I think it’s now safe to say that my “YouTube Drama” experiment has been a rousing success. I took this past month off, and I was surprised by how little the traffic dropped off without new videos. I didn’t drop below 1,000 views a day until the very end of the month, and it was my video critiquing the YouTube channel Whatifalthist that drove the majority of the traffic. It zoomed past the 25,000 view mark I had set to produce a sequel. That 25K makes it my most viewed video in two years. So with my first produced video back I’m starting out with a part two on whatifalthist. Rest assured, I intend to alternate more serious content with YouTube diss tracks going forward, but it’s clear that the diss tracks are what is driving the channel’s renewed growth.
Video Transcript after the jump…
So, you guys really like hearing me talk about the YouTube Channel Whatifalthist, huh? Critiquing 20 year olds isn’t what I expected this channel to be about, but it has produced my most viewed video in two years, so let’s give the people more of what they want.
Luckily, in the four months since my first video critiquing that very successful geopolitics and history channel, young Mr. Lynch has given me a lot to talk about. He’s taken a big jump in coherence and production values. Last time I complained about how scattershot a lot of his videos could be, but recently he has been turning his considerable and growing powers towards much tighter arguments. Unfortunately, these arguments remain fundamentally flawed in ways I recognize from my own intellectual development. The new slicker, stock footage using Whatifalthist seems to be devolving into a sort of Fox News for Nerds, and it’s a development phase I really wish he would skip.
Let me be clear, Whatifalthist is no Trumper. Nor has he fallen into the orbit of the alt-right trolls. Dodging those bullets is pretty impressive for a kid who has now lived like half his life as a right leaning public figure. It shows wisdom far beyond his years. But he’s fallen for something else that I usually associate with white men three times his age. Whatifalthist seems to be developing into an anti-anti-Trumper.
“The Thing Social Justice People Don’t Understand is that the more they push, the more they create the backlash that will kill them. The left has radicalized the right.”
This is the idea that yeah, Trump was gross, but you have to understand, it’s all these Leftist excesses that made him happen. The left is the real problem. Whatifalthist’s falling into this knee-jerk position is frustrating because he is getting better at seeing and presenting the realities that contradict his ideology.
My favorite recent Whatifalthist video has got to be “A historian explains Gen Z” where he does an impressive job explaining the crappy circumstances his generation finds itself in.
“In 1950 it would take over two years of average income to buy a house. Now we are at over 20. In real terms standard of living has declined precipitously since the 1970s. The cost of education has gone up 20 times since 1970 and per Capita spending on healthcare has gone up 7 times since 1970. The example I have given earlier, that I think is still powerful is that in the 1980s Homer Simpson was considered a lower middle class loser for holding a steady job with a stay at home wife, three kids and the ability to go on vacation regularly. That standard of living is impossible for basically any young people today.”
For the majority of this Gen Z video Whatifalthist provides a compelling portrait of how bad things have become. It’s a rousing description of some of the factors that convinced me that it was time to finally abandon my youthful faith in Ronald Reagan in the aftermath of the 2016 US presidential election. But Whatifalthist hasn’t broken with the old religion yet, so he can’t provide any real solutions to the problems he’s described so well. He briefly complains about the deficit, says “well, things might work out all right” and concludes with a bunch of whining about social justice movements. He implies that the economic despair and alienation he movingly describes is inevitable.
“The driving factor behind this isn’t any particular group like the right or left, the banks or ethnic minorities, but instead macroeconomic trends that are affecting the whole world and that we have seen dozens of times across history before.”
This sounds smart, but it’s a standard elite cop-out. It’s the sort of thing I believed before 2016, but it’s deeply wrong. None of this was inevitable. The grim economic picture he paints isn’t the result of the way economics work, it’s the result of political choices.
We didn’t have to let private equity take over all our hospitals, driving up prices. The two biggest healthcare reforms of this century didn’t have to be designed around making insurance companies richer. We didn’t have to let local zoning boards shut down US home building. We didn’t have to ship all our factories to China. These were political choices with economic consequences, and different political choices could have had better results. But Whatifalthiat’s ideology prohibits him from seeing this.
Despite all his focus on the irritation of social justice movements I think Whatifalthist is missing their point entirely. The most Fox news thing about his work is the model of US politics he seems to accept. I don’t think it oversimplifies things too much to say that he sees an ongoing battle between left and right for the soul of the American people or whatever. But that’s not what’s going on at all.
The truth is that what we are all experiencing is the death of a 40 year old political model, just like what the world experienced in the 1970s. I talked about this at length two years back.
“Ronald Reagan, for better and for worse, defined his era, and the three decades that followed it. As far as 20th century presidents go, probably only FDR was more influential. And arguably, thanks to the end of the cold war, Reagan’s ideas have gone a lot farther than FDR’s ever did.
FDR saved capitalism from communism and fascism by massively increasing government involvement. The balance he created between the public and private sectors has been characterized as managerial capitalism, focused on mass production and government fine tuning of the relationship between capital and labor. The experts, public and private, were creating an affluent society, and we were all supposed to do our part and enjoy it. Reagan defined himself in opposition to all that. He wanted free trade and free markets. Reagan heralded the return of the entrepreneur, and the mass disruption of big government, and even some big businesses. Capital had to be free, and government had to get out of the way of the job creators. Creative destruction was the order of the day and things like labor unions and national borders were inconvenient obstacles to be crushed.
A tremendous amount of energy has been expended on arguing about which of these approaches is right or wrong. At my advanced age I have come to the realization that they were both right. And they were both wrong. FDR and Reagan both presented a set of ideological and legal solutions to the problems that beset their eras. Both sets of solutions worked really well for a period of time. You can measure the success of these mental models by how impossible to avoid they were.
