Paths to Nazism
April 6, 2021 5:17 AM   Subscribe

 
I wonder how Jaron Lanier feels seeing his name in such unsavoury company. As far as I know his beliefs are not right-wing at all, he's anti-social media (as I am). Correct me if I'm wrong.
posted by crazy_yeti at 5:36 AM on April 6 [5 favorites]


Is there another "Jaron Lanier" that my searching isn't turning up?
posted by Slothrup at 5:37 AM on April 6


These are self reported pathways of individuals; Lanier shows up early in one person’s radicalization journey. It’s not that Lanier espouses Nazi ideology, more that someone was intrigued by his ideas and said ‘I want more of this kind of thinking’, then found a community at Lesswrong (maybe discussing something Lanier wrote etc.), then from there was introduced to SlateStarCodex, etc.

Very interesting data and presentation here. I worked with a neuroscientist once who I kinda thought was trying to be an anti Sam Harris (ie arguing that free will did exist), but then started talking about 9/11 conspiracies and using lots of metaphors with weird nazi elements and I noped out of that relationship. This shit is insidious, helps to visualize it this way.
posted by soy bean at 5:53 AM on April 6 [19 favorites]


I have an uncle who loves Rachel Maddow who sent me a Sam Harris link, so I'm surprised to see how often Harris shows up. It's almost 10% of the sample who got their start with him. What is it about his thought that could - presumably if taken out of the context of the rest of his thought? maybe? - start someone down a meandering path to neo-Nazism?
posted by clawsoon at 5:58 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


"It is not hands that summon us. It is desire."
posted by thatwhichfalls at 6:03 AM on April 6 [15 favorites]


That path which Jaron Lanier is on is an interesting one going through LessWrong and Slate Star Codex. I’m not terribly familiar with his work but I haven’t seen anything overtly favorable — what seems most likely to me is that this is showing how effective the far right’s outreach into the tech community has been (think of how many started with economic libertarianism/Bitcoin & started adopting other interests from their fellow travelers) and the degree to which the instinct within the skeptic community to say everything can be discussed and debated is something of a weak immune system when confronted with weaponized bad faith of the sort common on places like SSC. Even if most people don’t fall down the pit, having it there increases the number of people who see it and some will go further.
posted by adamsc at 6:04 AM on April 6 [13 favorites]


I have an uncle who loves Rachel Maddow who sent me a Sam Harris link...What is it about his thought that could - presumably if taken out of the context of the rest of his thought? maybe? - start someone down a meandering path to neo-Nazism?

If you really wanted to be ultra-precise about it, your uncle's path could technically be drawn back to Rachel Maddow.

It may not have anything exactly to do with what that first person says, or the beliefs they espouse. It may be more along the lines of them discussing how bad nazis are and someone like your uncle deciding to look into things themselves, and falling into a very deep rabbit hole.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:04 AM on April 6


Thorzdad: If you really wanted to be ultra-precise about it, your uncle's path could technically be drawn back to Rachel Maddow.

For sure - I don't expect my uncle to go down a neo-Nazi rabbit hole, given all the moderate-left-leaning things he says. It was more the contrast for me: Here (in Sam Harris) is someone who's not completely objectionable to someone with left-wing ideas, and yet is mentioned by multiple neo-Nazis as the first step in their journey. Is Harris an essentialist at all, genes-are-destiny stuff, men-and-women-are-different stuff?
posted by clawsoon at 6:10 AM on April 6


What is it about his thought that could - presumably if taken out of the context of the rest of his thought? maybe? - start someone down a meandering path to neo-Nazism?

Harris is a bigot who "sanitizes" his bigotry with pseudoscientific trappings. It's not surprising at all that he would be an entry point into the pipeline.
posted by NoxAeternum at 6:11 AM on April 6 [32 favorites]


Fucking Pewdiepie.

We need hate speech laws to a degree that would require amending the Constitution, and we will never get them.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:11 AM on April 6 [14 favorites]


I think I'm most perplexed by the Derrick Jensen-->Art of Manliness-->VICE-->Jack Donovan pipeline. What?
posted by kaiseki at 6:15 AM on April 6


Opie & Anthony -> Nazi, in one step. That one caught my eye. O&A are garbage, but that is still a rapid tumble.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:29 AM on April 6 [8 favorites]


Considering that Jesse Singal is now cited as support for allowing the murder of LGBTQ people

w h a t

I mean I knew he caused problems but how
posted by Countess Elena at 6:31 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


> I wonder how Jaron Lanier feels seeing his name in such unsavoury company.

Lanier's writings are (or at least were, been a long time since I've looked) tangential to the interests of the transhumanists, a bunch of whom are fellow travelers with social Darwinists and eugenics fans. So his (as well as many transhumanists') writings are something you can draw a line through to Nazism without having to implicate him as an endorser of Nazism or anything having to do with it.

In this way he's unlike Joe Rogan, Sam Harris et al whose rhetoric leans heavily on "I'm just sayin'" inferences to allow themselves to actively endorse ideologies while veiling themselves in thin shrouds of deniability.
posted by at by at 6:33 AM on April 6 [6 favorites]


> Opie & Anthony -> Nazi, in one step. That one caught my eye. O&A are garbage, but that is still a rapid tumble.

I wonder if that's a case where the guy was already pretty much a believer in nazism (for whatever reason: family were extreme right wing/racist/both, got fascinated with WWII and Nazi regalia, obsessed with the History Channel or when he was a kid...) but didn't feel motivated to begin reading and socializing with other Nazis until something he heard on the radio piqued his interest.
posted by at by at 6:38 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


What is it about his thought that could - presumably if taken out of the context of the rest of his thought?

Harris is undeniably a religious bigot.
posted by dobbs at 6:41 AM on April 6 [10 favorites]


We need hate speech laws to a degree that would require amending the Constitution, and we will never get them.

