Transcript: Ross Douthat and Eric Weinstein on The Portal episode 30
The Portal podcast transcription series
- Peter Thiel
- What is The Portal?
- Werner Herzog
- Timur Kuran
- Rabbi David Wolpe
- Jocko Willink
- Bret Easton Ellis
- Andrew Yang
- Bryan Callen
- Julie Lindahl
- Sam Harris
- Vitalik Buterin
- Garry Kasparov
- London Tsai
- Garrett Lisi
- Tyler Cowen
- Anna Khachiyan
- Eric Weinstein – State of the Portal 2020
- Bret Weinstein
- Sir Roger Penrose
- Ashley Mathews (Riley Reid)
- Ben Greenfield
- Agnes Callard
- Kai Lenny
- The Construct: Jeffrey Epstein
Geometric Unity – a First Look
- James O’Keefe
- Daniel Schmachtenberger
- Eric Lewis
- Jamie Metzl
- Ross Douthat
- Ryan Holiday
The following transcript was generated by a machine and not edited by any human – so it’s full of of errors. I’m posting the transcript because the podcast is excellent and a crappy transcript is better than no transcript. Questions/comments: get me on Twitter @mgmobrien.
[YouTube video not yet available; here’s the audio: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/kast-media-2/the-portal-2/e/68874611]
Eric Weinstein 0:06
Hello, this is Eric with a few words of housekeeping. First of all, I just wanted to check in with our audience of Portal listeners and say that I’ve been trying to stay reasonably safe and sane and if only in fact left my compound twice in recent weeks, and both times were to do podcasts that I judged to be significant enough to potentially warrant the slightly increased risk with no handshake and nor hugs exchange. In the first place. I visited with my good buddy Joe Rogan over the Jerry podcast to discuss COVID masks the genius of American jazz dance and geometric unity. I believe at this point, it has been viewed by just north of 5.4 million folks in less than two weeks. So if you haven’t already seen it, I would suggest maybe checking it out because it seems to be fairly popular despite being a bit on the long side. What can I say we went slightly viral, if you will excuse the gallows humor. Now the other new podcast I did was with my friend Lex Friedman, who hosts the MIT AI podcast which I did for the second time. Lex is one of my favorite interviewers in part because works in a somewhat mysterious way to get one of a kind of interviews at have an amazing lineup of heavy hitters. I would highly recommend tuning into his podcast in general in our episode in particular. Now this of course brings us to our own podcast and steering its course in the time of Corona in an abundance of caution good fortune, and frankly a bit of sloths and a release schedule. We are so far not having to take new in person interviews for the portal as we have you covered for a little while. The portal cleverly or accidentally banked in studio episodes before the pandemic was truly great folks like Penn jillette, Rick Rubin, Sean Lennon, JD Vance, Helen Fisher, Stefan Alexander, Andrew Murray, and many others. We also have some solo episodes planned and are exploring whether we want to get into the Skype or zoom interview game as well. So hopefully that catches you up to where we are at least procedurally. We will be sure to let you know if there are any changes if you will kindly navigate to our new website at Eric weinstein.org. And leave us your email address for our mailing list so that we can keep connected to you in the weeks ahead, as to what is on my mind at Mostly this the awakening. On Joe’s show, I talked about the end of what I termed the big nap, which I defined as the period beginning on September 2 1945. And ending 75 years later on February 19 2020, which signaled the end of World War Two and the beginning of the slide from the peak of the stock market when the world began to accept that the Coronavirus was indeed a serious pandemic respectively. The big nap in this theory is itself divided into three sections. First, the power sleep between 1945 and 1970. When economic growth was extraordinary, and the memory of world war two was still fresh. This was followed by the mysterious transition for three years between 1971 and 1973. When the post war magic suddenly evaporated in the deep sleep from 1974, up until the present day in 2020. At the time of this recording, characterized by what I’ve termed elsewhere, the new gimmick economy in which leaders at first look to restart growth. But sometime in the 1980s, I actually gave up and began selling claims against The future so that a small leadership class could continue to pretend the growth was indeed continuing by transferring wealth from their descendants futures, and from workers who could not politically protect themselves from predation. The big nap, at least in the developed free world was essentially characterized as a run of extraordinary relative Good luck and serenity, at least by the historical standards set by previous world wars, pandemics, depressions and depressions. Were the new Gathering Storm clouds of the Cold War threatened administering the distance, but the skies directly above remained unprecedented. It’ll be clear. This created a bizarre developmental environment where the serenity of the big map led to a worldwide epidemic of magical thinking among the expert and leadership classes that were raised during this time. As I understand it, we are in fact stuck with the mystery of a leadership class that cannot leave the stage nor let go of its illusions and whom I will refer to as the big nappers. In the United States. The final five major presidential candidates were all miraculously born between 1941 and 1949 within four years of the beginning of the big map. And that is indeed quite a mystery considering the original diversity of the field of hopeful contenders for to be qualified for the final field. You needed to be well past retirement age so that any of the five finalists would be the oldest president ever to take the oath of office said differently. To be a true big napper you needed to have a full life sleep. What puzzles me is we shelter in place with no credible plan to regain control of our planet, our lives and our economy is what explains our anomalous selection process. I myself am not entirely certain, but I would venture a guess. I would posit that this group is characterized roughly as people who have at least some meaningful formative memory of the time before the mysterious economic transition in the early 1970s. All of the finalists could remember the Cuban Missile Crisis or the moment that they heard of the Kennedy and King assassinations and where they watched the first moon landing, if they also came of age with childhoods untouched by the diversity that followed from the 1965 Immigration Act in the United States. Are the trauma of service in Vietnam. In short, what they appear to have in common to me is that they both prospered under all three phases of the big nap and remained intellectually coherent, at least among themselves. If you think of a wealthy and reasonably equal country as akin to a family that got wealthy together from a successful family business, these are the people who saw the business prosper in their youth from their parents efforts. And when the business began to fail in the early 1970s, began to collectively sell off and mortgage the business’s remaining valuable assets to disguise the new losses as adults. So long as this class repeated the mantras as a choir that originally came from the academic experts and think tanks that were speaking through the leading newspapers. None of them had to take an excess of responsibility for ideas that could never bear full scrutiny if subjected to serious interrogation. These mantras of deregulation, globalization financialization, education, authoritative news sources central banking, immigration and consolidation. were constructed so that this group could believe that the growth and prosperity that they had experienced as young people was continuing for everyone. That is, so long as they didn’t notice the homeless encampments, the mounting student debt, the inequality, rising foreign power and diminution of national sovereignty. The problem that this now leaves us within the United States in which I believe is that good abroad is that this class is all that is left of our national coherence, and they are continuing to hold on to power well past their retirement dates. Because in a democracy, and a shared group beliefs and nonsense, and particularly self serving nonsense, will still beat an incoherent haystack of noise that nevertheless contains the missing needles of truth. And that’s where I think we are. Our seniors believe in a self serving nonsense supported by legacy sense making structures that has a measure of coherence is its major value. And this is weirdly a bipartisan coherence. President Trump the CDC, the Surgeon General the Speaker of the House, the mayor of New York, the Washington And post have all agreed to various, obviously wrong statements about this virus designed to shield our economy and our institutions from having to look at their abject failure to deal with the crisis in the face. The younger generations are habituated to the chaos of the internet, where the truth is regularly found sitting next to kitten means shitposting and chaos. Yet it was from these dark alleys and corners that the consensus was first challenged. And our younger and more alienated adults are paying attention to the fact that the establishment center was obviously lying in matters of life and death, about the efficacy of face masks the meaning of small numbers of deaths in the face of the law of exponential growth, and the very real possibility that this worldwide pandemic originated in a high security Chinese bio lab. Because the most aggressive such nonsense has become structural through what must be admitted to be an unexpectedly successful pattern of preparation. over more than four decades. Our senior leadership class can be relied upon To engage in magical thinking on just about everything in the world of policy, they are not wrong in the same way that younger people on the internet are wrong with a million different personal opinions which when aggregated seem to cancel each other out. Instead, this group is actually distinguished by their ability to close their eyes and march in a coherent and even bipartisan direction, whenever the source of their growing wealth is actually a suitably insufficiently disguised transfer from their own children, or a transfer of power to a foreign competitor, which brings us to the following generations and their great awakening. The big nap at this point is become clear to the younger generation that an enormous number of young alienated deeply indebted and underemployed millennials or Gen Xers were able to see this coming for some time. The timestamps on official tweets and newspaper filings are a matter of public record. And there’s little question that the wretched internet Menagerie trounce the experts on a global matter of life and death. I cannot believe I’m saying this, but in many cases, the cesspool that is fortune out competed the nation’s top ranking health officials and did so handled when the dreaded internet made up of supposedly untouchable trolls gadflies, tech Bros. xenophobes, grifters, edge Lords ship posters racist fascist, which is to say the basket of deplorable is beyond the control of the institutions that our betters warned us about. Easily out competed the telegenic MDS, Ivy leaguers, editorial boards, mayors and even the executive branch, the jig was finally up the need to stay within institutionally acceptable parameters of discussion function as if it was an 80 point IQ handicap. The Overton Window had become a deathtrap of defenestration into the waiting jaws of COVID. Those whose primary concern was not public health, but instead respectability protecting short term profits, or covering for our lack of preparedness ended up giving deadly advice. The final nail in the coffin and I’m on the verge of literal speech here had to be the spectacle of our Surgeon General in the Centers for Disease Control, blatantly lying by parroting The World Health organs. Which was now seemingly in Thrall to Chinese masters in telling ordinary Americans to put themselves in each other at risk of death by shooting face masks. This was apparently to cover for experts would cut corners on costs by failing to keep basic life saving medical equipment and supplies stock for just such searches. So let me leave you with a final thought. Normally, an election is a speculation as to the ability to lead. Yet we have just run an important natural experiment in leadership and the minimal leadership qualifications for the next president of the United States should obviously emerge from this unexpected exercise. Quite simply, they should be a wide collection of consistent timestamp messages beginning in late January at the latest warning of the need to prepare for a lengthy quarantine, a need to use masks in defiance of the bad advice given by the highest Health Officers of the country. A need to avoid crowds contradicting the mayors of our large cities early in the epidemic and a focus on the scientific need not to a priori exclude the real possibility of an accidental laboratory release from the biosafety level four wuan facility. The 2020 election by this line of reasoning must not be between Trump and by 28 years into a string of uninterrupted baby boomer presidents has brought us here as a matter of life and death because leadership turns out to actually matter. As loyal Americans, both men could and should simply resign honorably, as many national leaders in recent history have been forced to do, such as Chamberlain or Nixon when measured and found wanted. If this somehow has come to seem inconceivable, well, then it would be time to consider a mutiny against the entire process even to the point of becoming civilly disobedient if necessary, and clearly, somewhat paradoxically, it should never have to come to that if both men understand true leadership as they claim. After some words from our sponsors, we’ll be back with the intro to this episode with Ross Douthat.
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A few words of context, the following conversation with New York Times conservative Washington columnist, Ross Douthat and author of the decadent society how we became victims of our own success was conducted before the COVID quarantining and before Bernie Sanders had suspended his campaign, as such is interesting to listen to, in part as an unintentionally perfect example of his thesis. Here we are talking about his topic of decadence while being intentionally and self consciously ironic coughing, bubbly, with champagne flutes for effect, but not fully realizing how bizarre this would look A short time later from the perspective of national and tournament during shelter at home orders. Even though the joke is on us in some sense, it has the air when viewed on video. Have a reel of film recovered from a celebration in the Lido Deck of the USS Titanic. By way of context, I should say that I knew Ross slightly before this interview and liked him a great deal personally, despite our political differences as I found him insightful, knowledgeable about all things political and quite charming. But I thought I would still say a few words about how to view this discussion as despite my earlier acquaintance with him, you will hear that it still takes me quite a while to catch on to just how different my unexamined assumptions are from his Ross’s writing from the perspective of a conservative columnist employed as a bit of an intellectual diversifier for the Top Mainstream center left newspaper in the United States. One can think of Ross Therefore, as accepting the current political game is presented with for example, a left right spectrum and rules that are well known to those inside the beltway as he has to for his occupation. Whereas I, on the other hand, have the luxury of coming from the perspective of an outsider trying to apply first principles thinking to politics and generally finding that it fails to make any sense when used to analyze the claims of those in inside the beltway, one way of looking at Ross’s book is that it is written to whittle away at the assumptions of those who have accepted the terms of national politics as they currently stand. Yet, as I have never accepted this game, I am much more interested in his opinion as to how the insiders ever came to believe those assumptions which did not make sense to me, at least from a first principles perspective. We’re therefore coming at this from two totally different angles. Ross is trying to shock those politically minded observers who have accepted the assumptions and framework of the political analyst class into considering that those assumptions may not be true and may need to be rethought. And I’m instead seeing that his critique is generally right from first principles thinking, and I’m constantly confused by how anyone could ever have come to believe the things that he’s actually debunking. For example, Ross baby well communicating a heresy within this world if he suggests that perhaps technological innovation is not nearly as powerful of a force to drive the economy is often assumed. yet because I don’t live in that world. That to me is much closer to being a given, at least among frustrated technologists. As such, I might be much more interested in understanding what could ever have gotten that belief started among the political class when it seems self evident that only a small number of sectors have seen truly radical innovation, at least compared to historical trend lines that in the early 20th century, seem this way. His critique comes from what might be termed game acceptance within the political world. Or my view might be closer to something which would be termed game rejection. As you’ll hear in the audio, at some point, Ross gets to the idea that at least within his world, I must be counted strangely to his political rights simply because of my restriction, his perspective on immigration. It is around this moment that I despair as I start to fully realize what we were up against. The difference in our frameworks is simply too great to easily overcome. You see, I would see my support for tight labor markets as obviously a left of centre pro labor perspective. It is this kind of confusion that makes the conversation much more difficult than it would otherwise be. If only We shared a common language and inference patterns. Now, that said, we seem to agree on a lot, but we get there from two totally different places. It states sometimes referred to as being in violent agreement. As for the decadence Well, I think we can remember this period of quarantine is the only one in our lives in which there’s essentially a worldwide shortage of all FOMO. There is nothing going on anywhere. For the first time we are all but certain that we are not missing out on anything, not a great party or concert or an exotic vacation. This is a true luxury which ironically, we may never experience again. After these final words from our sponsors, we will be back for an uninterrupted conversation with Ross Douthat of the New York Times discussing the decadent society.
