The left-wing defection

Among the left, there have always been dissenters, like Jonathan Haidt and Steven Pinker, who were critical of wokeness long before it entered the lexicon, but they were a small minority. In 2018 there was the ‘IDW’, which was chiefly composed of various left-leaning academics who opposed what they perceived as left-wing intolerance in academia, but it fizzled out during Covid.

Quillette, the putative flagship publication of the IDW, was overtaken during Covid by Substack, which caters to a high-SES readership of center-left/right readers who had grown tired of the intolerance of the left and wanted to turn the dial back to when it was ok to talk about IQ differences without fear of being cancelled, and when the concept of justice meant respecting people’s individual rights, not the looting and rioting under the banner of what is called ‘social justice’.

The liberal elite were initially broadsided by Trump, but soon adapted and even thrived with the subsequent rise of woke capitalism, the mainstreaming of ‘preferred pronouns’ and the trans-affirmation movement, the centrality of social justice and ‘anti-racism’ (which is coded for anti-white) in all aspects of society, and high-profile cancellations (such as Louis C.K.) that followed.

The Covid lockdowns and vaccine mandates were the ultimate power-grab, followed by the George Floyd riots in which store owners watched helplessly as their businesses were ransacked, and finally Biden’s inauguration. A media bloc composed of The Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, the NYTs, VICE, Rolling Stone, and The Atlantic–set the agenda and drew names for whose turn it was at the cancellation chopping block. It was an impressive 5-year run.

But by 2022 it began to unravel. Nate Silver and Matt Yglesias, stalwarts of the left, gained popularity in recent years on Twitter by being outspoken critics of the far-left. From Nate Silver in 2022:

Even the MSM began to defect, such as negative stories in 2022-2023 by the NYTs and other left-leaning publications about inflation, shortages and voicing incredulity about the alleged strength of the Biden economy. A notable early defector was Larry Summers, who in May 27, 2021 sounded warnings about inflation, well before things began to pick up in 2022. Popular center-left accounts like @cremieuxrecueil and @eyeslasho that espouse an anti-blank-slate message gained currency after being boosted by Musk.

Elon Musk’s surprise buyout of Twitter, at last, put a dent in the media hegemony. Musk has became the ultimate kingmaker, with popular anti-woke accounts like Babylon Bee, Libs of TikTok, Clown World ™ 🤡, and ‘End Wokeness’ each having millions of followers, and are media properties in their own right. Babylon Bee, ostensibly a parody site, for all intents and purposes is a news site, as life imitates art. Same for Tucker Carlson, who broke from the confines of Fox and found an even bigger audience on Twitter by being boosted by Musk.