To most people, Andrew Auernheimer, better known as “Weev” is nothing more than a raving racist, a troll, and a lunatic. As a contributor to Neo-Nazi websites like the “Daily Stormer,” and having recently advocated killing all non-whites, this is a natural, and superficially believable position to hold.
The truth is, in my opinion, far more sinister.
Weev is not crazy. He is a relatively successful coder and hacker, and is not just sane, but rather intelligent. What you are witnessing, when you see him say something like “filthy fucking jew communist, gas him with the others,” is not just a raw expression of how he feels, but a refined rhetorical strategy.
Marketers use a technique called “A/B Testing” to determine the optimally effective message for influencing viewers. They will draw up two different forms of a message, and present it to two different audiences. The one that persuades the larger audience, either to click an ad, or to vote for a candidate, is accepted as the superior formulation, and can be refined itself in turn.
Weev’s extreme language is not the outburst of a delusional white guy. It was decided upon, consciously, as a result of Weev’s own rhetorical A/B testing. You can listen to his interviews from several years ago, and he sounds fringe, but not particularly extreme. In his interview with Christopher Cantwell, however, he sounds positively deranged. Not, of course, because he is, but because he’s found that the more extreme you are, the more persuasive you are.
In other words, Weev isn’t the crazy one. We are.
Broadly speaking anyways.
It is hard to actually tell what Weev’s personal politics are. He may genuinely believe everything he says, or he may be a relatively moderate racial nationalist, similar to Greg Johnson or Richard Spencer. We just can’t know. Sincerity isn’t the language Weev is speaking.
As a metapolitical question, this insincerity – or, to be more fair, the ineffectiveness of sincerity – should be far more concerning than Weev’s overtly stated views. To put the politics themselves in perspective, Weev and the extreme right are the least of America’s troubles. Radical feminists and racial activists like #BlackLivesMatter have been using similar, absurd statements to extraordinary persuasive effect. The strategy or extreme language is the problem, and pointing it out won’t solve it because it is effective.
There are two reasons why this is a poor strategy in the long run, however. I will grant all of the short-term benefits of shifting the Overton Window through the linguistic equivalent of hard-power, but I still hope that most people, on both sides of the aisle, will reject the strategy, not because it is immoral (which it is), but because it is ineffective on a long timeline.
First, the quality and duration of the persuasion will be low. To persuade more intelligent people, for longer periods of time, persuasion by reason will be necessary, and unnecessarily exaggerating your actual position will justifiably make both your reasoning and your motives appear suspicious to perceptive people. Emotion may get larger numbers of people, but on the whole, they will be dumber, and easier to convince away again.
Secondly and more importantly, keeping track of one’s lies, exaggerations, and rhetorical false-positions quickly becomes an impossible task. To put a finer point on it, it is extremely difficult to keep you actual beliefs and your rhetorical tricks and lies separate, in your own head. Very often, people will rise to positions of prominence, only to fall because “they believed their own bullshit.” Worse still, the habituation of lies, to whatever degree, can be hard to keep compartmentalized in only one area of your life. The pattern of justification and ex post facto rationalization is a slippery slope.
Weev says that “you can’t argue with statistics,” but that depends greatly on the time horizon that the statistic is analyzing things on. You could, for example, look at the statistics wealth and socialism. In the moment, a complete wealth redistribution would actually solve economic disparities across societies. By definition, the data will support this conclusion. The data, however, doesn’t look at the corrosion of economic incentives such a policy would have, nor would it account for the necessary character qualities by which value is generated in the first place. Such a “data-based” solution would be inherently short-term, and by sacrificing one’s values for momentary statistics, it would ultimately defeat the ostensible intended purpose of for which the redistribution was executed in the very first place.
Principles, being products of very, very long periods of time, and the intuitive observations of ancient people, are extremely difficult to “prove” by metrics. Our lived experiences, however, bear out their truth. History also demonstrates the persistent hierarchy of virtues and principles. Statistics can sometimes be used to demonstrate these principles, but when they are selectively foisted for short-term gain against the wisdom of well-known moral principles, we are right to be suspicious, perhaps not of the individual, but at the very least of the efficacy of their proposed strategy.
I actually share a fair bit of political views in common with Weev. His appreciation of opera, and of the finer arts, is something that few other people can honestly brag about, and his knowledge of them demonstrates a sincerity at least of that. In short, I do not actually think he is a bad person. Given his background, I will even go so far as to say he’s done quite well for himself. His proposed strategy for political persuasion, however, must not be accepted. It is doomed to fail in the long run, likely to corrode his character in the process, and opens the worst kind of Pandora’s Box even in the short run. Will Weev seriously be able to control people if they take him at his word (which some invariably will), rather than the more reasonable and achievable goals he once espoused?
There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of people out there who unironically believe that gassing the Jews, and otherwise killing off all the non-whites in the United States and Europe, is a good idea. Forget the morality of that, for a moment. Even if this didn’t bother you in the slightest on humane grounds, is that sound strategically? Do you think that “minorities” and other enemies in positions of power aren’t going to use these quotes as moral leverage against you, and as legitimate justification to defend themselves? The best way to defeat an enemy, according to Sun Tzu, is to make them into a friend. All nations, races, and cultures are eventually diluted and destroyed by globalism, (yes, even the Jews). Declaring potential allies against a common enemy, and for a common cause, to be natural enemies makes zero sense from a purely strategic sense. The moral argument against this, I think, speaks for itself.
Obviously, this is not to say that everyone can be a friend. But it is an argument against unnecessarily multiplying one’s enemies for rhetorical effect.
The far better approach we might call the “Hitchens strategy.” You can mingle your arguments with humor and wit, and formulate them in creative, perhaps unorthodox forms, but never, ever lie. You will not convert as many people, and probably won’t get as many “unique engagements” with your audience. But those you convince will be of greater value than a thousand times the number of lesser converts brought in through appealing to their respect and then withdrawing it, to emotionally force an agreement, as the R.A.C.E. method does. These strong converts may, in turn, create converts of their own. And unlike those brought in by Weev and those who follow his strategy, converts brought in through good faith will not one day wake up and realize they had been convinced into a position by lies and emotional manipulation. Many of woke up from our own “default-liberal” slumbers through such unpleasant revelations. If you can remember what that recognition felt like, bear the suffering in mind before extending it back from the opposite side of the aisle.
After all, you presumably came to hold your own political position by reasoning. Don’t lose faith so quickly in others’ ability to do the same. Even if it takes a little while.