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Hello, do you found the portal I’m your host Eric Weinstein and today I get to sit down with none other than Ross Douthat From the New York Times op ed columnist and now author of the decade in society, Ross, welcome.
Unknown Speaker 21:05
Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.
Eric Weinstein 21:07
Good to see you again. What a great and timely book that you’ve just written. I want to get into all manner of questions with you. But let’s just begin by talking about the fact that there has been this kind of countercultural rumbling from outside the mainstream for a while that with all of the talk of dizzying progress and blinding advances in tech, that none of this is actually really true, right. And then, in fact, everything has been going in the opposite direction with this really weird narrative that runs counter to the main story, which is a very long standing story of stagnation and falling apart and decadence. And how is it that you’re seeing your book in the context of this institutional world that has been selling progress in this other other world Sort of counter institutional world, which seems to be saying, hey, we’ve had a real problem. Why was why was nobody paying attention?
Unknown Speaker 22:06
I mean, I think I see my book as trying to put together a lot of a lot of those outsider critiques into one narrative. And I think at this point we’ve, we’ve, we’ve come far enough from the total optimism of like my late teenage years, sort of late 1990s bridge to the 21st century map the human genome, everything’s gonna be great. Alan Greenspan’s figured out the economy like we’ve come far enough from that, that I think people are more receptive to the idea that things aren’t just getting better all the time. And in fact, there’s obviously a lot of catastrophism out there as well. But my feeling was, you know, there’s been a set of people on both the political right and the left in sort of weirder sometimes the weirder part It who have made arguments about economic stagnation and technological decadence that, you know, the, our friend Peter TEALS, famous, you know, we were promised flying cars and we got 140 characters line has sort of echoes in some other writers. And so the book, at least in the first part tries to tie that together with stuff from my own world, right? I’m a political columnist, I write mostly about Washington, DC and US politics, which is also pretty obviously decadent and then weave that together with demographics, sort of the decline of birth rates, the aging of the developed world, and then a little pop culture, too, because I moonlight as a movie critic. So this is an attempt, not at sort of, I think you’re right, that the sort of original intent sites have been sort of building for a while and come from a lot of different places outside the mainstream. And this is my attempt to sort of synthesize them and say, it’s not just that we have economic stagnation. It’s not just that Silicon Valley is kind of a disappointment. It’s not just that Washington doesn’t work. It’s not just that we’re getting older and nobody’s having any kids. These are all entangled, and reinforcing one another in what I’m calling decadence.
Eric Weinstein 24:28
First of all, one of my critiques of the decadence is that it’s not nearly as much fun as it’s supposed to be right? Like nobody’s nobody’s having drug fueled orgies so far as I can tell. So I want to
Unknown Speaker 24:39
work we’re gonna break Yeah,
Eric Weinstein 24:41
exactly. So we’re going to open a bottle of bubbly on the set and drink to the decadent society, if you don’t mind.
Unknown Speaker 24:46
Absolutely. And while you pop it, I will explain that. This sort of eccentricity of my definition of decadence is I basically say that the orgies would be less decadent Then what we have, that, that decadent, properly understood.
Unknown Speaker 25:07
See, involves that sound now,
Eric Weinstein 25:09
rather than popping it and try to hit the ceiling,
Unknown Speaker 25:11
right, decadent, properly understood, involves sort of torpor and, and on we and boredom and frustration. And so eras that we sort of casually think of as decadent eras of sort of excess and, you know, Jazz Age parties and so on, aren’t actually fully decadent, because they have that dynamism and sometimes that dynamism, you know, leads to what I as a Catholic would consider to decay
Eric Weinstein 25:41
and lots of Empire.
Unknown Speaker 25:42
There we go. We consider slightly immoral behaviors, but at least it’s an energy right and what we have now instead is, instead of orgies, we have online pornography instead of you know, Studio 64. We have our equivalence of algebra. So much, right? We have sort of medications designed us designed to sort of lull us to sleep. So that’s, that’s where my definition of decadent is a little, a little more eccentric, but I think actually a little more accurate and truer to our time than just the, you know, Nero’s Rome. definition
Eric Weinstein 26:19
is interesting. Cheers. Cheers. I mean, one of the things that when you when you live in San Francisco, you rub shoulders with the tech polyamory community. Yes. And the tech polyamory community is very involved with rules. I mean, just rules upon rules. And so it’s weird that you could take something that is ostensibly hot as polyamory, and you could lead us as extensively,
Unknown Speaker 26:46
extensively as doing a lot of work.
Eric Weinstein 26:48
Yeah, well, in fact, there was a woman who wrote a book called I think, plays well in groups about group sex and she was a PhD sex researcher. My recollection and what she said is That there is no place in the world that is holding an unbridled, unrestrained orgies. And in fact, it’s always legislated. And so in some sense, even the illusion of what true decadence might look like, is not necessarily it doesn’t fit with the facts as we know it. Know that, you know, you bring up a lot of shadings of the concept of decadence. And I think one of the things that’s very interesting, so people imagine that cultural conservatives would be far away from the concept of, of decadence and calling for greater vigor. But in fact, I would say that very often it’s within the very restricted communities that you have the highest levels of vigor. In fact, there’s something to play off of, there’s this sort of the power and the dynamism of the structure that has been built up and then the dynamism of the individual that has to wrestle with that weight. And that power and so for example, heretics in the Catholic Church, you know, of course, are famous famously dynamic,
Unknown Speaker 28:04
right? Yeah. And there’s always a there’s always a certain ambiguity in Catholicism about whether certain extreme figures are heretics or saints, right. And so, a healthy, a healthy religious culture will probably produce a lot of figures who are in that sort of liminal space. Right. And, and then the church, if the church is working as an institution, over the next hundred years, it’ll sort of sift and say, okay, that person went too far and they were a heretic. But that person over there was Francis of Assisi or Joan of Arc. And, you know, they were they were actually just extreme models of sainthood. But it’s tricky. I mean, I think that I think that under, you know, under conditions of decadence, you can often find religious communities that sort of manifest certain virtues. Choose that the decadent society as a whole doesn’t have. But the question is, can those be more than just preservationist? enterprises, right? This is something as a Catholic that I wrestle with a lot like, can you have a religious faith that doesn’t just sort of preserve goods have, you know, sort of order and belief in transcendence and optimism about the future, but actually can see the wider culture with those with those ideas, even if you aren’t winning converts and full. And I think that’s part of what tradition traditional religion has failed to do in certain ways. In the last 50 years, this would have lost a lot of ground after the 60s and then, you know, built some moderately successful bunkers or sort of created some counter cultures. But meanwhile, the rest of society sort of went its own way.
Eric Weinstein 29:55
Yeah, I mean, I think back to Paul Simon talking about the radical priests come to get him released. Me and Julio Danvers schoolyard. Of course, Tom Lehrer famously satirize the need for modernity in the church with the Vatican rag, if you recall that song.
Unknown Speaker 30:08
Eric Weinstein 30:11
you know, I think that there is a good argument to be made that we almost should expect the renewal once we’ve accepted the decadent hypothesis to come out of traditional structures, in part because there’s strength and coherence that comes out of even an oppressive structure. And I think for example, to the photo that I’ve used for my youtube channel cover, is the ceiling of gout is Lissa gratify me in in Barcelona, have you been to this church?
Unknown Speaker 30:45
I haven’t been I, I know it. Well.
Eric Weinstein 30:48
I mean, it’s not like nothing on this planet. The ceiling of that church is just a wonder of the world and I think about how modern it is and how completely daring and How it’s all of course in the service of God as an as a concept, whether you believe in God or not, that the goudy undertook this project, and it even looks different from his wildly divergent projects. It’s just separate and apart. Should we expect that our religious traditions that are most traditional and conservative members might be the source of our new dynamism is completely bizarre as that might sound?
Unknown Speaker 31:28
I mean, I’d like to think that right, I think that there is definitely a sense in which there’s some kind of link, I think, between religious and scientific dynamism. As much as obviously, religious institutions can try and you know, choke off scientific progress in various ways, and as much as science can tend towards a sort of reductive arrogance that excludes religion. At the same time, both science and religion persists. seed from the view that the universe, the cosmos has secrets that can yield themselves to human beings or that can be bestowed on human beings by revelation and that there is some link some deep link between the human minds capacities and the order and structure of the universe. And I don’t get this is sort of unprovable. But I don’t think it’s a coincidence that if you go back into the chart, the history of the space program, you can see it bound up in a particular kind of like, post the sort of last great era of mainline American Protestantism before and sort of dissolved itself in the 60s and 70s. The last sort of the last fusion of sort of Protestant faith and scientific enterprise, right where you’ve got, you know, Buzz Aldrin taking communion on the moon, and they’re reading the beginning of Genesis as they orbit the Earth and so on. And, again, I don’t know exactly how How I don’t know how you get back to that because the the difficulty is that the religious cultures today unless they’re very bunkered down tend to be themselves I think decadent like, you know in Catholicism, Catholicism in that period, when Sagrada Familia was being built, basically, you know, from the 20s to the 60s, produces an incredible amount of dynamic art and intellectual work and so on, like, you know, most smart, bookish Catholics today. Start out reading, you know, evil and war on Gk Chesterton and writers from this moment when Catholicism was sort of dynamically wrestling with modernity, and all of that sort of culminates in the Second Vatican Council, right and the period of great debate and modernization, but then from then on, Catholicism has just been stuck in this internal debate that I’ve written about a lot like it’s you know, I obviously care about it a great deal, but it’s this debate about how much the church can adapt to the sexual revolution and the modern world that has been, you know, in basically the same place with the same battle line since about 1971 or so.
Eric Weinstein 34:13
But sex has changed a great deal since then.
Unknown Speaker 34:15
Well, sex has declined, maybe since then. I mean, I think but So tell me, tell me, how do you think sex has changed since 1970?
Eric Weinstein 34:27
Oh, well, just let’s go through easy ones. I mean, certainly the appearance of HIV in the early 1980s. And the broad consciousness at least, I would say that the prevalence of the apps commodifying ourselves in each other into swipeable assets, and the singles bar pervading every aspect of our world rather than being some threshold that must be crossed. In fact, that singles bar is kept in in the pockets of young people everywhere. I think The economic challenges being faced by Millennials are probably if you look at age differences in procreative pairings My guess is that they’ve blown out. I don’t know if the data is there yet, but I bet we’ll see that soon. I don’t think that we understand the negative effects of pornography. On the sex drive, I believe that it rewires the mind to believe in a world that does not actually exist in which a low status person who’s spending way too much time on the tube sites is going to end up with the brain of dingus con thinking that they have that 10s of thousands of partners that everything that animated the old sexualities, and I think that that changed with the pill, a great deal of change with certain economic and you know, war casualties in the in the 20s with the flappers. It’s very dynamic and it keeps repeating bonding two different issues. And I think one of the biggest issues has been that women and men have been regarding each other differently in the office than they would in the home and or in the dating environment. So that courtship is probably facing the problem that a woman might not want to compete with a particular kind of man in the office. But she may wish to be courted by one after hours. This is of course, heterosexual heteronormative women usual boilerplate yet? I think for the purposes of this discussion, one of the things that I think has gone terribly wrong, is that in our eagerness, which I think is good to embrace non traditional families, we’ve neglected the workhorse which is the male female hetero sexual procreative pair. And the I worry that we’ve spent too much time on things that aren’t that And therefore have neglected the fact that that structure has a long history and a future in a way that we’re just beginning to experiment with homosexual couples having having children under the, you know, societal sanction marriage, which is fascinating and interesting and I’m for it, but it’s, I don’t think we’re thinking enough about courtship, male female dynamics and how to get back to a procreative orientation. So just to close this riff out, one of the things that I’ve noticed is that as of now, every human being that has ever been born, has spent time in a in a woman’s womb. And when you talk about the need for society to renew itself, it must pass through women. Until that changes through technology. Many women now say you were taking an inappropriate interest in my ovaries and in my womb. Having an interest in society continuing, and how dare you say anything about female sexuality, which I’m just going to say, is absurd. Like society has a right to continue males and females to think and worry about this without being told you have strayed into exclusively female territory. And Caitlyn Flanagan I think had the best comment on this at least that I’ve heard. And I don’t know if it’s original term, but I assume that it is. And she said, in the modern era, matters of sexuality proceed entirely on female terms. I thought, Wow, that’s a really good insight and it’s also a terrible state of affairs.
Unknown Speaker 38:43
So do you I mean, I, I think you argue with Caitlyn Flanagan at your peril. I think we all do. We all do. I certainly do. I tried to but i i agree. I agreed with almost everything you’ve said up until I think what I I think what’s striking is that I think what she’s describing is in the official rhetoric of the culture. That’s true. But at the same time, the expectations around courtship sex and dating, I think are often set by what would have 20 years ago been considered a traditionally male script, right? So if you look at sort of, you know, female expectations versus male expectations of how long do you want to date before you have sex? And how many partners do you want to have before you get married and so on? The expectations of the culture look more like the expectations of men than the expectations of women?
Eric Weinstein 39:42
Hard to say? Yeah, I don’t. I don’t really.
Unknown Speaker 39:47
I mean, certainly when I when, you know, I’m now 40. So talking about when I was in college is maybe a ridiculous thing.
Eric Weinstein 39:55
Well, considering that I’m 54 I don’t want to bring I
Unknown Speaker 39:58
don’t bring young man here right. So That that was sort of, I feel like that was often how it felt that, that you were simultaneously proclaiming that, you know, you had a certain kind of sexual liberation that was necessary for the liberation of women. But the script of sexual liberation belong to, you know, the sort of Hugh Hefner, basically style, right, where the goal is to just maximize your number of pairings and conquests and so on.
Eric Weinstein 40:32
I think that these I don’t think that men I think that neither men nor women are well served by in some sense, getting what they appear to want. Right, and then our job is to frustrate each other in productive ways that makes something possible that would not have happened otherwise. So for example, but I believe that many Men are called to higher purpose by high female standards. A woman who has very high self regard, saying, if you want to even have a chance with me, I’m going to expect that you really clear some pretty high bars. And then men say, Okay, how high and it’s very tough to make that work in the area of the app. So that the, you know, of course, the reason for this is biological, much more than it is sociological, which is, if we’re going to have a child, and Am I right, you’re approaching number, we’re approaching number four, approaching number four. So as you would know, better than than even myself. You have a period where you may be incapacitated due to giving birth, where you want to know that somebody is going to be capable of shouldering a fair amount of burden so makes a tremendous amount of sense for women to be very choosy judges have their male partners if they’re going to give birth. And I think the way in which we leave divorced, sexuality and procreation, you don’t realize how far they’re divorced until you start to bring up babies in a conversation around sexuality. And very often, it seems like nobody’s ever even thought that the two are connected.
