What Happened To You? - Andrew Sullivan

“What happened to you?”

It’s a question I get a lot on Twitter. “When did you become so far right?” “Why have you become a white supremacist, transphobic, misogynistic eugenicist?” Or, of course: “See! I told you who he really was! Just take the hood off, Sully!” It’s trolling, mainly. And it’s a weapon for some in the elite to wield against others in the kind of emotional blackmail spiral that was first pioneered on elite college campuses. But it’s worth answering, a year after I was booted from New York Magazine for my unacceptable politics. Because it seems to me that the dynamic should really be the other way round.

The real question is: what happened to you?


Is todays western illiberal attitude an outcome of the American pride in the primacy of the individual?
Respecting the choice of the individual in and of itself is of course a fine idea in the first instance.
But community by definition is about the compromise individuals make to enjoy the benefits delivered by pooling resources that then deliver an outcome that is better than the individual can on their own.

It seems many people now want to have the community now focus on a case by case basis on the benefits to the individual, who may or may not respect the community sacrifices made on their behalf.
(aka - all take and no give by the individual).

The article seems to epitomise the inevitable outcome of the baby boomer’s shallow and short term thinking and todays inevitable outcome (spoiler - I am a boomer).
“What happened to you” seems to be a question that has followed the boomers desire to save the world by sacrificing their own community.

A clear example is the ridiculous discussion about minorities.
“White” people are a minority but are rarely (never?) portrayed this way.
If “White” people are (simplistically) in Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, & USA there are 846m out of 7.564 Billion (about 11.1%).
The discussion in this and most forums has always been that white people are a majority - but this is only in a small number of the 194 countries.
Why is this?

The discussions by the elites mentioned in the article are on the basis that the majority must bow to the needs of the minority.
But the discussion is only about how a very small number of countries have to make the sacrifice - it is not about a universal truth.
The discussion excludes 90% of the population of the world.
That data tables below show the woke discussions are only targeted in western countries but don’t talk to the world as a whole.
Which means the arguments are narrow, self interested, self serving, ignorant, distorted, and in the medium term destined to failure.
They are not about solutions for the world but instead seem to be about how a small group can get power within the country they live in.
Essentially they are happy to sellout their fellow citizens for power.

Being intellectually shallow, bigoted and full of false facts to achieve short term gains inevitably means the outcomes will be unexpected.

|Row Labels|Sum of Population (2018)|
|Americas, Northern|364,290,147 |
|Europe, Northern|105,079,537 |
|Europe, Southern|150,851,338 |
|Europe, Western|196,955,019 |
|Oceania, ANZ|29,643,670 |
|Grand Total|846,819,711 |

|Row Labels|Sum of Population (2018)|
*Africa|1,219,034,270 |
|Africa, Eastern|366,250,098 |
|Africa, Middle|169,121,879 |
|Africa, Northern|236,726,392 |
|Africa, Southern|65,739,496 |
|Africa, Western|381,196,405 |
|Americas|1,006,359,921 |
|Americas, Caribbean|43,008,992 |
|Americas, Central|175,471,787 |
|Americas, Northern|364,290,147 |
|Americas, Southern|423,588,995 |
|Asia|4,550,632,651 |
|Asia, Central|72,051,628 |
|Asia, Eastern|1,666,395,348 |
|Asia, South-Eastern|655,298,440 |
|Asia, Southern|1,895,813,944 |
|Asia, Western|261,073,291 |
|Europe|746,676,153 |
|Europe, Eastern|293,790,259 |
|Europe, Northern|105,079,537 |
|Europe, Southern|150,851,338 |
|Europe, Western|196,955,019 |
|Oceania|41,500,267 |
|Oceania, ANZ|29,643,670 |
|Oceania, Melanesia|10,715,336 |
|Oceania, Micronesia|478,519 |
|Oceania, Polynesia|662,742 |
|Grand Total|7,564,203,262 |

All data is from the UN data statistics.


