Art by John Servante and words by Jimmy Nicholls
It’s ironic that an appearance in The New York Times still feels like a win for a group based on outsiders retreating to the Internet to broadcast themselves. But it shows you that reputation and respectability still matter, even when anybody can publish.
Bari Weiss, the New York-based hack behind the account, calls the intellectual dark web ‘an alliance of heretics […] making an end run around the mainstream – and finding enormous new audiences thirsty to discuss subjects that have become taboo.’
I have listened to some of these heretics for years, including the new atheist Sam Harris, comedian Joe Rogan, and the journalist Douglas Murray. Before it was cool, I even read The Righteous Mind by psychologist Jonathan Haidt – a book on how our moral instincts separate us – shortly after it was published in hardback in 2012.
Weiss’s piece has a slight ‘explorer unearths foreign culture’ tone to it, and suggests more cohesion and cooperation within the intellectual dark web than exists. But at the centre it captures the story that the Internet has opened an escape door to many trapped by institutional bias.
Though political correctness has made certain facts and opinions unwelcome in certain places, the Internet has made gatekeepers increasingly irrelevant. Far from resorting to a ‘dark web’, intellectuals can easily express their ideas without navigating the closed systems of formal education or the mainstream media.
Thus the wonderful thing about the ‘intellectual dark web’ is not that it endorses unorthodox views, a fact that can be deduced simply from the variety of a label that contains both Harris and the author Jordan Peterson, who cannot even agree a definition of ‘truth’. It is that a lack of gatekeepers allows you to read a genuine diversity of views, and agree or disagree.
Almost as if the Internet was designed for it.
Amber Rudd’s exit from the Home Office, the fining of Count Dankula for training his dog to salute like a Nazi, an apparent end to the cold Korean War, and lumps of crap blocking London’s sewers are the four topics this week.
Joining us is a delicious strawberry-flavoured protein shake, which will block our bogs this afternoon.
Update: Sajid Javid has been appointed as home secretary, replacing Rudd.
Image based on Fatberg, February 2018 by Seeing Sanitation
Echoes of the British Empire in the Brexit vote, the centenary of (some) women and younger, working class men getting the vote in the UK, and plans to stop people slagging you off on the internet are the three topics this week.
Joining us are the moderators from 4chan, who now run the world.
At the risk of never being able to eat avocados in this town again, I admit I laughed out loud at a Toby Young gag about getting through five boxes of tissues while watching a Comic Relief film about starving children.
One of the more obscure obscenities in the recent harvest of the Tory journalist’s Twitter feed, the condemnation of it shows the loudest attitude towards loutish humour right now is censorious, the illicit comment being one of many found after Tobes was appointed to the board of the Office for Students. Earlier this morning, he resigned.