Unknown Speaker 42:21
I think the other, the other dynamic that feeds into this, it also is what you might call the sort of polarization of the sexes, right? Where if it’s true that in certain ways men and women by demanding things of each other, bring out the best in each other, if you get into sociological dynamics where you have dramatically skewed gender ratios, then they end up bringing out the worst in each other. Right. So you so if you and I think this explains some of the sort of polarization between I mean, I guess you could call them masculine nests and feminists, right and sort of internet discourse and so on. But if you go to a lot of politically liberal spaces now, especially college campuses, they have gender ratios skewed dramatically towards women. And under those conditions, men in certain ways, it’s you know, it’s a good dating market for men. So men don’t have incentives to behave well.
Eric Weinstein 43:25
The good dating market for men may be a bad
Unknown Speaker 43:27
why exactly is a bad one for the male character, which encourages men to behave badly, which then confirms women in low upping their low opinions men. And then if you move to sort of more conservative zones, that have more men than women, which is certainly true of conservative journalism. Then the opposite obtains where, you know, you can sort of build up a kind of toxic misogyny because men feel like the women they’re encountering are not are not treating them well, and there’s clearly some kind of breakdown down all across the western world and that in, in East Asia to and it varies from culture to culture, but in how the sexes meet, and marry and pair off. And that, above all, is what seems to be driving, you know, some of the demographic decline that I talked about in the book that, you know, if you look at places that have the most generous of parental benefits and you know, everything that a couple could need to, you know, have have the arrival of their first child be smooth in places like Finland or parts of Scandinavia, you still see declines in marriage and, and coupling that then means that you never even get to the point where you can avail yourself of the amazing socialist pronatal ism. But the the other the other thing, though, is to I think, if we’re thinking about sort of signs of reasons for optimism, I think there’s been a shift At least amongst some people on the left over the last five or 10 years, where you’re more likely to have an awareness that this is a problem, and you’re less likely to have people sort of should just shut down the conversation and say, you know, well, if no one’s having babies, that’s just female choices. And you have to respect that. I think it’s a little there. I just don’t
Eric Weinstein 45:24
I think the dynamism of every one of these extreme viewpoints is dimming. And so you, they’re all still inhabited. But we now realize that none of these things work. Like you can’t go back to the 1950s. You can’t really embrace the apps for dating as being a great thing. You’re pretty sure that men and women both have to be in the office, you’re pretty sure that there are aspects of men and women being in the same office aren’t working very well either. And we’re sort of just floating around, not knowing what we could try and Next that might work. We don’t even have like new ideas that we’re playing with where people are like animated Hey, that there’s while
Unknown Speaker 46:07
we have the molecules, right. The polyamory the polyamory folks are playing around with, you know, that fad as a solution to some of these. I
Eric Weinstein 46:18
don’t see the same optimism in the polyamory community.
Unknown Speaker 46:21
No, I mean, I think I don’t think anything’s more decks and polyamory so I’m not. I’m not being completely serious. A lot of committee meetings. A lot of it’s a lot of it’s a lot of committee meetings. So Ross,
Eric Weinstein 46:33
what are we excited about? Like, to be honest, I just don’t share the sense of futility that the society in which I live seems to be suffused at the moment. Do you feel Do you feel downhearted I feel downhearted every time I plug in with it. But every time I divorce myself from it, I think about all the amazingly cool stuff I want to do.
Unknown Speaker 46:57
Yeah, I don’t feel so I’ve been working on this book. Oddly For a long time, I started it about seven years ago and got sidetracked first by an illness and then by the need to write a book about Pope Francis. So having that kind of long time horizon means that decadence, I think that we are still decadent, I but I think our decadence is more interesting, and there are more manifestations of discontent with it than there were when Mitt Romney and Barack Obama were contending for the presidency. Right. So I write about politics and political arguments are much more interesting today than they were five years ago. Really?
Eric Weinstein 47:36
Yes. Okay. So that to me,
Unknown Speaker 47:39
well, so I’m on the right. So so well, let’s say seven or eight years ago, seven or eight years ago, the view the view on the right that, you know, the the sort of official view was that socialism was bad, and Barack Obama was a socialist, and the only thing you needed to understand was the eternal Catechism of limited Government and Ronald Reagan. And you know, and this sort of peaked in certain ways with the Romney campaign for president, which was just an incredibly boring recitation of pro business talking points and warnings about deficit spending. And here we are eight years later, and we’re having this tremendously interesting clash between radically different conceptions of what American conservatism should do with a whole sort of group of populist intellectuals arguing for industrial policy and Family Policy and all kinds of things. And then another group of you know, sort of defenders of the older defenders of Reagan conservatism attacking them right back. And then sort of Wilder and Stranger Things in my own world of Catholic conservatives, you have people arguing that, you know, the 19th century Pope’s were right about liberalism, and we have to go back and look at what they had to say to understand the present moment. So there’s a there’s a lot more ferment Right, then there was eight years ago as an internal
Eric Weinstein 49:03
right of center discussion.
Unknown Speaker 49:05
Yes, it well. So again, I still think it’s decadent in the sense that it still seems like one, it still seems constrained by the larger decadence of the political system so that even if you elect a Donald Trump or even if in four years, you elected, you know, a Josh Hawley or some avatar of the new conservatism, they would still struggle to get anything done. So I still think, decadent rules. But I think you have more discontent and more creativity in the responses to it. I at least among people in my political world, and so that that it doesn’t, you know, it, it doesn’t fundamentally change my diagnosis, but it makes it a more interesting moment to be writing and arguing than it was when Paul Ryan was the face of the Republican Party.
Eric Weinstein 49:56
Definitely. So in other words, there was this there was Was this boring layer that made these topics uninteresting by virtue of the fact that the boring people were at the top saying things that were very general are very,
Unknown Speaker 50:13
or things that were true about 1979. Right. Part of the problem with decadence is that you have this eternal return to the debate to the 1970s, as though nothing has changed since and so now, there’s a sense on the right, that you can’t just go back to 1979 that you actually have to have novelty and innovation and policy response. And that’s good. That’s interesting. I’m for that. Okay.
Eric Weinstein 50:40
So and what do you see on the left, because I’ll be honest, being on the left, I just see people I don’t want to talk to
Unknown Speaker 50:47
Well, you’re, you know, you’re being gradually tugged rightward to where the interesting arguments are happening bullshit. Now, You don’t think so?
Eric Weinstein 50:55
No, I think you’re being tugged, leftward. Sir. I think that you’re talking about the need to innovate. And you’re talking about the need for progress because you’re waking up, I mean, I’m going to overdo it a
Unknown Speaker 51:04
little bit. Now overdo it, because you’re waking up to the idea that you can’t actually have a conservative movement that’s conservative anything that just, it’s like a shark that won’t move forward. It’s not gonna it’s not gonna work. So I think that could be, but then in that case, as you were saying earlier, maybe the right because it still has some rootedness in traditional forms. I mean, I’m not sure it does. But let’s say for the sake of argument that has some rootedness in traditional forms hasn’t completely given up on the human past, which I think is a danger for the left that you sort of lose all memory in this sort of just passing judgments on the idea that everything before 1960 was terrible. The right therefore, as it moves left becomes more attractive to a certain kind of a certain kind of, you know, future neoconservative like yourself,
Eric Weinstein 51:55
right? You’ve got to be kidding.
Unknown Speaker 51:57
I’m maybe I’m kidding. I mean, I’m not sure. I’m not sure how It fits together because I think there’s some, there’s some you know, we were we were talking about this idea or I was talking about this idea that the religious impulse and the scientific typic impulse can be fitted back together and in political in politics that would take the form of some kind of conservative impulse and some kind of progressive impulse being fitted together. But how you actually do that? It’s a, you know, well, a very uncertain question.
Eric Weinstein 52:28
So let’s, that’s a completely insane thing to say, let’s take a step back, because I think it’s really interesting. Here’s my game, but as to why they are going back together. The first problem is that science has become very decadent and very vulnerable because it now has developed this kind of fetishization of incremental steps and doing everything through an institution that is got speed bumps everywhere to make sure that all credit is diffused. Nothing large seems to want to happen. And that careful science is in favor and romantic science is out. That creates a huge opportunity for anyone willing to potentially play Russian Roulette with their career. So if you want to swing for the fences to use another metaphor a little less gory, maybe you can do something briefly at the beginning of your career, if you get lucky, and who’s going to take that risk, it’s going to be in general people who believe in something larger than a career. And the group that I see that is, I know that they were out there and very surprising is religious scientists, religious scientists fall into sort of two main categories, one that allow their religion to doctor their science, and these people do not. I don’t want to get close to them because it just makes for bad science and Bad Religion. There’s another group that says, You know what, I will play by the rules of science but my religion motivates me and informs me As to what might be possible. So I’m not going to pretend that things that are true that aren’t true are the reverse. I am, however, going to take a stab at things that I am curious about. And if I have to pay for it with my career and my reputation, I am filled with the spirit of trying to honor something greater than myself. Those people are fascinating to me. And I’ve met a few of them now. And they’re taking big risks with their career poking around at places where scientific consensus has formed. I mean, this is very particular in biology. So roughly speaking, my own orientation is that I would say I believe in the theory of selection, and I don’t believe in the instantiation of the theory of selection, particularly around random mutation. I believe that what happened is we had such a need to stop the Jesus smugglers, which is my terminology for people trying to bring that in. Yeah, at the door. That the idea was let’s just pretend that we actually know what the mechanism isms of selection are and so as a result, we hardened evolutionary theory into a bulwark against Jesus smugglers. And that Bulwark is in fact retarding scientific progress within the field. But nobody can even have that thought, because it’s seen as a great achievement to make sure that no, no Jesus smugglers have gotten through the bowl
Unknown Speaker 55:21
right? There are no gaps for God, there are no gaps
Eric Weinstein 55:23
for your gods, right? The idea is that you may have to introduce a gap, somebody may try to put a god there, and then you may fill in that gap with science later. But the idea of potentially having a period of time where there’s a God and in a gap that is opened up is is anathema to a particular generation of evolutionary theorists as an example. Same thing happens in cosmology where the cosmological impulse to understand well, where did we come from, and what is this place? Maybe more animated by people who are willing to take a pay cut to study whatever They may view as, you know, the Lord’s toenail clippings or whatever it is because it has clues about the nature of reality. Maybe somebody who doesn’t believe in God is going to be less animated by that. And she has a position at Goldman Sachs.
Unknown Speaker 56:17
That’s a very optimistic perspective. I like no, I like it, obviously. I mean, let’s drink. I let’s, let’s let’s, let’s drink to that. I mean, it’s interesting. I think about this a lot in
Unknown Speaker 56:32
Unknown Speaker 56:35
because I’ve had Lyme disease for the last four or five years. Yep. And this is the subject of my next book after this one. So you know, I shouldn’t talk about it too much. You can have me back but when you have Lyme disease is famously a famously controversial condition, where you have sort of a formal CDC consensus that says, you know, this treatment works. And if it doesn’t work for you, then you have something that we can’t define as Lyme disease. Right. And so that has interned bread and tons of experimentation around the edges, some of it among actual MDS who are brilliant, some of it among you know, cranks and quacks who are exploiting people, and some of it among amateurs who are the, you know, chiropractors or, you know, people who were just to just got sick themselves like myself and started experimenting. And what’s interesting is that you can see in that when you spend a certain amount of time in that world, you can see the reasons why official science doesn’t, you know, wants to shut that down. Because that world really is there are plenty of people, you know, who are quacks or or more. It’s not it’s less that they’re quacks it’s more that they’ll believe anything, right? Like, they’ll give you an herb one day that has, you know, a few studies behind it for its efficacy. They’ll tell you about chemtrails. The next Yeah, and maybe chemtrails are real. I don’t want to judge too much. But my my sense is that, you know, or they I’m I’ve done a lot of reading on the vaccine literature and I think the anti vaxxers are wrong and the evidence for this sort of strong anti Vax position is bad and that kids parents should vaccinate their kids and the world of sort of, you know, medical experimentation and weird stuff is filled with anti vaxxers. But I also you know, you also gain when you have a weird chronic condition a certain sympathy for, you know, people who end up in those kind of weird anti establishment
Eric Weinstein 58:41
position the establishment weirdly breeds the some amount of nuttiness in the other community. For example, if I say you should definitely vaccinate your children vaccine vaccines are remarkably safe. That’s very different than my saying you must vaccinate your children vaccines are 100% safe. This is settled science. There’s this extra little move that I sometimes see in the establishment, which is to try to say again, there will be no gaps, there will be no place for you to make your argument. We have studied vaccines vaccines are safe, full stop, period, the end.
Unknown Speaker 59:15
Well, the trick with vaccines is that they there’s a few in between. I think the view of the establishment is really, vaccines are not 100% safe, but nonetheless, you must vaccinate your kids, that that society must you must take the very slight risk of side effects for the sake of herd immunity. Okay, but these people don’t want to say that
Eric Weinstein 59:40
knowledge. That’s what I’m trying to say, which is that when I speak about climate, or when I speak about vaccines, or when I speak about trade, when I speak about financial risk, or when I speak about the adjustments to free speech or the evolutionary the molecular basis of evolutionary theory in all of these, a lot of that’s a lot of subject but there was a reason I just did that. Because if I spoke only about vaccines, there’s a group of people who are poised. Right? They’re gonna pounce the instance you say anything about vaccines. They’re the either the group, how dare you support people who wish to tell us what we must inject into our own children? versus how dare you erode the confidence that our medical experts know exactly what they’re doing and asking for 100% coverage. And so in that story, if I didn’t say here are 10 different examples, or whatever it is, it’s the same. It’s the same situation over and over again. No gaps is how we were is how one group wishes to fight the cranks and the others. And as a result, they become cranky and nutty themselves. It’s one impulse the impulse to say all gaps must be plugged, there can be no cavities. We must have a filling Every single location, that thing is completely deranging us, because in the internet age, all it takes is one or two smart people who, you know, for whatever spectrum a reasons don’t want to go along with that. And they say, look, you know, what, what about the following things and then the person next move is, well, that’s a small effect. And please don’t drag that in, in the public sphere. That’s, uh, you know, if you want to settle that in the seminar room, then the next counter move to that is, Oh, I didn’t understand there’s an esoteric and there’s an exoteric perspective, and you want me to lie to the public and keep the truth for the experts. We’ve changed and this I think this has to do again, with your decadent society, the phone rewrote the rules, where now you can’t hold a private expert discussion about these things different from the public discussion, because somebody is going to connect the two.