I don't think we need the Constitution amended. Rather what is needed is pushback against the cheerleaders for Omelas that is the free speech "absolutist" set - and we have begun to see this more and more. That said, free speech "absolutism" was taught so thoroughly for the past century that pushing back on it will be a similarly large task - but we've begun to see the start of that work.
posted by NoxAeternum at 6:45 AM on April 6 [8 favorites]


Singal's article in the Atlantic is being cited in anti-LGBTQ laws like those in Arkansas and Alabama, as well as planned federal laws. Among other things, these bills are meant to allow for health care providers to limit or deny treatment to LGBTQ people (and often trans people specifically), disqualify them from academic and athletic activities, and prevent medical procedures for transition. He's also being amplified by groups that push LGBTQ people to commit self-harm or suicide, and trans activists have been pointing out the very real harm he's doing to their community continuously for the last several years.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 6:46 AM on April 6 [14 favorites]


And again, if you want to understand how these pipelines work, Innuendo Studios and NonCompete have excellent videos on the matter.
posted by NoxAeternum at 6:49 AM on April 6 [12 favorites]


Really interesting.

They've messed up their Sankey diagrams and all the flows are still shown in TWh.

It would be interesting (but obviously not possible given the method used) to see where else these intermediate steps tend to lead. We're seeing, "given you got to X, how did you get there?" rather than "if you read Y, how likely are you to get to X?". I would guess that very few people read Jaron Lanier and end up on the Daily Stormer but a lot of people who are into Hans-Hermann Hoppe do.
posted by atrazine at 6:53 AM on April 6 [5 favorites]


I for one am shocked that Rachel Maddow's drumbeating about a shadowy foreign enemy could lead someone to believe that the thing she was wrong about was that it was a different shadowy enemy that one should obsess over.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:54 AM on April 6 [6 favorites]


I'm getting kind of mystified that MeFites are mystified by the nature of these paths. Do people not understand that a given media person or outlet may cover a very wide variety of topics, and that someone might latch onto one particular topic, follow it to a new source, check that out for a while, pick up on something there, and follow that, etc.? It's no more of a "pipeline", in the sense of something going in one end and inevitably going to the other end, than getting on an interstate going west from NYC inevitably leads to LA. So, Vice, for example, has a lot of different stuff on it, much if not most of which may be described as countercultural (if that term is meaningful at all these days). At some point, they may have mentioned Jack Donovan in some context (I couldn't find an article about him in a quick search), and then somehow followed him through a few other people and eventually ended up with Richard Spencer. The interesting thing there is that one of the co-founders of Vice is... Gavin McInnes, aka the founder of the Proud Boys. But McInnes hasn't been associated with Vice since 2008 (after their having had to apologize for things that he'd said in public), and there's no path leading from them to him; their current front-page article is "White People Keep Posing As People of Color for Clout", with the focus on the case of Jessica Krug.

So, I think that the main function of this exercise is not that the slope is inevitably slippery, and will always lead to fascism from any of these described entry points, but maybe to give some clues to the process, in some cases. And at by above makes a valid point that sometimes it's very likely a case of someone doing the equivalent of web-surfing based on their pre-existing predilections.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:55 AM on April 6 [19 favorites]


Sam Harris invited Charles Murray onto his podcast to talk for two hours about getting cancelled for his racial IQ bell curve shit, which might be a reason he keeps showing up.
posted by theodolite at 7:03 AM on April 6 [22 favorites]


I mean I knew he caused problems but how

Jesse Singal has been the foremost transphobic "journalist" for many years now. He's at the forefront of justifying people's beliefs that men will attack women using "trans" as a fig leaf, and that the gay agenda will "trans" people's children.

His brand of "just asking questions" and consistently misrepresenting the community is causing serious harm to the general public's understanding of who trans people are. He's not just some random journo who happened to write one article and get some stuff wrong. He's got an axe to grind and shows up on Twitter to brigade people for daring to show support to trans folks.

He's Graham Linehan for this side of the Atlantic Ocean.
posted by explosion at 7:16 AM on April 6 [18 favorites]


I think I'm most perplexed by the Derrick Jensen-->Art of Manliness-->VICE-->Jack Donovan pipeline. What? - kaiseki

I understand at least that portion, although because Donovan is/was associated with Peterson, I'm surprised that wasn't the route afterwards. Mentally I cluster him with Yiannopolus, Peterson, Spencer. And here's the rub: I watched this, admittedly from a distance, because uuuuuugh I peripherally knew Jack via another counter-culture group that he formally left to go down his own path to a Classicist misogynist worldview.

Arguably, this is an 'Aesthetic' movement, starting with Art of Manliness, to a late 19th to mid-20th century concept of independent male-Men-We are Gentlemen Warriors. This feeds into a very binary Male-female dichotomy, on one hand - which comes in Christian or reconstructionist pagan flavors, the latter of which was Jack's thing at least at one time. This also can act as justification if someone is struggling but wants to accept same-sex attraction, in a Homosexual But Manly like Greek Warriors -- an appeal to antiquity argument. But that binary and The Old Ways Were Better mindset is delicious to the right wing. c.f TradWife movements for women.
posted by Weighted Companion Cube at 7:26 AM on April 6 [16 favorites]


I think I'm most perplexed by the Derrick Jensen-->Art of Manliness-->VICE-->Jack Donovan pipeline. What?

I have no idea who Derrick Jensen is, and, as has been mentioned above, VICE's political coverage post-McInnes is decidedly more antifa. But their cultural coverage certainly fits with Art of Manliness - there seems to be a common thread in this pathway of concern over masculinity, in a way that overlaps comfortably with the misogyny that is also a constitutive part of neo-naziism.
posted by eviemath at 7:26 AM on April 6 [2 favorites]


And I see that I should have previewed before posting :P
posted by eviemath at 7:26 AM on April 6


Sam Harris is one of those guys who often seems mostly reasonable except when it comes to Islam, which is... kind of a common theme for a certain cohort of atheists who came to prominence post-9/11.

