I usually go by Yang. I am 24 years old.

I’m someone who’s always had a skeptical disposition. Ever since I was young, I was dissatisfied with the little information I received about how the world actually worked. Why do people believe what they believe? Why can seemingly intelligent people vehemently disagree with each other?

I’m always on the lookout for irrational ideas. There is one particular ideology I’ve noticed that has spread rapidly through our institutions over the past years. This ideology and its adherents are staging an ongoing hostile takeover in America, a takeover that makes me feel like we are abandoning the values we hold dear as a free society: individual liberty, due process, and freedom of speech. It is here to take our civil liberties away. A new ideology, founded on post-structuralist ideas about power, has outgrown the ivory-covered walls of the academy and has maintained an iron grip on our mainstream media and our broader cultural milieu. This ideology has many names and faces and dogmas and practices.

Some call it wokeness, others call it the successor ideology, others call it social justice. Whatever label you want to slap on it doesn’t change that fact that it is the biggest threat to our nation today. Whether you are a class-first socialist or a laissez-faire libertarian, an evangelical Christian or a radical feminist, a paleoconservative or a Blue Dog Democrat, an Orthodox Jew or a secular rationalist, we can all agree on corrosive this ideology has been on the ideals we hold dear.

When I was applying to college, I was offered tens of thousands of dollars in scholarship money a year to attend a small liberal arts college in upstate New York known for its strong writing program. I’ve always been a voracious reader, and I wanted to learn how to write my own novels. I attended, not knowing that the writing program wasn’t the only thing it was known for, but also for the development and propagation of an ideology unfamiliar to me when I first entered: wokeness. What I saw in those four years turned me anti-woke, as I saw past the groupthink to just how ridiculous it all was.

Although this newsletter covers a broad range of political, social, and anthropological topics, there are a few topics that I keep coming back to. One is the realignment of the two major parties along the axis of social class. Another is the tightrope of Asian American identity in today’s debates over race and culture. Another is the question of how to define truth in a poststructuralist world where “lived experience” trumps objective reality.

The title of the newsletter is a portmanteau of

  1. Guy Debord’s book The Society of The Spectacle, which critiques the excesses of consumer culture and the impact of mass media, as well as predicting today’s social media dystopian hellscape.

  2. The concept of standpoint epistemology, an idea that is deeply embedded into the ideologies driving today’s culture wars. I examine the influence identity politics (as defined by the Combahee River Collective and their framework of "systems of oppression”) has had in politics, in the media, and in social interactions.

I do not strongly identify with any political ideology in particular. I look past the mob, the herd, the tribe, the collective. I care about being on the side of reason and truth, not about being popular. I don’t take a “right-wing” view or a “left-wing” view. I take a correct view.

Although I may often seem to criticize liberals, I myself am a liberal: a classical liberal. As Bari Weiss put it:

Not liberal in the narrow, partisan sense, but liberal in the most capacious and distinctly American sense of that word: the belief that everyone is equal because everyone is created in the image of God. The belief in the sacredness of the individual over the group or the tribe. The belief that the rule of law—and equality under that law—is the foundation of a free society. The belief that due process and the presumption of innocence are good and that mob violence is bad. The belief that pluralism is a source of our strength; that tolerance is a reason for pride; and that liberty of thought, faith, and speech are the bedrocks of democracy.

While I maintain my classical liberalism, I constantly put it to the test by reading post-liberal works from across the political spectrum and absorbing some of their ideas. You’ll regularly see me reading post-liberal content from sources such as American Affairs, Jacobin, Compact, First Things, and Gray Mirror.

In the words of Terence in his play Heauton Timorumenos, “I am human, and I think nothing human is alien to me.” I believe in the humanity of every individual, no matter who they are. Even those that disagree with me. I am a strong believer in transformative justice.

I am a free speech absolutist: absolutely no speech should be banned, no matter what. As Evelyn Beatrice Hall famously said, I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. I am blessed to live in a country where the Bible, the Talmud, the Qur’an, the Communist Manifesto, Mein Kampf, Atlas Shrugged, Irreversible Damage, and White Fragility can all coexist on one bookshelf. Although if you do have all those books on one shelf, I would seriously question your sanity. Or rather, I’d admire your openness to different viewpoints.

You can email me at societystandpoint@protonmail.com for any inquiries or comments. All articles are as free as my thought. You can get a paid subscription to support my work if you’d like. I’m not sure how long free thought can survive under the mob rule we are seeing now. I hope that one day I won’t have to stare at the charred remains of what once was a prosperous civilization.

Subscribe to Society & Standpoint

Navigating our post-truth world.


Sheluyang Peng

The polemic is mightier than the sword. Email: societystandpoint@protonmail.com