Whatifalthist Is Getting Desperate

These “YouTube Drama” videos are fun to produce. It sometimes seems a bit silly to be taking a 22-year old to task for his views, but the fact is that Whatifalthist is a 22-year old with a viewership of 100s of thousands. And these videos are very important for my channel. There was a recent survey on my discord server, asking how people first found my content. Most of them, the most committed members of my audience, found me through one of my critiques of other YouTubers. Here’s hoping this one does well! I don’t think I’ll be revisiting this particular creator any time soon.

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Video Transcript after the jump…

So is anybody else getting a sort of cry for help vibe from the YouTuber Whatifalthist? At some point last month, my two previous critiques of this young purveyor of doom made it over 100,000 views. That means I owe you a new Whatifalthist video, so I started watching his channel again, looking for something new to say, and it’s pretty bleak…

I don’t go to cities anymore

Twitter is bloodthirsty

Now perhaps I’m projecting here. I’m kind of depressed myself right now. I see it as my job to cheerfully document US empire. The fact that my tax dollars and my government are providing diplomatic cover, weapons and logistics support to what most of the world now recognizes as a genocide is making it hard for me to do my work. Perhaps Whatifalthist is having similar difficulties over what we’re doing to Palestine.

14:38 Palestine clip

OK, so maybe Whatifalthist’s not connected to that particular part of reality. But he can’t be missing that it’s really hard for anybody to get excited about the rerun battle of geriatrics that the US presidential election has devolved into. A certain amount of weariness is to be expected from political commentators. But Whatifalthist’s analysis isn’t just depressed it’s straight up yearning for apocalypse.

Everyone wants civil war.

Yikes. As a quick review, Whatifalthist is the nom de YouTube of Rudyard Lynch, a 22 year old history buff, who has built an impressively large platform over the past decade. I make these critiques of him primarily because they get views, but also because I am really really jealous of the size of his audience. Whatifalthist started off with alternate history videos, but in recent years, perhaps radicalized by his viewers, his content has become more and more right wing. Despite being barely out of his teens, he has adopted the personality of a world weary, get off my lawn curmudgeon. It’s kind of ridiculous, but it’s been working for him.

In past videos I have pointed out that while young Mr. Lynch is clearly a very smart kid, he’s been betrayed by his reading list. He appears to mostly focus on grand right wing theories of history, instead of the boring details of what actually happened, and what’s happening now. He is perceptive enough to see that there are a number of things that are very wrong with the United States and the world, but his Fox News for nerds ideology keeps him from seeing any possible solutions to these problems.

As I have pointed out before, I have a lot of sympathy for Lynch, because 20 years ago I was just like him. I was young, frustrated sexually and professionally, and filled with right wing fantasies of violence. I could see that the world had serious problems, but the anti government, Republican ideology I still believed in offered no solutions other than tax cuts and murdering Iraqis. I fervently believed that no better world was possible. That was a really shitty place to be in mentally, and I can’t imagine how much worse it must be to be in Whatifalthist’s position, with an audience of 100s of thousands who expect him to keep providing tired anti-Social Justice Warrior takes that were already pretty played out back in 2020.

Sad clip

I still believe that Lynch will snap out of it one day, and start posting sensible stuff, but that is not what has happened in the 2 years since I last checked in with him. Instead he’s just gotten more extreme. He’s now openly predicting, and just short of calling for, civil war in the United States. Before we dissect that argument, there’s a telling clip from another video I want to mention.

“Painting” clip

This seems like a sensible, fair-minded thing to say, but… It’s not a painting. It’s a cartoon, a drawing or perhaps an etching published in a British magazine over a century ago. This may seem like a minor point to harp on, but it’s emblematic of so much of Lynch’s content. He makes a big show of being open to other viewpoints, and in the next sentence will assert some deeply wrong opinion, usually a right wing one, as if it’s incontrovertible truth. It’s really irritating to sit through after a while.

So,let’s take a look at this “Why the 2024 Election Will Start a civil war video”, published on February 8, 2024. I already feel like I need to apologize a little bit. I prefer to focus on arguments rather than armchair psychoanalysis. Making assumptions about the mindset of a political opponent is perhaps the lowest form of discussion. The problem is that there’s very little in this 38 minute video that’s concrete enough to critique. There’s nothing there.

