Eric Weinstein is not a conservative, but he talks to conservatives because he says, more often, they’re the ones who let him speak his mind without branding him (a Jew) a Nazi. He tells Glenn why, after many requests over the last few years, he finally agreed to this podcast. In the aftermath of the U.S. Capitol riot and President Trump’s second impeachment, Eric and Glenn probe the historical, economic, social, and even scientific reasons for the events of the last week. They also tackle some of the hardest questions our country faces: What do we do about a power-grabbing Big Tech, a dishonest media, Wokistan vs. MAGAstan, and the destruction of American culture? How do we restore civility between the Left and the Right? How do we save the UNITED States of America? In an honest conversation that will stretch your comfort zone, Glenn and Eric show us where to start.


Glenn Beck: Today’s guest puts the intellectual into the intellectual dark web, literally. His brother and he are the ones that actually started and coined that term, the intellectual dark web. But also, because he has a PhD in mathematical physics from Harvard, he came up with a theory in physics that many people now compare him to Einstein because of that theory. This is a podcast that I have looked forward to for a very long time, literally, probably two years. He was on a very short list at the very beginning of this podcast. And, I’ve tried to get him and his brother over and over and over again, I continually have received a no, and that’s one of the things I have to ask him right off the bat. 

You know how I feel about political outlooks and differences in political outlooks. I don’t think it’s a weakness, I think it’s a strength, and I think America needs to get back to being able to have a conversation with people who don’t agree. We learn so much from each other when we do that. You, I think, are going to hear, and learn, and question, and disagree, or perhaps really agree. Like very few podcasts will push you to, you’re going to learn an awful lot. Today’s podcast, Eric Weinstein.

(Sponsor Segment)

Glenn Beck: Eric, I think I’ve tried to have you on this podcast—well, I mean, you were part of the original shortlist of maybe 8, 10 names that I wanted to talk to, and we’ve always been told no. And I’m wondering why, and why now, trying to have conversations with people that we clearly don’t agree on an awful lot. But we have some principles in place that allow us to have decent conversations. Why the change now? 

Eric Weinstein: Well, two things, and I appreciate you guys having me over. And it’s absolutely true that you have been trying, and I have been avoiding. Now I—no, let’s just do this. This is my chance to explain it to you. So there are two answers. Your question, rather, has a two part answer. 

Glenn Beck: Okay.

Eric Weinstein: The first part is why now, because we’re trifling with the dissolution of our national culture, and our national culture is what animates the country. If we lose the culture, the documents will not save us, okay? Let’s be very clear about that. So, I have a very strongly strategic perspective, which is that you save things up for an emergency. Well, we’re there now. 

Next point. The real reason that I don’t casually hop on over to talk has to do with a strategy that’s being employed to make sure that we cannot come together. And let me explain the strategy. Right now, conservative and center-right affiliated media are the only ones who will reach out to talk to their critics. So when Fox asks me on, I always make the same condition, which is that I get to call Fox a propaganda network, and they say sure.

Glenn Beck: Love it.

Eric Weinstein: You want to call us a conservative right wing propaganda network—which is in large measure how I’ve seen them over the years, although I do think that they may be changing a bit. Then their point is, they’re not scared of that. The real problem has to do with the center-left media, which still controls in some sense, the official version of events for the country, and the affiliated institutions, universities, the party, what have you. And their game is very different. So they used to talk to me all the time. I would be invited on to the news hour, for example, at PBS, or I would be invited on to NPR, I would be asked to supply information to the New York Times, Washington Post. That all changed maybe around eight years ago. And the reason for that is that—what they’ve done is to make a situ—rather, sorry, there’s a little bit of feedback again. The problem that we’re facing is that they figured out that if they will all plug their ears, and just say lalalala, and pretend that their critics don’t exist on the left hand side of the aisle, that long form podcasting doesn’t exist… If they can pretend that everyone who disagrees with them is alt-right, far right, neonazi, etc, etc, then they can avoid the deep criticism that the people on the left and progressives would be leveling at the terrible change in the business model of the Democratic Party, its affiliated media, and educational institutions. And so every time I go on a conservative program, as I did with Ted Cruz, as I have with Greg Gutfeld, as I, you know, Tucker Carlson has invited me on, I’ve declined. The key problem is that they’re counting on the idea that they can say Eric only appears on right wing media, ergo Eric is right wing, QED, we don’t have to listen to him.

Glenn Beck: But you’re not right wing.

Eric Weinstein: Far from it, I’ve never voted Republican. But my point is that it’s an active program to make sure that anyone who’s invited by only right wing media and accepts only right of center media, that person can be portrayed as if they were conservative. But, so, every time I appear on conservative-affiliated media, because NPR, MSNBC, CNN would never dare have me on because I’m a critic from their side of the aisle, they have the increased ability to pretend that I am conservative, because they can say well, you only appeared, let’s say, if I did it on Tucker Carlson, Fox, Breitbart, Daily Caller, etc, etc. And so that’s why, at some level, it’s not personal to you, it’s that I understand their strategy for trying to make sure that they never have to listen to anything I have to say. And right now, it’s worth spending.

Glenn Beck: I did the same thing. I mean, I tried to reach out to the left for a very long time, you know, the left outlets, and said look, let’s just have a conversation, we’re not going to agree with each other, let’s have a conversation. And they weren’t interested. some of them were, but I had to balance that too because it didn’t—my audience would be like wait, are you selling out? Are you, all of a sudden you’re on the left? No, I just think we should talk to each other. 

Eric Weinstein: Of course.

Glenn Beck: And I don’t know when that happened, where we couldn’t go our separate ways. Well, let me rephrase this. I have a sneaking suspicion: it came at a time—and I don’t know when—where we stopped believing in the Bill of Rights. Because that is our Unum. I believe all men are created equal. They have a right to, you know, they have a right to speak out, they have a right to a free press, they have a right to religion or no religion… We lost those Bill of Rights as our cornerstone, and so we can’t agree on anything anymore.

Eric Weinstein: Well, I think that that’s, in a weird way, true and not true, I mean—

Glenn Beck: Okay. 

Eric Weinstein: There is a story here that winds its way from 1945 into the present, which would be sort of the upgraded, secret history of modern America that I think nobody’s really told, which is why everything is falling apart, and yet nobody even seems to be looking for the explanation of how we’ve moved so quickly into madness on both left and right. And that has to do with economics, geopolitics, I’ve—I think I’ve been one of the only people I know even looking to tell a relatively simple story with a through line. I think what you’re talking about really happens after, strangely, the 2010 Colorado midterm senate elections, which is the latest chapter. I mean, if you think about this in terms of chapters, I can break it down for you. But, you know, the problem is that this isn’t a story that I think most people know. And instead, they’re content to be subservient to the story, because they don’t know it, and they are actors in it.

Glenn Beck: So, can you take us back to wherever you need—that you think this storyline starts? Explain the world. How did we get here?

Eric Weinstein: All right. The central concept that we’re going to go through is going to be called an EGO, or embedded growth obligation. So that is the central unifying idea that I have as to why so much has changed so seriously. But in order to get there, let’s begin very quickly in 1945, and hit the story, if we have the space, and tell it. In 1945, the country probably was at its most coherent. We had to win a war, government definitely existed, we were technologically capable, we turned a peacetime army into an incredible fighting force. Then, what happened was that we entered a different era, where we had incredible growth. It was very consistent. It was technologically led. It was broadly distributed. And this technologically led growth became an expectation between I would say 1945, and it lasted probably till about 1971 through ’73. During this period, a guy named Derek de Solla Price, who was at Yale, wrote an incredible book, called Science Since Babylon, and gave some lectures in which he pointed out that all technological progress was on an exponential curve. If you plotted any indicator, scientific and technological progress was moving ahead, so that pretty soon every man, woman, and child on Earth would have two PhDs in order for the trend to continue. And he said, therefore, that the trend cannot continue. And I believe that the Derick de Solla Price breaking of that trend happens in the late ’60s, early ’70s, and the growth pattern of the United States changes. So what happens if you look at median male income, for example, and GDP per capita, they’re in lockstep from 1945 until about ’71 through ’73. Median male income flatlines, growth continues, because of in some sense, how we account for growth. And, in effect, Derek de Solla Price’s prediction, I believe, came true. We just didn’t understand what the prediction was. We’d never heard of the guy. We didn’t put it together. That meant that for several years in the ’70s, we were lost. We started exploring ourselves what was wrong, we impeach Nixon, we had the Church and Pike committees, we changed the structure of university immigration, blah blah blah, until Ronald Reagan comes in in 1980.

Glenn Beck: So wait, before we get into the ’80s, let me make sure I understand the ’70s. You said that we didn’t really understand Derek—I’m sorry, what was his last name?

Eric Weinstein: Derek de Solla Price.

Glenn Beck: Okay, that we didn’t understand his theory. So I’d like you to explain what he was saying a little bit clearer, and does it also, this theory, include things like, you know, we had The Great Society, which promised war and an end to poverty, which led us to the end of the gold standard and the switching with Bretton Woods, and promising the world that we’ll buy their stuff. I mean, there was a huge change there. Dual incomes became, you know, a thing. We added women into the workforce, really, for the first time. So there was this huge change here, is that play a role with Price’s theory?

Eric Weinstein: This is my contention. I believe that Derek de Solla Price is somewhat north of things like the change in the gold standard. That if, in fact, we had been growing at an incredible rate, if, in fact, things were getting better and better, and that more people educated led to more technology, we could accommodate not only women into the workforce, which we’d been lousy on before this, but other underrepresented communities. The problem is that there’s so many distractions that nobody’s trying to figure out why did so much happened between 1971 and ’73. So every time you have a conversation, somebody will say oh I think it’s the pill. I think that, you know, it’s the gold standard. I think it’s the Arab oil shock. I think that it’s the Nixon administration. Forget all that for the moment. Here’s a different theory you haven’t heard, so it’s at least worthy of your time. 

In 1968, for example, we found out that there was quark substructure in every proton and neutron. It has no industrial applications. We kept progressing scientifically, but the ability to plow certain sorts of discoveries back into technologies, and creating new industries, and all these things, very few things continued from that time. Now, two huge exceptions have been communications and semiconductor technology, so everything from the World Wide Web, and the way in which you and I are speaking to each other continued. There are, you know, isolated things that happened, maybe fracking. But in general, part of the problem is this idea of the embedded growth obligation, or ego. If you believe that 1945 to 1971, ’73, is normal, you built your organization with the idea that it would always grow. And what you did—you might, like, work people very hard at the beginning and promise them a career and a future as a reward for their hard work, you didn’t understand that if growth ever ran out, that would become a Ponzi scheme.

Glenn Beck: Right. 

Eric Weinstein: So where we are now is that we’re in a situation in which Derek de Solla Price pointed out that exponentials can’t continue. And if the technology, if the science led the technology, and the technology led to the economic growth, and everything was on an exponential curve, and that was based on some ideas of how you plow the fruits of your labor back into your system, that was always going to change and shift. And that change and shift happened in the—like, if you subtract off the screens in your room, how can you tell you’re not in 1971 through ’73? You know, it’s very tough for most of us, because most of, mostly what happened was that semiconductors and communication kept going, and the rest of society didn’t move to the Jetsons, right? 

That caused this problem where you have this strange graph between median male income and GDP, where men can no longer expect that their career trajectories will grow. So all of us look back to people from before this time and say wow, how did how did a paper route and some student loans, which were quickly paid off, lead to a second home in your 20s—in your in your 30s—if you just worked hard? I don’t know how to do that stuff. I just bought my first home in my 50s. I think I’ve bought one car my entire life, I have a PhD from Harvard. Something really broke down in a very serious way. And, you know, I think what people don’t understand is that this thing happened, and, you know, maybe a third of economists should be trying to figure out what happened between 1971 and ’73. We should all be talking about Derek de Solla Price and the original singularity—in fact, nobody seems to know about it. 

So we start this problem of the EGOs. Every organization and institution has, effectively, an embedded growth obligation: how fast does it have to grow in order for it to keep from becoming sociopathic? Because when it becomes a Ponzi scheme, it will have to be headed by somebody who is willing to lie to new entrants about the nature of that scheme. Right now, we’ve just elected, for example, a 78-year-old president, 8 years older than the oldest president ever elected. Almost no commentary from it. You know, Nancy Pelosi, and what, Dianne Feinstein was conceived during the Hoover administration, Mitch McConnell is not a spring chicken, whatever this leadership class in the 1940s it’s an illusion. They are not a leadership class. They are peacetime kleptocrats. And the reason that peacetime kleptocracy is so important is because we are a high growth country that hit our stall speed. And like any plane, you can’t keep a fixed wing aircraft in the sky if it’s not traveling at an appreciable speed relative to the air mass. So that’s what is the central idea of how we started falling apart. We were a rich family, if you will, with a family business that had built up a tremendous amount of wealth. In the family business, the engine was sputtering. 

So what do most rich families do when you have such a situation? The first thing they do is they try to fix the business. They try to plow it back in. And I believe that probably Ronald Reagan and his cohort had this idea that they were going to stimulate the country back into productivity. We’d gone through Watergate, we’d gone through the Church and Pike committee hearings, we’d gone through, you know, inflation and whip inflation. Now, we were a very dispirited, navel gazing society that couldn’t even get our own hostages back from Iran. Ronald Reagan came in, and with his kitchen cabinet from California filled with certain ideas about supply-side economics, amd they tried, I believe in earnest, to restart the American miracle. And you have people like Paul Volcker, who, you know, wrung inflation out of the system by scaring the living crap out of out of us. 

And it played in—you know, as a Jew, I’m going to say something a little bit edgy. There’s a Christian meme called “daddy’s home”. And, you know, the idea is you’re misbehaving now, but when your father gets home order will be restored, and Ronald Reagan played right into the idea of daddy’s home. And so, daddy came in, and the red tape went away, we stopped enforcing antitrust, we started experimenting with all of these different things. 

Now, it’s very important to communicate something to your audience. In general, the idealism of every age is the cover story of its thefts. So for example, Manifest Destiny, you can figure out what the idealism of White Man’s Burden was all about. You have land that isn’t yours, and now you have an obligation to take it. In the ’80s, our idealism was about competitiveness, and in part that was about taking from organized labor in order to make sure that management had the ability to restart the engines of growth. And of course, what we found out was that all of these techniques didn’t work the way I believe the earnest supply-siders expected they would. And the baby boomers were watching, and in particular, the Democrats had watched 12 years of Republican rule, and they were thinking that it was going to be a permanent Republican situation, permanent conservative rulersh—leadership. And so, Bill Clinton decided to create a second Republican Party. And the Democratic Party shifted away from labor after PATCO was destroyed, and organized labor was attenuated. And so the idea is that that idealism of competitiveness had now worked its way through. 

With the fall of the Berlin Wall in ’89, we started a new idea, which is sort of the United Colors of Benetton, “We Are the World”, Davos idealism of globalization, you know? And that, effectively, allowed us to break the bonds to our fellow countrymen, and to attenuate the idea that a guy like me sitting in Los Angeles is bound to somebody in Eastern Kentucky, coming out of a coal mining background. If I can just free myself of my fellow countrymen, I’m free to move our factories to East Asia, or to, in fact, import our scientific labor force from abroad in order to get, effectively, slave labor, paid for by visas, so that scientific employers don’t actually have to pay our own people. So that’s when we start pretending that Americans are bad at science and technology, when in fact, I think we have the best educational system in the world, and we’ve got all sorts of incredibly creative people who are not preferred by our system because they’re not obedient. Americans aren’t obedient. I’m not obedient. If you train me to get a PhD, you think I’m going to listen to you just because you tell me exactly what to do? I’m not your hired hand, I’m your colleague, I’m your fellow citizen. That period goes through and, effectively, the rich family starts a kleptocracy, in which the center left and the center right kleptocrats start selling off all of the wealth of the family, and it becomes sort of a race, if you will, to pocket as much as you possibly can. 

This goes through up until, you know, the 2000s, we have the dotcom bubble. The dotcom bubble is replaced by a beautiful bubble about housing. Everyone deserves a house and the American dream. But of course, it’s financed by nonsense. This is called The Great Moderation by the supposed grown ups in the room, and you start to see that—you start to realize that Alan Greenspan goes from being an oracle to a guy who just doesn’t even get the basics. So people like me, in 2001, 2002, to start talking about mortgage backed securities. We’re laughed out of the room repeatedly. Nassim Taleb, by the way, super dangerous person. Have him on your podcast. Great friend—

Glenn Beck: What’s his, what’s his name again, and tell me a little bit about him.

Eric Weinstein: Nassim Nicholas Taleb? Nassim Nicholas Taleb is a former trader turned author. And his basic point has been that the establishment constantly minimizes the risks, the tail risks, in favor of looking at what generally happens in markets, but really what happens in markets is determined by extreme events. And so if you throw out the outliers, you throw out the entire story. And Nassim’s point is that all of this is understandable, and that what we have is a world of financiers, who through financialization have figured out how to get all of us, the citizenry, to act as the insurer and they simply help themselves to the profit and stick us with the tail risk.

Glenn Beck: I think this is one of the biggest problems, and—I mean, look, I’m not a… You know, I’m a self-educated guy. 

Eric Weinstein: You and me both.

Glenn Beck: And in 2006, I was looking at the the mortgage system and saying to my friends, who all were on Wall Street, and all bankers, and I’m like guys, this is not—this doesn’t work. This is going to fall apart. This just doesn’t work. And they talked to me about all their systems, and all the fail safes they had, and everything else, and it was all gobbledygook. And it failed. And I—it’s astounding to me that we ended up paying for their mistakes, and so, we never learned—they never learned from their mistakes, because no one’s ever responsible, except apparently the little guy.

Eric Weinstein: Wait a second. They didn’t make a mistake. Why are you saying they made a mistake?

Glenn Beck: Well, they didn’t make a mistake. They, they had faulty, or greedy desires. They were just, we’ll just keep piling it up.

Eric Weinstein: Glenn, let me explain this very clearly. I was in a small hedge fund at the time. And this small hedge fund, we’d decided that we were going to look for new prime brokerage, and we went over to AIG Financial Products Division. Of course, AIG was supposed to be an insurer, and we blurred the distinctions in financialization. We talked to their group, and they told us about how massive they were, and how they were able to extend services to us. And we started asking them questions—this is before the crash. And they told us about how they had tranched all of their exposure, and that in order for them to get hurt, it would have to go through all of these levels. And, you know, we asked the question, okay, so what happens if it cascades through all those levels? And the answer they gave should be known to everyone, and it is this: well, if it goes through all those levels, then we’re all screwed. In other words, we’re protected up until the point it becomes everyone’s problem, and then it’s not our problem anymore. They always knew. 

And, you know, this is the problem with this. The reason that I used to be invited to hedge funds’ conferences was because this is what I was saying. You know, of course, everyone knew this, and people would say well, I don’t understand what you’re not profiting from it. I don’t understand—well, you know, look, the party will go until it’s over. The smart people in finance weren’t convinced by the nonsense that they fed to the public. So I don’t think they made a mistake. We made the mistake. Who underwrites non-recourse loans? You know, the public didn’t even understand what a non-recourse loan was. So, in essence, basically, our financiers take advantage of our financial inadequacy. And I don’t know why we don’t hire the world’s best lawyers, the world’s best accountants, and the world’s best financiers; pay them enormous bonuses to take care of the American people. And, you know, effectively, we’re in there defended by, you know, a few guys with good hearts and, you know, to be attacked by the most sophisticated players in our society, we just sit down—we take it, over and over again. I don’t think they made a mistake, I think we made a mistake. We should have created the fact National Seashore in Long Island from the hip.

Glenn Beck: Okay, but wait, wait, see, here’s the problem, I think. It’s the greed of one group, and the willingness to gamble with other people’s lives, and the power and establishment in the government that knows that they can get elected if they can say everybody who is at this level, you’re going to get a home. You know, as long as they can play the Oprah card, you get a home, and you get home, and you get home! Even though the math just doesn’t work, nobody cares. They’ll deal with the aftermath later. So it’s this—it’s the collusion. It’s—I’m a free market guy. We haven’t done the free market in how long? How long? We haven’t had a free market. It’s, it’s—

Eric Weinstein: It’s an illusion.

Glenn Beck: Pardon me?

Eric Weinstein: It’s an illusion. Yes, you’re right. For some reason—you know, I’ll be honest. I finally live in my own home as if it’s really my own home. Of course, mortgage is another form of rental. My cleaning person drives a nicer car than I do. And, if you had to push me back into a studio apartment to have my country back, I’d go back to a studio apartment. 

Glenn Beck: I would too.

Eric Weinstein: I think, you know, there’s just—you’ve ridden on a private plane? 

Glenn Beck: Yes. 

Eric Weinstein: It’s not that great. It’s kind of cool the first time you do it, and it always feels a little, you know, but it’s just—there’s nothing in this money game that appeals to me as much as having my country and being able to focus, with freedom, on the things that I care about.

Glenn Beck: So let me let me just say this. I’ve owned my private plane, and it’s game-cha—the only thing wealth changes is a private flight. However, I’m with you. I’d I’d be penniless and start over if we could restore actual accountability, responsibility, and freedom.

Eric Weinstein: Yes. That’s what we would, I would like to think we would do. But I think a lot of people aren’t in that game. I think that a lot of people are desperate to feel that they’ve succeeded inside of the American story. So if we can pick up the main thread, I’ll try to finish it out as quickly as I can. We can go from the 1980s through Bill Clinton. So Bill Clinton, the idealism of that age was “We Are the World”, and the sort of Davos pluralism of globalization, that was about breaking the bonds to your fellow countrymen. Then we have the idealism of the “Technology Changes Everything” with the dotcom bubble, you see that that collapses. Then the idealism becomes “Everyone Needs a Home”, it allows the financiers to concentrate the gains, we are caught holding the bag in 2008. The world’s financial system falls apart, right? And then we have the idealism of stimulus, and a very strange thing happens in 2010 (around), which is the Colorado midterm senate elections. And I believe that the Democrats really have a tremendous amount of pain, and they have a bright spot in Colorado. And the Obama people say what happened in Colorado that was different? And it turns out that identity politics played a big role in that election, if I have my story right. At that point, Russlynn Ali writes a 2011 letter to the universities, called the Dear Colleague letter. The Dear Colleague letter put the university system on notice, which is of course beholden to the federal government because, effectively, it’s not—it’s a seemingly private system, of private universities that is entirely dependent on the federal government. And it says by the way, people, if you don’t get your stuff in order, with respect to Title IX, and women’s rights, and the terrible problem of attacks on women on campus, etc, etc, you’re going to be in a situation which you may not like, because the federal government may withdraw its support. 

So the universities scramble towards making sure that they are as compliant as they can be, responsive to the Dear Colleague letter, and that starts a chain of events whereby we start pumping out people who have spent four years coked up in an indoctrination camp, believing things that have always been present in the university system, but have been relatively small. You have to appreciate that intersectionality comes out of UCLA, the concept of unexamined privilege comes out of Wellesley, Mary McIntosh, and Kimberlé Crenshaw is the UCLA law professor. These ideas become supercharged after Russlynn Ali’s Dear Colleague letter. The Democratic Party goes hard to identity. And, to quote my wife and economist Pia Malaney, the Democratic Party had to search for the cheapest alternative to organized labor, and that was organized identity. So now you’ve swapped out organized labor, destroyed by PATCO and competitiveness, and the previous, you know, idealism that was cloaking a theft. And suddenly, the Democratic Party is the party of identity because it’s the cheapest substitute, and it buys time for the kleptocracy to continue looting the country, which gives birth to MAGA. Right?

And so in essence, and this is a really important point, I’ve never said it anywhere else, but I wanted to save it up for you, so let’s see how it goes. America has two twin aspirations: that of being a great society, and that of being a good society. And the left of center tends to overfocus on being a good society, and the right tends to overfocus on being a great society. By great, I mean a massive power. And by good, I mean a moral power. So when you have people like the Dulles brothers or J. Edgar Hoover, you have a situation in which the US perfectly well knows how to throw an election. We know how to assassinate leaders. We know how to gather intelligence, and we know how to take people to black sites and try to get information out of them. We know how to run the School of the Americas. There is this entire Howard Zinn history of the United States which is real and true, and coming from a progressive family, when the United States government chooses to visit you through spies and harassment, it’s no joke. And that causes people like me to be treated as if we’re paranoid. But what’s really going on is that our Bayesian priors are different. If you’re black, or if you’re, let’s say extremely progressive. You have a terrible history with your own country. 

So my country has mistreated my family. I love this country. You have to be able to put up with the warts of your country. This country is not always good. But it has been great for a very long time. We are now trifling with—we’re pretending that we’re trying to be good through all of this wokeness which I’ve called Wokistan, and we’re pretending that we’re returning to greatness with Magastan. Neither of these things are true. We’re about to lose both being great and being good. And so now, what’s going on is that in the modern era, post Russlyn Ali’s letter, you’ve got all of these kids who are hired in order to generate sales, and clicks, and ads, for legacy media—which the old line thought they could control. This is the idea that you’re going to have a tiger cub, And at the beginning, the tiger is going to be adorable—or a lion cub, you know, and then that thing starts growing and growing. 

And so if you look at the Harper’s letter, that was an attempt to say hey, all of us who hired the extremely radical woke products of the university system, we have—we are now being threatened by our own attack squad. We tried to let them loose on everybody else, but we thought they wouldn’t turn on those who hired them. Well guess what, we now have a problem. We recognize this is illiberal. Okay, so now this is what we have to recover from. And it’s almost impossible, because none of us can get access to institutional media, which is the only thing that our institutions have to listen to. They don’t listen—they won’t listen to The Blaze unless we screw up, and then they’ll take whatever we said wrong and they’ll put it in an infinite cycle. But right now, the problem is that Magastan is creating Wokistan, Wokistan is creating Magastan, it’s Escher’s hands drawing hands, the two of them, drawing each other into existence. The kleptocrats are busy stealing everything that isn’t nailed down. And the tiny number of people who are outside of this system, as long as they don’t really have any effect inside what I’ve called the gated institutional narrative, or GIN, we have no ability to reach the uni—we can’t reach the universities. I have a PhD from Harvard, an MIT postdoc, I’ve been funded by the Sloan Foundation: it is absolutely important to portray me as if I’m insane. Or, I’m a complete right-winger, or a Nazi with my Jewish surname. That is how desperate this thing is that I’ve called the DISC, the distributed idea suppression complex. Right now, there are crazy ideas that may be dangerous, and I understand that we’ve always had adjustments to free speech, but there are also ideas that are unifying ideas, ideas that bring us back from the brink. And the system isn’t as worried about going over the edge of the brink, because that will generate clicks and sales. It’s much more worried about unification. It is much more worried that Eric Weinstein can speak to Glenn Beck, and that you and I can disagree on a million things, and we can say I love you, I care about you, this is our country, it’s us.

And right now, we have to free ourselves from institutional media. We are coked up on our own institutions. They used to be the ones who told us how they would call balls and strikes, you know? We don’t have that anymore. Right now, everything worth listening to almost is outside of the institution. And the institutions don’t have to listen to us while we sit in these chairs. So the through line, the reason it’s all falling apart, has to do with a powerful theory. Now Richard Dawkins said that the power of a theory is what it explains, divided by what it assumes. In essence, the engine of this is we built a society around growth between 1945 and the early ’70s, which was unsustainable. And then when the growth went down, every institution became beholden to its EGO: its embedded growth obligation. That meant it had to be headed by somebody who could pretend the future—that our brightest days were still ahead if we just stuck with the model. 

And that would have been possible if we’d found new growth. But effectively, in this orchard, we’ve picked all the low hanging fruit, except for maybe communications, fracking, and semiconductors. We now have to go find new orchards. This is what Elon Musk is doing. He is going back and going forward to find new orchards so that there’s more low hanging fruit—because there’s a financial concept called beta. And in general, when we have something like electrification, or digification, or any kind of an -ification that changes everything, then everybody can get some exposure. Your local laundromat can get exposure to a digital era by broadcasting when the washing machines are free, let’s say. You know? They don’t have to be in the technology business. Right now, we can’t operate our society in a high growth mode. And when you lose growth, the only growth that’s left is not from growing the pie, but from eyeing your neighbor’s slice. And so right now, we’re each looking at each other’s slices of the pie. And instead of seeing a brother, a comrade, a fellow countrymen, we see a source of protein. And that is the terribly concerning thing, which is we have got to stop eating each other to get back to the business of innovation, because this entire nation won’t work until we return to growth. And what we’re doing is cannibalizing the very people who are capable of producing growth.

Glenn Beck: So, right, so here’s the thing on that. We can’t seem to produce growth because we’re being told to stay home, we’re being told to shut down our business, we’re being told, all through regulation that is coming under this new administration. We are, we’re also not the ones getting the bailouts, the big business, the connected business, the global business. And at the same time, many of us are being called horrible names. And they’re putting us out of business now, because of who we support, or how we vote, or what we believe. You—with the technological boom that is coming, just the impact on truck drivers in the next few years, with driverless trucks that are already on the road, you start changing the model, and you start changing and have this almost cotton gin kind of turnover… You can’t add on top of that distrust, abuse, and theft, and survive.

Eric Weinstein: There’s a problem here, Glenn, which is that there is a moral basis for the market, and there is a moral basis for citizenship, and they’re different. It’s sort of the way we used to have courts that would execute the law and courts of chancery that would focus themselves on fairness. Okay? I have two claims on my country. One is as a soul, and one is as a mind and pair of hands. And, in essence, when I work hard, if I don’t have the ability to benefit from my own labor, that destroys the moral basis of the market. If I see handouts being—or bailouts and handouts being given to large corporations, if I see laws that forced me to shutter my business while Jeff Bezos is celebrated in terms of how many billions, Amazon made, etc, etc, what we’re doing is we’re undermining the moral basis of the market, and you cannot shove that on to efficiency.

Glenn Beck: It’s the—it’s Moral Sentiments. It’s, I mean, everybody concentrates on Wealth of Nations, it’s Moral Sentiments: once you disregard or destroy Moral Sentiments, the Wealth of Nations is gone. It’s gone, or so corrupted, it destroys itself.

Eric Weinstein: In the 1970s, probably, there were some pretty bad things that happened, intellectually, to the economics profession. [Unintelligible] of, you know, distribution questions, say that’s somebody else’s issue, we’re just gonna focus on growth, and you can distribute that however you want. The old “Once the rockets go up, who cares where they come down? That’s not my department’s says Wernher von Braun” line, so that they’ve punted all sorts of things. That’s why Piketty suddenly runs, you know, roars into view with our exploding Gini coefficients that measure our inequality. So, the economics profession is completely corrupted by the idea that it is effectively serving the concentration of wealth, as if efficiency and growth are the only two things that matter, and distribution, of course, is not an issue of economics. They pass over these ideas in silence after this. Now, that is a huge problem—is that we’ve created a world of people who don’t have to talk about reality. They don’t have to talk about the fact that souls have a claim on our nation’s wealth as well, and that’s what UBI is all about. It’s trying to restore some kind of basis, moral basis to the market, and saying a rich country can afford to make sure that nobody goes hungry and nobody has—is wanting for a roof over their head. And at the same time, we can’t destroy the incentives to hard work and pretend that everything is egalitarian. Now— 

Glenn Beck: That’s, that is—because I am a free market… really— 

Eric Weinstein: No you’re not.

Glenn Beck: I’m—I’m not?

Eric Weinstein: No, because you’re a smart guy, and you know that market failure exists. So for example, if I produce a public good, and it is both inexhaustible and inexcludable, do you want me to produce something of incredible value and to recapture none of the value that I create? No, you don’t. The free market, in its idealized, childlike sense, will make sure that I am punished for producing a public good. And no thank you, I decline your free market by market principle. So if you’re a sophisticated market guy, you’re not going to look to screw over your own scientists who’ve produced a public good for you. 

Glenn Beck: Correct. 

Eric Weinstein: Okay, so let’s—congratulations—

Glenn Beck: But, when I say free market, I must have an idealized vision of it. When I say free market, I mean a market where, generally, people play by the rules—the free market is, to me—the best capitalist is the one that says how can I help people? How can I make their life easier? Right now, our, many of our capitalists are like how can I get rich? Instead of—

Eric Weinstein: Glenn, we don’t have time for this. You’re not a free market guy anymore. That was then. We’ve entered into a—let me put it this way. Imagine that you have a pie that says all activity is in this pie (that’s economic). Okay? And a tiny sliver of it were public goods and services, which constitute market failure. What if everything that I could produce, almost, can be turned into a small copyable file? So I replace, you know, the calculator on my desk, etc, etc, all sorts of things. Suddenly, that little slice of the pie that represents market failure due to public goods starts growing. And, imagine in a future world, a crazy world, the part of the free market that your thinking applies to is a tiny sliver. We haven’t gotten there yet. But we could. Your point is, in a world in which most things are well seen by the market, and few things are not, we should do almost everything through the market, and then we should do the little bit that we can’t do through the market through taxing, like raising an army, you know? We can’t [inaudible], I wish to opt out of US Army protection. No, you have to tax people for an army. Okay, so my point is, you need to update fast, and I don’t have time to explain it. But—

Glenn Beck: Okay, but wait, wait, wait, but you’re saying—I agree that we’re gonna have to update that, because that’s what’s coming our way. But I don’t think that’s a good thing.

Eric Weinstein: Well, I’m not happy about it—

Glenn Beck: Yeah. 

Eric Weinstein: But that’s where we are. 

Glenn Beck: Okay. Yes, I agree with you on that.

Eric Weinstein: [inaudible] The best parts of capitalism… Free market ideology in the current era is not going to cut it. Because like, just what we’ve seen—

Glenn Beck: But doesn’t that include, I mean, I’m assuming you’re, you’re very well aware of The Great Reset, which is the public-private partnership, you know, and the almost a Chinese kind of model, in some ways… That requires angels to run the countries and the system, that have never existed. I mean—

Eric Weinstein: Yes, we don’t have—we don’t have the wisdom to take over from the market, Glenn. It’s a self-organized system. Nobody’s arguing that. What I’m trying to say is that we’ve got a bunch of simple answers, none of them work. I could say it’s all Ayn Rand, or what we need to do is recognize that Swedish socialism works. You know, all of this is garbage, or everything is gonna—put everything on the blockchain, blockchain solves everything. All of these are completely simplistic, and free market belongs in that group. And, if you’re like me, you want to save the best aspects of the market take over from the market. I agree with that.

Glenn Beck: That’s, you’ve—you’ve defined yourself as a conservative: take the best parts of things, conserve them, and throw the rest out.

Eric Weinstein: No, you don’t realize that you’re a progressive. Forgive me.

Glenn Beck: No, you’re a conservative.

Eric Weinstein: I’m gonna win this argument, you can laugh all you want. 

Glenn Beck: All right, go ahead.

Eric Weinstein: Okay. The point is that what has gotten more people out of progress is the market. If progressive means lifting people out of poverty, about giving people hope, literacy, access to clean water and health care—a progressive has to embrace the market, period, the end.

Glenn Beck: I agree with you. But that’s not a a classical definition of a progressive. That’s not a Woodrow Wilson, you know, FDR progressive.

Eric Weinstein: I don’t think you’re understanding me, let me try it again. We learn from our experience. Many of us believed, back in the 1930s, that progress, with the failure of the crash of ’29, came from embracing socialism. I mean, if you look at Milan Kundera’s discussion, he says very clearly that all the cool kids wanted socialism and communism because that was the hot new idea. Now we know where that goes. We know that, in general, it goes towards extreme levels of violence in order to beat down Gini coefficients, and it goes to a lack of productivity. I visited the Soviet Union at the tail end. You can’t be a progressive and still believe in those things if you’re paying attention to history. The point of being a progressive is progress. And this idea that this word and this concept have been co-opted by people who have no concept of the history of progressives, no understanding of all the great things that we’ve accomplished, you know, interracial marriage. You know, we’ve been behind all sorts of things from the get go. And the point is that those of us who are truly progressive are keeping going. I am pro-market where the market works, and I’m up for calling the market out where it fails. And claiming, “I’m a free market guy.” No, you’re not. You’re just not. You don’t realize that you’re smart person.

Glenn Beck: Yeah. I, I would agree with you—if this is the way you’re defining things, I agree with you. And I don’t—but that’s not the discussion that is happening in the world at all. It should be, it—with the digital revolution on our heels, we have to have this conversation

Eric Weinstein: Glenn, this conversation is taking place outside of the non-conversation. The gated institutional narrative is to conversation what professional wrestling is to mixed martial arts. Okay? It’s a simulated conversation. Say, you know, my wife will sometimes say to me oh, we have to go see this new movie, everybody’s talking about it. And then I say what do you mean everybody’s talking about it? And then she’ll point me at all of these different media outlets cross-promoting. No! And I say nobody’s talking about it. What’s going on is that the media is doing a cross-promotion. So the conversation that’s really going on about progressivism, and all this stuff, is not the progressive conversation. I mean, what is more racist than a bunch of African Americans throwing a white professor out who won’t repeat what they say, you know? It’s what happened to my brother. Okay, if I’m antiracist, I’m probably against what is being called antiracism, because the antiracists may be racist. So the [inaudible], you can’t get confused about what your ideals are, and what your idealism is, just because somebody has taken all your language and reprogrammed it. So none of this has anything to do with progressivism, and if it requires me shouting at a mob of 1000 people who are saying defund the police—my point is, that’s not progressive. That’s insane. Let’s not conflate insanity, and a bad business model built on division, with progressivism. Now, we progressives are still out here. We’re still smart. We just don’t have a voice. We don’t have a seat on the exchange of ideas that is called the gated institutional narrative.

Glenn Beck: So then you are, you would clearly separate the Marxists out of the progressive movement that have really hijacked the Democrats and the progressives. The progressive era, in my opinion, is over. We’re in the Marxist era, if you define progressive as it is usually defined, not the way you just defined it.

Eric Weinstein: Wait a second. Marxism was progressive—

Glenn Beck: Yes.

Eric Weinstein: Before we knew how it behaved. And then when we find out how it behaved—

Glenn Beck: Correct.

Eric Weinstein: You know, there was a point maybe where Stalin was progressive. Paul Robeson would write, you know, rhapsodically about, you know, the great leader Stalin and what he was doing, because he was saying, you know, African Americans were welcome in the Soviet Union, we have black churches in Moscow. And in that situation, maybe, before you understood that Stalin was one of the greatest killers in human history, you might have thought that was progressive. Maybe you thought that Mao was progressive, before you understood the Red Guards and the Great Leap Forward. But the key point is that it’s also the case that conservatives have screwed up all sorts of things. Free marketeers have destroyed the world financial system. It’s clear that supply-side economics doesn’t work. And so all of these things, it’s very important to remember—

Glenn Beck: Okay, so that’s a really good conversation, but I think we’re getting sidetracked a little bit, because I think we agree, in a very compact sort of way, that I’m comfortable with you defining progressivism the way you do, for perhaps you and others on a case by case basis. But generally what I’m talking about with progressives—AOC will call herself a progressive. She’s not a progressive, she wants to drag us back to an old, broken kind of idea of Marxism. Do you agree?

Eric Weinstein: No. AOC is partially progressive and partially insane. And part of the problem—

Glenn Beck: Okay, can you explain that?

Eric Weinstein: Well look, [if] you want to have a next level conversation, we’re not going to be able to just, you know, I don’t want to have Tarzan, you know, talking about Jane, me good, you bad, all that kind of stuff. AOC is a complicated phenomenon. She’s in part constructed, the actual human from which she’s constructed appears to have taken over something in that role. It’s kind of interesting. She has the strength to call out certain kinds of bullshit. She’s extremely talented. Not everything she says and does is stupid. And then there’s the madness of identity politics and effectively communism coming through identity. And the reason for that, we should just be very clear, if you look at a lot of the labor movement, it was always talking about the brotherhood of bricklayers, the brotherhood of to—

Glenn Beck: Correct.

Eric Weinstein: It turned out that that concept really didn’t work very well, because people knew that they weren’t brothers, they were just coworkers. How much did bricklayers say I, you know, I laid the best bricks and I’m proud that that’s what I did? In part, it was proud to bring home a paycheck and feed a family, and to be able to look occasionally at a building and say your father built that. The issue is that identity is much more powerful. So it’s a much more effective means of introducing Marxist ideas. And what I’ve said is, if you want to save capitalism, you’re going to need hyper-capitalism coupled to something like hyper-socialism, because the redistributive aspects of capitalism change character with the multiplier of algorithms, and as an algorithm becomes powerful, whoever owns the algorithm may be able to concentrate fantastic amounts of wealth and no human can afford to defend themselves in that market. 

Glenn Beck: Correct. 

Eric Weinstein: So we’re in an interesting situation, which is when you say I’m a free market guy, you’re applying—you’re appealing to a very old complex. And when I say, you know, that these people, you’re not a free market guy. AOC is not simply progressive. We have to look at Arnold Kling and his concept that the three ideas that animate conservatives, libertarians, and progressives are very simple. Libertarians cannot stand coercion, and they become single issue, which is that they don’t want to be coerced in anything. Progressives can’t abide oppression, so they fight everything has the sort of appearance, or sheen, of oppression. And if you label something oppressive, they’ll fight it. And conservatives are always angry that people don’t remember the hard-won lessons of the past. And so they’re always trying to hang on to the wisdom that has been built up historically in a society. Okay, it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good if you had to, sort of, get it down to its essence.

Glenn Beck: But if you take, if you take the three of them, and you—with moderation—and put them together, it works.

Eric Weinstein: Bingo, that’s what we’re supposed to be doing. Right, exactly.

Glenn Beck: But we are now facing a system that has gone half insane, on both sides, have their own equal problems. And everybody, it’s my way or the highway, and there’s there’s no difference.

Eric Weinstein: We are not doing that.

Glenn Beck: What?

Eric Weinstein: We’re not doing that. You and I are having a different conversation. If we have a conversation about oh, is it free market versus equity? What’s even the point? I might as well just—let’s call it over and let the Chinese come in and teach us Mandarin. You know, I don’t want to do that. The key point is I can’t stand coercion. I hate coercion. That’s why libertarians imagine I’m libertarian. I really believe in structural oppression. If you look at what Robert Moses did to New York City, tell me with a straight face oppression doesn’t exist.

Glenn Beck: Yep. Amen, I agree.

Eric Weinstein: Everything we built up, including our founding fathers—an actual patriarchy, which was somehow so wise that the fact that they had no women, they had no people of color in their group—they wrote with enough abstraction and headroom that we could actually get out of our own way. I mean, this is genius in the document. Imagine that all men created equal and you keep anything—any mention of the fact that you actually own other human beings?

Glenn Beck: Actually not, actually not true. I urge you to go back, read the original draft. 

Eric Weinstein: You just cut out.

Glenn Beck: Are you there? 

Eric Weinstein: You’re back. 

Glenn Beck: Okay. Read—I urge you to go back and read the original draft in Thomas Jefferson’s own handwriting, the one that was proposed to Congress. Remember, John Hancock said the king will weasel his way in and split us up. Do we all agree it has to be unanimous? They all voted yes, it has to be unanimous. He went to write it. He wrote it, and it’s an unbelievable paragraph about slavery, and the evils of slavery, and how the king has stopped them every step of the way. It’s the only place where his handwriting changes. He capitalizes the word—he says—and the king has continued to allow and stop every effort to stop the practice of selling—capital letters—men on the open market. He did that to tie back to the beginning, all men are created equal. It’s not as clean cut, as everybody thinks it is. These guys were deep thinkers, deep thinkers.

Eric Weinstein: Well, some of them got it probably at the time

Glenn Beck: For where they were, mhmm.

Eric Weinstein: I believe Wyoming was maybe the first to, you know, make sure that women had the vote. So, we have a very strange history. But my point to you is we did have, we did have chattel slavery up until, like, a 100 years before my birth or something.

Glenn Beck: Yeah, I agree. It’s horrible.

Eric Weinstein: However, we had the foresight to have an abstraction, because some people figured out how to do this, so that we could grow into the country that I think we were always meant to be. And there’s a very important concept that came out of France that was taught to me by, I believe a person who taught Bill Clinton history at Oxford, Earl Jamie—I can’t pronounce his last name—which is a nation is defined to be a group of people who have agreed to forget something in common. In part, we are supposed to remember a lot of the horrible things in our beginning to forget them later, so that we can become who we were always meant to be without being tied back to 1619, the way Nikole Hannah Jones wishes to tear us apart and to refound us. We have absolutely, very strong obligations, in particular to African Americans, but also to women who were denied the vote, you know, even in the beginning of my grandfather’s life. But we also have to realize that we have the blueprint for a country that can accommodate our best selves, and that this is the gift of a patriarchy. It may not resemble us, it may have been a white landowning patriarchy. But goddamnit if these people didn’t effectively have a blueprint that can accommodate people that look absolutely nothing like them. 

And the excitement that I have for our country, which is our trajectory—we haven’t gotten close. The people who are calling themselves progressives in the streets are correct, that the progress has been too slow. On the other hand, to give up this thing, in order to pursue fantasies, and phantoms, and… This is madness. So that’s where we are, we’ve got to do better. But look, the other thing is, we’ve got to talk about the two major cults, and what cults are, because I don’t think people understand what a cult is. In general, cults are not simply made up of crazy people. Whatever the dominant society is, [it] always has to throw certain items of truth over the city walls that it represents. Right? You have to ta—you have to forget certain things, you have to pretend that certain things that are true aren’t true. And in so doing, when you have a situation like that, there is always the basis to begin a new civilization based on the idea that the society always has to lie. If the society lies very little, it’s not worth joining the irregulars outside the city walls. But it is true that our culture has been throwing more and more truth over the city walls, and that has been the basis for the cults that have formed around Wokistan and Magastan. And we have to talk about the fact that both of them have a point, and both of them have become cult-like 

Glenn Beck: I agree.

Eric Weinstein: And are now therefore, a threat to our system.

Glenn Beck: Agree. 100% agree. There is a reason, there is a real good set of reasons that people marched with black lives matter. They have some really good points—not Black Lives Matter Inc, but black lives matter. What was happening with our cops, the whole experience of the past—and it needs to change. The same thing with the people who—and I want to be careful here—gathered last week and said hey, can we just have 10 days just to air these things? To make sure that we all check? I didn’t think that that would happen. I didn’t think that you had the time to actually make any progress on it, because the constitution is very clear. But you had a right to say that. No one’s listening to the the real plight, the people who really mean—the peaceful protesters of black lives matter, and not the radicals that want to abolish the family and everything else. 

Eric Weinstein: No, but wait a second.

Glenn Beck: What? And we’re dismissing, we’re dismissing the people who say I don’t think I can trust this system anymore. If we shut them down, we’re nitroglycerin in a paint shaker.

