I also come from an immigrant family and was never fully exposed to wokeness until college.

I find that anti-woke people are often driven by ragebait. Matt Walsh shows them something, they get mad at it and want to boycott Bud Light or whatever. There’s no positive message being offered. There’s no alternative moral framework they offer. Wokeness offers a moral system and is very appealing to people that don’t have close communal bonds, which is why it’s so popular among people that are uprooted from their hometowns (like them going to college).

Anti-wokes need a unifying message other than “woke is bad”. This used to be Christianity, but non-immigrants are leaving Christianity at high rates, and a lot of the ones that stay are infusing wokeness with Christianity.

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"No one truly feels a pretty athletic college girl who has to settle for second place in a swim meet is more of a victim than a trans athlete..."

A vast majority of people/women are not pretty athletic college girls settling settling for a second place in a swim meet. There is a lot of status to be had between an Upton and a Lizzo. And there are plenty of people in there who are going to feel (and most likely are) leapfrogged by Lizzos and similar. High status liberals feel sorry for the strange and weird precisely because status distance between them is large.

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This is a good piece, and one I generally agree with (and I know this piece wasn’t necessarily directed at me, but my tweet was used to illustrate the idea analyzed in the piece).

It is indeed human nature to confer status to what you naturally like (e.g., physical attractiveness).

But it is also human nature to confer status to behavior you want more of, tendencies that don’t necessarily come naturally to people (positive examples include hard work and moral character but can include negative behaviors too).

My tweet was primarily about this second type of status.

It’s true that being attractive and so on will get you better treatment in interpersonal interactions. No argument from me there.

However, publicly celebrating unappealing choices and behaviors will have an effect on what people do. A simple example: Most guys don’t like tattoos on women, yet 50 percent of millennial women have tattoos.

Most people in general don’t like obesity, but it is rising. No doubt due to cheap food, lack of exercise, etc. But as Richard has noted elsewhere, dismantling stigma around fat shaming is misguided and may consequently contribute to an increase in the number of overweight people.

Publicly conferring status to unconventional behaviors and choices will increase them, even if people generally understand those things are undesirable.

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I agree with you that the hot chick is a higher status than the fat chick, but I also ask, "so what?" I don't think anyone would disagree with your thesis, but your thesis is also aside from the point.

Only in the University class is something like "status" debated. The "body positivity" or "fat acceptance" movements are negative forces in our society has nothing to do with how they rank obese people in the status hierarchy against other subjective human measures; it is harmful because of the behavior it encourages.

Being fat leads to more detrimental health outcomes than being skinny, and yet in a country already being crushed by healthcare costs, Lizzo says, "I would like to be body-normative..I want to normalize my body. And not just be like, 'Ooh, look at this cool movement. Being fat is body positive'." The issue with this has nothing to do with the theoretical point of "status," and everything to do with the fact that we not only are actively encouraging an immensely harmful trait to metastasize throughout our society under the guise of not only being inclusive but that trait should be perceived as optimal.

How to push back against this trend is a separate matter, but the issue is not simply one of "status."

I wrote about this exact issue a couple of weeks back on my Substack-


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May 1·edited May 1

I think the battle between woke and anti-woke is best understood as the ongoing battle between narrative and reality.

Wokeness is generally an attempt to strike back against the unjustness of reality. Fat studies (and the like) are a good example. In our society, it freaking sucks to be overweight (especially if you're a woman). It's harder for you to find clothes, way less people swipe on you on dating apps, people find you less attractive and competent, relatives chide you, strangers make all kinds of (often false) assumptions about your character, etc.

In response, wokeness takes the side of the overweight, and tries to change reality by changing the narrative: posting studies that say being overweight is not a health risk, shaming companies that only use straight sized models, promoting body positivity, etc.

In response to this trend, anti-wokeness fights what they see as an overwhelming false narrative with the actual true narrative: being overweight is bad for you, promoting fatness makes people fatter, saying fat people are unattractive, reminding people of the health risks of obesity, etc.

My critique of the woke is that I think it's bad to say things that aren't true. (I think it's also bad, though less bad, to sell customers things they don't want; or inferior but virtuous versions of what they do want, on the "woke capitalism" end..) My critique of the anti-woke is that they fail to recognize how little of an impact changing the narrative has on changing actual reality: I don't think the "body positivity" narrative has stopped people from doing everything they can to get on Ozempic.

We're living in an age where, mostly thanks to technology, narrative (people's "takes") has become more powerful and more homogenous than ever, if only because it's become more legible than ever before--everyone knows what everyone else is thinking all the time, because they advertise it on the internet. But it's not clear to me that people's 'takes' are related to their actions; it seems to me, based on how little has changed in reality, that people say woke things not because they believe them, but because they want everyone else to hear them saying them.

