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Dave Rubin. The Useful Idiot Of The Alt-Right

The American YouTube celebrity Dave Rubin is an interesting character. He first came to public prominence as a moderately successful comic on the stand-up circuit in New York City before moving into podcasting and radio presenting. Despite a few early setbacks he eventually made it to front-of-camera hosting with the online and decidedly left-wing Young Turks Network before striking out on his own with the self-managed Rubin Report. This step saw Rubin undergo what can only be described as a dramatic change of political loyalties, from progressive to libertarian-right, making him one of the young tech-savvy faces of the neo-conservative movement in the United States. Despite this transformation, the LA-based polemicist has continued to proclaim his “classical liberal” credentials: largely based on his past history, a deliberate confusion of terminologies and the rather facile defence conferred by his status as a married gay man.

The Double Take, a left-leaning YouTube channel, has taken a closer look at Dave Rubin’s much-vaunted progressive instincts and has found them sorely wanting. It’s a good warning that we should not be misled by people’s personal lives or our own partisan assumptions when it comes to recognising political allegiances.

19 comments on “Dave Rubin. The Useful Idiot Of The Alt-Right

  1. ar an sliabh

    The purposeful misuse of labels and redefining political and other terms at will and to suit has become an American political sport. The place is literally turning into George Orwell’s 1984 with un-words and the works. This buffoon, just as pointed out in the video and article, is an idiot and just not good at it. Sadly, the left in America really has no political representation. Both Democrats and Republicans are right wingers. Democratic representatives tend to colour themselves “left” when convenient, and some are actually pretty good at it. In America, however, more so than in other countries, you really have to look at the actions not the facade presented by skillful speech writers, marketing geniuses, and advert specialists. For any person truly left oriented, treatment of labour is one of the paramount criteria in determining what side a particular person is on. So anyone claiming they support labour including immigrant labour, but failing to champion equal pay and employment conditions for ALL labour, is not on the left. Those left behind in equal pay and conditions serve to undermine the established rights of those with better benefits and cause the development of worker classes. This is something wholly unacceptable to anyone believing in true (and equal) labour rights. Jerry Brown failing to make good on his promises in supporting organisations such as Cesar Chavez’ UFW, said everything about where he truly stood during his first term as California Governor. Ignoring the same social and financial disadvantages and the outright discrimination during his latest term in office, also speaks volumes for his and his party’s true disposition. I am using him as an example, as California brands itself one of the most liberal / left states in America, yet has failed at every opportunity to right this long-standing wrong. The current governor also has nothing in his agenda to address equal labour rights. The profits made on exploiting illegal labour (work performed for less than minimum wage and without the legally required employer-provided benefits – both, by workers legally and illegally in the country) are huge, and neither party appears to wish to put an end to them. This places both in the same boat the way I see it. If there is to be a change, Americans need to establish a new party that serves their people’s interest, or only vote for independent candidates not in the pockets of the all-powerful rich.


    • Unions are a good way to tackle the issues you note. They should ensure parity of payment across sectors of workers.


      • ar an sliabh

        That’s why I mentioned the UFW. Their ship was sunk by virtually every major political force across the U.S.A. All they dared to ask for were decent pay, conditions, and treatment. These workers are still the most disadvantaged and abused in the country. The unions there would really need to step up to the plate, but their leadership has been bought and paid for since the 50’s.


      • The best plan I see for reviving labor unions in today’s world (let’s face it changing economies require changing tactics!!)-but also the most controversial-is to make membership a Civil Right.

        Proponents of this concept argue that while it’s not likely that every worker denied a Labor Union is going to sue-in fact the vast majority won’t -that two things will happen. One it will be a very powerful legal tool against the various laws that have worked against unions (some intentional, but some a simple case of unforeseen consequences), given the nature of Civil Rights law, and can go after a number of “right to work” laws and similar. The other is that it will make employers just a little bit afraid to stop their workers from unionizing. it won’t make everyone a union member overnight, but fear of lawsuits could be a powerful force for tipping the balance in the pro-union direction.

