A running debate on this side of the divide is over the utility of guys like Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson and other slightly edgy characters. The claim is that these types of insider critics of the prevailing order are a gateway to more radical thinkers on this side of the divide. A normie starts reading Ben Shapiro or listening to Jordan Peterson, and before long he finds his way to our team. There’s not much in the way of proof of this, just some anecdotes from people who swear that is how they made their journey to the dark side.
The counter argument is that these edgy guys serve as a palace guard, maintaining the line between what is and what is not acceptable. Their job is to make sure that none of the bad think from the outer dark creeps into the thought of the orthodoxy. As a result, they make a big deal out of opposing racism, sexism, antisemitism and homo phobia. The Four Olds figure prominently in their arguments, not as a way to inoculate themselves from the Left, but to make sure no one to their Right is allowed into the debate.
Both claims are right, depending upon the person in question. Take, for example, the Nick Nack of neoconservatism, Ben Shapiro. He’s fond of posting the sort of unhinged rants about the people to his Right, that we generally associate with feminist cat ladies. This should not surprise anyone, as the spiritual distance between a Ben Shapiro and a feminist campus harpy is not very big. He’s just as haunted by the Four Olds as anyone on the Left. He just finds it easier to make a living peddling old CivNat nostrums.
You see that in this post at National Review, where Shapiro appears to be defending bad think, but in reality he is engaged in an act of deception. He does not bother to go into the issues that get a Charles Murray or a Sam Harris in trouble. Instead, he shifts the focus from that to pumping air into his own tires. A few days later, his dear friend Bari Weiss is out promoting the so-called “intellectual dark web” which Ben Shapiro just happens to be part of, along with Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson. Funny coincidence, I’m sure.
Unlike a guy like Peterson or a Sam Harris, Shapiro is just another grifter from Conservative Inc. He’s the edgy band your parents said was OK, hoping you would not start listening to the stuff they thought was dangerous. That’s his utility to the managerial class. Instead of people noticing what happens to our guys when they try to engage in public debate, their eye is focused on how poor Ben Shapiro had to wait a whole hour while the campus police removed a few overwrought students from the auditorium.
That’s why Shapiro will drone on endlessly about how unfair it is that he does not get lucrative speaking gigs on state campuses, but remain stone silent on the endless harassment of Richard Spencer by the Left. Like all of Conservative Inc., he is for free speech that pays him well, but otherwise sides with Antifa against his competition. He’ll never talk about the fact that corporate America is willing to sponsor an Antifa convention in Chicago, but coordinates their efforts to prevent VDare from holding a private gathering.
Even though guys like Shapiro are explicitly opposed to us and are happy to lock arms with the Left against us, some still insist that they serve a purpose. This is true, but not for the reasons they claim. What a guy like Shapiro demonstrates is that there is an unbridgeable gap between the prevailing orthodoxy and the Dissident Right. There’s no middle ground between the blank slate and biological realism. Race is either an invalid social construct or a useful model of biological reality. There’s no middle ground here.
Ultimately, what a guy like Ben Shapiro tries to do is distract people from the real issues, by focusing their attention on the trivial. He starts from the premise that there is a real battle between the Left and some ideological alternative. That battle was over long before anyone reading this was born. The Right in America, for more than half a century, has simply been a modifier, a restraint, on the American Left. Shapiro’s job is to make sure otherwise sensible people never notice this. Otherwise, there will be a revolt.
Now, not all of these guys in the outer belt of the prevailing orthodoxy are members of the palace guard. Jordan Peterson is just an eccentric weirdo who suddenly got famous. He’s probably harmless and he may open doors to our side. A Gavin McInness, who is mostly an incoherent grab bag of cosmopolitan fads and libertarian jabberwocky, is at least willing to engage with our side. Most, however, are there as a barrier. Fundamental to the Dissident Right project is the destruction of Conservative Inc. and the palace guard.