“I didn’t leave the [FILL IN THE BLANK]. The [FILL IN THE BLANK] left me…”
If the term INTELLECTUAL DARK WEB (IDW) invokes thoughts of an Internet subculture of sorts, then you’re halfway there in terms of understanding what it is. The network is comprised of pundits and academics who see themselves as rebels against a status quo destroying the very soul of humanity. Unlike the real dark web, which isn’t indexed by Google or any other popular search engine, this group and their content are easily accessible. Their name simply points to their unconventional way of thinking—much like content you’d find on the dark web.
It probably goes without saying that their views, disseminated through podcasts, social media and live public forums, are not always well-received. Hence, members of the Intellectual Dark Web don’t always find the platform they feel they deserve in the traditional media landscape. They are instead forced to the Internet where alternative media provides channels for them to think and speak freely.
Eric R. Weinstein, Managing Director of Thiel Capital, coined the term “Intellectual Dark Web” only to claim he did so in half-jest after his brother was forced to resign for criticizing 2017’s Day of Absence event at Evergreen State College. Many believed this fallout underscored the very factions of the movement. Are political correctness and cancel culture the enemy of free speech?
For an unbiased look at the IDW, it is perhaps best to visit one of several sources containing information about its primary advocates. At the time of this writing, there appears to be two authoritative websites about the Intellectual Dark Web:
Other notable proponents include neuroscientist Sam Harris, psychologist and best-selling author Jordan Peterson, conservative commentators Ben Shapiro and Douglas Murray, and feminist activists Christina Hoff Sommers and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Members of the Intellectual Dark Web are highly individualistic and have distinct political leanings. Whether centre-right or left, or at the opposite ends of the political spectrum, these individuals are encouraged to discuss the issues of our time while passionately defending their points of view.
A commonality among the group is that each have fallen foul of institutions that didn’t take kindly to their unconventional ideas. They typically do not go along with popular opinion or support whatever is in vogue. Their positions are more contrarian because they truly believe those are the right ones to take.
This level of conscientiousness has earned them welcome and receptiveness among online audiences. There are many people out there who similarly feel stifled by contemporary thought and politics. In many ways this resembles earlier Internet subcultures, such as the one that spawned the hacker group Anonymous which would go on to publicly support WikiLeaks and the Occupy movement. The Intellectual Dark Web has tackled topics like race, gender and the #MeToo movement, racking up millions of viewers on YouTube and other video and audio blogging platforms.
Because the members of the Intellectual Dark Web believe they have been denied outreach by conventional media, they seek to upend the hierarchy of power. But detractors take their claims of being marginalized by mainstream media with a grain of salt, considering how well-placed many of them they are in their professions and society. Like most anti-establishment movements, IDW has probably lost some of its crusader aura over time (again, according to their detractors), but it continues to be a powerful voice that society needs.