Am I black pilled?
Are you black pilled?
“The right-wing Internet vocabulary is rife with “pills.” The red pill, originally a reference to the famous choice that Neo faces in The Matrix: “You take the blue pill, the story ends. . . . You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” The “red pill” has become the conservative version of “woke,” denoting ideological affinity and an awareness of what’s really going on behind the curtain. The blue pill is its ignorant and blissfully unaware counterpart. This initial binary has expanded to accommodate a vast array of digital capsules, ranging from the white pill’s hope and confidence to the clear pill’s “absence of political conviction” altogether. There is even a quantum pill, which stands for a sort of in-between state, seeing the future in what Spencer Klavan describes as “both an optimistic and a pessimistic way at once — like a quantum computer hovering at 1 and 0 simultaneously, or like Schrödinger’s cat, both alive and dead until observed.”
The most dire of all “pills,” however, is the black pill, a term that originally arose in online “incel” forums to describe an attitude of complete and totalizing nihilism — both a despair about one’s situation and a firm conviction that the existing state of things will not, and cannot, improve. Amid a growing alarm about the state of the country and Western civilization more broadly, this pessimistic outlook has become increasingly common in some corners of the Right. Conservative black pills come in many forms, from Rod Dreher’s culture-war defeatism to Patrick Deneen’s thesis that the rot in modern American liberalism traces all the way back to the Founding — that the “atomistic philosophy” underpinning the American experiment, in other words, was doomed from the outset. …
Just where else would our nihilistic friends suggest we go? The rest of the West is in much worse shape than we are. China has set about building the world’s first techno-totalitarian state. America, on the other hand, still has the First and Second Amendments as well as powerful red states that are increasingly well situated to erode the dominance of national progressive-controlled institutions. Absolutist narratives of decline suffer from the same problem as absolutist narratives of progress: Both assume that History has an inevitable and predetermined direction. But it doesn’t. Don’t let any black-pill-peddling digital junkies convince you otherwise.”
I’m currently in a weird place.
I’m very optimistic about our ability to influence and reshape public opinion. The language used in this article in National Review – terms like “red pill” or “blue pill” or “black pill” – is itself an obvious example of how our ideas, analysis and language have permeated the wider Right.
We created the term “cuckservative.” We made David French into a symbol of a type of conservative in 2015. It stuck to the point where he is now universally seen this way. Bill Kristol, David French, Jonah Goldberg, Charlie Sykes and all the rest used to be influential figures on the Right and have now been reduced to griping in The Bulwark and The Dispatch and guest appearances on MSNBC.
If our goal is to reach and influence normies and gradually make them more like us, it is working. We can see this on core issues like immigration, foreign policy and trade where there used to be a sharp divide between the “far right” and the Republican establishment. The politics of those issues changed under the Donald Trump presidency mainly because he changed the Republican electorate. He brought in millions of new voters and pushed out establishment voters. We’re now at the point where the “Great Replacement” and terms like “anti-white” have gone mainstream. White identity is surging in the Republican base whose mood has shifted from complacency to anxiety about their place in America.
The single most difficult topic for us to make any headway on has been the Jewish Question. Even here though, OUR GREATEST ALLY is losing ground on the public opinion front on the Right and the Left. The public image of the ADL and SPLC has sharply deteriorated over the past decade. Twenty years ago, there used to be a mainstream media which was policed by “watchdog organizations,” which just seems laughable now in an age in which “journalism” has been discredited as fake news. Once again, Donald Trump made a valuable contribution in this area by raising awareness of how “journalists” are enemies of the people. Congress is still controlled by the Israel Lobby, but this is a lagging indicator. Younger generations never bought into Christian Zionism like the Boomers.
It is true that conservatives are grifting off “cancel culture” and Wokeism, but this only goes to show how political correctness along with immigration has become a top tier issue over the past five years. Republican voters and normies are genuinely alarmed and angry about cancel culture and Wokeism. “Antiracism” is becoming politically toxic and polarizing which is a new development. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and others now regularly and casually refer to White people now on Twitter as a lib owning provocation which is something that almost never happened when Trump was president.