        The main issue raised by opponents of this tactic is a fear that adding too many categories to The Civil Rights Act is going to “water down” the clause for existing protections on color, gender, national origin, religious, disability, sexual orientation etc. However, some people argue that by giving a higher percentage of union or potential union workers a direct interest in Civil Rights, that it will be harder for the GOP to play voter suppression games in The South and things of that nature.

        (Of course, the Critical Race Theory crowd will always argue that Civil Rights law is buillshit anyway. But the older school Civil Rights crowd has raised a legitimate concern.)

        I am increasingly leaning towards this concept, despite some reluctance since The Bush II era. At one level I do understand the arguments of the opponents who worry about watering down general Civil Rights protection. There are some very clevel legal minds working on how to make union membership a Civil Right while not putting it in precisely the same category as a “protected class”. I sure hope they can.


        • ar an sliabh

          I sure hope so as well. Supreme Court has not been nice to unions in the last ten years or so, however. The way it is stacked now, leads me to believe that this will be a long fight. An important aspect is also that it is too easy to undermine workers’ rights and organisations by not extending the right to representation to all workers.


          • It wouldn’t be the Supreme Court’s decision. It would be about writing a labor union measure into Civil Rights law- something that has never been done before.

            The skeptics have a valid perspective on this one, and it’s not because they are anti-union.


            • ar an sliabh

              I don’t disagree with the valid perspective of the skeptics. Any legislature can be contested, however, and contests involving civil rights usually eventually trickle up to the Supreme Court.


  2. I see there is a guy running on the Democratic presidential ticket called Andrew Yang. His unique selling point is Universal Basic Income every adult in the USA gets given 1000 dollars a month. He proposes paying for this with a VAT tax on the big tech Companies.


    • Most likely we are going to end up with Beto O’Rourke, Elizabeth Warren, or Amy Klobuchar.


  3. Here’s what I see as “the deal” with guys like Dave Rubin. I believe that what he plays to as much as anything else, would be people who grew up conservative, whose fundamental instincts are that of a conservative, but various circumstances that were known or occurred in early adulthood or later make it hard for them to back today’s right 100%. They are frustrated because they don’t have any real attachment to any particular strain of liberalism-and let’s face it there are many.

    On both the left and right in most Western countries there are a variety of very different opinions. Most people have some degree of affinity to a particular strain of liberalism or conservatism and thus are willing to seek those folks out and sort of cope with others strains they don’t necessarily like.

    Dave Rubin doesn’t fit in with the right-where his heart probably is-for a very, very common reason. He’s gay. Of course, there are other reasons such as having had your life saved by the PPACA (aka Obamacare), disabled family members, and more.

    As a gay man somebody like Rubin could have easily been a “log cabin Republican” well into the 1990’s, but such options are largely foreclosed on in today’s GOP. Also consider that people don’t always fully understand they are gay or hope to outgrow it into their teens or even 20’s. Unlike a black Republican who knows exactly what he or she is signing up for, many non-black gay dudes can just grow up expecting to be much like the Republicans in their community…….until they figure out that their sexuality is going to be an issue. Somebody who grew up liberal or conservative but changed their minds due to experiences at work, with their spouse, or community can usually in a fairly short period of time find a strain of liberal or conservative that makes sense to them.

    Whereas if the only thing that erm, outed you, from the politics you grew up with was just ending up with a particular sexuality and not being able to change it. (It’s my POV that some people do have the ability to modify their sexual orientation, but others really don’t) Well those folks can spend much of their lives in a sort of a “no man’s land” where they don’t quite fit in anywhere politically. I believe that’s part of what’s going on in the case of Dave Rubin.


    • And the libertarian space is oddly less popular than it was a decade or more ago. Would you agree? I find that a lot of people who would had they been around ten or fifteen years ago been right libertarians are tilted towards a more alt-right position. So that’s kind of closed to the Rubin’s of the world too, because let’s face it, they want an audience and some aren’t too fussy how they build that audience or amongst who.


      • Dave Rubin is an odd cat, that’s for sure.