Unknown Speaker 1:01:53
I mean, I think this applies. It definitely applies to political debates, right where the The sensibility there’s a sensibility in the political establishment, which is much, also weakened, clearly compared to when I first started writing the book, that the threat the threat from any kind of the threat from the challengers, the threat from the critics of the system is so grave that you have to as you say, fill in the cracks first, defeat, defeat the enemy, and then we can get back to having an argument in a conversation and a lot of it means a lot of the divide over a figure like Trump comes down to whether you think just the essential problem in the West right now is decadence, which I argue it is or whether it’s, you know, crisis basically decadent, decadent or fascism. Right. And so, and this I think we’re sorry, tell me
Eric Weinstein 1:02:56
how this maps because the left blames everything on Trump.
Unknown Speaker 1:03:00
But the left doesn’t blame everything on Trump. The left blames everything on Crete that, that Trump is a manifestation of a larger phenomenon of, of a return of fascism. And this, but it’s also this the center, not not the sort of Bernie Sanders folks, but the sort of, you know, Washington Think Tank world sort of centrist establishment buys into that. And he sometimes even buys into it more than the left, right. The left, for instance, was not that excited about the Russia hysteria. That was a paranoia of the center that was built around, I think, a version of what you described happening with evolutionary theory where there was this sense that Trump was so bad, and he was a stalking horse for putinism and putinism is fascism and it’s the 1930s and you can’t give fascism an inch because if you do, it’s the Holocaust. And if you think that way, then you will really do have every reason to be, you know, sort of been eating I mean, the gallops?
Eric Weinstein 1:04:04
Look. I’m terribly frightened about Trump. I remain terribly frightened about time, I didn’t think that he was likely going to blow up the world as some of my left of center colleagues believe. But I believe that it’s a continuing risk to have somebody that non correlated with anything else. Yes, with that much power. Right. Right. And the question of what Trump represents bothers me that we’re, you know, three plus years into this thing. And there, we cannot have a sensible discussion about Trump. every conversation I have about Trump sucks.
Unknown Speaker 1:04:40
So what do you think let’s try and have a sensible conversation. What does Trump represent?
Eric Weinstein 1:04:45
He represents a superposition of different things. He represents the ability to talk about issues and completely wrong way of talking about those issues. For example, we needed to talk about restricting immigration, and he put it in a frame so that we feel safe When we think about it, what he’s actually saying, we needed to talk about China, he raises the issue, right? But the fact is, it doesn’t come across as if he’s doing this in a very sensible fashion. We actually need to talk about restricting some of our foreign adventures but not to become really isolationist because we do have a special duty and we have to use actually the World War Two, post World War Two power that we were given for the foreseeable future. So I think that there are all sorts of aspects of Trump, which deranged and confused every further discussion because you can’t, if you believe that he is this existential risk, your thought is, how do I make sure that nothing is acknowledged? Yep. And if I don’t think that he’s an existential risk, I’m really not paying attention because he didn’t come in with a large cadre of people who share his ideology and understand him that could act as a result. straining foresees a singular phenomenon is the first genius who figured out how you could actually oppose the entire establishment and still get through. Right? Actually, you know, I mean, I had on a Hachi in here. And we had an interesting discussion which I like her phraseology, it’s sort of a common point is that he is an absolute genius, just not a political one and her point of view, from her point of view, he’s a performance artist. So if we wanted to have a great conversation about Trump, it would be a superposition about all of the things that he was very forward in terms of his ability to get done, which is to break through over windows get things raised, the damage he did, the issues that he raised, and the inability to have a conversation after him, which attempts to actually come together and say, Look, how are we? How are we going to take this information in if I can give it a second example just so we have another data point. I think I’m gonna have James O’Keefe sit in on the portal. I don’t like his methods and he took exception to the fact that I said I don’t like his methods. He wishes to defend them. The reason I bring up James O’Keefe is that I’ve watched stories and tried to help break stories before James O’Keefe ever got his hands on. And I watched the wall the screen the thing that stops which I’ve called the disk, the distributed idea suppression complex stops new ideas. That disk is something that he is breaking through and every story that appears with Project Veritas comes with a little post it note on the back, which says this appeared first in Project Veritas, therefore it may be safely discounted by all major outlets. Right? And so there’s a key question about what is the danger of letting the truth go through the James O’Keefe door, if that is in fact an excuse for all major news media outlets to ignore it. Same thing we’re seeing about Trump were ignoring the fact that he won hearts and minds The problem starts in my opinion, not from your side of the aisle, but from my side of the aisle. This supposedly moderate Washington Think Tank class is anything but this is sort of a completely debauch D natured group of people who these are my friends, man.
Unknown Speaker 1:08:21
They’re not so bad,
Eric Weinstein 1:08:22
get better friends. No, they’re just not good. They’re not smart. And you know, the thing that I find amazing, of course, is that nobody in your world really wants to talk too much to people in my world. It’s like, it’s this is an insular group. And if you just look at democrat Democratic Party strategy in the 2020 elections, it took you three years to come up with this, you moron. I mean, how dumb Can you be? It’s like an epidemic of
Unknown Speaker 1:08:54
stoop. But this is Yeah, and this is again why Trump has made things more interesting on the right Because on the right, you know, people don’t believe in the strategist anymore, like in 2016. You know, I’m, I’m a newspaper columnist, I don’t run elections for a living. I don’t, you know, I don’t go out and try and I don’t run campaigns. And so I had a certain deference to the sort of strategist and consultant class who explained all the 17 reasons why Trump couldn’t win the presidency. I don’t understand once once that you don’t understand the difference. I mean, I mean, you have to show Well, why I mean,
Eric Weinstein 1:09:32
I mean, this is the thing. I don’t get you several times, you’ve made the same point, which is the optimism of the late 1990s, let’s say or the idea that
Unknown Speaker 1:09:39
I don’t think you I don’t think I was deferential to that. It’s more a sort of practice there. It’s more a sort of practical issue. If somebody comes in and you know, their trade is brain surgery, and I’m watching brain surgery performed and they’re telling me, this is what’s going to happen and I am not a brain surgeon. Then I’m going to have a a certain level of deference to them. So someone who has run a campaign and tells me something, again, this is pre 2016, and tells me this is how the campaign’s likely to go, you know, just by virtue of their tradecraft, you know, and the fact that that was how the 2012 campaign had sort of vindicated the view that, you know, you would have eccentric outsiders, you know, sort of michelle bachman or Herman Cain, and they would rise and fall but basically, the establishment would sort of would win through, you know, you’re always conditioned by the last election that you’ve watched. Anyway, whether I was right or wrong, I was clearly wrong in the event and But since then, there’s no republican consultant class any more than anyone defers to or imagined has any, you know, any grasp on what’s going on in politics. So everyone is just sort of forming their own opinions without that filter of expertise. And that, again, makes I think makes the debate more Interesting. And if Sanders had won, which, as of this taping, he appears less than likely to do maybe something similar would have happened on the Democratic side. But the victory of Biden is much more of a victory for what in the book I call sustainable decadence. Basically the view that, you know, things aren’t that bad, they could be worse. And so keep doing what we’re doing.
Eric Weinstein 1:11:22
Assume for the moment that Biden were to win. Yeah, the nomination and get transferred by Trump.
Unknown Speaker 1:11:30
Okay, that’s a strong assumption. That’s not my current assumption. But I’ll make this I don’t know what’s going
Eric Weinstein 1:11:35
to happen. It’s certainly one of the major parts. It’s one of the more important branches of the decision tree. Okay. Yeah. So even if somebody is watching this five years from now, right, and they know that this doesn’t happen, I would have to admit that this is a major leg of the decision tree. Now, my claim is is that whoever these goddamn people are in the Democratic Party. Will not wake up even from that. There is no way of awakening them because they cannot become different than that which they are. And what they are is a denatured class that cannot think in the terms of the moment. They see things through realities that are screened. They’re highly socialized, highly fabricated, like a kind of a permanent delusional class.
Unknown Speaker 1:12:32
Yeah, I don’t I don’t think that the people who run joe biden’s campaign are the people who ran Hillary Clinton’s campaign would wake up after that kind of defeat, and sort of be the change in the democratic party that needs to happen. I think you get change through crisis, defeat, revolution, etc. Right. So so you you don’t have change in the Democratic Party until someone runs Someone who is not part of that class runs a successful primary campaign and forces, the, you know, forces the rest of the party to adapt to new realities. Well, in that sense, the Republican Party is, in certain ways ahead of the adaptive curve by having had this kind of trumpian experience, although that being said, in the other branch of the decision trading, if Biden thumps Trump Yep, there will be lots and lots of people in republican Washington, most Republican senators who will say to themselves, you know, everything was fine with our party. Trump got lucky. And, and we will, you know, we will sort of have have a restoration under Nikki Haley in 2024. So the, the power to sort of return to your diluted establishment thinking remains even after as disruptive and event is Trump,
Eric Weinstein 1:13:55
but then as some assume that in 2028 we have I’m different. I mean, I guess the objection that I have is, who are these experts? And what kind of a way is this to draw inference from data points? It just Washington seems smart about itself in a weird way, and dumb about life. It seems like people, people very often keep very careful track of which staffer on the hill move from here to there and what is now possible and who did what mechanism parliamentary procedure. And this is not really where the action is, the action is, is that we’re in an unsustainable situation having to do with technological technology and growth. The fact that more people don’t believe in a world after they die. And so it’s very difficult to get people to make crazy sacrifices that have always propelled us forward. We’re not willing to keep the stories of our heroes, who actually brought us here. We’ve sort of developed this kind of terminal Like the anti Natal list perspective, right, where people are saying Why should I have kids? why should anybody be concerned that anyone have kids white? Why is it a bad thing? If our, if our species stops, something has gone, like wildly haywire? And I don’t understand, in some sense, the sway that the experts have so assumed by the experts. So
Unknown Speaker 1:15:21
where are you talking about? We’re talking to each and we’re talking about political campaigns. So he’s right. So the problem is, so in political campaigns, on the one hand, at the national level, you have, I think, a manifestation of all the trends you’re describing, which, and people feel them and therefore are open to disruptive candidates, be it a Trump, or Bernie Sanders, or whoever comes along in 2028. But most politicians, 97% of politicians are not being elected in a national environment. They’re being elected in states and localities that are intended polarized and gerrymandered and where the goal is to effectively, you know, run a campaign peg to your particular base with a certain kind of fundraising apparatus that raises the money you need. And nobody who’s coming out of that world, be they, the people who run the campaigns are the people who run for office have any immediate political incentive to sink on the scale that I think we both agree we should be thinking. So they’re about, you know, I’ve been arguing that there’s this fascinating republican conservative debate going on. But the truth is, if you went to the republicans in the United States Senate, there were about two and a half to three and a half Republican senators who are invested in this debate. And so the hope for the future of the Republican Party is that one of those senators or some other figure from out, you know, some other figure from outside as Trump was from outside can sort of come along. And harness the moment but most of the people in DC aren’t engaged at the level where we’re trying to have this conversation. They’re engaged at a level of, you know, I’m trying to get my boss re elected to the Senate from Wisconsin, which is just a different, it’s a different game.
Eric Weinstein 1:17:17
Still don’t understand to be blunt, and I don’t mean to be difficult. I guess the way I see it is,
Unknown Speaker 1:17:22
I mean, I, you know, I don’t fully understand it myself. I just write about it, which is not, you know,
Eric Weinstein 1:17:27
Unknown Speaker 1:17:28
So I’ve made I mean, who were who were, who are the experts? the think tank experts then are trying to, you know, achieve a set of policy goals that were sort of created 30 or 40 years ago, but under our system, you never actually achieve those policy goals. So you can go on champion like like it Republicans have been art like the the to go back to the sort of the world of 10 years ago, Republicans have been arguing for the flat tax for as long as I’ve been alive, right. We will never past the flat tax for 17 different reasons, therefore, it becomes just this sort of thing where you, you know, you sort of cycle through arguments for it and arguments against it, it has no relationship to policy reality, Medicare for all might become the same thing on the Democratic side. And then the experts are maybe they’re denatured because they’re engaging in rhetorical arguments with each other that don’t have any bearing why legislation
Eric Weinstein 1:18:27
Why does the flat text discussion not stop? Why is it an intellectual collection point?
Unknown Speaker 1:18:35
Um, I think because it it has a combination of fitting a certain kind of right of center American idea of justice. So it taps into some piece of part of the American Conservative worldview that’s very powerful. And because the it’s one small manifestation of the way in which the The sort of genuine upheavals of the 60s and 70s, then got put on autopilot as the baby boom generation just sort of aged and remain dominant. Right. So it might be that the flat tax finally disappears when the grover norquist generation of conservative operatives gets too old to have influence anymore,
Eric Weinstein 1:19:20
right. There’s that. But there’s another weird thing that I just don’t understand. So for example, let’s imagine that we start hearing a new kind of wave of discussion out of Washington about labor shortages. Mm hmm. Which is, what is the best way of addressing the nation’s serious labor shortage in science, technology, and engineering? Right, and then you’ll have I think the best way is to you know, more money for headstart. No, I think, like some whole huge thing. Is there no one in all of Washington, any newspaper can say labor shortages, long term labor shortages do not exist in market economies. What are you people, even talking about, like, What? How is it that the entire Washington class never asks basic frame questions of whatever it is that they’ve decided to discuss? Why? How is it that this is such a closed world? Where the obvious question is like, how did somebody convince you to discuss labor shortages in a market economy? You there’s a wage mechanism. It just boggles the mind.
Unknown Speaker 1:20:28
Well, isn’t it? I mean, I guess I’ll argue with you from within the consensus for a minute. I mean, the, I think the labor shortages that most people in Washington Think Tank world are concerned with are not, not the idea that, you know, market mechanisms won’t sort of assign wages appropriately. But that in an aging society, you will have, you know, an insufficient percentage of workers given current retirement ages and sort of social security.
