Retards, midwits, and geniuses
You do not have to scan the current meme scene for very long to encounter the item depicted above: the retard, the midwit, and the genius. The meme encapsulates a basic truth that the people at the top and the people at the bottom tend to have a better idea about what is going on in the world than the people in the middle; it has a flavour of de Jouvenel, with his notion that the top and the bottom team up against the middle in political struggles—and also a touch of Nietzsche; a notion that the herd and the big middle are always effectively insane, only individuals of a noble or barbarian spirit know what is really what.
The meme is based on the famous bell curve distribution of intelligence, and yet it is not really about intelligence; rather, the meme describes agreeability. Now, as it happens, intelligence and agreeability are associated, though the link is not absolute. The thought behind the meme goes as follows, to pick race and intelligence a typical topic it could be used to describe:
Retard: “The blacks are stupid; it stands to reason: look at fackin’ Africa, it’s all mud huts and shit.”
Midwit: “I think that’s just ghastly—what an uneducated man. Just think about the incomparable achievements in African philosophy by Frantz Fanon, or the exquisite novels of Maya Angelou—my reading group is discussing her over avocado and toast next Saturday, btw. We just need to get beyond this Victorian mindset and the ignorance spread by Russian propaganda.”
Genius: “Although, of course, there are a certain proportion of black Africans with above average intelligence—as there are with all groups—their proportion in this group as a whole is smaller than with the whites and the Asians, and this explains why Africa has failed to develop as an industrial society. They just have fewer people with high to moderate intelligence, and this makes it very hard to keep civilisation on the road. Further, the American blacks were largely drawn from a slave population that consisted of criminals and defeated warriors; hence they are predisposed to commit crime more often, their genes were selected for against intelligence and agreeability in a way atypical even in Africa.”
So we see that the genius and the retard arrive at a similar shorthand conclusion: Africa is not industrially developed because the population is not particularly bright. Now, these deviant positions—deviant in the contemporary West, anyway—are not really to do with intelligence. Obviously, the meme is funny because it suggests that stupid people and very clever people are the same, whereas the people who think they are clever—the solid middle—are actually hopelessly wrong.
Yet, as I noted earlier, this is to do with agreeability—or lack of it. The retard is the type of man you find outside a pub in his shirtsleeves about to smack another slaphead in the face because, “He looked at me funny.” Lower intelligence means lower agreeability and even lower trust. I had a not particularly bright girlfriend from the underclass once and when I was offered a reasonably technical job she decided it was “a scam” because she could not grasp how it worked. If you have low intelligence you have to be suspicious to survive; you can never be exactly sure when you are being scammed or whether a job offer is “for real” or not; and this is one way people with low intelligence shoot themselves in the foot time and again. On the other hand, they will just say whatever they think and feel—often in a very belligerent way—and this makes them effectively immune, or semi-immune, to state propaganda. This is why Orwell thought in 1984 that “hope lies with the proles”; only the proles, in his sentimental view, could escape the brainwash that worked so well on the higher intellectuals.
Similarly, very bright people are usually trustful, collegiate, and agreeable—simply because they quickly see the benefits of cooperation and so cooperate easily, although sometimes, often due to a sheltered environment, they go the other way and become overly trusting or naïve about what really motivates most humans. The genius, however, is a little different.
Now, people use “genius” in different ways: Schopenhauer’s genius was strictly non-mathematical; he was someone who saw the whole and reflected it—as Beethoven reflected life in his music. Schopenhauer’s genius could not be mathematical or scientific, since these fields segment and fragment reality. However, the sense in which I speak about genius here is a more commonly accepted definition that includes scientific genius: the genius is a person of above average intelligence who has a disagreeable personality.
It is because the genius combines high intelligence with disagreeability—he is an outlier, disagreeability is a trait usually found with lower intelligence—that he makes his novel discoveries. While other people are happy to float with the consensus—often this amounts to lies or pleasant social conformism—the genius insists that the logical chain or investigation of reality be carried through to its conclusion, no matter how many people this disturbs. He is often associated with “autism” in popular parlance, with a tendency to systemise irrespective of a social mores—an essentially male condition, hence genius is male.