Eric Weinstein: Well, let’s be very clear about this. Do you remember the claim that black lives matter protests were mostly peaceful? The Capitol Hill protest was probably mostly peaceful. Right back at you. Right? If you want to play the game of mostly peaceful, okay, fine, you know, that comes back to haunt you. The key issue is who’s been calling balls and strikes out here? I hate Donald Trump’s presidency, I really do. He accomplished some amazing things, like the Middle East peace stuff, like getting critical race theory out, like not starting new wars. Before his presidency, I said he will be a superposition, probably, of the best and worst president we’ve ever had in our country. And, you’ve got a group of internet hyenas who whenever they hear anybody trying to promote a nuanced position, a long-short position, whatever you want to call it, immediately say whataboutism, or bothsidesism. Like, can you imagine if physicists looked at Schrodinger’s cat and said oh, it’s bothsidesism. You know? Is the cat dead or alive? No, you’re not getting it. 

The key point is, Donald Trump represents something to many people who hate him. He represent something standing in the way of a news media that cannot report that the mayor of Portland is in fact coordinating with an organization it doesn’t think—it pretends doesn’t exist—to firebomb our own federal courthouse in a completely bizarre, largely performative ritual of showing us what a breakdown of law and order is when we—I mean, no smart person talks about getting rid of the police. And by the way, there is no minority community in the country that can say we’re so oppressed that you have to understand we have a right to get rid of the police. Well, I guarantee you, people with my surname, what will happen if you get rid of the police? It’s going to be a very short ride. Don’t ever tell a Jew we’re getting rid of the police, all right? We’re in a situation in which the MAGA people have to be reached by somebody who hasn’t gone along with the lies, right? Yes, the media is lying to you exactly as you say the media is lying to you. Mayor Jenny and Mayor Ted Wheeler in Seattle and Portland are completely out of control. Everyone who failed to talk about that in real terms is completely out of control. You’re not wrong about everything, Magastan, by far. I’m not even positive that the election, the general election is free and fair. I don’t know. I don’t know.

On the other hand, let me tell you something that I’m very, very clear on. Assume all of your worst nightmares are true. Assume that you have an incredibly talented intelligence complex that views Donald Trump, incorrectly, as a puppet of Vladimir Putin and decided that it had to rig the election through fraud. All right? Just indulge your wildest, craziest claims. Go full QAnon: Justice Roberts is part of a pedophile conspiracy, etc. The Supreme Court pretends to be nine druids that can divine the truth, by taking on black robes speaking in Latin. It’s not true. They’re nine dudes and chicks like you and me, who are assigned to be the last word. And we as Americans agree to abide by the Supreme Court’s decisions, even when they’re wrong. So, if you want—if you tell me I don’t get it, and I haven’t looked at Benford’s law, and all of this stuff, and I don’t understand that the Epstein conspiracy reached the court—okay, fine. But you’re not talking about the United States anymore. You’re talking about a revolution to found a new country that doesn’t exist.

Glenn Beck: Yes, yes.

Eric Weinstein: And, what we need to say to our MAGA brothers and sisters, just like our Woke brothers and sisters, is you began around a system of truths that were excluded from the gated institutional narrative. That was your seed corn. Yes, structural oppression really does exist, you know? Yes, it is absolutely true that there are so many irregularities, to explain that Antifa is denied not reported upon, that you’re having the idea that you’re bigots and chauvinists shoved down your throat. There’s no shortage of reality that you have been denied. And now, you’ve attacked the Capitol building of the United States. And I can, I can spin it either way: I can decide that it’s a failed insurrection, or I could say it’s a mostly peaceful protest. Right? It doesn’t matter. The key point is the culture of the United States of America. And as I said recently to Saagar and Marshall over at The Realignment, the magic and genius of this country is the way in which the—what I’ve called the Oral and Written Torah of the United States—the Constitution and our culture interact. And what I love about this country is that I’m absolutely free to burn a flag and protest, and I have zero desire to do it. And the idea is, if you want to get rid of the culture of this country, you’re going to need laws and rules, and you can kiss your freedom goodbye. And so part of it is that even though this country came after my family 1953, I stand when the national anthem is played. I’m sure I would not have wanted to hang out with Francis Scott Key. But I heard Jose Feliciano sing his Puerto Rican version at Candlestick Park, and Jimi Hendrix, and I heard Marian Anderson do it, and Whitney Houston. We took that song, and we made it something absolutely incredible. And I stand whether I feel like it or not, not because I have to. I support the right to go down on one knee—by the way, a genius move, if I may say so, because sitting on the bench was a terrible move, it was incredibly disrespectful. Being on one knee is a way of communicating a certain form of respect. And I would prefer that you stand, but I celebrate your right to kneel. The key thing, though, is our culture is being destroyed. And, I don’t know how to say this. We have to go non-coercive, we have to respect our past, and we’ve got to get the boot of oppression off the number of people who can’t figure out—I feel like I did almost everything right, I did not have the career that I was expecting. Right? And it’s the same issue with Donald Trump. Let me tell you something, Baby Boomers do not like to be told to leave the workforce when it’s time. 

Glenn Beck: Right. 

Eric Weinstein: We got rid of mandatory retirement in all sorts of places in the ’80s. And, in part, that’s because the Boomers didn’t have enough wealth, and as a result, everybody else is in a holding pattern. And right now, the principle emergency is that we’ve got a ton of young men and young women who need to form families and homes. And I don’t care whether it’s two dudes raising a kid, or two chicks, or two people who are non-binary, but a continuing society is all about babies. And, creating the preconditions where people wish to keep their society going, so that people will care enough to sacrifice in their life for a legacy… When you start taking down all statues, not just the statues that were put up as a finger in the eye of somebody else—and there were some statues that were put up in that way—but when you started tearing down, you know, a statue of an elk, or Stevie Ray Vaughn, because you’re trying to make sure that nobody has a future, that there is no history of who cared, and who did, and who won for you, what you’re doing is you’re stopping the loop of sacrifice. You need to make sacrifice worthwhile, maybe not directly, but at least indirectly. 

And the future has collapsed for these people. There’s this thing I’ve called metastatic maternity, where when women realize that they’re not going to have a baby that they’re going to care for, they have to care for something else. And remember, the lesson of the wild is that mothers love their babies in a way that is violent. And if you’ve ever seen a mother and having was attacked, you have not seen what violence is. Incredible violence. And in effect, we have a lot of young women who are trying to take care of something, who may not be able to have kids because the market is completely taking away the ability to form families from our young people. 

And so right now, what we’ve got to do is we’ve got to get a bunch of old people out of their goddamn chairs. They’re an embarrassment. They’re completely failed. By the way, it’s not the fact that they’re old. Joe Biden entered the Senate in 1972, at the age of 29. It’s enough already. If he had something to say I’m pretty sure we would know about it by now. Right now, the big issue is that Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell don’t make sense, Nancy Pelosi, none of these people. We are talking about a world of technically incompetent people who grew up in an era, generally speaking, before the Great Society programs, born in the 1940s, who are not capable of living in a 21st century technological world built with all this change. And we need different people in the leadership position.

Glenn Beck: I was just saying on the radio today or yesterday. If it wasn’t unconstitutional, I would vote for somebody like Elon Musk, and not because I agree with everything he has to say. I think he’d be you know, a nightmare to me in many cases, but he, at least, is looking at a new world. It’s like we’ve got a group of people that want to keep us packed into the systems of 1950 that don’t work. Nothing, this, all of this doesn’t work. We need visionaries that can understand the technology of tomorrow, the social impact of those things, explain it, and help us get into that. And I see very few of them on the horizon.

Eric Weinstein: Yeah, I mean, you need to—my guess is that most of our leadership born in the 1940s can’t write a Hello World program in any computer language.

Glenn Beck: Yeah. Right.

Eric Weinstein: You know, at some level it’s enough. We’re in a technological world, we’re in a new age, and what their job has been, again, I have to quote my wife, which I resent, because she has a lot of good points. But her point has been that COVID accelerated the destruction of the dam that people born in the 1940s have been using to hold back all progress.

Glenn Beck: Yeah. 

Eric Weinstein: And so what’s coming… demography is going to take care of this.

Glenn Beck: So let me, because we’re running out of time, let me ask you two questions. I’m very concerned about this transition, because one person makes a mistake, it’s a Reichstag fire. I mean, and it doesn’t matter—it doesn’t matter if the Nazis of the communists did it. The impact of that event changed the whole world. And I am so afraid that it takes one lunatic or one group of lunatics, on either side, it won’t matter, and the world changes. Do you believe we’re that close?

Eric Weinstein: That’s, that’s right. We’re LARPing. The key problem, we’re engaged in live action roleplay. And if you see the woman who got shot on Capitol Hill—very clear that she walked right into a gun in which the officer who shot her had his finger along the barrel of the pistol. It came inside the trigger guard, it went back out along the barrel, it was shouted he’s got a gun. And she did not stop, because she LARPed her way into her own death. And I, if I may, I would like to address your audience, and I want to do it non-condescendingly because I’m not in a position to condescend. I’ve screwed up enough in this story. But look, I’ve been here the whole time, and I’ve been telling you, you guys are right about the center left media. It’s gone completely insane. It’s denying reality. It’s gaslighting you, you’re not wrong about that. You’re not wrong that critical race theory is insane. You’re wrong somewhere else. If you believe, effectively, that the court system didn’t hear the evidence, and it just didn’t give standing, and that the corruption has gone all the way to the Supreme Court and Justice Roberts, it may have. But there is no opportunity to save the United States if what you’re going to do is to talk about something above the Supreme Court. What you’re talking about, right now, is you’re talking about a new country that you’re hoping to found. And that new country is not the United States. 

And I’ll tell you, I am fighting very hard, as I can, using every tool in my arsenal to try to get people’s consciousness up that MAGA is not completely insane. I can see that from the left. Now I’ll be told that I’m not on the left because I can see it, but that’s not true. You can look at my credentials. I said that Donald Trump was an existential risk, at the beginning, to the fabric of the United States. Give me my due, tell me that I’m not wrong about that. Tell me that the fact is that he used the old Henry II tool of saying will nobody rid me of this quarrelsome priest, which is called direction through indirection. He told people to be peaceful. But there’s no way to overturn this election the way Donald Trump wanted to, there’s no way to go around Justice Roberts. You have to wait and take it on the chin. You have to take your loss. If you want to save the country that you claim—it’s not that you have no allies, it’s not that you haven’t been heard, and you made lots of real points. Donald Trump did many good things. No new wars is a heck of a big deal. Getting rid of critical race theory, he wasn’t wrong that our immigration policy has been structured around calling everybody a xenophobe who wants a border. It’s insane. But I want to give you your due, and I want to tell you also something: you’ve gone over the line. If you believe in zip ties, and you’re going to take back the Capitol, you’re coked up on an ideology, and if what you’re trying to save is the United States, your United States can only be saved by waiting it out. 

And I want to point something out to all of you. In 1971, a group called the Citizens’ Committee to Investigate the FBI created an incredible act of civil disobedience and broke into an FBI office and they stole a bunch of documents, because they were willing, as patriots, to pay with their freedom to expose the fact that the FBI was out of control. And that turned into the Church and Pike Committees in the mid-1970s. And for the first time, we investigated our own intelligence services, and found out the United States government was harassing and assassinating Americans citizens who were trying to behave in a way politically that was anathema to J. Edgar Hoover. [Inaudible] need to do is to look at the leader of that group, I believe his name was William Davidon, a student of [unintelligible]. Those guys, disciplined, organized, they found the word COINTELPRO, they created FOIA requests, they forced—I believe the New York Times wouldn’t run their findings, and they forced the Washington Post to have to investigate us. Right now, we need a redo of the Church and Pike Committees so that we know what our intelligence are up to. We need to inflict people who are actually progressive inside of center left media, which is demonizing everybody. And what I need from MAGA is—I need, I’ve got an outstretched hand, and it’s been outstretched for four years. And I’ve waited now, hopefully strategically, to talk to Glenn, because hopefully, this is somewhat electrifying. We’ve got to get back from the brink. 

And, I speak on behalf of a large number of people who have no voice, who have always voted Democratic, which is I love you. I love you. You guys are a part of what makes America great. There are certain aspects that I can’t do, because my left-of-centerness doesn’t allow me to do it. We benefit from being a great country and a good country. And I’ve tried to do both, but we have to have a conscience, and we can’t go down this route. You have to realize that the cult-like aspect of Donald Trump may have been necessary to the break the cabal that has been denying all kinds of truth—I’ve called it the DISC. I’ve talked about the gated institutional narrative—it’s over. The Donald Trump thing has to mutate into something that is pro-America, that is not based on a cult of personality. I know that many of you hate him, and support him because he was the only way to stop the denial that Antifa was attacking the federal courthouse, for example. All of these people born in the 1940s are going away because of father time. They don’t have much time left on this planet. And we are going to have to figure out how to unseat them legally. And with apologies to Malcolm X, you need to remove them by any legal means necessary. I apologize for the word legal, but it really does matter. What we need to do is to recognize that Magastan and Wokistan are two cults founded on reality. There really is structural oppression. There really is a denial of reality by center left media. And, we went over the brink. What we did at the Capitol was disgusting. And we [inaudible] in a mob mentality. That woman who died, from San Diego, LARPed her way to an early grave because of the contents of her mind—the software she was running—told her that she was as if she was in the Boxer Rebellion, that she had supernatural powers, that nothing would happen. If you look at that video, you look at all of the heavily armed officers behind her who could have stopped her. We have entered non-reality, and we are a thermonuclear nation with responsibilities to the entire planet. I keep hearing from black Americans that it’s finally our time, you’re not going to silence us, and you’re not go—nobody’s trying to do that. But you too have responsibilities to the planet, this is a thermonuclear situation.

And, you know, I appreciate that the killing of George Floyd had the optics of a police lynching, and that it plays into the denied reality of black America. Yes, your history has been denied. Just as my history is denied, just as everybody who understands Howard Zinn’s history has been denied. But on the other hand, I want to come back to one image. I had an idea that I was going to get the two guys on my show who engaged in an incident—Donald Trump said to rough up protesters and that he would pay legal bills, and a 78 year old man, a white guy, threw an elbow, sucker punching a black protester being led out of an arena. And what I found was that they had reconciled. And they’d hugged, and they’d put it behind them. And there were 20,000 views on video over four years, I think there were fewer than 20 likes. Just by pointing out that video existed, I think it went to 30,000 likes from my account alone. We love each other. And, we have to stop speaking through our media, and we have to stop speaking through our politicians, and we have to stop speaking through people who are pretending to be progressive, or pretending to be conservative. You can’t conserve the United States by going above the Supreme Court. And if you want to think that I’m soft on Jeffrey Epstein, take a look at the episode that I did specifically. Hey, news media. You have to ask the question, “Was Jeffrey Epstein attached to any intelligence service?” And if you get shut down and say we don’t discuss sources and methods, that’s fine, but the fact that you won’t ask the question about whether or not Jeffrey Epstein is attached to an intelligence service creates a vacuum, and that vacuum is going to be filled by people who believe fantastic things: the worst excesses of Alex Jones, or QAnon, or the Nation of Islam, or whatever. 

Right now, the problem is we have no adults. I’m pretending to be an adult on Glenn’s show. Maybe Glenn is pretending to be an adult. But those of us pretending to be adults are at least trying, because we’ve had a 75 year nap since the end of World War II, and it’s coming to an end no matter what. Whether it descends to bloodshed, or violence, or authoritarianism, whether we lose the right to speak to each other on social media because they take a power grab given what horrible things happened in the Capitol, we’ve got to come back to reality. There really was a direction to stop the steal from Donald Trump on January 6. There really was an admonition to be peaceful. He knows exactly what he’s doing, he sent twin messages. And that happened at the Capitol, where certain people were just going to a rave, some people were going to a revolution, some people were just reporting it. Nancy Pelosi is not the right person to bring impeachment proceedings. The fact is, whoever brought impeachment proceedings should have been talking about Mayor Wheeler, and Mayor Jenny, and their abominable performance as public services, allowing lawlessness, people to die. We’ve got to go back. We need effectively a national mikveh, to separate our unclean period from whoever it is that we’re meant to be and try again. And we need to cover structural oppression and end coercion in the conservation of our best values. And if that seems like a tall order, tough shit. That’s where we are. And, if you don’t want to do that, if you want to just say my free market, or my structural oppression, you’re not part of the American experiment. You’re part of its final act. And quite frankly, we’ve got to fight the kleptocrats in center left [and] center right, Wokistan and Magastan, and get back to the business of innovation. I’ve tried to give you a history that you probably didn’t know, involving a through line that is incredibly simple, that explains why everything is falling apart, and tried to use as few assumptions as possible. And it’s been an honor to do it on Glenn’s program. Glenn, it was never personal, it was always strategic. I’m sorry, I’m not a free market guy. I’m not a conservative. I’m an honest progressive from a different era. And, I know that you are not a free marketeer, you get that things have changed. We’ve got to find our way into the future and we’ve got to stop looking back for the answers. They ain’t there. We’ve got to invent the future anew. Thanks for letting me rant.

Glenn Beck: I have to tell you, Eric, if you were here, I’m a hugger. I would hug you. I would be your friend, I could be your neighbor, and we would never have an argument even though we may disagree on policies or things. This is the kind of conversation that America must have. And I hope this isn’t the last time you will join me, because I would love to hear more of your thoughts. Thank you so much.

Eric Weinstein: Thank you. Love you, brother.

“Eric Weinstein, host of “The Portal” podcast and managing director at Thiel Capital, returns to The Realignment to discuss the state of the U.S. after the riot at the U.S. Capitol.”


Saagar Enjeti: Dr. Eric Weinstein, welcome back to The Realignment—

Eric Weinstein: Careful with the “doctor”, I don’t want to be confused with somebody preparing to do surgery.

Saagar Enjeti: That’s true. But that’s also a pun, Eric. My parents are both PhD “doctors” themselves, so ever since the whole scandal on Jill Biden, I’ve been calling them both “doctor.” So, I just think that it’s an honorific that we should try.

Eric Weinstein: Actually—

Saagar Enjeti: To give everybody—

Eric Weinstein: I’ll be entirely honest, I really don’t think MDs should be called “doctor.” If anyone should be called “doctor”, it should be PhDs. But I figure we should let it slide.

Saagar Enjeti: See, we’ve already got such good content. Eric, we wanted to bring you back to the show because you’ve been putting out some really just, I think, profound thoughts about where we are at the state of the country. I think you recently tweeted you’re having trouble sleeping as a result of the capital riots and so much of what we saw, and I just want to give you the opportunity to just give us your thoughts and break down this terrible week in America, and how you think that we can get out of this? What can we do?

Eric Weinstein: Well, I want to even go—I think it is a terrible week. But I don’t think it’s a terrible week for the same reasons that everyone else seems to think it’s a terrible week. One of the things that’s going on is that we have a very strange selective memory. And the selective memory doesn’t remember the fact that we’ve had bombings in the Capitol Building, we’ve had, I think a Jewish suicide bomber in the Capitol building in previous times. 

Marshall Kosloff: Puerto Rican occupiers, yeah, it goes deeper than that.

EW: Right. So, the fact is that the optics of this week are absolutely horrendous. We had a police—law enforcement officer beaten to death with a fire extinguisher, which, you know, I don’t, I really don’t even have words for that. But I also think that, in part, we’re not really capable of having the discussion about what really happened. What—maybe we could—let’s start with the Viking. Right? We had a Viking taking pictures, playing around, I don’t know, in the Senate or the House. And I think that this really gets to the heart of what’s going on, which is that we are LARPing our way into armageddon. And the seriousness of this, you know, all of the talk of civil war and all this kind of stuff, is weirdly not getting our opportunity to find the off-ramp. 

In large measure, what we’ve got is two teams of Live Action Role-Players, or, so-called LARPers. And they’re engaging in something that I was worried about in I think 2013, and I wrote an article for the Edge Annual Question. And they asked, “What is the scientific theory that everyone should have in their cognitive toolkit?” And I had several ideas, I was going to write about regulated expression in genetics. And I said to my wife, you know, the thing I really want to write about is Kayfabe, and that is the system of lies and deceptions found inside of professional wrestling. Now of course, that’s not going to be seen as an academic theory. But professional wrestling and the intelligence community are the two places that understand nested levels of deception better than any other two groups. And they’re lightyears ahead of psychology departments. 

So, part of what’s going on is that we’ve got two national LARPing complexes that are engaged in what I would call Kayfabe. So we have Vikings, people are posing, stealing the lectern, I don’t know, from the House of Representatives, thinking that they’re at some kind of a rave or a party, maybe it’s Burning Man for politics, not clear. That situation can go completely insane and become real in a way that I don’t think people appreciate. So I often pose the question, “Which is more real, mixed martial arts or professional wrestling?” And I would say professional wrestling by a longshot. If you look at the list of deaths associated with professional wrestling, it doesn’t get more real than that. I don’t think UFC has had its first fatality yet. 

And, in essence, what we have is we have a mock national conversation, one around “Stop the Steal” which has rejected the United States justice system, which has refused to give Donald Trump much comfort. And the idea that you’re going to save America from its own justice system is pretty interesting, by going around the will of the courts. So I think what we have here is a national meaning crisis, where there are people who have very little future, and there are people who still have a future. And the people who still have a future are selling LARPing to two teams, you know, one of which is Wokistan, and the other of which is Magastan. And so we now have a war, mostly on the internet, mostly through Kayfabe, of Magastan versus Wokistan, which have to be two of the, you know, most intellectually crippled theories you could have, not because they don’t contain seeds of truth, but because they fill in what is missing with total nonsense. And I think that what’s going on, I—did you guys take a look at the video of the woman being shot in the capital?

MK: Yeah.

SE: Yes, we did.

EW: How closely did you study it?

SE: I think I saw it [from] three or four different angles. But I mean, I saw this woman literally leap towards a gun. And I just couldn’t stop thinking, I’m like, ‘What really compels somebody to do that?’ I mean, it’s pure and genuine belief.

EW: Well, and that’s exactly it. This is like the Boxer Rebellion in China, where you had people who were convinced that they had supernatural powers, or you know, you get kids, you know, on some powerful drug and you turn them into child warriors, and you make them wear dresses, and you tell them that the dress will make them invincible, or, you know, I forget what general, you know, butt-naked or whatever it was in Africa—there are sort of supernatural beliefs about what’s going on. One of the angles on the woman being killed shows the gun emerge first, pointed at the window that they’re trying to break through. 

SE: Right.

EW: And you clearly hear on the audio, “He’s got a gun! Gun!” Right? So that’s clear warning. You see that the finger that is to pull the trigger is properly not on the trigger. It’s not inside the trigger guard. It’s along the barrel of the pistol. It comes inside the trigger guard, and then it goes back out. This is not somebody who is looking to discharge a weapon. This is somebody looking to not discharge a weapon. And the idea that this woman was climbing up on this, right into a gun, is bolstered by the idea that right behind her is—immediately after she’s shot, you see all sorts of law enforcement officers armed to the effing teeth, who are clearly behind her, who are not stopping this thing: we are not going to have an accurate discussion. What we’re going to have is a political football. And the political football is going to be used by anyone and everyone who has a partisan axe to grind, in an attempt to divide the country into these warring factions. And we can’t get at these two insane memetic complexes, because the center is actually sponsoring the lunatics. So figure that the center of the left and the right, the establishment, is busy looting the United States government, stealing as much silver as it can, cutting the paintings out of the frames, and they’re distracting the people with no future, as the people who still have a stake in the game and can hollow us out, keep amping us up. 

And I posted something on social media—if you recall, Donald Trump was encouraging people to rough up the protesters and beat them up, back in 20—the 2016 election, and one guy who was 78 threw an elbow into the eye of an African American and sort of sucker punched him with an elbow. And, I went looking for those two guys, thinking I should get them on my podcast. And I—I found that they’d reconciled, and they hugged in a courtroom, and they’d put this behind them. And in four years, the video had fewer than 20,000 views, and fewer than I think 20 likes. And I posted this, and immediately, just posting it, caused a 50% increase in the viewership over four years in a single day. We are being kept from coming together, we are being kept from getting rid of these people, and right now, the most important thing is that, by any—and with apologies to Malcolm X—by any legal means necessary, we have got to remove our current leadership. Period. The end. There is no more.

MK: So a question that comes to mind because it came up a couple of times during your statement there, LARPing. There’s a portion of the audience which isn’t online. If you’re not on Twitter, this won’t make as much sense for you. So can you just describe the phenomenon of LARPing? What is it, and how does it manifest itself on the Wokistani side or the Magastani side if you will?

EW: Well, okay, sure. If you ever go to—let’s say if you go to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, many of the most nerdy and kind of spectrummy kids are engaged—and by the way, I say that with zero disrespect, I’m proud to be part of that group—engage in sort of live action versions of Dungeons and Dragons, and they’ve got foam swords and maces and all sorts of things, and there are, you know, very clear rules. And you get to play in a fantasy medieval war situation, let’s say. Now, in some sense it’s like the Stanford Prison Experiment of Zimbardo, where you tell people you’re guards, you’re prisoners, and sure enough, theater becomes real. There’s a limited ability to suspend the distance between our characters and ourselves. Our characters are, in some sense, real. And what’s interesting is that live action role-playing can become immersive, you can forget that you’re in a game. And in Kayfabe, which is the sort of professional wrestling system of deceptions, you break things into “work” or “shoot.” A “work” is a scripted activity taking place—by the way, Kayfabe is carnival speak for “fake”—and so a “work” would be if, you know, we agreed to have a fight on this podcast to drive your ratings through the roof. Right? Coming up in 10 minutes. And—

MK: And I have some words for you, Dr. 

EW: Marshall, I’ve had about enough of your back-talking!

SE: Let’s not call out CNN too hard here, Eric.

EW: So, then a “shoot” would be the spontaneous occurrence of reality in a scripted event. And then tertiary deception occurs, where you think you have a work where everyone’s in on it. By the way, if you don’t understand the professional wrestling is fake, you’re called a “mark.” If you understand that it’s fake, you’re called a “smart mark” or a “smark”, and one of the reasons I love this stuff is that I can’t get the language that the espionage community uses to talk about deception. You know, like “false flags” and stuff like that, I mean, they’re very advanced, but professional wrestling by now is known to all. So the smarks understand that it’s all fake. But then you can have a situation where the fourth wall appears to break, and the people who are in on the idea that it’s a deception are suddenly freaked out to find out that it’s spilled over into reality, but that spill over into reality can in fact be encased by another fourth wall. And that would be called a “worked shoot.” 

So what’s going on right now is that we don’t have language for the levels of theater, deception, fantasy, and we’re struggling. So what we do is we keep finding meaning. And if you’ll notice very carefully, what we’re doing this week is that we’re finding meaning, you know. “These are the darkest days of America. We thought it could never happen here, but in shocking footage released from Capitol Hill, we see the destruction of everything good about this country,” blah, blah, blah. That kind of mock seriousness is preposterous. I mean, this has been visible for the entire time that we’ve been engaged in this, and nobody cares about the fact that we are a thermonuclear nation trifling with the very dangerous business of degrading the customs of the United States, which are used to evade the need for putting restrictions into law. Our culture has allowed us to be free. And right now what you’re seeing is the degradation of our culture, which will necessitate rules. Right? 

The old magic of America is that it’s a country in which you have no desire to burn the flag you have every right to burn. And when you lose that culture, you’re going to see a call to restrict free action. So, the magic of the United States is not its constitution. I’ve compared that to the Written Torah of the United States. But the Written Torah is complemented in a duality by the Oral Torah. And the Written Torah doesn’t really work on its own. You need the Oral Torah and the culture to animate the document—the document can’t do anything. What we’re now seeing is a complete degradation. The great attack of Donald Trump was on the Oral Torah and culture of the United States. And a lot of people who found that very restrictive, it’s like, why can’t I tell Pollock jokes? When was the last time anybody told a Pollock joke? I grew up and there were books of Pollock jokes. We don’t do that anymore. And that kind of behavior is something that we can do, we just choose not to. So we’re talking now about the degradation of our culture, where Donald Trump has pioneered the idea that if everyone has thrown out the first baseball—every president has thrown out the first baseball of the season, he realizes that there’s a huge win to be gotten by not going along with tradition. Every time there’s a tradition or a custom, you can always just decide that you’re going to disobey it to show how independent, you know, the fact—let’s imagine it had been going on for 200 years, which it has.

MK: Yeah. 

EW: Cool, “I’m the first person in 200 years to think for myself,” and that’s what Donald Trump has been doing. He’s been degrading the Oral Torah of the United States, which was holding things together so we didn’t need rules. And the people who didn’t like the Oral Torah, and wanted to be completely free to be, you know, their horrible selves, were super enthusiastic about the idea that Donald Trump was finally “freeing” us. And guess what’s going to happen next, you’re going to see a move to shut down speech on the internet, you’re going to have the major tech platforms refusing to host, you’re going to have financial harassment, you’re—I’m already, you know, I’ve been making the joke for years, that should republicans be allowed to use the streets?

That’s not a joke, I start seeing calls that Republicans shouldn’t be able to buy groceries. So I think that the problem is, I think this is a grave week, as Marshall says I’ve been up, you know, I really am on no sleep. But I don’t think it’s serious for the same reasons. I think that the problem is that this LARPing can become reality, it can convert to reality, it’s a rehearsal for something. And effectively, it’s like, if you’re waving a gun around with no intention of firing, and it suddenly goes off, you’ve just transitioned into a different world. And you see this all the time. And right now, what people are doing is they’re dancing on the eaves of a building, you know, and somebody’s gonna fall sooner or later, and the whole thing is going to convert in seconds.

MK: How does the leadership class distinguish between the LARPing and the actual danger moments, because—I think we’ve mentioned this—I’m from Portland, Oregon, and you see the example of this in the treatment of Antifa. Back in July, back in June, Mayor Ted Wheeler, the leadership class of the city say that it doesn’t exist, it’s not real. Anything that has happened, anything that does exist is basically referred to as LARPing. Come November, predictably, as soon as Donald Trump is no longer in the presidency, the mayor of Portland gives a very strong, very aggressive statement about Antifa not following the law, all these sorts of things. So that’s the center left to left-wing version, the right-wing version is—

EW: No, sorry, that isn’t the center-left to left wing version. That’s something that never—Ted Wheeler is an abomination unlike anything that we’ve ever seen on the center-left. I don’t know what that is. 

MK: My point is that I—here’s what I mean by that, I suspect that most mayors of most Democratic cities would have operated in the sense that Ted Wheeler operated. What I want to do is bring this back to what happened last week—if you went to most Republicans, Republicans who have now turned very aggressively against what happened at the Capitol, they would probably say there’s protesters, it basically doesn’t matter, there’s gonna be some MAGA people, there’s gonna be a couple of groupers, whatever, it doesn’t really matter. Now, it matters. So from my perspective, on both sides of the aisle, you see a leadership class, it doesn’t seem able to navigate the LARP to real world danger scenario. How, from your perspective, should they think about that?

EW: I don’t think we have a leadership class. And Marshall, I don’t mean to say that I can’t understand your question. I mean to say that we should reject your question, and I don’t—the frame is the problem. I don’t—let me make a more provocative statement and then attempt to back it up, because the provocative statement is gonna obviously sound insane. I don’t think the United States government really exists at the moment. I don’t think that there is a leadership class. I think what happens is that, you know, just the way you have an army during peacetime, which develops certain habits, you get peacetime generals, people play war games. It’s not really an army. And then you have a live action situation, and the thing has to convert into a fighting force. 

I think we don’t have a government. And I don’t think we’ve had a government for a long time. I think in some sense, the last time the United States clearly existed may have been 1945, and then it has been degrading in various fashions from there. So, that was a pretty functional thing we put together during World War II. And, you know, we were able to do the space program and, you know, the 1950s were an era of incredible scientific progress, unfortunately also incredible military progress, both us and the Iron Curtain, behind the Iron Curtain. But I don’t think that you understand how little the government actually exists now. And when Donald Trump got elected, I went to visit a colleague at the old Eisenhower office building off the West Wing, and as I was walking the halls, I noticed how many offices were empty—that seemed to have very important plaques on their doors. There was no Trump intellectual movement that you could staff the government with. 

And I think this goes back to something that Saagar and Krystal said beautifully on Joe Rogan right at the beginning, I recommend everybody at the beginning of that episode, that there are these two teams that get rotated in and out of government, and either you go into the think tanks, or you go into the office buildings, in government office buildings. Trump did not have an intellectual movement to put in. And so as a result, you know, it’s sort of the dream of the anti-tax movement, that you want a government so small, you can strangle it in a bathtub. And I think that in part, he wasn’t able to staff because Donald Trump really was the only thing behind Trumpism. It was a completely idiosyncratic, drunken boxing movement, where Donald Trump understands a few things very well better than anyone else, and many things much worse than anyone else, or it’s just a horrible human being. But he’s at his best when he’s sticking it. To the left, the institutional organized left, which again, isn’t really left at all, based on its hypocrisy, he’s very effective at that. He’s the only—if you include military and administrative appointments, I don’t think we have had another president with zero government experience. And that’s an incredible achievement. And many people said, we’re never going to get another shot. Let’s get on this train, even though we can see the danger even though we despise him. Because the main thing is to stop the insiders from selling us out to China, from selling us out to Davos. The major business, post the fall of the Berlin Wall, has been selling out those Americans too weak to defend themselves in order to get wealth by globalization, let’s say, or financialization, or anything like that. 

So we’ve been in a suicidal spiral, clearly, since Bill Clinton, and arguably before that. In such a situation, I don’t think we have a leadership class. And I think that the people who are sitting in those seats are children, and they’re children who are, in general—at the national level, many of them are born in the 1940s. I mean, somebody pointed out that, well, one way of saying it is Dianne Feinstein was conceived in the Hoover administration. Most of these people were conceived in like, you know, the Truman administration. This is not a way to lead a technologically advanced society into the 21st century. These people can’t code. They’ve never used a pipette. They basically—they don’t know what the Teller-Ulam design is. They don’t—they’re not technically capable people. They’re professional peacetime kleptocrats. And the extent to which Ted Wheeler and Mayor Jenny destroyed confidence in the willingness to enforce the law created this thing that I got really attacked on social media for, which is that we created the “Never Trump” Trump voter—people who hate Donald Trump with a passion, who voted for him in desperation to stop Mayor Ted Wheeler and Mayor Jenny and their obvious attempt to allow a criminal element into the city for the purposes of provocation, allowing, in particular in Portland, attacking the federal courthouse with—you guys remember the Shaggy song, It Wasn’t Me

MK: Yes. 

EW: That was the strategy: What Antifa? Yeah, there’s no Antifa! It doesn’t exist! And you know, Jerry Nadler was asked about this directly and I posted this clip where you know, you see the courthouse being firebombed, and the claim is that the group doing the firebomb doesn’t even exist! It’s a myth. And, okay, this is why for example black Americans believe in chemtrails, because the Tuskegee medical experiment lets them know hey, we’d do anything. We’re so crazy, given what we’ve already done to you, you have no reason to believe that chemtrails aren’t real. It’s what we would call Bayesian priors. You’re tutoring people’s Bayesian priors that you’re completely full of shit, you have absolutely no integrity, you’re willing to engage in madness—and keep in mind that the one thing we know about LARPing is that the body count in Portland is so low because this is an agreed upon theatrical battle. 

MK: Quick thing Eric, I have to ask you this. I’m not asking you this in the woke sense, so let me finish a thought here. I’m from Oregon, as I said before, so I only mostly know white people. So everyone I knew growing up who believed in chemtrails was white. So I get your point about why black people—why do white people believe in chemtrails?

EW: Oh, that’s a little bit different. The Pacific Northwest, because of its history of labor activism and communism, in part shares a lot of the history of black America. So, one of the reasons that people see me as conspiratorial is because I come from a progressive family. And so when the government has spied on your family, when it’s—you know, we locked Paul Robeson in the country by taking his passport, we locked Charlie Chaplin out of the country so that he left, and we wouldn’t let him back in to go to his house. Once you’ve been the target of the United States government, you realize that the mainstream belief of “Oh that’s all science fiction and you go to too many movies” is complete nonsense. So I would say everybody who shares the history of just being lied to and having their history completely denied—remember, the Weather Underground was a response to the assassination of Fred Hampton at the hands of the Cook County Sheriff’s Department, as directed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the crime of introducing the Rainbow Coalition to decrease black fighting between gangs to create a political movement. We are that crazy. And because we are that crazy, everyone who is plugged into the Howard Zinn version of our history is not quite so sure that all elections are free and fair. You know, if you take Operation Ajax in Iran, we clearly know how to turn over a government.

MK: That was the overthrow of the Shah, right?

SE: Yeah. Mosaddegh, Mosaddegh.

MK: So yeah. Too many, too many operations, it’s hard to keep track.

EW: There’s also Operation Condor in Chile. The issue is, if you don’t know your history, maybe all this sounds like conspiracy theory. If you do know your history, you know what we’re capable of, and there’s no question that we’re capable of throwing an election. And then now the problem is okay, he said that. It’s a little bit like saying, I don’t believe vaccines are 100% safe. Now, that’s clearly true. Vaccines are not 100% safe. However, there’s an expectation that nobody will speak reality if you’re part of—you know, if you’re like me and you have advanced degrees in something, you’re supposed to deny reality the way everybody denies reality. We’re now at the point where the public, so many members of the public have caught on to the fact that the national official narrative is total nonsense, and they’re willing to believe anything at this point.

SE: This is something I really want to focus in on with you, Eric. And I want to kind of turn it into where we are today. And it’s something I’ve talked a lot about on Rising, and talking about tomorrow, is about impeachment. And a point that I’ve been trying to make, and I’m curious to get both your guys’ thoughts on this, is that in the context of impeachment, the way I look at his impeachment is you have to have—this is essentially the most extreme act that you can go through as a democratic society: invalidating the election (the previous), removing the democratically elected President of the United States. And I looked at the recent polling, and to the extent that we even have polling, I don’t know if I even believe it. But what we have is this: 56% of polls, 56% of Americans say that Trump should go. And you could say that’s a lot. But to me I’m like, wait, so there’s still a sizable majority of the country that says that he shouldn’t go, and then you look within Republicans, and you say 73% or whatever still approve of Trump, still, you know, think of the job he’s doing. Some have even, you know, justified the capital violence. And I’m not saying any of this with a qualitative judgment. What I’m saying is, is if your goal is to unite the country, if your goal is to move on, which is what Joe Biden and many of the case[s] for him [were], this seems to be the worst possible thing that you could do. 

EW: Which thing is the worst possible?

SE: But then the other se—to impeach Trump. To impeach Trump, either right now, or to impeach and, you know, bar him from office in the future. Because the way I look at it is that would be one of the single biggest instances of trying to, basically not even invalidate votes, but to tell a sizable major—a sizable minority of this country, 44% or so, that the person that you have immense faith in is no longer allowed to represent you as President. And it seems to me that it could be, could be—I’m not saying it’s intentional—that it’s a cover for not wanting to address the reasons that Trump was elected in the first place, number one—and this is what I said today, too, is look, if you’re Joe Biden or the Democrats and you want to make sure that Trump is never elected again, you don’t have to impeach him. Do, you know, distribute a vaccine properly, and, like pass $2,000 checks for all Americans. You will win the presidency. It’s actually not that hard. 

I just, I want to get your thoughts on impeachment, about the legitimacy of democracy. No no no, it’s fine. If you disagree, it’s fine. Because, my goal—what I know is that you’re trying to operate in good faith towards trying to be a more harmonious country. And it seems to me that a lot of this, a lot of impeachment talk and more, is about punishment. It’s about penalizing, and I have to try and take Trump out of it, because I find what he did so odious, and all that, but we still have to live with many of the people who voted for him in this country, and we have to channel those concerns and more. Go ahead.

EW: We don’t have to live with them. They’re us. 

SE: Yes. Exactly. 

EW: Those are my brothers. Those are my brothers and sisters. And let me tell you something. You guys have kids?

MK: No. We don’t.

SE: We don’t.

EW: Okay. Let me imagine you’re my kids, okay? You get involved in a cult. You think I’m not coming ba— I’m coming in for you, to get you the hell out of there? You think that I’m not—that I’m just gonna, you know, dismiss you and say, “Oh, my God. They’re now part of a cult, and they’re beyond the pale, and I just have to cut ties and I’m going to disavow them.” 

SE: Yeah, of course not.

EW: Fuck, that shit. Okay? MAGA is our responsibility. Those are my brothers and sisters. I’m not running away from them, I’m not interested in that. I’m not demonizing them. But, a cult it is. I’m not gonna say it isn’t a cult. I’m also not gonna say that Woke isn’t a cult. It’s a cult. These cults are incredibly powerful. And, some of us have been noticing that there is no class of “Break Glass in Case of Emergency” people in our country. This is sometimes what a monarchy is supposed to do. I was hanging out with a royal family in Europe, which will remain nameless. And— 

MK: There’s like three, so, someone can figure this out. 

SE: No, there’s more than that. There’s more than that.

EW: There’s more than that. And, a prince was saying, “Well, you have to appreciate we’re in a very bad situation. No one—there’s no justification for monarchy anymore. So we’re really sort of hanging on by a thread.” I said, “Look, I’m anti-monarchy, but you should at least be able to steelman the case.” They said, “Well, what do we do? What is our function?” And I said, “You’ve had 75 years of peace since the end of World War II. How often do you use a fire extinguisher? Almost never. Does that mean that you just get rid of the fire extinguisher? Because you haven’t used it? No, you check in on it. And when you need it, it’s there. And what’s the purpose? You’re supposed to walk the rubble when the bombs are falling, you know, on a city, for example. You’re supposed to give the people something to rally around.” 

And I don’t believe in doing that through monarchy because I’m an American, we reject that. But I do believe in Buzz Aldrin. Right? I do believe that there are people who are apart, you know? Like when Killer Mike’s spoke in Atlanta, he seemed to be apart. I don’t know who that guy is, I’m not really a hip-hop fan—but I was really impressed with him. And if you, you know, in particular, I am a huge fan of black oratory. The skill involved in black oratory coming out of the black church is—it’s a really—it’s its own thing. And it’s one of the things I’m proudest of as an American. There are times when you have to address a mob or a crowd. The times you have to do what James Brown did after Martin Luther King—I’m going to get through this. We have got a situation in which we don’t believe in seating anybody who has those characteristics in the chairs. The reason that I want to do Rising more than I want to talk to the two of you is not anything against Marshall. It’s about the optics. Rising looks like adulthood. It looks like it comes from the institutional complex. And the optics is the adults. 

The institutions don’t listen to anyone outside of a closed system. And effectively, they’ve put up this barrier where they call everything alt-right, or far-right, that doesn’t have the right characteristics, which is “on the take.” And right now, the important thing is to seat the people who have tried to call both balls and strikes for four years and have been torn apart, who’ve had their families torn apart, who’ve, you know—look, I work for a guy who supported Donald Trump in 2016—was noticeably absent in 2020. My entire ability to speak freely comes from my good friend’s money. And the fact that I disagree with him, and I love him so much that I trust that he will not sever me, because I’m undermining his political—I mean, this—you know, my brother for example is ejected from Evergreen State College because he was willing to stand against racism, even if it comes from blacks. 

SE: Yeah.

EW: You know, the number of people who’ve tried to call balls and strikes for four years is tiny. And right now, what I want to do is I want to take Brian Williams, and Mara Gay, and I want to give them a huge vacation. Let them go to Tulum. And I want to see different people in those chairs. If those people can’t figure out even how to add and subtract, speaking of their crazy idea that Bloomberg could have given everyone a million dollars with his campaign investment—there is no commentary class that’s competent that sits in those chairs. It’s, you know, that the problem, as I’ve said, is that the system isn’t broken, it’s fixed. And until you actually seat your critics, until you do what we used to do, which is to seat the Noam Chomskys at a place like MIT, so that the conscience of MIT lives inside of MIT, so that the ombudsman can say that the paper is out of control at the New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. When you don’t seat your critics inside of the organization, you are on the road to self extinguishing.

And right now, the most important thing is to realize that we don’t have time to put everything on the blockchain, to build new institutions. The most important thing, right now, is to get the tiny number of people who’ve been calling balls and strikes, who were born after 1964, into those effing chairs, to tell the system you’re over, it’s over, you’re done. You people from the ’40s, you’ve failed. You don’t understand where you are. You’re not technically competent. You don’t have the country’s best interests at heart. You’ve sold us to China. You’ve created incredibly deep, fake stories about, you know, the intelligence complex taking over the world, or, you know, something about the desire to destroy America.

All of these crazy stories that we’ve built around Wokistan and Magastan have to go. And, they are responsive to each other. Woke creates MAGA, MAGA creates Woke, you know, it’s—the snake is eating its own tail. The whole way we get out of this is that we put the people we trust more—let me give you a very simple rubric. Take anyone where the official description of that person is maximally divergent from the actual description of that person. Like, “Ben Shapiro is a Nazi.” Okay, an Orthodox Jewish Nazi. That’s pretty interesting. You know, “Sam Harris is an incredible islamophobe.” No he isn’t. I know Sam, he’s like, he’s my good friend. All of these things, “Bret Weinstein is, you know, the far right.” Seat the people where the description of them inside the gated institutional narrative, or the GIN, is maximally divergent from the reality, because that’s the place that the system showed you. Let the system tell you who it fears, and seat the people in the chairs who are feared most, who are maximally misportrayed. And then you’ll have a solution.

SE: But here’s the question Eric, which is that and—oh, and for the record, Eric is coming on Rising, so don’t everybody worry about that. He will be there and it’s going to be great. But here’s the problem: Democrats and Democratic primary voters in particular who select our possible next president, they love Brian Williams and Mara Gay, and they love MSNBC, and the MSNBC lineup— 

EW: No.

SE: And Republican—but they do, they trust them.

EW: They don’t. No they don’t.

SE: See, I don’t know.

MK: So, I wouldn’t say da—I wouldn’t say, Saagar let’s specify. A certain very influential and powerful part of the Democratic Party, people who live in Northern Virginia, people who live in the Long Island suburbs, the Park Avenue reference and everything, they certainly do like those people.

EW: Which Long Island suburbs? The Hamptons? 

MK: We’re reaching the limits of my East Coastness—

SE: We’re reaching the limits of our conventional wisdom. But I want to make, just one second, I want to make this point too, because the Republican Party does deeply trust Fox as well. And so, to the point of the media actors, who [unintelligible]—look, I mean, I would love nothing more than to be seated, but I, I can tell you, I go on Fox. There is a character that they want me to play. Increasingly, I have been doing a lot less because they will ask me to come on, and all they want me to do is smack the left, smack the left, smack the left, or talk about culture war issues, and I’m like no, because this is ripping this country in half. And I’ve increasingly turned down a lot of appearances unless it’s to talk about an economic system.

EW: Do you know what my condition is for going on Fox?

SE: Go ahead. 

EW: And I’ve done this, like the last time, I think was probably Greg Gutfeld. I said if I come on Fox, I’m telling your audience that I view Fox as a propaganda network. And he said sure. And I said we got a deal.

SE: That’s great. Yeah, that’s good. 