There’s no prediction. There’s no description of how an election between two candidates that very few actually like is supposed to morph into a civil war. There’s some numerology, a carefully selected list of different types of wars, ignoring many others, meant to imply that the English speaking world is due for a civil war. There’s the trotting out of the Peter Turchin, George Friedman, Strauss & Howe cycles bullshit. That stuff is fun to think about, but it’s honestly about as serious as Nostradamus. Science fiction like this can teach us a lot, but if you’re trying to draw solid dates for future events from it, you’ve lost the plot.

The civil war video is mostly vibes and fantasy, specifically about a mythical, poorly described right and left. The right is everything that’s heroic and manly, while the left is everything that’s bad and female. Whatifalthist concedes that right-leaning people are vastly more likely to get violent, but he believes it would still be the left-wing’s fault because… well, I’ll let him describe it himself.

10:30 Male female crazy

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to what this means about young Mr. Lynch’s attitudes towards women, and the quality of people he’s been hanging around with. These fantasy constructions of right and left inform what little he has to tell us about his longed for civil war, and what it might look like.


So conservatives provide better incentives to the war fighters? I suppose Lynch can be forgiven for not remembering the George W. Bush years very well, but I don’t recall our soldiers much enjoying the meat grinder the neocons put them through. The Bushies did a lot of shady stuff, like stop-loss and entrapping the national guard to feed their war machine. Though I suppose it’s nice that president Bush has spent his retirement painting pictures of all the US soldiers he needlessly dismembered. Very little that Whatifalthist says about Left or Right has much to do with reality, and the video gets pretty dark.

10:50 Red Blue Jews in poland

I’m sorry, but this is insane. And it’s one of the main problems with all US civil war fantasies, whether they happen to be Whatifalthist’s or Hollywood’s. Despite the hype, the United States just isn’t that divided. And the differences we have are not straightforwardly geographical. In even the most polarized red and blue states we have, places like Democratic Vermont or Republican Mississippi, at least 30% of the population votes in the other direction. In bigger states, like New York or Texas, the numbers rarely skew further than 60-40.

Even Whatifalthist’s own data doesn’t support the hype on cultural division. He quickly flashes this chart on fertility to illustrate the divide. But if you pause the video and look at the numbers, you see that pretty much every state, red and blue, has a birth rate between 1.5 and 2 kids per woman. The only outlier is South Dakota in the middle there, which has a higher rate because of their disproportionately high indigenous population. I don’t want to make any unfair assumptions, but I am pretty sure that Native Americans are not what Whatifalthist has in mind when he talks about Western civilization preserving conservative families.

Lynch doesn’t talk seriously about the very real cleavages dividing this country, which are mostly about wealth. He provides a cartoon, a Fox News style illusion of who really runs this country. As you listen to this list, try to think, does it actually describe a single living human being? Does it describe a coherent philosophy that anybody is going to take up arms to fight for or against?

33:40 degeneracy clip

So do the tiny fraction of people who are against economic growth or reproduction run our immigration policy? Are the people responsible for too much money printing running around tearing down statutes? Is anybody tearing down statues anymore in 2024? Whatifalthist’s descriptions of US politics are all caricature, and it’s not even particularly current caricature. The Democrats are currently pushing a restrictive new immigration law, that the Republicans are vetoing because they don’t want to lose the election issue.

I know Whatifalthist and his supporters hate this critique, but smart as he is, he’s just too young, and he has no perspective on politics or the country. Everything he’s experiencing is fresh and new and feels revolutionary, so he believes it’s all fresh and new, even though very little of it is. We had much better organized, and scarier right wing militias back in the 1990s, as just one example. Here’s another good one.

NEETS clip

So NEETS were unimaginable in 2019? Maybe for Whatifalthist. Here’s a Pew Research Center report from 2016 talking about 10 million NEETS. They found it to be a troubling number, but it was down significantly from 2008 highs, 16 years ago.

Mr. Lynch is just as deluded about the right wing as he is about the left. His vision of a heavily armed network of young right wing men who are just itching for the chance to form a new Confederacy is a fantasy he shares with the currently Democrat-leaning national security state. The FBI has been looking desperately for these guys for years now. The Deep State needs a new gravy train now that our Saudi allies aren’t funding as much Islamic terrorism. The problem is that these neo-confederate militias simply don’t exist. The few examples we have were actually created by the FBI.

Remember that plot to kidnap Michigan’s Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer? It was revealed to great fanfare in October 2020, as an example of the sorts of Donald Trump inspired violence we should be looking out for. It turns out, that like almost every other example of domestic terrorism since 2001, the dumb asses who managed to get convicted were lured into their crimes by overactive FBI informants. No matter how badly Whatifalthist and the FBI wants there to be a vast right wing conspiracy, it just doesn’t exist.

