19 Comments

Interesting how much we might agree. Except. I’m not rankled by criticism quite so much.

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I'm not sure where we go after anti-wokeness, but I have a more general suggestion for getting us to a better destination, which is to avoid putting resistance energy into our ideas. I think we all need to move past the reflex to justify our use of language that feels reasonable, because doing so puts us in a defensive posture and that only solidifies the opposition.

For example, when I talk about men and women -- either in my writing or in dialogue with another person or even in group conversation -- I make ZERO accommodation for the idea that using that language needs to be qualified, or that it needs to include people who don't recognize or identify with a two-sex model.

I think you can just re-draw boundaries around language and ideas by adopting a tone as if you didn't have to FIGHT to get there -- and as if you don't feel you have to fight to defend where you are. You drew your circle and within that circle YOU have dominion to use language in whatever way you feel is fair and reasonable.

You're not engaging anyone else's resistance energy by bringing your own resistance energy to the equation. If someone resists, that's on them, but you've created your own lane where you can SPEAK.

It's a lot like when I'm writing about music artists or bands from previous decades who I think should have been more well-known than they were. I don't mention their lack of success or how they didn't measure-up. I simply state where I think I place them in relation to other music, as if I take it for granted that they have a place at the table. There's no LOBBYING for it. Because when you do that, you already concede ground.

Example: I just posted a Substack piece with the word "faggot" in the title. In the body of the piece, I also use the phrase "your black ass." I took a moment to explain the latter, only because I needed to be clear on the nuance of where I was coming from. But I didn't explain "faggot," and I posted it without those stupid asterisks, which I think are a complete charade. If someone can't gauge the context for how that term, then that's their issue and not for me to exert the energy in MY writing, MY art to resist them.

I think it's important that we all re-claim CONTEXT -- we do that just carrying ourselves as if it's safe to PRESUME that we have leeway. If we just go back to stating things as we feel they are, it sends a very powerful signal that you've ALREADY re-set the terms, and that another person has no dominion over your speech. That way, you're not on your heels.

In case anyone's interested, here's my Substack post:

https://feedbackdef.substack.com/p/you-fuckin-faggot-get-the-fuck-out?r=jysu

Salomé -- if you'd prefer that people don't post their own links in Black Sheep comments, I'll take it out.

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"Rather than succumbing to different kinds of collectivism and identity politics, those of us in the “anti-woke” world need to build a movement that transcends these traps."

I am thinking of GameB here. Jim Rutt might be a good contact.

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author

Thank you for reading! And I'm not familiar with GameB or Jim Rutt. Any links I can check out?

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Jun 2Liked by Salomé Sibonex, Joseph (Jake) Klein

I really appreciate this statement: "[B]eing unpopular doesn’t make you a dissident." Thanks for highlighting the various debates that took place. I look forward to listening to each of them.

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Thank you Zander! Appreciate you reading my essay. And yes, some ideas are unpopular for a reason and should remain so! It's not just unpopularity that makes something radical in a way that produces growth and progress.

You'll love listening to the debates! Many interesting ones.

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May 31·edited May 31Liked by Salomé Sibonex, Joseph (Jake) Klein

What an excellent time DD was. I'm similarly wary of our broad movement becoming Heterodox™ or Anti-Woke™, morphing into an echo chamber of its own. DD modeled quite the opposite. Winston and Desh pulled it off marvelously. Awesome seeing you guys there - come back to NY soon!

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Right! So glad there were strong debates that put the idea of Heterodox into practice and not just using it as a brand. Heterodox™ or Anti-Woke™ is exactly the trap 😂

Hope to see you again soon too!!

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May 31Liked by Salomé Sibonex, Joseph (Jake) Klein

I wish I had attended the Dissident Dialogues. Did you discern a material difference between the "Left" and the "Liberal?" Sometimes, people conflate the two which is misapprehension. As for the future of anti-woke, perhaps the future is one where non-conformers (however defined) are more influential than conformers? I think we may witness the birth of non-conformers in the 2030s and 2040s who will rebel against their conforming elders who have captured institutions today. What do you think?

Enjoyed this essay from the front lines.

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"...perhaps the future is one where non-conformers (however defined) are more influential than conformers", you're speaking my language! I totally agree that valuing non-conformity is the key to genuine progress/evolution; it's how we keep bringing in new ideas and examining old ones.

I've seen the same potential trap that made this impossible on the Left start forming in certain, more collectivist parts of the Right, which is just the same tribal, collectivist problem whereby nonconformity is seen as a threat more than an opportunity to consider. I see it as the difference between two modes of thinking: 1) "this is how things should be and any challenge to that is a threat" and 2) "I have my preference for how things should be but that vision includes the process of considering credible challenges to itself." The core of what I'm doing with The Black Sheep is creating a subculture modeled after the latter instead of the former!

As for the distinction between Liberal and Leftist, totally agree that this crucial difference gets lost. At least for the speakers, most people discussing topics where this distinction was relevant did make it, such as the "Can Liberalism Be Saved?" debate. There are a lot of people who would consider themselves classical liberals in attendance too. I've noticed the same mistake in conflating Leftist with Liberal in more partisan discussions online. I even think leftists themselves make this mistake!

