X Close

Dave Rubin: why the ‘Intellectual Dark Web’ split up

April 6, 2021 - 4:00pm


The group of thinkers now known as the “Intellectual Dark Web” — Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris, Bret and Eric Weinstein, Ben Shapiro — were convened in Dave Rubin’s garage and on his YouTube channel, The Rubin Report. And yet he has always suffered the accusation that he wasn’t a ‘real’ intellectual.

“What I thought and believe now that I am good at is that I can sit with these people and take a lot of that stuff and distil it into something that the average person can understand enough of. I love that space,” he tells me in a wide-ranging and philosophical discussion on LockdownTV.

He sees the old IDW gang as divided now along a crucial ideological split. There are those who believe the tools of liberalism can still be deployed to persuade the Woke Left to change their mind (he includes Bari Weiss, Sam Harris, Bret Weinstein in this group); and then there are those, like him, who have decided that it simply isn’t possible, and they’re better off building bridges with the Right:

They’ve made what to me seems to be a very obvious fatal mistake, that you can use any of the tools of Liberalism — of open inquiry, freedom of speech, respect for your fellow human beings, individual rights — that you can use any of these things to rationalise with the monster that is coming to burn your house down. And that’s why we’ve seen in effect the liberals have no defence over this, which is why all the liberal institutions are crumbling.

What I’m seeing, and I would say this is more me, Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, is that there’s all sorts of bridges to be built the other way. If you would have told me five years ago that I would consider Dennis Prager and Glenn Beck and Larry Elder and many other conservatives not only friends but the type of intellectual that I want to be — I would be shocked.

- Dave Rubin, UnHerd

His hope is on the Right, and the long-term vision is of building parallel institutions to those controlled by the liberal Left:

Maybe we’re just going to build parallel societies. I think that that may start to be — woke culture will have its own TV, apps and all their institutions, and then the rest of us will have a whole bunch of other stuff. But my money is on those guys building the right thing.
- Dave Rubin, UnHerd

This vision of two parallel societies may be dispiriting for early fans of Rubin — after all, this was the host who promised to bring together people of all different political stripes. There was something genuinely counter-cultural about the way in which figures from the Reaganite Right all the way through to the progressive Left gathered under Dave’s roof to exchange and debate ideas. But Rubin insists that there are still “bridges to be built in the other way” — we’ll be watching and hoping so too.

Our thanks to Dave for a fascinating conversation.


is the Editor-in-Chief & CEO of UnHerd. He was previously Editor-in-Chief of YouGov, and founder of PoliticsHome.

freddiesayers

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

22 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Alex Lekas
AL
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

Dave’s awakening came in interviewing Larry Elder. It’s on YouTube and is illuminating. Dave had beliefs and talking points about black people, crime, and cops: Larry had facts and figures. To Rubin’s credit, he admits that the experience was eye-opening.
How people think that open discussion is possible with people who are hostile to that idea is its own curiosity, and makes me wonder if some in this intellectual set are being too clever by half. The wokerati have no problems attacking their own, and the likes of Weis and Weinstein are intimately familiar with that. Yet, they cling to the fairy tale that if they talk long enough or if their argument is persuasive enough, minds will change. Good luck with that.

Kelly Mitchell
Kelly Mitchell
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Link it, please.

Ian Steadman
US
Ian Steadman
3 years ago
Reply to  Kelly Mitchell
Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Steadman

The interviewer, Rubin, was unprepared, while the other guy was loaded up with factoids and also somewhat dishonest. (For example, Black-on-Black crime rates are irrelevant to the issue of racialized police behavior; I am sure he is aware of that.) I don’t know why you all think either of these individuals can be considered intellectuals; one is dumb (at least as to abstract thought), and the other, though cleverer, is playing word games. Neither seems to have much respect for such intellectual pursuits as attempting to discover the truth or apply logic to problematic situations.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

I’ve been following Dave Rubin for a couple of years now and catch some of his show almost every day. His original interview format introduced me to a number of the US’s leading cultural, media and political figures. He is a considerable thinker, especially and regard to his ‘locals’ initiative, which give conservatives an online space that cannot be taken away from them by Big Tech. This is incredibly important.

Ann G
Ann G
3 years ago

What has disappeared in this polarized universe is the moderate middle. THAT was the bulwark of liberal democracy.
The moderate middle that understands that someone’s freedom ends where someone else’s freedom and security begins, and that there is no absolute right to do whatever you want, whatever the negative impact on others.
That was where conservatives and “liberals” used to meet.
Now Rubin has become, not a conservative, but a libertarian, which is a whole different kettle of fish.

Wulvis Perveravsson
WP
Wulvis Perveravsson
3 years ago

Quite interesting till he started chirping about how the free-market and Elon Musk can solve all our problems. This thinking is as woolly-headed as the woke fraternity’s.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
3 years ago

Elon is quite an interesting character. Still he is but human. I admire his future more than that desired by many others.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
3 years ago

This guy is asking us to jump out of the Woke frying pan and into the lunatic fire! Half way looks a lot better to me..