Increasingly, Americans will come to believe that the only people hard-headed enough to fight the religious lunatics of the Muslim world are the religious lunatics of the West. Indeed, it is telling that the people who speak with the greatest moral clarity about the current wars in the Middle East are members of the Christian right, whose infatuation with biblical prophecy is nearly as troubling as the ideology of our enemies.
...
The same failure of liberalism is evident in Western Europe, where the dogma of multiculturalism has left a secular Europe very slow to address the looming problem of religious extremism among its immigrants. The people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists.
The "war on terror" did so much to make Islamophobia into a mainstream position. (And I do think it was worse in 2013, though obviously it's still very bad now.)

And then I think about how "Elevatorgate" blew up into a thing that pitted skeptics against feminists, and Richard Dawkins was yelling about how women in Muslim countries have things so much worse than American feminists who whine about every little thing...

I sort of think that there have been, in recent years, a lot of young men who chafed at the evangelical Christianity of their upbringings but kind of wanted a secular framework for continuing to be low-key sexist and bigoted in other ways, and the New Atheism movement let them believe that they were striking out a "reasonable" "centrist" middle ground between the religious fundamentalists on the right and the people they saw as "social justice warriors" on the left. And... once they were able to dismiss any genuine concern about bigotry as social justice nonsense, I would be entirely unsurprised if those people often found themselves on the pipeline toward full-on Nazism.

(Disclaimer: Not All Atheists.)
posted by Jeanne at 7:27 AM on April 6 [48 favorites]


I don't think we need the Constitution amended. Rather what is needed is pushback against the cheerleaders for Omelas that is the free speech "absolutist" set - and we have begun to see this more and more. That said, free speech "absolutism" was taught so thoroughly for the past century that pushing back on it will be a similarly large task - but we've begun to see the start of that work.

Unfortunately this is not one of those changes that can come from us plebes... you're talking about governmental intervention to speech, which is what the First Amendment is there to prevent. Carving out exceptions means you need the courts to intervene, and that's where we've got trouble: there's 250 years of jurisprudence shaping how states and cities can respond to hate speech, and Trump just appointed three more SC justices who will never in a million years tighten the restrictions on conservative speech. Literally the only path forward in our lifetime is for the Dems to pack the courts to water down the conservative majority, and the Democratic party is far too cowardly to do that.
posted by Mayor West at 7:27 AM on April 6 [3 favorites]


Having group defamation as a legally recognized category of defamation would deal with a lot of the freeze peach issues without requiring a major constitutional overhaul in the US, I think?
posted by eviemath at 7:40 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


I listened to Sam Harris for a while and found his podcast interesting, until the Charles Murray segment and I noped right out of that scene. It seemed like Harris was mainly fixated on having Murray repeat his findings in as many ways as possible. “Tell me one more time how this is actually good for minorities...” There was no push-back, no skepticism, just syncophantic adoration..

Hard core rational skeptics seem to have major blinders when it comes to a wide range of realities in social psychology. It’s as if fetishising “truth” makes you more susceptible to all kinds of nutty falsehoods.
posted by simra at 7:41 AM on April 6 [6 favorites]


Jesse Singal has been the foremost transphobic "journalist" for many years now. He's at the forefront of justifying people's beliefs that men will attack women using "trans" as a fig leaf, and that the gay agenda will "trans" people's children.

And loudly supported and defended by Dan Savage, so go ahead and put Savage Love a step before on the path.
posted by gladly at 7:54 AM on April 6 [4 favorites]


Hard core rational skeptics seem to have major blinders when it comes to a wide range of realities in social psychology. It’s as if fetishising “truth” makes you more susceptible to all kinds of nutty falsehoods.

The problem is twofold:

* One, it's not difficult for a contrarian to portray themselves as a skeptic because of how they work and how they can portray their beliefs as skepticism (see: Singal's JAQing off.)

* Two, skeptics are thin on the ground, which leads skeptics to tend to be willing to bring contrarians into the fold to bolster numbers without looking too hard.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:58 AM on April 6 [8 favorites]


Unfortunately this is not one of those changes that can come from us plebes... you're talking about governmental intervention to speech, which is what the First Amendment is there to prevent.

No, I'm talking about views on free speech in the greater culture and society, which in turn drove how the government and courts view free speech. We literally have a society that teaches free speech as an end in of itself, and to bolster that teaches the lie that words are harmless along side that words have power. If you want the courts to change, then you have to change society.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:02 AM on April 6 [4 favorites]


Having watched the aforementioned elevatorgate where the majority of prominent atheists lept gleefully into bigotry soured me on organized atheism and skepticism. It didn't lead me into nazism (quite the reverse), but I can easily see how others could have been started on that path by following the so-called skeptic leaders.
posted by PennD at 8:10 AM on April 6 [4 favorites]


The Art of Manliness thing is timely for me.

I've listened to the podcast a bit this last year, and at times, I've enjoyed it quite a lot. It has a kind of range - from how to find time for realistic, functional fitness to the science of how the human voice evolved.

But it's a limited range, if that makes sense. Almost nothing really topical. Almost exclusively white people talking. There are sometimes women on the podcast, but usually speaking to the ancient art of rhetoric, or something similar.

They never, ever talk about social justice-related topics. They never, ever talk about sex! There's little to no content that really challenges a received perspective. It's so weird, really.

So, maybe the way AOM is a portal is by offering anodyne affirmations of the voices guys already hear, on topics that speak to the place they have in the world already. I need to think about this more.
posted by Caxton1476 at 8:13 AM on April 6 [5 favorites]


And as if the path to Nazism from people like Singal to the Nazis wasn't already explicit enough, he's now defending Jan 6 insurrectionists from the "oppression" of the consequences of their actions.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 8:21 AM on April 6 [5 favorites]


There's a lot of intersection with misogynistic bullshit, which I expected, but I'm actually surprised there's not more strong linkage with some of the redpill/pickup-artist/incel sites and people.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:24 AM on April 6 [4 favorites]


Jesse Singal has been the foremost transphobic "journalist" for many years now. He's at the forefront of justifying people's beliefs that men will attack women using "trans" as a fig leaf, and that the gay agenda will "trans" people's children.

