by Mary Harrington
Monday, 1
March 2021
Debate
15:00

Blood on the virtual street at Clubhouse

A discussion of 'wokeism' quickly turned into a coup
by Mary Harrington
“Are you anti-racist? Are you transphobic? Are you anti-black? Give us the answers now” (pictured, Bret Weinstein) Credit: Getty

Clubhouse, an iPhone app that allows users to create and join virtual ‘rooms’ for audio conversation, has caused considerable stir in the 11 months since its founding, attracting two million weekly active users and a $1 billion January valuation.

Under the social constraints of Covid, an app enabling relatively free-flowing and spontaneous social interaction has generated intense interest. Between the longing to connect and the sense of exclusivity fostered by its invite-only nature, Clubhouse’s user base is swelling, skewed heavily towards an internationalist, broadly libertarian, tech and investment outlook.

Events this weekend suggest the honeymoon phase may already be over. There was blood on the virtual streets of Clubhouse last Friday, as a room created to discuss ‘wokeism’ experienced its own ‘woke coup’. Aficionados of arcane internet drama can listen to a recording of the whole thing here; the struggle session starts around the 2-hour mark and gets madder from there.

Around 2:45 the new moderators spotted Intellectual Dark Web luminary Bret Weinstein in the audience, called him onto the stage and proceeded to lay into him. “Are you anti-racist? Are you transphobic? Are you anti-black? Give us the answers now”.

The section that follows is an object lesson in the naïveté of that strand of optimistic rationalism that continues to imagine that all we need do in order to foster social harmony is just talk to one another. Weinstein and his interrogators agree on next to no fundamental premises, and those questioning him are hostile to his viewpoint. There is no ‘constructive dialogue’ under those conditions, and the outcome is as brutal and futile as you’d expect: a kind of toxic anti-conversation.

There is also no avoiding these situations except via social gatekeeping. This in turn illustrates a structural problem for Clubhouse, and by extension all social media platforms that purport to increase connection between people.

The appeal of Clubhouse is the addictive feeling it gives of participating in serious and thoughtful conversation between interesting people in an atmosphere of conviviality and trust. But conversational quality, and convivial trust, can only be fostered by constraining who can participate. This serves to keep the speakers interesting and safeguard a measure of shared adherence to conversational norms.

It’s also a safe bet that Clubhouse’s $1bn January valuation is predicated on its user base continuing to grow. This growth will, inescapably, come into tension with the elitism that provides Clubhouse’s appeal. If you sell free-flowing, high-quality and convivial conversation but then invite the entire world to weigh in, you’re more likely to end up with Babel. Which is, in fact, exactly what happened on Friday.

All of this points to an uncomfortable possibility: that our political discourse is growing more fractured not despite our increased ability to communicate inclusively on mass platforms, but because of this fact. That in turn suggests that if we want political discourse to become more civilised, we’ll need to find ways of making it more exclusionary, less transparent, and better at excluding troublemakers.

This in turn raises the question of who it’s legitimate to exclude, and why. And the Friday night Clubhouse debacle illustrates the fact that this will be a matter not of reasoned debate, but political power.

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Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

I watch all Bret Weinstein’s Dark Horse podcasts and have seen various of his other appearances on Joe Rogan etc. He is the cuddliest, most reasonable progressive imaginable. The fact that the Woke Warriors are going after him only serves to reveal their vicious lunacy.

Dan Poynton
Dan Poynton
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Brilliantly said, Fraser.

croftyass
croftyass
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

or vicious vacuity-Weinstein is a super smart and eminently listenable speaker-his attackers are simply brain dead ideologues with a limited vocabulary.

Richard Roe
Richard Roe
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

It is rational from their point of view to attack him. His informed, articulate, moderate and devastating critique of wokism is an existential threat to the power they find themselves with despite having none of those qualities. Their attempts to marginalise him makes them feel good about themselves and coalesces them around a common enemy. They know that, absence that, they are in line for evisceration.

jackarandarainbow
jackarandarainbow
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

sociopathy. their vicious sociopathy. that is what the woke left actually is.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago

There is no ‘constructive dialogue’ under those conditions, and the outcome is as brutal and futile as you’d expect: a kind of toxic anti-conversation.
another article on this site was talking about “woke” and what it means. The part above is what it means. There is no room for dissenting opinion, only undying fealty to every single aspect of leftist dogma.
What is ‘anti-racist’ anyway? In action, it comes off as the polar opposite of what it claims to be, very much like the anti-fascists who are so anti that they break out the brown shirt playbook at every turn.