Eric Weinstein 1:21:00
adaptations and so on, you have an asset distribution, which favors the silent and Boomer generations and even the exercise over the millennials. Right? You would imagine that the wage mechanism would be the way of addressing what you would claim would be a labor shortage. In other words, the issue is that you’ve you’ve renamed the thing that pushes wages up is a labor shortage, which requires government remediation. This is like completely confusing from a left of center guy about the right how, how is it that you guys want to talk about limited government actually are talking about government interference with the market, which may be telling employers pay more money? Like, in other words, the real problem, and this is very funny because Ann Coulter sort of enters the story. At some point, I just got sick of this and I started writing a tweet about what we need is a 50 year crushing labor shortage to get American CEOs howling in pain and riding on the floor, too. manding relief and giving them none. And ankle to rights. Yes. You’re just thinking like, okay, right, that’s a left of center position. Never fucking talk to me about labor shortages. You goddamn assholes. That’s, that’s sort of the energy. And what I can’t understand is, how do we have a class so that no one at the Washington Post or the New York Times or CNN or MSNBC, like there is no representative of analytic thought, that says, Wait, wait, who convinced us to have a discussion about labor shortages, which, or like a different one would be immigration? The idea that restriction ism is you know, phobia has been maintained by our news world for decades. Like there is only one reason to be a restriction list. It’s a completely insane position and this is Same thing we had on you know, like the great moderation volatility was being compressed and all the smart people no offense. Outside of this institutional class, were saying this is not going to go on. You’re compressing volatility the same way you’re stopping a forest from going up in flames and when the forest fire comes, boys are going to be a lot bigger than the fires we would have had if you weren’t suppressing volatility. It let me make the charge is sort of the strongest level. I think the smart people are outside of the Citadel. And I think that the Citadel is having these discussions internally. And the smart people outside of the Citadel are saying, What are you guys even talking about? And that this is the the the engine of decadence is the unwillingness of the Citadel to seat the critics anywhere inside. So there’s no trace that this conversation is even happening.
Unknown Speaker 1:23:55
So let’s I mean, I, I am basically pretty sympathetic to that. Our Well, that’s what so right. But so so let me just, I mean, so with immigration, right, so basically, there was a shift, I think in liberal thinking on the issue that happens somewhere about 15 to 17 years ago. So if you go back 20 to 25 years, there is a sort of robust left of center labor centric view of immigration, that says basically a version of what you said, right that see, of course, I mean, Bernie Sanders used to express this right that, of course, CO.
Eric Weinstein 1:24:36
Chavez might have expressed it at the Sierra Club might have expressed
Unknown Speaker 1:24:40
it. And so of course, you know, of course, CEOs want more immigration because they want low wages. And Barbara Jordan, right fame, you know,
Eric Weinstein 1:24:48
American Immigration Reform,
Unknown Speaker 1:24:51
right. So this was this was a view, you know, pretty widely shared by labor groups by some African American groups, and the editorial page for the New York Times used to take I think, a version of this view, whereas the Washington, The Wall Street Journal, Wall Street Journal, right, where there shall be open, be open, they wanted
Eric Weinstein 1:25:09
a constitutional amendment, right. That was like the last time. So this made sense.
Unknown Speaker 1:25:13
So this shifts, right, in part because
Unknown Speaker 1:25:19
I think in part because of class interest, basically that as liberalism becomes more and more of a sort of Gentry upper middle class phenomenon, you enter a world where the typical liberal and certainly the typical liberal, you know, close to at least in the suburbs of the Citadel, benefits from low skilled immigration in sort of tangible ways. And meanwhile, labor unions have declined a piece of the working class has migrated into the Republican Party, so you don’t have as strong an incentive to sort of hold those voters At least somewhat restrictions take, at the same time, you have a shift in the demographics of the US that makes the Hispanic vote, something worth courting, in a dramatic way. And finally, you know, I think there, there’s always been a sort of, you know, sort of cosmopolitan universalism to liberalism, that’s very sympathetic to immigrant narratives and the idea of sort of the immigrant dream and so on. And that was present before 15 years ago, but becomes heightened in dramatic way. So you have a combination of interest, you know, political shifts, demographic change. And then what’s what’s I think, interesting for the purposes of your intellectual argument is, at that same time, you get a shift in academic analysis of immigration, where you get a sort of new generation of immigration scholars, who basically argue that the that the conception of mass immigration as somehow lowering the wages of native born Americans is a fallacy. And they Marshal various natural experiments that claim to prove this. And the only major dissenter is George Morehouse at Harvard University. And so this
Eric Weinstein 1:27:18
who then says to me at some point, you know, I’ve spent my entire career trying to make the simplest point in the world. And I’m sort of glad that it’s over.
Unknown Speaker 1:27:26
Right. So, but I mean, but I’m not a, you know, I’m not an academic scholar of immigration. So I have basically what I would characterize as sort of mild restrictions of use. And, or at least at this point, I would characterize them as sort of stabilization views that you could keep roughly the same immigration rate, shift the skills mix, and it wouldn’t wouldn’t be a terrible idea, but so I’m to the right of the immigration consensus that you describe and have been for the whole time. I’ve been at the top And I wrote lots of columns criticizing the various ration with Sam’s, I’m to the right of the pro immigration consensus, basically so I will again I’m a pretty serious restrictions.
Eric Weinstein 1:28:11
My right No no no,
Unknown Speaker 1:28:13
I know you’re to my left and to your left
Eric Weinstein 1:28:16
Yep. How does this it’s like the language is denatured nobody can I understand what you’re saying that
Unknown Speaker 1:28:23
well I’m not sure I said the language is denatured I think that we don’t you know, we’ve inherited a certain categories of right and left from there on the French Revolution
Eric Weinstein 1:28:29
right since your point yeah,
Unknown Speaker 1:28:31
no, no, I agree. I can’t
Eric Weinstein 1:28:33
have a decadent conversation.
Unknown Speaker 1:28:35
Yep. Now that’s that’s that’s fair. I even in this conversation. I’m lapsing into categories that probably don’t fit this is
Eric Weinstein 1:28:42
yes, this is on your free right here.
Unknown Speaker 1:28:44
Yeah, right. So I’m not I am I am more restrictions than the official consensus and you are more restriction of still than I am left. And I’m inside the Citadel right. So that that is at least one except Well, you’re your hero. And I’m here, right. Another exception You’re doing Bill Maher tonight. Yes.
Eric Weinstein 1:29:02
So Bill Maher is sort of has traditionally been the airlock between the Citadel and the rascal host. Yes. Joe Rogan has increasingly become the other airlock. And even when Bill Maher visited Joe Rogan on his program, we’ve seen Bernie Sanders crop up. Now, for example, on the Joe Rogan program, we’ve understood that maybe Biden and Elizabeth Warren wanted to be on the Joe Rogan program. It does feel to me that the key thing is that outside the Citadel walls, nobody’s going to maintain these crazy distinctions that are maintained with right sort of
Unknown Speaker 1:29:44
benefit that also proves that the walls are in fact, permeable to some extent. No, no, no, no,
Eric Weinstein 1:29:52
it proves that people inside the Citadel
Unknown Speaker 1:29:54
can go out can go out, huh?
Eric Weinstein 1:29:56
I guarantee you I cannot be seated on a program like really time discussing immigration. I mean, there’s no way
Unknown Speaker 1:30:03
Why can’t you? Well, I first got an Ann Coulter go on Didn’t she used to go on real, but
Eric Weinstein 1:30:08
at some level, she’s a known commodity what she believes. The key thing is will you file a flight plan? Mm hmm. And what I would say is to actually understand the story, there is no stem crisis in the United States. And in order to understand that there has been a fake stem that is science, technology, engineering and mathematics crisis. The only way that crisis can exist is if everyone inside the Citadel agrees to pretend that it’s real. Right. So the point is, is that the first time somebody is actually really inside saying, Do you realize that every every term that you want Ask about is wrong. You want to talk about a stem crisis that doesn’t exist you want to talk about immigration isn’t a restriction ism is xenophobia, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. Do you want to talk
Unknown Speaker 1:31:10
some But well, some restriction is xenophobia, though, right? I mean, that’s part of the story too, right? Like to go back to Trump. One reason, everything you said about Trump as a disrupter is true. But everything you said about the way the counterproductive way he disrupted is also true. And one of the counterproductive ways he disrupted was by linking views that you hold to birtherism and to various flirtations with sort of, you know, white identity politics, right. And so that’s, it’s not that the Citadel is wrong completely to see that. There are people out in America who oppose immigration for reasons of you know, not like a sort of mild racism. That’s true. It’s just not the only truth worth knowing.
Eric Weinstein 1:32:02
I have a totally different view of this. I view that if you look at the number of tiki torch bears at Charlottesville, people were willing to come out. It was it was scary. It was it was definitely disturbing. But it was also small. And the key thing is it’s a it’s incredibly useful to have that tiny group of very far gone out and out bigots, racists, white supremacists, kkk members, whatever this thing is, you, if you’re a CEO, it’s very advantageous to be able to point to something that’s horrible. And say, you see, we’re the we’re the opposition, if you are restrictions, you’re with those people. And if you’re an expansionist, you’re with us to not give any guidance inside of the what I’ve called the gated institutional narrative are the jinn to people just say, Well, why are you a restriction list? Like, tell me about what causes you to be a restriction just by giving zero voice. What you’ve done is you’ve said that you’ve opportunistically seized on the troglodytes, the most backward people in our society and you’ve said, You troglodytes are the standard bearers for the restrictions position. And then we’re going to point to, you know, the most exemplary person who comes from overseas founds a company in America and employs thousands as the exemplar of the other position. My question is just in 2020, who is this supposed to fool and I just I’m very confused by it. I see the same thing as having happened around NAFTA, where all the economists knew that people were going to get hurt in NAFTA and they all spoke as if everyone would be helped.
Unknown Speaker 1:33:56
I guess but don’t you think people can just be wrong too. I mean, with With, with the trade stuff, right? Like, my assumption is that the economists who expected the opening to China to generate enough surplus wealth that any losers would be well compensated, were totally sincere in their views. And we’re basing it on real world instances where that did happen. And we’re basing it on a theory that they expect to always match with reality. And in the end, they were diluted, and that was incorrect. And the China shock had bigger costs than they expected and 10 or 15 years and everyone figured it out. And they figured that out, partially because Donald Trump ran for president and called attention to all the parts of the country that had suffered. But it’s not, you know, it’s not a conscious deception. It’s a combination of groupthink intellectual decadence, and the extension of things that were true Right, like it’s not that it’s not that all free trade is bad, it’s that you can’t extend every you can’t extend the logic of one successful free trade deal to every subsequent case and assume you’ll get the same result.
Eric Weinstein 1:35:14
They totally disagree with this.
Unknown Speaker 1:35:15
So you think the economists who you think the economist knew correct,
Eric Weinstein 1:35:20
okay. And I know that because I discussed this with them around the time. The point is, if you start using their terms of art, you find very quickly that they know exactly what they’re talking about. They know people are about to get hurt, and they know that they’re talking in different terms.
Unknown Speaker 1:35:38
They know that people are about to get hurt, what they underestimated they, what they underestimated was the scale. I think it’s interesting that you say that as people get hurt from any economic policy has winners or losers. The question is, you know, how many losers and what’s the scale the losses, and again, you can say that people are more inclined to underestimate the losses if they’re thinking about people who are culturally distant from them, like Ohio steel workers are culturally distant from economists. And they therefore have some incentive to underestimate this. This is
Eric Weinstein 1:36:14
what’s fascinating to me, because this, I think, is the MIS telling of our history. Let me tell an alternate history, which I think leads to a less decadent future. I think they knew exactly what they were doing. And I think that they had some delusions, but they aren’t the delusions that I think that you think that they had. And what I think is that they had a belief that they had a right to have an esoteric and an exoteric story. And the exoteric story was one in which the losses would be compensated by the winds through a redistribution program that everyone knew would never happen to your point about the flat tax. So the idea is that what you tell economists is that it’s somebody else’s job to redistribute the winnings, right. And then you say you’re free to say that Theoretically, this isn’t the benefit. This is in the interest of all because we can all be benefited by free trade, full stop. What I recently heard, Brad delong, say in Edinburgh was, of course, we knew that it wasn’t a simple story of Ricardian equivalence and comparative advantage. We’ve always known that. In fact, what we do is we say very simple exoteric stories, but the esoteric story is a social Darwinist story, literally a social Darwinist welfare function. And why did he call it that? Because his claim was that free trade, in theory benefits you according to the cube of your wealth. So, you know, the old adage from Matthew two, he was much more were being given. Right? So the idea is, congratulations, you have a class of people who admits openly to knowing that they’re following a social Darwinist welfare function and what’s the defense of the behaviors like Do you know how many peasants in Mexico We’re helped. Why do we not talk about the peasants in Mexico now to an American voter to have a an academic technocrat say, don’t you people understand? You may have been hurt. But my class was helped. And the Mexican peasant was helped. And why are you complaining? is I mean, to me this is just like, some form of like a mental illness. And I can’t really understand how I’m able to run like a show here and talk about these things. I could have Brad delong in that chair, I guarantee you’d be one of the most interesting interchanges in history because if you look at what Brad is admitting to it’s exactly what I’m alleging. We’re not in disagreement about how conscious this was. his belief is just we should value the Mexican peds peasant more, and that we should record
Unknown Speaker 1:38:57
it now but but now that is said So two things right one. Now that is said openly in certain liberal circles, and I agree that it was not said openly when NAFTA was passed or when China entered the WTO. But now it is a commonplace, I think, to have immigration defended, again, in certain left wing circles by versions of this kind of, you know, cosmopolitan, we’re making policy for the world argument. So, that case, which I agree with sort of latent, has been flushed into the open more in contemporary debates or people, but also, I think this gets back to the question of like, how much do people understand the conditions of decadence? Right, because the delong, the the delong theory or the economist theory, is that there will be compensation for the losers. No, it’s no I think, no, I think it is. I don’t think people are I think the assumption of the certainly the late Clinton era technocrats was that they would always be in charge. And they were good Liberal Democrats who would be willing to spend some money on redistribution. I think that that is quite real, that they honestly believe that
Eric Weinstein 1:40:18
I mean, I’m just I’m in a completely different place. If I look at what the word deplorable means. I think it’s code for democratic apostate. I think that if you look at the voting patterns in Appalachia, for example, Appalachian had a lot of deep blue in it. In terms of voting now, it was generally not college educated, gun owning Bible thumping, heteronormative family structures, blah, blah, blah, blah. Okay.
Unknown Speaker 1:40:49
Yeah, failing heteronormative family structures. In some cases.
