel Four’s Kathy Newman will never forget her now iconic interview with Jordan B. Peterson.
Peterson has a broad range of online content to get involved with. Even as a non-religious man, I have thoroughly enjoyed his 15-part Bible lectures. Each lecture being around three hours long means that there are about 40 hours of in depth talks on the psychology of the mythological stories of the bible. In these captivating sessions Peterson helps to make sense of the allegorical religious stories and what they say about the conscious and subconscious psyche of the human race in both the past and the present. His lectures on personality are also available on YouTube and in them Peterson explains the works of some of the most influential philosophers and psychologists in modern history.
Some of Peterson’s online content crosses boundaries politically. His video on images of Mohammed, his public warning to the Saudi regime on the importance of freedom of speech, and his love of Pepe has endeared him to an audience who are clearly bored of hearing the same old nonsense from the mainstream media.
Peterson is a workhorse. His constant appearances on various podcasts have made him a key figure of the Intellectual Dark Web. His defence of religious tradition had also put him on a direct collision course with the famed atheist Sam Harris. Twice appearing on the podcast Waking Up with Sam Harris, it turns out that Peterson and Harris debating religion is an enthralling experience. So much so that four debates were held in various countries between the two modern thinkers. Thousands of enthusiastic and energized fans packed into theatres to cheer on two men debating the oldest questions in history.
Jordan B. Peterson is here to stay and I would refer to him as the keystone of the Intellectual Dark Web.
Ben Shapiro is the youthful right wing political commentator that every SJW loves to hate. Currently the editor-in-chief at The Daily Wire, Ben Shapiro got his first syndicated show on US television when he was only 17-years-old. This made him the youngest person in American history to achieve such a placement. He is truly a force to be reckoned with and will be one of the future movers and shakers on the American political right. The fast talking online sensation is tipped to be the President of the USA by 2040. Ben Shapiro seems to find concise and powerful arguments where no original answer can usually be found. Once a member of the controversial Breitbart News Network, Shapiro left Breitbart in March of 2016 after an argument surrounding the assault of Michelle Fields by the then Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
On leaving Breitbart, Shapiro talked about his mentor, the late founder of the news network, Andrew Breitbart.
“Andrew’s life mission has been betrayed,” Shapiro stated. “Indeed, Breitbart News, under the chairmanship of Steve Bannon, has put a stake through the heart of Andrew’s legacy. In my opinion, Steve Bannon is a bully, and has sold out Andrew’s mission in order to back another bully, Donald Trump; he has shaped the company into Trump’s personal Pravda, to the extent that he abandoned and undercut his own reporter, Breitbart News’ Michelle Fields, in order to protect Trump’s bully campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who allegedly assaulted Michelle.”
Since leaving Breitbart, Shapiro has become the leading voice on the right of American politics.
Benjamin Aaron Shapiro, born in 1984, makes no bones about his wish to reinstate Judeo-Christian values back into American society. He was controversially invited to speak at Berkeley University and, under the threat of being deplatformed by left wing activists, the University was forced to fork out $600,000,00 in security costs to keep the event from turning into another US campus debacle.
Ben Shapiro is a hero to many straight talking right wingers. His skill lies in framing people's arguments and shooting them down in a majestic manner. In an example of his prowess, Shapiro appeared on the liberal panel show, Real Time with Bill Maher, only to leave Maher speechless on several occasions. Shapiro’s ability to frame an argument often counters the usual political attacks which the left leaning media habitually fire at the right.
As a pro life activist Shapiro argues that all human life has intrinsic value and is opposed to any type of abortion from the moment of conception. As a major critic of Barack Obama, Shapiro says that the 44th President of the USA “handed guns to ISIS”, accused him of “losing Crimea”, and of “allowing Chinese expansionism to go on unhindered”. In his famous interview with Piers Morgan, the plucky young conservative accused a dumbfounded Morgan of “standing on the graves of the children of Sandy Hook.” Shapiro defends low wages and believes that equality of opportunity already exists in the USA.
Sam Harris is the creator and host of the popular podcast Waking Up with Sam Harris. With a BA in Philosophy from Stanford University and a PHD in Cognitive Neuroscience from the UCLA, Harris has an abundance of scientific credibility to back up his work. He is primarily interested in the link between actions and beliefs.
Samuel Benjamin Harris, born in Los Angeles in 1967, has been doing the rounds for many years and is perhaps the most prominent atheist in the world, possibly only surpassed by Richard Dawkins. Harris has been a harsh critic of Islam and other religious traditions in which he sees acts of barbarity committed due to the following of religious doctrine. This is obviously a view that finds much resistance within religious communities and Harris is often wrongly labelled as just a simple racist or Islamophobe.
When one first listens to Sam Harris, his open animosity towards Islam can make you feel a tad uncomfortable but many of his arguments are strong and backed by the data. He isn’t only a critic of religion, Harris also offers an alternative form of spiritualism. He appears to care deeply about learning the fundamental truths of consciousness and believes that religious dogma gets in the way.
