Exclusive with Anti-Woke Scholar James Lindsay: 'This Isn't Business-as-Usual America Anymore'
There are several intellectuals fighting against the radical leftist movement to wokify Western society. Dr. Jordan Peterson comes to mind, Dr. Gad Saad, and Dr. John McWhorter, as well. But one voice seems to be a little louder. Dr. James Lindsay is meeting the problem more head-on, and putting the radical Marxists on their heels as he works diligently to combat the destruction of Western civilization, the decimation of our freedoms, and the takeover by totalitarians who would thrust the world into a communist dystopia, and I was able to speak with this man recently.
“We have this naïve belief in America that Freedom and the Constitution are just going to work, and I don’t think that we have that luxury at present. That’s under threat. It should, but I don’t think we’re actually operating in business-as-usual United States of America anymore and haven’t been for a little while."
~ Dr. James Lindsay
Could you please explain, for those in our audience who don’t know, how you become rather famous as the sort of anti-woke academic?
It really started with the grievance studies affair, in earnest. So, in 2017 and ’18—or you could even say, the very end of 2016 into ’17—myself and a colleague, Peter Boghossian—and then we added in another colleague, Helen Pluckrose—wrote a series of fake academic articles. Originally, it was Peter and I. We wrote one that was called The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct. Great fun was had. [A] probably predatory journal accepted it. We spiked a football we had no right to spike. We got a lot of criticism. Early summer 2017 is when that happened. And so, we were like, “Okay. Basically, our critics gave us a roadmap to what they say they would accept as evidence. Let’s go find that evidence.” And so, let’s do the experiment the way that they said it would be satisfactory and see if it satisfies them. […] And we embarked on the grievance studies affair.
It wasn’t just one paper that we wrote. We ended up writing twenty papers. In kind of a prefacing kind of event to what Steven [Crowder] did with the fat studies conference recently, we wrote one on fat bodybuilding, for example. That actually was accepted and considered to be quite groundbreaking: the idea that you can’t privilege muscle over fat without being fat phobic, so “bodies of size” has to be a more general term, and there should be fat exhibition—because you can’t have competition—but it has to be political exhibition of fat in bodybuilding competitions.
There’s a famous one about the dog humping and the dog rape and training men the way we train dogs in order to combat rape culture. We wrote a chapter of Mein Kampf, accepted by a feminist journal. There’s a bunch of them. With all the drag stuff going on, we had one about Hooters, as well, about what terrible, horrific, sexist places they are but not in terms of what it does to the women but what it does to the men: how it degrades men by being in an environment that encourages patriarchal and crass behavior. Conquest-driven behavior, I think is how we framed it.
In the midst of writing all of those papers, obviously, we were submitting them, we were getting peer-reviewed feedback, and in the midst of reading the feedback, at one point, we were so horrified by what the peer-reviewers told us that Helen and I, particularly, decided that the world has to know about this. Peter had some other projects and was torn between the two. But this led us to go down the road of writing Cynical Theories. At which point, we’ve got this huge body of research we did to write the fake papers. We took it in a more serious direction to write Cynical Theories. And at that point, I figured I was all the way in, [and] somebody had to continue to expose this stuff at the level to break through their language, and so I took that mantle upon myself and created New Discourses. […]
The way that I sort of became this academic was that, in essence, I dove in, […] I realized it was a significant problem worth dedicating a lot of time and energy to, and then I was not satisfied that I had the full account yet. And I’m only just getting close to thinking I have a pretty full account of what’s going on here.
Was there any of this woke nonsense in mathematics while you completed your doctorate or while you were working in academia?
No. Absolutely not.
It’s kind of funny that one of the leading activists that’s changing the American Mathematical Society was a woman that was doing her doctorate at the University of Tennessee while I was doing my doctorate, so we actually ate lunch together a lot of times in the department common room. We were superficially friends. And it turns out she’s one of the main activists trying to the math departments, the math conferences, and math societies into a kind of social justice nightmare. But it was so non-political at the time that none of us realized that we were, in some sense, sitting across the table from the enemy.
What I saw in the universities, in terms of university politics that I found alarming was that something had shifted to where student retention, in order to get ever-increasing tuition money that was all being paid through federally underwritten student loans—the emphasis on not failing students, not discouraging students, keeping students, keeping students with their financial aid, keeping students getting their scholarships—especially the state lottery-based scholarships—all of that, the pressure just mounted and mounted and mounted, and in the last three or four years, I finally decided I’m going to finish out this part of my contract, and I’m done. I’m not going to continue pretending to teach math or to try to teach math and then just certify people to get through.