Micah Starshine
Micah Starshine
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

I say brownshirt and jackboot to them all the time and they don’t even have a clue what I am talking about.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

I used to hang out in this brewery taproom from time to time. I have a 30ish conservative hispanic friend who I would chat with from time to time. He was very outspoken but friendly. Very gregarious.. actually had been doing well working in upper level sales positions. Anyhow the staff at the place is extremely woke. All white and nearly all female. He got in a mild argument over politics with them and he was banned. Told to never return. This is when I realized how insane these people are. This is a small mostly white city. Very few minorities around. It doesn’t even matter if you are one of the few brown skinned people around. You are not allowed an opinion for yourself if it goes against woke dogma.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
1 year ago

The world seems to be devolving into two types of people. Those who live in the media bubble and those who don’t. Those who are in it see everything outside it as an existential threat. Knowledge or thoughts that don’t come from a textbook, a celebrity or a ‘trusted’ media source are anathema to them.

Last edited 1 year ago by Brian Dorsley
Karen Lindquist
Karen Lindquist
1 year ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

Nailed it.

Micah Starshine
Micah Starshine
1 year ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

that’s too kind. They aren’t reading textbooks by anyone except people like them. Academia is lost.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
1 year ago

The behaviour you describe would not have been so likely or so common ten years ago, despite a good few years of online debate. I suggest, therefore, that the sheer “momentum” of “Woke” itself is to blame. We should not underestimate the malice, the unreason or the danger of this movement; nor should we fail to see that it is building like any such wave, by means of fear, generated by power, arising from a critical mass of apparent support. The cowardice of wider society is also part of the problem. People have been “pre-indoctrinated” by years of PC, just as increasingly violent theories among the Russian “intelligentsia” paved the way to Stalin. Whilst some became terrorists, juries of ordinary Tsarist subjects routinely let them off on absurdly sentimental grounds – see the novels of Dostoevsky.
The deeper origins of “Woke” are, as the name suggests, cultic, resulting from the religious deficit noted by the late Sir Roger Scruton. Indeed, the term carries Gnostic overtones and invokes Sir Karl Popper’s warning that mysticism is the ready ally of totalitarianism. Until and unless some body of persons in and with authority publicly rebukes and foreswears the “woke”, things can only get worse.

Last edited 1 year ago by Simon Denis
Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Until and unless some body of persons in and with authority publicly rebukes and foreswears the “woke”, things can only get worse.
to a degree, this is happening. The site Substack is one example of this, featuring several writers who are easily described as left of center but also self-aware enough to notice the excesses of the wokeltariat. There was also an open letter some months back from a group of people, mostly left-leaning, decrying censorship and the mob responded in predictable fashion.
Clearly more is needed. Not only do we have the censorship and silencing push by big tech, but there are also sitting members of Congress demanding that cable systems shut down certain news operations.
What should be alarming is sadly becoming commonplace: Amazon is now engaging in a version of digital book burnings and also removed a documentary on Clarence Thomas. During black history month. The purges will continue, and nothing will change until the people either supporting them or being quiet find themselves being targeted. And even then it may not matter.

Last edited 1 year ago by Alex Lekas
Meghan Kathleen Jamieson
Meghan Kathleen Jamieson
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Unfortunately quite a few of the people who signed that letter are themselves inclined to want to censor and label differing opinions as racist or phobic or something similar. And not only the people who publicly back-peddled from signing.
There seems to be a real lack of self-awareness involved and it is difficult to see how to overcome that.

Don Gaughan
Don Gaughan
1 year ago

I am concerned about the general feeling of surrender to the fanatical woke tyranny .
..and personally will never surrender my country or world to that mob.
There are groups and media that are trying to protect freedom of speech, the first major human right violation they should face justice and consequences for and we need to regain .
Getting authorities to enforce the law would be one first step.
Funding unjustly fired , canceled and impoverished targets lawsuits against co.pliant employers and the parties / groups that inflicted it would be a way.We may have to be as prolific with pressure on authorities as they are.

Matthew Bottomley
Matthew Bottomley
1 year ago

“Just talk to one another” – probably not – just listen to one another – maybe. I often think things would be better if our words were rationed, or if you had to build up talk time credits based on listening time.

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

 I often think things would be better if our words were rationed, or if you had to build up talk time credits based on listening time.
That’s a brilliant idea. It will never happen, of course, but a brilliant idea.
So far as Mary Harrington’s article goes, I find the fracas at Clubhouse to be entirely predictable. What did Brett Weinstein think would happen when he took on the wokerati in their home turf?

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Although you have no way of knowing that I’ve replied to you in this wonderful new commenting system, I will anyway. The original conversation at Clubhouse was a reasonable debate between reasonable people, moderated by a reasonable man. There was then a coup in which the moderator was thrown out and replaced by a BLM maniac. She then proceeded to de-platform everyone except her BLM friends with very large chips on their shoulders. As Mary Harrington points out, that this is possible on Clubhouse is a problem which will have to be resolved. So Clubhouse wasn’t a ‘home turf’ for wokists, they took over this particular ‘room’. Bret didn’t decide to take them on; he was there just observing and was ‘dragged’ onto the ‘stage’ for a Red Guards type interrogation.

