The Doomers That Came To Substack
The Uses and Misuses of Political Pessimism
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
are full of passionate intensity.
William Butler Yeats, “The Second Coming”
Today’s Dissident Left is certain of its inevitable victory and of the righteousness of their cause. By contrast, many on the Dissident Right are sure that their cause is hopeless and that we will inevitably find ourselves living in pods, feasting on bugs, and owning nothing while being miserable.
Don’t believe me? Post a comment on any social media forum suggesting that our current financial crunch is going to lead to less emphasis on DEI intiatives. Within minutes you’ll see several complaints explaining that (Blackrock/Soros/the Jews/etc.) will simply print more money and continue on with business as usual.
For a real full-court doomer press, simply provide a minor setback. When Substack’s administration agreed to remove five “Nazi” websites for ToS violations, there were cries across the horizon that Substack had bent the knee to the Nazi-hunters and that soon we’d see Facebook and pre-Musk Twitter levels of censorship.
After removing the offending sites, Substack refused to change their Terms of Service or to remove any site that wasn’t making threats of violence. The most prominent of the Nazi-hunters left in a huff. And many of the doomsayers noted sagely that now we could expect the government to pressure Substack to change its ToS or to close the site down down altogether.
Consider also the conspiracy theories favored by each side. “Organized Structures of White Supremacy” and “Climate Extinction” are every bit as silly as the Ancient Astronaut Lizard Royals. But the Dissident Left uses them to keep their supporters excited. Their ideas may be silly, but they inspire ardent followers to shut down highways, burn down city blocks, and damage art works.
By contrast Qanon inspired huge swaths of the Dissident Right to Trust the Plan and wait for Donald Trump’s secret army to send the pedophile rings to Guantanamo Bay. And most of the folks exposing Agenda 2030, pointing out Soros interference, and naming the Jew have no idea of what to actually do with that information. The conspiracies get discussed in the usual venues, but they never seem to come up with ways to stop the conspirators or even to slow them down.
To understand these different norms, we may want to look at the exceptions. And so let’s take a look at failed Lefty doomposting and Right-Wing successes.
One of the pillars of Critical Theory is the idea that the oppressed should receive special treatment and political power to help make a more equitable world. To that end, many members of the Rainbow Brigade disclaim at length about all the horrible things that the Cis Straight White Christian Ableist Patriarchy were about to do to all 157+ genders.
For a time this actually worked. The hysteria also helped to keep the gender and sexuality non-conforming politically active. (It was growing increasingly hard to convince prosperous gay men and lesbians that they were a persecuted minority — or to convince them to write checks for advocacy groups).
But after a while people started to notice that Western culture is by and large remarkably tolerant of alternative lifestyles and lovestyles. And as more cishet fascists of all political stripes became redpilled, the Alphabet Tribe became increasingly blackpilled. The flouncing may have been performative at first, but sooner or later you start believing your own act.
Convinced they were actually under siege from a hostile world, the Tribe circled its wagons even (especially) for its worst members. Groomers, sex pests, and outright criminals were defended in the name of Queer Unity. Those who brought their sins to light were shunned as self-hating homosexuals (see Gays Against Groomers) or paid infiltrators who were making things up to Literally Kill Queers.
Unsurprisingly, many people concluded from this behavior that every Queer was a groomer, sex pest, or criminal. This led to more redpilling, which led to more blackpilling. Depending on your point of view, it became either a virtuous or a vicious circle. The TikTok culture which arose out of the ashes of Tumblr helped to spread many of these ideas. But it also provided ammo for Libs Of TikTok and other activists to raise issues, controversies, and funds. And that ammo proved remarkably effective despite the best efforts of debunkers, fact-checkers, and pedophilia apologists.
Before there was QAnon, there was Pizzagate. The story of child traffickers selling victims using “Pizza” codes was mocked by many. One Ars Technica reporter, Peter Bright, used the handle “DrPizza” to mock those foolish enough to believe such nonsense. Then, in 2019, Bright was caught during a sting when he arranged a sexual visit with what he believed to be two children ages 9 and 7.
A few weeks after Bright’s arrest, Jeffrey Epstein died under suspicious circumstances in a jail cell in Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center. This was taken as further evidence that pizza-peddling pedophiles were selling sex with children to wealthy and powerful clients and silencing anybody who might expose them.