His brand of "just asking questions" and consistently misrepresenting the community is causing serious harm to the general public's understanding of who trans people are. He's not just some random journo who happened to write one article and get some stuff wrong. He's got an axe to grind and shows up on Twitter to brigade people for daring to show support to trans folks.

He's Graham Linehan for this side of the Atlantic Ocean.


He's much worse than Linehan. Linehan is a clown of course but nobody is basing legislation on the opinions of the guy who wrote Father Ted. The danger that Singal creates is that people who are slightly engaged (i.e. they read magazine articles) but not really engaged enough to see what is so problematic about what he is writing can easily be taken in.
posted by atrazine at 8:25 AM on April 6 [6 favorites]


A lot of people are just so, so desperate to have a "rational" justification for being racist/misogynist/transphobic/etc. that they'll latch onto anything they feel provides them with it like a drowning person grabbing a life preserver. And once they have it they'll never, ever let go.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:27 AM on April 6 [11 favorites]


But it's a limited range, if that makes sense. Almost nothing really topical. Almost exclusively white people talking. There are sometimes women on the podcast, but usually speaking to the ancient art of rhetoric, or something similar.

They never, ever talk about social justice-related topics. They never, ever talk about sex! There's little to no content that really challenges a received perspective. It's so weird, really.


AoM's whole vibe makes more sense once you learn it's run by observant Mormons
posted by BungaDunga at 8:36 AM on April 6 [15 favorites]


Is there a second Sam Harris? I read an article a long time ago, here I believe, maybe I posted it?? by a Sam Harris, that I found really compelling. I know nothing else about them except hearing negative things about them on metafilter. I'd like to re-read the article with a critical eye now...

Anyhow, that post was interesting. There was no analysis and the linked twitter thread is deleted. Hard to interpret much from the information that, but interesting anyhow.
posted by latkes at 8:46 AM on April 6


Today in Twitter tempests-in-teapots, Jordan Peterson is upset, because Ta-Nehisi Coates (writing Captain America comics) put Peterson's ideas in Red Skull's mouth and it totally works. Peterson's defenders are mad that Coates is making Peterson out to be a Nazi, somehow managing to remain completely oblivious to the fact that Coates never mentioned Peterson by name at all and only put his ideas someplace where they fit in just fine. Just putting that out there if you wanted an up-to-the-minute example of the kind of cognitive dissonance the folks partway down these pathways have going on. (Also, it's some absolutely masterful trolling by Coates. I stand in awe.)
posted by mstokes650 at 8:51 AM on April 6 [78 favorites]


The main page has a link to analysis: McInnes, Molyneux, and 4chan: Investigating pathways to the alt-right.

That links in turn to piece on Nick Land and Dark Enlightenment: The neo-fascist philosophy that underpins both the alt-right and Silicon Valley technophiles.
posted by No Robots at 8:53 AM on April 6 [14 favorites]


AoM's whole vibe makes more sense once you learn it's run by observant Mormons

OMG THAT'S IT
posted by Caxton1476 at 9:05 AM on April 6 [2 favorites]


I knew 90% of the entities on this chart and wasn't super surprised, except that I've never heard of Jared Taylor, who I am now very concerned about based on the size of his bar. I think it's pretty difficult to extrapolate anything useful about sources like Jaron Lanier with a single connection, other than that they have similar interests and topics as their direct connections. It's definitely not surprising that someone like Joe Rogan would be on here when he does a billion interviews
posted by JZig at 9:08 AM on April 6


I just breaks my heart that they are attacking trans children. How evil do you have to be to cause such harm when simple medicine can prevent so many issues? But it's not a negative to them, it's war. All's fair in war, especially if it's protecting their precious White space. Ughhhh. 40% of America, sigh.
posted by Jacen at 9:27 AM on April 6 [2 favorites]


No Robots - thank you for posting that. That's a wretched rabbit hole.
I don't have enough time to read the entire Dark Enlightenment - so I did what countless other students of the humanities have done since forever and I skipped to the end.

What the hell is this entire project all about, anyway?


Ah. I see. It's racism all the way down.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:42 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


As far as I know there is only one Sam Harris. A lot of his work and the guests he interviews are quite interesting, but sometimes he is too willing to uncritically give air to controversial subjects under the cover of strict rationalism or free speech. He’s far from the worst person in this crowd, more like a gateway drug to more extremist views. I think the worst that can be said about him is he leaves no room for self-reflection or the possibility that he or his guest might actually be wrong.
posted by simra at 9:48 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


I've just finished reading this very long debate between Sam Harris and Ezra Klein about Charles Murray, and Harris definitely says enough words for me to put him in the camp of, "The science says racist things, therefore they're not truly racist things, therefore I'm not racist and haven't said anything racist in this whole discussion."
posted by clawsoon at 9:59 AM on April 6 [10 favorites]


I think the worst that can be said about him is he leaves no room for self-reflection or the possibility that he or his guest might actually be wrong.

I can say worse of him! He's personally stated explicitly Islamophobic views under the guise of secular liberalism.
posted by BungaDunga at 10:01 AM on April 6 [20 favorites]


This visualization will save me a lot of time.

At work there is an informal group of 5 or 6 of us who take turns nipping this stuff in the bud.

We are constantly hiring young male engineers (one of the easy targets for far right radicalization) who stumble into Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, Joe Roga, etc... and all excited share them in Slack.

It takes a lot of effort to reach out and show how dangerous these people can be, without alienating the person even more. I just showed this article to someone who this morning posted a link to a Jordan Peterson video, and their response was literally "Wow. I had no idea, thank you, I have a lot of reading to do. And I will be looking into Sankey Networks and other visualization in D3.js"
posted by Dr. Curare at 10:05 AM on April 6 [49 favorites]


Fair point, BungaDunga.
posted by simra at 10:28 AM on April 6


At work there is an informal group of 5 or 6 of us who take turns nipping this stuff in the bud.

That is excellent. Y'all are doing the lord's work.
posted by busted_crayons at 11:19 AM on April 6 [20 favorites]


I'm actually surprised there's not more strong linkage with some of the redpill/pickup-artist/incel sites and people.