It's such a loss too because a lot of people who dislike leftism but don't feel called to libertarianism or conservatism end up feeling lost, when there's actually a philosophy designed exactly for them! I'm thinking about doing more straight-up education on what classical liberalism is vs isn't because of how common this issue is!

And thank you for reading and sharing your thoughtful comment, really glad to hear from you regarding this essay. And yes, you would've LOVED Dissident Dialogues!

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May 31Liked by Salomé Sibonex

Something I wrote somewhere else a long time ago about this whole "liberalism" debate and why I find most of it a farce:

"For the last half a decade we have been inundated with media articles and pundits lamenting the decline of “liberalism.” This modern “liberalism” that the politicians and pundits insist is so important, what does it have in common with the Classical Liberalism that has formed the basis of modern Western Civilization? Belief in the rights of citizens? Well… I mean as long as you say, do, and think the way we want you to. Understanding the limits of the expert class? TRUST THE SCIENCE! The recognition of universal human fallibility? Eh, depends on your race and pronouns. Understanding the limits of what government can accomplish? We will try it again but harder this time and throw more money and government force at it. Recognition of the nation state? Citizen of the world, baby! Equality under the law? It’s equity now. Sorry, but I will take Classical Liberalism with its Enlightenment values over Neoliberalism and its Postmodernist “values” any day."

You want to save Classical Liberalism? Well then the last thing you should ever do is pretend what is called "liberalism" now has anything to do with it. Definitions are changed all the time these days. Of course people are going to rebel against this Frankenstein's Monster. It is the opposite of everything it claims to be. You will also fail if you try to associate Classical Liberalism with neoliberal economics. Which is actually pretty damn stupid because Classical Liberalism predates that crap by centuries and most of neoliberal economics consists of doing things Adam Smith either warned about or complained about in The Wealth of Nations. Finally, I need to be blunt. Don't ever try to sell people on "liberalism" is there to "protect your individual rights" ok? Modern "liberals" have an authoritarian boner the size of China and trying to take your rights away is their favorite hobby. I know what you are trying to argue but you had better start making some clear distinctions if you want to save the Classical Liberalism that made up the American idea.

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What I'm understanding from your comment is that people often make the mistake of conflating classical liberalism with the status quo, which is completely agree is a mistake!

This happens with a lot of issues, like free market capitalism. People look at the status quo and say "capitalism isn't working" without knowing enough to realize we are FAR from the ideal of free market capitalism.

Another thing I'm getting from your comment is that it seems we need some serious public education on the philosophy of classical liberalism. That's something I'm realizing more and more myself.

Thanks for reading!

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I should point out that the height of American capitalism and prosperity coincided with fifty years of anti-trust regulation, stringent bank regulation, and pricing laws to prevent sellers from undercutting their suppliers or competition.

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Not accurate, and the proof is just looking at where we are now: even further away from true free market capitalism and yet only suffering worse economic outcomes.

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deletedJun 4
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It would be convenient for your argument if any of this was true, but it's not.

Jake literally read a verified quote on stage from Netanyahu himself claiming that his strategy is intentionally maintaining Hamas in power to thwart a two-state agreement. I don't know what more proof you need besides a person stating the claim they're accused of themselves.

What's become clear to me is that most people are severely bad judges of character. When it suits them, they blind themselves to all the motivated reasoning, character flaws, and biases on their own side. It's critically important to know that the person arguing to support a war has always argued to support wars—including wars that caused vast harm and are resoundingly considered a failure. It's critically important to know that someone who claims to be unbiased and intentionally claims to have the support of the "Jewish people"—falsely and dangerously conflating an ideology with an entire ethnic group—has had much of his perspective on the conflict shaped by a highly biased lobbying group.

The fact that you think these are irrelevant personal attacks when they are directly relevant to the topic the speakers are claiming expertise on really underscores the lack of critical thinking you're applying to this issue.

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deletedJun 6
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Hi Antonio. I've corresponded with the two journalists who are the earliest on record reporting on the 2019 Likud meeting where Netanyahu said that. One, Lahav Harkov, was unfamiliar with the direct quote, but didn't deny its possibility and confirmed Netanyahu said something along those lines. The other, Alex Selsky, is a former Netanyahu aid and confirmed for me that what I read on stage is an accurate direct quote.

I am sure Netanyahu didn't want Oct 7th to happen. I'm aware of the controversy in Likud over the policy reflected in that quote. Nonetheless, the quote (along with substantial additional corroborating evidence) proves it was Netanyahu's and others' intent to embolden Hamas in order to prevent the development of a Palestinian state; this policy was bad and Oct 7 is evidence of it.

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Jun 12Liked by Salomé Sibonex

I'm glad you're trying to do real reporting on this Likud meeting quote - it's rather remarkable that Eli wasn't familiar with it. Have you done a similar dig into the stories about Israel pushing Qatar to continue funding Hamas for essentially the same reason? I suppose you could argue that funding Gaza is different than funding Hamas, but that's rather contradictory to the idea that Hamas controls everything in Gaza.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/12/10/world/middleeast/israel-qatar-money-prop-up-hamas.html

https://www.timesofisrael.com/documents-show-israel-sought-valued-qatari-aid-for-gaza-in-years-leading-to-oct-7/

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Thank you! I agree, I would have never expected someone at his level of involvement with this subject wouldn't know about that quote.

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