EW: No, but I’m telling you, this is part of the deal, which is what’s going on is not quite correct. So let’s take Long Island. The Hamptons loves Kamala Harris. The Kamala Harris that is loved in the Hamptons is not the Kamala Harris that we see. In other words, it’s like a developer looking at a computer program. They see the code, we see the binary. We see the finished product without being able to see what’s actually going on. They specifically love Kamala Harris because they know who she is and what she’s going to do for them. And we see the front end, which is what she’s going to do to us. So first of all, no, I don’t think that they love Brian Williams. And if you think that they love Brian Williams, please allow me to go on opposite Brian Williams and Mara Gay, they’re gonna love him a lot less. Because, you know, it’s a little bit like thinking that the professional wrestlers—well, no, it’s like the Gracie challenge. We used to talk about karate and kung fu and all of these things. And Brazilian Jiu Jitsu wasn’t on anybody’s list of coolest martial arts back in the 1970s, right? It’s only when you actually start pitting these things against each other that you stop believing that somebody is the coolest or the best, you know? 

SE: Right. 

EW: I mean like, Steve Vai seems to be the greatest guitarist in the world until somebody named Guthrie Govan shows up and then, like, check out what happens there. At some level, they live in a protected world, and in professional wrestling, it would be called a “promotion.” They’re not actually fighting. They are, you know, Brian Williams is scripted to win. He’s a designated winner. So we have a designated winner system, and we can’t get away from them. But are you telling me that people wouldn’t—weren’t getting frustrated about what was done to Tulsi Gabbard? When Tulsi went after—

MK: There was like two people, Eric, Rick, there’s like two people who actually feel like—I want to have a quick story about this because it reflects, I think, a danger and over-valorizing Rising, no offense Saagar. 

SE: No, it’s fine.

MK: When I was doing Rising panels, back in January and February, every week we were doing the polls, everything like that. I thought Andrew Yang and Tulsi were just crushing it because you’d say something nice about Andrew, and you would get, I would get all these really nice comments that talked about how smooth my skin looked. Or I would say something about Tulsi, her foreign policy, people would say this young guy is the smartest young guy you’ve ever seen. But then the actual election happens and they get like 4 and 2 and 3% of the vote. 

EW: That’s not my point. 

MK: Well, but my point, though, is that if we’re talking about—like, here’s a better way to put this. Brian Williams represents far bigger of a constituency, at least for right now, at least for the subsequent future, than anything Tulsi Gabbard is putting up there. Tulsi Gabbard, bless—like, bless her, I’m not using this—

SE: Yeah this is not an insult. 

MK: It’s not an insult, but Tulsi Gabbard is a—she’s this weird former Republican who’s conservative in many socially conservative ways. She’s progressive in different ways. But that’s not an actual viewpoint which has a serious constituency. So I just can’t accept the idea that she, and a person who represents her ideology, is the inverse of Brian Williams. That’s my concern.

EW: Let me be very clear about this. I don’t think necessarily that Andrew or Tulsi would have won. I’m not claiming that they were set to win. What I am claiming is that when you starve people for airtime, when you publish, like, the ugliest picture of them, and the most attractive picture of somebody else, you do all the media tricks that we do every time, and you drop people from your graphics, that has the effect of letting somebody know that person isn’t going to win. And we tend to take the message. We know that, I knew that Andrew and Tulsi weren’t going to do very well. That causes me not to want to invest in them. And so I don’t necessarily—you know, I wasn’t, I never signed on to Andrew or to Tulsi. 

What I am trying to say is that many of us face this accumulated thumb pressure on the scales of justice. And the justice in this case has to do with the primary. There was no primary. My claim is that the primary didn’t exist. It was not free and fair. It’s sealed in a particular way. I don’t think the candidates are allowed to assemble unless the event is sanctioned. The events that are given are given out to legacy media structures. The time given to the candidates is wildly asymmetric. There are all sorts of ways in which the rules are built to make sure that there has to be an appearance that anyone can enter, but that that will not actually happen in a way in which the general election is threatened. An insider will always prevail for the general, and that’s what Donald Trump snuck through on the Republican side. Bernie almost snuck through it in 2016. And, we don’t really know what would have happened with Tulsi and Andrew, if— 

SE: See, Eric, I—this is where I want to ask my question too, though, which is even within this premise, which is that within the GIN—because, what you’re supposing is that, if you were allowed to go on Brian Williams, but then we both know that they’re not going to invite you. So I mean, this is part of what I want to get at, which is that, with—and I think your concept of the GIN is incredibly important to anybody who’s actually trying to think about systems, because when you’re thinking about systems, that’s when you’re actually gonna think, generally on a much more structural level as to why incentives work, and the way that people respond to those incentives within them, which is that, at a bare, at a base level, your success, my success, you know, the reason people are even tuning into this conversation, is because Brian Williams will never invite you on, it’s that, I mean, they’re not gonna have me on MSNBC anytime soon. And it’s within that closure of the system—what my greatest fear is, I used to think that they have to eventually relent, because they’re losing market share or whatever, but it’s just not true. The truth is that they got the result that they wanted, in the primary, and they’ve, they’re more profitable than ever, they actually have more viewers than ever by doubling down on the strategy. How can we… Is there a solution to that? That’s my question, because I’m not sure if there is right now.

EW: Well, what I’m trying to get at is, this is the Jayaprakash Narayan effect. If you know Indian history, during Indira Gandhi’s Emergency, all—most of the founding fathers of modern India had moved on from the independence movement, and it’d become bureaucrats, it’d become wealthy by, you know, getting in on the spoils of a new nation. And there was this one guy, Jayaprakash Narayan, who’s sort of the patron saint of lost causes, whose heart was too pure to actually profit from the good work that he did. And when Indira Gandhi declared the state of emergency as she did, which was highly unpopular, the cry went out in the darkness, “There is one light.” Jayaprakash, you know, is the word for light, right, “Prakash.” And the slogan was, “Sampoorna Kranti Ab Nara Hai, Bhavi Itihas Hamaara Hai”, “Total revolution is now the slogan. Future history is ours”. And that’s how this game works. You’re pushing the world towards the Jayaprakash Narayan moment. He didn’t matter except once. But when you need Jayaprakash Narayan, you’re not going to reach for Brian Williams. You’re not going to reach for Sean Hannity. You’re going to want to—there are people, you know people—I have not even set up a Patreon page, and I won’t do it until after the inauguration, you know, or some—people have no ability to contribute to me. And, it’s probably an empty gesture. But the point is, you need people who are planning only for that one eventuality.

MK: I want to build on something here real quick, Eric, because this is interesting. It goes back to your earlier comment about leaders who are equipped. The dynamic that Saagar’s speaking about, what’s happened with MSNBC and Rising, insert Rogan, Sam Harris, and even the Patreon economy is the idea that we no longer have big institutions, no one’s getting 30 million viewers, we instead see a dissemination of audiences. So the business model for you, if you’re doing a Patreon is you get 1000 people who love you the most to give you $10 a month, etc, etc, etc. That’s a lot more valuable than getting 50,000 people who are giving you YouTube revenue clicks. The problem here is that the skill set that that’s selecting for is a skill set of appealing to niche, niche, niche audiences. If Sabra and I wanted to blow up The Realignment right now, what we would do is say, we think the DNC was stolen, in a sort of conspiratorial way. We would do all these little dynamics that wouldn’t necessarily be honest, but they would appeal to that niche audience. So how do we have a set of leaders, or how do we create leaders? Or how do we fill people into different spaces, when what they haven’t been selected for is integrating their group into other groups, or articulating their perspectives rather than what they’re doing? Yeah.

EW: The time hasn’t come, Marshall. The time hasn’t come. Look, I love money. Everybody says that they don’t care about money, I don’t know what they’re talking about. I just love it, because I can buy—I could buy Navy SEALs to protect my house, given what I’m about to say and do. I can boost my signal, I can hire assistance; right now I do everything myself. My problem is that I don’t love money enough. And I don’t think you guys love money enough. No, I’m not kidding.

SE: No we don’t. Yeah. 

EW: You know, but hopefully you love money, it’s just, not enough. And your time isn’t now. It becomes very clear—you know, why don’t I love money? Because I have things—money is very expensive. Most of the very wealthy people I know spend almost all of their time talking about money. And I don’t want that life, my time is too valuable. If time is money, my time is precious, and there’s not usually enough money to buy my time. What I believe is that nobody really believes that at the moment. We’re still caught in the old system about power, money, and who’s on top and all of this stuff. 

I want my children to survive in a country that I deeply love. And, I don’t see anybody fighting for this. You know, the concept of being a patriot, I can tell you everything wrong with this country, this country has been horrible to my family. I love this country. And, the idea that I get to push out a sophisticated version that is not immediately intellectually insulting, the idea that—you know, I’ve given up huge amounts of income by quieting my podcast because I knew that these cancellations were coming. And, I did not want to give people the excuse to come after me. Our time isn’t yet, gentlemen. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. For 75 years, something hasn’t happened. And that’s so long, that people can’t remember that something is about to happen. We are about—

MK: What do you mean by s—What do—can you define 75? So do you mean like war? Like what do you mean by something, nothing has happened?

EW: In the fall of 1945, we dropped some atomic devices in Japan. And with the exception, in some sense, of maybe The Great Leap Forward in China, we didn’t have 20th century level tumult. So we’ve been through this incredibly quiescent period. And we are the children of The Great Nap. We grew up in a, you know, even with the Cold War, the storm clouds were always on the horizon, the Cuban Missile Crisis, they stayed on the horizon. So as a result, we don’t really know what reality is. We’ve been in a prolonged state of unreality. And when you look at what happened at the Capitol building, and you compare it to what happened at Stalingrad, you’re not even—these aren’t the same parts of speech.

The future is coming. And it’s going to come pretty violently because nobody knows how to hold this thing together. And I don’t mean violently necessarily in terms of blood in the streets, it could be the disruption of our legal system. It could be any one of a number of things. But what’s happened is we’ve held the future at bay. This is my wife, Pia Malaney’s observation. And Covid accelerated the future, because the future has been held back by the people born in the 1940s. The fact that all five of the major candidates left at the end of the election were all born in the 1940s—all of them would be the oldest person ever to take office—tells you something, because it was not even remarked upon. Effectively, what you’re looking at is the pre-Great Society world attempting to hold back the future, and this is their last, you know, when you corner a beast at the end of its life, it is maximally ferocious, because it has no reason to hold back. And what we’re seeing is a maximally ferocious group of septa- and octogenarians clinging to power, which is about to give way.

What I’m trying to tell both of you is your time isn’t quite yet. All that you’re doing right now is you’re getting yourself set for what comes next. And the key question will be, how do we get rid of Brian Williams? How do we get rid of Mara Gay? How do we get rid of Nancy Pelosi, and Mitch McConnell, and Donald Trump, and Joe Biden, and get technically capable, social media savvy people who live in the modern world into the chairs that are needed to direct the institutions. If the institutions only listen to institutional media, what we’re doing is whatever Winston Churchill was doing before World War II. 

And what I highly recommend, gentlemen, is look at Chamberlain’s speech of resignation. We always talk about Chamberlain waving the paper about “peace in our time” and “go home and get some sleep” and all this kind of stuff. That was his low point. Wanna know what his high point was? His resignation speech. It’ll give you chills. What he did was, he said Hitler, I don’t know, had invaded Holland, maybe? I can’t remember exactly. And, he says Hitler is counting on our division, and you want to know what he doesn’t count on? What I’m about to do next. I’m resigning. I’m resigning to back Winston Churchill. And Winston Churchill has asked me to stay on. So fuck you. 

Well, Joe Biden, if he was an American patriot, would resign at this moment, because he can’t give the speech that you just said. Joe Biden cannot give the unity speech. Killer Mike could give the unity speech, I could give the unity speech, you guys could give the unity speech. Joe Biden can do the Neville—try to imagine not being up to the level of Neville Chamberlain. If Joe Biden resigns, and he should resign, right? Like, this is my thing. People used to do this stuff. People used to understand that the commitment to country was a real thing, and that hanging on to power—like for what purpose is Joe Biden hanging on to power? He’s 78. What’s he going to get from this? He can’t lead. He’s so tarnished. He’s so tainted. MAGA is tainted. Everybody who only called balls and strikes for four years is tainted, you know. And my claim is that those of us who are untainted have this idea of, “Oh, we can’t sit down in the chair.” The fuck we can’t sit down in the chair, gentlemen. We can sit down in those chairs. I mean, what degree, from what university, does Brian Williams have that makes—is it his hair? He’s got better hair, in some sense, for television than any of us. Okay, is that the qualification? I mean, let me ask you guys a question: if he was doing a radio—a podcast that wasn’t institutionally affiliated, what do you think his numbers would be?

SE: Yeah, it would be low. But, I mean the whole point, right, is that he’s just been around forever. He’s actually a pretty good interviewer, whenever it comes to some, you know, new segments. I didn’t say he was perfect. But look, this is the thing, is—

EW: No he’s not.

MK: I do have to cut in for something, Eric. I really disagree with what you said about Joe Biden. And mind you, he can disprove all of this, but looking at the Democratic Party of today, looking at the terrible reality of what—and obviously we started this conversation talking about how we should look to history and like, this wasn’t Stalingrad, et cetera, et cetera, cetera. I think Joe Biden is basically the only person within the institutional Democratic Party, who A, has an actual constituency that really matters, that B, has the capacity to make the unifying decisions that he has to make. He could totally fail to do that. He can make the wrong calls, but the fact that during the height of everything, Joe Biden has the confidence to say, “No, I’m not for defunding the police.” Or, “No, I actually know that most Democrats and people in this country don’t support Medicare for All.” But that matters. That’s the difference—if he resigns, there is no Churchill waiting in the wings. That’s the problem here. And the difference is Churchill, by that point too was, what, he was 65 years old? So it wasn’t as if there was these, like, young whippersnappers who were ready to go. I just don’t think the historical analogy works here.

SE: I guess the question is why—when Joe Biden seems to be, at least within the Democratic Party, the only person even wanting to do what you are alluding to there, Eric, what is to be done? Why should he resign?

MK: I think in everything you’re critiquing Kamala Harris would be worse, on every single count that we’re talking about right, I genuinely believe that Kamala Harris would be worse.

EW: Agreed. I don’t want him to resign so that Kamala takes over. What I’m trying to say is, the entire class is tainted. 

MK: Okay. 

SE: Yeah. 

EW: Right? And I was saying also, Marshall, what you were saying is that we haven’t created Break-Glass-In-Case-Of-Emergency people. And I want to be very clear about something. I am not interested in a political career. I would be a disaster. So let me destroy any hope—

SE: You’re too honest.

EW: No it’s not just too honest, you know, there’s certain—there are executive decisions. I’m a thinker, I’m not—the ability to make a strong decision on limited information, commit to it, and lead people is a special skill set. And I’m not embarrassed that that isn’t my skillset. I’m frickin’ terrific at all sorts of things. I’m not terrific at that. I am not running for office. I’m not trying to get power. I’m not trying—this is not part of a grab. 

You know, there’s this old Bill Hicks routine about marketing and sales, that once you start thinking in marketing and sales terms, and somebody tells you that they hate marketing and sales people, marketing and sales people say, “Oh great, you’re going after the anti marketing and sales dollar, that’s good dollar.” You can’t get out of the mindset of everybody’s grasping for power. Power is fucking boring. I mean, I want to do math and physics. I want to push out all sorts of amazing things to my audience and delight the world. I want to go play the mandolin. You know, I’m not interested in government. 

What I am saying is, I’m interested in making sure that the Break-Glass-In-Case-Of-Emergency people get into a position where they can take over from the corrupt people. And I think that the problem, to be honest, is that you guys have Stockholm Syndrome from living in DC. I mean, what we need, what we need currently is, and I understand what you’re saying about Biden, he threads some line, but you know, he voted for the 2005 bill to make student debt non-dischargeable in bankruptcy. I can go through a million things that Joe Biden has done badly. You know, to tell people that he’s gonna prioritize everybody who doesn’t look like him for help with their business, well, Lord knows what Hunter Biden sells, you know, to make his millions. Enough. 

And I think that part of the problem is that we’re used to selecting from a pulldown menu. I would recommend that all of your listeners go to a Starbucks and ask for a “short” coffee, because you’ll notice it’s not on the menu. And when you ask for the short coffee, they will give you the short coffee. There are things that are not on the menu that you have to know to ask for. And so right now, the point is, I don’t want a pulldown Kamala Harris, or Joe Biden, or Elizabeth Warren, or any one of these people. I want the short coffee, give me the short coffee. I don’t want Mara Gay. I don’t want Nikole Hannah Jones. I don’t want Sean Hannity, none of these people. And the problem is that most of us have the idea, well, if not A, then the other thing, then B. My point is, no. I want 37, you know, Q, and you’re just talking about A/B testing.

MK: So here’s a question that builds into everything you’re saying here. What—because despite our DC Stockholm Syndrome, which is definitely a real thing in many respects, we do largely agree with your critique. We, frankly, don’t want to run for office either. That’s the dynamic here. But, that being said, there are people who do want to run for office, there are young people who show up in DC, I’m not going to name names here, but who build very big social media followings, and then come into office—like, I will name a name here—like Madison Cawthorne, you know, who has been a frustrating experience from my perspective, because on the one hand, he starts out and he talks about how he wants to fix health care and be his generation’s leader, XYZ thing. And then on the day of his election, he’s tweeting, and he’s apologized for this, name you, but, you know, “owned, Lib,” or just whatever. He’s falling—he—”Cry more, lib.” He’s falling back into the trap of that previous system. So, what would you—what would your advice be for young people who are trying to not be—who want to be that break glass figure, but every single incentive is to push in the opposite direction. Everything is telling you to go speak at the DSA convention, or to go speak at the Turning Point USA conference.

EW: Well, first of all, if you speak at Turning Point USA, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with speaking at Turning Point USA. Just make sure that Charlie Kirk knows that you’re going to say something that isn’t so charitable about Turning Point USA, and that you’re going to thank him for the opportunity, the same way I do it on Fox News. So the first thing is, is that you can absolutely go on Fox News and tell them that Fox News is a propaganda network. And once you’ve done that, that’s fine. If you listen, I went on Ted Cruz’s podcast, The Verdict, but you’ve got to be disagreeable. You can’t get swept up in the desire to make nice. You can’t sell your hosts out. I’m not gonna you know, go on Ted Cruz’s podcast to stick it to Ted Cruz. I really appreciate the fact, and I was polite as could be. On the other hand, I’m no pushover. Don’t be a pushover. Have your own independent sense of reality, and make sure that you carry it with you when you get onto that stage, and make sure that you try to call balls and strikes, and be prepared that you’re going to be called—you know, the amazing thing is in the internet era, is that there’s a name for every ready-made argument. You know, “Oh, both-sides-ism. Oh, that’s just what-about-ism.” Okay, well, you’re gonna get the automated bot-level arguments, “Dude, I thought you had integrity. Now I realize you’re just a grifter,” blah, blah, blah. You know, these are the hyenas of social media. And they just nip at you to try to wear you down. Okay, what you need, you know, you ever watch hyenas going after a lion, you’ve got 20 hyenas on one lion until the rest of the family shows up. And that’s one of the reasons why I’m doing this show. You guys are Break-Glass-In-Case-Of-Emergency people. You know, Joe Rogan, Ben Shapiro—Ben Shapiro and I can appear together. If you want to see unity, Glenn Beck just reached out to me. He said, you know, we need unity now. And I was never a Glenn Beck fan, but I just wrote one letter, you know, I think I just wrote one word, “In.” You know, what do you need? Let’s do this thing. 

So my claim is, lead by example. And you don’t have to be perfect. You know, I lashed out at Kyle Kashuv, you know, when he was, like, saying I tried to warn you about this. Enjoy, you know, your new Biden Administration. And I deleted the tweets, you know, because I was on edge. You don’t have to be Jesus Christ, or some kind of a saint, you don’t have to be Mother Teresa. The key thing is, people eventually get that you really care and that you’re decent. And that, you know, maybe you want power or fame, you want to be thought well of. I know that I want status, blah, blah, blah, it’s not a big sin. What we’ve got to do is recognize our time isn’t yet, and we’re on the doorstep of our time, and we have to get there. 

And so what I would say to those young people is, don’t screw up your future playing in the present, while the present is unraveling. Better to forego it. Take a few years, you’re not going to get there necessarily. Maybe this whole thing blows up before you ever get there, in which case, I’m sorry. But your best bet is not to play in the present. The thing to do is to get the damn septuagenarians and octogenarians who do not come from the modern era, who come from the pre-Great-Society universe, off the stage, replace them with technically capable people who are better adapted to the modern era. And you can find these people by the people who are maximally demonized relative to their reality, because those—let the system tell you who it fears most. Go scan the list of alt-right people. Every person called a Nazi with a Jewish surname should be somebody that you’re probably interested in talking to. Every person who’s never voted Republican, who’s called “The Far Right” is somebody you should be interested in talking to. Everyone with an advanced degree in virology who says the Wuhan lab hypothesis should not be off the table, because we don’t do science by putting our politics first before we examine all of the evidence. All of those people. I mean, it’s very hard when you can’t trust the CDC, the Surgeon General, Anthony Fauci, or the WHO to know what you’re doing, locked at home, while your business is crumbling—

SE: Yeah. 

EW: Not sure whether, in fact, this is actually a very serious pandemic, or a bad version of the flu, because I can tell you, I can’t figure it out. I’m a pretty smart guy, I can’t figure it out. There are times when I hear that the hospital beds are overflowing and we can’t—we don’t have space in the ICU, and we’re—we have triage deaths. And there are other reports I hear that we’ve got all of these beds ready, and that nobody’s inhabiting them. None of this makes any sense. So my claim is that if you feel like you can’t figure out COVID, you can’t figure out what just happened in the election, you don’t understand why the election is disputed in this way, join the club. 

I don’t know how much voter fraud there was in this election. What I do know is that our courts didn’t find any of this persuasive. And so if you’re going to claim well, okay, no, the courts are actually under Russian control, if you keep adding epicycles to your conspiracy theory, where the Donald Trump appointed justices aren’t affirming Donald Trump, there’s some point at which you’ve got to realize that you’ve been engaged in a massive LARP, and the LARP is based on a certain amount of reality. And right now what we need to do is to have a place to come back. And I just want to talk about this one woman in Texas. I saw on social media—she adores me, she says, you know, “You’re my favorite person,” blah, blah, blah, and it’s very touching. And I see her wrapped in a Trump cape, you know. And she’s at this January 6 rally. And I knew to fear the January 6 rally, and two days before I put out a tweet stream trying—

SE: You did, you did. Yeah. 

EW: I called her up. And she’s like, “I can’t believe you’re calling me.” And I just said, “Look, you’re in college. And you’re going to something like a rave, and you’re having great conversations, and you’re having fun, and you’re trying to explain your patriotism. And you’re worried that you saw all of the thumb on the scales for media, and you’re worried that it extends to the election. And the person who got shot could have been you.” And she immediately talked to me about, you know, “Well, I can’t, how do I go towards Biden?” It’s like, no, neither! Get off that spectrum! Go to your studies! Go get drunk, you know. And I said, “Be young, wild, and free. That’s your job right now. Get away from these old people!” These are crazy old people, and they have no future. This is all going to be taken care of by Father Time. In 20 years, Bill Clinton is in all likelihood going to be dead. Hillary Clinton. Very few of these people are going to be around. You are still going to be here. Stop investing in these old people. They’ve gotten control of our society. In any previous era, before the 1980s, before we started messing around with mandatory retirement, which was allowing our society to renew itself, these people would be embarrassed to be seeking office. You know, I mean, it—when was the last time an octogenarian showed up for a Sports Illustrated swimsuit photoshoot? At some level, it’s not appropriate, you know? It’s just—I appreciate that they want to stay engaged, but, you know, there’s a reason that Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale didn’t run in 2020. And it’s because they have better sense to realize it’s not their time anymore. And I probably would rather have had Jimmy Carter than Joe Biden!

SE: That’s when you know, things are really bleak. Eric, I want to end it there because I think that’s such an inspiring and important point. And I can say too, from personal experience, that you’re 100% right. I mean, just small story, but, you know, whenever I was choosing between Rising, which, remember, at that time, there was no Rising, you know, it was like me, it was just Krystal, right. There was this show at The Hill, which was, you know, at 6000 subscribers on YouTube. It was like, literally nothing, not something people knew anything about. And I had another job offer as a White House correspondent, with a larger news organization here in DC. And everybody in DC told me to take that White House correspondent job, every single one—

MK: I remember this. People talked a lot of shit, it was a real thing. What’s Saagar doing? It was a whole thing.

SE: “What’s he doing?” They were like take the DC correspondent job. They’re like who knows about this thing? Stay within your, you know, your path. Keep doing these three minute Fox News appearances, right? Over and over again, like, that’s the cache Saagar, don’t you understand? Like, what are you doing? And I self exited from the system, before I got to it. I hit the red button. And I was like no, enough, I don’t care enough about Fox. I don’t care about being in the White House all the time. I don’t care about doing these Trump interviews. I don’t care about all of the traditional things in Washington media that we care about and that we are supposed to care about, in terms of your career. 

What happens? A year later, “Holy shit, you’re on the Joe Rogan podcast!” Right? It was like this, it was like a—me colliding with a world that they knew tangentially, but didn’t value. And they didn’t understand, you know, the success of the program or the growth, and they minimized it, you know, basically until they couldn’t, until they couldn’t reckon with the fact about how big it had gotten and my ability to have you here to talk to you. I mean, I know people were like, I listen to Eric Weinstein to figure out what’s going on. And I’m like, “Oh, yeah, you know, I’ve talked with Eric, he’s been on my pod—” They’re like, “Oh, my God, you actually know him?”

And it’s just this, it’s this self-defeating problem that we have here in Washington and all establishment media in particular, where they’re always going to tell you to take the safe route. And the only way to succeed, and this happens with politics, anybody who is young, is you have to self exit and say—it’s like you said, you have to look to where the future is going, and you have to play that game, instead of doing what some, like, Boomer executives want you to do, and play within the role that you’re assigned yourself. 

So I just want to say again, like, thank you for underscoring that. And, really, in a time like this, I just, we had to talk to you, because you’re one of the few people here who, in good faith, is trying to reach—we want to live in a more harmonious country. And I genuinely know that whenever I talk to you. I don’t know that whenever I talk to a lot of people. Left, right, I mean, all of it is about punishment. All of it is about exacting a cost from your enemies. I don’t know many people who would say about MAGA—be like, these are my brothers and sisters. We have to talk that way more again.

MK: I know we just said we’re gonna—I know we just said we’re gonna finish up, but I thought of a question that came up here. This is totally random. Apologies for that. But as we’re thinking about punishment, and cults, right? The use of cult was applied to Trump. I want to know what you think about this, though, Saagar. Within Eric’s framework of what would you do if your kids were kidnapped by a cult, you go the fuck in, you do all that stuff. But you almost certainly would support the punishment of the cult leader, especially if that punishment prevented him from doing that to other people’s kids. So, how do you think about the punishment framework within the contract you’ve created for Eric? Because it’s unclear which direction it goes.

SE: I agree with that. I would say, and this what I said on my show this morning, which is that he lost the election. That’s the punishment. Like, he lost. That’s the real price. He was humiliated on national stage and lost states that he won previously. Eric, I’m curious, before we go, what do you think about that?

EW: I have a very—people will not understand this and I’m hesitant to say it, but I think I probably should. I believe in smacking some people to the curb, and being the first to make sure that you offer them a hand back up. And my feeling is that right now Donald Trump needs to be smacked to the goddamn curb. And I also believe that at some level, you need to potentially offer, if not him, certainly people around him a hand back up and a way back. And the vengeance—the problem with social justice theory is that justice is actually sometimes a euphemism for vengeance. A lot of us feel very humiliated, we feel very jealous. And Donald Trump is going to be built back up by overreach of the Democratic Party, because the Democratic Party is not without its own blood on his hands. And, in essence, the Democratic Party created the presidency of Donald Trump, in my opinion, by saying, how do we get somebody to irradiate themselves? Well, we’ll give them cancer and then they’ll need to irradiate themselves. Inside of that framework, I don’t think that the Democratic Party is in a position to do this. I do think that the tiny group of misfits to which you guys belong, and I can’t tell you how touched I am that you guys think in these terms, let me just say that for all future appearances on anything you do you have a general “Yes.” I don’t give out a general “Yes,” but I so admire what you guys are doing, that, just don’t even ask me to come next time, whenever you want. 

What I’m really thinking is that at some level, you do need to smack some people to the curb. But you also need to recognize that religions that are around for thousands of years have forgiveness, and grace, and redemption. And this passion for the destruction of the individual, the cancellation of an entire human being, the social isolation from deplatforming is a recipe for creating people with nothing left to lose who have access to fertilizer, and potassium nitrate, and worse. And, you know, my claim is that most of us need love, and admiration, and trust. And look at my, look at my timeline. The number of people who say “Eric, I always politically disagree with you, but I never feel that you’re condescending—” Never use words like knuckle draggers, or make fun of the inability of people to spell. I talk a lot about the fact that my IQ is a bit lower than most people imagine, because of my learning issues. I talk about the fact that I am disgusted with the tote bag conspiracy, you know, if you have Karl Castle on your answering machine, that you’re so proud of the fact that you’re not like “those other people” in the center of the country who, by the way, all those farmers actually know genetics probably better than you do, because you just don’t even understand what’s going on in Kansas or Montana or whatever, ranchers…

We need to basically realize that the rest of—that our country is being driven insane by its media, but that person-to-person, human-to-human, most of us are better. And one of the things that I really think, you know, the cure for anti-semitism is getting to know more Jews as friends. The cure for anti-black prejudice is, you know, hanging out in black spaces and experiencing the warmth and hospitality. Part of the problem is that we’ve learned to distrust each other and to look down on each other, and if you will just come forward with an open heart and an outstretched hand, almost everybody immediately realizes that they’re coked up on institutional media, and once that kind of haze and fog lifts, we get back to the business of being who we are, because frankly, if we’re going to be “We’re great, and the other side is horrible,” that’s not America, you’ve already given up on your country. And so I just want to say what a pleasure it is to be in a position where, whatever our differences are, I know you guys have your hearts in the right place. I just view myself as a supporting actor. You guys are the future, and anything I can do to help you get you there will be my honor.

MK: Likewise, Eric.

SE: Thank you so much.


Hello, You’ve found The Portal. I’m your host Eric Weinstein, and I’m still trying to lie low until this election cycle is concluded given that, in particular, the threat of being booted off the platforms like Twitter for intellectual non-compliance looms over us all. If you have any questions about whether self-censorship is real, I, as a grown Harvard PhD with just under a half a million followers and a direct connection to the CEO of Twitter, live in fear that more than a decade spent building an audience can be undone without possible appeal by the push of a button, sending a single message from some person named Vijaya, who I have never met, after having done nothing at all wrong. Oh yeah. It’s real. These sudden Kafkaesque suspensions, which are then retracted and apologized for, and which emanate from the ironically named Trust and Safety group really do work. Congratulations Twitter, Facebook, and Google. Mission accomplished.  

So I am going to make this an all audio-essay episode, with three distinct segments. These will begin my goodbye to the wildest administration within the memories of my middle-aged life, which I may add, also includes the administrations of Ronald Reagan and even Richard Nixon fairly vividly. I think we will begin with a segment on Trump and what I have avoided saying about him for some time. We will then hear from two of our loyal sponsors, I’ll come back to give my thoughts on the bizarre state of the 2020 US election before paying some bills, and we will then hear from two other sponsors before moving to our final segment on the effect of the 2020 election on my colleagues in long form podcasting. So, without further ado, let us discuss what I have waited to say about Donald Trump until the bitter end. 

Beginning To Cash Out My Trump Position

If your regular commentators have sounded a bit odd recently to your ears, they have to mine as well. I spent some time recently rather puzzled, and tried to figure out why that might be, before I settled on a relatively simple explanation. In some sense, what I believe we are seeing is that members of the commentariat had settled in for a kind of alternate political reality when Donald Trump first took the oath of office, and that each analyst had built a bespoke theory of Donald Trump and the meaning of the sojourn into the bizarre splitting of the country into incompatible camps of political interpretation. As it now appears to most of this group, Trump will shortly leave office, and so people are cashing out any remaining value in their private Trump positions. We are finding that some people who supported him actually secretly despise him. Others who thought they hated his idiosyncratic antics are surprised by how upsetting they find Biden’s staffing choices, signaling a return to our usual metastatic swamp politics. 

There is a semi-official position of our institutional class on Donald Trump that has to be stated up front. Put simply, Donald Trump is to them an unethical and lucky idiot under the control of foreign powers, who stumbled into the White House because an enormous percentage of the United States electorate is composed of either unethical bigots or confused fools who cannot think for themselves, and are thus taken in by a simple conman.

Now, in my opinion that is simply false. In my estimation there is a single aspect of Donald Trump that is more remarkable than any other. And that is that Donald Trump is the only true outsider ever to run the presidential gauntlet successfully and win. Perhaps his singular importance within our system is that he is utterly unique as an outsider. I hope I have this right, but when our government is understood to include our military as well as political appointees, so far as I can work out Donald Trump is the first and only president in our nation’s history to have never been in government. This one fact is the key to understanding many dichotomies that Trump vs Biden represented:

  • Outsiders vs Insiders
  • The Crude vs The Civil
  • Idiosyncratic vs Systemic corruption
  • Bullshittng vs Spinning
  • Unpredictable negotiation vs Reliable leadership
  • Offensive vs Overly Pandering behaviors
  • Narcissistic vs Collectivist impulses
  • Free vs Constrained thinking and action

Now the difficult part to talk about is this. As I have said before, I consider the Trump phenomenon to be an epiphenomena of the escalating kleptocracy of our centrist, Silent, and Boomer political classes. When you can’t point to a moderate, political, and adult center because they are too busy stealing things that aren’t nailed down, you are more likely to end up in the far wings of the political spectrum. And both parties have been busy stuffing their pockets and faces while playing footsie with their own extremes. This is done by alternating between keeping a proper distance one minute and casting come-hither looks towards the fringes in the next.

And, in this set up, the one thing we cannot ever discuss is the narrative—the GIN, to regular listeners—that allows the looting of our nation and its future by a seemingly near-permanent gerontocracy of magical individuals conceived between the Hoover and Truman administrations. They are the Golden Ones, if you will. These are people who, in any sensible era, would resign for the good of their own children, but who seem to be utterly unconcerned that they have held back needed change for more than 30-50 years, rather like a hypothetical aging monarch waiting for an untrustworthy heir to expire so that she herself can at last move on towards a well-deserved rest and reward. It is not so much that these people are old, mind you, but rather that they are failed leaders who have held power without success, challenge, or much turnover for far longer than is normal in any healthy society.

Many of you know that I occasionally refer to Donald Trump as an existential risk to the fabric of our democracy, and by extension the world, as we are the lone stabilizing nuclear and economic superpower as I see it. But what I have tried not to say until now is why I have called Donald Trump an existential risk since before his election, while I obviously see him as the enemy of my enemy. Is it not the fact that the enemy of my enemy is supposed to be my friend?  It is here that we run into difficulty. Most of the political observers seem to be cheerleaders of one form or another, and I suppose that is even true of me. But you can imagine without too much difficulty that during the doping scandal in the Tour de France bicycle race, for example, that there would be someone cheering for the race itself, given that it seems everyone who was viable was juicing. 

That is roughly my position now. I am a cheerleader for the American experiment and don’t want any of these people to win. Now, I know that that doesn’t make sense at some level, but it is what I believe, and at this point I am just trying to wait this out.  

One of the things that makes me consider Donald Trump an existential risk is that he is the most skilled politician I have ever seen in getting air time to talk about what the mainstream wants never to openly discuss: Immigration, Islam, the Chinese Communist Party, Critical Race Theory, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the Costs of Bad Globalization, the American Embassy in Jerusalem, comparative viral morbidity and mortality rates. But discussing these things isn’t the problem. In fact, I am in awe of how he gets the kleptocrats to talk about the things that they are actively trying to paper over and are thus loath to discuss.   

Let me get something out of the way: Donald Trump has a very particular and methodical way of pointing out what is wrong with the mainstream, as I understand it. At some point early on, I studied the recurring motifs and structures in his Twitter feed and found a tremendous amount of method between his supposedly spontaneous ejaculations into the Twittersphere. And this is likely why he was hired, and is not likely to be renewed. He was considered, in some sense, by his supporters a foreign threat, intended to kill the tumor of systemic corruption in Washington D.C.; Manhattan, New York; and Silicon Valley slightly faster than he damages the accumulated national culture of civil society.

Without fail, he simultaneously takes the legitimate anger we all feel as well as the critiques that have been building for generations, but which have been silenced and stonewalled for decades by our mainstream institutions, and he remakes them in his own image so that they are more powerful, more politically effective, and much more divisive than the underlying correct versions of any legitimate and decent point he might raise. This has a tendency to polarize us about Donald Trump rather than about the issues at hand. 

In some ways, Donald Trump is similar to Black Lives Matter during Covid, where an enormous number of issues had been building up under quarantine-like conditions. Then suddenly, a single tragic death with the optics of a police lynching caught on video allowed all energy to be focused on the single issue of unarmed black Americans dying in police custody. This is a category which, while absolutely tragic, is simply too small to fully explain the enormous reaction, given that nearly identical deaths had recently occurred on video with white suspects and without much impact. In short, both Donald Trump and Black Lives Matter learned how to channel diverse frustrations over legitimate grievances that had for years been pushed by institutions to lie outside the Overton window so that they could not be discussed by the population in general.  And both Donald Trump and Black Lives Matter made everything they could into a narrative about themselves as their reward for breaking the silences.

For example, as a Xenophilic Restrictionist, I have sought for years to point out that absolutely nothing anti-immigrant can be automatically inferred from an American’s desire for lower immigration, without further information. That point went nowhere politically, as both political parties pay the donor class with visas as a tool to keep working Americans from being able to bargain effectively with their employers at the negotiating table. What is more, no news organization, at least with which I am familiar, has ever broken ranks on the idea that there is an entirely legitimate xenophilic case to be made for restricting high levels of immigration. And that was where things were, at least before 2016. 

Enter Donald Trump. In one fell swoop, Donald Trump made the pro-American case for labor, but he also gave Americans a new-found freedom to blame foreign workers trying to get in if they so chose. In the Trump era, if you wanted to take a shortcut around blaming the donor class, which was trying to put pressure on wages to juice corporate profits, you could just blame the desperate immigrants themselves, risking their lives by trying to cross the border illegally. The choice was yours. 

This left people like me in a conundrum: essential progressive issues that had been directly stifled for 40 to 50 years were suddenly alive again, but reborn as right-of-center nationalism. Is Critical Theory and Critical Race Theory in particular simply divisive McCarthyist bullshit with a PhD? Is constructive engagement through ever tighter economic ties with the authoritarian Chinese Communist Party a suicidal strategy for the US? Is there something both Orwellian and wrong with not reporting intolerant religiously motivated massacres as being specifically religiously motivated? Why, after all, can’t we discuss that ever freer trade is an esoteric, anti-labor wealth concentration scheme defended by economists with exoteric excuses well known inside the economics profession to be horseshit?

Well, Donald Trump was here to help and, at least in public, he always seemed to relish deliberately cutting at least a few corners to help out anyone with a simple and direct frame of mind who wanted to call bullshit on what appears, at least to me, to be a creepy and mysterious media consensus not to honestly report the news. But there was always a cost. The Trump version of every one of the above reasonable ideas was simpler and thus far more politically powerful… and it was always also far more dangerous than it had been previously been. And this polarized many contrarians, myself included. 

Yes, I am a Restrictionist, but I wasn’t going to stand for relaxed norms in conversation so that xenophobia could flourish. My national pride may despise the Davos agenda to degrade democratic sovereignty, but I wasn’t going to opt for newly liberated jingoism, because my patriotism doesn’t have anything to do with nationalist bigotry. In fact it repudiates it. Yes, I favor talking about the religious madness that totalitarian jihadis have invoked to explain their massacres of ordinary people, but no, I don’t favor painting my many Muslim friends with a broad brush dipped in excrement by Donald Trump, just to get at the ridiculous ways news desks refuse to comment honestly on mass murderers who are cheered on by what is still a *miniscule* minority of American Muslims who support jihadi barbarism.  

And so, Donald Trump has offered this same service to all contrarians who have been ignored for many years. He would finally get a mutant version of your legitimate issues heard on a world stage for the price of changing the prohibitions around what could be said, and also do so in a way that made your issue partially intellectually illegitimate. And while some of those relaxations were warranted, some of them were terrifying. Particularly in the time during the 2016 election, up to the period shortly after Charlottesville, my various inboxes and direct messages showcased to me the glee that anti-semites and other bigots were experiencing. The number 1488 was suddenly everywhere, and Pepe the frog greeted me standing next to an oven one minute and grinning underneath the welcome message Arbeit Macht Frei the next. Lots of tweets and direct messages were suddenly throwing around Hebrew and Yiddish words to indicate that the anti-semites were coming for us now, having cracked the supposedly secure code of our shibboleths? The message: We would not replace them. Trust me, it was an eye opener. 

Thus, when the prophesied friendly stranger in the black sedan pulls up to tell you that he’s a lovable man who will be your vehicle to take you anywhere you want to go, the answer for me was then and is still a clear “Nuh uh”. I mean, the band The Ides of March pretty much warned us about this exact phenomenon directly in 1970, no? And with one hell of a hook. I digress.  

Sure, I could see the appeal of at last getting past the gatekeeping at CNN or NPR if I only closed my eyes to the emboldening of bigots and ignored the body count of Trump allies who were injured by their associations with him. But, as none other than Peggy Noonan had prophetically warned us about the phenomenon of Trump cooties before the election, nobody was going to be getting out of that Cadillac as the same person who stepped inside that car. So some of my contrarian friends got in, while others stayed out.

But it divided many of us contrarians and first principle thinkers to see legitimate issues that could not previously be discussed turned into supercharged illegitimate issues that should not be discussed in the terms that he offered. In short, I ended up praying for Trump not to find more of these issues, because every time he located some issue over which Americans felt they were being gaslighted, he took away its legitimacy for someone who might come later and actually want to fix it in the right way. Trump was like a self-taught back alley surgeon, who could take you right away at a price you could afford because he refused to scrub in, while all the other properly trained physicians who followed procedures were booked with indefinite waiting lists at extortionary prices. Some of us wanted nothing to do with him, while others signed up to take the risk. 

Now, if I am honest, Trump did do something to clamp down on the right wing fringe and their tiki torches. After Charlottesville, the worst of it may have been over, but the pattern was established. Trump was going to change what was permissible in political life for both better and worse. The Overton window was going to be stretched under Trump to include things that should never have been included as well as other things that should never have been excluded by our moderate institutions from conversation in civil society.

So, for example, where in years past I had foolishly written an academic, peer reviewed explanation and Coasian labor model for economists, explaining why the villains in immigration theory were US employers screaming about labor shortages, Trump was much closer to saying “The immigrants are taking your jobs.” Well, to a labor market analyst, that’s not remotely the same thing at all as saying “US employers and political donors are colluding to confiscate your most valuable rights without market-based compensation, while denigrating you as lazy and stupid, and hiding behind a veneer of excellence and xenophilia as they economically undermine your families.” But it’s much easier, isn’t it? 

So I began to better understand his strategy. He was simply going to take all the correct points about the Chinese Communist Party, Trade, Universities, Totalitarian Islam, Migration, and Critical Theory that our corrupt political centrists in both parties had made impossible for us to discuss, and he would break through the media blockade to replace the whole lot with a truly shitty and intellectually damaged version of each and every one of them.

And that is where I found myself. Trump was effectively taking all the issues that we needed to fix and making them all over in his own image. He was going to divide us by rebranding legitimate forms of contrarianism in a way that would potentially paralyze us for a generation, as China would continue to accumulate power. (A period of time I don’t think we have.) Thus, between Trump’s unpredictability, an asset in negotiations, while a nightmare in alliances, and his ability to divide us by rebranding undiscussable issues that should unite all but our elite, as if they were naturally MAGA issues specifically branded in ways to divide us all, Trump set us up for a collection of daily splitting events in the political multiverse.  

So why haven’t I talked about what the threat is? Well because first of all, I don’t want to highlight more issues for him to find and rebrand. I also frankly don’t want to talk about him. I find it boring. I’d frankly rather talk about jazz, physics, love, and getting our millennial generation the option for homes and families they need to renew our society. 

I also don’t want to talk about the nuclear football constantly when we can mostly forget about it. And I also don’t want to give legitimacy to Donald Trump. Yes, like everyone else, he can see what we are not supposed to talk about. But unlike anyone else, Donald Trump can always get the issue heard, albeit at the cost of changing the issue into something unrecognizable and occasionally disgusting. And that makes it possible for the kleptocrats to justify reimposing an even narrower and more draconian Overton window than before. As they are now attempting to do. 

Right now, you can look at the changes in the Terms of Services of the tech platforms, and the nature of the algorithms which tell us what we can and cannot simply observe. If you thought Trump was shattering the Overton window for good, take a second look. Watch now as they Build it. Back. And even Better that it ever was before. 

We will return after these messages with our next audio essay on the US Elections of 2020.  

What Is Going On With This Election? 

Perhaps what concerns me most about the fallout of Trump’s decision to contest the 2020 election is that an enormous number of us are in one of two seemingly irreconcilable camps. Either we can’t imagine how anyone is seriously claiming that there is a basis to challenge the victory of Joe Biden and the Democrats, or we believe that it is just as obvious that Trump clearly won the election.

Perhaps my top concern is that this infinite splitting of the political multiverse must come to an end, or we will become an ungovernable country, divided by two main master partisan narratives. We cannot continue indefinitely to pretend that somehow we are the sane, and that the millions who disagree with us are simply crazy.

As I believe that—barring some kind of a revelation—it has become clear that for some time Joe Biden has won the general election, I will be concentrating on why my friends and followers who disagree with my conclusion need not be any crazier than those who agree with me.

The main point I want to consider is this: “What does it mean if someone raises the issue of fraud or a stolen election?” Does it mean that they are necessarily a delusional Trump supporter? A QAnon lunatic? A dupe?

Hardly, in my opinion. In fact, the best argument for keeping the issue of fraud on the table comes not from Donald Trump, who has so far, in my opinion, embarrassed himself by failing to make any credible case, but instead from the Democratic Party. 

So, while that may initially sound somewhat far-fetched, let us remember that it was from the Democratic Party and its allied media that we first heard that the 2016 election had been compromised by Russia, and that Russia likely held control over Donald Trump, and by extension the United States. 

Now before I get into the meat of this essay, I need to locate some serious malware that is likely installed between both your ears and mine, so as to uninstall and hopefully disable it. Ready?

Okay, when I say the phrases “Russian Asset”, Kompromat, “Putin’s Bitch”, “golden showers”, and “Moscow hotel”, what is the first name that comes to your mind? Okay, great. So hopefully we’ve just established that both you and I have had the same malware installed in our minds through mainstream media.   