Now I’m not saying that violence around the 2024 election is impossible. I’ve honestly been surprised by how little political violence there has been over the past four years, and I expect a few more horrific events. But Whatifalthists over-armed young incels aren’t the types to put together elaborate kidnap plots or take territory away from the federal government. They’re the types that shoot up high schools, mosques and synagogues.

One more stray thought on this topic, why do right leaning people assume that the density of private guns in their territory would be somehow good for their side? That’s not how civil wars work. As Whatifalthist points out…

28:45 conscript the weak

So how is this mass conscription of the weak in right wing territories supposed to work out when every other household has a private arsenal to draw on? Assuming a million insane things happen and we’re in a position to have a civil war, all those private AR-15s are going to be used to shoot the right wing wannabe generals coming to conscript your sons. Imagine Yemen on steroids.

That clip comes from one of the only coherent and logical portions of the civil war video. Whatifalthist acknowledges that the vast majority of people in the US have zero interest in a civil war. But he points out that this was also true of Revolutionary France, Revolutionary Russia and most other conflicts in history.

28:10 It’s normal for the most fanatical to take control

But we’re not in 1700s France or early 1900s Russia. Those were both societies where the 1% benefited while 90%+ just suffered. That’s not the United States today. We’re not living in the left-led dystopia that Whatifalthist describes. But we’re also not living in a 1%-99% society the way some left-leaning people describe either. What it really is is more of a 20% vs. the 80% society. 20% are living a pretty miraculous life thanks to the globalized marketplace we’ve built over the past 40 years. And probably another 20% thinks they have a chance to get into that privileged class. Lefitsts, and Whatifalthist are very correct that Reaganism has left more than half of the country behind. But from a civil war perspective that doesn’t matter. Revolutions can kind of work, and small factions of radicals can take control in a 99% vs. 1% situation. In a country like the United States, where 20-40% love the status quo, revolution is just never happening. 65% of the US population already owns one of those homes that Gen Z will supposedly never be able to afford. Apologies to both the radical left and the radical right, but the United States today simply has too many stakeholders for it to be overgrown by a cathartic revolutionary war.

Whatifalthist isn’t alone in his fantasies about the 2024 election. The entire democratic party apparatus is ramping up the fall of democracy porn to distract from their complicity in genocide. I don’t buy any of it, whether it’s coming from Whatifalthist or the Atlantic Monthly.

I’m still pretty sure that Joe Biden will win the election. Most polls are measuring Biden against anybody else, I expect his stats will improve once Trump becomes the clear opponent. And even if it’s close, people are forgetting why the 2020 election was such a mess. It was a problem because Donald Trump was President. He had a lot of levers to pull to try to hang on to power. If he loses in 2024, he absolutely will dispute the election. Maybe he’ll even persuade some of his clowns to shoot up a polling place or two. But he won’t be president, he’ll be a private citizen so it will all blow over pretty quickly.

There’s also the other possibility to consider. What if Trump wins and the Democrats try to steal it? What if Biden drools on himself during the debate or has a stroke or something? Will the Democrats steal the election for Kamala Harris? I doubt it. Because the sad fact is that most large Democratic donors would be just as happy, or maybe even happier with a President Trump than with a President Biden. Sure Trump is gross, but that top 20% loooves a tax cut, and if Biden wins in 2024, Trump’s 2017 tax cut will automatically expire. The truth is that the rich in this country win either way in 2024. Either they get the less embarrassing option, or they get to stay richer. Why bother stealing an election, or risking a war over any of that?

As unstable and cringe inducing as Whatifalthist’s civil war video is, it’s actually quite mainstream. As I’ve emphasized in other videos, including this Whatifalthist series, the country is waking up to the 40 year theft we’ve been subjected to. People from both parties are getting sick of the corporate abuses and monopolies that are making 80% of US poorer. The main thing that the monopolies have to protect themselves with is the kind of braindead polarization that Whatifalthist is pushing in most of his videos. If we are angry at each other over minor issues, we will have less time to go after the people who are truly profiting off our misery. Woke, anti-woke, more serious issues over abortion and guns, these are the main distractions keeping a few decent handfuls of Democrats and Republicans from tackling our country’s real problems. Sadly Whatifalthist has decided to remain part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

His analysis of foreign policy is also nuts. This video may be getting a little long, but I can’t help but draw out a few insane quotes from his video on a possible US war with Iran from January 19th 2024. Because US foreign policy is insane, Whatifalthist’s worst statements from this video are also very, very mainstream.