So there was no woke happening there. This was not a thing in mathematics departments back in, say, 2007, ’08, ’09, ’10. Yet. Maybe in California, but certainly not in Tennessee. But the seed that enabled it was there, which was: let’s make sure the students are always happy. That’s what actually drove me out.
But no. It certainly was not in the discipline. We would have made fun of any such thing and laughed in our smugness about how it could never come here. Meanwhile, Carrie Eaton is sitting over there, scheming up how’s she going to figure out how she’s going to get it into the—not really. I don’t think she was scheming, but she was a feminist, so feminists do this. And she now is one of the leading activists bringing it into the field.
You covered several strains of critical theory in Cynical Theories but wrote specifically about Critical Race Theory in Race Marxism. Do you believe this is the greatest threat at present?
No. […] When I finished with Cynical Theories and I started to build out New Discourses, […] I walked into one of those hypothetical or whatever, magical rooms that has five doors in front of you, and it’s like, pick a door. Because there’s Critical Race Theory, there’s the queer and gender theory, there’s the postcolonial thing, there’s the fat—there’s these different doors. The fat studies is too niche and stupid. No, that’s not the door. Which door do I pick? And I happen to be reading Robin DiAngelo at the time, and partly what stuck out for me with Robin DiAngelo was that it was very simple and accessible where queer theory seemed very mysterious and difficult. I was under the impression that queer theory was too weird to mainstream very quickly. Whereas Critical Race Theory was already mainstreaming. This was before George Floyd, by the way. This would have been 2019.
And what I notice reading DiAngelo was she had a million specialized terms that started with the word “white.” White talk, white silence, white humility, white whatever. I don’t think humility is one of them. Racial humility is one of her concepts. I thought, “This is going to be comprehensible to people as an entry point to explain just how egregious their way of thinking is. It’s like, the white scape-goating is extremely clear. And just the proliferation of terms—white fragility, white privilege, white this, white that, white mathematics, white logic—this sticks out as something alarming, and it’s also more comprehensible for me to be able to get into, kind of assessing how deeply do I understand these things and where they’ve come from.
Queer theory, the post-structural feminism sort of mystified me a bit, even coming out of cynical theories. So, okay, I don’t have time to choose. This is obvious enough a choice. Let’s go through the Critical Race Theory door. So, I opened the door into Critical Race Theory, I started to mainstream the terminology, Chris Rufo, of course, picked it up and really blasted it to the stratosphere, especially when he got Trump to start repeating it. […]
I wanted to mainstream Critical Race Theory because I think that we have a very strong instinct in the post-civil rights era in the United States that this is clearly racist, and racism is wrong. And so, I felt like it was a very accessible point to go into the whole thing. It was more accessible for the audience. It was more accessible for me to work through these concepts to get a deeper understanding. […]
That’s why I dove into Critical Race Theory. That mainstreamed Critical Race Theory first. I was correct about Americans’ instinct that I perceived: that if “antiracism” meant what it sounds like it means, we actually are a nation that is fervently not okay with racism any longer, and it would awaken those civil-rights sensibilities and get people to see that something was different. And then, George Floyd happened.
And by luck, providence, whatever you want to name, I had this repository of Critical Race Theory information that I had been publishing for months, and so Race Marxism was my attempt to close the tab. This is the last thing I want to say on Critical Race Theory. […] I have nothing left to say on this pathetic subject. […]
The education stuff vies for the most dangerous aspect alongside the queer theory stuff. They all bleed into one another. They’re all actually used in tandem with one another. The Critical Race Theory sets kids up to dislike their racial identity and then to find solace in a sexual identity. So it creates not just a contagion but a pump that funnels kids into queer identities. And that’s a Maoist strategy; it’s not ambiguous. That is what Mao Zedong did with different Communist-related identities. But then it turns out the critical education theory is also the Maoist thought reform program, and that’s the vehicle by which that program is happening. […]
Queer theory does the most daily damage to people, and education theory is the vehicle by which it’s possible to do that damage. It’s like saying I have this poison injection that I want to give to you. Is it the hypodermic needle or the stuff in the needle that’s the problem?
Whether we like to think about it or not, most teachers came up through the public education system, attended public universities where they have been trained to think in the ways of critical theory, and will be the people teaching at public, private, and charter schools. How do we combat these contagions?
There are kind of two big-picture things that have to take place to be able to combat it. One is accountability systems, and what I mean is: who is the teacher, the administrator, the school whatever accountable to? Namely, right now, the answer is, probably due to its funding, both state and federal government and thus the United Nations—if through the federal government. Do we want that accountability structure? No. That has to be changed completely, so bills like the Every Student Succeeds Act have to be repealed or rethought or retooled completely to change that accountability structure.