Now, this cognitive malware I’m aiming to remove is not what was alleged and insinuated, however, about Donald Trump’s sexual proclivities, indebtedness, or fondness for authoritarian despots. It was instead that this was a matter for casual accusation, lighthearted banter, humor, and bonding. We were all led, regardless of party, into talking rather casually about two nuclear nations and the infiltration and direct control of the stronger one by the weaker of the two old Cold War rivals. 

Now, call me old fashioned, but I am passably acquainted with the history of our intelligence services, special forces, and their most audacious exploits. No one refers to Operation Ajax in 1950s Iran as “Kermit’s Shits and Giggles”. I’ve never heard of the “Cuban Missile Prank” or “Cuban Missile Tomfoolery”. When a serious person like a sitting senator becomes serious about alleging something of this magnitude, we are usually talking about things that involve Charges of Treason, Secret Closed Door Sessions, Covert Operations, Regime Change, Troop and Fleet Deployments, and potentially War. There is no such thing, of which I am aware, as “kind of a Russian Asset”, “Russian Asset-ish”, “Russian Asset Lite”, or “Russian Asset without obligation to extreme action beyond formal reprimand”. If you don’t believe me, try asking Julius Rosenberg. You get my point.

So what I want you to notice is that the malware that is in your brain has a particular purpose. It appears to be installed to allow you to treat an assertion of the executive branch of the United States government as being under Russian control as some kind of semi-serious concern that oddly doesn’t rise to the level of exotic emergency action. This is somewhat akin to the claims of a few Hollywood personalities every four years that if a Republican becomes president, they will leave the country. I am sure that this means something, it is just that I am not sure what it means when they fail to depart. Whatever it does mean, the malware allows us to explore what are quite clearly literal claims without triggering an expectation of literal consequences. 

So with that understood, I want to point a few things out that I believe are socially extremely controversial, while somehow simultaneously being intellectually non-controversial: 

  1. This was obviously not a free and fair election. 
  2. It can be completely legitimate to worry about whether this election was fair with respect to material levels of voter fraud. 
  3. Neither A nor B need have anything to do with Donald Trump and his legal team’s bizarre and largely unsupported, unprofessional post-election claims or seemingly unhinged post-election strategy. 

Let’s begin with A. A free and fair general election would have to include a true national primary election, and we clearly don’t have a national Democratic primary. What we have instead is a political industry run by insiders for insiders, where MSNBC and its allied media’s blatant and legendary mistreatment of Andrew Yang’s campaign cleanly and openly illustrated that our primaries are at least partially fixed by insiders for insiders. The amount of credibility spent dropping Andrew Yang from graphics or posting a picture of an unrelated Yang was just incredible. The network at times seemed to spend more time apologizing for one obvious diss after another than it did fairly covering the candidate.

Some of us in long-form podcasting, who interviewed and talked with more than one candidate for the Democratic nomination, became aware of just how tightly integrated the political parties, media news desks, think tanks, and donor classes truly are. We at times talked about hosting debate replacements where the candidates with something to say could dig deep into issues, while those searching for those canned ready-made-for-TV gotcha moments could take a hike and kiss our asses. Would you believe that there are actually Democratic party rules in restraint of trade in place to make that impossible in the marketplace of ideas? I suppose we should all have seen that coming. But we didn’t truly understand just how many ways this process has been bulletproofed by its insiders to remain a duopoly that stays in power by doling out access to media in exchange for promises not to hold an actual primary with actual coverage and actual debates outside of legacy platforms. 

So the fact that this wasn’t remotely a free and fair election, given the open interference from media, tech platforms, and the party mandarins was in evidence at all turns, and doesn’t really hinge on proving fraud in the later general election. You don’t get to the general election without building on a primary as foundation. And our rolling pseudo-primary system is manifestly neither free, nor fair, nor an election. Thus any general election that rests on the primary would not be free and fair, even if there were zero irregularities for mail-in voting and in-person voting. 

As for point B, this claim works in roughly the same way. Imagine that absolutely everything Donald Trump, his legal team, and his supporters have said about fraud is at best false, and at worst an attempt to subvert democracy. Imagine they are wrong about everything. Well, even so, it still makes sense to worry about fraud, as I will try to explain. 

Over the last four years, the hatred of Donald Trump by the establishment produced a kind of a kitchen sink strategy. His opponents hated him so much that they threw everything they could think of at him, without noticing that their conflicting and simplistic claims tended to weaken each other. The same people would accuse him of being both a low IQ idiot and an evil supergenius in adjacent accusations, without stopping to breathe or notice any contradictions. He was, simultaneously, a Xenophobe of the highest order, but with a foreign wife, and who loved only Russia. A billionaire who was broke, but whose oceans of non-existent money somehow insulated him. In short, his opponents never settled on a simple consistent narrative, and preferred a largely self-contradictory strategy in hopes that something would eventually stick. 

And so it went with the election. 

In particular, there were three claims insisted on by his detractors which, at least in their stronger forms, could not all simultaneously be true. They are as follows: 

  1. It is essentially insane to suggest that the 2020 election could be stolen, as only conspiracy nuts would say such a thing. 
  2. Donald Trump was a foreign asset under the control of Vladimir Putin, who was installed in 2016 amidst foreign election tampering.
  3. Donald Trump began his presidency by disrespecting the US intelligence community, whose skill is the envy of the world, and whose loyalty and patriotism should be beyond question. 

Ahem. You may pick no more than two of these strong claims before you run into a contradiction. If you claim that Donald Trump was under foreign control and that the 2016 election was materially tainted by fake news and foreign interference, then it would become the patriotic duty of our intelligence community to stop a foreign stealth take over of the United States by a Russian asset by almost any means available. And since you believe that our intelligence community is highly skilled, it can’t be unthinkable for them to hack an election if the sovereignty of the United States has been compromised, given our history of exploits since the Dulles Brothers (Allen Welsh and John Foster) and J. Edgar Hoover. Thus if you want to claim that it is madness to even question the hacking of the election without evidence, you would either have to claim that our intelligence community isn’t imaginative or patriotic enough to consider removing a compromised leader controlled from abroad, or that the extravagant attempt to taint Trump’s presidency by claiming that he was Putin’s man in DC was a political stunt. A monumental work of Kayfabe, held together by horseshit and presented as if it were the product of straight shooting patriots. I personally would like to think that treating the claim of Trump as being under Putin’s direct control as overblown political theater is the best way out of this messy puzzle. But just consider how expensive back-propagating the implications of that line of reasoning truly are, and how despicable his opposition would have to be if everyone inside has always believed that the Russian asset theory was overblown BS. 

So while I have never seen any clear evidence of widespread fraud, I would certainly trust our intelligence community to do their sworn patriotic duty to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, in attempting to remove a foreign asset in control of our nuclear football inside our own oval office. Thus the idea of asserting that any questioning of electoral integrity in 2020 as automatically being crazy talk must itself be crazy talk. The major conspiracy theorists of this era will always be those who asserted that Trump has been compromised early and belonged completely to Vladimir Putin. You don’t get to claim all the strongest assertions you find politically expedient without noticing that they will always tend to directly contradict each other.

In my personal estimation it was either up to the Democratic Party and its affiliated media to back off of the strongest and least substantiated claims against Donald Trump, or to follow the consequences of those claims into severe action well beyond impeachment. The fact that they did neither is what confused me completely, and what leads me to say that a questioning of the legitimacy of the 2020 election follows not from Benford’s law, nor from Trump’s legal strategy, but is instead a direct consequence of routinely asserting something tantamount to treason, while avoiding any necessity to explore the dire, and likely obligate, consequences of such assertions, which, I trust, are known to us all and need not be detailed here. It may be a low probability event, but it is not consistent to claim that one must be a devotee of QAnon to imagine that our intelligence community would be forced to act, in the presence of material and substantiated claims tantamount to treason.

We will return shortly with our final audio essay on the state of the so-called Intellectual Dark Web.

Loyalty and the Intellectual Dark Web

This essay is written from what some today would consider a gendered perspective. As a guy who grew up going to an all male high school, and who has since held positions in academic mathematics, physics, and economics departments, who has worked in finance and hedge funds, risk management, and technology, I have found myself repeatedly in a world far more gender-segregated than most, and one which I wish appealed to more women. I have had very few collaborators, but they have been oddly evenly split between men and women. My high school and my experience with the Sell-side culture of Wall Street investment banks allow me to say that “Toxic Masculinity” actually describes a real thing and it should never have been ruined by overuse for just that reason. In one evening in finance or 11th grade, I probably heard more open misogyny than I did in all my years studying mathematics, physics, and economics combined. But what all male group culture can sound like behind closed doors in high trust environments varies more than almost any woman likely imagines. Some of it was and is absolutely wonderful, and some of it bordered on psychotic. Sell-side finance culture was by far the worst I experienced. In my experience, many people there were trying to earn your business by assuming that you are automatically car, sports, stripper, and cigar obsessed. And those Sell-side professionals were not entirely male, either. It was pretty much exactly as you would expect from what you see in the movies minus the dwarf tossing. I guess I never got invited for dwarf tossing after I turned down free tickets to the US open. [sic trans]

MIT and Harvard’s Symplectic Geometers and Topologists were, by contrast, likely the best. An all male culture at MIT when I first arrived to be sure, but one which easily and instantly put out a welcome mat as soon as talented women started showing an interest. No one there even seemed to notice, or wanted to discuss much, any change in the culture, as the subject matter was universally thought to be far more interesting. There were also very subtle gradations: Labor Market Economics, Algebraic Geometry, and Particle Theory at Harvard were at times somewhat exaggeratedly and, frankly, comically male, but they had a core of women regularly attending and giving the seminars, and I don’t think I ever heard any comments there that couldn’t be said in a mixed group.

The reason I am going into all this as background is that I want to establish two separate claims: 

  1. That, due to my subject matter interests alone, I have inadvertently spent a fair chunk of my life in a large and diverse array of nearly all male environments.
  2. That my experience within these environments is that they range along a spectrum, from outright misogyny to environments which are welcoming to women but which are self-segregated by the differing interests of men and women, and with every gradation in between.

Unfortunately this diversity is not accurately perceived. In an effort to drain all the true swamps of their misogyny, we drained pretty much every male culture we could find of its vitality. Try to imagine a world in which women could not congregate by themselves for fear that they would get up to witchcraft. That’s pretty close to where we are now.

You may fairly ask the question, “What, if anything, is lost when we target straight male culture by treating any meeting behind closed doors as suspect? Isn’t that where the bad behavior actually happens?” Well, yes. That’s right. But there are so many good things, and even magic that happens too, that are being lost when we don’t understand that the majority of such rooms are normal, healthy places on which men actually depend as much as nursing mothers who form support groups for postpartum depression, say. 

And, while few mention it, men have tended to help each other course correct, in private. When you see a man come to his friend’s aid in public, and when that friend being threatened has done something wrong, you actually have zero idea of what is going on in private. Maybe they are high-fiving like idiots. That certainly happens among jerks. But it is far more likely that there are going to be words that go in a different direction. Men have historically helped each other get back on track in private, while holding mobs at bay in public, in a way that puts an enormous premium on loyalty, but which has not always been understood from outside, because it is, by definition, invisible.

So this is all preamble, because the last section of this episode has to do with a funny topic. For a guy that values male culture around course-correction in private, it is somewhat odd to admit that my least favorite four-word sentence to hear spoken in the English language by another man has recently become “I’ve got your back.” Now, why is that? Shouldn’t that sentence be among one’s favorite sentences?

Well, that’s undoubtedly how it should be… but truth be told, most of us have never been part of a fighting unit, and the closest thing we’ve been to a platoon in a firefight is a movie theater. We know that there is supposed to be a fog of war, just as we are familiar with the phrase “brothers in arms”, but, if we are honest with ourselves, many of us must realize that we mostly don’t fully know what those words actually mean. Dealing with an implacable mob on the internet that is taking aim at your reputation, and thus your ability to earn a living to feed your family, is surely a hell of a lot closer to being in a bar fight than paintball is. Full disclosure: I have never played paintball.

So when a man says “I’ve got your back”, what is he really saying?

Well I used to think I knew what it meant, but I don’t fully know anymore. And at the moment, it feels like it means nothing.

I have placed my life in the hands of only one male friend on multiple occasions, and none of those involved combat. That friend’s name is Adil Abdulali, and I suppose he also placed his life in my hands now that I think about it. We do have a few decent enough stories about physical risk from years back that remain, so far anyway, personal and private. Our mothers might be listening to this podcast after all and I wouldn’t want to alarm them. Please don’t worry, Alia, if you are listening, everything worked out fine, and it was a long time ago.

I must therefore, by necessity, lean rather more heavily on this one life-long friendship’s experience than I would like. But he has had my back certainly for a long time and, knowing him, probably has since shortly after I first met him at age 16.

Now, do we disagree about many things? Of course. Have we always done the right thing by each other? Mostly, but not always. Yet, we have always righted our ship when it has listed, and we don’t keep track of the small things. There have been stretches of years where one or the other of us were in a drought of good luck and it just doesn’t make sense to pay attention to these matters over decades.

So, why am I bringing this up? Because ever since The Portal took off, I have been regularly and repeatedly invited to “throw other people under the bus” as the kids today say. And most of those calls have been to throw men, rather than women, in the path of an oncoming mob.  

The public calls don’t sound familiar to my middle-aged ears. And while they are often phrased in bro-speak, they seem foreign to Protestant, Masculine, British, Professional, and other norms of not regularly losing your shit in public, nor sorting out personal business with friends in front of the world. I may be only one of those four things, but I appreciate that norm in whatever cultures exhibit it.

So, what does this new culture sound like? Well, something like this:  

“Hey Eric, did you hear what your bros just said about you?”

“Dude, time to collect your friend. He’s so cringe, and it’s not a good look for you.”

“Yo, you gonna call out your homie on his BS or nah? Thought not. Bye.”

“Hey, did you read that article about your ‘Ride or Die’ and what he did? You gotta cut him loose, dude.”

Now, what is this style of speech? “Bruh”, “Nah”, “Call out”, “Ride or Die”, “Not a good look”, “Collect your homie”, “Spill the tea”, I don’t know about the rest of you who grew up before the Internet, but at least in my experience, we didn’t use to talk or think like this all the time.

The point of bringing up this stylized speech is that the calls are so frequent that it makes me wonder what we are doing as a society. Assuming men and women are truly equal, it stands to reason that I would be invited to disavow women making controversial or boneheaded statements about half the time. Why are there so few calls to disavow not only women but tech companies, government officials, newspapers, hereditary monarchies, theocracies, etc.?

In particular, among nations, I find it fascinating that I am regularly invited to disavow Israel, but not Turkey, both of which I deeply love.  I get regularly invited to disavow men and not women. I must disavow Brett Kavanaugh on the Right, but not Joe Biden on the Left in a similar situation. This appears to be because of a persistent asymmetry: I am invited to disavow things from the political Right by the political Left, while the political Right doesn’t expect devotion or this kind of disavowal of the Left. In short, the disavowal game doesn’t seem to play by any symmetrical rules. 

And why is this? Well, it appears to be because disavowal has become a major collectivist political tactic to pick off all who refuse to sing from one party’s hymnal when instructed. For better or worse, only one of our two political parties seems to be imbued with the power to grant an indulgence, so that someone may keep his respectability separate from his behavior. Call it the Chappaquiddick privilege, if you’re confused about which party has the power. 

So, how does this work? Well, no one sensible wants to publicly support bad behavior, so the rhyme “Silence equals Violence” is particularly effective against caring progressives who want to “Do the right thing”. The problem with this is that Public Silence or even Public Support for another person is not remotely the same thing as condoning an action of that person in private. I regularly support someone in public whose behavior I may criticize in private. In fact, I’ll go further. I believe that we are obligated to both protect and not abandon friends to mobs that are braying for their blood, just as we are obligated to balance public protection with private accountability within an intimate context. 

Yet, what we seem to be seeing now is a bull market in disavowal: “Do you disavow Israel?” “Do you disavow your employer?” “Do you disavow your sibling?” “Do you disavow the IDW?” “Do you disavow your candidate?” … etc. etc. etc. 

That’s a lot of requests for disavowal, so let me make this easier. When it comes to people I have spent serious time with, the simple answer is a polite but firm ‘No’. The slightly longer answer is “Go bugger yourself. I appreciate that you are offering me a bus under which you believe my friends belong. I well understand that there is always a mob, which hungers not only for justice but sanctimony, attention, entertainment, and excitement, and that my friends may look like a delicious snack to it. But in a gendered context, men haven’t usually course-corrected in this way. We take each other aside, we talk it through, attempting to minimize harm as well as embarrassment, offer support, and in serious circumstances, attempt to find a way back if someone has done something seriously wrong. Occasionally, when we are really not getting through, we have even been known to physically fight each other in private without letting on in public that such a thing has ever occurred. So if you don’t see men taking each other aside, you may easily get confused that nothing is happening. But, that’s not usually my experience. Very often, the difficult conversations are happening, even when what you are seeing are outward signs of support. And perhaps, calling each other out is the new way forward, but, I’m old and set in my ways, and I don’t know how to do that with my friends. So, you kids have fun and I’ll stick with having different public and private reactions from time to time. We can always compare notes at the very end to see whose system actually worked better.”

So, why do I believe the older system, with all its flaws, is better? Isn’t it hypocritical? To me, this is like saying “If you feel that the human body isn’t shameful, you should just go to work naked, as it would be far more honest.” Let’s admit that always saying the same thing in public as you do in private has got a certain, powerful, simple appeal to it. However, it is a disaster to succumb to that appeal.

Permit me to put forward a theory. Society is actually safer with fewer isolated people, and it is safest when we all have a stake in the world. And cancellation? It’s about creating people with no stake in life and no way back. It is an absolute abomination. There is simply no social justice without redemption, statutes of limitations, forgiveness, due process, and grace, full stop. But aside from social justice through cancellation being just about the most heartless, braindead, boneheaded, evil, malignant, repugnant, and self-contradictory idea I have ever had the pleasure to encounter, it is also dangerous. How often do we read about a tragedy involving a loner on a losing streak who mostly kept to himself and had nothing left to lose? That may be extreme, but it gets to the problem of disavowal, cancelation, shame, and repudiation. In short, it’s a recipe for disaster. 

Let me put it in simple terms: the men you depend on to be capable of stopping a bar fight are, somewhat embarrassingly, generally the men who have been in bar fights themselves. The man who stops a drunk buddy from making an ass out of himself, by finding a diplomatic way to exit an incident, is not infrequently a guy who has been drunk and stopped by his buddies from the same kind of idiocies in some earlier phase of his life, like ten years ago, or ten minutes ago. If we were to disavow our buddies for their most boneheaded moments, we’d all generally be forced to disavow ourselves first. We would then keep ourselves and each other from earning a living and would all shun ourselves into social isolation, poverty, and self-harm.

One can hear the response forming immediately in the minds of the Woke, “Dude, how is this not condoning bad behavior?” Well, it would be if every time you saw a man stick up for his friends, that was all that happened. And it is time to tell the world, “That’s not generally what happens. And by inducing everyone to publicly call out their friends for their lapses, we the Internet are ridding ourselves of the most powerful single tool we have to make better men.”

This new social media theory of “no platforming”, “cancelation”, “calling out”, and “shaming” is not a recipe for a happy world, or an ethical one. It’s a recipe for creating a desperate human out of every normal schmuck with a beating heart. In fact, if you have a friend accused of tearing off mattress tags under penalty of law, or murder, or treason, or even stealing adorable helpless puppies to sell their tiny internal organs on eBay, I want you to consider what happens when you disavow that friend or diss that person in public in order to signal to everyone that you know right from wrong in that particular case. 

First of all, the people in front of whom you are disavowing your friend on social media contain many people worse than your friend. So you are selling out your friendship to please acquaintances and strangers, some of whom are doing the same damn things or even worse. Secondly, you are creating a more isolated human being at the exact same moment that someone is in maximal need of love, warmth, guidance, and help. You are generally not successfully signaling virtue to me, but are instead signaling that you are abdicating responsibility for standing by someone who may have done a wrong thing, and who likely needs your loyalty now more than ever. 

Now I bring all of this up to briefly discuss the state of the so-called Intellectual Dark Web. First of all, it doesn’t really fully exist. But if it did, it would not recognize disavowal as a major modality. There are tensions within it, as there have always been, but there are also unwritten rules that have not previously required my commentary. In particular, my friend Sam Harris attempted to very publicly exit the so-called IDW. That’s a bit tricky, since it doesn’t fully exist, and almost no one in it talks about it that much in 2020. So you may be thinking that I am angry at Sam for violating this rule. Oddly, it is closer to being the opposite of that. Sam was quite right, in my opinion, in one sense, and the more important one, and wrong in another of lesser significance. Before this, I heard public remarks about Sam’s inability to understand reality from more than a few people that dismayed me. But in true IDW fashion, I am not going to talk directly about who made those remarks, because the ideas were the problem, and the idea that Sam is not capable of seeing reality is frankly silly. If you aren’t happy about that and feel disappointed, please feel free to get your Internet drama somewhere else. It’s available 24/7. Now to be blunt, I have disagreed with Sam for the four years of this administration on two basic points: 

  1. Whether Donald Trump as Evil Chauncy Gardner (Sam’s concept), or Freakish Strategic Savant (My choice) is a better description.
  2. Whether the Mainstream media is less or more terrifying because it still fact checks, uses compound complex sentences, cares about an appearance of journalistic integrity, and carries gravitas earned in a previous era as it explores new territory, dividing us as a society to serve business and activist models and interests. 

Now I’d love to tell you that I am correct and that Sam is in the wrong, but honestly I don’t know that. I don’t know Sam to be wrong on either point. I simply disagree with him, as we have done openly and cordially over the last four years. What’s more, I would say that Donald Trump’s bizarre challenge to the 2020 election has, so far anyway, been a rare and pretty spectacular late win for Sam’s model over my own of Trump’s strategic intuition. If Sam has Trump Derangement Syndrome, a non-existent pseudo-malady which I don’t really believe in and thus don’t discuss much, then TDS is so far doing a better job at explaining the very end of this term than I feel it was doing at explaining the middle of it. Two cheers for that non-existent TDS that Sam doesn’t have.

What’s more, Sam did not name or shame anyone who named or shamed him by accusing him of getting this wrong. He stuck to the ideas in true IDW fashion. 

And as Sam’s friend Christopher Hitchens once said in a seminar that I attended at the Kennedy School, and the only time I ever met him, “A gentleman is defined to be a man who is never rude by accident.” And Sam is very much a gentleman.

Which brings me to what Sam *is* doing wrong. You don’t leave the IDW by being civil, focusing on ideas, forgoing the ability to stick it to others, holding to your true convictions, or getting things right. I’m sorry, but that’s just not how this works at all. I shouldn’t have to explain this, but you do it instead by being publicly dismissive of members of your group rather than their ideas, trolling, not paying attention to shifting situations like the election, getting captured by your audience, or getting it wrong and not noticing. If the IDW is a protocol as much as it is a group of humans, Sam continued to behave as a gentleman, while others were far closer to trying to leave the group, by at least testing the above boundaries.  

This is why, when Sam published a clip about resigning from the IDW, I chuckled to myself and chose to quote from Hotel California on Twitter. In the words of the Eagles, “Sam: Relax. We are programmed to receive.” Feel free to collect your things, to find the passage back to the place we all were before, as you can, in fact, check out anytime you like. I’ll send for the nightman at once. If you really want to leave, however, you now know what it takes. 

The IDW, like the Hotel California, doesn’t really exist. Maybe it never did, and this was all just a dream in a tongue-in-cheek bad joke of mine that took on a life of its own for a while. But it’s possible there is some reason we still go back to the IDW now and again, just as we do to that tired old song over 40 years later. Or hadn’t you noticed that every time you queue it up to play it again, it proves that we are never really able to leave it fully behind. Which, if you give it a moment’s thought, is exactly what the song’s lyrics foretold. Funny that. 

*Insert guitar solo here.*

Be well everyone. 

You’ve been through The Portal.

“Eric Weinstein joins me live to take your questions about the past, present and future of physics. We’ll discuss my recent chats with Lenny Susskind, Shelly Glashow, and Barry Barish and Eric’s recent podcasts with Lex Fridman too.”

If you don’t know Douglas Murray, in the estimation of the The Portal, this may well be the most important voice you will hear from the United Kingdom for some time. In the tradition of De Tocqueville and Alistair Cook’s famous “Letter from America,” Douglas Murray is America’s true friend. He is not the man who tells you that you look great and laughs at all your jokes, but the one who pulls the big mac out of your mouth, flushes your cigarettes down the toilet, locks your liquor cabinet and personally drives you to rehab until you straighten yourself out. 

I have met many men who train in combat sports, or extoll the virtues of masculinity. However, I know of none braver than Douglas Murray. In our time, this is one voice of relentless reason that everyone needs to hear.

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For a transcript of the audio essay at the beginning of this episode, see link below:

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Is there only one such voice left in Europe? That was the thought running through my mind when I first met today’s guest. I can’t exactly remember how much I knew about Douglas Murray before I met him. I had heard his name and perhaps that he was both far-right and gay—which, while clearly possible, is usually a warning sign in the United States that our activist media is unhappy with someone breaking ranks with its various narrative arcs. But Douglas is, for the moment, a much larger voice in Europe in general, and in the UK in particular, than he is in the States. So I was not particularly familiar with him. When I met him, it was electronic and one-sided. I was watching YouTube in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre. 12 people had been gunned down in cold blood for exercising their European freedom of expression. 11 men and one woman. Three writers, five cartoonists—two in their 70s, one over 80—Christians, Muslims, and Jews murdered side-by-side, show that the attackers were as happy to kill those of their own faith as they were any others. For this was not about religion, but control—exerted to a chilling threat of deadly force against any and all who disagreed with the AQAP (or al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula). And there, somehow, was Douglas, in the immediate aftermath of the mass killing, being interviewed on Al Jazeera, of all channels. I admit I fell instantly in love with him.

“That’s a pretty atrocious question, if I may say so,” were Douglas’s first sharp words in response to what was quite literally an atrocious question. Given that the host asking it was eagerly skipping over discussing the dozen fresh corpses in a new atrocity to ask instead about the potential backlash to the killings. Douglas’s voice was measured and controlled while dripping in the polite indignation and disgust for which the British are justly famous. There’s an old aphorism—now associated with Douglas’s late friend Christopher Hitchens—that a gentleman is defined to be a man who is never rude by accident. And Douglas here was every inch of the gentleman. The concept of heroism is much discussed these days in the realm of Marvel Comics, but rarely seen in the wild, as it were. This was the real thing: leadership. And my younger listeners will forgive me for saying so, but this was the best of masculinity personified.

I do not have this kind of courage. I know because many years ago, I had begged my best friend and his sister not to write as Shia Muslims in defense of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses when Ayatollah Khomeini’s famous fatwa was first issued. What I learned back then from my Muslim friends was that jihadist Islam was a totalizing movement and the problem was not with Islam, but with the absolutism with which it was often practiced. My friends were not absolutists, but, as Muslims, explained the danger clearly to me, I was not distinguishing properly between totalizing and non-totalizing Muslims. What I came to believe back then is that we must fight all totalizing ideologies, even if some of them happen to be associated with religions. If ownership of a Prius led 15% of Prius owners to become totalitarians who would excuse the murder of anyone who dared drive a Chevy Volt or Tesla, we would need to defeat them. The primary reason that religion gets dragged into this is that there are very few large and potent totalizing movements left after the internet and the 20th century had their way with them. North Korea, Islam, and Social Justice, for example, do remain potent, while traditional communism market fundamentalism, the Catholic Church, and even violent nationalist terror movements like ETA, the IRA, PKK, Tamil Tigers, PFLP, etc., have oddly taken it on the chin.

So if you want to understand the world in which we live, where totalizing movements still exist, but are few in number, it is still essential to listen to voices more courageous than my own. Listen to Douglas’s debate with Julian Assange. His defense of Western civilization is actually two-fold. At the first layer, he is making many of the subtle arguments we need to hear but are too afraid to say in the present period. But underneath that, his courage, decency, wit, and eloquence in the modern era is itself an argument for some of what we have lost from the Europe of a previous age and what made it, for a time, the center of world progress in science and letters. Not everything that Europe achieved can be attributed to plunder, slavery, and oppression, after all. Much of it was simply Europeans achieving by thinking more clearly and courageously than their rivals.

I hope you will enjoy this uninterrupted conversation with a personal hero of mine and good friend, Douglas Murray, after a few brief messages from our sponsors who bring you the show.

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Hello, you’ve found The Portal. I’m your host, Eric Weinstein, and today I get to sit down with my friend Douglas Murray, who’s over here from the UK where he is associate editor at The Spectator. He’s also an author, most recently, I believe, of The Madness of Crowds, but also The Strange Death of Europe before that. And in general, one of the most keen observers of the American scene from abroad. Douglas, welcome to the US and The Portal!

Douglas Murray: 9:47: It’s a great pleasure to be here.

EW: 9:48: Well, I’ve been looking forward to this for a while for our audience. Now I don’t know when we’re going to be releasing this episode but right now, we are within a month of the end of the beginning of the the US election. And there is a tremendous amount to say, but I worry that we in the US don’t actually know what it is that’s going on and that it’s affecting the rest of the planet. What is it that you’re seeing on this trip to the US that maybe is somewhat surprising? It’s been a couple of years since you’ve been here.

DM: 10:19: Yes, it is. It has been a couple of years. I’m touring around the US all month ahead of the election. A friend in New York said, when we talked about this, “Oh, I see: it’s disaster tourism.”

EW: 10:33: [laughing]

DM: 10:33: … Sort of. It’s like the people who take package holidays to North Korea.

It’s … well, it’s a very interesting time to be here obviously, whatever happens. I do have some general sort of feelings. One is that … perhaps something that has crept up on me, and it’s crept up on all of you, but I’m really struck, particularly, by how much more deranged everybody is than they were when I was last here. And, I would say, of all the people that it’s VISIBLY hurting are my liberal/left-wing/centrist friends, who just have been erupting all the time. It’s conversations are quite hard. I see what I described a little while ago as being the sort of snowplow of American politics that’s occurred in the last few years, where if you just venture anywhere into what used to be the middle of the freeway, this snowplow just comes down and casts you to one side or the other. And that’s just very clearly got a lot worse. And I don’t know if the election, whatever way it goes, can resolve that. (Maybe it’ll placate it for a bit.)

I mean, that’s, that’s the main thought. The other thought, of course, is that I’m here in the midst of a, well, ongoing pandemic. Your country is reacting to it in a similar way to my own, with all of the similar concerns that it brings with it. And you know, it just feels like layer upon layer on top of the problems that already existed here. And the questions that already existed here.

EW: 12:17: Do you think we’re just getting started with these problems? And that this is really the beginning of a towering skyscraper of insurmountable conundrum? And that these are really the first few levels and that we’re … we’re just getting going?

DM: 12:33: Yeah, it does feel like that a bit. I mean, the sort of obvious reduced version of that is, you know: does it make things better if Biden wins or if Trump wins? You know, I mean … And I can’t help thinking, well, the underlying questions remain similar. We are all, at the moment, as I said, in this time where it seems to me you fight through one layer of the layers on top of everything, and you just find another. You could find a way through understanding the pandemic, but then you find politics, and then you find something else, and just on and on.

But yes, it does feel a bit like that. I find that about the pandemic in particular—this awful feeling that it’s a sort of prelude to something, not the main event.

EW: 13:26: Yeah, I have to admit, as a guy who would like to be able to think about this scientifically, I don’t know where I can turn. And in part (I know it’s a little bit late to get in on UK bashing, given that the Empire has been given up and all that), but to lose like, I don’t know … Nature. I don’t know that I trust the Royal Society to be an arbiter of things scientific. And I think you guys are in better shape than we are.

DM: 13:58: Well, possibly. At the very beginning of the corona era, I made observation that this country (America) had a particular problem, which is that every other country turned out to have some residue of collective responsibility or non-partisan trust. In the UK, it turned out that a conservative government was able to … I mean, think of it this way: it was able to mandate that all young people not in a committed relationship and living with their partner should be forced into celibacy for months. And they did it.

EW: 14:42: With 100% compliance.

DM: 14:43: I can’t say I kept a tally.

EW: 14:47: [laughing]

DM: 14:47: [laughing] But … it turned out that we actually DID have significant levels of societal trust. Which, by the way, in Britain, we have said in recent years, we didn’t have. And to some extent, I thought maybe all the last few years have been sort of performative, to that extent. We’d kept on talking about what a divided country we were, yet a pandemic came along and we turned out to have pockets of residual societal trust. We, for instance, wanted to hear from the Queen. You know, that was a rather wonderful moment for some of us—it really … we wanted to hear from somebody who had that perspective and length and wisdom and could put it into some context of what we’d been through before and what we get through now.

Every country had a version of that. I mean, I was struck by same thing in France: Macron, at the beginning, there was some kind of unity. It was same in most countries, Except for the United States, where you couldn’t even come together on a pandemic. You couldn’t even come together on that without it being highly politicized and, in an election season, turned into a “were you pro-Trump or anti-Trump?” And I thought that was (and think still) that is a very, very bad sign for this country.

EW: 15:55: Well, it’s atrocious. From a (and I hope this isn’t too hopelessly utilitarian), but it is really the FUNCTION of having a queen around …

DM: 16:04: Yes. Oh, yeah, yeah, no, I’m a big fan. I mean, I think you guys made a mistake.

EW: 16:08: Well, I think most of the time, it’s better off not to have one. But on the rare occasions that you need something … I don’t know that it has to be a queen, but I always talk about the “break glass in case of emergency” people you’re supposed to keep aside from the political fray. So for example, David Attenborough (another one of yours), has now ventured onto Instagram because of his concern, at the end of his career, for the planet. And it’s important to have people who unite …

DM: 16:39: Yes. Yes, it is. And, of course, as you well know: pockets of residual trust in expertise of particular kinds … I mean, one of the things I found very, very hard about the pandemic has been that, you know, I’m not a virologist. I’ve never spent any serious amount of time before this year thinking about pandemics. As a friend of mine in a security area said to me at the beginning, “It’s so annoying.” You know, the pandemics guys are always the people who you left during their panels at the conference because you didn’t think it was relevant. Sort of, annoying that these people should have had more attention on them.

I didn’t—I’m guilty of this—I didn’t spend much time thinking about pandemics, if any. And so when it came along, I—like, I think, most people—thought, “Well, I’ll trust the people who know.” I do have now a very serious set of questions (I think we probably all do) and concerns. Not least on the fact that, first of all, the people who I (and most of the rest of the public) trusted turn out to have been wrong in significant ways. I’m thinking of things like the Imperial College study that predicted mortality rates at a level which we just haven’t seen in any country, whatever the country’s policy is—you don’t see these figures in Italy, you don’t see them in Sweden. And when it turned out that those same people (who I trusted and my fellow countrymen trusted) had pulled the same graphs out with BSE, for instance, I started to get a sense of ennui about this. “That’s a shame.” You know, I was very willing to put … I mean, think: we all were locked in our houses on the advice of these people. One of whom, by the way (in classic British fashion—you know, you’re never very far away from a carry-on[?] movie), turned out to tell everyone else to remain in celibacy and turned out to be going off to shag his mistress every other other day and breaking lockdown in a uniquely sort of British way.

But these people first became slight laughingstocks and then actual … actually, I think a significant amount of bitterness started to creep into it. And I think the next one will be doubt over everything. I have this very concerning thought that the pandemic was a wonderful first … it was a period, at first, that was wonderful for science, because it showed that science was perhaps the only thing left that we trusted. And that actually when the scientists appeared with the politicians, then we thought, “Okay, they’re serious. This isn’t like a newspaper columnist appearing with the politicians.” But THEN something happened.

EW: 19:35: All right. Keep going.

DM: 19:37: Well, put it this way. There’s a climate change (rather extremist climate change (very extremist climate change)) group in the UK called Extinction Rebellion who have been putting up posters in the last few months in my country saying, “We trusted the scientists on COVID. Now let’s trust them on the planet.” And I thought, You have got that exactly the wrong way around. You’ve got that EXACTLY the wrong way around. The public are currently thinking, “We DID trust the scientists. They turned out to have led us into significant error. We’re not listening to THEM again.”

EW: 20:19: Yeah.

DM: 20:19: It’s quite … At this stage, it would have to be The Plague—a child-slaying plague, the Black Death—to make us listen to the scientists again.

EW: 20:34: So you’re saying that the reservoir of trust that was in Britain, even for the scientists, after … at this point in the COVID epidemic, is almost drained?

DM: 20:44: I would have said it’s very nearly drained. Yes.

EW: 20:48: Interesting.

Let me ask a different question: Is long-form podcasting the last bastion, after science? Not because it’s particularly rigorous. Not because it’s credentialed. But because you’re actually hearing people struggling with reality in a non-institutional framework?

Is the real problem (and this is a very US-centric perspective) that our institutions are all susceptible for institutional reasons? And it doesn’t … There’s no kind of institution that can resist this sort of decay. Even a scientific institution is now falling prey to the same pressures as a financial institution, as a medical institution, as a journalistic institution … All of these institutions are falling. And, you know, if you’d asked me for the most trusted institution, at least as far as I can see things in America, at some point I might have said, “Well, it could be Caltech; it could be the Democratic Party; it could be the Supreme Court.” Right now, for me, honestly, it is Trader Joe’s. Because Trader Joe’s has stood up, they will not change Trader Jose, or Trader Yusef, or any of these things, because they think this is ridiculous.

There are pressures on institutions to lie to us, in particular with respect to health, because one of the things that … early on this epidemic it became very clear we didn’t have the masks we were supposed to have, and therefore we would have to tell a precursor story about masks being dangerous, or not working, so that people wouldn’t buy them, so that we could have them for our healthcare professionals. And that, to me, was a great crime. I noticed that to a lot of other people it’s like, “Well, of course, they’re telling a lie because they have to.” And I thought, “Well, if you do that too much, you’re going to lose science writ large.”

DM: 22:50: Yeah, I agree. I think the masks thing was one of the first and most worrying turns in that [?] … It’s precisely for that same reason: it was obvious, manifest, provable lie.

EW: 23:02: Do you have things that you can trust still in in the UK? Has the BBC managed to steer clear of this? Or are they going …

DM: 23:08: Not really. There’s a claim … They certainly have more trust than other broadcast media organizations. At times of national crisis, trust in the BBC has USUALLY been good. Actually, the stats that we have—the opinion polls this year—show a decline in … that almost, certainly in the opening months of the virus, the trust in institutions rose in almost every case other than the media, and the media plummeted. And I mean, my own view of that was that it was because the media didn’t know what questions to ask. I include myself in this. As I said, I never thought about viruses in any depth before. But if you were a BBC correspondent, and you had to ask questions of the government at the press conference every day, and you didn’t know about viruses, you were reduced to weird journalistic games, like, “X has said this, and now you’re saying this, minister. Why? Are you in contradiction?” Or, “You said this a couple of days ago, and now you’re saying this. Isn’t that a U-turn?” This is the result of what us know-nothing humanities people do when …

EW: 24:29: Oh no, no, no. This is happening to all … I’m a technical guy with a technical degree. I couldn’t follow the reasoning at all. And what you’re talking about is what I call the checksum theory of politics. When you’re handed a file to install on your computer and you want to know whether or not it’s been corrupted, you can’t read all of the lines of code to find out that they’re all in the right place. But there’s some consequence of the right lines of code being present called a checksum which you CAN inspect—which is far easier to monitor—and I think that a lot of the questions that you’re talking about are: if I can’t understand what you’re saying … like, I may not know what a bleeble-e-blop is, but if you said yesterday that they were essential, and if you say today that they’re absolutely horrid, I can at least ask you to clarify between your two positions with a zero knowledge orientation relative to what a bleeble-e-blop even is to begin with.

And as a result, we’re in this incredibly low level state where we’re just trying to say, “Did you make any sense? Is there any coherence to your perspective?” We can’t actually tell what we’re asking. And I, by the way, I had a lot of very top technical talent on phone calls early on with corona—nobody was making sense.

And I’ll tell you, the one thing that we actually did know early on is that this has nothing to do whatsoever with the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Like, I don’t know how we came to such a strong conclusion so quickly. But the ONE thing we know about this virus is that that absolutely isn’t implicated.

DM: 26:00: Why do you say that?

EW: 26:02: Well, I think it’s a joke. I think we worry that it MIGHT be implicated. And there’s some political reason or economic reason for absolutely treating anyone who thinks that it might be of interest as a lunatic. Like that seems to me to be a policy decision. I would certainly … If it had 1/10th of 1% chance I certainly wouldn’t be calling it settled.

There’s a very interesting move when we take something off the table. So, the two other ones that I will give you would be “climate science is settled science” and “vaccines are 100% safe.” Anytime … I can, as a scientist, I can check those two statements instantly, and they’re both false. Now, it doesn’t mean that I’m against vaccines, or I don’t think that the planet is warming up due to human activity. But when somebody says “trust the scientists,” they’re really saying something like, “We, the UN, have gathered the IPCC and gotten a consensus statement. Please accept that as if it was somehow settled at the level of the laws of arithmetic.” Which absolutely is not.

Yeah, there’s a set of those. One was, a relatively small number of people knew that the World Health Organization was another of those international organizations that wasn’t exactly what it called itself. But now a very large number of people know that. And again, we have this issue of residual institutional trust.

You saw this famous video with a, I guess, a Hong Kong journalist trying to ask this person from the WHO and he’s pretending that he can’t hear? And then she says, “Shall I ask it again?” He’s like, “No! Let’s move on.”

DM: 27:45: [laughing] That’s right.

EW: 27:46: … And then he reaches for the kill button. … This is a bad magic show that I’m forced to sit through every day.

DM: 27:53: Yes. And yeah, the …

EW: 27:56: … and long-form podcasting can talk about the bad magic show … The key issue is CNN, or NPR, or the New York Times can’t.

DM: 28:06: And it’s not just because of length and the ability to summon up different and competing ideas and play them off against each other. It’s not JUST that, is it?

EW: 28:16: There’s a group of people from Finland who put mushrooms into instant coffee, who pay for the show, right? Called Four Sigmatic, for example.

DM: 28:27: You didn’t give me the good stuff …

EW: 28:28: [ad man voice] Douglas … Secretly, Douglas is actually drinking Four Sigmatic. — No.

DM: 28:34: [laughing]

EW: 28:34: The fact is, is that this show is one person and we have a bunch of crazy advertisers—it’s not like … Porsche and Mercedes aren’t choosing to advertise on the show and threatening, “Eric, you know. You had Douglas Murray on, and it’s quite dicey. …”

DM: 28:52: He’s not one of us.

EW: 28:53: “He’s not one of us.” You know, “We’re worried about this demographic slipping away.” You know, at some level, that’s what’s giving us our independence.

DM: 29:02: Sure, absolutely. But just going back to this thing with[?] institutions: it is striking if they can’t deal with the complexities. It was … It’s worrying when the institutions can’t be as complex as the public are. I mean, one of the things that’s been on my mind throughout all this has been moments when the public are clearly watching and nobody comments that the conclusion … nobody comments on the conclusion the public are likely to have come to. For instance, when mass protests break out (and maybe we shouldn’t get on to this yet, but), where mass protests break out, one of the things a public is clearly doing is thinking, “Well, we’ll see, because there ought to be a second wave now. … Interesting. There hasn’t been. Why is that?”

EW: 29:50: Well remember, the real public health problem is systemic racism.

DM: 29:55: I’m aware of that.

EW: 29:56: [laughs] So … [crosstalk] The intellectual whiplash …

DM: 30:01: But even before we get on to that, there is the issue of things that were not noted which the public can clearly note. We can notice that everybody who went on the protests doesn’t appear to have spent the succeeding weeks in bed, gasping for breath. This means that people seem to know more than everyone who’s speaking to them—including those in authority, who are then left repeating a mantra that the public less and less believe.

And this, with the Wuhan lab, is obviously a part of that. I remember (just before the thing went really bad) speaking to people in government—in this country and elsewhere—who, you know, “Well, you know, this is the area where they have a laboratory that does some of this stuff.” And then a few weeks later, it was announced that unless you believed that a bat at a wet market had caused it, you were a total psychopath/maniac.

EW: 31:14: And am I right that the wet market is not one thought to sell bats? My understanding is, is that it is a wet market that is not a purveyor of bats.

DM: 31:24: I mean, I …

EW: 31:25: I don’t know whether that’s … yeah.

DM: 31:25: No, I haven’t investigated.

EW: 31:25: You havent spent that much time in the Wuhan wet market?

DM: 31:30: No. I mean, when there was the bad thing I made a moment of levity—that was maybe needed, maybe not: When the the bat theory came up, you know, I said that they vindicated one of my long-held theories, which was that the problem with human beings is someone always shags a monkey.

EW: 31:45: [laughing]

DM: 31:46: It’s always been a disappointment of mine in our species. You know, there’s always just one guy away from doing that, you know, and this is one of the things that makes us a vibrant species extraordinary. I mean, obviously, because it’s extraordinarily precarious. And I thought, “There’s always gonna be one person who soups up a bat and then eats it.” And then, of course, it’s [?] we don’t realize that it’s the bat one was the less embarrassing story that the Chinese might want to get out. It wasn’t, as some of us thought, at first, the most embarrassing thing—it was actually the less embarrassing thing. And then we had the phenomena of, I think, first of all, the Australian Intelligence Services … one of the five eyes … I think it was the Australians first that said, “Actually, we think it might have come from a laboratory.” And then you get … there’s another bit of whiplash, because in the meantime, institutions had said, “That’s a conspiracy theory.”

EW: 32:45: Yes. Right.

DM: 32:45: And then one of the Five Eyes says it, and the Australian Government, and I think then the New Zealand government, calls for an official inquiry into it. And then the Chinese government tries to do everything it can to punish the Australians. And yes, I mean, by this point, one’s neck is sore.

EW: 33:04: Unless one gives up any attempt to believe any of this. Right? And this issue about … Well, I don’t know what vantage point I want to pull back to to analyze this with you. The total collapse of institutional integrity, across all sectors, across the entire Anglophone world … almost. Maybe there’s a pocket of integrity somewhere, but

DM: 33:33: It’s very hard.

EW: 33:34: … um … WTF?

DM: 33:39: Yeah.

EW: 33:40: And why is it that you and I … I mean, I have to admit, we have these late night calls, which is difficult because it can’t be late night for both of us.

DM: 33:49: Yes, absolutely. I didn’t mind when you call me in the [?] hours of[?] your lunch.

EW: 33:54: So, what … Douglas, what the hell’s going on? I mean, it’s as if we’re under some kind of swarm attack, where every institution goes mad in succession.