We often hear in the comments that the system is broken and there is “no political solution.” This isn’t a fringe opinion either anymore. Millions of White people agree with this and more seem to do every day. Over half of Populist Right voters who are Trump’s base don’t believe that voting makes a difference. Secession has also gone mainstream too. 2/3rds of Republican voters don’t even believe that Joe Biden is a legitimate president. We have watched this shift take place over the last 11 months.
Looking at the big picture, the overall trend on the Right is that the proportion of radicals was rising around 2000 and slowly grew through 2010 and soared through 2020 and has exploded since around 2019. There are more radicals now and what had previously been radical views are much more prevalent on the Right. There has been a blurring between the radicals and the mainstream on the Right. The enemy has responded with violence, censorship and lawfare and electing Joe Biden as their president who has pushed systematic racism and “racial equity” which have only accelerated the trend.
This shift in the Republican base which is becoming more radical and especially among those under the age of 45 has been offset at the top levels of the party. The typical Republican senator is like Chuck Grassley who is 88 years old. Republican donors have their own unpopular agenda and buy off the politicians including Trump. Conservative institutions are infested by networks of professional hacks like Miles Taylor who were selected and promoted in a different era. When Trump became president, he had to deal with a Republican Congress like by Paul Ryan who was full of these people.
I’m not blackpilled because change isn’t happening fast enough for my tastes. I’m conscious of the fact that I am a radical. Most people are not radicals and that is actually a good thing. You don’t want to live in a society of radicals. It is unpleasant. Normal people only become radicalized in extreme periods of crisis and social breakdown which is what is happening today. It wasn’t fun to live through the 1860s and 1870s or the 1930s and 1940s which is where we road we are currently on is taking us.
The bottom line is that I don’t see any temporary obstacle – elderly politicians frozen in the past, Con Inc. and its antiquated ideology, even billionaire donors buying the policy agenda – standing in the way for long. We are trapped in a spiral toward some inevitable crisis. Both sides are radicalizing each other now. It is a safe bet that the number of radicals will continue to increase and the social order will continue to destabilize. Many people who assumed that life was going to return to normal under Joe Biden have been sorely disappointed. Inflation and fiscal crisis is the last necessary ingredient – radicalization of the public and elite fragmentation are the other two – and that appears to have finally arrived.
I’m extremely confident that there will be some type of imminent crisis in this decade which will ultimately resolve all these issues. I can’t say which side will emerge victorious or what the shape of the crisis will be like. It could be a foreign war with China, a revolution or a civil war, an economic depression, a political collapse that breaks the gridlock in Washington, etc. Something will happen. It looks like the political establishment drew the short straw though and is going to take the blame for inflation.
It is true that things are getting very dark right now, but history shows that the present state of affairs won’t continue. We’ve been deeply polarized in the past with two sides which hated each other even more than the two parties do today in the Gilded Age. We’ve lived through worse periods of violence, immiseration and economic collapse. We’ve lived under plutocracy in the past. Ultimately, these issues resolved themselves in ways which were difficult to anticipate at the time.
History doesn’t have an inevitable and predetermined direction, but it does have regular cycles. We are living in a time of social disintegration, extreme economic inequality, radicalization, polarization and intellectual ferment. This ought to be familiar because it is the way things usually go. When a social order is breaking down and is poised for imminent upheaval, this is what it always looks like. You see radicals identifying the problems and brainstorming their solutions. More importantly, you see a mood shift in the public among normal people which makes them receptive to the message of the radicals. The status quo becomes increasingly toxic and unbearable and the window opens to major change.
I can think of three or four times this previously happened in American history – the American Revolution, the War Between the States, the Progressive Era and the Great Depression / World War II. In each case, these events were decades in the making and defined American politics for generations. The Patriots prevailed and vanquished the Tories. The Union prevailed over the Slave Power. The political gridlock of the Gilded Age was broken after 1900. New Deal Democrats prevailed over conservative liberalism which was discredited by the Great Depression. No social order ever lasts forever. In the long run, it always liquifies and collapses under some type of stress and is replaced by something new. Life always moves on.
Such is the way it has always been. It will always be this way too. Everything has an expiration date.