To that point:

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I interpret the Woke Age as the failure of the progressive project. Progressives knew that their welfare state would bring the working class to a Happy Land. But the white working class is “dying of despair.” Progressives knew that the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act would end racism and discrimination and bring blacks up to equality with whites. Only they aren’t.
When things go wrong, there are three responses: It’s the other guy’s fault; it’s my fault; or “events, dear boy.”
Our progressive friends have no doubt. It’s the “other guy,” the racist-sexist-homophobe" that’s at fault. That is the normal human response to failure.


The “progressive project”,in my estimation, bundles together three big assumptions which in the end can’t all be true. The roots are back in Prussia, with Wilhelm and Bismarck, creating a state apparatus to advance industry and promote social welfare, managed efficiently by well-trained administrators. Like the Prussian Army, with its officer corps, it can take everyday people, shape them an train them, and get them working together efficiently, and it improves conditions for everybody.

Toss into the mix a dose of Hegelianism, a view of history and progress marching ever forward. The Prussian version is to some degree a response to Marx. Progressivism suggests that there is a scientific way to keep moving forward, perhaps without the uncertainties and mis-steps embedded in theses, antithesis and synthesis. Forward, March! Especially if we believe that in the long run progress is a certainty, then there is a moral aspect to being on the right side out in front of history. That landed nicely in America, where westward expansion had been seen as Manifest Destiny, and the US was getting ready to displace Spain from most of its overseas possessions.

Those two prongs, mobilization of society, and the moral imperative of history go together fairly well. There’s a national to it which doesn’t fit well with post-WWII thinking but it worked well enough thru the early 20th Century.

But then we get the individualist business mixed in. It’s always been in the American character, it’s part of American Exceptionalism. It was somewhat subsumed in the first half of the century – we had to get thru the Depression and the War, until the GI generation came home and started families. By then we had discovered Freud, and all sorts of possibilities for self-improvement. And we were in the Cold War, competing with soul-less Marxism in which every individual existed to improve the collective. What made us different, and our system superior? Individual Freedom, of course!

Not just a fine idea, but a raison d’etre. Of course it creates a tension if the individuals are not aligned with the moral imperative of progress. But there’s a solution to that: the individuals can and must improve themselves. That Prussian Officer corps, and the American educational system as formulated by Dewey, worked to shape and improve individuals from the outside. But if that doesn’t work, then they must be reshaped from the inside. Only you can improve yourself. Only you can choose to improve yourself. But it is not a choice. If you do not run with history, you will be trampled by it, it and nobody will feel sorry for you.


Chris, Thank you.
Hadn’t come across that source before.

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I’d amend, 'Save the world for THEMSELVES by sacrificing their children and grandchildren.

I like the point on Whites being a minority in the world. Because I threw this one back at a person in a meandering debate which included ‘one world open borders’. I was like cool. When we have a one world government, and whites become the second smallest minority below Black…what does that do with intersectionality?

That was the last cognitive dissonance he could suffer in merely pointing out contradictions in his arguments.


I feel soooo guilty living off my trust fund, that I want to proclaim to all, both near and far, that :

I, the rich white guy —living off the capitol gains of my forebears— do proclaim myself to be an overeducated, self important, rent seeking, pandering prick. And henceforth pledge to repeat any and all virtuous slogans, as suggested by the NYTimes, public radio or CNN. display all party issued yard sighs, embrace the left wing narrative, in exchange for being allowed to wallow in my self indulgent life until such time as the Good Lord shall call me to my eternal rest.

That should keep ‘em happy for a while! Any more single malt around here. There must be!

But my point is that poor people as well as people who are working hard to provide a better life for themselves and their families, are the ones who end up suffering from the foolish equity politics of these people, things like defunding the police, lowering academic standards, or promoting more expensive energy policies. But the elites will be just fine, not to worry.


There is a lot of that going on. The ones most embracing ‘the narrative’ are the ones who are the most privileged and so, perhaps, it is their own guilt of a soft life, and not reflective of the world writ large.

In a macabre way I had hoped COVID would have purged a few more.


Specifically, it was the Yuppie sub-set of the Boomers who did that. The interesting thing is that Tom Wolfe covered it all in real time. If you’ve not read Bonfire of the Vanities and his other works, you should.

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