I have been pointing out for a few months now the fact that Washington DC’s favorite president is George W. Bush. Beltway insiders may pretend to condemn him, but that’s the foreign policy, and the level of US intervention they want to get back to. Sadly this is true of Wahatifalthist as well.

5:30 Iran

Again, I don’t suppose Lynch can be expected to remember world events from when he was a toddler, but the United States did not look like a successful Middle East Hegemon in 2005. We were losing badly to an insurgency in Iraq, and DC’s dreams of invading Iran were on an indefinite hold. BTW this insane period of waste and destruction is the source of around a fifth of the national debt that Whatifalthist usually likes to complain about. Lynch’s reference to Turkiye is particularly ignorant.

Turkiye ca. 2005 was absolutely not going to support a US invasion of Iran. We can say this with great confidence, because they vetoed helping Bush invade Iraq in 2003. Whatifalthist’s coverage of the Bush era is delusionally positive, which is a very Washington DC attitude to take.

His list of Donald Trump’s foreign policy accomplishments is a little less DC friendly, but it’s just as ignorant. Let’s do a speed round.

#1. Started the fight against China, nope, that was Obama. Google Myanmar 2011, Japan rearmament 2015, and the TPP. Trump may have talked more shit, but Obama and Biden both took many more concrete anti-China actions. This myth is taking hold because the rich people that own all the cable channels want Trump back in power and they want to give him credit for something.

2. Courting alliances with the Saudis and the Turks is a weird way to say taking personal bribes. Also a deeply meaningless point. Both countries are wholly dependent on the US. Trump was more subservient to these client states than Biden was, but that’s more embarrassing than any else. Trump could and should have made Turkey happier by withdrawing US troops from Syria, but he never did that, despite claiming to on at least three occasions.

3. Trump took us out of trade deals? Name one. He renegotiated NAFTA in minor ways, and backed out of the TPP, a deal that hadn’t actually taken effect.

4. Forcing the Europeans to rearm for defence? Nope, never happened. He talked a lot, but even in 2024, with war in Europe, NATO countries are still way behind on their defence commitments.

5. De-emphasizimf the Middle East in strategy, oh, you mean by tearing up our peace treaty with Iran and killing one of their major generals? Trump’s hare brained Abraham Accords are also one of the main reasons we got the October 7th attacks.

6. Not starting a war? This one is kind of true, and important, but Trump destabilized everything, from Ukraine to Israel, making Biden’s wars much more likely. Whatifalthist gets partial points for this one.

7. Cutting off immigration leading to wage increases? Deeply, deeply debatable. The main reason unemployment went down is because of all the government money the Republicans in Congress let Trump spend. It’s unclear whether or not immigration had anything to do with it.

#8, Is probably my favorite on this lost. “reindustrialization, which has taken off since”. By taken off since he means, during the Biden administration. Trump talked pretty big, but it’s Biden that actually passed the infrastructure legislation.

9. Unifying Europe against China and the Russians? Ok, thenyeah, then why did Europe celebrate the end of the Trump administration by signing a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment with China? It’s Biden that has kept that agreement from being fully rarified, not Trump.

10. Turning Russia against China, how, by arming Ukraine, and sanctioning China for buying Russian weapons, driving the two countries closer together? This list is absolutely delusional.

I could go on like this for hours, but I won’t bore you with it. Whatifalthist is even worse on foreign policy than he is on domestic policy. And it’s getting worse. He’s not reflecting reality, he’s doing partisan hackery that’s getting more deluded with every video. Why is the content produced by this very smart kid devolving further and further? Well, I’ve got a theory…

Without really meaning to, I preserved a record of how Whatifalthist’s videos were doing two years ago. If you compare those numbers to how his recent videos are doing today, you can see a clear pattern of decline. He’s still getting 100s of thousands of views, numbers I would be incredibly grateful for, but I know how terrible it feels when a channel stops growing, and it feels like things start going into reverse.

Put simply, I think Whatifalthist is getting desperate. His numbers are going down, so he’s trying to recapture that old magic by doubling down on extremism, and departing further and further from reality. It’s honestly pretty sad. I think this is probably my last video on Whatifalthist. It’s definitely my last video on this version of Whatifalthist.