I would suspect that's because like the aforementioned Dark Enlightenment/neoreactionary bloggers, their influence is weaker than it used to be at the beginning of 2010, compared to other reactionary subcultures that's gotten prominence since 2015.

That links in turn to piece on Nick Land and Dark Enlightenment:

I don't have enough time to read the entire Dark Enlightenment


Previously - my favorite MeFi FPP about it, but there's more.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:38 AM on April 6 [4 favorites]


Elizabeth Sandifer's Neoreaction a Basilisk is also eminently worth reading on neoreaction. (It's also one of the weirdest books I've ever read, but in a good way).
posted by Jeanne at 11:43 AM on April 6 [4 favorites]


To try to summarize some of the points made earlier in this discussion, I think the problem with both Joe Rogan and Sam Harris is that they're both platformers. That is, they're both interested in discourse for the sake of discourse so they invite and give voice of any interesting or controversial figure.

They have very different personas that motivate this: Rogan in his open-minded stoner, stand-up comic truth-telling shtick, MMA promoter dopey bro way, Harris in his Dawkins/Hitchens-era hyper-rationalist New Atheist "freethinking deserves all perspectives to be heard" way, both end up platforming people that do not merit such a loud megaphone. Rogan might be better about this now, what with the lucrative Spotify contract.

Scott Alexander is a similar figure to Sam Harris, in that his original crime was allowing his blog's comments section be a playground for reactionaries. And both he and Harris have anti-liberal, elitist, bigoted views rooted in self-assured intellectual superiority and faith in their own rationality.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:05 PM on April 6 [13 favorites]


my favorite MeFi FPP about it

I like this comment: "Demographics have turned against the racialized right in the US so decisively that, short of genocide, nothing will suffice to keep them in power except some form of coup."

Erm, exactly.
posted by No Robots at 12:11 PM on April 6 [8 favorites]


As far as I know there is only one Sam Harris.

There's also a jazz pianist who, if he were more famous, would be really sick of being mistaken for the other guy by now.
posted by box at 12:25 PM on April 6


Uh... speaking of the topic of this FPP... the "Customers who bought this item also bought" section in the Amazon link for "Neoreaction a Basilisk" that Jeanne posted includes such titles as both "Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution" by noted anarcho-communist Peter Kropotkin and "How Dawkings Got Pwned" by noted neoreactionary (and at least nazi sympathizer) Mencius Moldbug?!
posted by eviemath at 12:31 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]


Apocryphon: That is, they're both interested in discourse for the sake of discourse so they invite and give voice of any interesting or controversial figure.

My impression is that both of them are mostly allergic to social justice guests, and unhappy conversations result on the rare occasions that they try to ignore their allergies and go for a walk in the social justice woods.
posted by clawsoon at 1:14 PM on April 6 [11 favorites]


They have very different personas that motivate this: Rogan in his open-minded stoner, stand-up comic truth-telling shtick, MMA promoter dopey bro way, Harris in his Dawkins/Hitchens-era hyper-rationalist New Atheist "freethinking deserves all perspectives to be heard" way, both end up platforming people that do not merit such a loud megaphone.

The teenage Marxist version of me would be gobsmacked that future me would be applying this quote to the dude who hosted Fear Factor, but here we are...

Walter Benjamin put it this way:

Fascism attempts to organize the newly created proletarian masses without affecting the property structure which the masses strive to eliminate. Fascism sees its salvation in giving these masses not their right, but instead a chance to express themselves. The masses have a right to change property relations; Fascism seeks to give them an expression while preserving property.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 1:26 PM on April 6 [11 favorites]


I agree that Joe Rogan has his whole blue-collar man critical of social justice shtick (I'm not sure if he's an anti-political correctness culture warrior, though), but I hardly think he's a proto-fascist who doesn't care about property structures, given that he hosted Bernie Sanders, Cornel West, Kyle Kulinski, Jimmy Dore, and, er, Russell Brand? Not that none of those characters don't also have problems as well! (Longer list here.)

One thing I forgot to mention that Rogan's also conspiracy theory-friendly so he's platformed Alex Jones, which is another problem.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:56 PM on April 6


The two Nazis who got their start with Joe Rogan took their next steps via, respectively, Stefan Molyneux and Gavin McInnes.

Both of them were guests on Rogan's podcast, with Molyneux described in Joe Rogan's blurb for the episode as "a Canadian philosopher" who "runs the #1 philosophy show on the internet."
posted by clawsoon at 2:17 PM on April 6 [9 favorites]


Rogan is more the prototypical "mind so open his brain fell out" guy. He's very credulous, especially with people who are presented by culture as or who present themselves as confident experts, and he's not smart enough to see through bluff and bluster or dodgy logical leaps.
posted by Scattercat at 2:18 PM on April 6 [5 favorites]


Total anecdata, but people I've encountered, mainly through work, who started taking a dark Petersonian turn definitely found their way in through Rogan.

And it makes a lot of sense -- this air of being entertained vs. being lectured. "Weed! MMA! We're just asking questions, maaan! Have you tried elk? It's amazing!"

I mean, when I started university, the campus Trotskyist group wanted people to stand out in the cold and sell newspapers. The local Nazis hosted beer-soaked punk shows.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:23 PM on April 6 [11 favorites]


And it makes a lot of sense -- this air of being entertained vs. being lectured. "Weed! MMA! We're just asking questions, maaan! Have you tried elk? It's amazing!"

Sounds about right. I'm a card-carrying Radical Leftist(TM) who loves Joe Rogan but I think in general lefty media tends to be not very fun. "The Left Can't Meme" has some truth to it. I can way more easily imagine far right personalities bullshitting with Joe Rogan than I can far left personalities.
posted by ToddBurson at 4:04 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]


"The Left Can't Meme" has some truth to it.

I think you and I occupy two completely different online worlds, with a little intersection at Metafilter apparently.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 4:22 PM on April 6 [17 favorites]


Canada has a healthy representation on this chart with Southern, Mcinnes and Peterson.