Many school boards found themselves facing outraged parents convinced their children were being inappropriately sexualized. More than a few parents were able to win school board elections campaigning against pornography and grooming in schools. Ron DeSantis became a household name thanks to his attacks on Disney and on sexual materials in schools.
Conspiracy theories can become flaming bags of dog shit: the harder you stomp on them, the more shit you spread. Mainstream media panned Sound of Freedom, a 2023 film about child trafficking. It went on to gross over $189 million on a $14.5 million budget. And lots of people noticed that outlets which gave Sound of Freedom two thumbs down had raved about Cuties, a film featuring twerking 11-year old girls.
In this instance, the Right used a hot-button issue to gain support and spread its message. After years spent losing to cancel mobs, the Right finally had a cause that worked for them and used it for all it was worth. Instead of throwing up their hands at the first sign of pushback, they went on the offensive and struck hard. And while mainstream media outlets complained about sex-negative Christofascist conspiracy theories, they discovered that they were no longer in control of the discourse.
Dismissing problematic material as a conspiracy theory no longer carries the same weight as it did a few years ago. By now most of us can think of several “conspiracy theories” that turned out to be true — the Hunter Biden laptop, the connection between COVID vaccines and myocarditis, FBI entrapment in “terrorist” acts like the attempted Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping, just to name a few — and we’re less likely to reflexively dismiss claims simply because a fact checker says they’re wrong.
It’s important to have a realistic view of your opposition, and overconfidence can be even more dangerous than an excess of caution. Academia and mainstream media have largely been captured by ideologies that would have been considered fringe just 10 years ago. Those ideologies are supported by rich and powerful people and organizations. But those people put their pants on one leg at a time just like we do.
There’s certainly a chance all our efforts will fail and darkness and decay and the New World Order will reign inimitable over all. But given the levels of competence shown to date by national and international officials, I wouldn’t bet large sums of money on it. So, with that in mind, I’m going to offer some hope amidst the gloom and point out some strengths that the Doomers have missed.
Most of us on the Dissident Right have lost friends, family, or careers over our beliefs. We’ve already been tried by fire. While the Dissident Left fancies itself #theresistance, they’ve received nothing but back-pats and social approval for their yard signs, emojis, and Facebook portrait frames. And as we have seen on Substack and post-Musk Xitter, many are gravely nonplussed when faced with critics they can’t shut down and ideas they can’t cancel with mass complaints.
When the tide turns against them and the illusion of mass consensus fades, many will leave the arena. They were there for upvotes and likes, not for a revolution. Others will move on to hugboxes like Mastodon or private chats like Discord. There, like the Truth Social and Gab exiles before them, they will share their ideas with other true believers. This may give them the social reinforcement they crave, but it will do little to spread their ideas to a wider audience.
Their ideology has been lavishly funded in the highest echelons of power. But as the US economy continues to crumble, we’re starting to see layoffs in the DEI departments. This is happening slowly, certainly more slowly than most of us would like. But it is happening.
The executives funding these initiatives expected to profit from them. They have dedicated their lives to making money. When it becomes clear that there’s no money to be made, they will drop these ideas like Bud Light dropped Dylan Mulvaney. They are competing with other corporate sharks for finite resources. They care far more about their bottom line than about saving the world.
The latest events on social media are also illuminating. Those protestors and ex-Stackers don’t fear Substack because it is full of “Nazis.” They fear it because they break the illusion of mass consensus. They don’t hate Elon Musk because he is a multibillionaire. They hate him because he broke their hold on Twitter.
They were convinced that their takeover was inevitable because the arc of history bends toward justice. They were convinced their cause was righteous and the good guy always wins. After a string of victories and assistance from powerful allies, they became certain their triumph was at hand.
But they were never prepared to handle resistance, nor did they make plans for what would happen if the funding and public support disappeared. As the pendulum swings back, most will retreat to their hugboxes or sink into apathy and despair.
Many mainstream conservatives have grown comfortable as the Loyal Opposition. They’re social liberals and fiscal libertarians. And many activists on both sides have grown used to being big fish in small ponds. But the point of conservatism is to conserve, and the point of activism is to act. And dismissing any scrap of good news with gloomy comments about your all-powerful opposition does neither.
Denethor looked into the Palantir and Sauron broke his spirit. Your opponents want you to think resistance is futile. They want you to believe that you are simply a speed bump in the road to their brave new world. They certainly have a great deal of money and power, at least for now. But money and power are temporal things. And the rich and powerful often fare poorly against those who put their trust in the eternal.