DM: 34:08: Yes, I am … as you know, I mean, I thought for a long time the job of the era is not to go mad [?] at first. That “Thou shalt not go mad” is absolutely the first rule of the time. And I did think when the pandemic first came, and we did all think (or a lot of us thought, as we were told) that, you know, we will be losing a lot of our loved ones, that that was an even more important impulse. “Okay, this is this is going to sort some of the wheat from the chaff. You know, this is going to reveal the stoics in our society, you know.” And I can’t say that I was entirely gloomy about the prospect. But I thought, in some ways, I mean, that’s a that’s a generational challenge, in that case. It’s an invitation to seriousness, above anything else. It’ll clear debris away. It’ll give us greater clarity.

And then of course, among much else, the fact that the virus turned out not to be what we thought it was at the beginning—

EW: 35:17: Have you lost anyone close?

DM: 35:19: I have one friend who died from the virus—wonderful Indian economist, Deepak Lal, who was at UCLA, who was … I only discovered quite a long time afterwards, actually. (Flood of news.) But Deepak’s the only person I know who died from it. He was eighty. Wonderful, wonderful man. But, I mean, I had friends, the beginning of [?], you know, who got it. A friend of mine who’s 94 who got it, and I just thought, “Oh, hell.” And after a couple of weeks, you know, she called me back and told me she was better. And then I … then, that was one of the ones for me that made me think, “Oh, that’s interesting.” Because if it was what we thought it was, it would … that wouldn’t be possible.

EW: 36:03: Well, but I … Probably there’s some sort of predisposition that if we only knew to look for the marker, or something, we would understand that our odds are, you know, greatly different.

DM: 36:13: Yes.

EW: 36:13: There’s something about the fact that we never came up with the right intellectual framework. We were so focused on flattening the curve, which I think was about what I’ve called “deaths of discretion” where, if you’re wildly unprepared because you haven’t responded to your own literature telling you to prepare for a surge need as opposed to some slight variation around regular, modal needs, then what you do is you tried to say “How do we make sure that everyone changes his or her life in order to make sure that we don’t have a triage situation where a physician has to say, ‘you get a ventilator and you did not.’?”

DM: 36:53: Right. But did you lose anyone close?

EW: 36:55: I don’t think I’ve lost anyone close. We lost John Horton Conway, a mathematician. Musicians like John Prine, great songwriter. So there’re deaths that have mattered to me; I’ve had people in my community for The Portal who’ve lost grandparents and the likes. But I don’t think I’ve lost anyone close to the virus.

DM: 37:19: One of the things that made me … I’ve been uncharacteristically silent on lots of issues to do with the virus, because … I haven’t felt confident because of a set of the same problems we’re all in. There were certain people who, from the outset, said, “This is all nonsense,” and I didn’t feel at all that I could go along with them, because of the odd outriders which I was coming across in my own life, as well as reading about … people who I knew who were young, who really were gasping for breath when they got it. And I suppose it’s also, like a lot of us, I have loved ones who have underlying conditions—I wouldn’t … I felt (perhaps as a sort of fatalistic pagan element of my personality), but I did feel quite strongly that if one was blasé about it—certainly if one was blasé about it publicly—you know, the gods would strike. I don’t know quite why I still have this feeling—

EW: 38:21: I think it’s marvelous that you do, because it’s a self-protective one, even though it’s technically irrational.

DM: 38:26: Yes. It’s like pride before a fall, and all those cliches, which are cliches because they’re true. You know, you really should expect the gods will come and smite you if you’re too … you know.

EW: 38:42: How many of them?

DM: 38:43: [laughing] So many!

EW: 38:44: All of the gods.

DM: 38:45: All of them. One great rush of gods to take out Murray.

Yeah, I did feel that. I still feel that a bit. And, as I say, I mean, we’ve all been trying to work out exactly—you know, so you might find yourself in this position, you think, well, I know I don’t believe what the health secretary is telling me anymore. But I also don’t believe what his most ardent critics are saying. And I just don’t know, in this terrain, other than, “be careful,” “be sensible.” … But my idea of careful and sensible obviously isn’t the same as everyone else’s. And I don’t know how you would institutionalize that or make it a national policy.

EW: 39:27: Yeah, but none of this is making any sense to me at all. Because we haven’t developed the right intellectual framework. We developed a framework for public health. And forgive me for saying (this is not popular, particularly with my very left-of-center social world), but I believe that public health is all about lying and about habituating public health people to figure out “How do you get a distorted comment to produce a beneficial outcome?” You have the right to distort whatever … Like you could make it rhyme so that more people can remember it.

DM: 40:04: Right. Oh yes, like coming up with a sort of “five P’s” and all that.

EW: 40:09: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Like—

DM: 40:09: Like “3 Ls.” It’s always like, what if one of them doesn’t start with a P?

EW: 40:13: Right. And then you force—you coerce it into doing that.

DM: 40:15: You’re gonna Protect, Prevent … Parler games. I don’t know, it doesn’t matter: You just you just … I don’t believe that stuff.

EW: 40:22: Well, that’s like Reading, Riting, and Rithmetic.

DM: 40:24: Yeah. [laughing]

EW: 40:26: Just shove it into the circular hole no matter what the shape of the peg.

DM: 40:31: Yes, I … What would you come up with to try to explain it? Or to understand it, rather.

EW: 40:39: I would just tell people, “Hey, the intellectual ante for this game went way up. You need to budget[?] 10 times the amount of brain power and storage space for this that usually you do.

You know … If you followed, like, let’s say, in the UK, the Premier League: you have very clear idea about all the players who pass through your team, the history, the ways in which the weather might influence the game in an outdoor versus an indoor … I don’t know—all of this stuff … Bring that level of complexity that you would bring to football or soccer into virology, and you’ll be fine. And this is the key thing we got wrong about television, is that we used to think the television was the “idiot box” until we realized that it allowed for more character development than even film.

DM: 41:31: Yeah, absolutely.

The couple of things that also concern me about this are, on the public health one, obviously, we … The beginning of this whole thing started in the UK (and I think in America, to some extent): we had this thing of “we must protect the health service,” you know, “we must protect the hospital” by not being ill and going into them. Of course, I mean, I and others said at the time, “Actually the health service exists to protect us, not the other way around.” It isn’t that WE form a ring of steel around IT, but that IT’s made to form the ring of steel around US. And then, of course, you started to hear, I don’t know, that a grateful public was sending doughnuts to doctors who had nothing to do other than spend their day eating doughnuts. I’m not saying in all cases—at the beginning, there was certainly a fight on the front line. But since then, our health service has been moribund. We set up a 10,000 capacity hospital that didn’t take a patient.

EW: 42:33: Right.

DM: 42:35: And of course, one version of that story is, it didn’t take a patient because we all locked ourselves in our houses. But another one is, “No, that’s …”

EW: 42:43: Well … See, I guess what my take on it is, is that at some level, you had a multivariate situation. The virus was not simply the flu. It wasn’t the 1918 Spanish flu. It wasn’t the bubonic plague. It wasn’t a cold and a sniffle.

DM: 43:03: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

EW: 43:04: And what we kept doing was reaching for an analogy to something it wasn’t, and none of the analogies worked because we didn’t build the intellectual space for something new, which is, “Okay, whatever the main parameters are that tell you what this virus is, here’s what we need to worry about.” Like, for example, morbidity, as opposed to mortality, wasn’t very well understood. Does this really end up in the brain? What are the consequences?

But again, I really have the feeling that this somehow masks the real story. And the real story to me is that we are not the people who won World War II anymore.

DM: 43:46: Say more?

EW: 43:47: We have an idea … Like, you and I are both of an age that we were born a good deal … I was born 20 years after the conclusion of World War II. But I still have the idea, “We put a man on the moon,” “We won World War II.” And we, I don’t think, did. I don’t think this society would be capable of fighting a World War II.

DM: 44:15: I’m never confident of that.

EW: 44:17: All right, well this is interesting.

DM: 44:19: Well, and, because … I—

EW: 44:21: I don’t think the US would be capable of knowing what to do about a European problem …

DM: 44:28: I … the only thing is, it didn’t know what to do twice before.

EW: 44:32: Yes.

DM: 44:35: I … you know, my own … my instinct on this is always that people never ARE the people they are going to be, unless the events …

EW: 44:44: Happen.

DM: 44:44: … happen. The famous example being the Oxford Union debate before World War II in the 1930s when the Oxford Union votes by a majority that it would not die for King and Country. And everyone at the time was hands up in the air in horror at the pacifism of the new generation who, 10 years later, were fighting their way through Normandy. So this happens. And …

EW: 45:09: I quite agree …

DM: 45:10: And as I say, there was a little residual part of that at the beginning of the virus, albeit the most minimal version. And if our generation’s challenge is to sit on our ass for weeks, then there’s some irony and …

EW: 45:16: [laughing] It’s quite funny, in a horrible way.

DM: 45:27: Yeah, absolutely. It’s everything that we worried that our generation would be. Our great challenge—

EW: 45:32: Well no, because we were called[?] before, after 911: Americans wanted to do something, and it was like, “Go shopping.” And it’s like, “You’re kidding!”

DM: 45:39: Yes. And the great call-up this time was to sit on the sofa eating cheetos and watching Netflix.

Yes, so as … I never think it’s totally settled (all that ‘greatest generation’ sort of thing). I do think that, aside from the public health element of this, there are a set of other things that we haven’t dealt with. And one of them (which is the only bit that I do take the sort of 1940s comparison with) is, “Are we able or willing to live with risk?” And that’s—to me—clearly the element of this is now being contested. A portion of our societies clearly think that zero risk is the desirable aim at this stage.

EW: 46:32: Well, a very large group of people (I don’t even know what the word—) … they ‘pretend’ to believe this?

DM: 46:38: Yes. Yeah, yeah. No, I—

EW: 46:39: How does one even imagine that [?] risk can be—. I don’t understand what it means.

DM: 46:45: The only way I can interpret it is … For instance, in each of our countries we have these polls that show that the public perception of the mortality rate is wildly higher than the actual rates. I mean, in America, the general public thing more people have died than in World War II (in America, from the virus). In my own country it’s similar—I mean, people think that percentiles of the population … It’s nowhere near—

EW: 47:07: But this is this thing I’m saying about public health, which is: we have to lie to people in order to get them to undertake a behavior to actually make sure that the levels are lower. So in effect, I think that the way a public health professional might see this (and this is horrible), is: Well we did have that perception pushed out, and thank God the public overreacted, because that’s why that’s why our numbers are so low in terms of mortality. So mission accomplished.” Yes, you’ve degraded the trust is in all of science in order to pull this off, but for the price of scaring the living crap out of a large number of people, we can get the death rate somewhat lower.

DM: 47:47: Yeah, that, well … So the first thing is, the public perception versus the reality, which has obviously taken a hit. The second is, a percentage of people in the general public in each of our countries to actually TELL the pollsters that they like the lockdown, or they want the lockdown. We had, at one point (I think in May or June) 28% of the British public saying that they would like the lockdown to continue, even if all five conditions the government had set for lifting the lockdown were met.

EW: 48:17: [laughing]

DM: 48:17: [laughing] And we say, “Who ARE these 28%?”

EW: 48:21: That’s not inconsequential.

DM: 48:23: No. I think, by the way, the answer (maybe it’ll be an unpopular thing to say, but), I think the answer is quite a lot of people who, for instance, found the furlough scheme in which the British government paid for 80% of salaries, and 80% of salary—if you don’t have to commute, and you don’t have to go into the office, and you can sit in your underpants all day—is very attractive. So there’s a lot of people who are quite willing to take that. (It depends on other variables, of course—Have you got a garden? What age are you? Do you own a house? Can you pad[?] around a bit? Or are you, you know, a millennial stuck in a rented flat, staring at the walls and climbing up them? I mean, all that stuff, definitely makes a difference.) But that 28% who just couldn’t get out again … obviously also includes the elderly and the very worried (and we all know cases—legitimately and otherwise—of that), and then there’s the younger people who are, you know, excessively, I think, worried about the virus.

But that 28%’s a very revealing one, and they exist everywhere. And then you’ve got the one of … the one that’s hard to read, which is the high numbers of the general public who want more stringent measures. We had a poll recently that said 70% of the public wanted curfews. I mean, either this plays to some deep sexual fetish of the British nation (which WANTS to be …)

EW: 49:55: Well, you have many.

DM: 49:56: [laughing] Don’t need to tell me.

It is either some desire to be dominated by the government and told you’re bad and locked down like, you know … I won’t extend the metaphor.

EW: 50:10: I think you should because our ratings will soar, sir.

DM: 50:13: But you … also might be banned from Youtube for explicit content.

EW: 50:18: What? Well we’re headed that way anyway, I’m sure.

DM: 50:23: But it’s either that or (and this is how I read it) people tell the pollsters this—they even tell their friends that—but they really think that the lockdown, that the curfew, is for other people.

EW: 50:37: Well maybe. But it also is killing FOMO.

DM: 50:40: Right. That’s not a bad thing.

EW: 50:42: Like, if I think about all of my very wealthy, very successful friends, I know this is sucking for them—even if they’re in slightly better shape … on their yachts with gardens or whatever it is that they do. I do think that, worldwide, FOMO has never been lower.

DM: 50:58: That’s a good thing.

EW: 51:00: Well, weirdly—

DM: 51:00: It’ll reduce one type of anxiety.

EW: 51:02: It does. And the … But again, all of this … I can’t help but feel that … See, I WAS worried about something like this, and I talked about this “twin nuclei” problem, which COVID may well fall into—if the Wuhan lab turns out to be a little bit more important than the government has assured us or our press has assured us it is. This IS one of my concerns. And then it doesn’t stop there.

I’m worried that somehow all of Western society is exhausted. And here’s the weirdest statement I can possibly make: If I just take the Anglophone countries (and I think about the UK as central to the Anglophone group (the Five Eyes, as you said)), you’re about the only voice that sounds like I remember. And like I expected. You’re the only person whose voice …

Like, you know, in a rather ironic twist of fate, atheists have canonized Christopher Hitchens, right? They’ve decided that in death he is more perfect than he ever was in life. And that kind of erudition, courage, wit, and willingness to take on issues as if they matter in real time. We’re not getting a ton of it crashing over our shores from the UK. And we’re not producing … That’s why Jordan Peterson, in part, rocketed to fame—or my brother became well known to more people—is that there are almost no voices that are willing to stand up for what we believed 25 years ago.

DM: 52:07: Why do you think that is?

EW: 52:54: I was gonna ask you, given that it’s my show.

DM: 52:57: Hah! Well, I don’t know. I can’t talk about myself. But …

EW: 53:02: Well, so forget you. Then there’s almost no one out there who sounds like we expect.

DM: 53:10: I’m not entirely sure I’m clear about what you expect.

EW: 53:13: I expect someone to say something on behalf of, let’s say, free speech. So when we had the situation … I mean, look. The place that I became aware of you was in the immediate aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo massacre when you went on Al Jazeera and were asked about whether or not this terrible tragedy was going to be bringing a wave of Islamophobia to Europe. And I can’t think of almost anyone else who’s correct emotional cadence was “How dare you?”

DM: 53:47: Well, I mean, I do that when I feel one of my own personal tripwires is deeply [?].

EW: 53:53: Okay, so let’s … Why does no one else have one of these deep personal tripwires? I expect to hear your voice and often no one else’s, to be blunt. Clearly, you’re uncomfortable with this—for those of you listening at home, Douglas is making all sorts of strange faces, which I’m not used to.

DM: 54:12: Well, I mean, I’ve always slightly, you know, maybe in a sort of British way, I find it hard to analyze myself.

EW: 54:18: Oh get over yourself. I mean, that’s not the issue. The issue is that there really isn’t almost anyone else that we’re hearing. I mean, people are listening to John Cleese, to, I don’t know, Ricky Gervais, … You know, there’s a very small number of people who are saying, “This is all madness.”

DM: 54:39: Well, as I say, it … If you’re gonna try to remain sane in the era, you have to have something to draw upon. And I do think a very important task is to encourage younger people to spend their time developing such assets.

Now, part of it is, I suppose, what we used to call “character.” One of my heroes was a totally obscure figure, there’s a British novelist called Simon Raven, who wrote some sort of Anthony Powell ‘lite’ novels in the post-war period. He was a rather rackety figure—was expelled from school, chucked out of Cambridge, and then chucked out of the army, and was chucked out of everything so he had to be a novelist.

EW: 55:40: [laughs] I see.

DM: 55:41: But he had a godfather who was a pilot in World War II, and I remember he was just sort of … he was always a hero who … I read somewhere that (one of the biopics[?] from Simon Raven, I suppose) that he, the godfather, had been in a plane (two-seater plane) in the war. And at some point, he and his co-pilot were shot down and plummeting to Earth and Simon Raven’s godfather was overheard by his co-pilot saying, “This is unfortunate. This is the end.”

EW: 56:14: [laughing]

DM: 56:14: [laughing] And they actually survived.

EW: 56:16: But in that fashion.

DM: 56:17: This became, yeah, this became family lore, you know. I mean, personally, I admire the sort of stoicism like that. I always did. And I was brought up with it. The downside of it is it includes the stuff of not analyzing emotions, and much more.

EW: 56:24: I understand that. But wasn’t everyone brought up with that? I mean, you hardly seemed alone 50 years ago. This would not have marked you out in particular. The stiff upper lip is still sort of … like … You used the word earlier, ‘performative.’

DM: 56:51: Yeah.

EW: 56:52: I don’t recall growing up with that word.

DM: 56:55: No. No, well,—

EW: 56:57: Everything now is through a very different lens and the language that we use on a daily basis … many of these concepts and words didn’t even exist.

DM: 57:08: Yes, but we’ve undergone this unbelievable revolution (which has gone on in my lifetime, let alone[?] in yours). The things that are now normal were totally abnormal. I say all the time, when … Young [?] are very fortunate to have a lot of young readers, a lot of young listeners, like you …

[?] … One of your first tasks is to develop meaningful personal relationships. And to have friends who want you to do well and who care for you. And who you care for. And who will be there for you when you need them, and who need you. You shouldn’t make it transactional. But work on that: the development of such a meaningful relationship in your life. Don’t spend your time trying to get thousands of followers online who don’t give a shit about you. Just … just don’t do that.

Now, the first part of that was obvious. Always. The second part of it has been in competition for the first part for some time, and a lot of young people have been encouraged to take the wrong path on that. They can correct that. And they should be encouraged, indeed told to correct that. Um …

EW: 58:19: I’m not sure. I really want to debate this with you.

DM: 58:21: Go on.

EW: 58:22: Alright. So it seems to me that maybe even the value of friendship has decreased, because we’re not even entirely sure who our friends are, because they are being …

Alright, let me pull all the way back. I have said to you (I think as recently as yesterday, maybe) that the phone is not what we thought it was. We’re carrying around this device—we thought that it was a version of the Library of Alexandria that we carry in our pockets, and somehow what it really seems to be is a toolkit for rewiring the human mind in ways that we have no … we lack all understand.

DM: 59:04: Yeah, absolutely. Of course. It’s changed everything and, as always, we have no idea how much it’s changed us as we’re going through it.

EW: 59:10: Right. Now, in some sense, it’s changed my friends (from from childhood and from early adulthood). And so I don’t know whether it hasn’t changed both … Like, if you think about a relationship as having two nodes—the two participants—and an edge between them? I’m not positive that it hasn’t changed all three of those things—the two actors or agents, as well as the way in which they interact.

DM: 59:36: Of course, but I mean, you have to be—

EW: 59:37: Is it worth more or less to you? [?]

DM: 59:39: You have to be strict about this stuff. And you have to find your own rules. I may be a somewhat exacting friend. [crosstalk] But I mean, I have, fairly regularly … By the way, particularly since the pandemic, I have found myself telling my friends to put the bloody phone down. “No, I don’t want you to show me that. thing on the screen. I want you to tell me.”

EW: 1:00:01: Yes.

DM: 1:00:02: Okay? “I don’t need to see the video, I’d rather that you described it to me. It’ll be more fun.”

EW: 1:00:07: Oh, I haven’t I haven’t encountered this before—

DM: 1:00:09: Oh yeah, yeah. it’s because, this year in particular, people are even MORE into this. I’ve found—I have to say it (not not to everyone, but to some people)—it’s surprising people do it. Will without their iPad / the phone and show you something. I don’t want that. I want to spend the time with you. I don’t want the distraction. I want what I can’t get elsewhere. And I think people have to do this. Including, by the way on strange things like—and again, you have to have your own rules on this—don’t look up the thing you can’t remember.

EW: 1:00:45: Well, I try to tell this to people: remember some poems because storing them between your ears allows you to make references to them. If they only exist on the internet, then you won’t necessarily be able to make a connection between two of them.

DM: 1:00:58: By the way, that … This is a very … I’m so glad you said that; this is a very, very deeply held view of mine. I heard it once as a schoolboy when a man called Terry Waite, who was held captive in Lebanon; famous in the 1980s—was an envoy of the then Archbishop of Canterbury; was kept hostage for years; when I was growing up, Terry Waite’s name was in the news all the time.

EW: 1:01:21: All the time.

DM: 1:01:22: And he once came to my school after [?]. He gave an extraordinary talk [that] remained with me about how he had got through years chained to a radiator in a basement in Beirut. And one of the things I never forget him saying was that he had the opening of Four Quartets by T. S. Eliot in his mind all the time—you know, “time present and time past / they’re both contained in time future / time future contained in time past / If all time is eternally present / all time is unredeemable.” And on. And I remember when he started reading (was reciting it), and particularly when he got to the passage (what is it?) “Footfalls echo in the memory / Down the passage which we did not take / Through the door we never opened / Into the rose-garden.” And … I was just blown away—first by the words, but secondly by the the embedding of an intuition I already had, which is “You’ll need this stuff.”

EW: 1:02:26: You’ll need this stuff.

DM: 1:02:28: By the way, the late George Steiner (who I, sadly, didn’t know, but who I once also had giving a lecture when I was a boy) also deeply impressed this on me. Steiner was the main sort of middle-of-European intellectual who came to England—I suppose, in some ways, always lost some of the fame to Isaiah Berlin. But Steiner was a remarkable figure—kind we don’t see very much anymore. (We[?] didn’t see much then.) And he … this was very much it what he would impart to you, which was: What do you have up here, the bastards can’t take. And, you know, Steiner had endless stories of examples of this, some of which—all of which were deeply moving. Russian poets who would know … A Russian poet who knew Don Juan of Byron [?] by heart, and when imprisoned in gulag, translates it in her head into Russian. And it becomes the version in Russian. (What is it?) The 1937 writers’ conference in Moscow … the Russian novelist who … (now, why have I blanked on the name suddenly—you’ll have to read it that.)

EW: 1:04:12: I won’t let you look it up. You know that.

DM: 1:04:14: Yeah. Oh, you know, the … God, I hate it when this happens. Author of Dr. Zhivago, why have I lost the name.

EW: 1:04:31: Pasternak?

DM: 1:04:32: Pasternak. Why’ve I lost Pasternak? That’s bad; that’s mental deterioration.

EW: 1:04:36: Don’t worry! Press on!

DM: 1:04:38: … Mental deterioration, right there.

Pasternak stands up at the 1937 writers’ conference. And no, because—sorry, this is a bit of a diversion, but it’s worth doing maybe. Of course, 37 is the worst year of the purges. He knows he can’t speak. He can’t not speak. And everybody knows Pasternak has to speak. And I think, having all the figures for the number of people at the 1937 conference of writers who survived in 1939 is tiny. Pasternack, by the last day, everyone says, “You’ve got to say something.” And Pasternak gets up onto the podium and says one number. And everybody rises. It’s the number of the Shakespeare sonnet, “When to the sessions of sweet silent thought I summon up remembrance of things past.” And Pasternak did the translation of this into Russian—which, they say, is as beautiful as any of the words in English. And every of the writers recites the translation of the Shakespeare sonnet in Russian. And he survives.

EW: 1:05:58: How odd.

DM: 1:05:59: But … my point is that this … the knowledge that you’ll need stuff—that it’ll fortify you through your life—is a very deep instinct with me. And … so when people say, you know, it’s worth memorizing in order that you keep your brain going, and it’s a useful cognitive exercise … [laughing] it is not just that. It’s … Part of the purpose of it (well in fact, the most important purpose) is you need to steel yourself for what’s coming.

EW: 1:06:40: Well, to your point, I mean … You know, the old song, [singing] “The way you wear your hat, the way you sip your tea. The way— [?] memory of all that”?

DM: 1:06:48: Sure. Yeah.

EW: 1:06:49: [singing] “They can’t take that away from me.” This idea of ‘what cannot be taken’ … Years ago, in the town of Hoi An[?], in Vietnam, I saw … there’s a marvelous one-stringed Vietnamese instrument (which I’m going to mispronounce, because nothing can be pronounced from Vietnamese unless you’re an expert), which is going to be spelled something like the “dan bow.” And I saw it in a window, and the woman-of-the-house saw that I was admiring this, invited me in, and they wheeled in a man who’d clearly lost his marbles and was sort of … I remember him as almost drooling, not really able to speak, some form of English … And at some point, somebody brought in a guitar, and he started playing his own transcription of Chopin onto the guitar. So I thought, “Oh, this is rather strange: a drooling idiot who’s lost his mind who can play Chopin, and it appears to be his own transcription (on a guitar)” … None of it made any sense.

And then out came an album of newspaper clippings about how this man had been a journalist (and a courageous one) who had been sent for re-education by communists. And they had destroyed his body and rewired his mind, and somehow he had held on to this thing that he was. And this …

You know, there’s a lyric in a Bob Dylan song (which I’m very partial to), where he says, “Buy me a flute and a gun that shoots tailgates and substitutes,” and then the line is, “Strap yourself to a tree with roots, because you ain’t going nowhere.” And I think about this idea of the tree with roots: what is it that has survived two World Wars, and what would you like to tie yourself to? Whether or not you think that it actually makes sense, it’s important to make sure that you’re tied to SOME things that have survived through all of the tumult that the 20th century could throw it.

DM: 1:08:54: Yes. This is … Look, it is not the ONLY answer. (I know some people who think that it is, at the moment.) Marcus Aurelius alone cannot get us out of this problem. But he helps.

EW: 1:09:06: [smiling] Okay.

DM: 1:09:08: Boethius can’t, alone, help us out. But he can help.

I think that there has been a fundamental mistake in the transmission to (particularly to) younger people (including my own generation, to an extent). It wasn’t [crosstalk] … There was a mistaken impression of what life was going to be like, and I do feel the consequences of this are landing.

EW: 1:09:37: And what was … What do you consider your generation? May I ask your birth year?

DM: 1:09:41: I mean, it’s … very rude of you! I was—

EW: 1:09:45: I’m an American, I can get away with it.

DM: 1:09:46: I was born in 1979.

EW: 1:09:48: Alright. So I am at the beginning of Gen X, and you are effectively right at the end.

DM: 1:09:55: Right. I was, by the way, ID’d at an alcohol shop in LA last night.

EW: 1:10:00: Well done, [?]

DM: 1:10:01: Yeah, no, I told him “I’m coming back ALWAYS!” [laughing]

EW: 1:10:03: [laughing]

DM: 1:10:06: No, … I think I got at the END of something—partly because of the nature of my education, and the places I was educated, in the end; and partly because of sel-taught things (and I graduated towards certain people and certain ideas because of what I intuited as being worthwhile).

EW: 1:10:28: Right.

DM: 1:10:29: However, I know quite a lot of people who are my age and younger, who didn’t imbibe all of this, and who—I mean, look. Take an obvious one, “it’s unfair.” It doesn’t have the PULL on me that it does for some people. …

EW: 1:10:49: Because lots of things are unfair. You can’t make life fair.

DM: 1:10:51: Yeah! I just … Idon’t find it an intoxicating point.

EW: 1:10:55: Alright. But then that comes back on us.

DM: 1:10:58: Sure.

EW: 1:10:58: So, for example, when we complained about people who’re seeing that everything is being unfair. And then people say, “Well, are you claiming that is unfair to call everything ‘unfair’?”

DM: 1:11:07: Yeah. And, of course, the laziness that can crop into it is that you end up ignoring things that are genuinely unfair. And fairness IS actually an important thing. And you end up being blasé about things you shouldn’t be blasé about. That’s just quite a problem. But …

It’s an interesting … Like, I mean, one of my—I only met him once, but somebody I admired enormously in my 20s is Irving Kristol. And remember, Irving said somewhere about inequality, he said, “Maybe it’s a Jewish thing, but I’m not interested in inequality. I don’t find it interesting in sports. I don’t find it interesting economics. I’m just not interested in it.”

EW: 1:11:07: What does that mean?

DM: 1:11:07: He didn’t think equality was the desirable goal.

Well, I agree that equality isn’t a desirable goal.

I agree.

EW: 1:11:58: I mean, I actually hold that point of view now.

DM: 1:12:00: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

EW: 1:12:01: But, I don’t think that that’s … I think that the economists who refused to study inequality actually consigned us to a world in which political economy dominates regular forms of expression, like honest market interactions, or proper use of a ballot box.

DM: 1:12:20: Well, this is the example I want to give, because, on the one hand, it’s an interesting and important generational instinct to have. On the other hand, if you apply it across the board, you miss things. And we have missed things.

EW: 1:12:35: Well, look, let’s try a different version of this. One of my claims is that the world appeared much smarter to me several decades ago, because people were running heuristics that matched the world they lived in. In other words, they weren’t actually fundamental thinkers, but (and I give the same example in order to drive it home), if the river usually flows (and you’re used to swimming in the swimming hole), when it freezes over and you talk about going swimming or diving, you’re revealed not to have updated for a phase change. And I believe that in a low-inequality world, fetishizing equality is a peculiar thing. When you get to, I don’t know, Brazilian levels of inequality, you do have a different beast on your hands—it’s not the same thing. That regime doesn’t work …

DM: 1:13:34: Yes. There’s an additional problem in that, isn’t there, Eric, which is that … There is a set of problem, which people don’t counter, or they don’t contend with, rather, because the only people who’ve been thinking about it are people with the wrong answers.

EW: 1:13:54: Where you’re driven away, because the people who fetishized something actually defined the field and you’re repulsed, or put off by those founders of that particular [?].

DM: 1:14:06: I mean, I think we’ve discussed this before in private (I know we have): the, (and it goes back to the conversation we were having about virology), which is, who can you trust on the area that you don’t know about? And how do you know they’re not pulling a fast one when you’re not looking? And … on a range of things, I think, that an explanation of where our politics and culture has been going bad, is through taking our eye off things because the people who claimed to know about it were people we knew to have the wrong answers. You know, I say this, and I’m guilty of this myself, you know, I’m more on the right than you are. But the right didn’t contend with inequality because the only people talking and thinking about inequality were people who had bad answers, which was, “Therefore capitalism is a problem.” And so, we just wanted to keep away from it.

EW: 1:15:09: Well, I had the same feeling on the left. Which is that, I don’t want to banish inequality from the system—that is not a goal; that it would be a terrible thing; and, effectively, the only way to banish inequality is through high levels of violence, and then you will watch the whoever’s meting out the violence is going to become the new unequal class. The thing doesn’t add up. And so, if you’re an intelligent, progressive … I mean, one of the things I contend with is that, my … I feel like I hate communism much more than my right-of-center friends who are willing to mumble about it all the time, but they’re not necessarily willing to pick up a stick and fight it.

DM: 1:15:45: Wasn’t that almost always the case with communism on the left? The left who were anti-communist knew what they were dealing with.

EW: 1:15:52: Oh, my gosh. And it’s … because … The thing about communism is that, in order to get humans to do something so counter to our nature, you usually need a threat. So violence tends to be implicit in communism. Whereas if you’re a progressive, wanting to live in a very violent society seems a very strange thing—even if the violence is state-controlled, and mostly kept in it’s sheath. But …

DM: 1:16:20: We should get on to violence shortly, by the way. But before we do, can I suggest that, um, there are—

EW: 1:16:26: You can take over the show. You can do whatever you want.

DM: 1:16:28: No, no. I wouldn’t dream of it!

EW: 1:16:32: Do you know how much work you would save me?

DM: 1:16:35: [laughing] Can I suggest that … Well, I mean, there’ll a be … We should, for the sake of balance, among other things, think of a right wing/left wing version of the same thing. Something the left isn’t contending with because they believe the right will smuggle in a load of dangerous stuff if they did. I suppose abortion rights might be one in America.

EW: 1:16:57: Well, abortion … I mean, abortion rights is very good, because you have the twin sins of the right wing calling every fertilized egg a ‘baby,’ and the left wing referring to a child about to be born in a few minutes, ‘fetal tissue.’ Right? It’s like … we’re deathly afraid of talking about embryology, Carnegie stages in human development.

DM: 1:17:24: Yeah. Yeah. And that is partly because of this. Because we (particularly on the left) people sense that the people who’ve been doing the thinking about it have the worst answers.

EW: 1:17:34: I can’t stand the pro-life intellectual corpus held by those with whom I caucus.

DM: 1:17:43: Yeah.

EW: 1:17:43: Sorry, sorry. The pro-choice caucus is disgusting relative to late-term pregnancies. And the pro-life caucus is horribly authoritarian with respect to personal business surrounding … yeah.

DM: 1:17:58: Absolutely. Absolutely.

There’s probably … well there are plenty of other ones. I’m trying to think maybe even one other just as, I guess, …

EW: 1:18:05: We could do immigration, or …

DM: 1:18:07: Yeah, immigration. Immigration is a very good one. I noticed this with Strange Death of Europe that, you know … I was trying to get the political class of[?] Europe, in particular, to think about immigration more deeply. And I kept discovering along the way that you couldn’t get the left to do it, because they intuited that the only people who’ve been thinking about it were the right, and the right had horrible, horrible methods[?].

EW: 1:18:30: Only have hate in their hearts.

DM: 1:18:31: Yeah. Well they had hate in their hearts, they assume the worst possible motivations, and the worst possible answers. And so they wouldn’t contend with … And … It was such a visible mistake. The left SHOULD have been thinking about it. [???] who did. I mean, trade unionists, and others, DID think about immigration, because of labor, wages, and much more.

EW: 1:18:50: Well, this is odd thing. …

DM: 1:18:51: But those people disappeared. I mean, those people disappeared, certainly in my country, by the 90s and 2000s.

EW: 1:18:59: Yeah, I feel like Ishi, Last of His Tribe, where I come from an earlier left-of-center position on immigration. And, you know, this was held by Cesar Chavez, and, you know, who might have a mural painted to him, you know, today … But on the other hand, the Sierra Club was definitely restrictionist. And the farm workers’ union were restrictionist. And it was in the 80s, when we killed off organized labor, that it became unthinkable, and the only reason to oppose immigration was because of your deep-seated hatred for your fellow man who was different of hue than you were. I mean, some such nonsense, right? And this … I give this as a check, which is: Can you can you find a single article that will talk about what I call ‘xenophilic restrictionism’? And there isn’t any!

DM: 1:19:54: Exactly. No, no, at some point … We’ve said in private before, but, a long time ago this … ‘xenophobe’ should not have been tied completely to restrictionists.

EW: 1:20:08: Well, every slaver was, you know … [?] a xenophobe—eager to import as much labor as possible.

DM: 1:20:16: As a slave owner, you might have said, early open borders.

EW: 1:20:19: Right. The whole principle, here, is that they’re independent objects. I’ve talked about this with the four quadrant model and all of this nonsense.

But … This is this question, we can’t get around our own institutional narratives. It is only a part of the institutional narrative that says, “We want to make sure that … he or she who mentions restrictionism instantly feels pain. So that the very thought about restricting immigration and …”

Let’s talk about a difference between the US and the UK: we do not have a “Rivers of Blood” speech. Many of us don’t even know what that is.

DM: 1:20:56: God. Lucky.

EW: 1:20:57: Well, what is the “Rivers of Blood” speech, and how does that affect UK thinking on immigration, different than, let’s say, what you observe of the US feelings about immigration? And then I want to use this as a launchpad to discuss a particular tick of conservative thought.

DM: 1:21:18: You know, I mean, that—for American listeners who don’t know that—yeah, that was 1968 when Enoch Powell (Shadow Cabinet Minister) gave a speech in which he referred to …

EW: 1:21:34: ‘Shadow Cabinet.’ Can you just say a few more words?

DM: 1:21:36: The party was in opposition, at the time. He was the conservative Member of Parliament—very distinguished thinker, extraordinary mind, and a very haunting figure in British politics, because … I remember him from boyhood (as I’d met[?] him a number times, as a child), he was he was a captivating figure, in lots of ways. He was like an Old Testament prophet. And he was a philosopher in politics, which, as you know, is a bad thing. I mean, it’s bad for them.

EW: 1:22:04: Okay. But he was talking about a force that would transform the UK forever.

DM: 1:22:09: Yes.

EW: 1:22:09: And it did, did it not?

DM: 1:22:11: Yes, it did. And the reason why people still talk about Enoch Powell—whereas they don’t talk about Edward Heath, who fired him for the speech—is because he was onto SOMEthing. (I’m being careful here.) He was on to SOMEthing. And a conservative critique of where he went wrong, among other things, is that he used such lurid language that the speech in which he … you[?] said that he “saw like the Roman.” He “saw the river Tiber foaming with much blood.”

EW: 1:22:39: And some of this was actually filmed, right?

DM: 1:22:41: Yes, some of it, not all of it. Anyhow, it did completely … captivated, galvanized, the debate. Dock workers and others marched, you know, “we’re with Enoch.” And others were disgusted by—The Times of London ran a leader column, calling it an “evil” speech. And there was something very, very off with it. And I concede this. You know, I …

EW: 1:23:05: But this is exactly why I think it’s fascinating. Because of the point that you earlier raised, which is that there’s something about the treatment with which something is touched …

One of my huge complaints about Trump is not that he does nothing right, but every right thing that he does, he touches with this Trump … thing … whatever it is, and—

DM: 1:23:27: Yes, and it, by the way, it’s a real problem, this, isn’t it? Because in a way, whenever anyone says, “Yes, it’s the tone I don’t like,” you think that’s the coward’s last refuge. (Very often.) It’s … you can’t counter the facts, you can’t counter [?], but you don’t like the tone. And yet, the conundrum of this is sometimes the tone does tell you an awful lot.

EW: 1:23:51: I think the tone sometimes is actually part of the content? And sometimes it isn’t. Right?

DM: 1:23:58: Right. Yup.

EW: 1:23:58: And so, you know, … One of the things that I struggle with is that I am expected, in most of my private life, to hate Trump for exactly the same reasons that everyone else in my group hates Trump. And I’m supposed to know that no credit can be given for any good thing that happens, because to the extent that someone makes the trains run on time and you acknowledge this, it just means that they have the opportunity to kill that many more of their opposition. Right? And so the idea that Trump … we were promised four … you know, fascism in the streets—it doesn’t appear to have happened wholesale. And then, you know, you get these refrains like, “Well, what about the detention centers? And the cages, and the children? And the …”

DM: 1:24:44: This is all … It does get back to the ’68 speech point, because … The conservative critique, by the way, of Powell was that he had made immigration and impossible-to-discuss subject for decades afterwards.

EW: 1:24:59: That’s the issue!

DM: 1:25:01: My late friend Roger Scruton wrote a very, very powerful essay 15 years ago or so, about the speech, titled “Should he have spoken?” Which is a very interesting, thoughtful, go-over of that question, which still, in a way, haunts Britain. And I think that maybe, whatever happens your election, maybe this will remain the case for some time with anything associated with Trump—that it will have this “Should he have said that?” …

EW: 1:25:35: Do you remember the dress?

DM: 1:25:37: Which one?

EW: 1:25:38: The one that was either black and blue or white and gold?

DM: 1:25:41: Oh yes. Yeah, yeah.

EW: 1:25:43: So the great danger is, is that almost everything has become the dress. And, you know, if I think about the Enoch Powell speech—because I’m not British, and because it doesn’t have the spell (like this is an example of something that casts a spell inside of the UK that is not felt in the US, right?) …

It’s very interesting, because there are shortcuts that you can take when talking about immigration. For example, I tend to talk about software, hardware and firmware. Right? Where, in essence, hardware is your genetics (this melanin content of this skin (which everyone seems to be so fascinated by at the moment (which I don’t believe))). Then there’s a question about the software, which is like, what do you think, what political party do you belong to? But there’s also this different issue of the firmware. Like, the operating system that rides on the hardware. And I’m very particular about firmware, and I’m almost indifferent to hardware. I don’t really care about … If you told me that there was an advanced European-like civilization in Uganda, where everyone was black but me, I would be far happier to live in that society—where the firmware was familiar and the hardware was foreign—then to live in a world in which the firmware got swapped out and everyone shared my exact genetics. Like, I really care about firmware nationalism. I don’t want hardware nationalism.

DM: 1:27:25: Yeah, absolutely. But one of the problems we have may well be going through is that … we can’t seem to cope with this.

EW: 1:27:37: Well, but, the reason I bring this up is that … I brought that up at a dinner with … I mean, I have this problem that I get along with conservatives and libertarians, even though I’m not in either group—

DM: 1:27:47: Well that’s because we’re still (if you don’t mind my saying so) that’s because we’re still willing to talk.

EW: 1:27:52: You’re still willing to talk for the moment?

DM: 1:27:55: Yes, it may be—

EW: 1:27:56: Well, no, no—it’s worse than that. So—

DM: 1:27:57: In America, it might be because the right feels that it’s also been winning. I mean, might be something to do with that. I don’t know.

EW: 1:28:03: Well, ‘winning’ is a complicated concept, because it’s multivariate: you’re losing in some places, you’re winning in others.

DM: 1:28:03: Of course.

EW: 1:28:09: And I think another reason is, is that a lot of the thinking left has been driven towards the right. So this is what I’ve referred to as “The Thinkquisition,” where, if the occupied left is Spain and the right is behaving as the Ottoman Empire (welcoming Jews who are a little bit under-the-gun), initially, you don’t see yourself as Ottoman, you see yourself as ‘displaced.’ Or, you know, what was De Gaulle doing in England? Was he being British? Or it was he … You know, I’m expected to love the Democratic Party, and I view it as like the Occupied Democrats or Vichy Democrats. I don’t know what it is. It’s been something for 28 years since Clinton.

DM: 1:28:53: But … as I said … I may be too flippant in saying this about the right, but go on with the …

EW: 1:28:59: Well what I was gonna say that this dinner, was that as soon as I started getting into this hardware/software/firmware, the call from the host came as, “Too complicated, Eric.” And I thought—

DM: 1:29:13: Do you think the host DID think it was too complicated? Or was trying to stop …

EW: 1:29:16: I think that it has to do with the fact that the host has an idea that this is that lefty stuff where you guys can’t say these words that the rest of us can say and circle around. Which is like … For example, if somebody were to say, at my table, “They’re taking our jobs,” I would get very upset.

DM: 1:29:36: Sure.

EW: 1:29:38: It doesn’t mean that I don’t know exactly what that person is saying. It doesn’t mean that I haven’t written a peer-reviewed paper that actually embodies what is meant by that phrase. But that phrase is a shortcut. And it won’t do for somebody on the left to say “they” (which is people who are more or less like me that don’t happen to hold my citizenship) taking “our” jobs (what do you mean “our” jobs? Did not have immigration before?)—like, there’s so much wrong with the statement, “They’re taking our jobs,” that I can’t get around the way the right might express that point. The right—to your earlier point that the right will taint this with a kind of jingoism, or a nationalism, or patriotism bordering on something less savory. And my feeling is: No, I would rather spend three pages and get it right, and show that it has nothing to do with xenophobia or jingoism …

DM: 1:30:45: Well, yes.

EW: 1:30:46: And the right’s point is, “That’s not going to win elections, dear boy.”

DM: 1:30:52: Yeah. Well, maybe part of the problem with this is that everyone is currently behaving as if they’re in permanent campaign mode …

EW: 1:31:00: Yes.

DM: 1:31:00: … when it’s not their bloody job. You know, I mean, this is what’s so infuriating (particularly in America) at the moment. It’s like: What do you think this dinner table is? Is it a place where friends congregate and we exchange ideas? Or is it some very some low-grade version of the VP debate?

EW: 1:31:20: Exactly. The quality of our relationships at the table are so much higher than the quality of our relationships with these things I call ‘creatures’ who have fused with their parties, or they fused with their institutions—it’s like cyborgs who’re no longer human, but part man, part machine, right? And so the issue of watching a family blow apart because of their adherence to two players they’ve never met, who hold points of view that they would never be able to get behind, …

DM: 1:31:55: This has to be fought. It has to be fought very hard, by everybody in their personal lives. I know it’s happened a certain amount in my own life. People have been willing to blow up what they should love most. For this bloody political game.

EW: 1:32:10: Well this is the … I would rather—

DM: 1:32:13: It has to be called out. Stopped. We’ve far too much tolerance [?]. I’ve noticed this in the last few weeks in America: every time I have sat down at a dinner table, (maybe I will lose the remaining friends I have, I’m not going to name any names)

EW: 1:32:25: Let’s just fuckin’ do it!

DM: 1:32:26: Okay. I’m not going to name any names. But. Every single time, in every city I’ve been to, that I’ve seen friends who are on the anti-Trump side, at some point in dinner they have lost it at somebody else at the table. I, as you know, high on disagree—

EW: 1:32:44: Now, I will point out that you came to our Shabbat dinner, recently. So … [in jest] you HAVE used the word ‘every,’ sir!

DM: 1:32:55: I think it was the day after Shabbat [?]

EW: 1:32:57: [laughing]

DM: 1:32:58: But I think … I think that holds.

EW: 1:33:01: Oh, yes, I guess it was after Shabbat.

DM: 1:33:03: Yeah, but my POINT holds.

EW: 1:33:04: Well, but … My wife and I started going into various disagreements—we’re both on the same side of the aisle, and we still don’t hear the world the same way.

DM: 1:33:12: Exactly. I forgot—how embarrassing to say that and to have forgotten that it was …

EW: 1:33:17: [simultaneous] It was so clever that you would bring it up in this way, and then …

DM: 1:33:19: … your table was one of the tables at which it happened.

EW: 1:33:21: Exactly!

DM: 1:33:23: [laughing]

EW: 1:33:24: [low voice] Damn you, Douglas!

DM: 1:33:25: As you know, I am high on disagreeability in public and highly agreeable in private.

EW: 1:33:31: I found that most disappointing.

DM: 1:33:33: I’m sorry about that. I can’t … I actually do have a pacifying instinct around the dinner table, because I don’t want that stuff.

EW: 1:33:41: I think it’s completely logical that you would be that way.

DM: 1:33:43: Right. I’m glad to hear that.

I’m just … incredibly struck by it on this visit. And I’m worried by it. And I—

EW: 1:33:53: It’s destroying all of our relationships!

DM: 1:33:54: Exactly. I dislike it. I genuinely … I like discussion in private, as in public, which involves people saying what they think and somebody else saying, “That’s interesting. Why do you think that?” on ALMOST any issue. Now, it’s true that there are occasions where somebody might say something SO reprehensible, that you say, “You know what? I just don’t think I want to be part of this.”

EW: 1:34:18: Well, that’s true.

DM: 1:34:20: Very, very rarely. Well, I can think of … I can think of maybe one or two occasions it’s happened in my life.

