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By David Futrelle
In 1941, writer Dorothy Thompson invented what she described as “an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game” called “Who Goes Nazi?” The idea was simple: the next time you’re at a party, or some other social gathering, take a look at those around you and try to guess which ones would, “in a showdown … go Nazi.”
You don’t do this out loud, of course, unless you really want to be punched.
The game feels as relevant at this point in history as it was when Thompson wrote her classic Harper’s essay explaining the rules of the game and offering a series of descriptions of the assorted social types she thought would (or most definitely would not) turn into literal Nazis when the chips were down — from the bank vice president who “has risen beyond his real abilities by virtue of health, good looks, and being a good mixer” (definitely a Nazi in embryo) to the downwardly mobile editor who manages to be intellectual without being a snob about it, about whom Thompson remarks that she “will put my hand in the fire that nothing on earth could ever make him a Nazi.”
Thompson’s portraits of these assorted social types, and her theories about who would and wouldn’t go Nazi, are a little too pat for my tastes; she basically thinks that nice people are immune to Nazism while mean and bitter types are drawn to it like moths to a lamp.
“Kind, good, happy, gentlemanly, secure people never go Nazi,” she wrote.
They may be the gentle philosopher whose name is in the Blue Book, or Bill from City College to whom democracy gave a chance to design airplanes—you’ll never make Nazis out of them. But the frustrated and humiliated intellectual, the rich and scared speculator, the spoiled son, the labor tyrant, the fellow who has achieved success by smelling out the wind of success—they would all go Nazi in a crisis.
Not far from the truth, I think, just a little oversimplified.
Still, the game itself is genius.
Over the last couple of years, for obvious reasons, Thompson’s article has been resurrected and passed around on social media, and several writers have proposed modern updates of her famous game, from the “office edition” to one focused on media figures. The only trouble with playing the game now is that so many of those who would have gone gone Nazi in Thompson’s day already have, in ours.
While the original game is still worth playing, let me propose an alternate version that might be even more entertaining for readers of this blog: Who Goes Red Pill?
Think of the various people you’ve recently met — in real life or online — and try to figure out who among them is most likely to embrace the toxic misogynistic ideology that unites the otherwise disparate groups that make up the manosphere, from MRAs to MGTOWS to incels to PUAs. What personality traits do they exhibit? What behaviors are obvious (or not-so-obvious) tells?
Are they NiceGuys (TM) stewing in aggrieved entitlement? Do they like South Park maybe a little bit too much? Do they get suspiciously angry about female superheroes? Are they fans of Pewdiepie, or Joe Rogan, or Jordan Peterson? Do they complain that women are sexually harassing them by wearing yoga pants? Do they know more than Chris Hansen does about age-of-consent laws? Do they describe themselves as “equity feminists” or “egalitarians?”
The game is a little trickier than it might at first appear. Some of these Jordan-Peterson-loving NiceGuys have already swallowed the Red Pill (and sometimes have even embraced the even more nilhilistic Black Pill), thus disqualifying them as candidates for the game.
Others may exhibit several seemingly obvious tells — but their flirtation with the Red Pill may end up being little more than a passing phase. I’m not sure I quite understand just what makes one person a Red-Pill-swallower and another a Red-Pill-spitter-outer. But maybe you do.
Share your own thoughts below as to what personality types you think are most drawn to the Red Pill (or to Nazism, if you’d prefer to play the original version). Let the games begin!