Thursday, April 14, 2016

Some YouTube Critics of the Regressive Left

We need more of them. Here is a list of people and their work below, not all left-wing:
(1) The Rubin Report
Dave Rubin’s The Rubin Report examines politics in an interview format and has much criticism of the regressive left.

(2) Gad Saad
Gad Saad is an evolutionary behavioral scientist and has a YouTube channel with much commentary on the regressive left.

(3) Sargon of Akkad
The YouTube personality Sargon of Akkad seems to be broadly liberal but has harsh, and often controversial, criticisms of the regressive left.
One can disagree with these people on certain issues, but still appreciate their defence of free speech and their critiques of regressive left nonsense.

A sample video below: Stephen Fry interviewed by Dave Rubin on the dangers of political correctness.


  1. They may do some good work attacking the regressive left, but a cursory view of their topics related to Islam, the middle east, and terrorism don't exactly make them appear to have a particularly nuanced understanding pf those issues. Given your familiarity with orientalist scholarship and the important role it's played in our understanding of the region, you may agree with this criqitue, LK.

    I don't see any interviews with orientalists who have written on any number of topics related to the middle east, Islamism, and terrorism on their channels-but I do see plenty of interviews with charlatans like Robinson and Bill Warner. To give a specific example, take Gaad's video on Islam vs Islamism. Not once does Gaad quote or cite the many orientalists who have written about Islamism to support his contentions about the relation between Islam and Islamism-instead, he appeals to Nawaz. Nawaz is not exactly knowledgable on the relationship between the two, nor does he have any background in orientalist scholarship, so it makes no sense to use him as a source when there are much better ones available. By the same accord, when he throws up venn diagrams to explain the different perspectives, he discusses where the regressive left, Nawaz, and neo-cons fit-but not where orientalists fit into his framework, even though they are a lot more relevant when discussing this issue. Heck, he doesn't even really offer any substantial reason why his framework is useful, or what orientalists frame it in a similar manner. These seem like pretty glaring omissions in any work about a despicable ideology like Islamism that is intended to be serious.

    That aside, much as Irwin was 100% correct to suggest that we need more, not less, orientalist scholarship, you're 100% correct to note that we need more folk actively opposing the regressive left and other manifestations of the post modernist rot that has afflicted the left over the past few decades. I had recently read an interview with Greenwald from a few years back (I think it was with Sam Seder? I can't find the precise quote, I'll post it when I find it since you'll find it hilarious and dreadful) where he flatly refused to condemn the crimes against humanity carried out by the dogs of Daesh because they're an enemy of the US, and so condemning them would mean he's a tool for the powerful. I feel like an idiot just writing that down, and yet such views are held by a large portion of people who are ostensibly left wing. It almost makes one wonder if there's a relation between these ridiculous views becoming dominant among the left, and the left becoming more and more irrelevant to people who would traditionally make up their base.

    Fortunately, your blog has served the purpose of defecating on post modernism as much as it's served the purpose of promoting post-Keynesian thought. Much as brother Dan Marmur thanked you for helping him understand post-Keynesian economics, I want to offer similar thanks for your continued demolition of post-modernist absurdities, and the destructive effect it's had on left wing ideology (and your defense of Chomsky from the charge that he's a regressive leftist). If there's any site on the internet that does a better job attacking these elements of the left from the left than this blog, I'm not aware of it.

    1. Tell me, do these guys need to be 100% correct on everything they say to be **essentially or mostly right** in what they are saying about this extremist fundamentalist fanaticism?

      You basically demand perfection when nobody is perfect. Also, Rubin and Saad do not necessarily agree with all the guests they interview. They are promoting free speech. This is badly needed today.

      E.g., Rubin interviewed John McCain, but clearly Rubin isn't a conservative and doesn't agree with McCain on many issues.

    2. "Nawaz is not exactly knowledgable on the relationship between the two, nor does he have any background in orientalist scholarship, so it makes no sense to use him as a source when there are much better ones available."

      Wait... Nawaz is an *ex-Islamist* and you say he is "not exactly knowledgable on the relationship between the two"? I have to tell you quite frankly I find this absurd.

    3. I stopped reading at 'nuanced' which is a word only used by those not worth reading. What's hilarious is that you looked at their list of topics and decided on that basis that *they* lack nuance!