He has a strong and supportive fanbase who have the reputation of defending him blindly but only if he strictly toes the atheist line. When one taps away at the exterior of Sam's arguments underneath, you will find the richest of subjects that have continuously baffled mankind for most of our existence.
Sam Harris’s books include The End of Faith, The Moral Landscape, and Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue, and they have all been critically acclaimed, the latter being co-written by Maajid Nawaz who may be a fully fledged member of the IDW in the near future.
Bret and Eric Weinstein
Similarly to Peterson, Bret Weinstein burst onto the stage with conflicts at Evergreen State College where he was a professor of Biology. Evergreen had a 40-year-old tradition which they referred to as “the day of absence.” On the day in question, pupils who were black or of an ethnic minority would leave the campus for the day and have their lectures and classes elsewhere. This was to recognise what diversity brings to the university and to celebrate what that diversity brings to Evergreen. However, the college faculty decided to try something new and reversed the traditional practice by inviting the white pupils to leave campus. Bret Weinstein wrote to the faculty explaining why this was an inherently racist endeavour.
Soon after, he became a target of social justice warriors on the campus after the memo was leaked. Around 50 students would disrupt one of Weinstein’s classes which led to a showdown which made clear that the protestors were not interested in discussing their issues. The mob would soon after be given concessions by the president of Evergreen's faculty.
Due to the risk of escalation in violence, Bret’s wife, Heather Heying, who was also a professor in evolutionary biology at the university, was soon dragged into the skirmish. The couple was left unprotected by the university on multiple occasions, which included the faculty forcing the police to refuse them any protection against threats of violence. Eventually Brett and Heather were forced to leave their positions at the university.
The couple filed suit against Evergreen University after the debacle and were given $500,000 in damages. Bret would testify to the American House of Representatives to explain the importance of free speech at college campuses. Explaining the event Bret described the social justice warrior movement as “functioning much more like a cult” and warned that “something is seriously and dangerously amiss. At this moment in history the centre does not hold; partisan polarisation and political corruption have rendered government ineffective, predatory, and often cruely indifferent to the suffering of American citizens. Tribalism is the natural result.”
Bret was less eager to enter into the public intellectual affray than Jordan Peterson had been. The mild-mannered professor often seems baffled by the controversy and continues to be interviewed on various long form podcasts. Bret Weinstein also chaired debates between Peterson and Harris. His ability to define various arguments really helped keep the debates fluid and interesting.
Eric Weinstein, the mathematician brother of Bret, is a fascinating individual. Probably one of the last of the founding members of the IDW, Eric Weinstein is firmly on the left of politics and helps bring political balance to the group. An avid musician, Eric plays a mean harmonica as well as many other instruments.
Eric Weinstein is currently working for the billionaire and entrepreneur, Peter Thiel, as Managing Director of Thiel Capital. Thiel appeared on the Rubin Report and described Eric as “a man of many hats” and called him “a truly great heterodox thinker.”
Rogan is an amateur MMA fighter who has now made and released well over 1000 episodes of his podcast and his show is responsible for throwing these modern thinkers together.
The Joe Rogan Experience can be very entertaining and he hosts some great thinkers. His ability to make the IDW accessible to a relatively mainstream podcast audience has helped all these modern thinkers to grow their audiences.
The host of The Rubin Report online, Dave Rubin has been a linchpin in the creation of the IDW. His show, loved by libertarians, has included all the IDW members and has been a good sparring platform for new ideas.
Rubin's willingness to speak to anyone on his show has gotten him into deep waters at times. He was forced to look for a funding alternative when The Rubin Report was booted from YouTube but sites like Patreon has helped shows like his stay afloat. Dave Rubin has attempted to expand the members of the IDW significantly, but it is yet to be seen whether some of the new additions have the intellectual engine to keep up.
So, in the future, the Intellectual Dark Web is likely to expand in numbers but if they do get too big too soon there is a risk that the movement may stutter or stop. Douglas Murray, the associate editor of The Spectator magazine in the UK and associate director of the Henry Jackson Society, has become a peripheral member of the IDW. Sam Harris has also introduced founding chairman of Quilliam, Maajid Nawaz, into the group as a potential permanent member. But the founding fathers of the IDW will always be Peterson, Shapiro, Harris, and the Weinstein Brothers, helped by podcasters Rogan and Rubin.
A clinical psychologist, an evolutionary biologist, a mathematician, a sparky right wing ideologue, and an atheist preacher, with the help of a few longform podcast hosts, are reaching audiences who have been longing for intelligent debate. They talk about the subjects that are often avoided by the mainstream media. They are brave and motivated. We need to support such projects even if we don’t necessarily agree with all the political views of its members.
The most refreshing thing about the Intellectual Dark Web is their ability to disagree and still be civil. The mainstream media’s short format news, where three or more pundits argue for about half an hour and make little to no progress, is on the precipice of extinction. It’s time for the adults to take over.