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Yeah, the new commenting system sucks, doesn’t it. Fortunately, I follow the conversations in which I participate so I noticed your helpful reply.
You’re right. I didn’t understand the whole story behind the Clubhouse incident. I now wonder how and why Clubhouse allowed a woke fanatic to take over moderation of the discussion. But an answer to that question would require me to go back and research the incident and, frankly, I’m not that interested. The theme of extremists hijacking on-line discussion is well established.

Su Mac
Su Mac
1 year ago

Disrupt and dominate a debate with shouty incoherent dogmatic politics without having to travel to the Working Men’s Club or get your nose broken on the way home.
All the convenience of Amazon for the modern agitator.

Andrew Wray
Andrew Wray
1 year ago

With regard to the ” cancel culture ” now seemingly an actual threat to free speech in our universities, back in the late 1950s a similar problem was becoming evident, though then driven by a very different ideology
At Leicester University, the Students’ Union open meetings were becoming more and more frequently disrupted by a small group of students who had what appeared to be an anarchistic agenda
They never made any actual contribution to any meeting, never engaged in any open discussion, never attempted to have any issue added to an agenda for open discussion. They simply seemed to be intent to disrupt the business of the Students’ Union general meetings for no reason other than to get noticed, with meaningless points of order, and the like, and shouting down speakers, so that, on occasion, a meeting was adjourned with some agenda items not addressed
It was suggested they hoped everybody else would get fed up, would give up, so they could take over and get their hands on the Students’ Union funds
It just happened that one of the Students’ Union main committee members was a member of the university rugby 1st XV, and he began to voice his concern when in discussions, as rugby players will in their post-match and post-training gets-together, that the hard work of the Union Committee members was being thwarted for no apparent benefit to anybody other than for the enjoyment of, and perhaps the future benefit of, a fairly small number of persistent disrupters
A plan was hatched!!!
On the occasion of the next open general meeting, as soon as the disrupters stood up to begin their disruption, together as one the members of the university 1st XV stood up, arms folded, each looking very directly at the nearest disrupter, with our heads shaking and with a grim facial expression
Somebody said, very loud and clear – not from the platform – ” We suggest you either go or that you sit still and stay quiet! ”
The disrupters sat down and stayed quiet ’till the end of that meeting and ceased thereafter to continue their campaign of disruption

G Worker
G Worker
1 year ago

White anti-racists are people with a pathology of the mind characterised by self-hatred and fear of powerlessness and personal irrelevance. They screech their hate-words in a desperate and needy bid to project their own racial self-contempt upon the white Other, and this they do because they hate the healthy and the normal.
Debating them is impossible because they are lying to themselves. They don’t care about what they say they care about, and they can’t defend one claim they advance. They don’t have any beliefs of their own. The beliefs they articulate own them. There is no cure for them except to cleanse the Western canon of anti-white ideology.

Last edited 1 year ago by G Worker
mike otter
mike otter
1 year ago
Reply to  G Worker

TBH the vast majority of woke-freaks are wealthy and white. The whole point of their movement (or perhaps illness) is to attack the “now” in a sort of circular firing squad. Black v white, gay v straight, feminist v trans etc etc. If they can’t be cured then i agree with you, they should be cleansed, but only as a last resort.

Madeleine Morey
Madeleine Morey
1 year ago

The ‘woke’ agenda has been extraordinarily well-funded by some very large American charitable foundations. To borrow a phrase from Peter Buffett, you could call it ‘philanthropic colonialism’. We’ve had successive Conservative governments for almost 11 years and they have done nothing to stop it, even contributing handsomely to the coffers of Stonewall Equality Ltd and the LGBT Foundation. You have to ask yourself why.  

Rob Newman
Rob Newman
1 year ago

It’s a bit lame to always use the IDW in front of Bret Weinstein. It was his brother who came up with the name Intellectual Dark Web, but it’s no movement at all, just a name and a dumb article that spawned so many bad faith representations of thinkers who are many times radically different in thought and opinion from one another. Also I felt there was more to dig into, so shame the article is not longer as it was just getting interesting.

mike otter
mike otter
1 year ago

Years ago Fritz Stern produced an interesting book called “The Poltics of Cultural Despair” in which he investigated the cultural and (anti) intellectual origins of arguably the 20th centuries most dangerous ideology, Socialism in One Country. The precursors of that era’s crazed totalitarians had similar cultural, psychological and (anti) intellectual credentials to today’s wokists. As with the post modernist woke of today few worked in the real world, preferring academia and inheritance to the ignominy of a job. Now the world moves forward at a higher speed i expect the arc of woke madness to be quicker, but unless wise heads step in it could well be as dangerous.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago

Every time I log onto here I expect to find I am banned, and my first incarnation was. The reason is because since getting on line to talk in the early 1980s, pre microsoft, DOS, with dialup, I have always gotten banned, everywhere I have posted. May take a couple years, or one post, but it is just the way the internet self polices, by canceling.