I'd like my fellow Canadian Mefites to consider donating to antihate.ca.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:24 PM on April 6 [3 favorites]


I think you and I occupy two completely different online worlds, with a little intersection at Metafilter apparently.

Up until now, the only times I'd ever seen "the left can't meme" were posts by alt-right and other fash personalities.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 5:00 PM on April 6 [7 favorites]


I was told that Hillary Clinton was humorless and shrill, but then she started tweeting.
posted by clawsoon at 5:06 PM on April 6 [7 favorites]


To be fair, it would be hard to imagine her bullshitting with Joe Rogan.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 5:10 PM on April 6


(And I was told that Trump was funny, but then he started talking.)
posted by clawsoon at 5:12 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]


ToddBurson, I presume you haven't heard of Chapo Trap House?

I mean, I don't listen to them, but the left certainly isn't lacking in Extremely Online personalities.
posted by sagc at 5:42 PM on April 6


Canada has a healthy representation on this chart with Southern, Mcinnes and Peterson.

I'd like my fellow Canadian Mefites to consider donating to antihate.ca.


Hoo boy, do we ever. I throw antihate a few bucks when I can, and would urge others to do so if they're able.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:59 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]


@sagc: I've heard of it but that's about the extent of my knowledge. I can recommend Behind the Bastards as my current favorite lefty podcast, which details the history of very bad people and relates it to current events.
posted by ToddBurson at 6:07 PM on April 6 [3 favorites]


Wow, today I learned that Factsheet Five-era enfant terrible Jim Goad managed to un-fade from obscurity somehow during the Trump years. It's not so much a surprise to see him on this list as to see him on any list at all.
posted by whir at 6:25 PM on April 6 [2 favorites]


To be fair, it would be hard to imagine her bullshitting with Joe Rogan.

Exactly the opposite, really

I mean, I can easily see her owning the air in that. By her words, or by her silences. In fact, I can imagine him rather in thrall to her, to the command of history, economics, science, etc that she would bring to just about every topic he'd meander toward. She's been in the room with guys like him before, ad nauseum. She'd find the right vibe, I'm sure.
posted by Caxton1476 at 6:38 PM on April 6 [2 favorites]


[and they all started with milk]
posted by philip-random at 11:07 PM on April 6


Derrick Jensen is a deep ecology/primitivist writer who was popular in certain radical circles in the early 2000s. I think the connection from him might be that he became (or was revealed to be) TERFy, although maybe he has gone full on eco-fash now.
posted by overglow at 1:20 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]


clawsoon, thanks for the link to the Sam Harris-Ezra Klein debate. I read it a long time ago and just re-read it. Wow. I am a total Klein stan. He is so thoughtful in attempting to puncture just enough of Harris' inflated self-regard so the guy can get a clue ... and he just refuses. Like, "scientific data can’t be racist," according to Harris. Who apparently never had time to take a history of science or medicine class while becoming a neuroscientist.

Harris' blindspot about race and history becomes so blindingly obvious over the course of the debate that it has probably been mapped by Google. Harris legit doesn't understand why having had exactly two non-white people as guests on his show is a problem (for many reasons but in this case, because it means he has a narrow and incomplete perspective on the issue).

So Harris is one entry for future Nazis, you say? Totally get that, sure, just follow the signs. Start with Harris, could end up anywhere.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:37 PM on April 7 [5 favorites]


I read one of Harris' books in the early 00s, initially because I had found Dawkins and Hitchens interesting. He seemed a bit dodgy when he framed the Arab-Israeli conflict in terms of Enlightenment rationalism/liberalism vs. medieval Islamist tyranny, though it was the part where he, with a heavy heart, conceded that we may need to launch preemptive nuclear strikes on Islamic population centres that I metaphorically hurled it across the room with great force.

I would classify Harris as qualitatively different from Dawkins and Hitchens. Hitchens was (IMHO) wrong on some things, such as the Iraq war, though he was intellectually honest and courageous (as the waterboarding episode shows). Dawkins has since dug himself into an ever-deepening hole, though his major failing seems to be a lack of self-awareness about his own cultural blind spots (i.e., purporting to speak as a humanist one moment and then comparing the pleasantness of church bells with the awfulness of Islamic prayer calls as if he were some provincial vicar). Harris is well beyond that in malignity, and I would classify him alongside Mein Kampf and the Great Replacement Theory.
posted by acb at 3:40 PM on April 7 [4 favorites]


Bella Donna: Harris' blindspot about race and history becomes so blindingly obvious over the course of the debate that it has probably been mapped by Google.

This felt like the X that marks the spot on that map:
Sam Harris: You don’t have to talk about slavery. You don’t have to talk about the specific injustices in the past to have a conversation about the environmental factors that very likely keep people back.
When you look at all the science that Sam Harris defends, the biggest gap in all of it is environmental factors not taken into account because the scientists aren't deeply familiar with the continuing legacies of slavery. "We've factored out income and parental education and a couple of other things, therefore all of the remaining differences between white and black populations in the US must be genetic. What else could it possibly be?"

That kind of study might be fine if it the conclusion was, "...but we are deeply uncertain about which environmental factors we haven't taken into account", but uncertainty appears to not be in Harris's toolkit.
posted by clawsoon at 4:13 PM on April 7 [5 favorites]


I had a long conversation with a fan of Sam Harris on Facebook, and he explained that Harris's viewpoint is that there are proven average differences between racial populations in the US that are caused by genetics, but Harris isn't racist because Harris believes that we shouldn't give moral or social importance to those differences. That's Harris's "out".

So you can say, "White people have higher average IQ because of genetics", and if you follow that up with, "but we shouldn't treat IQ as important", that means you're not being racist.

To me that clarified the existence of the Harris-to-Nazi pipeline. If you buy the first part of what Harris is saying, you merely need to ask yourself, "But what if IQ is important?" and you're on your way.
posted by clawsoon at 4:41 PM on April 7 [8 favorites]


Completely tangential to the topic at hand but...anybody familiar enough with Ta-Nehisi Coates' run on Captain America able to tell me if it's worth picking up as a good read and self-contained story? I've been out of comics for nearly a decade now.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:43 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]


To me that clarified the existence of the Harris-to-Nazi pipeline. If you buy the first part of what Harris is saying, you merely need to ask yourself, "But what if IQ is important?" and you're on your way.