Eric Weinstein 1:40:52
You know what all families are in danger of failing families or marginal activity and everybody who signs up to have a family and makes it We salute you. Okay, I don’t want to dump on Appalachia. Some of those are incredible family structures. So my concern is, is that between around 1980 and the present, we went from having like a majority blue position in places to having, you know, north of 80 some odd percent voting for Trump and and who lost that. It’s the democratic party that started hating our democratic base. Labor became distasteful. You know, it’s the unwanted skunk at the garden party, who invited labor. Right. And that’s the problem on the left is it was the search for identity, right? This is my wife’s point, that identity is the least expensive constituency with which to replace labor. Labor actually had economic demands and the clinton type people didn’t want to meet those demands, because that was too expensive. But what you’re actually saying all of this discussion about immigration and financialization And trade. This was the get rich, quick scheme of the Davos crowd. And the idea that it came with an ideology and maybe a song like we are the world, blinded people to the idea that it was a pickpocket operation. And that’s what the Gini coefficient looks like. It looks like a transfer operation. I mean, to your point about the decadent society that we’re in real technology and led growth ran out. And when science became decadent, the only way to grow a slice of the pie wasn’t to keep your slice and watch the pie expand. It was two eyes, somebody else’s slice,
Unknown Speaker 1:42:38
right. I guess all. Again, I’m basically in agreement with you. So I’m just trying to sort of make an argument for the sake.
Unknown Speaker 1:42:47
I’m in agreement with journalists,
Unknown Speaker 1:42:48
but I think but I think that they’re I think you’re under estimating the extent to which people keep multiple people are incredibly complicated and keep multiple ideas in their head at the same time, right. So the Hillary Clinton who, you know, express her contempt for the deplorable is also a Hillary Clinton who would happily vote for a Medicaid expansion or, you know, some some kind of spending program that would be traveled. Yes, yes. Oh, yeah, absolutely. See,
Eric Weinstein 1:43:15
it’s the labor shortage, which allows the Appalachian former coworker to say, I need more money or I’m walking right. And without the ability to engage in what our managerial class has renamed labor shortages. That class has no power to demand. Hillary may view that it flows from her large s. And this is what should make republicans very angry, oh, you’re going to tap some collection of wealth and redistribute it to some other people and then say that like Moses, you’re the one bringing water forth from the rock, when in fact it was never your water to begin with. Right. That is what animate
Unknown Speaker 1:43:56
where you’re going to conjure the money out of the air with modern money. monetary theory. I mean, there are different. But if you conjure the,
Eric Weinstein 1:44:02
if you use modern monetary theory and print your way out of a problem, what you’re doing is, is that you’re using a technique called senior edge, which is equivalent to stealing into everybody’s bedroom at night, and shaving silver off of their dimes and quarters in order to give it to somebody else. Right. So the idea
Unknown Speaker 1:44:20
is low. if interest rates are low enough, you’re only shaving it teeny tiny bit of the silver. But no, I basically agree. And I think that you see this look, I mean, the best thing about the Trump economy has been that, arguably that Trump has, in effect, created labor shortages, which have coincided with the first substantial increase in wages for the bottom 20% relative to the other percentiles, in 10 or 15, not 10 or 15 years since really since the 1990s. And that I think, is a signifier that the sort of post George bore hos consensus that comments sense was wrong about immigration is itself wrong. But there is still the, you know, this wealth of technical analysis that I’m, you know, I’m not an economist and I’m not would you defer to an economist? I don’t, I wouldn’t differ. But do you would you would you have to engage and acknowledge, I think,
Eric Weinstein 1:45:23
jeez, I have a completely different idea, which is that I’m not
Unknown Speaker 1:45:26
Yeah, this is this. I’m not an I’m not an economist, any company man at some level,
Eric Weinstein 1:45:30
maybe right. And that’s part of the issue, which is, how do we make sure that the story from outside the Citadel starts to make it impossible to tell? Like my claim would be, you can’t tell a trade story or an immigration story, or a financialization story or a health story, or any one of these stories inside the Citadel, the way it is currently told. If there’s even one strong Saying what have you all agreed to is a frame like it’s somehow requires almost universal participation in a farce.
Unknown Speaker 1:46:10
Right. But to challenge that universal participation, you do have to be capable of arguing on the terms of expertise at some level, you can’t just have voices outside the Citadel that say, you know, well, you know, we have some instincts and a certain amount of common sense. And we think your your system doesn’t add up, because that you’re not going to be able to sort of dramatically change the Citadel until you can win some arguments inside. And this is the weakness. This is the weakness of populism around the Western world. It’s that it has a lot of reasonable impulses and draws a lot of reasonable inferences, but it’s not very good at running governments. So far
Eric Weinstein 1:47:00
I disagree with this. I think that the problem is that what you’re calling populism is not respectful of the fact that expertise exists both inside the Citadel and outside the Citadel, for example. You know, if you had an expert voice saying, I don’t think stress causes ulcers, that person would be a doctor. You know, and then they might have have done studies. Mm hmm. But their studies wouldn’t be allowed inside of the conversations like it’s a combat that you’re not allowed to have. Another.
Unknown Speaker 1:47:37
I guess I don’t, I think you still even if, even if it’s the case, that certain things are not allowed inside, you still want to have a doctor making that case so that you know
Eric Weinstein 1:47:49
that you have a doctor making that Mm hmm. My question would be let’s imagine for example, you had a doctor who wanted to say something about vaccine safety. Hmm. Instead, or somebody who wanted to say something about climate like that there’s too much political pressure on climate science right? In general, such people are viewed as dangerous to consensus. And that rather than really inviting them in as full fledged members of the discussions that we want to hear your perspective, it’s really important that if we’re going to make progress on climate, we understand what the full range of expert opinion is. That doesn’t happen anymore. To the extent that I’m aware of it. I really don’t see. I see people but
Unknown Speaker 1:48:36
it can happen, right? Because So right now, the Republican Party controls the Senate, the United States of America, and the Republican Party is a to put it mildly, a climate change skeptical party, right. And so when they’re hearings on climate change, the republican party gets to invite experts, and it makes a big difference whether they invite let’s say a Judas Priest. Right, who is sort of an academic who’s basically in your camp who says climate change is happening, but here are 17 things that are wrong with the consensus as we know it, versus if they invite someone who lacks credentials and expertise, and can’t engage in the arguments with the defenders of consensus or, you know, to take, I mean, to, to go back to the sort of alternative medicine example, we’ll take the vaccine example. Right. So, the, the big anti vaccine study, right was Andrew Wakefield study in The Lancet that sort of launched the anti vaccine movement. And that study, as far as I can tell, was, it was in fact bogus. So if you if you have people who are defending heterodox views, who are either incapable of speaking the language of consensus, a language of expertise, or who when they do turn out to be making things up, then you’re Never going to win. You have to get there. There has to be some because there I mean, look, the nature of the Citadel is that it is a, it is permeable to politics, right. Donald Trump can get elected president, we’ve demonstrated that the Republican Party, which is not at all the party of expertise, nonetheless maintains a lot of power in Washington, DC. And so, to that extent, it seems to me that the people who are smart outside the Citadel should be sitting around saying to themselves, well, how do I get the expertise that I have into the sort of heterodox forces inside the Citadel, which is why ultimately, you want to get to a point where you were invited to testify on Capitol Hill, about one of these, you know, one of the issues where you have heterodox views and you would be invited by the republican party and once again, you
Eric Weinstein 1:50:50
wouldn’t be serving another republican party for this, but it’s true. I mean,
Unknown Speaker 1:50:53
it’s but but it’s on those kind of issues will be it’s because
Eric Weinstein 1:50:55
I think it’s exactly what you said before which is that the Use of expertise as a Gambit to screen out people who are interfering with a pickpocketing operation is monopolized by the left. And it’s not the real left. It’s sort of the kleptocratic left, there’s like this kleptocratic center that arose with the Clintons. And the idea being that the Clintons had lots of sort of weird ideology. And the ideology did seem to sort of dovetail with wealth transfer. So if you look at what the Gini coefficient does under the Clintons, it’s pretty interesting. So at the same time that we’re supposed to be, you know, concerned about one big planet and making everybody happy and whole. It also seems like there’s a lot of wealth transfer going on. And this is one of the key issues that the the right, having been sensitized by the Powell memo in the early 1970s. Where they were told, look, we’ve lost the universities if we don’t come up with an alternate constellation or archipelago events. We’re going to have no means of defending conservatism. And so you get things like the Hudson Institute, and the law and economics programs, which are very effective as a counterweight to what was ever whatever was going on in sort of this supposedly liberal consensus, which now seems to be anything but liberal.
Unknown Speaker 1:52:19
Right, but they aren’t quite, I guess, I don’t think they were quite effective enough. And I think in certain ways, the the decision to form a sort of counter establishment created a kind of temporary intellectual ballast for conservatism, but then, because it was itself a bubble was became decadent in its own way, very, very quickly. Right. And so there was sort of a, you know, a 20 year period of sort of golden age of conservative intellectual work, that all happened before I was, you know, I was a teenager, right? And, and then it, you know, and then it sort of became its own kind of sclerotic and internally closed system. And ultimately, what’s true in politics is also true in academia, you’re not going to overthrow the Harvard’s and the Yale’s I think, on any discernible timeline. So you have to find a way to get back inside them from from the outside. And I don’t know what that way is, per se. But it’s not enough to say, well, we’re gonna have, you know, just as it was not enough to say, well, we have Hudson and AI and heritage and we don’t need Harvard and Yale, it’s also not enough to say, you know that we have the intellectual dark web, and therefore we don’t need Harvard and Yale if the intellectual dark web, whatever it might be succeeds, it will succeed by making beachheads at these institutions, whereas
Eric Weinstein 1:53:47
I know there’s no interaction between the intellectual dark web and Harvard and Yale. In other words, I don’t recall the government department saying this is an interesting movement. Let’s have a Speaker Right, right. So in other words, it really the analogy I often give is like you have UFC and MMA and then you have the WWE is a different sort of a thing and there’s a real need to keep the UFC MMA away from the WWE because the WWE is what governs politics, and that you have these staged battles that aren’t actually real battles. And the key feature would be that if you let somebody in from outside, it would completely change the nature of what’s being done and what’s being discussed.
Unknown Speaker 1:54:35
But sure, there’s no one there’s no incentive. Well, it’s not completely true. There’s their limited incentives to let those ideas in, but those institutions too are vulnerable to various pressures, including the pressures of demographics that you know, America’s college system is about to enter into crisis because nobody had kids and the last time Yours right
Eric Weinstein 1:55:00
not not only that the the the tuition pattern and the bulking up on administrator I mean, the entire junk ification of America’s research universities is one of the most threatening parts of your decadent society, right? And let me just ask about it from this perspective, if we think about institutions, what do you see as being our exit strategy from decadence to the extent that we have one that preserves the institution but might remain institutions but might actually remove the current occupants in their ideology or at least morph them into something that is more dynamic and more progress oriented?
Unknown Speaker 1:55:40
I mean, the case study that we have for transformation of those institutions, the most recent case study is the case study of the transformation of universities in the 50s 60s and 70s. The problem with that model is that it did involve in effect cooperation. Between the rebels and the establishment, right, the baby boomers would not have been able to totally transform academia. If, to some extent, the people in charge of those schools did not already believe that the younger generation was right and should get its way. And so that’s the challenge. I think that that so what do you see is the transformation that happened in that post war period? I mean, there was, I would say, I mean, it was, I think, pretty immense there was there were transformations of curriculums, there was curriculum, there were transformations of wit, you know, sort of ways of life parietal rules, and you know, you had the end of single sex education, in many cases. And you had a sort of, you had the first wave of strong politicization of academic life. So all of those were big, meaningful transformations that then you know, the generation that accomplish them then became the academics of today and the administrators of today to some extent. And but again, they did. So they were able to do that it wasn’t just that a younger generation believed a certain different set of things from their elders, it was that the elders had lost confidence in the older system to the point where when the push came, they just they opened the door.
Eric Weinstein 1:57:26
What would that look like? Now? Do you think if you tried to do a repeat of what you’re suggesting happened after the war?
Unknown Speaker 1:57:34
I mean, I don’t think we’re again, this is why I don’t think we’re quite there yet. I think you need another generation of decadence before No, seriously this is I mean, isn’t this is my basic view is that there isn’t it’s the work of creativity and dynamism being done now is for the sake of revolutionary opportunities that will be available to my children.
Eric Weinstein 1:58:00
Wow. What do you think of as being sort of the most dynamic? So assume that in general, I agree with you that we’re denatured we’re decadent, we’re not really moving much. What do you see as being the bright spots of dynamism in a world that is not my very dynamic?
Unknown Speaker 1:58:17
So, I mean, I already right so i already offered one, which is a certain kind of political ferment among conservatives smart. Yeah, smart. I mean, and maybe there’s some on the left too, you could talk about it as basically people who write about politics who are under 35 are much more dissatisfied with the situation and people people older than me, basically. So that’s that’s one zone.
Unknown Speaker 1:58:47
I would say that
Unknown Speaker 1:58:52
you know, I
Unknown Speaker 1:58:55
I think the fact that Silicon Valley for It’s problems produces billionaires who want to spend money on spaceflight as a positive sign. Which, again, is not I don’t think that tech is there in this generational moment for Elon Musk to get where he wants to go. But I think that,
Eric Weinstein 1:59:18
do you take him at his word that he really wants to go to Mars?
Unknown Speaker 1:59:20
Yes, I do. But I don’t know him personally, I don’t know him personally. But you know, people who know him personally do so you may have you make. I think it’s more Flim Flam. Because that’s also the question.
Eric Weinstein 1:59:31
Well, there’s a fine line. If you talk to me when NAFTA was being passed, I would say that I didn’t think the smart people really were thinking about everybody getting better off as they were saying, and if you asked me right now, I think that Ilan is not very serious about colonizing Mars.
Unknown Speaker 1:59:48
Yeah. What do you think he’s serious about?
Eric Weinstein 1:59:51
I think he’s serious about reacquainting us with our potential that effectively the hounds last had the trail of the fox When we landed on the moon and something went wrong, I think it’s a bit of a throwback. So the idea is that he’s reacquainting ourselves with that, that sort of thread of American AI induced by that,
Unknown Speaker 2:00:12
but that in itself is not a bad thing,
Eric Weinstein 2:00:15
I think, but it’s not as serious. Yeah, yes. I think it’s not a serious thing. I think that commercial spaceflight is a serious thing. I think that it may be that, right? These these rockets end up in Earth orbits.
