The accent of the alt-middle/center: how it began

We’re still in the Smartest era. It began in 2009, picked up steam in 2013 with the post-2013 SJW backlash, and accelerated further in 2017 with the post-Trump rise of centrism and the ‘rational middle’.

Notice how everything is in multiples of four.

Between 2005-2009, for example, the political cultural landscape consisted of low-information activism and desultory social media sites–pointless YouTube videos, gritty Myspace profiles, and shill and overtly partisan political websites such as Huffingtonpost Post and Drudge. Although there were some vBulletin communities, there was no ‘expert culture’ or ‘advice culture’.

Then in 2009, things began to change. The financial crisis came, which was a victory for the left because they hoped it would be the end—or at least a major repudiation–of capitalism, and a return to a ‘simpler era’ of less financialization and less globalization. And Obama’s win was another victory for the left. But these victories were fleeting. Capitalism, the stock market, and the economy came roaring back faster than anyone, myself included, could have ever anticipated. Everyone assumed that the economy would relapse into crisis and recession, or that the fed and treasury printing would backfire; neither happened. The post-2009 bull market and economic expansion is the longest ever, and I predict it will last for decades, in order to immanentize the HBD prophecy.

The 2009-2013 explosion of popularity of sites such as Hacker News, Reddit, Stack Overflow, Stack Exchange, Physics Exchange, Quora, and Medium, (and other the sites that reward helpful, high-IQ experts in STEM-like fields)–and also the rise of philosophy as a STEM subject–is evidence of the rise of expert culture, a subset of intellectualism culture. The rise of these sites mirrors the decline of low-IQ, ‘dumb’ sites like Myspace, but it also parallels the stagnation of overtly partisan sites. Same for the huge growth of ‘smart’ sites such as Wait but Why, that are on the vanguard of the ‘new era’ of long form online journalism. Meanwhile, vBulletin communities began to falter and many shutdown, replaced by ‘smarter’ communities with ‘expert culture’, such as Reddit and 4chan.

By late 2011 , with OWS in full swing and Obama’s reelection inevitable, the left were in high spirits. But the post-2013 SJW-backlash dealt a serious blow to the left; the rise of Trump and the alt-right crippled the left further.

But the pendulum returns to the middle, as evidenced by the post-2017 rise (in continuing with the the post-2013 rise) of centrism and the rational middle. Although the alt-middle’s accent began around 2009-2013, Trump’s victory and the alt-right emboldened the alt-middle in response to what many perceived as far-right extremism and divisiveness, just as the post-2013 rise of centrism and rationalism was in response to the Obama-OWS-SJW far-left hegemony.

NRX and rationalism could be viewed as opposite sites of the same coins–as forms of intellectualism culture that arose in 2013. Although these individual groups are very small, nominally speaking, they are either symptomatic or in some way progenitors of this post-2013 era of incredulousness, that rejects shrill and partisan activism and proselytizing of the pre-2009 era.See: Intellect: The Universal Solvent.

Shared narrative are what connect these groups–such as /r/wallstbets, /r/economics, /r/philosophy, and even 4chan–that otherwise seem to have little to do with each other, yet are unified in rejection of sensationalism and sentimentalism, and preferring correctness over values. Although NRX has a strong value system, it also tends to be skeptical of demagoguery and zealotry. This is high-IQ discourse, in contest to low-information conservatism and low-information liberalism, which put emphasis on partisanship, tribal loyalty, and emotiveness over correctness. Subs such as /r/SandersForPresident/ and /r/LateStageCapitalism are two examples of low-information liberalism, in which groupthink is not just encouraged, it’s required. In fact, /r/LateStageCapitalism on no uncertain terms bans people for defending capitalism.

The somewhat amazing thing is, as recently as six years ago hardly any of this existed, or at least was in an inchoate state. Although Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube continued where Myspace left off, these sites are much more political than the social media sites of yesteryear, becoming hubs for both the far-right, the far-left, and the alt-center, rather than just digital silos for pictures, and at the same time, this entire new culture sprung into existence.