        The thing about libertarians is that it’s not radically less popular than it was a decade ago-if anything it’s a lot more popular than it ever would have been prior to the mid-1990’s. The term “log cabin Republican” is much, much broader than “Libertarian”. For a long time that was used to mean ANY Republican that didn’t hold with the Religious Rights, or the Dixiecrats (people who voted Democratics soley because the GOP was “The Party of Abraham Lincoln”). After all “log cabin” refers mostly to Lincoln’s origins (as the first GOP POTUS). Trying to argue it meant support for some “free market” ideology is for the most part after-the-fact revisionist rewrite. Indeed the frontier world Honest Abe grew up in was decidedly NOT all about free markets.

        An Eisenhower Republican was actually a very pragmatic moderate in the context of that time. Eisenhower Republicans supported Civil Rights, Women’s Rights (many democrats leaned more to female protectionism via either a “Mother Jones” school of thought about women in some labor unions, or more commonly Dixiecrats’ Southern sensibilities), Environmental Protection, Monopoly Busting, the right of all workers to be union members, and a universal healthcare system that resembles Germany’s slightly more than does the Medicare/Medicaid/Obamacare we already have.

        There are many people I know who miss the GOP of Eisenhower and mourn what the once proud “Party of Abe, Teddy, and Ike” has become. I suppose you could say those folks lost their home in the GOP very nearly before Libertarianism in the contemporary Ayn Rand sense of the word, was even a thing.

        Very few in the US (even among ardent anti-communists) bought into that form of “liberatarian” thought before Ayn Rand’s followers became more visible in the 1970’s.


        • OK. I should have written “former Dixiecrats”. Or people who back the Democrats solely because the GOP was “The Party of Lincoln” and turned on a dime and switched to the GOP when Democrat LBJ signed The Civil Rights act.


          • Yes, I’d see that re the idea of Republicans without a home in the current GOP and how the GOP was kind of centrist in the post 1945 period.

            But in a sense I wonder if right libertarianism has the same profile it did in the mid-2000s? It seems much less evident in the broader (admittedly online) discourse, overtaken by the alt-righters and the so on and I wonder are they scooping up people who would have gone libertarian in the last decade? Though offline I see what you mean, that its popularity might actually have grown. Is there any chance of a political expression of same gaining increased visilbity?


            • I think there are a some people who left the libertarian movement for the alt right., although many of those did so over positions most libertarians viewed as extremist.

              The alt-right tends to foreground people who had significant pasts with more mainstream segments of the left GOP or Democrats-it’s a tactic they use to normalize their movement.

              My sense is that much of the alt right recruitment is from people who are alienated, cynical/mihilistic, and never had any coherent politics-at most they might have voted for who their family or most of their friends did by default and parroted their views as a path of least resistance. Many of their politics were a scream of f**** you to all major factions.

              Many of these people have a suicidal nihilism at the core. They adopted racist and in extremists views as an expression of shear rage against the world.


            • One thing I find a lot of people doing is that they’ve decided to take their politics offline. People all over the political spectrum have decided that the internet is just too riddled with trolls and that it’s not worth it to engage. So they opt for proper in person meetings complete with coffee and snacks. Or they start leaning more on books and mail-in memberships and magazines. To the extent they even engage politically online at all, they choose forums that have robust content referees and/or are selective of membership.

              They insist that engagement with people who differ from them politically occur offline.

              I have partly done just that. I joined my local NPVIC group, which is about in person meetings. Basically NPVIC is a interstate compact to reform the electoral college. It’s non-partisan and has fair number of “displaced old fashioned GOP” in it, despite a modest majority of Democrats.

              However one fundamental difference between the alt-right and libertarians is this. Libertarians have some membership organizations that have been around for decades. They have a long-and insidious- tradition of conveying their ideas though fiction most notably Ayn Rand’s novels. They can easily fall back on those things.

              The alt-right however almost entirely evolved online. Much of that was due to the willingness to entertain ideas such as legalizing pedophilia, sacking Amendments 11-27 of The Constitution, returning to a system of women as property, cameralism and more.


              • I really get that, the idea people would stop engaging online and take their politics out. I think that’s really healthy.

                re Ayn Rand, poor old Rush – that was the first time I heard about her when they ran into trouble for being fans in the late 70s or early 80s. I guess I could say it was part of my political education… but…

                That’s true re libertarian organisations, and a strong network of think-tanks Cato etc. As well as some heavy hitters when it comes to funding Koch etc. The alt-right is like tissue paper compared to that.