So the midwit represents the agreeable backbone to society—the affable suburban dad, the soccer mom. These people tend to be rather bland social conformists; they are not, as the meme suggests, stupid; they simply know better than to break social taboos. They want to get on in their careers and their lives and they know precisely which views will make them social outcasts, so they diligently ignore those. Just as a medieval scribe would never question Catholicism and a Soviet schoolteacher would never question Marxism, so the contemporary midwit office drone is certain to only complain about approved topics.
It is not cowardice so much as a desire to be collegiate with people and be pro-social. The underclass retard is anti-social, and not just about politically sensitive topics either; he is rude and violent. Yet the disagreeable genius will also be seen as “uneducated” or someone who should “know better”. The phone will stop ringing for him if he persists in his views. Western societies operate through soft censorship, indirect censorship, and not outright imprisonment—not yet, anyway.
None of this means that there are not retards who are agreeable, just as there are highly intelligent people who are disagreeable; and, of course, there are some disagreeable people in the middle range as well. It is just, per the meme, how everything stacks out overall—the general tendency.
What makes the difference is not so much intelligence as temperament. The midwit segment often knows perfectly well about ideas such as race and IQ, but they know better than to say—and they think people who do say must be stupid, since they sabotage their social credibility. In place of reality-adjusted views, the midwit has ornamental beliefs about issues such as race and sex differences—views often acquired at university and, perhaps, couched in sophisticated postmodern garb. So he tends towards pretension; he might talk at length about, say, how race is expressed in cultural terms in cinema; perhaps he quotes Badiou or Žižek, someone from his university course—someone mentioned in the New Yorker. There is always some sense in what they say, but it never fully touches reality: the midwit, the pretentious midwit, has ornamental ideas; he knows how to look like a “serious thinker”; and his bookshelf has the appropriate reads, as recommended by Vox or Jacobin. Yet this is not so much about genuine thought as about giving the appearance that the individual follows state ideology closely and within its ideological confines is a “smart” person.
Right-wing activists, particularly on the radical right, often mock the midwit as a typical “Redditor”, “soyboy”, or “idiot”. They express exasperation at how such people cannot notice the link between, say, the Islamisation of Europe and an increase in terror attacks. Yet the people who affirm these views know perfectly well about the link; they just know well enough not to say. In a sense, they are correct: why torpedo your own career and social prospects to become a social pariah? Are you mad? Few people think there is a Heaven or eternal reward if you do so; and so to spite the system seems like self-harm—only a stupid person would do it.
For the slightly anti-social personality type—or the very logical person who is deeply irritated by illogical socially-motivated formulations—the need to get closer to reality will often overrule the desire for social affirmation and success; or perhaps can be compensated for by becoming a big fish in a small pond. For example, anyone with a reasonable intellectual apparatus can become a star on the neo-fascist or nationalist right, simply because these political movements tend to attract ethnocentric retards and repel the highly educated—who are schooled that cosmopolitanism is high status. Thus a person of moderate intellectual ability can scorn the mainstream—where he would be a minor scribe at best—but rise to the pinnacle in the radical right’s small pond. In Britain, the popular rightist orator and intellectual Jonathan Bowden achieved just such a feat.
Indeed, you will often see that people who consider themselves to be vaguely liberal or progressive will affirm that they are “a nice person”—unlike “one of them”, one of the demonic out-group. This leads to the more general insight that societies have always been driven by more intelligent but disagreeable groups, particularly those with sufficient Machiavellian instincts to restrain their disagreeability and cooperate at the top level to a degree. In popular Internet slang, these are the “playable characters”—as opposed to the “Non-Player Characters”, the midwit NPCs. The view shades into alchemical and hermetic ideas as well; the notion that an enlightened person can bend reality—social reality, anyway—to their will through the magical manipulation of symbols.
Hence we find that although most people are not vegans, multiculturalists, or furries— whatever cause you care to pick—it has become necessary in many respects to affirm these causes as socially positive, precisely because less agreeable but highly intelligent people shepherded society in that direction. For the rightists who developed the midwit meme, the meme moves in one direction: retards, probably ethnocentric, team up with geniuses to affirm that traditional views have always been correct—they are outside the reality distortion field in which midwits live. They are red pilled—perhaps a few of the topwits are clear pilled; they subsist outside all interpretations of reality, rather than flipping between two. Yet, of course, the midwit worldview was formed somehow and it was not formed by the midwits or the retards; it was formed, as described above, by those disagreeable but highly intelligent people at the top—the decadent elites.