My views are not mainstream, but that comes from the case that my life has been exceptionally weird and wide ranging, and so my reality is very different from a normal person’s reality. I have read thousands of books, and even did university and college here and there along the way, and with all that I am toast – I never threaten, attack, make illegal posting, but just knowing a very great deal of the world means you will be always against the mainstream, who know nothing, and thus be banned. It has always been so in the history of man, just faster and more opportunities with the internet. Most find a view opposite from theirs, even if it comes from real beliefs based on life experiences, is offensive. We all exist on a different reality than everyone else one based on our unique life experiences and thought, but few understand that.

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Have you been on Guido Fawkes? order-order.com. Excellent up to date political site that is is policed of course, but difficult (judging by some of the opinionated posts) to get licked off? If you haven’t already been booted give it a try Sanford, I think you may like it.

G Worker
G Worker
1 year ago

Try The Conservative Woman or even The Salisbury Journal. Both are free-speech fora, which Guido’s is decidedly not.

Susannah Baring Tait
Susannah Baring Tait
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I am now very curious as to what your beliefs, and experiences, are. Please enlighten.

Anindita Doig
Anindita Doig
1 year ago

This should not be surprising. 20 years ago the only people whose thoughts and opinions were widely read were journalists in newspapers. Now, anyone can reply to them below their columns, witter on twitter, blog, FB etc
There is no filter, no exclusivity, no editing or curation.

croftyass
croftyass
1 year ago

that strand of optimistic rationalism that continues to imagine that all we need do in order to foster social harmony is just talk to one another
Reminds me of listening to Jeremy Corbyn who seemed to use this as a rationale for effective demilitarisation.

Last edited 1 year ago by croftyass
Pete Marsh
Pete Marsh
1 year ago

“and proceeded to lay into him. “Are you anti-racist? Are you transphobic? Are you anti-black? Give us the answers now”.”
So, the standard kangaroo court or witch trial then….

David Bottomley
David Bottomley
1 year ago

listened to the section and wow, what a load of puerile drivel. This counts as conversation and discussion? Only in America.

Don Gaughan
Don Gaughan
1 year ago

I have never met or witnessed a progressive that wanted to actually dialogue. In fact, they simply evade any truth presented that challenges their propaganda.They are a dogma driven one-way street…you listen and obey, or else…and they are dramatically altering the free democracies of the west by monopolizing the public microphone. with a chilling indifference to the harm and damage they inflict.
They are verifiabely guilty of everything they falsely accuse.
They should be brought to justice for the violations and crimes they commit, suitably the same consequences they demand of their targets.
We have identified the harm.Now, how to address and remove it.
.

jackarandarainbow
jackarandarainbow
1 year ago

Commenting on any social media, including Clubhouse, is not healthy interaction. It is meaningless, trivialised by format and open to massive and frightening political censorship by the platform owners, exampled by Zuckerberg and Dorsey. The only format I have seen which comes anywhere near being capable of serving its users is Nextdoor, a local community noticeboard format, owned by Zuckerberg. It is not human friendly because it is grotesquely policed by Zuckerberg harpies to delete all who speak their minds from a conservative viewpoint and in fact “political” discussion is forbidden. However, if that changed to allowing free speech and moderating only for legal compliance, it would be a marvellous facility because of its very local scale limits. The network operates nationally in both UK and USA and is accessible only in the local area in which one lives. This limit moderates the extent to which the babel factor can take over discussion. But while social media is in the hands of sociopathic filth, no format is in actuality, anything but destructive and hateful.

Last edited 1 year ago by jackarandarainbow
nuzywvcrv3
nuzywvcrv3
1 year ago
jules Ritchie
jules Ritchie
1 year ago

I attempt to stay as informed as I can about new media sites and give a fair hearing to as many views as possible. All this allows me to inform my own viewpoints. But it’s torture to try to listen to the ‘discussion’ on this Clubhouse site. The inability of the participants to wait for someone to finish their point and to then make their own without using ‘like’ every fourth word, they appear to inhabit some parallel universe and live lives totally divorced from the reality lived by millions of other ‘minority group’ citizens.
Total agony. Had to switch off.

Stephen Follows
Stephen Follows
1 year ago

Bret Weinstein – any relation?