Unknown Speaker 2:00:29
I think you and I agree that there’s, there’s something promising there that is not going to get us to Mars, but maybe gets us some breakthrough that is important to reacquainting
Eric Weinstein 2:00:40
that amazing we lost a shirt occupy Mars and people talking about how do we hold a competition to figure out who the first astronauts should be? All of that stuff is to me quite disturbing. Because it’s sort of it’s the same
Unknown Speaker 2:00:52
Eric Weinstein 2:00:54
right well, it’s the same thing with Alan Greenspan. No, you didn’t fix volatility, or economists didn’t really believe in trade or no restriction ism isn’t about white supremacy and xenophobia, like, to me, none of this stuff is real. It’s just this infinite play acting. Exercise like an improv class that never ends.
Unknown Speaker 2:01:14
Well, that’s my pessimistic take. Okay, then even the things, my pessimistic take is that even the things I find promising, ultimately become play acting again. So even though the Paul the political ferment that I’m describing, just ends up with people reenacting the 19th century or the 1960s on Twitter, and you know, that the same the same would could Yeah, therefore goes for Ilan Musk, that he’s sort of performing a role that we recognize, exactly, he’s just but he’s just
Eric Weinstein 2:01:43
building a real battery company and he’s calling it a car company, you know, or something like that. You know, he’s an amazing human being, I’m not knocking him in any way. But the idea that we keep taking these people at their word, like my instinct when I’m encountered, encountering economists or physicist or any of these people, is to say, Oh, you come from the expert class, therefore, I know which perverse incentives you’re subject to, and discounting everything that fits. That sort of seven perverse incentive. That’s what I see as being the great opportunity with the decadent society once we realize that something has denatured expertise in general, which is its institutional affiliations. Yeah, we start to have the seeds of something that could grow and be dynamic. Right. And
Unknown Speaker 2:02:28
I guess I just struck I’m not sure. I think I think you can totally see how that happens. In culture, right in and and their, you know, as I think in worlds of religious homeschooling and different sort of different sort of experiments like that the people I know who have large families, I think you can see, yeah, sort of stepping outside the system and having it be so Better renewal. I’m less sure how that happens in science and in politics, because it seems like you know, to be to have to do political work, you have to, in some sense be inside the political system. And science at this point has advanced to a point where you can’t just be Isaac Newton, or, you know, Galileo, you need a certain degree of technical support to get somewhere. What do you think? I don’t well, so I’m not a scientist. And I could be wrong. But
Eric Weinstein 2:03:32
I think what’s interesting is just that you and I have different like, I think we agree a huge amount
Unknown Speaker 2:03:37
right now, but we’re finding the points of 10 points for the sake of an interesting conversation. Yeah,
Eric Weinstein 2:03:42
I think that for example, you know, there’s there’s this wonderful story from England, about Mr. Green, who we remember is the developer of something called the Greens function that tells us how to propagate a system forward in time. And my understanding is he was something like a Miller and he had a solution to This problem and he mailed it off to I think Cambridge University. I think it was Cambridge and they wanted to make him a professor but it turned out he’d never gone to college so then he had to get an undergraduate degrees so that he could get a graduate degree of some kind so that he could become a professor. Yeah, I don’t think you need to I don’t think he was mill
Unknown Speaker 2:04:19
right to beat to be have to be an individual genius. No, but there are certain things that we would want human beings to achieve that you need. institutional support to do so like Freeman Dyson just passed away. Yeah, right and Freeman Dyson is not a decadent figure the opposite of a decadent What do you mean another decadent fig in the sense of being someone who I think fits your you know, he’s a incredibly vital, incredibly vital, you know, in the system but outside it doesn’t have an advanced degree incredibly creative across multiple disciplines and so to get to different pH, right, but his you know, he had a particular space project in mind that was, as you know, a kind of a create a work of creative of genius and thinking about how human beings could get to the stars. But Freeman Dyson couldn’t build and design that program, he would have needed NASA to take a less decadent direction in order to actually implement that. Right. So so that’s a case study and how you still need to you still need to have some sort of relationship at some point to institutional structures to let the genius enact itself or in the case of medicine right in their lives, like alternative medicine. Yeah, you can I you absolutely can have a doctor alone with his patients who figures out a cure to a disease that nobody’s figured out before. But if you want him to be a transformative figure, you have to figure out how do you get from that to Harvard Medical School, adopting? Well, let’s take the first example.
Eric Weinstein 2:05:47
Yeah. All right. You do you know how Freeman Dyson came to be at the Institute for Advanced Study, which is why you presumably know his name. I mean, I my guess is that you don’t know the history of quantum electrodynamics and what he did to you In a five five minutes swingers perspective perspective.
Unknown Speaker 2:06:02
I know, I know that he did something really awesome.
Unknown Speaker 2:06:07
Yeah, but I could not describe
Eric Weinstein 2:06:09
but you know him from the Institute for Advanced Study.
Unknown Speaker 2:06:11
Right, right. Well, I know him from Honestly, I know him from reading his essays in the New York Review of Books for the last 20 years. That’s sort of my primary and
Eric Weinstein 2:06:18
the reason that you think he’s a great scientist is probably having never read a Freeman Dyson paper.
Unknown Speaker 2:06:24
I ever read an academic paper that I wrote, yep. Right.
Eric Weinstein 2:06:26
Which, by the way, that’s not a knock. I
Unknown Speaker 2:06:29
would No, No, I’m just kidding. Right.
Eric Weinstein 2:06:32
So you know him from holding this position. But what I think you may or may not know, is that he got to that position through combat, which is that he was saying that Richard Fineman was in fact saying the same thing as a guy named Julian swinger. Were swinger was the darling of the establishment and Fineman was the sort of cowboy AppStore right. And he was invited to the Institute to deliver this and Robert Oppenheimer who ran the institute was merciless to Freeman Dyson. And as he apparently had real really deep confusions about what Fineman was doing he sort of thought Fineman didn’t understand the Heisenberg uncertainty relations with respect to point particles or something like this. Dyson fought off Oppenheimer with the help of a guy named Hans beta who came in from Cornell. And when Oppenheimer realized that he was beaten, he left a note in Freeman Dyson’s mailbox at the Institute, and all it said was no low contender a, our dot o dot, Robert Oppenheimer and that is the story of how Freeman Dyson with no PhD in either mathematics or physics came to be a permanent member of the Institute for Advanced Study the world’s greatest Physics Department on earth bar, not that kind of thing requires a kind of deep Since he like, you know, you and I may be on opposite sides of left and right, I may find it very irritating that you use these terms. Well, not only that use these terms, but you assume that the fact you can discern that I’m farther right than you when I’m farther left doesn’t matter. The key point is when you don’t have the ability to in group the other when the other is making a good point, you lose the vitality of the system. And the issue with the Citadel is not that the outsiders can’t make the good points, it’s that the outsiders will never be allowed into the ring to demonstrate their skill. In general, we don’t the strategy which is much more of the left than the right, is to make sure that you don’t have talented outsiders dark horses, if you will come in. When you don’t know what moves they’re going to make. You don’t know what they’re going to do. You don’t want to be in a debate situation where suddenly somebody raises an issue and you don’t have a scripted answer.
Unknown Speaker 2:08:58
Okay, but all but but then
Unknown Speaker 2:09:01
You are sort of you are making the deeper case for decadence in a way than I am. Why? I mean, you were at you were asking it you were asking me for optimism. And I’m floating, some optimistic scenarios be. But you’re suggesting I think reasonably that in our world, Freeman Dyson couldn’t get in to the positions that he got into board. But then I’m saying if he can’t, right, then he’s not gonna the next Freeman Dyson ain’t gonna revolutionize spaceflight, because he’s not going to be in a position to do it. But there has to be some, there has to be some solution to either the institutions have to fail completely, which is a possibility, but it’s a pretty catastrophic one. I don’t think you can, you know, that’s it’s, it’s not something that I think we should wish for because there are worse things than decadence, or you have to have some sort of disjunctive moment. Yeah, that makes the institutions permeable.
Eric Weinstein 2:09:57
That’s the question and I think that moment to be Honest is coming up, which is.
Unknown Speaker 2:10:02
Okay, so now we’re back to being more optimistic than me. So what’s the moment?
Eric Weinstein 2:10:06
I think it has to do with the retirement and wealth transfer patterns of the baby boomers and the silent generation with everybody below. I think that if you look at the wealth structure, way too much wealth has been captured by two generations who do not seem This is again, one of the great confusions of my life. I don’t understand the extent to which the baby boomers do not see their own children, the millennials as a continuation of themselves.
Unknown Speaker 2:10:31
Right, I read there, yeah, you wrote a Twitter thread about
Eric Weinstein 2:10:34
this. You know, that the idea of having a 30 year old daughter, for example, who doesn’t have the money to get started in her life and having a third home, and not liquidating your third home? You know, for example, again, I
Unknown Speaker 2:10:53
don’t I mean, this does happen, right? Like, it’s sort of assumed, I think, in a lot of real estate marketplaces that any millennial Couple buying home, their parents are helping to pay for it.
Eric Weinstein 2:11:03
Yes. And I don’t think that every Boomer parent has three homes. I mean, breathtaking. But I know weird examples of this where Yeah, somehow the baby boomers which generation which used to be known as the me generation never fully connected any kind of future to themselves beyond themselves. I think it’s a very strange. Again, it’s not true for every religious order. So I don’t want to say there are no exceptions to this but in aggregate, it was stunning to me that when Klobuchar dropped out and Budaj edge dropped out, you had everyone in the field vying for the for the next presidential opportunity. Born in the 1940s split between the silent and Boomer generations and the oldest part, Elizabeth Warren was the youngest in her 70s and any one of those people would be the oldest president at inauguration. Some point, that weird demographic feature, which got much less commentary than I was ever expecting has to has to end
Unknown Speaker 2:12:09
it just right now. And this is actually on book tour. This is in at least three separate events. I’ve had questions along those lines saying, isn’t the inflection point where a decade starts to end when the baby boom generation passes away? I guess my question is, do you does the pattern of continued demographic decline and low fertility mean that you’re sort of you still end up recreating the pattern in each successive cohort that you need, at some point, a larger younger generation to sort of force the issue and i’m not i’m not sure. But you’re absolutely I mean, this this shows up in patterns. There was a study recently on CEO patterns right where you know, the same, the same office in the same company is occupied by an older and older figure what goes right one across on average,
Eric Weinstein 2:13:00
goes up like, you know, 10 months per year.
Unknown Speaker 2:13:02
Yep. And this is true in academia. I mean, academia has a separate jobs crisis. But the Yeah, the. But I think part of it is probably that the baby boomers just don’t fully that, that they that they assume that their children are entering a world that’s like the world that they themselves entered.
Eric Weinstein 2:13:21
I don’t think, again, I don’t know why we have. It’s the same set of intuitions in which we arrange each time.
Unknown Speaker 2:13:29
Right. I clearly, it’s very unusual, by the way for me to be in a conversation where I’m accused of thinking the best of people because in most of my life, I’m considered to be, you know, the dark, the dark cynic. So this is very refreshing,
Eric Weinstein 2:13:41
but very happy to
Unknown Speaker 2:13:43
Eric Weinstein 2:13:44
what I what I do in these circumstances, I just flat out ask people. I say, Well, you know, are you aware that you’ve got a 13 year old daughter, who may never give you grandchildren because her prospects are totally different? Oh, I do. No, these things have a way of sorting themselves out. You know, it’s just like, I listen to it. And then I say, look, all I want to do is I want to get to the point where you recognize that you’re really more interested in another vacation than you are in your own unborn grandchildren.
Unknown Speaker 2:14:15
If I can get to that you ever get to that? Oh, yeah. And then yeah,
Eric Weinstein 2:14:19
people will say, Well, I guess I’m just selfish.
Unknown Speaker 2:14:25
You know, um, yeah.
Eric Weinstein 2:14:30
Yeah, I I don’t think what you’re saying is true. I think that if you actually push these points, you’ll find that the economists know that they don’t know what they’re talking about. The baby boomers really want to hang on to their wealth because they’re addicted to their lifestyle. They know that their children are facing it more difficult world. The millennials will secretly tell you that they’re they’re hoping for families, even though they may take an anti needless position, because if it doesn’t happen, they don’t want to be Oh, yeah,
Unknown Speaker 2:14:58
no, I agree with that. I think The whole I’m not having kids because of climate changes is a political Yeah, something to say but no, I don’t think and there’s actually polling data, I think to back that up that when you press people,
Eric Weinstein 2:15:15
and I believe that this is, you know, this is the same thing as what’s going on with Trump and Brexit is that people really want to say, I, I’m willing to risk burning the whole thing down to get rid of the kleptocratic center. I don’t want to be led by fake experts sitting inside of old institutions who are interested,
Unknown Speaker 2:15:37
those but those ideas are a little bit intention, because it’s the baby boomers who voted for Trump and Brexit. So we simultaneously have to believe and and this may be true that they they Intuit the bankruptcy of the system and are willing to vote for. In fact, I think this is true. So tell me what you think of this. Sure. I think that, that older voters who support populism Do Intuit the bankruptcy of the system. Yeah, and therefore are willing to vote for a politician to promise a general change, but don’t want to make the specific changes in their own lives that you describe and also wouldn’t support like, medicare cuts or something.
Eric Weinstein 2:16:17
But yeah, I think if you look at what I was saying about the very rich boomers not helping their millennial kids, the way I would say that is that’s a minority situation. Most people don’t have 300. Right, even if they’re boomers. That wasn’t really the point. The point is, is that the crowd the Davos crowd, the clinton crowd, right,
Unknown Speaker 2:16:36
the but some of those, some of those boomers, like you know, they don’t have three homes but like people living in the villages in Florida who are big Trump voters are prosperous Americans who could transmit more wealth presumably to their kids and grandkids.
Eric Weinstein 2:16:51
Yes, although I do think that you know, very often it is the rapacious class, rather than the well to do class that is very focused on on at least a veneer of public spirited. And in some sense, it’s a counterbalancing veneer. So that if you’re if you’re going to be truly rapacious, it’s very important that Pablo Escobar has to do a lot for the villagers. because quite honestly, if he doesn’t, he doesn’t have a balanced equation. And I think that this is the real problem with the kleptocratic center, is that the kleptocratic center left was just crazy about wealth transfer. And as a result, they were constantly championing the good that they were doing somewhere that wasn’t to themselves. And my hope is that the way that we emerge from this is a left right consensus of the adult class that can say, Look, I don’t happen to share, you know, let’s take the flat tax that you brought up. My brother makes an interesting point. He says the flat tax is often championed, by virtue of its simplicity that it can fit on an end. index card he said so can a progressive text schedule without exceptions. So it’s not the flatness of the text that fits it on an index card. It’s the simplicity so that it can’t be gamed. Right? And that that’s what the real that’s what the real issue is. And that if you in fact said, Let’s debate as to whether we’re not a flat a flat tax is the better personification of fairness or because of our diminishing returns, diminishing marginal utility for money. We have a von Neumann Morgenstern, sub utility function, yada, yada, yada, that we still want a progressive tax schedule. Now I could listen to that argument held by people that have a technocratic bent, I could listen to that argument held by people have a kind of intuitive justice bent. But that would be a meaningful discussion that isn’t about the flat tax or a progressive tax, it would be getting rid of parasites and I think getting rid of remoras is kind of much more important than left versus Right.