And the fact that the world is filled with the "hypocrisy of liberal elites": all white million dollar neighborhoods with BLM signs; all white private schools teaching Ibram X. Kendi; size 4 women promoting body positivity; women who spend hundreds of dollars a month on makeup and hair "destroying the gender binary"; is not proof of hypocrisy. Instead, I see it as proof that narrative and reality have become almost unrelated; woke narratives are not there to describe the world, they're there so that others can hear you affirming them. And reality itself remains nearly unchanged, no matter how many attempts wokeness makes to re-describe it.

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Richard, you make an interesting point here; it illustrates how vitalism can be misinterpreted, and how we should navigate this potential misperception. It is a helpful article, and my comment here is not to negate your point, but only to clarify ours.

Your perspective here is an accurate depiction of the perspective of a woke person, but it is a huge misunderstanding of what you refer to as "anti-woke" ideology.

"Anti-woke autists," as you more-or-less call us, understand that wokesters don't actually believe ugly is beautiful, and that their tokenization of ugliness comes from their pity-based activism: everyone they look down on should be glorified. As soon as they stop looking down on them, they won't glorify them anymore. This is a "communism of the soul," which boils all motivation down to the emotion of pity. You are entirely correct that they think they're stopping bullies, and it's about damn time somebody did. And, in a way, they succeed in this mission. Lizzo really does receive a consolation prize, where before she received nothing.

What you miss is that, to us, a beautiful society is an end in itself. We're not sitting around believing that woke people don't want to be beautiful—we know they do—or that beauty doesn't confer status. What we're reacting against is the elites proliferation of transgression as the object of society. When you put something on a billboard, you both elevate it as a societal aspiration AND you quite literally create the aesthetic nature of the society in which you live. Billboards are manmade trees AND manmade guideposts, the physical manifestation of our table of values, and of our creative power.

A society that glorifies ugliness is equally terrifying and dystopic regardless of why they're doing. It is more or less the definition of hell—the endless cycling towards "uglier uglier uglier" and ever increasing pain, mutilation, fear. It's pure Lord of the Flies, Sodom and Gomorrah. Imagine a society where women with masectomy scars are emblazoned on every public square. This is literally hell. And it's literally the world we live in. (Here it is: https://www.neuehouse.com/neuejournal/marcel-pardo-ariza-hollywood-mural-trans-awareness/)

We know full well why they're doing it, we know humans can't force ugliness to actually be beauty, and they know that deep down. It doesn't matter. You fight fire because its fire, not because of how it was lit. Stopping public derangement and ugliness is an end in itself—it needs to reasoning or rationality to justify. Every ugly billboard removed is society closer to God. What you're referring to as "autism," is simply the unwillingness to allow ones visual world to descend into hell.

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I think your perspective here is correct but requires an enormous caveat: Lizzo does have more privilege than Kate Upton if politics get activated against Kate Upton. If Kate Upton says she likes Trump, Lizzo now has more status than her. Kate Upton only retains her status so long as she conforms to the wishes of the regime. She is allowed to enjoy the advantages nature has bestowed on her but only if she makes sure to keep the Bad People at arm's length.

>But I don’t think this stuff is that convincing to third parties, who don’t see trans as bullies, but very disturbed people they should feel sorry for.<

They're both, of course. Many "transgender" people are indeed more worthy of pity than anger or scorn. But to pretend that there aren't some transgender activists who are extremely aggressive bullies is obviously absurd. And it's that latter category who are the most dangerous because they are out in the public political space punching far above their weight.

>But anti-wokes misunderstand what they’re up against when they take their opponents too literally, and forget that underneath all the lies, human nature still finds a way.<

Again we need to distinguish. I think you are identifying and correctly talking about the large mass of poorly-informed left-leaning "regular people" who tend to vote Democrat and such. Then there are the committed activists. Yes, reality still constrains the activists, but again it would be willfully ignorant to try and pretend that the activists aren't doing any damage by pushing against it as hard as they can. You even admit as much near the end of this post.

And the activists are the problem. If the activists go away, if they lose power, all the regular people who are so easily swayed to support them will just as easily forget that woke was ever a thing at all.

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I still see young woke women on social media simping for the latest heart-throb Leonardo DiCaprio look-alike. Woke men still like the busty blondes. You're right, wokeness is more of a pity prize to those who can't make the grade.

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The way you poke hole at conservative dogma and forces me to rethink some of my stances (that probably does qualify as "autistic anti-woke") is extremely refreshing. Keep up the great work!

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1. I'm also an autist* and I guess I agree with this piece. More generally, I wish someone had explained to me, when I was younger, that status competition is a thing that normies care a lot about for [insert your preferred reasons].

2. As far as I know, no one's observed that the 57-43 F:M sex ratio among American college students implies that 14% of the average student body consists of young women whose options are a) date off-campus, assuming that's even an option for them, b) put up with a man who isn't going to commit to them, or c) end up lonely. It would be amazing if that didn't have a bunch of profound negative effects, and it's obviously going to be the low-status women bearing the brunt of them.