    4. LK, as to your first comment, demanding perfection: you should have known that at 'nuanced'. It's a tell.

    5. I don't think they're mostly or almost right, LK-that's why I raise the issue. Only regressive leftists disagree that we should oppose barbarism; there is a disagreement over whether this is an effective way of opposing Islamic barbarism. Asking that they show a familiarity with the rich scholarship available on Islamism when talking about Islamism seems like a reasonable request, not a demand for perfection. Their fixation on Islam and ignorance of, say, history, leads them into the same trap as the regressive leftist that fixates on imperialism and is ignorant of the history. This can even lead to them looking in the wrong places when their critiques have some validity-where a regressive leftie will focus so much on imperialism that they end up ignoring the far more relevant effects of Mongol imperialism on the Muslim world, the opposite party will focus on the Qu'ran and the Rashidun period when they'd be better served reading "The Management Of Savagery" and looking into the role Ibn Tayamiyyah plays in modern Islamic savagery.

      I don't think they have to share the views of the people they interviewed in order to interview them. However, if someone who discusses a topic spends more time interviewing demagogues and charlatans than those who have relevant knowledge, that seems to call into question whether they're promoting rational discourse, or demagogues. Still, you are right to note that promoting these guests has more to do with free speech than an endorsement of such views, and free speech definitely deserves to be defended in this day.

      As for Nawaz, I'm not aware of anyone who publishes academic work on Islam or Islamism that takes him seriously, and a cursory look on google scholar pulls up nothing that cites him. As far as I'm aware, Nawaz's demand is a lot higher among the Harris's of the world, than those who publish work on terrorism or Islamism.

      Perhaps the reason I respond more strongly to these issues, and don't see them as minor, may have to do with my own background. I'm a history major whose 'academic interests' (scare quotes, since I'm still only an undergraduate) pretty much revolve around the modern middle east. In my field of study (feels pretentious saying that as undergrad), both parties are as at odds with the serious work done on these topics. It certainly doesn't help that I also have an annoying tendency to prattle on about Islam when the actual topic you're discussing is only tangibly related at best!

    6. And how many videos of Gad Saad did you watch before you came to the conclusion that he is fundamentally wrong? A whole one? Two? Three?

      Also your comments on Nawaz stink of the worst type of academic elitist nonsense. The notion that a man like Nawaz knows nothing or has nothing important to say is plainly absurd because the man has real world experience of what he speaks of.

  2. Found the Greenwald quote. I was incorrect to say he refused to condemn Daesh, as it was about Islam in general. While this makes it a bit less shameful, it's still vintage regressive left nonsense:

    "As an American I’m not on a platform to reform Islam — If I attack Islam I’m only feeding my own government with support for its propaganda that the supreme threat is not imperialism etc but is Islam..."

    Indeed, if one attacks practices in Islam, and wishes for reform to bring it in line with modernity, they're only serving the US government and other powerful institutions. Thank you, regressive left, for teaching me that Nasser was actually serving imperialism and the US government when he locked up the Muslim Brotherhood and promoted reform minded clerics to Al-Ahzar!

    1. Yeah, this is why the regressive left is so dangerous and stupid and beyond contempt.

      So why complain about minor issues with Gad Saad as if Saad is somehow worse?

      There needs to be massive return to defence of secularism and rational critique of religion. These YouTube people are doing this, quite well too, whatever their faults.

    2. It's hardly minor. Their willful ignorance of what relevant experts and orientalists have to say contributes directly to their promotion of ignorant policies and rhetoric that only serve to add fuel to the fire. Scott Atran and others who have interacted with Daesh recruits and other Islamists have found that the "West Vs Islam" narrative promoted by Islamists and these types of critics assists Islamists in recruitment. As for danger, I am unaware of similar evidence from those who interact with Daesh recruits finding regressive lefties refusing to call a spade a spade, and acknowledge that religion plays a role and it's not all reducible to western imperialism, contributes to their pool of recruits.

      I agree that we need a rational critique. One's that are demonstrated to help Daesh, rather than weaken them, seem to be irrational if the goal is to effectively defeat reactionary Islam, and bring the religion into the values of the modern era.

    3. I've seen some remarks by Scott Atran. I wasn't impressed.

      Also, SHN, you seem to have a naïve faith in the academy. There is a lot of extreme nonsense and stupidity from people sitting in universities pumping out "research" that is garbage.

  3. Sargon of Akkad? Really...let's use his real name shall we Carl Benjamin. He claims he is a 'classical liberal' but frankly is all over the place.
    As for 'free speech' all he does is set his followers on people.

    1. Wow. And the regressive left doesn't gather in lynch mobs to attack people?

  4. What a howler about the Civil War. Tai peng rebellion. Not his only goof. But he's on the right side in general.

    By the way he's most right about baseball caps! I refuse to be seen in one. Like all decent people I wear either a broad brimmed hat or a proper British flat cap.

  5. David Pakman has started doing some anti-regressive Left videos.

    The greatest was his video against Reza Aslan, who he beautifully showed is a bit of a con artist, and certainly not the respected authority on these issues he claims to be.

  6. You excluder, you