Andrew Tate Fans Aren't Fighting The Matrix, They're Fighting Capitalism

Andrew Tate Fans Aren't Fighting The Matrix, They're Fighting Capitalism
Over the past few months the term the ‘Matrix’ has been thrown around a lot in online circles. Inspired by the 1999 film of the same name (which ironically was directed by two trans women), the Matrix is a loosely defined term coined by Andrew Tate, a ‘red-pilled’ internet-commentator with a penchant for saying politically incorrect things. Tate however, stands out from the crowd of other “anti-woke” conservatives like Ben Shapiro or Alex Jones. Tate has amassed himself a rather impressive and loyal following of young men. He’s established himself as an internet messiah, he claims to be a millionaire, who has dedicated his life to divulging the “secrets to modern wealth creation,” through his $50 course Hustler’s University.

To join Tate’s Hustler’s university is not just to get scammed $50, but to “escape the Matrix.” In his videos, Tate often describes the awakening he had in his twenties. At the time, Tate was working a mundane 9 to 5 job. While the ‘wealthy elite’ around him were splurging millions on cars that would take him hundreds of years to afford, he was struggling to make ends meet. It’s an example many young people, born in the era of not millionaires, but billionaires can relate to. Funnily enough, it also just happens to be a clear critique of income inequality in the advanced economies.

You see, Tate's critiques of the Matrix have much more in common with capitalist critique then his fans would like to admit. The terminology Tate uses is often even reminiscent of ones used by critics of capitalism. “The Matrix wants you poor, weak, and alone. We [Hustler’s University] have opened up a mass portal to give you the tools to escape modern-day slavery,” Tate says on his website The Real World. The reference to ‘modern day slavery,’ is reminiscent of the terminology used to condemn worker alienation and exploitation in Marxist discourses.

It’s part of the reason Tate stands out in the sea of other Ben-Shapiro-like-commentators. Shapiro describes Tate as a “transgressor,” he is often a very vocal critic of US socioeconomic policy and the west as a whole, a trait which distinguishes him from the rest of conservative discourse on social media. As a result, Tate, unlike others, has become immensely popular with the youth. The idea he’s popularised of the ‘Real World,’ (which exists outside the ‘Matrix’,) represents an outright rejection of the American Dream, an ethos that has slowly died within younger generations who’ve lived through one (if not two) recessions before hitting twenty.

Ideologically, it’s also important to recognize differences between Tate and his peers. According to Shapiro, Tate’s “diagnosis of western society is largely correct, his prescriptions however, are not.” Tate’s values are a lot more muddied than he’d like to admit. On one hand, he has a distinct admiration for traditional values, but on the other, he outright rejects them.  Tate’s views on women, for example, are based on traditional patriarchal values, however, his thoughts on masculinity lie outside the bounds of traditional rhetoric. Everything from his excessively luxurious lifestyle, to his views on sex and family stand out from the accepted version of conservative masculinity, which is rooted in family values found in conservative Christianity. Tate’s version of masculinity enables young men to leverage tradition to limit the mobility of women, without holding themselves to the same ‘puritanical’ standards of tradition (which mind you are already pretty generous to men).

Tate’s lifestyle is perhaps his most desirable trait. His fans look at him with puppy eyes, they throw around his motto “What color is your Bugatti?” and edit 30 second video montages of him partying on yachts, lounging around with beautiful women, and driving luxury cars. They don’t just idolise him, but instead worship him, flocking to his support under any post that dare to criticise him. A particularly extreme case of this can be seen under this tweet, in which a fan’s admiration for Tate tends towards idolatry.

The loyalty of his fans has only increased following his arrest and eventual release. Tate describes the Matrix as a tool of the wealthy elites, designed to entrap the population into meaningless drudgery for the vast majority of their lives. Tate portrays the Matrix as antagonistic and out-to-get-him. In interviews before his arrest, Tate proclaims that in his field, you only get three strikes. “Strike One: they (the Matrix) try to shut you up or discredit you, strike two: they put you in jail for no reason, and strike three: they kill you.” To Tate’s fans, this seems to be not a load of gobbledygook, but self-fulfilling prophecy, now that Tate’s already been arrested. Now that Tate’s on strike two, it seems even the faintest inconvenience could be seen as an attempt on Tate’s life. For example, this April, following Tate’s release, he suffered a major allergic reaction (to which he denied medication). Tate used this as an opportunity for a bit of light fearmongering, describing the attack as a possible poisoning, leading his fans to classify this as a “Matrix Attack.” It’s this type of fear-mongering which is effective, by portraying everything from an allergic reaction to an arrest as the doings of a Matrix, Tate now has a mechanism by which to absolve him of any real criticism.

Besides alleged human trafficking and misogyny, Tate’s biggest crime is his hypocrisy. Hustler’s University is the biggest example of this. His course (which on a side-note, features an “in-depth-analysis dedicated to analysing if Hustler’s University “is legit”), is targeted towards fans of Tate eager to escape the Matrix. They sell a regurgitated and disguised version of the same American Dream that has been pedalled down people’s throats for years now. Hustler’s University promises to lead unsuspecting members down the road to creating a multi-million-dollar business, yet it seems like no multi-millionaire graduates have emerged. This is because Tate did not become a millionaire due to his skills in copywriting (a now dying profession due to the emergence of AI chatbots) or crypto, but instead from a webcam business. This business was built on exploiting vulnerable men and women, coercing the men into selling their savings, inheritance and even houses so they could help Tate’s webcam models with their fictional “financial problems.” A business model he has himself has called a “total scam.” These men were likely confused, lonely, and vulnerable, part of the very same audience Tate’s viewership now targets, and yet at the same time we’re the target of Tate’s exploitation.

The course Tate sells them is one that gives meagre returns, perhaps a lucky student may come out $20,000 richer, but I assure you, none are emerging as multi-millionaires. Tate’s own course operated similar to a pyramid scheme (often called “affiliate marketing”), in which members post large amounts of short-clips (Instagram reels or YouTube shorts), to maximise engagement. The course has since been removed, however it’s indicative of the exploitative system Tate has designed.

However, the biggest takeaway of this article should not a commentary on Tate himself. Perhaps Tate isn’t a misogynist, perhaps all those sexist things he said were jokes. Tate’s intentions don’t interest me as much as his impact does. Tate may have been joking, but I assure you that his legion of younger viewers didn’t get the joke. I have cousins as young as 10 who look up to him - little boys who lack the ability to think critically, going around absorbing things they’re a little too young to understand, exposed to this drivel off social media. I don’t care if this is Tate’s fault, Tate’s fans will probably find countless ways to absolve him of any responsibility, but nevertheless this is a problem, and it’s a problem we need to figure out how to solve.

Muhammad Siddiqui is an IB Diploma Program student in Lahore. He holds a strong interest in the arts and humanities.