3. More generally, it really sucks to be low status in America today compared to 75 or 100 years ago when the high status people at least gave lip service to the importance of marital fidelity, work ethic, and all that.

*Not clinically diagnosed, but I once sent a Google poll to the friends and family who knew me at a young age wherein I asked them to rate how much some descriptions applied to me as a kid. I didn't tell them until much later that the descriptions were taken verbatim from the DSM-5 criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder.

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"LGBT is the new goth, or emo, and most people don’t want to be part of a political movement of bullies." - actually, Queer is the new goth or emo - the identity you can opt into without any skin in the game just so you can opt out of an oppressor identity without doing anything at all. LGB you actually have to do something that is tough to do if you don't actually like it. T is Q for people with psych comorbidities.

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Very interesting. But I find it extraordinarily difficult to tell when it's "fake status" and when it's "real status." For instance, you write

"But I don’t think this stuff is that convincing to third parties, who don’t see trans as bullies, but very disturbed people they should feel sorry for."

Very few actual lgbt activists/supporters see it that way. They genuinely appear to perceive transgenderism as equally normative as cis-genderism. We're talking about the left wing of the democratic party, but not just the fringe. This idea has real currency and it's incredibly disorienting trying to feel out when people are just lying to be nice versus when they are actually that confused.

Similarly with the "law and order is racism" stuff. I was tempted to see that as just a throw away line nobody really believed, but then I saw people really acting on it and causing all kinds of mayhem. So this stuff is "fake status" right up until the moment a switch flips in the zeitgeist and things start going haywire.

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I've raised the example on other Substacks of Gavin Newsom, who governs in an extremely socially liberal way and has never seen a woke cause he didn't like. He also has a traditional marriage - complete with traditional troubles, such as alcohol and the occasional indiscretion - with a beautiful wife, and they have clean-cut, polite, hard-working, educated kids. Almost everyone involved knows that this is perfectly normal and natural and that he's in no way a "hypocrite" for being woke while having all the trappings of classical morality and beauty in his relationship. It's what's expected of him and what's expected of the office. It's perfectly natural.

Similarly, I've long shared your suspicion that *most* people very active in this sphere - either pro- or anti- woke - do really understand that it's a bit kayfabe, and that the "Stunning and brave" meme from the Right never really landed because most intelligent people on the Left can say, "Yeah, so? It's the cost of doing business." It's a conferral of status as a consolation prize, not something truly elevating.

It happens at other levels of politics, too. I don't think the people making the Republican robocallers *really* think Joe Biden is a radical Marxist. I don't think most people at the Washington Post *really* think Donald Trump is a literal fascist. What they do think is that it's useful to say it is. I remember seeing this crystallized a few years ago when I saw a random tweet by a slightly anguished overweight bald guy about how his anti-white nationalist podcast wasn't getting many listens despite its hugely important, civilization-defining importance. After all, he had been assured that white nationalism was an ever-present specter in the US. Many such cases!

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After you read the most effective theses, you think to yourself, "Yes, that is what I always believed," even if you never believed it before then. That's what reading Richard Hanania's substack is like.

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Isn't it possible that both anti-wokes and wokes both believe that fat/LGBT/minority etc are genuinely higher status, despite your probably correct observation that the majority doesn't act that way in practice? e.g. With 20-30% of college kids identifying as LGBT, many of those kids must think they are gaining some status by identifying this way.

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May 2·edited May 2

I think one of the things is a lot of us spergs tend to be more affected by the official line than reality, because we can't perceive social reality as well. So we're more likely to get worked up believing that Lizzo really would have higher status than Kate Upton. Which she does if there's a Twitter beef, but that's not relevant to most people, I think. Sure some un-PC tweet or Facebook post could go viral, but in practice that's a tiny risk for most people.

Similarly, I held off dating way too long because I believed both the MRA paranoia about false rape accusations and the radical feminist arguments I was getting fed from school and work that everything was rape. (Try to figure out from reading them exactly what would be an acceptable way to initiate a relationship as a man seeking a woman. Pretty much the biggest takeaway I got was "if you don't want sex, you're OK.") It's kind of like trying to figure out the world by reading Communist and Nazi propaganda--the most important bit is some secret force is destroying the world and responsible for all its evils, is it capitalists or the Jews?

I do think feminism is especially bad for autistic guys because they basically expect you to read social cues all the time, and we're bad at that. Also, as autistic men are the least desirable personality type for women, the more power you give women, the worse it is for us. Non-autistic men can read the signals and know where the BS is, women gain benefit from the preferences feminists are putting in (though they may be less likely to get the long-term committed relationships they usually crave).

I genuinely do think a lot of lower-class white guys are getting screwed coming and going, though. They're last for any corporate jobs because of their race and gender (meanwhile the white guys at the top who got there through connections don't have a problem), and they don't have enough money and connections to get anything through social circles (do you think Lachlan Murdoch is worried about affirmative action taking his job away?)

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