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
3 years ago

If you have two parallel cultures, and one of them (the Monsters) a sworn mortal foe of the other, surely they will eventually resolve into one culture through civil war.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

Not at all. Extremists of all kinds seem to have a habit of overreach then eating their own. Stand back and suffer awhile as they do that.

Clem Alford
Clem Alford
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

Yes that is what Islam does. Even the womb is a weapon never mind the sword and the bomb. Numbers annihilate.

Joe Donovan
JD
Joe Donovan
3 years ago

Freddie should not underestimate the growing influence of his own platform, and of places like Quillette. They are much smaller than the audience for Rubin, but more thoughtful and eminently civil. That’s a good space to be in.
Where does Joe Rogan fit into this? He has the biggest audience of all, via pieces that often run for more than two hours, and he manages not to chase his audience ideologically, even as Freddie admits that he is beginning to feel that pull. Rogan is, I think, the true 21st century Larry King.

Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
3 years ago

“You can’t reason with the monster that is coming to burn down your house.” Fair enough: Chamberlain vs Churchill once more. Hence (Rubin concludes), the strategy of Bill Maher, Bari Weiss, Bret Weinstein, Sam Harris — to reason with opponents — is bound to fail. This becomes less than persuasive once one considers whether the Woke juggernaut consists of all true believers. It does not. (These guys are not all just mini-Hitlers — which is why the Churchill analogy breaks down.) As with many social movements there is a core, which has (as force multiplier) a protective belt (call them fellow-travelers; useful idiots, if one likes the Leninist take). (I first used this model in studying the scientific creationist movement; I think it also applies to others like gun control, anti-abortion, and yes Wokeness too.) For example look at how the Woke movement makes hay by surreptitiously conflating “equity” and “equality.” “Diversity, Inclusiveness, Equity” — these slogans are palatable to many liberal fellow-travelers, who may not be sold on (or even understand) what the movement core means by these equivocations. Maybe it’s not possible to change the mind of the KendiAngelo core; whereas it may be possible with the minds of their protective belt. If so, this would deflate their major force multiplier. And so it could be quite worthwhile to do that against which Rubin counsels.

Judy Posner
Judy Posner
3 years ago

I have always thought that the IDW was a strange group of bedfellows. Their commonality seemed to be more about what they didn’t like (such as wokerati and cancel culture) as opposed to any important shared ideology. Not a great basis for a school of thought or a movement.

Chris Milburn
Chris Milburn
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Posner

I agree, but would add that they never purported to be a “movement” or “school of thought”, but rather they were just a group of people with important shared base principles (free speech, liberty of the individual, etc)

Glyn Reed
Glyn Reed
3 years ago

Great interview. Didn’t think I would be so impressed by Rubin but thought he made an awful lot of good sense. Gives me more hope.

Hugh Eveleigh
Hugh Eveleigh
2 years ago

What a wonderful conversation. I joined Rubin’s ‘Locals.com’ and thus am a supporter and so perhaps have become used to how and what he says but Mr Sayers’s questions and leads helped bring out so many good points that I had a refreshingly new experience. Thank you to you both.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago

Really? It is all about Gay Marriage now? Here the global elites have destroyed the world as we knew it and the topic was not those liberties lost and abused, those economic futures destroyed, the education lost, Constitutional Freedoms Denied? This guy could have given real insights on those.

This guy kept trying to get away from the Gay Marriage but was not allowed – We need talk on fundamental freedoms, not one which is a non-issue except it can be used to de-platform, or seemingly that was the point of much of this, why he did not de-platform a big person over this side issue.

Tommy Robinson is a Patriot and also has a lot to say which is thought out, comes from personal experience, and reflects a very popular belief. Why would he be de-platformed? Other than to keep thought control. I would love Lewis Farrakhan and Tommy Robinson to be interviewed on Unherd.

I wish unherd would get back to real global topics. MMT, M2 supply, education lost, mental health and illness not detected by Lockdown, Treasury Bond interest, real yield, inflation, Dow Jones, Nasdaq, deficit spending, The 1.9$ infrastructure stimulus which is only 5% infrastructure, and 95% social engineering, commodities, equities, jobs, WFH (work from home), China, shipping containers arriving full and leaving ports empty, Nuclear electricity base load, renewables with no base load, EV, mortgages and real estate, Constitutional Freedoms (I notice the date on the video above is 04/06/1921, which is how Americans write it), Race and what is wanted by the race industry, and what will the future bring.

If this was a War On Covid, it is almost over and we lost. Still, I look forward to the Nuremberg Trials which need to fallow, and hope Boris, the SAGE guys, et al, go off to Tyburn Dock via traitors gate as they so richly deserve. We hanged Lord Haw-Haw after WWII, so it seems there is a precedent for most of the MSM editorship.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Farrakhan isn’t very sharp anymore. It wouldn’t be that interesting. Glen Ford maybe but I think his health isn’t the best. He isn’t as famous as Farrakhan but is more persuasive.

Galeti Tavas
VS
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I apologize for the above comment – I did not know this interview was live streaming so just saw the end – I now watched the entire thing and it is much better – just seeing the end and thinking that was it I did not get the actual interview.

Armand L
Armand L
3 years ago

David Rubin, the bastion of intelligence and curiosity. Lol!