Unknown Speaker 2:19:02
Yeah, I would buy that. But the trick is you still have to find. Then again, you you have a problem where you have to find the political embodiment of that Crusade, which, you know, is not in fact, Donald Trump, right. Donald Trump is not getting rid of political remoras. He’s substituting a slightly more honest form of graph, right? No, seriously, that’s what that is part. I think that is part of why people like Trump is a signal, right? They they like they prefer the idea of, I still have my business and my kids are getting rich off to that to the Joe Biden. You know, I’m making US foreign policy and somehow accidentally over here, and my son is getting rich people prefer the Trump thing, but it’s still it’s, it’s still corrupt. It’s not actually a solution. So you actually have to have a sort of seven or Rola kind of moment with this, which I think is possible. I don’t I don’t think it’s impossible. But I mean, there you also come to the question of just the individual talent in politics, right? And is it possible to get a figure who is who is who is sort of a moment of disjunction themselves? Right. And, you know, seven or 10 years ago, again, this is maybe my move to the left, maybe my move to the right, you know, whatever it might be. I was I was very much a, you know, a sort of we need to restore the functioning of Congress. Yeah, right. And I still think it would be nice to restore the functioning of Congress. But watching us politics for the last 10 years makes me think the only way to restore the functioning of politics is to have a, a extremely dynamic disjunctive president who forces Congress, who bends Congress to His will. And then Congress sort of learns how to function again, through that process. And I don’t know if our society can generate that kind of figure. It’s not Trump, it’s not Sanders.
Eric Weinstein 2:20:55
But that’s sort of that’s sort of what I’m looking for in Polish. Yeah, and I mean, which is then which is then also dangerous, right? Because then it’s like, you know, the great man, the demagogue and so on. But But I think that there’s this box that used to be labeled leadership. And just the way with cigarette cartons, you have to put skull and crossbones on it, somebody put a picture of Hitler on the box labeled leadership. And then we keep doing this where every time there’s a box that contains important stuff, somebody puts a label on it that says, Do not open this box ever, under any circumstances, because of the worst thing that can be associated with that box. Do you think that there’s some merit in that perspective that we’re all afraid of leadership leads to Hitler?
Unknown Speaker 2:21:40
I think the shadow of Hitler looms over a lot of things in the Western world. I think that the there’s a sense I think it looms over sort of some of the religious and philosophical debates that are stalled out where basically the Western world in a sense, sort of tried to leave Chris jannetty behind, found when I left Christianity behind Hitler, rightly decided that was a bad idea, but then retreated to this halfway house where it is neither Christian nor non Christian. But this sort of mix of worldviews that don’t make any sense. I sort of Christian his review of, you know, sort of the inviolability of human rights joined to a strictly materialist view of the cosmos. And yeah, I think the shadow the shadow of like, you know, if we, if we look for consistency, we might become Nazis, I think is, is a factor. And yeah, it might I hadn’t in my cert, I think it certainly might play in political leadership as well, that we don’t, you know, but at the same time, there’s clearly a yearning for that leadership to write that, you know, you see it in the appeal to Trump, as you saw it in the sort of Barack Obama has one golden year where, you know, running for president and giving speeches and getting the Nobel Peace Prize But it’s not like the desire for that has gone away. But there’s definitely less. You know, conservatives only remember Churchill and liberals only remember FDR. I think there is a broader loss of a sense of what statesmanship looks like.
Eric Weinstein 2:23:18
Don’t you feel like if Jesus appeared now before us, that would mean modify him within minutes? that he would be cheapen by virtue of interacting with
Unknown Speaker 2:23:27
the virtue of believing that Jesus was actually the Son of God is that I think he’s immune to gamification. You do?
Eric Weinstein 2:23:34
Yes, well, wasn’t he humiliated in the streets of Jerusalem by people who did not accept his being the son of God in your in your eyes?
Unknown Speaker 2:23:45
I mean, he’s not immune to mistreatment and
Unknown Speaker 2:23:49
I have them sorted
Unknown Speaker 2:23:50
out, but even he’s not he’s immune to he’s immune. I think that I think he’s probably he’s immune to triplet trivia. realization? Yeah, that’s that’s how I that’s how I would put it. But
Unknown Speaker 2:24:06
you never know, maybe we’ll find out,
Eric Weinstein 2:24:07
maybe we’ll find out. One sort of last point I wanted to get to. And that sort of has to do with two different forms of sense making one would be sort of the legacy sense making in the form of something like your employer, The New York Times, and another would be the medium that you find yourself in at the moment, on your way to Bill Maher. So this long form podcast. Do you take much away from the fact that for example, the New York Times couldn’t come up with a single endorsement this year and that both of them seem to have exited the race? That Do you think that the establishment in general not necessarily the New York Times in specific, is recognizing that it’s losing control of the ability to Deeply influence our elections, other than by putting its finger rather strongly on the scales. And again, not specific to the New York Times.
Unknown Speaker 2:25:07
I mean, I saw on a different podcast our own. At the times, we argued over the joint endorsement, and I was very harshly critical of it. I thought that it made no sense. And the fact that it was repeated in other publications, you know, there were, and then I think the la times the LA Times didn’t endorse it. All. Right. I don’t know. And I think I think they I think they they endorsed for other offices besides president. And I yeah, I mean, I do think that I’m not so sure it reflects a sense of the loss of control as it reflects an inability to quite figure out how to be an establishment in hero documents, like the times The interesting thing about the times is that in many ways it is more significant, more substantial, more important in the American landscape now than it’s ever been. Because so many newspapers have failed or diminished around the country. Because the Internet has brought it to a much wider audience more people read the times than was ever true before we employ more reporters than was ever true before. But everyone, you know, but the times is also very much, you know, a newspaper of what you’re calling the Citadel. And he doesn’t want to be I think at the I think the people who people who are my boss’s people who run the paper are aware of the problem of, of being just a newspaper that sort of inside this bubble, and especially after Trump won there was you know, I think a real sense of like, you know, well, let’s figure out what went wrong, but it’s very, but it’s hard to just, I guess I’d put it this way, just as it’s hard to figure You’re out if you’re when you’re outside the Citadel, and you’re trying to figure out how do you get in? How do you how do you inject yourself into an influence those debates? When you’re inside the Citadel, and subject to internal pressure there, it’s hard to figure out how do you break out? How do you How would you be a newspaper for the whole country? What would that mean? I think that’s a problem that I know, it’s a problem that, you know, the smart people at the times the higher ups wrestle with and I, you know, I don’t think there’s a definite solution. But it’s not something. It’s not something that people, the sort of ownership and leadership and editorship of the times is unaware of as a problem. I
Eric Weinstein 2:27:45
think I think that in a weird way. Again, this is one of these perennial disagreements. My take on it is that you can tell by virtue of who doesn’t come outside the city walls that There really isn’t a very deep search. The search is like, well, let’s let’s slightly broaden the search amongst ourselves. And maybe we could get a few new voices at the table. But I think that if you were to ask, for example, very deeply, you know, if you were to convene a meeting of 25 people, the harshest critics of the times of The Washington Post or CNN, I think people would be incredibly well informed. If you look at what happened with Andrew Yang and MSNBC. And the bizarre way that he was treated repeatedly graphic after graphic, and then you know, MSNBC would have to apologize and they do it again. I don’t think that there’s a wit of deep soul searching. I think that there’s a shallow soul searching and I don’t think that the people outside the Citadel are interested in coming in. I think that’s a mistake. I think what we are aware of, is that we will not have influence until this wall between the two is breached, but I don’t think anybody that I know of who’s doing something like this wants to come in sorry.
Unknown Speaker 2:29:01
I think that the idea is, but then what is the breach? So is it a breach in the wall? if, you know, my colleague, Barry Weiss writes a, you know, a major Sunday review story about part of your intellectual circle. Was that a breach in the wall? Yeah. Okay. It’s a breach in the wall that I guess I’m here talking to you, but right now,
Eric Weinstein 2:29:23
right. Right. Right. And then the idea and you and I’ve talked before, it is not that there are no context of this form. But in general, first of all there with the op ed portion on the if you think of the other being a Chinese wall inside of a place like the New York Times, again, that’s mirrored at other news outfits, you are the part that will talk to us. The other part, the regular news part. Absolutely is not interested in getting the story right. If they’re interested at all they want to know. Why is this conduit to the alt right being platformed and mainstream, which is about the dumbest story you could possibly write. It’s
Unknown Speaker 2:30:01
I didn’t mean i i Yeah, we don’t have to get into big argument about the times. But I don’t want to I think I think there’s much more diversity and complexity on the new side, too. But I agree with you that the, I mean, I think the op ed page has a particular you know, it’s more adventurous, it’s broadly, it has the obligation to, to have arguments and to express a diversity of opinion. And the challenge for the news side is that there is sort of a historic and admirable approach to news gathering in American newspapers, that is under extreme strain, in part because of this division between the center the establishment and the rest of the country. And it’s hard to know exactly how to adapt to that new environment. And there’s also you know, there’s intense there’s, there’s, as as newspapers try and adapt their counter pressures and cross pressured from, from lots of different directions. But op ed is, you know, is is sort of we have a charter and a mandate to, uh, to sort of have arguments and host arguments and contain arguments.
Unknown Speaker 2:31:15
Unknown Speaker 2:31:17
I don’t know. I mean, I don’t think we do actually that bad a job, but
Eric Weinstein 2:31:22
Well, I’m friends with a bunch with a bunch of you. Okay, no. So So there you go. Yeah. So let me let me close out with my final question on this front, which is, to me, one of the reasons I’m doing this, and this was not my first choice to choose long form podcasting. I was more I was, I think, more content being a guest of other people’s podcasts. I think this is really the I think this is really the bright spot in a world that is decadent and complacent and stagnant, which is it’s amazing to have a broadcast channel where you know that you’re going to get hundreds of thousands of listens to very long discussions where there is no mommy. And there’s no daddy saying what can and cannot be said. And seemingly, at least as you if you can divorce yourself from the platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and Google, which have this kind of editorial control, this is actually the great hope of this moment, which is people are tuning into incredibly long conversations where they can actually get a feel for how do people interact with each other? What is their chemistry, like? What do they really represent? And you can actually listen to it an argument or an issue get disposition? Do you think that at some level, this is a significant or is it a less significant counterweight to the sense making inside the Citadel?
Unknown Speaker 2:32:49
I think it’s I think it is a counterweight, I think it’s especially a counterweight to the spirit of social media, which we haven’t really talked about. But as a sort of force propelling people towards caution and conformity, right, because the nature of social media is such that it creates sort of constant purges and dragging things and, you know, sort of attempts to just sort of call out and, and attack people who transgress ever shifting sets of rules. And this is my colleague, Michelle Goldberg, who I podcast with has made this point that, you, you that seems to happen much more rarely with podcasts that even though tons of people are listening to them, you’re not having clips pulled out of them and played out of context and being used to ruin people’s careers. They have some kind of immunity for now to the prevailing spirit of social media. Now, you know, as soon as I say that, one will go through this podcast right and pluck something out of context. Probably some comment about Hitler. or something and dragged me for it. So I don’t want to take that too far. But, you know, I mean, I think what podcasts have going for them is a version of what the blogosphere had going for it in the like five year window before it was sort of first swallow, you know, sort of taken out by mainstream institutions, but then before social media sort of purged it, right. So, when I was a blogger, back when I was really young, you were a blogger, yeah, like 2425 for the, on my own. And then for the Atlantic, the nature of the blogosphere was such that you had incredible kind of cross pollenization between journalists, academics and amateurs. And you had, you did have sort of a version of dragging, but it took the form of like incredibly long, point by point rebuttals to people’s arguments, not just sort of finger pointing and hysteria, and it had a much You know, it had a smaller audience and reach them social media, but it had You know it in that window, I think it had real virtues in terms of unsettling intellectual consensuses and exposing people to broader a broader set of perspectives and if I’m being optimistic and we can end on an optimistic note mailtime So yeah, the my feeling has been that social media basically killed the blogosphere. But maybe podcasting has revived and
Unknown Speaker 2:35:28
and deepened it.
Eric Weinstein 2:35:31
Let us let us pray.
Unknown Speaker 2:35:32
Eric Weinstein 2:35:34
Okay. Look, you’ve been through the portal now with Ross Douthat the book is The decadent society I highly recommend it as Ross says he’s pulled together a bunch of different threads and synthesize something sort of the way guns germs and steel synthesized a bunch of different people’s thoughts. He’s given us a really interesting framework to think about a ton of people’s ideas and is giving us I hope, a little bit of a boost blueprint for how we might escape a decadent future. So Ross, thank you for coming through. Thank you so much for having me. Thank you for the thank you for the beverage Cheers. Here’s how you do, sir. You can catch Ross on his book tour, hopefully. And please subscribe on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify wherever you listen to podcasts and then head on over to our YouTube channel. And not only subscribe, but please click the bell icon to be informed when our next YouTube video drops and we’ll see you all soon be well thanks
The Portal podcast transcription series
- Peter Thiel
- What is The Portal?
- Werner Herzog
- Timur Kuran
- Rabbi David Wolpe
- Jocko Willink
- Bret Easton Ellis
- Andrew Yang
- Bryan Callen
- Julie Lindahl
- Sam Harris
- Vitalik Buterin
- Garry Kasparov
- London Tsai
- Garrett Lisi
- Tyler Cowen
- Anna Khachiyan
- Eric Weinstein – State of the Portal 2020
- Bret Weinstein
- Sir Roger Penrose
- Ashley Mathews (Riley Reid)
- Ben Greenfield
- Agnes Callard
- Kai Lenny
- The Construct: Jeffrey Epstein
Geometric Unity – a First Look
- James O’Keefe
- Daniel Schmachtenberger
- Eric Lewis
- Jamie Metzl
- Ross Douthat
- Ryan Holiday