The second thing is […] the accreditation pipeline, which would also include accrediting teachers, in other words, licensure. That actually has to be opened up. Where everybody is talking about school choice to give money to parents to open up the possibilities for their kids to go to different schools, what people are not talking about and should be thinking a lot more about is the ability to send people who want to become teachers to alternative schooling programs and be able to come out licensed as a teacher.
Right now, you have to go through a Marxist indoctrination—whether it sticks or not is another question—but you have to go through one in order to be licensed as a schoolteacher or administrator. And when you’re talking about public schools, you now have a literal political test having to be passed in order to get a job in the public trust, which by the way, is illegal. I had a member of Trump’s Department of Education tell me straight to my face this is illegal. There is a huge opportunity for lawsuits here that nobody will take. But the accreditation and licensure pipeline is also completely captured.
So, before there’s any conversation to be had about any other thing within the schools, those are the two kind of—you think about it like they got both hands around your neck—those are the hands. They have the accreditation and licensure—that’s one hand. They get to decide who the teachers are, they get to decide what the schools are going to be, what school’s going to count, what administrators count. All of that accreditation and licensure is through their monopoly. And then, on the other hand, they get to decide if you’re going to have a school and it’s going to take money—it costs money to run a school—it’s going to have to be accountable, so here are the standards that we uphold for you if you want to receive state or federal money.
This is one of the reasons why, with school choice, I’m really hesitant. Because what you’re doing in a sense—and I don’t have a solution to this, I’m not saying I have one because you don’t want people spending money that should go to their kids’ education on Totino’s pizzas or something. But what you have is: you give your money to the government, the government gives your money back to you with strings tied to it, which is fine in a sense because you want it to be accountable to educational materials only; that’s what’s happening. You’re giving your money to the government, the government is saying you can only spend this on education, but then if the government is very narrow in what it counts as education, you have a big problem on your hands. So, it has to be construed very broadly.
Somehow the solution, if there’s going to be this back-and-forth exchange, is a construal of what counts as education dollars the state can have very little say in because right now, what it’s going to be is, well, you can only hire a teacher who’s accredited to work in your school. So you think, “Oh, I’m going to start a new school that’s separate from all of this.” Well, guess who the only licensed teachers are? And then if you hire one who’s not licensed, the government maybe says, “Well, we’re not going to give you money because you have these rogue teachers who aren’t approved. It has to be 100% accredited.
Or you say, “Well, I’m going to buy history books.” Like these new books the DeSantis is trying to put out with Hillsdale. Then they’ll say, “Oh, no, no, no, no! You can only have history books that were written by Howard Zinn or Ibram Kendi.” And so, it’s that narrow level of accountability to that money becomes the problem. So, the way that you have to break those things is you have to change the accountability structure, meaning not how’s the school held accountable to you, the parent, but how’s the school held accountable to the government entity that’s paying the bills.
So, you have to break the accountability structure open—it has to be broader; there can’t be this weird, narrow, monopolistic definition—and secondly, accreditation and licensure have to be done in the same way. So, the way that you find the solution is you stop letting the government give narrow definitions to both of those things. What qualifies as a teacher? Blah, blah, blah…
Not to go off on a total tangent, but it’s worth just mentioning every time you get the chance. The American Bar Association has the same kind of monopoly over lawyers. Breaking that monopoly is probably a good idea. [...]
What about homeschooling or homeschooling pods?
It behooves us to actually look at the problem in a way that breaks the nature of the problem and frees up the entire system: public, private, or homeschool; all three domains. Or four if you add religious. Freeing that up is a top priority, but in the short-term, as far as protecting your children from the disaster, yes, and having something like a tax break or credit of whatever that there’s virtually no strings tied to. And homeschooling offers a massive power there because it’s got so much constitutional precedent already in defending parents’ rights to be able to do it. It’s not a realistic solution in terms of solving the problem for the nation. It is a realistic solution for any parent who has the capacity to be able to at least protect their own children.
And that creates pressure on the other parts of the system, as well, so I think it’s probably a synergistic tool in the hands of this fight. But it’s not the tool. […]
The incentive structure is going to hit these pods, too. […] If you think of it as a sort of proto-private school, eventually, the incentives there: “We could do so much more for these kids with just a little bit of money. And then the second you take, literally, one penny—you don’t get 1% of the accountability, 100% of the accountability lands on you.