            • Believe it or not, the Koch brothers are trying to destroy an initiative in my city to radically expand The Light Rail and add several BRT lines, neighborhood circulators and possibly some experiments with urban gondolas as transit. The idea is to take a system that’s crappy by Western US standards and make it fantastic by European ones (The soil won’t allow a Subway or Underground.)

              As for Ayn Rand, I don’t think you can easily overstate the damage her influence did to American politics.

              As for people leaving the internet as a venue. On one level it means that many of them end up doing more productive things.

              One the other there never really was a good answer to what to do about all these trolls is there? If you try to confront them, you could spend your whole life-thousands of people could-to confronting Trolls and they would just keep coming. It’s like the Kudzu in much of the Southern US. You could devote your life to clearing it, but it doesn’t stop.

              If you opt out, and decide to find a more productive use of your time then dealing with these people, you continue a pattern where sane people “leave the web” and trolls vie for domination.

              I worry that having an internet overrun with those people, feeds what some people were calling “The Mean World Syndrome”. Originally it meant TV and movies making crime rates look much, much higher than they actually are. At a time when US crime rates were sinking like a stone (I’m pretty committed to the early childhood lead exposure theory on that one.), TV shows made it look like there was a murder on every street corner on a regular basis.

              Similarly I fear a pattern on the internet where there’s almost an “evolutionary” pattern of nastier trolls, because normal people leave because of the trolls, and even trolls leave because of more extreme trolls. People who see that scene might think society is much worse than it is.


  4. Dave Rubin is a highly disingenuous partisan hack who uses his show to promote figures from the right and far-right. That’s him in a nutshell.
    The whole “liberal” label he attaches to himself is very deceptive (the banner on his Twitter account used to be “the last liberal”). On the one hand, it leads left-wingers who stumble upon his show to think he holds similar views to them, whereas it also leads him to stand out to the Right as a supposed liberal lefty who is interested in what they have to say (I’ve seen countless comments by Trump supporters praising him as “the only liberal I respect.”)
    He likes to claim that his show is all about free-speech in response to SJW/no-platforming tendencies from the Left such as on college campuses. While there is a problem with suppression of dissenting voices on the Left, there are plenty of the same from the Right in the US. Anti-BDS laws, the harrassment of critics of Israel (look up the Canary mission), Trump calling for the punishment of people who protest the national anthem or burn the flag are a few that come to mind as I type this. But if you listen to Rubin, you will never hear about that and the problems on the Left with regards free speech/post-modernism are the biggest threats to civilisation today (no joke, he actually said that). I would’ve thought climate change, overpopulation or a nuclear war are bigger threats than SJWs no platforming people, but there you go.
    The two things that stand out about his show are the fact that he never challenges his guests and that pretty much all his guests are right wing/far-right or critics of the Left in general. Firstly, he likes to claim that he is just following Larry King’s style of interviewing of “giving a platform and allowing the audience to make up their own mind”, but in reality he is just making a lot of extreme figures seem a lot less extreme than they really are (Rubin calling Paul Joseph Watson a centrist is just one example of that). It also results in complete falsehoods being promoted by his guests like “Obama is a communist” or “Soros supported the Nazis” (both of those have gone unchallenged by Rubin on his show). Secondly, you can see that he has had people like Ben Shapiro on his show many times but never has a left-winger on even when they are clearly happy to do so (it’s almost like he has deplatformed them). David Packman has offered to go on his show yet Rubin has never had him on. Far from caring about free speech (including ideas you don’t agree with), Rubin clearly only cares about giving a platform for the Right to promote itself.
    Finally, for a guy who is supposedly liberal or classical liberal, he has no problem espousing highly illiberal views. For one, he is highly supportive of Israel both on Twitter and on his show (supporting an apartheid state is an unusual stance for somebody who supposedly believes in the ideas of the enlightenment). He was one of the first to scream “anti-Semite” at Ilhan Omar over her comments on the Israel lobby, while at the same time claiming that labels like “racist”, “bigot” or “Islamophobe” are being used to shut down debate about various issues.


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