EW: 1:34:30: That’s extraordinary.

DM: 1:34:32: But I am not up for people blowing up every time they sit down over a meal in order to fight something over which they care more than they need to.

EW: 1:34:46: Well let me try to steelman the perspective of those who are blowing up, so that we can at least play with it.

DM: 1:34:54: Sure.

EW: 1:34:56: I believe, at the moment, that we are about to make decisions that may destroy our societies.

DM: 1:35:02: Mm-hmm.

EW: 1:35:02: I don’t think that it’s assured that the US and the UK are going to go on indefinitely, given where we are at the moment. And it’s a very strange thing to say. Because whatever it is that we’re suffering from, is a subtle thing. It’s not. If I look visually at the world, there’s no reason that we should be about to implode. But clearly, there’s a lot of indication that the visual is not matching where we are. Okay?

So if you imagine that this is actually weirdly life-and-death for people—for countries, for nations, for ideas—I do think that the stakes are extraordinarily high. To your point about what you’ve called ‘the snowplow’ earlier in our conversation: I’ve talked about this as the A-frame roof where you’re trying to dance at the top, and that it gets more and more peaked, and therefore—

DM: 1:35:48: It’s exactly the same thing the other way around.

EW: 1:35:49: It’s exactly the same thing. Okay. In that circumstance, the problem is that the places for people to collect are now so unthinkable. Like, you know, the old dirty little secret of immigration in the past was that the two positions that matter not at all are open and closed borders, because that doesn’t happen. But because the public is somehow trying to conduct this conversation, and these are the natural Schelling points—which is like, I know how to say “no restrictions,” and I know how to say “full restrictions,” I don’t know how to say, “I want these 36 pages of code implemented with this shifting priority in point space[?]” and all that kind of stuff. So in general, the more of us that have gotten involved in a discussion like immigration (on Twitter, or something to that effect), we find ourselves discussing nonsensical (traditionally nonsensical) positions. And therefore, we’re terrified of each other, because somebody says, “I don’t understand why we have to have borders. No people are illegal.” And the other person says, you know, “God, grit, and guns made America great.” And what kind of conversation is that? It’s no kind of conversation at all.

DM: 1:35:53: It is suboptimal.

EW: 1:37:10: Well it’s a child’s conversation of two dystopias, neither of which should ever happen.

DM: 1:37:18: One point (before the point I want to make): we have actually seen … Again, it’s one of these things: maybe 2020 is a year where we, among other things, notice things that we don’t talk about at the time.

EW: 1:37:30: Okay.

DM: 1:37:31: Sorry. There is a total ban—I’m going to give you an exception, of course. There’s a total ban on my countrymen coming to this country, at the moment. Instituted by the President.

EW: 1:37:41: Yes.

DM: 1:37:41: Did you think that would ever happen in your lifetime?

EW: 1:37:42: No.

DM: 1:37:43: No. Right.

EW: 1:37:45: I should say I was shocked when we locked Charlie Chaplin out of the United States on a visit home. But and I was shocked when we locked Paul Robson and Linus Pauling INTO the country. So anything of this … Like, I’ve noticed these kinds of behaviors in the past.

DM: 1:38:01: Okay. But … Obviously, here I’ve managed[?] to get an exemption on journalistic grounds for being in the States. So there are exceptions. But. I’ve done, to this point … When you say that that’s a totally unfeasible scenario—that we are dealing with two extremes, neither of which are workable—I just would add, the visuals are otherwise, at the moment. I mean, I have, when I first saw—

EW: 1:38:24: Your presence … The fact that there are exceptions … I’m not saying we[?] can’t tilt, temporarily, towards great restrictionism …

DM: 1:38:31: Okay, okay. Temporarily. Yes, ok. Temporarily.

EW: 1:38:33: Even the ‘temporarily’ … You know, during the Chinese Exclusion Act and other things we’re not so proud of in this country … You know, there’s a long period between (what was it) like, the McCarran Act would have been like the 50s, the Immigration … the great change was 1965 …

DM: 1:38:53: I’m not saying … I mean … My point is that, certainly, in the short-to-medium term, it’s possible. Some things are possible we thought were not possible. I never thought I would see Justin Trudeau announcing that no foreigners will be allowed into Canada [?].

EW: 1:39:07: Yes.

DM: 1:39:08: Okay. So these things have happened this year. People have noted them. They’re not completely insane things anymore. And one of the things we’re going to have to dance with going forward is that memory.

EW: 1:39:21: Well, so, for example—

DM: 1:39:22: On a range of things.

EW: 1:39:23: The Seattle exclusion … Capitol Hill Exclusion Zone.

DM: 1:39:26: Absolutely.

EW: 1:39:26: What the heck was that? Now …

DM: 1:39:29: That could all happen, and did happen, this year. And we haven’t …

EW: 1:39:34: Although it un-happened almost as quickly as it could happen.

DM: 1:39:38: Happily so, but …

EW: 1:39:39: Portland went on for a bit longer.

DM: 1:39:41: Yeah. Still going on.

But just to return to, as it were, the steelmanning point, which you make. I’m very glad you raise that, because it’s been on my mind since I’ve been here, and one of the things that I’ve thought would be [?]. As far as I can see it, my left wing friends in America (and never-Trumper friends) have a basis that is totally understandable. Which is something like, “How could we ever forgive anyone who allowed this man to be in power?”

EW: 1:40:19: You find this understandable?

DM: 1:40:21: Yes.

EW: 1:40:22: Oh my gosh,

DM: 1:40:23: Yeah, I do.

EW: 1:40:24: Wow.

DM: 1:40:24: I don’t sympathize with it.

EW: 1:40:27: I feel like we, the left, elected him. [crosstalk] And I was so angry. Well I’m just … This is something which I don’t understand at all. Because my feeling is … Donald Trump couldn’t have been elected without the Clintons.

DM: 1:40:43: Sure. Of course, of course. I go along with all of this. I’m saying that, if I was to steelman what the left[?] think about this, it’s saying, “How did you allow this man—with these reprehensible character traits, and so on—to be able to get to the highest office in the land?” And they blame the right for that. They blame everyone who voted for him. And what’s more, they’ve come to blame everybody who expresses any, as they see, ideological cover for his position. For instance, I believe … I have written this—I’ve very, very rarely written about Trump in recent years, because I find it fundamentally not as interesting as everyone else in the world does. And I think it’s very hard…

EW: 1:41:19: Right with you, sir.

DM: 1:41:20: … And I don’t think it’s possible to say anything very new. And when people say to me occasionally—

EW: 1:41:23: One of the greatest risks of the next administration (should Donald Trump managed to find his way into office again), is the intellectual opportunity cost of discussing nothing else for four years.

DM: 1:41:34: Absolutely. And it’s happened to too many of my friends and colleagues.

EW: 1:41:38: Sorry, I was … stepping on your words.

DM: 1:41:39: But the point with this is, is that they have decided that everybody who … I wrote once recently … I broke my own rule, because the Trump administration is trying to do a trade deal with the United Kingdom (my own country) where we have (my country) are struggling to arrange a trade deal with the European Union. It’s VERY suboptimal for my country to be in a position where we didn’t have a trade deal either with the EU or the US. The Democratic Party have made a very unpleasant threats to my country about a trade deal. Nancy Pelosi, in her unbelievable ignorance, unfathomable ignorance and rudeness to my country, has—

EW: 1:41:43: We’ll see if you can get me to stand up for Nancy Pelosi; this will be interesting.

DM: 1:42:25: … has threatened the United Kingdom because she believes that an element of the withdrawal agreement from the EU of the UK … (This more than many listeners will … I’ll do this fast.) She and some Democrats believe that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU puts in ultimate, complete danger, the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 that brought to an end the very violent and awful hostilities that had gone on for 30 years in Northern Ireland. Several Democrat senators signed a letter threatening the UK with this. It’s a misunderstanding of the facts, in my opinion (other people contest that obviously, but I believe that it’s a misunderstanding of the facts). Several Democrat centers signed a letter saying that the UK should … will not have a trade deal with the US if we withdraw from the EU in this manner. This is a complete trap for my country. And Nancy Pelosi, very virulently and unpleasantly, the other week, stood up and repeated that same claim.

One little addendum to that to anyone who thinks I’m somewhat … too fixated on this point: The signatories of the letter included members of your governing class who, for 30 years, supported their IRA (the Irish Republican Army) when they were killing people in my country—putting bombs in pubs; shooting farmers in the back of their head because they were from the wrong confessional class, in their view; carrying out the most brutal massacres on the mainland of the UK and in Northern Ireland. And who did this for years with the support of people in power in this country. And this country (as I’m sitting in America—I’m very pleased to be sitting here) allowed NORAID[?] and others to raise money for these barbarians to carry out these acts of violence. And the fact that people who gave cover for the IRA for years now are threatening the UK … Now they’re not all Democrats. Okay. But this is a threat of violent people … is using violent people for a political purpose, down the road, to threaten another country, over a trade deal. I put that out there and [?].

On the other hand, the Trump administration has been trying to get a trade deal with the UK. Okay. So, to that extent, I believe that the Trump administration is better for the UK, in trade terms, than the Biden administration would be. When I say that, it’s … And if I say that at an American dinner table these days, I will be accused of having given cover to Donald Trump, of agreeing with every character trait, of personally wanted to grab every pussy I can, and much more. And that’s the breakdown of the situation.

EW: 1:45:22: By ‘pussy,’ I should say that Douglas actually means ‘cowards.’ Correct?

DM: 1:45:27: Very much so.

EW: 1:45:28: Absolutely.

DM: 1:45:29: Very much. And in a very real sense. And I …

EW: 1:45:36: Douglas,

DM: 1:45:36: … this is part of the problem.

EW: 1:45:38: Well, it’s … You have to train people properly. You have to say something to the effect of, “Did Hitler do nothing right?” Right? And then they’re like, “What are you talking— [mumbling]?” Then you have to say, “Well, do you think that the Nazis were wrong to buckle to the Rosenstrasse protest and return partially Jewish men to their non-Jewish wives out of the concentration camps? Or would you have preferred that they’d send those people to the death as well?” And it’s like, “Well, that’s an absurd, blah, blah, blah.”

And then you start to realize that this has to do, not at all with the intellectual point, but with party discipline. The key point is we’ve all agreed, as if there … and I want to get to this point. I feel like there was a conference that none of us were invited to that came to some very strong conclusions, and they’ve all circulated this list of correct answers. Like, we’ve decided that Donald Trump is odious, and every good thing that he does must be made into a bad thing so that there is no break in party discipline. Now, I wasn’t at this conference. So when I hear that there’s a peace deal in the Middle East. I say, “Okay, that’s pretty good.”

DM: 1:46:45: That’s good.

EW: 1:46:46: Yeah, it’s good. But I was like, “No, you can’t do that!” Well, that is such intellectual poison, …

DM: 1:46:53: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s poisoned everyone. Can I give another example? So I favor anecdotal—Sometimes [?] you probably know, but … this is one that’s been on my mind a lot. A couple years ago, I was invited to … (I don’t boast that I’m invited to things you’re not, Eric. I’d hate to give you FOMO in 2020.) But—

EW: 1:47:13: [?] to be invited to other than a zoom call. Go ahead.

DM: 1:47:17: [laughing] I was invited to dinner in London, which really did comprise … I don’t believe in the term ‘the establishment’—I find it lazy, and there are multiple establishments at any one time, and …

EW: 1:47:29: Conjunction alert.

DM: 1:47:30: Yeah.

EW: 1:47:31: But … [laughs]

DM: 1:47:32: But. I was … It was really a dinner of people who I really would regard as the establishment. In multiple areas of public life—very distinguished figures. And, for some reason, me (as a sort of grit in the oyster). Anyhow, everyone was asked to go around the table and say what they thought (this is like two years ago)—

EW: 1:47:52: You just referred to yourself as a pearl in waiting.

DM: 1:47:55: I did. Oh, yeah, that was, that was …

EW: 1:47:57: Interesting.

DM: 1:47:58: Oh dear.

EW: 1:47:58: Uncharacteristically self-kind.

DM: 1:48:01: I didn’t mean it that way.

EW: 1:48:03: [laughing]

DM: 1:48:04: Anyhow. I was … I meant ‘the grit in the soup,’ or something like that, didn’t I?

Anyhow, the point is, is that we were … they went around the table, everyone to explain what they thought the long- and short-term threats to the country were. And everybody did the same thing. Everybody in the room talked about how Brexit and Trump were the biggest problems we faced, because they had unleashed populism. And that, therefore everything must be done to stop Brexit and Trump. The very, very few people who applied themselves to the long-term question AT ALL (and almost nobody did), said that probably long-term the largest challenge was China. And they got to me and I said, I’d rather not speak. I’d wait. And the very end of the evening, the host said, “Douglas, you know, you’ve been uncharacteristically silent, and that’s usually a worrying sign. What do you think?” And I said, “You’re all mad. You’re completely mad.” And among much other madness, you’ve decided that the general public (the majority of the public) must be warred against.

I mean, I know there’s a dispute about electoral procedure here (of the voting … the majority)—

EW: 1:49:34: No, but we … don’t like ourselves.

DM: 1:49:36: Right. But I mean, like, … In my country, when the majority of the vote public—when 52% of the public votes for something[?] … don’t go against the majority of the public, if you, you know, are in a position of—

EW: 1:49:46: But you were supposed to be trick into a United States of Europe, involving the UK.

DM: 1:49:50: That’s right. And the public said “No.”

EW: 1:49:52: The public said “No.”

DM: 1:49:53: No. Absolutely.

EW: 1:49:54: How can you not agree to be tricked into a United States of Europe?

DM: 1:49:56: Right. And in my own view, whatever the concept … Just don’t war on the general public. And, and if it is … The larger thing was that I said, “It makes no sense that you would … that in the long-term you identify (I think correctly) the geostrategic and financial competitor—the ONLY one that’s a competitor to the United States and is likely to overtake it in our lifetimes—nobody else is. You identify this (and this is before the Wuhan business) you correctly identify that, but you have decided that although that is your long-term threat, your short-term task is to—among other things—take out the only elected official who has shown any desire to deal with the long-term threat. Now, inadequately, with bluster, and much more. But how is that a strategy?

Assuming that many of the people who came to your dinner arrived in luxury automobiles …

Oh, yeah, for sure.

EW: 1:50:47: … what percentage of those luxury automobiles were purchased by funds that involved China in one way or another?

DM: 1:51:12: Oh, well, that’s …

EW: 1:51:13: … And so the problem is, I know that my pusher is going to end up killing me, but if I pick up arms against my pusher, I might not get my fix.

DM: 1:51:22: I’ve been reading that book, The Hidden Hand, which was about Chinese infiltration in the West. It’s a very interesting book, filled with facts, and not by any means nuts. And yes, I share this suspicion about a number of people around the table that night. And some of its proven, and, you know, …

EW: 1:51:44: You know my aphorism that the … I should standardize it, I guess, but … That the idealism of every age is the cover story of a major theft?

DM: 1:51:56: Yes, yes.

EW: 1:51:57: So my concern is that the Davos idealism was the cover story of a theft—inside of advanced, developed countries—of its elite, from the streams that would normally go to its workers. And so the key problem is that you have to intimidate the workers to think that the GDP—which is not being distributed to them particularly well—is somehow serving their interests because it is going to the country. So as long as a financial group, you know, …

DM: 1:52:36: Yeah, yeah.

EW: 1:52:36: … in the city of London is doing well, then the idea is that is unpatriotic to fight this global agenda.

And I think that, in part, one of the next idealisms that was supposed to follow the Davos idealism was the actual dissolution of national identity in a much more aggressive fashion. That multiculturalism is when you still can say what distinct cultures are. But when you’ve thrown all the cultures together, and you can’t say what anything actually is, everyone is a mutt, there is no distinguishing aspect …

DM: 1:53:11: Yeah, yeah. Well, that was all meant to make conflict impossible (among much else).

EW: 1:53:16: The …?

DM: 1:53:16: The melding together. One of—

EW: 1:53:19: The United States of Europe, I think, was a post World War II concern in which you had to trick people, first, into fiscal or financial union without political union, then you had to create a secondary financial crisis, because people would not have the ability, as long as the common currency was present, to inflate their debts away. And then you would force, effectively, a Teutonic … an Anglo-Teutonic state into being.

DM: 1:53:51: Yes. There are[?] people for whom the answer was always “more Europe” …

EW: 1:53:54: Right.

DM: 1:53:54: … [?] happened. Which is, again, what the public in Britain resisted.

EW: 1:54:01: Now, my problem is, is that I actually love the individual constituents of Europe.

DM: 1:54:05: Yeah, I know, I know. But yes, but the thing was undoubtedly conceived as an answer to war.

EW: 1:54:13: Well, this is the thing, that Europe went from being the most dangerous hotspot in the world to a Disneyland for American tourists looking to have a few weeks, you know, on a EuroRail pass.

DM: 1:54:25: Yeah, there’s a very funny—one of his less read novels—Michel Houellebecq’s, La Carte et le Territoire. The map and the territory? It is sort of setting in a not-very-far-off Europe in which, you know, it’s just simply Disneyland for Chinese tourists. And it’s worryingly close to the bone.

But anyway, the point is that, in all of this, we are obviously missing … This is my main reason for not writing and wanting to talk much about Trump and Brexit and so on. Because I feel like this … It’s all important. It’s very important. But it’s not as important as the things we’re missing.

EW: 1:55:08: Well, this is exactly my problem. And this goes back to this conversation I was recalling for you in the interregnum between the 2016 election and Trump’s inauguration in 2017, I found myself at a dinner with Sam Harris and Dave Rubin. And Sam was talking about how terrible Trump was and how it was important to call him out on his nonsense. And I said to Sam, “If Trump creates three nested ambiguities, you’ll have two-to-the-third or eight different possible legs of a decision tree as people try to figure out which way each of them went.” And I said, “At that rate, you have to come up with eight different responses when he only had to issue three weird statements. If you keep that up all through a Trump presidency, you will do nothing else. You’re going to have to get out of the Trump call-out business.”

DM: 1:56:08: Yeah.

EW: 1:56:08: And he said, “What’s your solution?” I said, “I’m going to say once at the beginning, that I view Trump to be an existential risk to the to the soul of America. And that …” (By the way, I never said whether I viewed the Democratic Party to be an existential risk, which I think that it was so long as it continued in its kleptocracy and it’s nonsense, but that it could reverse itself. Whereas I see Trump as being unable to change who he is—this is what he is, this is what he does, for both good and bad.

And that’s what I’ve done for, for this presidency, which is that mostly, I’ve spent my time calling out the left so that the left can beat Trump from a meaningful, rather than a kleptocratic, perspective. But you know, the thing that I posted the other day on Twitter was video of a warthog that was still alive, being fought over by a leopard and hyena. And I thought, “Why would the warthog want to express a preference as to whether to be eaten by a hyena or a warthog?” Yes, you know, maybe the leopard is elegant and the hyena distasteful. But I’m trying to think of, how do I get rid of a leopard leopard and a hyena together? You know? It’s … I find this of no interest, because neither of these things …

DM: 1:57:25: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

EW: 1:57:25: The only importance is, does this buy me a little bit of extra time and room to escape?

DM: 1:57:32: Yes.

EW: 1:57:33: And the thing about about Brexit is, this is the repudiation of an ideology that was the cover story of a theft—the theft is being fought. And people don’t know how to fight the theft—they don’t know who picked their pockets and how. These people we call the elite don’t appear to be extremely productive. They don’t appear to be extremely intelligent—in fact, they say all sorts of stupid things. But what they are is a triumph of sharp elbows over sharp minds. And that is mysterious, because we don’t know how they sign their pieces of paper; We don’t know what their words mean; We don’t know where they meet.

DM: 1:58:10: And we also now can … they’re more transparent than they’ve ever been. And that’s … I often said that the point at which you really go off a person isn’t necessarily when you dislike something about them. It’s when you see through them. And with institutions, it’s the same.

EW: 1:58:36: Yeah.

DM: 1:58:36: An institution can be quite dislikable. In fact, most are, in some ways. Visa agencies, border agencies, every institution has got dislikable things. The problem is when you see through it. And with a set of our authority figures, the set of our elites, as it were: we see through them now.

EW: 1:58:58: Do we?

DM: 1:58:59: Well, a growing number of us can.

EW: 1:59:02: I’m confused about this. If I think about unprecedented access that, for example, Prince Andrew gave in that unbelievable interview. Was that transparent? Or was that opaque? What was I even looking at? That was one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen in my life. I had the feeling that I was able to see—because the cameras were present; the reporter was present; she asked exactly the questions I would have expected her to ask. The performance was so baffling to me that I realized that there was no way I had of processing what I was watching.

DM: 1:59:38: I didn’t have that. I thought it was transparent.

EW: 1:59:41: Tell me what you saw. Because this is … It’s very strange to me that this issue of the dress crops up absolutely everywhere. We can’t agree on what we’ve seen, even though we watched the same footage.

DM: 1:59:52: Can I back up and say it’s worse than that?

EW: 1:59:55: Please.

DM: 1:59:56: Yes. The one that’s on my mind (which I haven’t been swayed people to pay attention to), is a version of your dress idea. But the one that I just couldn’t get people to focus on was what happened a couple of years ago at Chemnitz (a town in Germany), where there was … a video went online, posted an alleged antifa account (that was new). A Twitter account posted a video of what appeared to be white German males running after some immigrant-looking men across a highway. And this was released with the caption saying that this was a migrant hunt. Now, Chemnitz, at that point, was a rather tricky situation, because of a migrant had killed a local [?], and there was a lot of ill-feeling, and it could easily be whipped up by unpleasant actors (from every side).

The video went [snaps fingers] like that. That day, the Chancellor made a statement on the video—that we cannot live in a country where migrants are hunted right (and so on). The head of the domestic intelligence service in Germany (Hans-Georg Maassen) said, publicly, “The video doesn’t show that. This isn’t the video.” Now, his dispute over exactly what went on—he ended up being relieved of his position, was saved by another member the Merkel government into another position, then not able to take that up.

This a very, very important case.

EW: 2:01:44: Okay.

DM: 2:01:45: Because I can’t think of another example [?] even here in America, where it’s been as clear as that. First of all, where all these people who care about infiltration and foreign interference and all these sort of things? Like, where did this Twitter account come from? And in whose interest was it that this video should emerge? And have you ever seen the stakes that high that the chancellor and the head of the intelligence service disagree on video’s contents? These stakes are WILDLY higher than people realize.

EW: 2:02:18: Have you seen the body cam footage of the George Floyd arrest?

DM: 2:02:22: Yeah, I saw a bit of it. Yeah.

EW: 2:02:24: That’s a big problem, because the narrative that got established in order to justify why suddenly people were gathering in large numbers when everybody had been on lockdown … There’s this weird thing that—what I’ve called the gated institutional narrative (or “GIN”) … in general used to know what it wanted to say before the facts came in. The narrative arcs were established. And occasionally, you’d get a surprise move. And so I had … I think I said that there were three in my lifetime at some point … where the the GIN broke in a big way. So, like, you had old situations like the fall of Najibullah, where, in a far off land, there was a small problem; or there was one (I forget what his name was) … Camerata? In Venezuela, was like president for a day, or something. Because there was probably a CIA sponsored coup that didn’t work out.

So there’s small interruptions in the GIN. But the big ones were September 11th. The crash … the fall of Lehman Brothers. And the … what was my other one, I can’t even remember. But then, like—

DM: 2:03:41: Jeffrey Epstein.

EW: 2:03:42: The election of Donald Trump, and then became Jeffrey Epstein and his death. In 2020, the narrative can’t keep up. In general. COVID broken the narrative.

DM: 2:03:54: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

EW: 2:03:54: So the number of arrivals of truly surprising things where the GIN doesn’t know what to say is fantastic in its acceleration.

DM: 2:04:06: Yeah. Well … the Floyd killing … As often [?] as an outsider of this country, obviously, you can’t help noticing it: What about the, the non-white policeman involved (standing there)?

EW: 2:04:25: I don’t think that that has … Well. In a previous … I do these audio essays in front of a lot of the releases that I do. One of which I did was a five word law for the modern era of social media. And there are these two things that are very similar five word laws, but there’s McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” and there’s Say’s Law from economics, “supply creates its own demand.” So what I claimed is that “optics creates its own substance.”

The importance of The George Floyd killing or death, however you see it, is that it was optically perfect as a lynching provided you didn’t ask hard questions. To give up an optical lynching caught on video, simply because there are mitigating and complicating and confounding variables, was not possible because, in fact, in a weird sense, you have a very strong belief that there’s prejudice and bigotry that seldom lends itself to simple description. Finally, we’ve got one.

DM: 2:05:38: Finally we’ve got one.

EW: 2:05:39: And then the idea is if it’s optically perfect, and that creates its own substance, that is the minds of many people agree that this is officer Derek C and his knee on this neck caused this death through prejudice and bigotry. Then the Tony tempa killing in Dallas can’t … That violates the rule—that would complicate the optics,

DM: 2:06:04: This … All of it reminds me of this, what we discussed at the beginning, with the COVID thing. Because the problem with thinking one’s way through this era is, above everything[?] else, needing to know everything about the event, and trying not to know everything about the event. Because if you have to find out everything every time, then we the opportunity cost is too great. It goes back to this thing. But it’s worth doing when you believe that it is a revealing of the GIN narratives break. And the one that always occurs to me, about this country, is the number of times that we’re asked not to notice that, you know, an alleged white supremacist or racist killing is carried out by law enforcement in a bewilderingly diverse law enforcement situation, in cities where the head of police is black, the mayor is black, the senator is black, representatives in Congress are black.

EW: 2:07:00: Internalized racism.

DM: 2:07:00: … where … You know, everybody in the system—

EW: 2:07:05: The optics must be saved.

DM: 2:07:06: The optics have to be saved. And we still have to pretend, despite the fact that almost everybody in the system is black, …

EW: 2:07:11: [simultaneous] It’s intolerable.

DM: 2:07:11: … that it is a white supremacist killing.

EW: 2:07:13: It is intolerable.

DM: 2:07:14: Right. And … The thing that links it to the COVID thing is, the thing that it’s the same problem going on is, I don’t want to be made into one of those people who says “white supremacy doesn’t exist,” or “bigotry doesn’t exist,” or “racism doesn’t exist,” or “I don’t think the police in America have problems with race.”

Well, I got out of this by claiming that there is a bigotry shortage—that the amount of the anti-bigotry machinery that’s ginned up and the number of out-and-out bigots that exist are mismatched.

Of course. I describe this as the supply and demand problem in fascism in our society.

EW: 2:07:50: Absolutely.

DM: 2:07:51: Massive demand, small[?] supply.

EW: 2:07:52: We know exactly what to do if we have an actual fascist. Now where will we find one?

DM: 2:07:56: We make them world famous? We make them absolutely—

EW: 2:08:01: Well, this is why Richard Spencer is such an oddity,

DM: 2:08:04: David Duke, wheeled out every four years as if he’s a major political figure.

EW: 2:08:07: Yes! Well, but what otherwise … What will the Southern Poverty Law Center do?

DM: 2:08:13: Absolutely. It’s got gazillions of dollars to do nothing but libel people.

EW: 2:08:18: Our friends.

DM: 2:08:19: Including our friends.

EW: 2:08:20: I know

DM: 2:08:21: Here’s to that victory measured.

EW: 2:08:23: Yeah.

DM: 2:08:24: Yeah, occasionally our friends take large amounts of money off these bastards.

EW: 2:08:27: Yeah.

DM: 0:00 But yeah … this … So here’s where we’re pushed to. We’re pushed to a situation where we notice these things, but the thing you’re pushed into, is to say, “I think you’re chasing dragons.” And then any sensible person has this knowledge that, although dragons may not exist, nasty things do. And you wouldn’t want to be caught holding your dick when that comes out. And it’s the same—It’s like the COVID thing. It seems to me intolerable to sustain the narrative that our governments have had about the virus, yet you don’t want to be stuck in the position you’re being put into, because you don’t want the gods to come down and slay one of your nearest and dearest.

EW: 0:54 It’s very frustrating. To—just to riff off that analogy, the fact that large venomous monitor lizards exist … They clearly do. And if I get too emphatic about saying that there are no dragons, I may say there no Komodo dragons. And if I do that, then I’m getting it wrong. And I’m tempted to do that every four seconds, because I don’t believe that the Ku Klux Klan has taken over the United States; I don’t believe that Jim Crow is going—I don’t believe that every day, every black person in America gets up realizing that today they’re likely to die at the hands of law enforcement. And what I’ve claimed, previously, is that the people who claim that there’s no link between Islam and terror are people who have no close Muslim friends, because that’s what’s discussed at Muslim dinner tables. The people who are so worried about Black Lives Matter are very often without close black friends, because, quite frankly, there’s a huge dispute inside black America as to whether or not, you know, as some black friends of ours have said, it’s a white cult.

There is this very strong sense that those of us who have actually imbibed multiculturalism and diversity within our friend group are looking at these manias and these social panics and are saying, “Doesn’t anyone know any actual women, blacks, Jews, conservatives, …” Like, we’re forming these impressions of large groups of people as if they are something other than what they are.

DM: 2:36 Yes, and we, and [inaudible] we’re being fed divisive and untrue stories.

EW: 2:42 Well, so this is what I want to get into about the what I’ve called the “Iago media” and “Iago institutions,” from the Othello character who deranges a pair of lovebirds into a murderous frenzy. What do we do to stop this Iago effect? Particularly within American media, where we have all of these legacy groups—whether it’s Southern Poverty Law Center as a previously terrific institution that … seeking to do good work or journalistic … they get taken over by this need to earn their keep by publishing crazy nonsense.

And we’re gonna lose the court system—I don’t think it’s going to be POSSIBLE for Majid Nawaz to win judgments in future … Like, we have a jury system. And if this Critical Race Theory continues apace, we are not going to be able to impanel juries.

DM: 3:43 Yeah. Yeah. Well, I keep giving you things which I’m saying I don’t think we have a term for, but I wish we did. Let me do another one. I’ve become acutely aware, in recent years, of the fact that there needs to be a term for a thing that is inaccurate and wrong, but which somebody believes so sincerely, because of the information they’ve downloaded throughout their lives, that you are not able to reason them out of it at this stage.

Let me give a very quick example. It happened in my own country (I really want to bang on about Brexit; let me do it very quickly). It happened in my own country after 2016 when I discovered there were really people in my country who did believe that membership of the EU and withdrawal from the EU meant we were leaving Europe. We would no longer be able to listen to German leader; we would no longer be able to visit Paris; we wouldn’t be able to eat Italian food; we would …

EW: 4:47 Couldn’t cross the channel because it was gonna get wider.

DM: 4:49 … be stuck in this inward looking windy island. Forever.

EW: 4:54 … which can’t grow any grapes for wine.

DM: 4:58 You can, actually.

EW: 4:59 Barely. It’s pretty marginal.

DM: 5:01 My wine grove[?] friends in Britain would kill me if I allowed you to get away with this slur.

Let me just say that this I hadn’t thought of before. I really hadn’t at all contended with …

EW: 5:13 That it was that deeply held.[?]

DM: 5:13 … [?] it was that deep. You know, people like me said, “What are you talking about the EU and Europe are not the same thing. We will still go there; we will still learn the languages—if we have any sense and, and ambition to do so; we will still imbibe the culture; will still read the books. What are you talking about!? You think I’m not gonna listen to continental music? You think I simply want to listen to English folk song and do Morris dancing? You really think that’s the point of this exercise?”

But, you discover, in vain do you make this argument. Primarily because the job had been very well done—for a generation, on a generation—so that younger people, in particular, did believe these two things were completely tied up. Because they had been throughout their lives. And I realized it was exceptionally difficult, if not impossible, at this stage to divorce these two things.

Now, what if one of the things that’s going on in your country at the moment (and to a lesser extent in mine) is the same thing in relation to race? (In particular, I mean, other things as well. But …)

Allow me to give a couple of examples. When the great soprano Jesse Norman died earlier this year, it’s announced in the BBC front page as … basically the spin of the story is, Jesse Norman was a soprano who sang opera despite being black. And, you know, she was very unusual in the opera world, obviously, because, you know … And … I mean, I grew up listening to Jesse Norman, among other sopranos—saw her sing, saw her perform[?] … And I just read this obituary, and I thought, you’re trying to change our memories.

EW: 6:20 Yes.

DM: 6:26 Herbert von Karajan recorded Wagner with her in the 1970s. If that’s possible, you don’t get to pull the shit on me in 2020. You don’t get to rewrite the past. Now the problem with this is that most of this is less provable. Can I do another example? (A really, really boring one.)

EW: 7:21 No, no, I insist.

DM: 7:22 When I grew up, BBC children’s television (in the 1980s) … the presenter was a rather camp black man (who’s still on television) called Andy Peters. (This is the first time his name has been mentioned on this podcast. I’m shocked that you don’t know him!)

EW: 7:39 Sorry.

DM: 7:40 And the evening news was read by Moira Stewart on the BBC. And on ITV it was sir Trevor McDonald. Now, these people have retired. I am currently being encouraged to pretend that when I was growing up, the BBC children’s presenter was not black; the evening news on the BBC was not a black woman; when you turned over to the other channel to watch evening news, it wasn’t a black man who was knighted reading the evening news.

Now, I’m irritated by this—sometimes infuriated by it—because they’re trying to rewrite my memory of the recent past. But I have to accept, at some level, that if you are 20 years younger than me, and you’re at university, and you’re being told you live in a white supremacist society … Nothing remembers these people. There’s no institutional memory of them, because our institutions don’t have any memory. The culture doesn’t have a memory that goes back more than a few hours. And so everyone is being rewired. And we ha—And at some point, we are all going to have to contend with (maybe we already are) … people you cannot shift, because all of their reference points and all of their memory has been changed. And I don’t know how we deal with this.

EW: 9:04 Have you seen this done in real time as opposed to historically?

DM: 9:10 Well it feels like real time because it’s happened in my lifetime.

EW: 9:12 No, I mean, where you’re looking … Well …

Let me give you a famous example from the US (I don’t know whether you know it). Have you ever heard of the Dean scream? This is a good one for you. Howard Dean was running—

DM: 9:18 Oh, yeah! Yeah, of course.

EW: 9:27 Yeah, yeah, yeah. I believe he was in Iowa and he place, something like, third. And so he has to give this rousing speech. And he says [politician speech voice] “If, you know, if you told me we got to—we’d give [incomprehensible] to place third. And you know what we’re doing next? We’re going to New Hampshire and South Carolina and Texas and California and Idaho. And then we’re going to Washington DC. [Dean scream].” Okay.

[laughing] Yes, I remember, I’ve seen it.

Nothing happened. It was a total non-event.

DM: 9:58 Right.

EW: 9:59 It was a total non-event. And every talking head got on TV and said, [smooth anchor voice] “In a surprising and bizarre meltdown, Howard Dean, today, addressed supporters appearing momentarily to lose it onstage in a crowded room.” And with that weird voice [smooth anchor voice] “controversial politician, Howard Dean …”

DM: 10:18 Controversial.

EW: 10:20 Adjective, job description, proper name. [crosstalk] Controversial podcaster, Eric Weinstein. Controversial podcast guest, Douglas Murray.

DM: 10:31 Oh, yeah, no, they’ve done that to me recently. When I was on Joe Rogan, recently, Joe said something which was—some people say it’s accurate, some people say inaccurate—about setting fires. It became a huge thing because of Joe’s deal with Spotify, and everyone reported it. And I noticed these various American magazines and papers are just delighted to think they’ve caught Joe slipping up. (And Joe apologized, by the way.) And these papers said, “He was on[?] with controversial writer Douglas Murray.”

“Far right figure, Douglas Murray.”

No, they don’t put “far right” or I’d have sued their asses. But ‘controversial’ they can get away with. Excuse me?

EW: 11:11 Well, you saw my experiment with controversial professor Paul Krugman?

DM: 11:14 Yeah, yeah, yeah.

EW: 11:15 … Where there were no … Despite the fact that he was clearly controversial and a professor, there’s no instance, because it’s a formula. And it’s a way of tagging a human.

What I’m what I’m curious about is, do you believe that we are living in a gas-lit society? (Full stop.)

DM: 11:35 Yeah, I don’t like “gas lighting” as something—Mainly because of the number of people who use it who I find …

EW: 11:40 Well, to hell with those people, because we had “red pill” before they had “red pill.”

DM: 11:45 Yeah, okay. Okay.

EW: 11:46 You know, the hipster perspective is that it comes from an actual film, so …

DM: 11:49 So, I tell you, … I think we all keep getting distracted from the things we should be doing. And this has never been clearer than in this year.

EW: 12:01 Are you aware of an affect shift in yourself—in your own person?

DM: 12:06 At the moment?

EW: 12:06 Yes.

You and I have spent … We haven’t been friends for decades (as we should have done). But we have we have logged a few miles. And, in general, I find that you are one of the most hilarious people I deal with. And I don’t sense the same mirth in our conversations. It may not be you. It may be me killing the buzz. But there’s some way in which we’re not our— … I don’t think we are ourselves—we’re shifted.

DM: 12:40 It’d be sad if that was the case. …

EW: 12:42 Could be that it’s just morning and we haven’t started drinking yet.

DM: 12:44 Yeah, it’s possible. It’s gonna be after 6pm to really get me going.

EW: 12:48 [laughing]

DM: 12:50 I mean, I think to an extent … By the way, I actually find that I’ve had a certain … There is a shift … If you really want … My only personal analysis, as to[?] any shift of mine …

EW: 13:06 Perhaps I’m less fun.[?]

DM: 13:07 Yeah, I think it’s probably that.

EW: 13:09 Probably right.

DM: 13:08 But no, the only noticeable shift in myself I noticed, was that when I was writing The Strange Death of Europe and writing about migration and following all of that, in the middle of this decade, I was very, very … in a very, very gloomy, gloomy, black place. Because I was writing about what I saw as being an almost insuperable issue/problem. And when I wrote Madness of Crowds, I enjoyed myself enormously. And …

EW: 13:09 Seems perverse, but I’m sure there’s method to this madness.

DM: 13:33 Well, because … I’ll tell you, I actually said this a couple times to interviewers, I said, you’ll notice everything about me changes.

EW: 13:48 Right.

DM: 13:50 I will be very … almost, as I learned recently from somebody that the term is ‘black-pilled,’ when talking about Strange Death. And when I’m talking about madness of crowds, you’ll notice that my whole demeanor changes. I thought why that is. And there were several explanations. One was, it’s so funny. I mean, you and I talked … I think I say in the acknowledgments of The Madness of Crowds that, you know, I owe several thoughts in the book to you, and for conversations with you. And, like me, you know that, I mean, a lot of this is hilarious. A lot of the stuff about gays and women and race and trans is so damn funny. I did the audiobook for The Madness of Crowds …

EW: 14:40 So are we now at the portion of the show where we make fun of gays, trans, blacks, and women?

DM: 14:44 Oh, you bet! [laughing]

EW: 14:48 [laughing]

DM: 14:48 “Welcome to the demonetization.”

EW: 14:49 “And that’s all the time we have, with Douglas Murray.”

DM: 14:56 [laughing]

No, but I am … It’s very funny: When I did the audiobook to Madness of Crowds (I’m glad to say, it has been a ROARING success), I just had a great time. Now that sounds sort of, you know, … don’t pat yourself on the back, [?]. I laughed so much—not just because of the wittiness and the sharpness of the prose— …

EW: 15:13 [laughing]

DM: 15:13 … but the things I was quoting. Because it’s so self-evidently ridiculous.

EW: 15:22 If you break it out its natural context.

DM: 15:23 If you break it out [?]. I’m not willing to take this crap as seriously as some people are. (I’m going to take some[?] of it very seriously, because I know what they’re trying to do.) But some of it is just obviously laughable. And I kept on having to say to the sound people, you know, “Please be assured: I’m laughing, not at my own jokes, but the things I’m quoting,” you know. It’s very hard to read a sentence of Judith Butler out loud and not just burst out laughing. It’s self-evidently ridiculous, once you once you vocalize it.

Anyhow, the point I’m making is that, I was trying to work out, why does everything about my demeanor change in this? And I realized: it’s because it’s winnable. I honestly think all of that stuff’s winnable. And I perk up …

EW: 16:09 Because there’s something to do.

DM: 15:23 Well, it’s something to do. But it’s a good thing to do.

EW: 15:23 And you can attract people …

DM: 15:23 … And I think we can win now. I … And I think, by the way, (maybe we should get on to this in a bit, but) I think it’s a very important thing. It’s not just a pose. I think it’s a very important thing to say, “Here’s something that we can win.”

EW: 15:23 Yeah.

DM: 15:23 Particularly people on the on the ideological right tend not to have very many of them—they spend all their time moaning and talking about how ‘beleaguered’ they are (even when they’re in power). And, but here’s—

In the US they obsess about a flat tax, which they never get.

Yeah, yeah. And then nothing else [laughing] [?]. They talk about nothing else about the conditions of society other than a flat tax.

EW: 16:53 Yeah, something like that.

DM: 16:56 “What else might we do after the flat tax?” “Whatever you like!”

EW: 16:59 [laughing]

DM: 17:00 “… leave it up to you guys.”

So my point is, to a great extent, our attitudes are dependent on whether we think things are winnable.

EW: 17:09 Right. I agree with that.

DM: 17:10 Now … My feeling with 2020 so far is, one of the things it’s told me is that we have to be exceptionally judicious about how we spend our time. And that we have to be very, very careful that we are not being manipulated into narratives, one after the other.

I think I said to you before, my impression once George Floyd kicked off was (and people who read the updated version of Madness of Crowds will know this—I mean, I explained there what I think was going on, but you’ll know that), … I think I said to you once on the phone, I just feel like our society has become like this eye of Sauron.

EW: 17:54 Yeah.

DM: 17:55 You know, we focused … In January, we were meant to be in a climate emergency, where all governments in the world (primarily in the Western world) were being told, “You have to admit, you have to legislate, there is a climate emergency going on.” And then we had a pandemic (which seemed like a more immediate emergency). And then the people who’ve been doing climate emergency went on to pandemic emergency. And then, after May, we had the racist emergency. And I just …

Right. We’re only halfway through the year. We’re three emergencies in. The eye of Sauron is focused on climate, COVID, race, … I’m not up for this. I’m not up for spending my life doing this in whatever order you tell me—

EW: 18:46 To be constantly reactive.

DM: 18:48 I’m not … I … that’s why I spent the the early weeks of lockdown, when I thought, “Okay, maybe we’re all gonna die” just reading Tolstoy, because I thought this is something I want to do—it’s a nourishing thing to do—and I’m not going to get caught out on this on this train. (Now, in retrospect, some people might legitimately say, “Well, you missed realizing what the COVID thing was,” as well. But as I say, I did that fatalistic thing of “Okay, this is one that’s not in my bailiwick.”)

But I strongly feel that we should have learned this from the year so far, that, first of all, we keep being distracted. Secondly, everything we’re distracted onto, we don’t make better. It’s a DISASTROUS thing to realize. Like, we didn’t solve climate. We didn’t solve COVID. We SURE as hell haven’t solved race. In fact, we make everything worse.

EW: 19:46 Well what do we do about all of these British shootings by unarmed policeman of blacks in the UK?

DM: 19:55 Yeah, yeah. This is a …

EW: 19:57 That is a tough problem to solve.

DM: 19:58 Yeah. Yeah, yeah. As regular readers will know, my crack on this, which is: I saw the first major Black Lives Matter protests in the UK four years ago—I went along to see it in central London—and was amused (it fed into my pleasure and irony) that the thousand or so protesters were walking along Oxford Street with their hands in the air, imitating what they thought to be the Ferguson chant, saying “Hands up, don’t shoot,” accompanied ALL the way along that process by unarmed British police officers, who couldn’t have shot them if they’d wanted to. And …

EW: 20:29 “They could’ve held up their fingers, sir, in a menacing fashion, with the thumb cocked back to effect the position of a hammer.”

DM: 20:34 Yes. The … you know, they’ve been trying. I actually wrote the New York Post, this morning, a piece saying, I really resent, now, the American culture war’s spilling out across my country. I’m not up for this—I think it’s highly undesirable. The world has many things that they should thank America for. But your culture wars is not one of them. And it’s being overlaid everywhere. And sometimes people say, “Why are the English-speaking countries so vulnerable?” Because they’re English-speaking countries, and America is the dominant power. And so we get all the spillage faster. The French don’t get it so fast.

EW: 21:12 What do you think about pseudo English-speaking countries? (Sweden, India, …)

DM: 21:16 Oh, yeah. Well, certainly Sweden, other countries, they get get part of this. I mean, it made no sense to me, after George Floyd, that there was looting on the main luxury shopping street in Stockholm. Or why men in Brussels started hurling things at the police.

So, yes, there is this overlaying of it onto everything, which …

EW: 21:36 So, maybe that’s so bizarre, and so crazy, that we should ask this question: why is this happening everywhere, all at once, all the time? I agree that it may be more intense in the Anglophone nations. But certainly, it seems to be the case that there is some synchronizing behavior—there’s something in the environment, in the ethos, seeping through the internet. Who knows what—

DM: 22:02 What do you think that is?

EW: 22:04 Well, I think it has to do with a very long chain that begins with a slow-down in scientific progress. And that the (I don’t know how to put this exactly, but) the inventions that we’ve brought into our lives, from the pill, to fiat money, to the mobile web (where communications and semiconductor technology collide), have left us in a world where we are bizarrely exhausted. We don’t even know what the word ‘exhausted’ means. We don’t believe in religion. We can’t get rid of very need to believe in religion. I do think that the appearance of words like ‘narrative’ (which was always present) and ‘performative’ (which I think is relatively recent in origin) means that we’re sort of dealing with a world where we’re searching for new language.

The example that I like to give is that, for a period of time, there was a strange phenomena that attractive women would take pictures of themselves in bathroom mirrors and post them. And we didn’t talk about it, because we didn’t really know how to say, “Isn’t it strange that women are pointing cameras at themselves in restaurant bathrooms?” And then somebody created the word ‘selfie.’ And everybody said, “Yes, of course!” Now we have language for it.

And the same thing with the word like ‘performative.’ We, somehow, are recognizing that there’s a worldwide economic and technological slowdown.

DM: 23:40 Yes.

EW: 23:41 It isn’t occurring in the Twin areas of communications and semiconductors—so that continues apace. And we don’t have individual lives and futures that we’re interested in contributing to. (And I’m going to add one more aspect.) Perhaps the biggest disaster in my own private life (which I did not realize in real time was going to be this profound), was an interaction between Rachel Maddow and Rockefeller University. And she was invited to Rockefeller University, which is very interesting, because it’s one of only a tiny number of universities that have no undergraduates. (Right? So you have the UCSF, Rockefeller, … but still absolutely top in the world.) And she gets into the main auditorium, and I believe that there are paintings, that are commissioned, of the Nobel laureates who have worked at Rockefeller, as well as people who’ve, you know, been elected the National Academy and are thought to be the absolute leaders in the world. And she utters the phrase “What is up with the dude wall?” And the pictures come down, because no one can defend the concept of a so-called “dude wall.”