At every US election the two parties always claim to be very different animals. Democrats and Republicans in different eras advocate slightly different mixes of policies, but they don’t really dissent from the overall mood of the times. Dwight Eisenhower, the first post FDR Republican, worked for the government for most of his career, and created the interstate highway system, one of the biggest government projects ever. Republicans are going to hate hearing this but the Clintons were both Reaganites. Welfare reform, financial deregulation, balanced budgets, you name it, if it was in the GOP platform, the Clintons tried it. Like Nixon Obama talked a very different game, but he followed Reagan just as much as Nixon followed FDR. Obama care, his supposedly socialist healthcare program, was a product of the very right wing Heritage foundation think tank. The stocks of most major healthcare companies are up by 4 to 500 percent since Obamacare was passed.”
Are you beginning to see what social justice is really about, on the elite level anyway? The new Democratic emphasis on political correctness and identity politics in the 1990s wasn’t about fighting Republicans, it was, and remains, a marketing scheme to cover up the fact that the Democratic party completely agreed with the Republicans on signing all of government and the economy over to the Fortune 500.
Social Justice is like abortion and guns, controversial issues that are used to cover up the fact that the two main parties don’t disagree on anything fundamental. In the 80s and 90s the Reagan consensus worked well for the country as a whole. For the past two decades it mostly allowed both parties to rob the American public blind while we have been distracted by a steadily mounting series of crises. Sure, Social Justice ideology occasionally gets out of hand and ruins some individual’s lives. So does the right’s obsession with bad laws around guns and abortion. It’s just the price of doing business here at the ass end of the Reagan era, and business is good.
The companies that own the news are desperate to keep the gravy train going, by preserving the fiction that our political parties have fundamental disagreements of any kind. Making Social Justice movements seem like some kind of alien enemy rather than a normal part of US development, is a key part of the Fox news playbook, a way to obscure what’s really going on. Unfortunately, Whatifalthist, as perceptive as he is, seems to be buying into this marketing scheme.
The Foxification of Whatifalthist isn’t just leading to bad arguments, it’s leading to public humiliation. Three weeks ago, Whatifalthist had what I hesitate to call a debate with Vaush, a popular left wing YouTuber. In prepping for this video, I finally watched the second half of this debate, and I was surprised. They were largely talking past each other, but in the second half of the debate Whatifalthist was the clear winner. He just seemed smarter and less flustered. That is not the case in the first half, where Whatifalthist felt obligated to protect some dumb Fox news dogma he had built a bad video around.
“And Martin Luther King is currently, you know, the biggest figure that is cited when talking about historical civil rights in the modern black lives matter movement. So there is a definite continuous ideological trend from a to b to c, and I feel like the only reason you would deny that fact is because you like what the abolitionists did, but you don’t like what BLM activists do today, and you have to explain that disconnect by somehow separating these extremely well connected movements.
Bro, how many books on American intellectual history have you read. Give me some titles, give me some titles to back up what you’re saying.”
So that’s the point at which I stopped watching the debate three weeks ago, out of sheer embarrassment for Whatifalthist. It wasn’t just the incredibly pitiful argument loser “I read more books than you”, that was bad, it was that even in this idiotic format, Whatifalthist had already demonstrated his complete ignorance on the topic.
“The Abolitionists were built out of the radical Republican agenda, that was a subset of the Republican party that existed mostly in the upper tier of northern states. And their platforms were in effect, trying to settle the Western Frontier, they were very pro-capitalist,”
“This is an obfuscation…”
The first name that comes to mind on Abolition is William Lloyd Garrison. Anti-Slavery sentiments dated back before the founding of course, but Garrison is where most textbooks start describing the final form of the Abolitionist movement. His newspaper the Liberator, founded in 1831, pushed Abolition onto the agenda, and he was widely hated for it, North and South. It’s easy to see why Garrison doesn’t feature in the books Whatifalthist reads, because he is the very definition of a radical Social Justice Warrior, advocating civil disobedience, and proclaiming a deep loathing of the US constitution. The Republican party, Whatifalthist’s supposed inventor of Abolition, wasn’t even founded until 1854. The closest historical parallel would probably be Obama and Clinton’s adoption of Gay marriage advocacy after it became a majority viewpoint. Even Lincoln wasn’t openly for Abolition until the third year of the Civil war. And I don’t believe Radical Republican became a meaningful designation until the war itself, a full 30 years after Garrison’s popularization of Abolition as a cause. Trying to win an argument by claiming your opponent hasn’t done the reading is always unattractive, doing so on a topic you clearly don’t know the first thing about is appalling.
Whatifalthist was put in this ridiculous position, on a topic he clearly doesn’t know much about, because of ideology. He wisely dodged the bullets of Trumpism and the Alt-right, why is he now nailing himself to the mast of Fox News Social Justice whining? Is the endorsement of figures like Sebastian Gorka really all that valuable? The thing that gets me the most, is that Whatifalthist really didn’t need to take the Tim Pool path. Tim Pool went from Occupy Wall Street to churning out a dumber version of Fox News on YouTube for financial reasons. And it was a great business choice for him. But Whatifalthist already had a huge and growing audience before his recent hard turn towards ideology. Could it be that he actually believes this nonsense?
Why don’t we close with some of his own words?
“Decadence comes in many forms… but on all the fundamental bases its an inability to come to terms with the reality that’s staring straight at you, and instead preferring to hide behind some culturally constructed vision of the world.”
Whatifalthist is a smart kid. When he finally lets go of the rest of his culturally constructed vision of the world, I bet he’s going to start making some really great stuff.g
Alright, I could probably say more on this topic, but you’ll have to force me to do it. To do a third Whatifalthist video, I’m going to need this video and my prior Whatifalthist video to make it over 50,000 views each. Next time we’re going back to Yemen.