(Image via The Rubin Report/YouTube)
Check out Anthony Leonardi's latest on The Washington Examiner.
Excerpt: "If you have an idea that is deemed unfit for coverage by mainstream media outlets, then (supposedly) that idea is an unvirtuous form of speech. If one were to engage in respectful debate with someone holding ideas ostracized by traditional media outlets, you are (supposedly) complicit in giving a platform to "slimy conspiracy theorists."
That seems to be the opinion of Christian Barnard, a policy researcher with Reason Foundation. Barnard wrote a Washington Examiner piece about how he used to enjoy "The Rubin Report" but has since unsubscribed. He describes the program, hosted by Dave Rubin as a part of the recently branded " Intellectual Dark Web," as a show that lacks “humility, intellectual honesty & rigor, and a healthy dose of confrontation.”
This is a skewed understanding of the significance of the Intellectual Dark Web and a misrepresentation of "The Rubin Report." Dismissing it as part of a “cultural moment” is not grounded in the history of philosophy nor political science. The conversations seen on programs like "The Rubin Report" are a modern iteration of the political dialogue that took place between ancient philosophers.
One of the most interesting works of political philosophy is The Republic by the philosopher Plato . In the book, Socrates, Polemarchus, Glaucon, and Thrasymachus discuss existential concepts like the true definition of justice. These philosophers all had radically different personalities and ideologies - just as the members of the Intellectual Dark Web conglomerate do today.
As the characters in The Republic find areas of agreement, Socrates constructs a “just city” based on moral and ethical truths. Plato, through the character of Socrates, did not label dialogue with inferior ideas (Thrasymachus’s initial definition of justice) as sinful or wrong, for that is not the Socratic method.
Thrasymachus hypothesized that justice may be defined as “the advantage of the stronger,” meaning that any action which benefits those in power is fundamentally just. Socrates then convinces the reader that this argument is based on a system of moral relativism, where the ruling class establishes what is right and wrong. Socrates asserts that true justice is only possible with objective definitions of good and evil.
If someone were to use the Thrasymachus argument today - that it is just for the powerful to intentionally oppress the weak - they would be labeled as immoral or hateful. Instead, Socrates hears them out and explains why that idea is inferior, just as Rubin does on his show.
In fact, If it were not for Socrates’ willingness to communicate and debate with Thrasymachus, he would not have developed his renown concept of a “just city.” Without his idea of a just city, The Republic would not exist and the world would be lacking in fundamental ideas that have been discussed for millennia in political science.
In his article, Barnard claimed that Rubin’s nonconfrontational attitude towards his guests meant that Rubin possesses a misguided interpretation of free speech. “Virtuous free expression requires confrontation, not passive reception from a comfy, red chair,” said Barnard.
If Rubin were too aggressive towards his interviewees, then he’d agitate them and involve emotion where reason should be present. Rubin is courteous to his guests because he instinctively wants to hear their ideas in their rawest, intellectual form. He excellently exercises the Socratic method in political discussion.
The success of shows like "The Rubin Report" symbolizes a cultural shift towards the return of the political dialogue as seen in Plato’s Republic. It shows a longing for deeper discussion, one that allows the public to find objective truths in political philosophy. The conversations that unfold during the course of a show are not a part of a “cultural moment” or a 24-hour news cycle. Rather, they have the potential to leave a long-lasting impact on culture.
People should watch "The Rubin Report," including Barnard. When they do, they will listen to conversations that are unavailable elsewhere, discover objective truths in a politically chaotic world, and find that the more speech that takes place, the better ideas humanity discovers."