The other other side of that, though, still homeschool your kids however you want and the accreditation side: Well, your kid’s not educated, so these jobs are closed to them, these colleges are closed to them, yada, yada, yada. And that right now is very open-ended, but it doesn’t have to stay that way given the trajectory of what we kind of see with this regime.
We have this naïve belief in America that Freedom and the Constitution are just going to work, and I don’t think that we have that luxury at present. That’s under threat. It should, but I don’t think we’re actually operating in business-as-usual United States of America anymore and haven’t been for a little while.
I want to get back to that, and then these are all great solutions. But these accountability and accreditation monopolies that they have have to be shattered first.
Do you think there will be any negative repercussions for those in government who have decided to adopt and promote the ideas of the various strains of critical theory?
I think right now, what I’m hearing from parents around the country is that they are so incensed, so mad about CRT. It’s so identifiable to them, that first of all, they can see through all the linguistic lies—“Oh, this isn’t really CRT, this is just teaching about slavery,” bullcrap—they see through that. But they’re so mad—and I just heard this from a parent in North Carolina—she said, “I don’t care if you’re a Republican. I don’t care if you’re a Democrat. I don’t care if you’re an Independent. If you don’t get this right, I’m not voting for you, but if you do get it right, you’ve got my vote. And so, no more CRT in schools, no more racializing in schools.”
So, what you’re going to start to see then is that if things work the way they should—I mean that our elections are genuine—there will start to be punishment delivered to people who are touting these slogans. I saw it on a video that went viral yesterday of a mother speaking up at a school board in California, this was about the queer theory—the sexualization issue—not CRT, specifically. And she was straight up saying, “I’m a lifelong Democrat. I’ve only ever voted for Democrats. I consider myself a liberal,” the whole thing. And she was like, “I’m done with this. No more.”
And so, if even in California, Democrats—and I hear it from registered Democrats in California. I’ve heard it from registered Democrats in Oregon. I’ve heard it from registered Democrats in Vermont—to pick a few spicy blue states. And they’re saying the same thing. “This isn’t what we signed up for. And I don’t care what the letter after your last name is. I’m not going to vote for people who support this.”
So, if the elections are close enough to true, there will be punishment for these people in the electoral sense.
I think that the issue of CRT is going to continue to get squeezed, and squeezed, and squeezed, harder and harder. I think we’re going to see more bold statements and action taken from Republicans that are going to put the pressure on those people and most importantly then, expose those people. Once they’re called out, they double down. They can’t not double down. They’ve built a house of cards, and it’s like, “Well, pull that card out.” And you can’t pull a single card out of a house of cards because the whole thing is coming down. If you touch one card, it’s over! You maybe can walk back the one you just put up there, but that’s the only one you can touch. You touch any other card, the whole thing’s going to fall. So, they can’t walk anything back, and the pressure is mounting to do that, so I think that we will see that kind of trajectory, especially with the issues of CRT and gender and queer theory.
The grassroots, the bottom-up, aspect of the political landscape has turned against these things, vehemently. So that’s, I think, an inevitable trajectory for those things unless everything’s fake now. If everything’s fake, what are you going to do? There’s no accountability in a fake system anyway.
That said, I actually am less concerned about Democratic politicians than I am Republican politicians with regard to this issue. I think we’re going to see a very large number of them who play the classic Republican trick where they say all the right words and do absolutely nothing. That’s one type of problem that we’re going to see. They know that they mouth these things, they say these things, but everything’s just words, and they can go out to dinner with Nancy Pelosi later or whatever and laugh about the shmucks that bought it or whatever their deal is. Probably they’re not that boldly cynical, but you know what I mean.
And then there’s a second type, though, that I’m very, very concerned about, and I’ve run into these people a lot, ironically enough—I don’t mean to keep bringing up school choice—but in the school choice lobby, in particular. I call these the “Stage-Two Cancer Doctors.”
So, let’s say you have cancer. My friend just got diagnosed with stage-three colon cancer. So, she goes to the doctor. Doctor is like, “You have stage-three colon cancer. We can treat your cancer. Let’s get you on chemo. Let’s get you on radiation. Let’s get you on whatever it happens to be. We’ll get you started.” And then the doctor—if the doctor is a crook—has a massive financial incentive not in making the stage-three cancer go away but rather in dropping it to stage two, where it doesn’t really present a problem, but you can keep giving them the treatment. And so, what you see with Republicans in this regard is they see this CRT as a massive fund-raising issue, either directly—“I’ll fight CRT! Give me money! My opponents won’t fight CRT! Don’t give them money!”—or indirectly, which is, “CRT is destroying our school system! So, we need school choice, which is my pet project. Give me money!”