So this meme swings both ways; it is not entirely true, it is not really about intelligence—there are plenty of highly deluded intelligent people who are, if you like, evil geniuses; and it is those who affirm liberal or progressive values that have the whip hand. So the right-wing genius—with his IQ charts—is regarded as the evil genius with his retarded ethnocentric henchman, just as in a James Bond film.
I knew a boy at school who grew up in the USSR. The day after the system fell the teacher came into school and said: “All that stuff about Communism, just forget it. It’s over. Gone.” The midwit is the person who changes direction without second thought; the high-status people in authority have said that this is no longer true, so I shall affirm this view. Perhaps they experience cognitive dissonance in private, perhaps they have some doubts; but if they said anything, well, they would be “one of them”—and this social death is too terrible to contemplate.
Be in no doubt that if by some extraordinary series of events the contemporary ideology of the US empire—BLM, LGBT, feminism—was to be discredited, removed from power, and the rainbow flag taken down and BLM declared a terrorist organisation that the people who blandly affirm these values, put little rainbow flags in their Twitter account biographies and so on, would swap overnight and never feel the slightest pang about it. “Oh, people believed in such things when I was young,” a grandmother would say to her granddaughter when she asked why there is a picture of her at twenty-three at an office event next to a trans rights flag, “but we don’t do that anymore. Things are different now. People were very into it then.” “Why?” “Oh, I don’t really know, dear…” And the granddaughter would accept it and then go and update her neuro-link with a giant panda logo—or whatever symbols are then normative.
Of course, just as in the post-Soviet world, there are always disagreeable people who will not give up their beliefs when power shifts—and they are often very intelligent, if delusional. Both the National Socialists and the Communists were careful to make it difficult to join their parties. Hitler made his platform more extreme and unreasonable—contrary to electoral logic—so as to attract hard cases; similarly, the Communists vetted potential members carefully and made them do a certain amount of work to remain in the party.
If you join Labour or the Conservatives, by contrast, you need do nothing in particular—and anyone can join online. As a result, the National Socialists and the Communists created organisations filled with diehards, true believers, who were completely fanatical about their beliefs and their loyalty to the party—and this allowed these organisations, even as minorities, to run their writ over the midwits; and, of course, it also explains why Germany resisted the Allies when by rational calculation surrender would have been more sensible.
So the meme is an oddity; it depicts a situation—high and low against the middle—that is usually how the right analyses the left, following de Jouvenel. The right usually says that decadent elites have teamed up with the lower elements—anti-social elements or immigrant outsiders—to soak the productive middle, the midwits as the meme has it. As described above, both can be true; it is basically the case that nothing happens in any direction—left or right—without the geniuses or topwits, disagreeable intelligent people, being in action.
So, for the right, we could see a commonality between Enoch Powell (disagreeable genius) and Tommy Robinson (retarded street fighter, who gets in brawls “just because”); similarly, we could see a figure like Noam Chomsky (disagreeable genius) running intellectual cover for George Floyd (retarded street thug, retrospectively politicised). You end up with a rightist genius-retard coalition that tends towards ethnocentrism—by low-trust instinct at the bottom and group selection theory at the top—arrayed against a decadent elite who romanticise the exotic and distant, intelligence being correlated with a love of novelty, and so ally with immigrants and racial outsiders against the native lower orders and the midwits. In the West, the latter holds power and so is better placed to co-opt the people who are actually their victims, the midwits—who in turn are feebly and ineffectively protected by conservatives, who offer watered down decadent elite ideology.
This schema may be an oversimplification, for there are probably multiple factions and ideas in circulation; but broadly this describes the power networks that contest to rule the middle—though the middle has very little to say about it, save those few outliers within the middle who are more disagreeable. As for the meme itself, it is an information-dense picture: bell curve; a humorous inversion of the “racial bell curve”; three definite psychological types and caricatures of social types; a commentary on social delusion and truth; and a reference to de Jouvenel’s political theory—all found in one small cartoon that has been applied to everything from Covid-19 vaccines to the Iraq War. Obviously, a picture is worth a thousand words, or 2,700 words in this case—and that is memetic magic.