Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Allure of Esoteric Knowledge

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it" ~ Aristotle

The last year has been quite the intellectual journey.

Since Trump's election I have been steeped in the world of alternative media. I have spent a good deal of time on Breitbart and /r/the_donald. I have spoken with race realists on YouTube. I have explored the 'Manosphere' and learned about the MGTOW, MRA, and PUA movements. I have read the arguments for white nationalism on sites like American Renaissance.

There is a phrase for entering this world: Taking the Red Pill.

The concept of the red pill of course comes from The Matrix. It represents Neo's desire to know the truth about the world, no matter how horrifying it may be. It is a powerful symbol that plays on an under-appreciated cognitive bias; the desire to know 'secrets.'

Relevant XKCD:

We all want to feel special. We like to feel as though we understand secret, complex realities that most other people do not. In that sense I think the red pill is brilliant marketing. It has sucked a lot of alienated young people (mostly men) into various internet communities. Many are echo chambers that feed on people's resentment and help them rationalize their own dysfunctional behavior. Some red pill sites and thinkers are quite good though, such as Stefan Molyneux. While I disagree with many of his ideas he is clearly very intelligent and an excellent speaker. I support a few of the better personalities on Patreon and even had drinks with Black Pigeon Speaks one time.

Ultimately I think the red pill is a predictable reaction to the inequity wrought by technological change, mass immigration, globalism, and a disingenuous mainstream media. The narrative could only be centrally controlled for so long in the internet era. The continued effort to try to control the narrative has led to everything becoming politicized. Whether it is late night comedy, the NFL, the Oscars, a public school classroom, a Disney movie - there's always an agenda that's being pushed, and people are sick of it. This is also a big part of why Donald Trump won the last election.

I have found myself sympathetic to a number of red pill ideas. I agreed with race realist Tara McCarthy about the reality of genetic differences between races and the failure of the welfare state to help black America. As far as feminism and the MRA crowd, I had a somewhat similar experience to Cassie Jaye. There is more to criticize in contemporary feminism than I had realized. Furthermore, as I have written previously on this blog, I think Trump is right to try to secure the borders.

Many people get 'red-pilled', or, at least become more socially conservative once they have their own families. When you're young and single it's easy to think, "Live and let live! Who cares what the guy next door is doing? It doesn't affect me!" Then you have kids and you start to take issue with stepping over used condoms and syringes when walking to the park. I suppose by moving to Tokyo I am not very different from the wealthy leftists who push social liberalism but then move to the richest, safest, whitest part of town possible.

Like them I greatly prefer living in an environment of high social trust. Living in Japan has been enlightening in that regard. Unmanned vegetable stands, six year-olds walking to school alone, internet cafes with free drinks and videogames, people saving their seats in clubs by leaving their smartphones on a table - no way could you do any of that back in NYC. Cultural homogeneity has its advantages, and it is far easier to maintain when you also have racial homogeneity. It has made me sympathetic to the Japanese preference for strict immigration laws to maintain essentially an ethno-state. Once you condone that right for one race, you have to wonder why it shouldn't apply to others.

Digging into all this alt-right / red pill stuff can feel like going down a rabbit hole. The important thing is to maintain one's ability to rationally and dispassionately assess ideas, be they "Red Pill" or "Blue Pill." You take everything with a grain of salt. You maintain your skepticism and demand evidence for any claim. It's also vital to distinguish between facts and preferences. Wherever you ultimately land philosophically, you want to at least be able to say you arrived there using reason and adhering to well-defined principles.