Of course we live in a society where general intelligence (in whatever relationship it has to IQ) *is* really important. So if you go around saying "group X has lower IQ... but that doesn't matter, we're all equal" over and over again you should know what that is going to lead to.

I'm really glad that in fact there is no evidence of genetically determined intelligence differences between human populations (i.e. Sam Harris is factually wrong)... imagine how beastly we'd be to each other if there were!
posted by atrazine at 2:11 AM on April 8 [2 favorites]


I've been pondering this conversation over and over and over again. I serve in a church (that I am now leaving in much the same fashion that a pilot "leaves" a fighter jet that is barreling into the sea) where there are just a ton of Sam Harris types.
They have these massive blind-spots on race and history - call it "engineer's syndrome" or whatever - but they're university professor types who peaked in the late 1980s and they get exasperated-flappy-hands at anything that they perceive as "virtue signaling."

The problem emphatically isn't that "young" people are trying to disingenuously ignore "the facts" in order to carry out some moral crusade.

It's that these guys are factually incorrect. They are wrong. 2+2=5 type wrong. The data does not reflect reality, they are empirically incorrect.
And for a lot of reasons we've painted ourselves, culturally, into a corner where people (again, for a lot of reasons) don't like to simply poke these assholes in the chest and say, "you are wrong, you are incorrect about history and science, you are making shit up to fit your own biases, etc."

I am privileged (so. incredibly. privileged.) to be an older(ish) white man who "looks like them" and has absolutely none of the mincing caution that prevents liberals from telling these assholes that they're being assholes. One of my greatest delights on this planet is working with these bastards to show them how they're being bastards and then set them loose on the other bastards. Now, whether or not young, reactionary white men are going to listen to "A Man of the Cloth" is still up for debate - but older, established reactionary white guys often pride themselves on being part of an elightenment-era reformed Christian project (whether it be Presbyterianism, Congregationalism, or even some flavor of Anglicanism) because it is a "church for thinking men."

They style themselves after the reformers and "enlightened great men," that they were spoon-fed by hoary old professorial wizards from the 1960s.

Anyway. It is my delight that they see in me a reflection of their own (extremely tepid) piss and vinegar, "a fellow traveler," and it is my suspicion that God has put me on this planet to befriend these men and teach them that they're bastards, they're wrong, and - what's worse - if they persist in being historically wrong then people will stop listening to them, because they're boring.

That there is greater genetic diversity among a pair of sibling chimpanzees that there is in the entire human race. You cannot comprehend the genetic bottleneck and come through with your 'racialism' intact. We humans die in great masses from plague because of a profound lack of genetic diversity. Africa is the repository of the genetic storehouse, this is why the fastest runners on earth are from Africa as well as the slowest and clumsiest runners on earth but we don't put the second ground in the Olympics.
Observe the salmon.
There is so much data out there that shows that racism is simply wrong, incorrect, factually at odds with reality. And I am not exhausted to talk to these old bastards. My own, personal, old bastard died unexpectedly when I was only 22 years old and I never had a chance to explain his bastardism to him. So I take it all out on these "enlightened" white male boomers. I'll continue to do it until I die.

I only hope that I meet someone, some day, thirty years my junior, who will sit me down and tell me just how wrong I really am - just once, before I buy the farm.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:34 AM on April 8 [19 favorites]


This is stupid. For any of these supposed precursors to neo-Nazism you could just as well ask "what % of the audience of X went on to become neo-Nazis" instead of "what % of neo-Nazis came to neo-Nazism via X". This is especially true for super-popular e-celebrities like Pewdiepie and Joe Rogan. Their appearance in this graph doesn't really tell you anything other than neo-Nazism appeals to young white males and their audience is mostly young males, so inevitably there's an intersection. It's also disturbingly totalitarian that the criteria for being implicitly neo-Nazi is shifting from expressing some kind of identifiably Nazi belief to this vague correlation of "someone watched X, and then they watched Y, and then they posted on a Nazi forum, so X is a neo-Nazi recruiting tool". It's just crude guilt by association.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 2:21 AM on April 9 [2 favorites]


I think using Pewdiepie and Rogan as examples of an innocuous mainstream entertainers who appeal to many people some of whom go on to to be Neo-Nazis is interesting:

In February 2017, Kjellberg learned that The Wall Street Journal was preparing to run an article about nine videos, posted on his channel over the course of six months, that contained anti-Semitic jokes or Nazi imagery.

Rogan is very comfortable with amplifying fascists like the multiple instances when he interviewed Gavin McInnes and other other alt-right scum

The fact that Rogan and Pewdiepie are popular doesn't mean they're harmless. It's a symptom of problems with mainstream culture many people regard them as harmless.
posted by rdr at 4:35 AM on April 9 [5 favorites]


It's just crude guilt by association.

And yet, for anyone who's followed experts on white nationalist extremism, most of these names pop up all the time when describing how people became violent fascists and/or bigots. You could find at least half of them just by going through the archives of a site like We Hunted the Mammoth, and that's my conservative estimate. A good chunk of them have been cited by white nationalist terrorists as inspirations for their attacks and murders, with some (Ben Shapiro and Alex Jones, for example) being mentioned by more than one attacker.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 4:57 AM on April 9 [6 favorites]


It's just crude guilt by association.

It's a crude method, sure, and I don't think that everyone appearing on this list either is a white nationalist. That being said, when you've got people who have two things in common:

-They're repeatedly on this list
-They have a relatively small audience

Then you've got something interesting. I've never consumed any Rogan but I know that he's massively popular so his presence here might indeed be very low signal. On the other hand, there are people on this diagram who are pretty obscure *except among white nationalists where they are very popular* and that is not the same thing at all.