Now, I am very open to the idea, and I have particular female scientists who I feel did not get their due. I mean [sounds like “Nerder”?] would be one, but a woman named Madame Wu would be another, in physics. I don’t disbelieve (as per our earlier discussion) that there is no racism, no sexism in science. But I don’t think it’s anything like the levels that we’re seeing. And I am unmotivated, in a weird way, when I don’t believe that I can do anything that will cause a name to go into the historical record. It really matters, to me, that there’s some meaning to the world, after I’m gone, of my life. And the phrase “What is up with the dude wall?” was powerful enough … Like, when Nikole Hannah-Jones utters this phrase in a tweet, “It would be an honor” when she’s responding to [crosstalk] “Let’s call them the 1619 riots,” my feeling is, so now we’re going to topple statues of, not only slavers and Confederate Generals that may have been put up as intimidation, but also George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, and an elk? We’re gonna topp—

DM: 26:22 Yeah, yeah. The burning of the elk was one of the things that made me think, maybe the era is just pagan? The fact that you would have to gather around a burning elk, night after night, struck me as informative.

EW: 26:36 Well, did they try anything bestial and …?

DM: 26:39 I don’t know. I think they just burnt the elk.

EW: 26:40 I mean, if they sodomized the elk, while burning it, I would know where we were.

DM: 26:44 Yeah, yeah, abs—

EW: 26:45 But I can’t figure out …

DM: 26:46 You know where you are with a chap when he’s up to[?] that.

The, uh … this …

EW: 26:53 [lauging] It’s just so stupid, I can’t take it.

DM: 26:55 [laughing]

The “dude wall” stuff is the really sinister … is really sinister.

By the way, again, I mean, this is a recurring theme in this conversation. The thing of, not wanting to be pushed where they’re trying to push you?

EW: 27:09 Yes.

DM: 27:10 Let me …

EW: 27:10 They’re trying to push me into becoming a bigot. They want me to be a misogynist. They want me to Islam. Nothing [?]

DM: 27:15 Yeah, they want you to say there’s no sexism, or there’s no racism, or there’s never—etc, etc. And we can’t do that. And we don’t want to do that. But the moment we concede that, then they’re going to try to pull us down into lies.

EW: 27:31 Well, this is the thing: who can still dance on the A-frame roof or avoid the snowplow?

DM: 27:36 Yes. There’s not many people can.

EW: 27:39 Well, the thing is it really down to 20 people, and you know them all because 18 of them live in the modern version of your Rolodex. Because it’s the people who can speak in public (and I really do think this has to do with institutions). The existence of Noam Chomsky is something I repeatedly discuss, because Noam Chomsky was a dissident employed by an institution without being sacked. We have lost the ability to employ the critics within the institutions that they are meant to keep honest.

DM: 27:45 Yes, yes. The … Let me hold on to [?] thought for a second and first that say something about the again about the “dude wall.” One way to try to counter this may sound like a purely tactical play—it isn’t. It is … You know, I test myself, as we all do, on what one’s feeling about certain moves that are being made at the moment. And most of it is sanguine, or irritable, or disliking, and much more. Occasionally, one comes along which really gets under my skin.

There was one recently where—because again, all the spillage of this happens everywhere. There was one recently where someone online said to someone else, you know, something like … it was somebody of ethnic minority saying to somebody who’s white, you know, (because we’ve had the statue pulling-down in Britain, as well). You know, “Why should I care about your ancestors?” And, you know, I just … I thought, you know, you think you just pull down statues of all of the people we admired. Admiral Nelson is the latest one, they’re talking about pulling down because of a forged letter hauling him onto the pro-slavery side before his death in 1805. You think you’re—

He was also not a millennial.

He was also guilty of not being a millennial. I think he WAS on board with gay marriage. I can’t remember.

EW: 28:53 [laughing]

DM: 28:53 Look, he was a Navy man, so he could have been.

I’m horrified. This is the one that gets me. You keep covering the statue of Churchill in graffiti that says ‘racist.’ You keep graffitiing the Cenotaph, which is the memorial for the dead of the two World Wars. You keep doing that. And then you say, “We don’t give a damn about your ancestors.”? What’s the instinct that kicks in? It’s not very noble, but but anyway is an instinct that’s worth …

The line seems to be[?], you know what? If you don’t give a damn about my ancestors, I don’t see why I should pretend to give a damn about yours. So let’s go at it. Fine. You want to go at that? We can do that.

Here’s the ignoble version of that in the American context: You want to tell the majority of the population, who are still white, that 13% of the population, who are black, are allowed to demean and talk in a derogatory fashion about the majority? How long do you think that’s gonna last?

Now, the problem with this is not only that it’s ugly, but it also puts one in the position of the Muslim Brotherhood as opposed to al Qaeda. Which is, “You’re going to have to put yourselves in MY hands, because otherwise it’s guys who are going to set off car bombs every hour.” It’s not a nice position. I didn’t like it when the Brotherhood did that. I don’t like it when people do it now. Nevertheless, it’s probably something we should have in our minds.

Like, the thing you’re pushing, maybe deliberately … I mean, maybe what is being done in those things is in fact, like the [???], who hoped that if they taunted the police enough, the police would behave in the way they thought the police would behave, and would reveal the true fascist nature of the state. We see this in, in America today with people you know, like white men and women screaming at black policemen—people who I just admire beyond anything: the self-restraint of these men, as these spoiled brats scream at them, and TRY to make them hit them, you know, in ORDER to reveal the true racist nature of the state, and so on.

It seems possible that this is the move that people are trying to do. They are TRYing to rile us up. They’re saying, “We’re going to come for EVERY single one of your holy things.”

EW: 31:51 Yes, that’s what they’re doing.

DM: 31:54 … And we just want to see if you snap.

And we have that problem. And then you get to the institution one, which is that nobody, as you know, nobody in an institution now can tell the truth. And it’s slightly worse than that, which is that—

I’m used to MY saying stuff like that. And then people calling me an ‘extremist.’ Do you believe what you just said?

Yes. I mean, I don’t doubt that there are …

EW: 32:34 My phrase is, almost everybody (particularly in an institution) is lying about almost everything, almost all the time. That’s where I believe we’ve gotten.

DM: 32:52 Right. I certainly think it’s … I can de-weaponize a little bit if I say, as I say … I don’t doubt there are some people—I KNOW people in institutions who think about all the things we’re thinking about, and troubled by the same things, and so on.

EW: 33:07 But when they—

DM: 33:08 They don’t speak. They don’t speak.

EW: 33:09 When they speak ex-cathedra, they either say nothing at all, they mumble something saying, “I had to say that,” or they muddled it out.

DM: 33:18 They approach me in the manner of a 1950s homosexual. You know, they effectively tap their foot under the cubicle door at me. It’s not something I like. And I feel a mixture of things with them, including pity and distaste. But, yes, I think that … What would happen to you if you were in any university—or government department, or the BBC, or the New York Times—and you said, “Look, I think this whole Black Lives Matter thing, I mean it starts in a good place, but my god, it goes to hell quite fast, doesn’t it?”

EW: 33:59 I go someplace different. I say, look, forget Black Lives Matter. They … Somebody includes one line that says “We protest Israel because of its genocidal nature as a state.” Use the word ‘genocide’ in Israel, I don’t care about any of the rest of your organization.

DM: 34:20 Mm hmm.

EW: 34:21 You know, it’s like, it’s not like, “This is a really good apple pie except for the arsenic.” “I’ve made a wonderful pot roast except for the arsenic.” It’s like … as long as there’s arsenic, I’m not talking about anything else.

DM: 34:35 Yeah.

You … one of my favorite … What if … If you’re at any of these institutions, and you’re told to do the trans stuff, and you say, “What about this gynophilia stuff?” How long do you last? I mean, if you do this …

EW: 34:50 Trans is complicated for a different reason, because it’s an umbrella category. And just the way ‘stroke’ is an umbrella category—where you have stroke from excessive thinning, and stroke from excessive clotting—it may be that two things downstream are both called ‘stroke’ but their etiologies are different, and the remediations are different. And the problem with trans is not any particular aspect. It’s one of these situations in which some people desperately need (in my opinion) some surgery to save their lives, because they’ve made three attempts and every indication is that something has happened since, you know, since birth.

DM: 35:27 Yeah, as you know, this is my view as well.

EW: 35:30 But then there’s another group of things … situations where it’s clearly social contagion. Why are you forcing me to use one term to cover two totally different situations?

DM: 35:39 Unless the aim is, again, to …

EW: 35:40 To make sure that you trip up and that we can boycott you.

DM: 35:43 Exactly. But to go back to this institutions thing, I mean, it seems to me … it’s so obvious now. I mean, it’s happened with friends of ours. The minute you get into the, the realm of the thing that they can kill you over, they get you. I mean, I don’t know how Jordan survived at Toronto. I think … Maybe let’s not get that bit of it. But when Jordan Peterson is offered the, I think unpaid, non-stipendary position at Cambridge University for one term to be at the Divinity faculty in order to research, I think he wanted to give some lectures on the book of Exodus. … And they get him. They get him. Because you’re not allowed there. We can have controversial professor roaming free. We cannot have him associated with an institution. And so we’ll come up with a BS thing of once standing beside somebody with a t-shirt which didn’t say the approved thing.

EW: 35:58 Whatever.

DM: 36:30 By the way, sorry, one other thing, again a bit of personal vendetta, if I can’t do that here. There’s a professor at Cambridge, at one of the more minor colleges, of Indian origin, rather, very, very privileged woman, who rampages around Twitter saying racist things about white people. She’s promoted. She was promoted this year. The institution says, we will promote an anti-white racist, when we find them. In fact, we’ll do it rather visibly, to rub your noses in it, as it were. But we can’t have controversial Professor Jordan Peterson coming near us. Controversial young Junior Research Fellow Noah Carl thrown out of the university one year earlier because of bogus claims about his research by people who didn’t know anything about his field of expertise. They do that one year; the next year, they promote the person who does the anti-white racism. This is the transparency problem. I would have liked to have lived—I went to Oxford. I never thought highly of Cambridge. But I know people who do. And—

EW: 37:56 We’re going to bring that in here?

DM: 37:58 I’m gonna hit them low. I am—no, I mean, seriously, I would like to live in a world where Cambridge University didn’t pull that stuff.

EW: 38:07 I mean, it does have the Lucasian Professorship. So I think it’s rather important that we retain it.

DM: 38:11 I’d like to retain it.

EW: 38:12 Yeah.

DM: 38:13 I’d like to retain it. But they make it very, very hard. They make it hard, not least by making themselves part of this trip wire mechanism that’s [?].

EW: 38:20 So this is Cambridge, but not Oxford?

DM: 38:23 Well, it has…

EW: 38:25 It’s everywhere, sir.

DM: 38:25 It has happened. It has happened. I would say that I mean, when Oxford University was first invited to pull down Rhode—Cecil Rhodes statues, it actually resisted. It looks like it’s gone along with it this time, again, because when a man is killed by a cop in Minnesota, it’s now seen as being totally obvious that there should be another assault on the statue of Cecil Rhodes in Oxford.

EW: 38:45 You are not able to follow this logic.

DM: 38:47 No, I thought he didn’t have any responsibility for it.

EW: 38:50 Ah.

DM: 38:51 Uh, the uh—

EW: 38:53 —but maybe, maybe we don’t understand what this logic is. Maybe at some level, this is so preposterous to us that we don’t actually entertain what the transmission mechanism is because its prime facia insane.

DM: 39:10 Yes—

EW: 39:11 —and therefore we’re not at liberty, in some sense, to say, I wonder if I had to program a computer with rules, like if I let this be a data set, and I tried to train some deep learning algorithm, and I tried to figure out, okay, when some policing incident goes awry somewhere what is the propensity to tear down an elk? There has to be some probability of transition that that’s going to occur.

DM: 39:39 To have to hide our elk every time on time this happens!

EW: 39:44 Well, there’s a lovely old song of Flanders and Swang about a Gnu.

DM: 39:49 Oh, yes. great fan of that.

EW: 39:51 Yeah.

DM: 39:55 Perhaps someone by name is that—This is getting into sort of the quieter moments of this year.

EW: 40:03 Yeah.

DM: 40:05 When I’ve had the opportunity to reflect, I suppose the answer I’ve come up with is that the problem of all of this is that it’s something to do. And that whether we,

EW: 40:22 its meaning,

DM: 40:23 Its meaning.

EW: 40:24 Its meaning because we have not—

DM: 40:25 right.

EW: 40:26 It’s like omega omega three fatty acids being crowded out by omega six.

DM: 40:31 Yeah. So we have, we’ve lost God, we have the god shaped holes still. And very few things even aspire to fill them.

EW: 40:46 Nation-shaped hole.

DM: 40:47 Nation-shaped hole.

EW: 40:49 Family-sized hole.

DM: 40:50 Yeah. And the problem—again, I don’t like being stuck in Left-Right dichotomies, but, the right basically is uninterested in everything other than the economics.

EW: 41:04 Weirdly.

DM: 41:04 Weirdly, which is, is sort of fine in one sense, so long as the tide is always rising. And you and I know that the world we are now entering is one in which the tide is far from rising. So the Right’s unwillingness to address those things looks like a very, very serious—

EW: 41:25 Well they are learning,

DM: 41:26 Okay.

EW: 41:26 Like, the Libertarians learned through COVID that you can’t pretend that every man is an island.

DM: 41:31 Right. Okay. Yes, I wish libertarians had been smarter earlier on that stuff. I have a deep—

EW: 41:40 I love a lot of them, but I can’t—they live in a simplified world in which the connections between people are undervalued.

DM: 41:46 Yes, exactly. Exactly. And I’ve always been frustrated by this. And, and this—an element, sorry to say this, my libertarian friends, an element of cowardice involved in that.

EW: 41:55 But also the same thing about the rationality community, that you’re opting out of the total human condition.

DM: 42:01 Yes. And so. So the problem we find ourselves in is right and bother with this, the left has had to or deliberately or otherwise come up with things to fill the gaps.

EW: 42:16 Hmm.

DM: 42:17 All of which are plausible and decent in the places they start somewhere around the origin. You know, let’s not have people prejudiced against because of character traits over which they have no say. Good ambition. If you didn’t want to make it your life’s work, you’d have to accept that you might look bad by saying so. And so it is quite a desirable thing to spend your life doing. And particularly if it meant that it was just like the story we tell the civil rights struggles in the latter part of the last century, if it’s the perception that you just need to do one last push once and you get there, and you will always hold that ground—

EW: 42:59 Right—

DM: 42:59 —which I don’t believe, I think—

EW: 43:01 Well this is one of the things I’m starting to learn about—for example, there was a resistance to what would now be termed Second Wave Feminism, which I find very distasteful—

DM: 43:11 Right.

EW: 43:12 —where, you know, somebody would say some terms like “feminazis”, and things began and “man-hating feminists”, I would think—

DM: 43:19 Yeah.

EW: 43:19 —what are you guys talking about? Somebody wants to work in an office?

DM: 43:23 Yeah.

EW: 43:24 You know, and you’re acting like this. And I now increasingly wonder whether people who are looking at Second Wave Feminism, and extrapolating it out to some sort of 17th wave Social Justice Theory, were actually focused on a slippery slope problem. And were weirdly talking about where this could lead. I don’t think it had to lead, in fact, I think was absolutely necessary that—on what basis would you segregate education at the highest level, I forget when Princeton went co-ed and things, or when they had their first—you know, if you look at like, for example, the first black student to graduate from every one of the major universities, there’s some that are, you know, 1800s, very early on; others, like, 1950s.

DM: 44:13 Right.

EW: 44:14 So, you know, there’s a huge range of these behaviors that were once present. But I think one of the things that I’d also liked to hear from you, just as we—the original conceit of our, you know, we used to have Alastair Cook doing the Letter from America, and we had de Tocqueville famously commenting on the American landscape. I do wonder, as a gay man, how you see heterosexual relationships, because I think you’ve been an incredibly astute observer from outside as to changes in heterosexual courtship, male-female relations. And I wonder, after a short bio break, whether I could entice you to give us some carefully chosen observations on that dangerous topic?

DM: 44:59 I’d love to. Let me first say something about the meaning of life.

EW: 45:01 Sure. I did like that! Why you cracked a smile and ruined everything, I don’t know?

DM: 45:11 No, cause I didn’t quite finish that thought about, as it were the deep thought of what is happening.

EW: 45:17 Yes.

DM: 45:19 I’d like us, maybe not now. But I’d like us collectively the way your listeners and others to start to—we need to talk about this more and better. There is a very clear disjunct between the story we’ve been telling ourselves about what we are, and an intuition that we feel about ourselves as human beings. And I’m going to struggle with the language of this, because we all do, and it’s part of the human condition to struggle with it. But there is a mismatch. And very few people are speaking into it. The mismatch is that we ran a science over last few generations, perhaps longer, we may even say we ran the Enlightenment, which was one of the best ways in which we could do it. I’m not with my enlightenment, sort of “all-we-need-is-enlightenment” friends. Because I think they missed this element. Before that, we ran religion as the primary explanation mechanism. We don’t have an explanation mechanism. I’ve said before, we might be the first people in human history to have no explanation for what we’re doing. Which leaves us in a very disadvantaged position. It makes us vulnerable to mount banks and frauds and others. But we need to do better at this. And I think that if I was trying to put my finger on it, it would be something like there’s something we know about ourselves, which is not adequately expressed or even spoken during the culture. And I think of it as being it comes along in the fact that for instance, if you said, “You, Eric Weinstein, you’re a consumer”, you will say, “Well, yes, but why would you talk about me as if I’m only a consumer?”

EW: 47:23 I would say “no”.

DM: 47:24 Okay. Good. So fast way around it. If you said, “You’re a capitalist” or “You’re a free marketeer” or “You’re a voter”,

EW: 47:34 Yeah.

DM: 47:35 You see, all of these things, almost everything you have now, “You’re a social justice activist”

EW: 47:39 Right

DM: 47:41 None of it does it. What is it? It’s because there has—we have a very strong instinct, as a species, that these things don’t sum us up, and can’t. Now people are coming along at the moment from—particularly from the radical left, saying, okay, but you could sum yourself up in other ways—we will encourage you to sum yourself up because of a character trait. And the character trait would be based on something you can’t change, but also you will find meaning by warring in order to further this thing. This isn’t addressed by anyone else, but it’s that speaking to a depth, that’s speaking to depth, because it’s saying we’re going to solve a cosmic injustice.

EW: 48:21 Right.

DM: 48:22 That’s worth doing with your life. Why is nobody countering this with anything else now? Because the rest of it is this entirely, now, unfilled terrain?

EW: 48:32 Yes.

DM: 48:33 Which involves the need to say, I know I am, we are, more than what the age tells us we are. And we have the same questions that everyone has had before. And we have nobody wishing to provide answers. I have, I think, a favorite version of the question, the biggest question, which comes up in Rilke in the Duino Elegies, he’s, Rilke says somewhere in there, “Does the outer space into which we dissolve taste of us at all?”

EW: 49:11 Oh, that’s beautiful. I don’t know that quote.

DM: 49:14 And the way we end up living always is to think, at best, we will say hopefully,

EW: 49:26 Yes.

DM: 49:27 And this is my system for doing so. And in religion, obviously, we get the answer that there is a secular version of this, which is what you alluded to when you referred to the dude wall.

EW: 49:40 Right.

DM: 49:41 Let’s say the Nobel.

EW: 49:43 Secular immortality.

DM: 49:45 Secular immortality.

EW: 49:46 Right. Or if you were doing economics, you would talk about overlapping generations models rather than lineage. And so this issue of how immortality works in each individual field really matters, because you have to avoid nihilism and solipsism—

DM: 50:02 Yes.

EW: 50:02 And all of these sorts of intellectual pitfalls.

DM: 50:05 The crucial thing is, you don’t just have to because it isn’t good for you.

EW: 50:09 Yes. Well, because it’s also not, it’s so true.

DM: 50:14 Right.

EW: 50:15 And and you see, you don’t code computers? much. Okay? There’s a distinction in in object oriented programming called “is a” versus “has a”. And the way I typically talk about it is, if you’re not careful, you will define a Lamborghini as a radio. Because if you say, what is a radio? Well, it’s something that picks up radio waves and converts them into audible sound,

DM: 50:41 Right.

EW: 50:42 Well, Lamborghini can do that. Yeah, right. So to say that a Lamborghini is a radio is completely perverse, nobody will accept that statement. However, the idea that you have a voter, you have a consumer, you have a worker, you have an Anglican, whatever it is that you think of, if you think of those as what we would call “member variables”. And that that, which is Douglas, let’s say, would be the meta-object. And then all of these meta-variables like “Douglas as voter”,

DM: 51:16 Mm hmm.

EW: 51:17 You know, “Douglas, as boyfriend”, all of these things are, in fact, things that you have, rather than are,

DM: 51:24 Yes.

EW: 51:25 Now that one linguistic shift. Yeah, is a profound one. Yeah. There’s another way. So I’m very taken with the idea. And you and I’ve discussed this at length privately, that many times we’re one rhetorical device away from being able to say something, and no one’s figured that out. So for example, when I have to defend, people try to trick you into the following: they’ll say, I think, let’s say, “black power”. So am I supposed to say “all power”? “Brown power”? “White power”? Wait, wait, wait, what?

You know, okay, well, on one, on the one hand, from a symmetry perspective, “white power” versus “black power” is almost the same statement. However, we’ve got one mapped to something completely different. And we don’t notice the weird the weird ways in which this occurs. So famously, I say, what is vanilla? Vanilla has two opposite meanings. Yeah, it is either the most flavorful of flavorings.

Or it’s the base.

Or it is the least interesting base that is supposed to be effectively undetectable, and it’s completely neutral. Yeah. Same thing happens with “white” versus “European”. I have no interest in white. Mm hmm. I have a tremendous interest in Europe. Tremendous. And the idea that Europe is both seen as the most bland thing in the world. You know, white men can’t jump. White men can’t dance. White men can’t do a thing, versus what produced La Sagrada Familia and the Bach cello suites. You know, it’s like, I can’t even fit these in my head. Another one of these things I don’t notice is, for example, the idea that if I say, “the size of someone’s head may be related to that person’s intelligence,” like “my God, that’s like scientific racism, it’s phonology!”. You know, “Are you reading the Encyclopedia Britannica from 1911? What What is your problem?” Then I say, “I’m not worried about Zika virus because I don’t think microcephaly has any costs.” “Are you kidding? Do you know what the cognitive impairment from having a small head would be?” Have you noticed that you’re carrying both of these programs in your brain and that you have a rule that says “I will not attempt to access them”? At the same time, it’s like, “you can’t be out in the street because we have a deadly virus, and we all have to pull together.” “You must be out in the street because we have an incredible problem of public health in our racism”.

DM: 53:55 Yeah, well it happened with obesity as well this year.

EW: 53:57 Well—

DM: 53:57 Yeah. But

EW: 54:00 We can’t even give people life saving advice, necessarily. Like when I saw this virus—

DM: 54:05 That’s when it becomes—Yes, exactly. That’s when it becomes dangerous, when the when the when the thing you’re meant to sustain, for societal purposes, becomes deadly. That would be the time ordinarily where you’d change the program.

EW: 54:18 I’m coming up on having lost 50 pounds because I believed that I was a sitting duck with my BMI where it was by not paying attention to my body when COVID struck. And I listen, people immediately say, “Well, that’s fat shaming.” You know, that you can’t talk about life saving advice because it’s fat shaming. The contradictory pressures that we’ve taken on, like if you think about this, the idea that head size and shape on the one hand, we know it from scientific racism. On the other hand, we know it from the Zika virus. We’ve been given two contradictory instructions and we’ve been given no expert guidance as to how to get these concepts to play well within a single mind.

DM: 55:05 I agree, just return to us, return us for a nanosecond to the point we are we are being clogged up. And the clogging up appears to be the purpose for a lot of people.

EW: 55:21 Hmm.

DM: 55:22 And the problem is both the clogging and the unplugging becomes purpose. And my own view is that some of the unclogging that you and I both have tried to do in our different ways, and various people we know try to do, is in order to get somewhere else.

EW: 55:41 Correct, like, it’s not intrinsically interesting just to point out contradictions.

DM: 55:46 Right. I’m, I’m not interested merely in showing why hucksters like the 1619 Project people and Robyn D’Angelo, Kennedy, and all these people—I’m not interested in just like defusing bits—

EW: 56:05 The indulgence merchants.

DM: 56:07 They’ve—yeah, I’m not interested in just diffusing the bombs that they’ve put into our society. Although I do think that needs to be done. I’ve done a certain amount of it, you’ve done a lot of it. I think that I think is very worthwhile. But I think all the time, we have to all have our eyes on the—

EW: 56:24 Meaning, purpose, a journey—

DM: 56:25 —on a further goal—

EW: 56:26 I agree with this.

DM: 56:27 And I’m just, again, I come back to this point, you know, I was so worried this year that the virus would become something we all did.

EW: 56:38 Hmm.

DM: 56:39 You know, that we would all become interested in, you know, getting to Christmas.

And that’s 2020 done. And then 2021, what can we arrange? What can be arranged for us? And, before we know it, we’re all going to be on our deathbeds.

EW: 56:57 Right. What did we do?

DM: 56:58 Having, you know, I mean, it’s it comes back to what I said—we’ve had for years where some of our friends have spent four years reacting to the US president. It’s not time well spent. It’s not nothing, but it’s not far off. If this keeps happening, the opportunity costs for our societies, and for us as individuals, is just too great. And we, we both have to, we all have to find a way to do the declogging. But not only to do that—

EW: 57:32 Well, you know, I have a certain love for wildlife videos, as much as I find them disturbing. Very often, whenever you have a swarm, and it could be army ants, it could be hyenas, it could be lions, whatever it is. You have this phase, where for example, if you look at lions taking down an elephant—

DM: 57:55 Hmm.

EW: 57:58 Very often the lions nip at the elephant too distracted, too exhaust it—wolves will do these sorts of things. And you always have the narrator say, you know, “What the animal doesn’t realize is that it’s using its energy, and it will quickly become exhausted.” And you’re thinking like, well, what happens if you don’t respond to those nips?

DM: 58:18 Hmm.

EW: 58:19 It’s not clear to me that there’s a strategy. Like, even if I noticed that I’m wasting my time doing this. These people are at it every day on the other side. This is their point, this is their mission, their mission is to make sure that you can’t have rational thoughts in public unless they have a particular kind of redistributional outcome. And I do think that one of the key issues that we’re dealing with, is that we have many observations that are not in broad circulation, one of which is that the supposedly pro-empathy movement, you would imagine would be a broadening of empathy movement. How do we make sure that people who previously did not have empathy extended to them, like the homeless, or the obese, or whoever it is, that they’re included? Right? It has nothing to do with most of it.

DM: 59:11 Yeah.

EW: 59:11 Most of it has to do with the idea that it’s a redistribution of empathy, that the people who we have empathized with previously in this understanding, yeah, now need to be drained.

DM: 59:23 There’s a limited limited amount of it in the bank, we’d have to spend it differently.

EW: 59:27 Well, I wouldn’t say it that way. I would say that it is—there’s a division about oppression, should oppression be eliminated, or should it be reversed?

DM: 59:38 Well, you obviously, what with the era we’re in, it should be overcorrected.

EW: 59:42 I think that that’s—the overcorrection is a feature, not a bug. If I don’t get to visit some of what you’ve visited upon me, in getting to a new equilibrium, I’m not interested. And so this is this is the move where somebody says, “So it sounds like you’re feeling a little uncomfortable. That’s how the rest of us feel”, right? And if I say, for example, like, here’s an easy one, “You would think that white older white men would be the most privileged group in this Anti-Intersectional Olympics”, right? They have some of the highest suicide rates in the United States, much higher than black men, and much higher than, you know, younger black females versus older white men, night and day difference. And they want to make this move when redistributing empathy, which is, “Well, they’ll be fine.” You’re like, “No, no, these are suicides. They’re not going to be fine. They’re dead.” And you’re like, “Well, now you see how other people—.” Well, no, I’m looking at suicide as an exchange rate. If this group has a higher suicide rate, how are you so sure—

DM: 1:00:57 Yes.

EW: 1:00:58 —that money means what you think it does, that race means what you—that gender—like, how do you know you haven’t gotten the whole thing wrong, because at least we know that when somebody chooses to take his own life, that that is an equalizing decision.

DM: 1:01:13 Yes. Yes. The… it’s a problem in this country that’s obviously looming, by the way, isn’t it? All of this? Everyone I speak to from any political direction now talks about race more than they did four years ago. And they’re all becoming aware of the vengeance.

EW: 1:01:36 Say more.

DM: 1:01:39 Does anyone in any line of work in America now not think obsessively about race in the workplace?

EW: 1:01:45 Well it’s worse than the workplace.

DM: 1:01:46 Oh, no, no, I’m just saying, for starters.

EW: 1:01:47 No, no, I agree with that.

DM: 1:01:48 This wasn’t the case. This wasn’t the case even a few years ago. It was an issue. It’s always an issue long time, people would talk about, you know, the inability of, for instance, a, oh, I don’t know, to fire an underperforming black colleague.

EW: 1:02:04 Yes.

DM: 1:02:05 Was that’s an issue for a long time. And I would add to that, black friends who have talked amusedly about the advantages they get for being black. I spoke recently to a black friend, who says is one of the few, you know, sort of obvious things. If you’re black, you don’t have to wear a mask. Nobody who’s white will tell you off for not wearing a mask. If you’re black,

EW: 1:02:30 I actually don’t necessarily believe that.

DM: 1:02:31 Really?

EW: 1:02:32 My guess is that—I mean, I do think that there is a fair amount of prejudice based on behavioral characteristics. I mean, it’s a very tricky subject, because the place in which race has really changed in my mind is under my roof. Because I’m in an interracial family. And race was not a big part of daily life in my house. And coming to have to see a spouse or a child through the lens of race is an incredibly distasteful thing when race isn’t relevant. It’s not the case—

DM: 1:03:17 Yeah.

EW: 1:03:18 You know, if if we’re talking, for example, about who has to put on suntan lotion, it’s more important that I put on suntan lotion than that my wife does if there’s not much left in the bottle. Right? Okay. There race can matter.

DM: 1:03:32 Mm hmm.

EW: 1:03:34 But this issue about is it po—you can’t get past race, “colorblindness is a fake thing pushed by a white patriarchy”, blah, blah, blah. Horseshit!

DM: 1:03:48 Yeah.

EW: 1:03:49 I mean, I’m not saying that you never notice it, I’m saying that you can go three weeks without ever having a thought that looks like that.

DM: 1:03:55 I just say the workplace is one. But I heard of everwhere else as well now, in this country. This country has been very successfully re-racialized by people of all, from all directions.

EW: 1:04:08 I can’t stand it.

DM: 1:04:09 I can’t either, it’s exceptionally ugly. And it’s obviously gonna get a lot worse. When people know that they have been prejudiced against because of their skin color, it really doesn’t matter what skin color is, they’re going to feel resentful.

EW: 1:04:24 Well, but part of this has to do with the Immigration Act of 1965, because there was a white-black dynamic that was relevant in the country before 1965, and the browning of America without necessarily most of that coming from, let’s say, West African stock that mirrors the the imported slave population that is now the core of black America. I think that in many ways, the question was, well, what would happen to black issues, because it’s a large minority in this country. And I think that then what people tried was, let’s make it black and brown, people of color.

DM: 1:05:04 Yeah.

EW: 1:05:05 And then it turns out that okay, well, Asians are now overperforming, supposedly, in terms of entrance to elite universities. Well, we can’t do that.

DM: 1:05:14 Yeah, in my country, the vivre app for Indians are far ahead of white people.

EW: 1:05:22 Have you heard of the bamboo ceiling?

DM: 1:05:24 Yes. Yeah.

EW: 1:05:25 Right. So we have we have, yes, East Asian engineers inside of tech companies looking at the ascendancy of South Asians to the top jobs in these tech companies, claiming that the problem is brown on brown or whatever you want to call, you know, it’s completely internal—

DM: 1:05:43 Yeah.

EW: 1:05:44 —to so-called people of color.

DM: 1:05:45 Again, all of these—all the programs were running, apart from running against each other, are so unfit for purpose. The one that I can’t bear that’s happened since I was last in this country, the 1619 Project and everything, is this unbelievable imbibing by people who used to be serious in this country, of this gunk about Europeans and America. I mean, as a Dutch historian wrote recently in The Spectator, what exactly were the Europeans meant to do after they found America? Were they meant to go back home and go “shhhhhh”? Were they meant to say, “We’ve discovered this amazing place. I don’t think it has any potential, I wouldn’t bother with it. There’s a large landmass over there, it doesn’t appear to be at all heavily populated. But I don’t think we should be very much interested in it; somebody else will find it.” What exactly were they meant to do? The current thing gives out these incredibly easy-to-dispel ideas, that this country will be understood in a way that is not useful to understand the country.

EW: 1:07:05 But let’s let’s think about a way in which we could understand what the claim is. If you look at things that we talk about incessantly, for example, giving blankets with smallpox as presents to the native population using pestilence against them, that, I think we can all agree, is horrific.

DM: 1:07:30 By the way, in the Australian context, much of this is contested, but…

EW: 1:07:33 Yeah, why I’m not claiming that I know. Yeah, I spent zero time looking at this. I willing to assume that we’ve done some horrible things relative to the local population, just as, let’s say, le Nabi Indians, I believe, massacred—was one of the first school massacres.

DM: 1:07:49 But again, I’m coming back to this thing because it affects everybody now,

EW: 1:07:54 Right. Well,

DM: 1:07:56 But who, who—

EW: 1:07:58 But let’s come back after a bio break. And instead of starting where I thought we were gonna start, let’s start around this question of why it’s so hard to defend the cultures from which so much has sprung.

DM: 1:08:11 Yeah.

EW: 1:08:12 All right. Stay tuned.

I always like to say this: “And, we’re back.”

Douglas. It seems to me that right at the moment, one of the things that we’re having a real difficulty with is that we haven’t formulated rhetorically effective ways of expressing reasonable love and pride in the lineages that have added up to so much that might be loosely thought of as Western Civilization, or Indo-European civilization. And my question is, are we in part going to lose our society because nobody’s figured out the right way of getting words to play together that indicate that one wishes to take responsibility for the excesses and negative aspects of one’s society, but without groveling and pretending that everything one’s ancestors did was horrible, and that there’s nothing to be proud of? Do we have a problem that this really comes down to the fact that it’s a puzzle? The comedians, for example, weren’t able to tell jokes for a period of time because the rules around joke telling a change? And then they figured out that there were new ways of saying these jokes—you know, Joe Rogan, did this joke about “wrestling is gay”, and the audience would have this horrible, you know, realization that they were in the audience for a bigoted comic, and everybody would [gasp], you know, do this, and he said, Wait, what do you think I just said, I didn’t say it was bad, I said it was gay. And then it goes into this description of

DM: 1:09:51 Yeah,

EW: 1:09:51 Oiled bodies—

DM: 1:09:52 Oiled bodies, sweaty men—

EW: 1:09:53 Booty shorts, and all this kind of stuff. And he’s like, if that’s not gay, then what is? And that kind of innovation, like, Chappelle did this where he blames his audience—

DM: 1:10:04 Yeah, that was very interesting.

EW: 1:10:06 This is very similar to what happened in the 90s, where you went from old style advertisements, to one, I think I remember one where, instead of good things happening to people who use the product, bad things happen, to show that they’re in on the joke. So a person takes a swig from a soda can and goes, “Ahhhhh”, and they don’t notice the Mack truck that mows them down. It’s like, “It’s that refreshing!” Like, that would be a 90s style innovation. Are there ways of defending Western Civilization we just haven’t thought of because all the old ways seem not to take responsibility for the negatives?

DM: 1:10:41 It could be. We live—the clear thing is that we live in an era of revenge.

EW: 1:10:48 Hmm.

DM: 1:10:49 We live in an era of vengeance against the West.

EW: 1:10:52 Some say vengeance, you can say justice.

DM: 1:10:55 I say vengeance.

EW: 1:10:57 Yeah. So is vengeance a Russell conjugate of justice?

DM: 1:11:03 Well, could be. I think not, for the following reason, which is that it’s said in the tone of vengeance. Often unadulteratedly. For instance, the Emperor—have you heard the Empire Strikes Back term? The Empire Strikes Back has been for 20 years or so a description of immigration in Europe.

EW: 1:11:28 I see. Interesting.

DM: 1:11:30 Yeah. Yeah, they like it. Oh, you don’t like the immigration? Well, the Empire Strikes Back.

EW: 1:11:37 I see.

DM: 1:11:38 Ah, now, of course, your obvious play to That is to say, okay, and when does the Empire reassert itself and strike back? This is ugly.

EW: 1:11:50 Hmm.

DM: 1:11:50 They want—they want to make us ugly. But it’s vengeance. It’s never clearer to me than in America. It’s spoken in the term of vengeance. Where we just were about this, what to do with the Europeans and America and this whole continent,

EW: 1:12:08 Right.

DM: 1:12:09 It’s spoken as vengeance.

EW: 1:12:12 Yes, we’re very interested in vengeance, but we can’t bring ourselves to say it.

DM: 1:12:16 Yeah, they want people to suffer. The use of the term “whitie”

EW: 1:12:21 “Whitie”?

DM: 1:12:22 Yeah. What is that? What is what’s gammon? What’s gammon?

EW: 1:12:28 What is gammon?

DM: 1:12:29 Gammon is a term used by alleged anti-racists to describe white men of a certain age in particular due to the alleged hue of their skin, particularly when irritated. Do we have anything in the language as common and as acceptable now to describe for instance, an irate black man? No, you won’t want to find one either. But gammon totally, totally reasonable. Totally respect—laughed at, used by white people as well hoping to buy themselves some time.

EW: 1:13:06 Well, throwing each other over—

DM: 1:13:08 Yeah.

EW: 1:13:08 In an attempt to slow the advance.

DM: 1:13:10 Yeah. So I think this is vengeance, that we’re in a period of vengeance against European history in particular, what’s seen as being the West, Western History. And there’s, of course, one particular gigantic logical fallacy waiting to hit these people like the truck in the 1990s advert with the refreshment drink. The giant logical fallacy about to plow them down—

EW: 1:13:36 Yeah.

DM: 1:13:37 —is the misapprehension they have that what we call the western liberal society is the default position of mankind. Hmm, they think Western Society is your vanilla. They think it’s your non-colored base paint. And they’re totally wrong. Because most of your most of human experience is the Congo, Russia, you know? They have no damn idea.

EW: 1:14:15 Well, this is the sort of CHAZ fallacy, which is that if we can just get the police to stop policing, then everything will be utopian.

DM: 1:14:22 Yes. And I, again, I don’t think we have time for these people. And I think that we don’t have time for—you know, because—

EW: 1:14:28 They’re not serious points, and they can’t, they shouldn’t be engaged, because—in that fashion, because, in order to do so, all conversation has to derail until these—

DM: 1:14:39 Until these people learn a lesson.

EW: 1:14:40 Yeah.

DM: 1:14:41 You know, that’s the annoying thing. Because, arguably, what they’re going through is the thing that intermittently is necessary. We’ve discussed this before, I think we discussed it in Sydney, with your theory about the nuclear bombs being let off every now and then, you know,

EW: 1:14:55 You’re just gonna drop that like that? Because I haven’t talked that much on this program.

DM: 1:14:58 Right, which is crazy. Crazy weird—get Weinstein in private and it’s just all nuclear bombs! [laughter]

It’s this thing of, do you have remind people on some intermittent basis of what can happen? And the answer, historically, seems “Yes”. And the great regret of those of us who would like to avoid all of those things is that we actually can know it without having to learn it. And there are always people who hurtle forward who need to learn it again, you know, the people in CHAZ, discover, lo and behold, that, you know, without a police force, a man can rape a woman and just walk away.

EW: 1:15:47 Who knew?

DM: 1:15:47 Who knew, other than all humans in history?

EW: 1:15:47 Right.

DM: 1:15:47 Without a police force, the business doesn’t have any protection when the mob comes and decides to burn the whole damn thing down. Who knew, apart from everyone in history? So this is, as I said, this is the truck that’s coming towards these people. And the question really is, can they learn the lesson privately? Or do they have to do it and pull everyone else into their remedial lesson? And I strongly hope, like everybody else, that it’s the first of those two things. You know, I take a certain sadistic pleasure as we all must in those stories that occasionally emerge, and usually get a very long write up in the New York Times, of some idealistic couple from Seattle who decided to take a tandem cycling holiday through Waziristan. And, you know, they believed that, you know, if only we all tandemed together more, we’d have a future of more justice. And they all get, you know, sort of gang raped and murdered by a group of jihadis, or something, and you just sort of can’t help thinking, “Well, you know, I’m very sorry for their family. I’m sorry for them, they had to learn this lesson that way.” And it’s obviously not the case with everyone. I stress that not everyone in Waziristan is a gang raping murderer. I’m just saying that, you know, anyone who knew the world could have told them it isn’t what it looked like to them when they were growing up in Seattle. You know, it’s just regrettable that the catastrophic nature of human existence is so badly transmitted to these people. And I’m afraid, sorry to sound terribly anti-American at this moment, but this—

EW: 1:17:25 I have noticed this shift.

DM: 1:17:27 Really?

EW: 1:17:27 Yeah.

DM: 1:17:28 Okay. It’s a consequence of the fact that the people—we’re all suffering the spillage of this.

EW: 1:17:34 Right.

DM: 1:17:35 And it’s come from people in America, who think they know everything about the world and have never left these shores. I’m sorry, you have an incredibly ignorant left, you have an incredibly ignorant internationalist class, you have an incredibly parochial internationalist class. Let alone the nationalists! You have people who believe they’ve got the whole thing sussed. And they think that this situation you’ve had in this country is the default situation, and they’re willing to burn this whole damn thing down to learn that it’s not, and then they’re going to take everyone else with them at this rate. You know, I’ve fed up of the spillage of American ignorance on these matters, coming into my own country, coming all across Europe as well, we have our own problems. And this particular one, of, for instance, re-racializing everything, or making relations between the sexes all but impossible, you know, having to move all sexual relations and indeed, courtship to Tinder—

EW: 1:18:31 Or to a lawyers office.

DM: 1:18:33 Or to a lawyers office, is something that’s spilled out from the town we’re sitting in, as it happens. And I, again, I don’t know how we encourage these people who are ignorant about this to learn this, but they’re going to have to learn it fast, and not make us all have to go through the lesson with them.

EW: 1:18:49 So I think it has a lot to do with individual lessons that have interactions. Right? I don’t know if you’ve been following at all this Coinbase shift. Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase, who said, effectively, “We’re an idealistic company, we have an idealism and a dream. And we can’t afford drug interactions between different idealisms.” It’s not that your idealism is wrong. But if you bring, you know your idealism, let’s say, you have an idealism about the Israeli state, and you, on the other hand, have an idealism about Black Lives Matter. And now you’ve got a problem because there’s an interference, you’re trying to work with somebody. And their organization says something about, you know, the State of Israel, and you have an organization that is idealistic for the State of Israel. What can a company like Coinbase do because they’re not in charge of all of the medications that people are taking for site society’s ills? And so their point was, at work, we’re going to try to limit the drug interactions between our idealisms so that we can actually get something done.

DM: 1:20:02 Yeah, this would be the optimal thing we did in our societies. Yes.

EW: 1:20:05 Well, this is coming from the US. So you’re welcome.

DM: 1:20:07 Yeah. Thank you. I accept this import with alacrity.

EW: 1:20:11 Yeah.

DM: 1:20:12 Yes, this is it, we have to do this, we have to strip this stuff out. I described it before. This is moral asbestos. It has to be stripped from the building. It’s unfortunate that the era we’re speaking in is the era where the asbestos is still being put in every cavity. I strongly urge people to stop the people they find doing this job.

Well, but you know—

And to do a bit of undoing.

EW: 1:20:42 We had a very interesting situation with an innovation, which I believe, if I’m not mistaken, may originated in Toronto (I could have that wrong) around 2011, which was the advent of the so called “slutwalk”, in which, in order to get rid of a persistent problem, which is the claim that feminine attire could be seen as inviting, the idea would be that women would march in the most provocative clothing possible, in order to demonstrate that there is never a cause for reacting sexually towards a woman, based on your understanding of whatever agreed upon non-explicit signaling was taking place. Now, one can understand wanting to get rid of an argument that can be made and and saying, “Hey, I’ve got a great idea. Why don’t we actually attack the idea that there’s ever an excuse to assume that somebody was inviting amorous behavior?” On the other hand, that actually had a lot to do with having an agreed upon language, which was not explicit, protecting females by saying, look, this thing is sort of a progressive handshake that gets more and more intimate as both sides decide that they’re ready to move to the next level. But then, effectively, what we do is we, in order to get a lacuna, in our vocabulary of moves, we destroyed an entire language of courtship.

DM: 1:22:18 Yes.

EW: 1:22:18 And I was wondering, you know, in some sense, as a keen observer of heterosexuals, but coming from a homosexual perspective, what do you see going on between men and women from the outside that we can benefit from, sort of, a less interested eye?

DM: 1:22:39 Hmm. I was so thrilled, once, when you described me over dinner as the de tocqueville of heterosexuality.

You know, one of the pleasures of writing the madness of crowds was writing the chapter on men and women.

EW: 1:22:54 Yes.

DM: 1:22:54 Because I knew that I was able to say so many things that my straight friends were not able to say. Male and female.

EW: 1:23:01 I’m just gonna nod my head not knowing what’s coming next, actually. I actually don’t know what’s coming next.

DM: 1:23:07 I honestly feel sorry for you guys.

EW: 1:23:10 Hmm.

DM: 1:23:11 It used to be the case that the the straights felt sorry for the gays because the gays had unhappy lives.

EW: 1:23:18 We’ve always looked at you with a bit of envy.

DM: 1:23:21 Sure. Well, yeah, of course. Because there were aspects of—memorably, a straight friend of mine once said to me, “I wish we had straight bars.” And I said, “What are you talking about? Don’t you have them everywhere?” And he said, “No, but I mean, like, straightaway, we really could, like, just go in, and the women knew that they were also there for that purpose, and—

EW: 1:23:38 Oh, really? For me, it’s musical theater that I’ve been eyeing.

DM: 1:23:43 You can have that.

EW: 1:23:44 Yeah!

DM: 1:23:44 You can have you can have mine. I do think it’s been made intolerable. And by the way, again, the era of revenge, so much—the pleasure, which women and some men are taking, in sexually torturing heterosexual men is extraordinary to me. I mean, the recognition that the benefits of recent sexual advances can be made, can be accrued by a tiny number of heterosexual men, and that the rest should be tortured, is one of the things I think is least attractive in the age. Again, the language of revenge. I think that, I mean, several things. One is that—the big underlying one is that women are trying to make men into something that women don’t want.