You see immediately then that that politician who’s championing what looks like a possible solution in school choice has a financial incentive in making sure that the school that he’s allegedly trying to help through bringing in choice stays really bad. And that’s the stage-two cancer problem. The goal is, well, let’s keep the cancer at stage two where it’s manageable and keep fund-raising and selling the treatment off of it. […]
I fear that we’re going to see CRT, etc, used in this cynical way by the big politicos, the big money politicos as kind of this perennial fund-raising project and vote-gaining project and political turn-out and engagement project—all the cynical, nasty, political sausage stuff. I don’t see that largely on the Democratic side because they’ve gone whole-hog into it and don’t have an option. […] Whereas I see that thoroughly throughout the Republican side. I mean, Tom Cole, for example, in Oklahoma—old school, old-guard Republican, in ruby-red Oklahoma—sponsoring the [Civics Secures Democracy Act 2021], which is a huge federal slush-fund of accountability strings. It’s Common Core 2.0 being billed as “civics education,” and it actually would codify that every school has to teach, under the federal accountability guidelines, CRT, if they take any of that $6B of money being set aside. They know the incentive game. John Cornyn is the other sponsor of the freakin’ bill!
So, it’s like, these stage-two-cancer, RINO Republicans, lobby Republicans or whatever, worry me a lot in this regard. And of course, I realize when I say these things, I’m actually saying—it’s vastly more dangerous to my future career but also my physical well-being to be saying these things than it is to talk about how the woke are outright communists trying to destroy our country and that they’ve got Joe Biden in the White House on their side. Way safer for me to say that than say, “Here’s these crooked *ss Republicans, playing this crooked *ss game that keeps this thing going for cynical reasons of their own.”
Is this the status quo for the foreseeable future?
I don’t think so. There are a number of reasons I don’t think so. I don’t know how deep you want to get into that, but the short answer is: no. I don’t think so. I think this one will actually come to a head. I actually think that this woke stuff is—I think the writing is on the wall for it. But, on the other hand, none of it’s organic. So, the Big Money and Big Politics interests—and especially Big Money interests—that are making it exist, they aren’t even politicians. The politicians are in the hands of these other people who have all the money—big overwhelmingly well-funded NGO organizations, for example, foundations, and also these—like the United Nations—these networks, quasi governing bodies over the sovereignties of nations.
So, I’m thinking of the World Economic Forum, for example, particularly, which has something like a trillion dollars in assets. I’m thinking of Blackrock and Vanguard and whatever that weird corporate thing is that’s actually connected to the World Economic Forum directly, as another example.
The reason DEI is in every corporation, and the reason it’s in every university is because it’s the “S” in ESG. You can’t convince one of them to drop it because their ESG score is the actual thing they care about. They don’t care one way or the other necessarily—maybe some companies do. Maybe Twitter, as a “commie as f*ck” organization, cares about a diversity office, but the vast majority of corporations don’t care about this. What they care about is having a sufficient ESG score to play ball in the new racket running the market, which is largely coordinated by these big players like Blackrock, Vanguard, the World Economic Forum, the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, United Nations, and the CCP. These are the big power players on the table. And even stuff like the United States of America is not a power player in this, which is why it’s getting dragged around like a—since we’re just coming out of Pride Month—like a man in a leather thing on a leash being dragged around by a drag queen. That’s the United States right now, and the reason is because we’re talking, you know, the capacity of these entities to collapse a national economy if they wish—which they’re doing even as we pretend to play ball—to destroy a corporation, certainly.
If Blackrock and Vanguard and maybe one other of these large colluding entities own 35% of your stock through other people’s money—people’s pension funds, primarily—but they control it, and they say, “You know what, Disney, keep the grooming up no matter how bad the pressure is or we sell all of it, and 35-40% of your stock holdings disappear in a day, where it’s going to trigger a run on your stock, everyone’s going to sell it. And if you survive great. If not, never look to us for any help anyway.”
They’ve got this, whether you want to call it a gun to the head or sword of Damocles dangling over all these corporations, and I think the truth is that they own 15% or more of the stock of every major corporation. So, we’re not playing in a natural universe here anymore. So, if they want DEI or CRT or whichever one of our other friggin’ acronyms of doom to stay in place, so long as they’re empowered to maintain it in place, it’s going to stay in place.
It's not politics like the status quo. It’s politics like there’s a cartel, and that’s its tool, and they’re not going to put their toy away unless they’re forced to.
Keep an eye out for the second part of this amazing conversation!
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