That doesn't necessarily make them far-right ideologues either but it does cause the eyebrows to be raised, surely.
posted by atrazine at 5:04 AM on April 9 [3 favorites]


... the question is not about whether Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg is “racist,” but rather what he enables and creates using his platform. The content of a person’s character is almost impossible to establish objectively, and doing so would serve no purpose anyway. For example, more than 70 years after his death, there is still a debate about whether Adolf Hitler was a “bad person,” when the correct answer is not “Yes” or “No”, but “who cares?” Such debates are notorious for expending useful energy arguing useless points.

What permanently changed the course of history for Europe, Africa and Asia in the mid-20th century was not who Hitler was inside or what he believed in. It was what he did with power – period. Similarly, the real issue with PewDiePie and other performative-shitpost merchants on YouTube and across social media is not whether or not they are good people, but what their platforms achieve – whether intentionally or not.

The fact is that PewDiePie is to Western right wing terror recruitment, what Codeine is to synthetic opioids and Heroin – a legal and “acceptable” gateway drug. Regardless of whatever offensive or dangerous right wing extremist tropes are normalised by PewDiePie, he can always count on his cheeky grin, rehearsed innocent-boy charm and a nation-sized online army to argue that he didn’t really mean it because he is not “that kind of person,” and everyone who complains is ignorant for not understanding his unique exposition of classical ironic Swedish humour.


From a Norwegian website called CCN for Capital & Celeb News. The opinion piece was written by journalist David Hundeyin in response to the Christchurch massacre in New Zealand and one of the killer's last postings: "Remember lads, subscribe to PewDiePie." It's a great explainer about why PewDiePie's material is so appealing to young white men and a great conduit to more extremist role models/teachings.

Now I need a shower. Yuck.
posted by Bella Donna at 6:55 AM on April 9 [5 favorites]


L.P. Hatecraft: This is especially true for super-popular e-celebrities like Pewdiepie and Joe Rogan. Their appearance in this graph doesn't really tell you anything other than neo-Nazism appeals to young white males and their audience is mostly young males, so inevitably there's an intersection.

The reason that Joe Rogan shows up on the graph is crystal clear when you look at the graph: The next step for one white supremacist was Gavin McInnes, and the next step for the other white supremacist was Stefan Molyneux.

Joe Rogan occasionally does dumb things. Interviewing those two guests was one of the dumber things he's done.
posted by clawsoon at 7:19 AM on April 9 [6 favorites]


It's just crude guilt by association.

No, it is not.

I think you are misunderstanding the purpose of this map. It is, literally, a map - its purpose is not to establish proof that a pipeline that radicalizes people towards the far-right exists, but to map out the steps in a pipeline whose existence is already well understood. If you are wandering into this topic for the first time and need proof that this alt-right-pipeline exists, there have been multiple studies, and even if there weren't studies, there are also playbooks by the neo-nazis that lay out the steps to radicalize a normie. (I'm not about to link to the actual neo-nazi source materials, but that video gives a good overview of the right-wing-extremist radicalization playbook and how it works. Here's a transcript, if you prefer; and the video offers extensive additional links in its description.)

"Guilt by association" might not make sense in other contexts, but on the platforms these guys operate on, there are constantly going to be algorithms serving up "If you liked [This], you might also like [That]" recommendations, as well as providing a platform for commenters to create conversations around their videos, and it's more than fair to map out how you can go from Joe Rogan to full-blown Nazi ideology in the span of a half dozen (or less) recommended videos. Because that's what happens, as even kids these days have noticed.

Anyways, the article in the OP did not seem to me to be aimed at folks who weren't already aware of this phenomenon, but to be providing more information about "how" for people who already understand the "what". It's not providing rigorous proof because other folks have already done that.
posted by mstokes650 at 2:59 PM on April 9 [4 favorites]


anybody familiar enough with Ta-Nehisi Coates' run on Captain America able to tell me if it's worth picking up as a good read and self-contained story? I've been out of comics for nearly a decade now.

I've read the first three trade paperbacks, so roughly half the 30-issue run. It's... ok? It does some kind of interesting stuff like team Cap up with a team that is all women, and it's got some fairly pointed commentary in there, although to be honest nothing that's too unusual for a modern day Captain America comic. It sort of ignores parts of the directly preceding continuity in ways that I found profoundly irritating but won't bother anyone who hasn't been paying attention. I'm a big fan of Coates, but I didn't find anything to redefine my perspective on the character in there (a generous interpretation would be that maybe that's not something the editorial side at Marvel is interested in in the first place). Overall I'd rate it as a "look for it in your local library and see if you like it" read, versus a "go buy it now" one.
posted by whir at 11:39 PM on April 9 [3 favorites]


And as if to perfectly illustrate the whole path to Nazism thing, "cancel culture" whiner extraordinaire Andrew Sullivan has officially gone from "just asking questions" to pondering how to deal with "the trans question" by explicitly asking for state suppression and violence against trans people and framing their supporters as a menace to public society.

As journalist Ari Drennen notes:
If only there were some worrying historical precedent about what happens next when somebody refers to the existence of your group as “the X question.” So many red flags.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 11:50 AM on April 10 [4 favorites]




It is, literally, a map - its purpose is not to establish proof that a pipeline that radicalizes people towards the far-right exists, but to map out the steps in a pipeline whose existence is already well understood.

it's a given that people radicalize toward the far right in steps. I don't dispute this. And I don't for a moment doubt that some of Joe Rogan's interviews * have given certain dangerous assholes exposure they would otherwise have found hard to come by. What's missing from this map however is any indication of how many people hang around in someone like Joe Rogan's orbit and never consider going further down the alt-right wormhole, who may in fact encounter stuff that deflects them off into some decidedly un-alt-right directions ...

Like supporting Bernie Sanders or gay rights or universal basic income or just getting high and laughing at Trump supporters.

[* I didn't mention pewdeepie (or whatever his name is) because I have almost zero experience of him]
posted by philip-random at 4:30 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]


It's time to start looking at Andrew Sullivan and his ilk as bricks on the path to Nazism.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 9:32 AM on April 19


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