That’s—on the surface. That would sound like very self-defeating and paradoxical behavior.

Sure, well, they don’t realize that’s what they’re doing.

EW: 1:24:48 Is that right?

DM: 1:24:49 Yes. So—

EW: 1:24:52 You sure?

DM: 1:24:52 The attempts to feminize the heterosexual male—

EW: 1:24:55 Right.

DM: 1:24:57 —to make him beseeching, and rather pathetic, I mean, this is also, this is a throughout the advertising culture much more—the pathetic male is the very common theme now. The male is the one who cannot do anything, and the kids and the mother need to do it, or the girlfriend. And this, this spills out onto everything. And it’s, of course, because it’s come about because the male part of the dance is not permitted. And then there’s, that’s just one layer. And then you have the layer, which is most interesting to me, which is, the sexual relations are so interesting, because people think there’s only one thing they want.

EW: 1:25:45 Say more.

DM: 1:25:46 Oh, there’s this perception, you know, I mean, “People know what they want, and they go and get it.” No they don’t! They want lots of different things. This is more the case of men than with women. But men want a reliable partner who is chaste except for for them. And they also want other things. And this is a very big juggle. Women have a little bit of that sometimes; a lot less. But women also want contradictory things, in relation to sex, like everything else. One of the things that fascinates me most is that around the same time as the “Me Too” thing emerged, then we got into this ridiculous overcorrection on sexual relations. We just come to the end of a period where all bookstores were absolutely packed with tables full of the most best selling S&M female porn.

EW: 1:26:47 Hmm.

DM: 1:26:49 What was it that was happening in that era? Nobody seems very interested. I mean, people in my mother’s age group were reading E. L. James’ The 50 Shades of Grey. I don’t think they been imbibing S&M porn before. But it spoke to something, something was going on in all of this.

EW: 1:27:06 Well, you have the concept of a bodice-ripper.

DM: 1:27:09 Right.

EW: 1:27:09 Right? And I do think that—

DM: 1:27:11 Which is genteel compared to this stuff.

EW: 1:27:13 Well, it’s very interesting. I mean, in part, you’re getting into the question of, we use— we’ve used a term “rape fantasy” in the past, that does not appear to reference actual rape. It’s a highly stylized—

DM: 1:27:28 Stylized fantasy.

EW: 1:27:30 That doesn’t—that doesn’t actually match reality in any way. And so, in some sense, the key question is, “What is literary BDSM, and what did we think it was?” It’s not clear—I mean, this is the reason that I’m slightly uncertain about these things. A friend of ours, in a group of women, said the following sentence (she being a heterosexual female), “What is wrong with us women? We seek out alpha males, and then the instant we get them home and they try to alpha us, we cry foul.”

DM: 1:28:13 Sure.

EW: 1:28:14 And I think that that has to do with something that’s actually understandable, which is that the fantasy, going back to, let’s say, The Little Prince, is The Taming Of The Other. And so, finding a successful wild beast and converting it into your own private attack dog, where the teeth only point out—

DM: 1:28:34 Yes, except that they also want the—they do on the alpha male on occasion,

EW: 1:28:39 Do and don’t, do and don’t, do and don’t, and in some—but, of course—

DM: 1:28:42 Of course.

EW: 1:28:43 What if that is, in fact, weirdly normal.

DM: 1:28:46 It’s totally normal.

EW: 1:28:47 Agreed.

DM: 1:28:48 It’s totally normal.

EW: 1:28:49 Right.

DM: 1:28:49 It’s—maybe it’s a strange moment to site Saint Paul, but [laughter] Saint Paul says this in one sentences in Galatians, “That I would not, that I do. That I do, that I would not.”

That’s that’s but that’s that’s—

EW: 1:29:13 But these higher order things, like, for example, in order to try to find a less sexually-gendered version of roles that works across male hetero and homosexuality, the concept of top and bottom was born, which is an uncomfortable fit, if you will

DM: 1:29:34 Or fem and butch.

EW: 1:29:35 Fem and butch, right. But the concept of topping from the bottom

DM: 1:29:40 Mm hmm.

EW: 1:29:41 Right? The idea that the bottom may be ostensibly controlled, but actually empowered—

DM: 1:29:51 —is a version of the of the Sex in the City, I fucked him.

EW: 1:29:57 Yes. So, for example, in Yiddish, “schtup”—

DM: 1:30:00 Yeah.

EW: 1:30:01 —for “Fuck”, if you will, is literally, I think, “push” and it’s only transitive from male to female. And that language, having more or less died out, it’s sort of preserved in amber except for the orthodox who continue to speak it. So, you know, that’s a good example of a situation which is, is weirdly [?]. Now of course Sex in the City is a show about four gay men going through their lives in Manhattan, as acted by four heterosexual women. So it’s a bit confusing.

DM: 1:30:32 Yes, yeah. And there are a lot of people who tried that—that didn’t work for them.

EW: 1:30:36 Well, exactly. And I think that, in part, this issue about I think one of the most insightful thinkers on sexuality for me has been Caitlyn Flanagan. And we’ve talked about her before. And her comment was, “it would appear that, from here on out, heterosexual sexuality is to be dictated and determined by females exclusively. And this idea being that, because of the asymmetry of the danger between male-female relations, with respect to sexual dimorphism, the fact that males are larger and stronger and more aggressive sexually, that, in effect, women would be changing the rules and the refereeing at whim and will.

DM: 1:31:23 Yes, yes. Well, that’s that’s the position we’re in. And it’s why men are having such a hell of a time.

EW: 1:31:28 What is happening on the gay side of the fence that mirrors this?

DM: 1:31:32 There is talk of the fact that younger gays now are adopting the sexual ideas that are happening in the straight world. Let me give one example of that, which is that the gay world was much more, again, I mean, I say this as a non-value judgment, for now, but—

EW: 1:31:55 You’ve been out for how long?

DM: 1:31:57 All my adult life,

EW: 1:31:58 All your adult life.

DM: 1:32:00 22 years. The… so some people, by the way, say that I have an off view of, for instance, those occasions where there’s borderline stuff, when a man and a woman—and the claim—or there’s, some people claim I have an off kilter understanding of this, because of the nature of being gay, in one sees in the gay world, and that’s possible, but I think it’s actually not an unhealthy world, in—what I’m talking about is things like, Oh, I don’t know, you’re in a bar, you need to squeeze through a space and somebody touches you on the ass, as you do. It’s not the end of the world, you know. You didn’t ask for it. But you’re in a highly sexualized place. And, so what? It’s quite flattering, you don’t always want it. If you really didn’t want it, you know, but you’re in that game, you’re in the, in the sort of sex-like world. It’s in the mix. I don’t by any means underestimate the extent to which a lot of women, rightly, the rightful thing of the sexual correction is, there are places we didn’t think of as being sexual places, which were turned into sexual places by men who made that misunderstanding. And I recognize that there’s, that’s an awful and horrible thing for that to happen. I would be like, if I was in a studio, and suddenly somebody, you know, touched me. Why would you do that here? I recognize there are—my point is, is that is that there is a high tolerance in the gay world for, or has been a high tolerance for the fact that, you know, you’re in the sex game. It doesn’t mean you’re having sex all the time. It doesn’t mean you’re, you know—

EW: 1:33:55 People are trying to get together with each other, and that there’s going to be a certain amount of type one and type two error.

DM: 1:34:00 Right. So for instance, in one of the most interesting things in the whole thing was when—when these things started to come to court a few years ago. You know, one of the only gay ones involved in MP in the UK. And actually when it came to court the whole thing fell apart, because the men who were said to have suffered included one who, on the witness stand said, “I’m not a victim.”

EW: 1:34:26 Yeah.

DM: 1:34:26 “I was in a bar with him. We were all very drunk. He shoved his hands down my pants. I said, Oh, come on. And he took his hands out. I don’t consider myself a victim. This should never have come to court.” That was a brave thing to say, and it was important thing to say. And, in my view, there needs to be a little bit more of that. But again, I’m not minimizing the fact that some people are in a position where they really don’t want that and they’ve made it clear, and they do feel violated.

EW: 1:34:49 Yeah.

DM: 1:34:51 But the point is, is that there is a dance that happens among gay couples, which is made easy by the fact that each one knows exactly what the other one is basically after.

EW: 1:35:05 They both have the experience of being male and interested and so there’s no mystery, in some sense, as to—

DM: 1:35:11 That’s not to say there aren’t dances that happen and much more. But the understanding of that space has been clearer. Now I stress, I’m told, I learned quite often that—I hear, I should say, the story that younger gays are picking up the sort of, the heterosexual move on sex. I’m increasingly, you know—I would say I was actually I go as far as to say, sex negative. Gay world was, was exciting and lots of—in lots of ways. It was one was—it was basically sex positive. I mean, it didn’t—there were people who didn’t do that. Famously, there were couples who, even in popular gay culture, were sort of—it was a trope of the sort of slightly prissy gay couple who thought they were better than everyone else. But, broadly speaking, the gay world was sex positive, it was one [?]—if you wanted sex, you could have it.

Well, you’ve removed pregnancy.

You’ve removed pregnancy.

EW: 1:36:26 So that was a huge boon.

DM: 1:36:28 Absolutely, and, and stigma, to a great extent, because I mean, none of this is, of course, all this is always moving. But I mean, this, of course, you know, was given the biggest imaginable knocked back by the AIDS crisis. But I think to a great extent, the debate is still going on the to and fro is still going on about the extent to which sex should or should not be stigmatized, and in what situations, but the viewing it in a sort of positive light, to be quite normal. And I do think I joke about the pity I feel for straight friends. But I do think—I do mean, in a way, because I see all the time things like you enter, it happened to me about a year ago, at a gathering where I just—the whole thing was owned and run by the women, who were holding everybody in the whole space captive. And the men all behaved in the way that I’ve discussed with your brother, known as “cuttlefishing”. I mean, they were, they were having all the men, the straight men were behaving as these diminutive, rather pathetic, beseeching beings. And they were doing and I said to several of them, I know what you’re doing here. I know what you’re doing. You need to stop the rampaging females from taking you out, and they could at any moment in this gathering.

EW: 1:37:54 Okay, so one of the curiosities that I have is that I have a fair number of female friends who are livid at the depopulation of the dating environment of men that they find to be masculine and attractive.

DM: 1:38:09 Of course.

EW: 1:38:09 My question though, is, they don’t stand up and say, “You’re not speaking for us all.” Like, if you speaking of my brother, my brother somehow—he’s not great on organization and executive function historically, but he got, I don’t know what it was, eight or nine leading black public intellectuals on one zoom call to do a show, and it was astounding to watch so many varied and different black men and women—I think there was only one female, Chloe Valdary, talking and disagreeing, but strongly rejecting what has been portrayed as Black America’s voice.

DM: 1:38:56 Yeah.

EW: 1:38:57 Right? And saying, “Look, these are all corrections, you’re part of an int—you’re listening into an internal conversation and you’re getting confused. And here are very different perspectives.” It strikes me that we are not here hearing loud trans voices that are saying knock it off. There’s way too many things under the “trans” umbrella and we’re torturing people because you’re asking them to clap when a person has been male for a very long time suddenly converts to female and dominates an athletic competition. Everybody is going to of course have an issue, or, you know, if—I don’t know if you saw this shooting of two sheriffs in Compton, and immediately after a gentleman, I think in a yellow hoodie, is like, “Oh, it’s going down in Compton.” And then he’s showing the cops having been shot in the car and he’s like a half a block, or a block from it. And there’s a collection of black figures screaming “No justice, no peace” before the police even arrive. In other words, to your point, we’re talking about vengeance. Now it may be that these are dirty cops. I don’t know what the history, I don’t know what the story is. However—

DM: 1:40:08 Yeah.

EW: 1:40:09 —what we’re seeing as an absence of moderating in group voices, where I expect that the leading people pointing out what’s wrong with the excesses of a Marxist cult with anti semitic issues, for example—we don’t have a huge number of black voices saying stop torturing our white brothers and sisters.

DM: 1:40:33 And by the way, in that case, it’s obvious who they would be it would be black people saying that—

EW: 1:40:39 Right.

DM: 1:40:39 The problem with the male-female sex thing is that it’s not—well, it is clear to me, in a way, but it’s not clear to the protagonists, who would be the one who said stop doing that. Because a woman who says, “Look, we’re creating these men that we don’t find attractive. We pretend the enemy is alpha men, but a lot of us want the alpha men, we certainly want them in certain rooms in the house”—I won’t go into which one—”We don’t want these weird gamma figures. We don’t want the sort of people who are being shown on all the mugshots or arrest shots in Portland. We don’t we’re not attracted to these people with like, a bit of pink hair and Rouge on one cheek, and we are piercing through the—. We don’t want them. Women don’t want that stuff. They don’t find it attractive, tiny numbers of them do.

EW: 1:41:28 Yeah—

DM: 1:41:28 —but the rest do not. And the men can’t say it, because the men, even the men who would be, well, first of all, also, there’s the thing that any man who describes themselves as alpha is always just intolerably awful. And, but the alpha traits, as it were, in men have been so vengefully assaulted, that the men have to get away with being these versions of themselves that are pathetic. And they’re hoping to do it to get through this era. And I have this conversation with them all the time. You know, it’s a survival mechanism to get through the era we’re in. I feel so sorry for them. Because this, apart from anything else, it makes it much harder to find a partner, much harder, because nobody’s being really honest about what they’re after. And, and they will tell people, they will make some people be people they’re not, and thus be unattractive.

EW: 1:42:29 This is an issue of rhetoric. So, for example, when—one of the things that I’ve learned is that advertising contradicts politics.

DM: 1:42:43 Hmm.

EW: 1:42:45 So, I agree. So for example, if I take any phrase like “male gaze”.

DM: 1:42:53 Yes.

EW: 1:42:53 The male gaze is a “bad” thing. Then I take the phrase, “Turn heads this summer” is an advertising phrase, “Invite the male gaze”, “Make sure that you get your share of male gaze.” That is used to sell clothing. Then somebody will say, “There’s no such thing as provocatively dressed. Does not exist.”

DM: 1:43:12 Yes.

EW: 1:43:13 Then you look up on Google Shopping, and you say “CFM”, right, which literally is “come schtuck me,” with the middle word changed. And you see a bunch of shoes. Now,

DM: 1:43:29 This is the same as making [?].

EW: 1:43:30 You’re marketing to people who are buying these shoes, and they’re not all drag queens.

DM: 1:43:35 No.

EW: 1:43:36 Right. And so now the idea is, if I take any, like, “Make him drool.”

DM: 1:43:43 Make him drool. Yeah, of course—

EW: 1:43:44 Make him drool.

DM: 1:43:45 It’s a good one.

EW: 1:43:45 We’ll have there’ll be an ad campaign, which is speaking about psychogenic arousal.

DM: 1:43:51 And, you know, if you try and make her drool, all you get is some things about cats, who dribble when they sleep.

But there is no equivalent. Yeah.

EW: 1:44:02 But the point is that the political assertions are contradicted, just the way—we have these divided minds, and the key question that we face is what—what is the rhetoric that allows us to point out the minds are at least divided? So for example, a different version of this on Instagram would be, you might say, “I think that gendered behavior is passe.” And then I look at a young woman who’s got 3.8 million followers, and her captions on her photos say things like, headed to the beach. “What should I wear today?” You know, “The yellow bikini, or the blue one?” Okay, well, why is that captioning worth 3.8 million followers?

DM: 1:44:54 Yeah.

EW: 1:44:54 Obviously, it has to do with the fact that we’re not over these things in the slightest.

DM: 1:44:58 No, we’re not and that’s what’s so irritating about the simplicity of what I think of as being the Neo Puritans. The Neo Puritans who’ve come along in the American counter sexual counter revolution in recent years are—have denuded people the capacity to have sex, the capability to have sex, and find sex. And the moves back are unfortunately mirroring that. So they’re becoming men’s movements that, for instance, obsess about how often they masturbate or believe you shouldn’t, you know, and save themselves and do certain dieting things, and all this sort of stuff, it’s like a men’s move against the thing that some women have forced on them in a different way. And it’s an attempt to reclaim it. And, of course, what it all demonstrates is our inability to deal with with a complex issue, which is nevertheless the issue, which most of us know most about in our lives, because it’s the one we’ve practiced the most often, which is how to get around the issues of sex, and deal with it, and enjoy it and not overstep, and all sorts of other stuff. We’ve all, almost everyone in their lives has danced around this. And we know very often, we know how complex the game is.

EW: 1:46:20 Right.

DM: 1:46:20 The problem about it is that people keep coming along saying a game is simple.

EW: 1:46:25 This is what I would say that the institutions keep echoing those who say that the game is simple. And very often you’ll have two different segments on the same show over three days, let’s say, that go in exactly contradictory directions. So, for example, if you want, you know, if you listen to the disembodied institutional voice, it will say, you know, “Princess Such-and-Such sizzles in a red, off-the-shoulder number.” Does she “sizzle”? In a “red, off-the-shoulder number”? Right?

DM: 1:47:01 A man “sizzling”, by the way, in a suit, is just an unpleasant—

EW: 1:47:05 No, no, no, not necessarily. For example, if he was a rap star—

Oh, yeah, that’s—

Then it would be seen as, you know, he “stunned” in an Armani tuxedo.

DM: 1:47:20 Stunned is, yeah, yes, sure.

EW: 1:47:22 Well there’s “stunned”, there’s “sizzles”, then you can conjugate everything creepy. Like I don’t know if you’ve ever seen these photo video reels where men effect female poses. You know, like, if a woman is in a bikini and is on all fours affecting the lordosis behavior of a large feline, the brain accepts this as if it were normal. If it sees a man doing that it’s—the fourth wall is instantly broken. What the hell is he doing?

DM: 1:47:57 Mm.

EW: 1:47:58 Right? And so in a very weird way, we’re not allowed to observe ourselves because sex is intrinsically duplicitous.

DM: 1:48:06 Yes. I mean, we have to find ways around this. And, broadly speaking, the one I mean, my favorite is just viewing sex more positively. And I thought that was—I would have thought, of any thing one might argue for, this would be a winner. But it’s definitely against the current era. And by the way, there is, of course, an inbuilt problem in it, which is not just the extent to which it’s handed out, or indeed able to be enjoyed and indulged in, and the certain unfairnesses that can exist around that. It is also the case that it isn’t entirely cost free. And this is a—

EW: 1:48:45 Well there’s the cost free aspect. There’s also what I’ve—I don’t know that I’ve spoken about this yet, but there’s the tax return principle that I believe very strongly in, which is, if you want to learn my tax returns, one strategy would be to accuse me of engaging, you know, I’m convinced, Eric that you are taking money from the North Korean government and that this explains your fine jacket.

DM: 1:49:15 Mm hmm.

EW: 1:49:16 Well, my initial instinct is to say, “No, no, no, here’s all my pay stubs. Please take all my private information.” Well, what does someone do when they’re accused of some sexual impropriety? Because in order to defend themselves, they now have to dip into stuff that is nobody’s business?

DM: 1:49:36 Yes.

EW: 1:49:38 And so in—

DM: 1:49:39 By the way in all of which, it always reminds me of—one of the reasons why there’s certain religious practices which I’m—which occasionally somebody will laugh at, and I always say I wouldn’t tease you on that because almost any religious practice to an outsider looks ridiculous. So don’t do it. I just don’t do it. It’s very discourteous. And anyhow, it the example comes to mind because it’s the same with sex. I think that a reasonable, in the genuine sense, “liberal-minded” person should hold in their head the fact that, you know, no—to every man and to [?], certainly to every man, there are few things in life more important than how, where, and when they get sex.

EW: 1:50:28 Yes.

DM: 1:50:29 But to everybody else, that man’s concerns are ridiculous.

EW: 1:50:34 Absolutely.

DM: 1:50:35 Absolutely every other person on the planet, and that you should assume that just though you could do that to other people, you probably shouldn’t, because you’re gonna—it’s going to come back to you too.

EW: 1:50:47 Well this is—this has to do with the fact that the brain, the human mind, has a particular state for the protagonist, which is us, in our story.

DM: 1:50:56 Yes.

EW: 1:50:57 And it has every other state colored differently.

DM: 1:50:59 Yes.

EW: 1:51:00 And so I remember being at the coffee connection in Cambridge, Massachusetts, seated next to two lovebirds and they were cooing at each other. Like, “Who’s my little Wookum Snookums”. Right? Now, there’s nothing ridiculous about it. “Who’s my little Wookum Snookums”—

DM: 1:51:16 Yeah.

EW: 1:51:17 —is a completely reasonable thing to say, if that’s your idiom.

DM: 1:51:21 Yes.

EW: 1:51:22 Well, look, I had this problem here where I had Ashley Matthews in your chair, and the idea was we were going to talk around sex, but we weren’t going to talk about sex in any way that was exciting. Right? And so this, trying to introduce yourself to your own mind and finding out that what you think of as “hot” is obviously ridiculous—

DM: 1:51:46 Yeah.

EW: 1:51:46 —to somebody else.

DM: 1:51:48 Yes. Yeah. Well, everybody else, everybody. That’s

EW: 1:51:52 No, no, no, there’s certain conventions that we’ve agreed to accept.

DM: 1:51:55 Oh, yeah, that’s true. That’s true.

EW: 1:51:57 So like, for example, you know, and I mentioned lordosis behavior.

DM: 1:52:00 Yeah.

EW: 1:52:01 Anything that curves the spine in particular way will generally be seen to be hot, because there are universals. For example, the idea of persistent mammary glands, not during nursing, is peculiar to the human species among 5000 species of mammals. It means that there is a universal fetish of the human breast because it actually has informational content.

DM: 1:52:25 Which is famously particularly much the case in India.

EW: 1:52:28 In what sense?

DM: 1:52:29 In online search. Indian men have a particular likelihood of searching for women who are in lactating phase, it’s quite an interesting—

Oh, lactating—huh.

It’s one of those interesting things that is sort of, you know, once everyone realized that Google search results weren’t as secret as they thought they were, you know, there’s a lot of things you can find out, not least, of course, famously the number of Arab men who want to see photos of women pretending to be IDF soldiers before they strip.

EW: 1:52:57 Yeah. But. Well, you know, that there’s this famous Bollywood song, Choli Ke Peeche Kya Hai.

DM: 1:53:05 Oh, yeah.

EW: 1:53:06 Right, which is like “What’s under my sari blouse?” And, you know, “I think it’s my heart my deal” or something? Like,

DM: 1:53:13 It’s not what—

EW: 1:53:13 Yeah, but they play with, with certain idioms.

DM: 1:53:16 But it’s, it’s an endlessly interesting thing, this, because we are very interested in what other people do and are interested in, and always hope that nobody’s interested in what we’re interested—like, want to know what it is that gets us off. And this is one reason why it’s such a dangerous moment. Because as I say, my—I think a reasonable attitude towards sex is “It should be very important to yourself, and you should assume it’s of no significance to other people.

EW: 1:53:48 Right.

DM: 1:53:48 And try to live this out elsewhere. So don’t over enjoy the attempts to demean other people through whatever their sexual proclivities are. But then you have the layer on top of that, which has come in the last three years in particular, which is the men caught out in what are shown as sort of pathetic things and thinking of things that embarrassing one, but I mean, the Louie C.K. affair. It shows him, you know, it shows him, and, by extension, men in a rather pathetic light, is the presumption.

EW: 1:54:24 Because of the existence of a kink.

DM: 1:54:26 Because of the existence of a kink. And I found that, when it was going on, to be, obviously you know that some women said this was unpleasant. Some—one woman in particular did say, “Yeah, no, he asked me about this, and I never—it didn’t affect me.” And I admired her enormously for saying that. I thought, Gosh, if more people did that, if the people who don’t see themselves as victims—but the presentation of—the way we can only talk about it in the language of victimhood also means that even—I don’t want to be judgmental about it, but it’s sort of a vaguely pathetic, as it were, situation, which is being laid out, should be presented as if it is the most domineeringly appalling thing, means that we only can talk in the language of victimhood.

EW: 1:55:14 That’s an interesting point. I don’t know whether you’re familiar with the Nicki Minaj video—

DM: 1:55:18 I am, I write about it! Anaconda—

EW: 1:55:20 My Anaconda.

DM: 1:55:21 [?] You should know about this!

EW: 1:55:23 Ah, alright. Well, we may have talked about it—

DM: 1:55:25 Yeah, I did—

EW: 1:55:26 We talked about the final scene.

DM: 1:55:28 Yes, yes. Yeah. I’m obsessed by this. I write about it in Madness of Crowds. It’s a very, very important video. Yeah, this is, yes. The the

EW: 1:55:37 I’ve called it strip club feminism, where the male, after innumerable sexual provocations with no other purpose—

DM: 1:55:45 Yeah. Yes.

EW: 1:55:47 —loses himself and makes the mistake of touching the female slightly in the hips and then she’s disgusted.

DM: 1:55:55 Yeah, this is there is so many versions of it. The pole dancing thing, as an alleged fitness regime workout—

EW: 1:56:09 I have strong feelings about that, so watch yourself.

DM: 1:56:11 Okay. Okay,

EW: 1:56:11 Okay, go ahead.

DM: 1:56:12 But, but all of this is—

EW: 1:56:16 But you’ve seen the Indian sport art form, athletic competition that is effectively male pole dancing.

I shall Google it immediately after this interview.

You’re in for a treat, sir. [laughter]

DM: 1:56:27 I—

EW: 1:56:28 Focus!

DM: 1:56:30 I do think that is—[laughter] Um, I do think that it’s, it’s this thing I write about in Madness, the, you know, the sexy, sexy without being sexualized, or that—all those conjugations. I just think we need, we need to think about this more carefully, more cautiously. Again, nobody wants to be pushed into the terrain of pretending that sexual unpleasantnesses don’t exist.

EW: 1:57:03 But that—

DM: 1:57:04 But, but, equally, we just can’t concede the ground we’ve conceded in recent years.

EW: 1:57:10 See, I think this is, again, the same sort of issue that we were talking about with trans before, which is, how do you give advice to to people who need to hear opposite things. So my friend makes the point that the reckless child needs to be told, “Do not stare at the sun during an eclipse, you will destroy your eyes.” The timorous child needs to be told, “If you glance at the sun, you will not necessarily go blind; don’t overdo it.” And the inability to give a textured and differentiated message—

DM: 1:57:43 This is also what I described in Madness of Crowds as the problem of the disappearance of private and public language, because ordinarily, in any other business, again, it goes back to your point about the mobile phone, and it’s done to us. At any previous point in our species, we would have known what to do with it, you said one thing to the timorous child and another thing to the reckless child. And you could do that.

It’s only today, in this era in our evolution, that we are having to find a way to say the same thing. Not just to everyone on the planet, but a thing to potentially one person and potentially to everyone on the planet. And that’s one on all of this stuff we’re struggling with. We’re struggling with communication, we’re struggling with consistency and morality, because we are trying to juggle with that fundamental communication shift. And it’s, it’s no wonder we’re confused, because I suppose the only way forward, the only way through this is to be honest about something.

EW: 1:58:41 Or to realize that we actually have to innovate new ways of speaking. I believe that Obama was actually in the process of innovating a way, and I particularly commend everyone his speech on affirmative action—

DM: 1:58:54 Oh, yeah.

EW: 1:58:55 —where what he did was he said, “If you are having the feeling that you have been traditionally frozen out of a different world or educational path, you have to realize that we need to do this to remediate past wrongs. And if you are feeling that you are being treated unfairly, this is actually something that needs to be taken very seriously. And this is completely understandable, because, in fact, there is an aspect of unfairness to the whole thing. And what he realized, I think, was that everyone heard his or her own version louder than they heard everyone else’s. So it was possible to give one speech to a group of people, and then count on the blind men to take the elephant and turn it into a bunch of different experiences. I think that we are not—part of the problem is that when we invented our version of the printing press, which was the internet that became the mobile and social internet, we didn’t invent all of the kinds of speech that we needed to go along with this new innovation. And so we imagined that this wasn’t that big of a deal. When John Brockman, I think as far back as something like 2010, asked his annual question to the effect of “How is the internet changing the way you think?” the most common answer that he received back was, “Not at all.” And he said, “You would have thought—” he said to me, in particular, he said, “You would have thought that I asked them how a toaster was changing the way they thought.” That nobody seemed to see this in terms of the impact on their lives, and I really believe that, in part, when you receive a desist order that you’ve violated a capital law in Pakistan, and you’ve never been to Pakistan, you have no dealings with Pakistan, you’re sitting in Montreal, why are you—Why is Twitter passing along a notice that you might be under a death sentence in Pakistan?

DM: 2:00:50 And unfortunately, this is one of the things I think I think for timorous of the age has been caused in large part by this, I noticed it some years ago, by the way, because we should we should try to solve that we should try to point towards

EW: 2:01:04 Well this is gonna be the last question, coming up.

DM: 2:01:07 I mean, we have to find a way through this, we have to find a way to not have timorous people. And or at least not have everyone made timorous. And I noticed some years ago, there’s a there was an event in London where I think five people gave speeches in totally different fields. One was a biologist, one was a novelist. And I just, it wasn’t a particularly interesting evening, except for in one regard, which was, I think, three or four out of the five speeches at some point, if not, at the beginning, involve the speaker saying, and it’s not what you read about me on the internet.

EW: 2:01:42 Yeah.

DM: 2:01:42 And I just thought, that’s interesting.

EW: 2:02:07 Well, this is the age of misportrayal.

DM: 2:01:47 I had only heard of one of the speakers once before. And I actually said to one of them afterwards, you know, we don’t actually spend our time reading about you on internet. We don’t Google you. I mean, now they—the problem was, they weren’t on to nothing, which is that if you did put their name in effect, and then whatever comes up in the fallacious totally appalling and obhorrent cite Wikipedia, would include a load of untrue information about the wish they were trying to like me with they’re trying to correct and there’s no mechanism to correct them. And so version of your life is put out there by this despicable company. This, these people were afraid of one legitimate thing. And they had also all been suffering through the fact that this era, which everyone pretended wasn’t going to change, everything meant they were all everyday imbibing criticism of themselves that before they would only have heard in a Rao from somebody who knew them quite well. And even then, very rarely, right. And, and, and they were all sort of I thought, that you’re all sort of traumatized. And I think to an extent in the same way that our era has has imbibed a form of catastrophism about everything. We’ve imbibed this, we’ve imbibed The, the the feeling that we are all being assaulted in the sales all the time, because we can’t get off our damn phones. And we are seeking out. It’s self harm. It’s self harm. We’re seeking out people who don’t like us, and listening to them. And it’s making us again, I think some of them are bots. Oh, I’m sure, I’m sure. But, you know, some of them are real lyrics. And they, they, they are having an effect. Yeah, I know, so many people, okay, who have been fundamentally affected by this, and they have to be saved. Also, by the way, we have to not celebrate people for suffering. You know, the sort of, I’ve been—this is a particularly female move, it has to be said, but the—I’ve been criticized, even very unpleasantly, even sometimes in really reprehensible terms, racially or sexually. I’ve been criticized like this online, doesn’t mean you’re right. Doesn’t mean you’re right; doesn’t mean you get to win. In the Kathy Newman move. She does a reprehensible interview, she makes a fool of herself. Some of us point it out, then some people online criticize her, and then she’s the victim. There are all sorts of moves like this, but it is meant that the [?]—

EW: 2:04:13 Well, you start your sentence, you know, in ridiculous fashion. Like, “As a Portuguese penguin in America, I feel that—”

DM: 2:04:14 Right.

EW: 2:04:17 It’s like, “Well, why did you tell me you were a Portuguese penguin? You know? That sounds ridiculous to you. How about if I started, “As a Jewish man in America”, “As a black man in America,” “As a gay man in America,” As a gay man from Puerto Rico”? You know, at some level, our new credentialing system has to do with the idea—it’s very much victim takes all because the great pride—

DM: 2:04:47 Yes.

EW: 2:04:47 —great prize, rather, is that only a victim is entitled to everything up to murder in self defense. Yeah, and I think that the key point is is that we’re looking to unlock the gun cabinet, if once you understand the vengeance is what’s on tap.

DM: 2:05:05 Yes.

EW: 2:05:05 Right? The idea being I need access to the gun cabinet, let me tell you that I need to defend myself because I’m under an imminent threat and therefore I’m going to do things that under any circumstance other than this would be absolutely illegal.

DM: 2:05:20 Yeah.

EW: 2:05:20 And this search for the rationale to inflict grievous harm on another, this has to do with why we’re competing, because the victim is the most powerful. It may be that the victim, on his or her own, would be less powerful. But once the victim couples to the state, or to institutional media, that combination, that sort of hybridization of a human being as victim and an incredibly powerful structure as protector, is like Iron Man getting into his mech-suits—Tony Stark becoming Iron Man by getting into a mech-suit. Well, now the victim is no longer a victim. Now the victim is actually super empowered to do what no normal person could do under any circumstances. The question that this brings up, for both of us, is, why are there so few people with ovarian or testicular fortitude in order to stand up for all of the marvelous things that this anomalously lucky situation affords us? What do we do to induce people—now I’m going to reveal something on this program that I’ve waited to reveal—people always asked me, “Well, you named the IDW, who is in the Intellectual Dark Web?” And you were patient zero. [laughter] You didn’t know it. But if there was anyone in the intellectual dark web, I realized after the Charlie Hebdo situation, it was you. And I viewed that as really heroic. And I know, in particular, because we’ve also discussed the time that you’ve taken to spend in refugee camps, the ways in which I think that you’ve really, you know, deeply put yourself in contact with those less fortunate, if I listen to Majid Nawaz’s story of how he met you, I’ve been really very moved by your willingness to wade into an area where you have deep sympathies with many of the people adversely affected and been forced to say very difficult things, with class, in an extremely fraught environment. What is it that we can do—and by the way, everybody should check out this AlJazeera clip—to induce people towards public courage to stand up for what they actually believe in, and to do so in a decent, rather than in a, simply a powerful fashion.

DM: 2:07:52 I think the first thing is just to know what you’re at risk of losing. I think that’s the overwhelming thing. You know, I’m very fortunate because I’ve been a writer all my life, and I’ve come gravitate towards things that interest me. That’s a, it’s a wonderful position to be in, you know, anyone who wants to be a writer, this is a, you know, a call to do that, for that reason, among much else. And I think difficult issues are the most interesting ones, you know, I’ve sort of always written, my first book, in a way, I invite naughty, difficult things. And if you look at naughty and difficult things, you should look them in the face, but it’s meant that along my career, I’ve been lucky enough, fortunate enough to travel to an awful, awfully large array of places, and seen an awfully large, perhaps too large array of ways in which human life can fall out. And I never, I never had taken it all for granted. But you simply can’t see the rest of the world—

EW: 2:09:01 It doesn’t all look like Portobello Road.

DM: 2:09:03 It does not it does not. And I you know, even in the non war zones, you know, even is you know, I mean, travel around India, and try to tell yourself that life in America is beknighted. Travel around much of China, and try to tell yourself that human rights are not respected in the United States of America or the United Kingdom, let alone all the countries I could list, which I’ve seen firsthand the extent to which human life has even less, in fact, much less value in the eyes of people in power than in the places I’ve just mentioned.

EW: 2:09:51 Or place like Thailand that hasn’t been colonized, and yet, if you look at a Thai demonstration, or if you go to a Muay Thai fight, or all sorts of things… things come with the human condition that don’t have anything to do with, you know, the, the impact of colonialism, let’s say.

DM: 2:10:11 Yeah. And I, yes, and I’m—and I think people should try to shrug off this, these boring paradigms that have been put into you know.

EW: 2:10:19 But what’s fun, what’s exciting? Like, in other words, we have a chance, in part. And I’ve listened to you because I generally discourage people from doing this, for the main reason that people start off very eager, and they say, “How do I get involved? How do I speak out?” And then I always say, “Look, make sure you can afford to lose your job. Make sure you can stand up to a mob.” Once those people say, “Yes, I’ve made these decisions,” I’m quite willing to tell them about all the great things that can happen to them when they do stand up, but I don’t want to lure people—


—who are ill-prepared, and then say, “Well, you know, I took your advice, and now I’m out of a job.”

DM: 2:10:57 Absolutely. I remember a friend of mine in Northern Ireland said to me many years ago, “Have you ever urged somebody to step forward and they’ve been killed?” And I said, “It hasn’t happened to me yet.” He said, “It happened to me.” You know, I—it’s a much less dangerous scenario as we’re talking about, but i i don’t i don’t urge people to be Kamikaze. I mean, I wouldn’t mind—

EW: 2:11:21 Short—long heroism, short martyrdom is our slogan.

DM: 2:11:24 Right. And, you know, my view is you wouldn’t need Kamikazes if everyone took one step forward. You know, I’m for everybody being—taking one step forward.

EW: 2:11:38 Except you.

DM: 2:11:40 Well—

EW: 2:11:40 You’re waaaaay forward!

DM: 2:11:44 That’s what my mother fears!

Yeah, I’m, I’m with her!

I, um, look, I don’t feel it. I mean, I, um, I feel… great. Apart from for the state of the world, particularly for the state of America. But, you know, if you, if you get an idea of what it is you want to defend—

EW: 2:12:13 Right.

DM: 2:12:14 —and it’s deeply embedded—

EW: 2:12:15 Right.

DM: 2:12:16 Then you can dance in all the ambiguities, and dance on all the cliff edges. It’s—

EW: 2:12:22 Well, you may die as well. But the thing that I would say is, if you know that all of this is nonsense, hmm. And you just keep your mouth quiet and you mouth things that you have to mouth because you’re on a board, or you don’t want to lose your spot in line for law school, or whatever it is that you’re worried about happening, make no mistake, you will be dying for quite some time.

DM: 2:12:45 Hmm, oh, yeah, this is a long death. I also think that, in a way, and again, maybe this is a personality trait of certain people, but I remember Christopher Hitchens, who you mentioned earlier, who was a great friend, who I think about recently, as I’m just reading Martin Ames’ book about him. Hitch once said that in, in Sarajevo in the 90s, when the city was being shelled by Serb forces, he and various other journalists and others made it in, and you know, and he said that one night he was standing sort of on the walls overlooking the city, and, you know, guns going off and all that sort of thing. He said a fellow journalist sidled up to him, and they’re all sort of smoking, and he said to Christopher, “Wouldn’t it be a wonderful time to be in love?” And he said that about, sort of, half his audiences got what he was saying. But the instinct that human life is best lived in comfort is a perfectly reasonable instinct, that most people want it. But the instinct that human life is also precarious—

EW: 2:14:04 Yes.

DM: 2:14:05 —and that the precariousness isn’t a problem necessarily, certainly not all the time. That an element of risk [?]. How’s that for everything? An element of risk is—it can be a problem in certain circumstances, and in other ways, it’s just energizing beyond anything. And if you’re going to take any risk, then you might as well take the risk of telling the truth. Not just because you might get something out of it, or achieve something out of it, or feel better about yourself, but because we all might get somewhere.

EW: 2:14:37 Well this is—I joke frequently about my anger at homosexuals for monopolizing the concept of a closet—thate there are closets in every area of human endeavor. And you shouldn’t jump out of closets regularly. Like, “I don’t think vaccines are a hundred percent safe!”

DM: 2:14:56 Yeah.

EW: 2:14:57 “Maybe 99.8—”

DM: 2:14:59 Yeah.

EW: 2:14:59 “—but not 100!” When you do it, there’s no turning back. And you have to do it a little better. You’re really not alive.

DM: 2:15:07 Mmm, that’s right.

EW: 2:15:08 But you do it too much or you become addicted to it because—

DM: 2:15:10 Yes, there are people who are addicted to it.

EW: 2:15:12 Exactly. I’m thinking about a situation I was just in with my son, where we were scuba diving in Belize. And we happened to encounter a Caribbean Reef Shark quite unexpectedly. Now, if you’ve never seen one, it’s like a scaled down Great White. It’s got the same classic profile. And the first thought was, “Holy shit, it’s a Great White Shark!” And then it darted away. And, you know, you’re reduced to scuba signals, so you can’t really tell from your guide, “No, no, don’t worry, it wasn’t a Great White, it was—”. But the next thought was, “Oh crap, it’s gone! How do I find it again?” Right? So the idea being that you went from a state of total terror to, “Wow, that’s the most fascinating thing I saw on this dive. How do I get some more?”

DM: 2:15:58 Yes, yes.

EW: 2:15:59 And I do think that, in part, you need to balance the pleasure—

DM: 2:16:03 Yes.

EW: 2:16:04 —of being yourself, and standing up and saying something real, with the terror and self-protective nature of, “I need to retain some healthy fear.” And I worry that we haven’t done a good enough job of pushing out a how-to manual for people who are thinking about taking the first steps to saying, “Hey, you know what, I don’t necessarily know, what does “believe women” mean, when two women are arguing about a point of fact, and they both can’t be correct? Like, I can’t figure out what you mean by “Believe women”, not because I don’t want to believe women, [but] because I don’t think what you’re saying actually makes sense. That would be an example of something where you could get quite hurt for observing what is absolutely obvious. Like, if you said, “Believe Paraguayans”, what if two of them get into an argument? “Believe religious people.” What if they don’t agree on an origin story? None of these—

DM: 2:16:15 [?]

EW: 2:16:58 Yeah! And I wonder if part of the thing is that we haven’t pushed out an attractive concept of an affiliate program for people to get their feet wet and start to learn that they might be, they might have a rhetorical gift for this.

DM: 2:17:13 Yeah, all I can say is that people should try it, they should dip the toe in the water. I can’t judge it enough. And—

EW: 2:17:24 You have you have good dinners, you still have friends,

DM: 2:17:27 Look, I’ve got terrific friends!

EW: 2:17:29 You travel the world.

DM: 2:17:30 I’m lucky enough to travel the world, even in this era.

There’s a very, very strong thing it’s important to stress in this, which is that people, broadly speaking, in our circle, I say, vaugley, friends and others have quite often been portrayed by others, it goes back to what you were saying about, you know, controversial professors in ways that are not really accurate.

EW: 2:17:55 Right.

DM: 2:17:55 So Jordan is portrayed as controversial professor—

EW: 2:17:59 Right.

DM: 2:18:00 —when there’s nothing, almost nothing he says it should in any way be controversial. Certainly not any more than things—

EW: 2:18:06 It’s certainly not as a psychometrician.

DM: 2:18:08 Yes. And, and—

EW: 2:18:10 I may disagree with him about his devotion to IQ as a reliable psychometric—

DM: 2:18:14 Right.

EW: 2:18:14 But it’s not—it’s a scholarly sort of an issue.

DM: 2:18:16 And it’s certainly not the case that anything he says should make him be awarded that label, as opposed to multiple other academics playing in appalling fields who certainly should be described as controversial. So anyway, the point is, we’ve been sort of wrongly designated and all sorts of ways. And I’ve found this, quite often, not just in other people, but for myself, I’m being portrayed as in some way a sort of outright—or outlier. And so I sort of have to stress to people not only that it doesn’t feel like that, but it’s not the case. You know, I’m not, like, hanging on by my fingertips to respectability, such as it is, and such as I would desire it. I write for all of the major newspapers in my country. It’s a wonderful thing. But they all want me in their pages, and it’s a great honor. And—

EW: 2:19:07 Would that be true here?

DM: 2:19:08 Here less so, partly because I’m not here, and I don’t write [?]. Secondly, I think you have a particular problem with your media here. And your media here is particularly degraded. That might—

EW: 2:19:23 It’s been very violent.

DM: 2:19:24 Yeah, it is appalling. I mean, for instance, I mean, the New York Times has, a couple of times, teased me to try to get me in, and then—

EW: 2:19:31 Fomer paper of record.

DM: 2:19:32 Exactly, then it always is what I think it’s going to be, which is that they have no intention of running the most careful version of what I think—

EW: 2:19:42 Right.

DM: 2:19:42 —in their pages. And in that form of paper only ever writes about me when it wants to assault me, but no, I think it would be different here. You’re quite right. But, the point I’m trying to make is, I’m totally mainstream. Okay, my books are all bestsellers, I, again, am enormously grateful. This is not a boast. But, you know, my first books about to be reissued for the first time in 20 years since its first publication. I have wonderful friends from a bewildering array of places. And I will not have people, who are genuinely obscure people, who deserve their obscurity, and genuinely incurious and uncredentialed and unthinking, try to portray me or any of the rest of us as, in some way, the weirdos. It’s not the case.

EW: 2:20:43 Well this is this British expression, “Oh, do fuck off.”

DM: 2:20:46 I invite them to do so, yeah. And so, it really it really has to be stressed, I’m getting fed up of the number of people who sidle up to me and asked me about my, you know, benighted status.

EW: 2:20:59 Yeah.

DM: 2:20:59 It’s not like that. It’s not just it doesn’t feel like that. It isn’t like that.


And it isn’t, I think for most of us. And I think that the era of hiding behind victimhood—

EW: 2:21:12 Yes.

DM: 2:21:13 —as a way to excuse oneself, and permit oneself to see things that are true, really ought to stop. There’s a new phase that’s needed on this, as with so many other things.

EW: 2:21:27 Yeah. My personal take on it is that this culture war ends the moment the world’s least intersectional person has to tell the world’s most intersectional person that he/she/it is wrong. And it’s a matter of fact, it’s not a question of privilege. It’s just, there are times when what you’re advocating for, you know, if you decided that what we should do is we should cut up babies and use them for spare parts. It’s very important that the most unsympathetic person you know, Bartholomew P. Wigglesbottom the 17th be able to say, “That is a stupid idea.” Even if Bartholomew is absolutely not a sympathetic character in any way, shape, or form. So it sounds to me like, you know, in essence, you do have some hope, if not to undo the strange death of Europe, at least to undo the madness of our current moment—

DM: 2:22:21 Absolutely.

EW: 2:22:22 And that what we should be doing is bringing more young people in with the confidence that there’s a place for them at the table and that their careers and dinner parties and good cheer, and that there will be people of all races, colors, and creed waiting to welcome them in?

DM: 2:22:35 Yeah, we are larger in number, and we will be larger in number, and we will be larger in number than the appalling people on the other side, with whom you wouldn’t want to dine anyway.

EW: 2:22:47 Very good. Well, you’ve been dining on the ideas of one, Douglas Murray, here from the UK. Enjoy his books on The Strange Death of Europe and The Madness of Crowds, as well as his first book, which is being reissued under the title—

DM: 2:23:02 It’s called Bosie, it’s a biography of Alfred Douglas, the man who brought down Oscar Wilde. And I’ve written a new autobiographical preface, which explains how I came into this world.

EW: 2:23:12 So run, don’t walk, to your local bookseller, or Amazon, or wherever fine books are sold. You’ve been through The Portal with Douglas, but please subscribe to us on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, wherever you subscribe and listen to podcasts, then navigate over to the YouTube channel, and please subscribe there and remember to click the bell icon to be notified when the next video drops. And other than that, take care of yourselves and be well everyone.