Andrew Tate Wants Everyone to Get in on the Grift

Online misogynist Andrew Tate doesn’t pretend that life under capitalism isn’t a scam. He readily acknowledges that it is, with success coming through coercion, exploitation, and predation — and he wants you to get in on the hustle with him.

Andrew Tate. (Wikimedia Commons)

Residency in a Romanian jail cell on suspicion of human trafficking, rape, and money laundering, has not, it seems, reduced the popularity of the self-proclaimed “Top G,” kickboxer, professional misogynist, and grifter extraordinaire Andrew Tate. For a brief period in 2022 Tate was the most Googled man on the planet; he continues to drive internet traffic and rack up billions of TikTok followers. Now in prison awaiting trial, his influence over young boys in his native United Kingdom has not diminished. There, reports of teachers complaining about the juvenile sexism inspired by his ceaseless stream of social media soundbites have become ubiquitous.

Momentarily, the Tate saga seemed over after major social medial firms “canceled” him.  But something strange happened — the Tate machine proved too big to fail. Spurned by the social media establishment and the media, he managed to expand his influence and presence despite only posting his content directly on Rumble and other right-wing “alternative” social media platforms.

On the dark corners of the internet, Tate managed to speak directly to an audience of boys and young men. His “expulsion” from social media only served to increase his appeal among his target demographics. According to one study, 74 percent of British males between ages eighteen and twenty-four had consumed some sort of Tate content; substantially more boys have heard of Tate than of UK prime minister Rishi Sunak, a perhaps unsurprising fact given the relatively short shelf life of recent PMs. Teachers are reporting that Tate’s influence is directly changing the behavior of boys, who have taken to asking their instructors “what color is your Bugatti?” as well as parroting Tate’s sexist routines to girls and women.

What makes Tate more than a particularly unpleasant creature is his widespread appeal. Unlike, say, Elon Musk — a repellent figure for very different reasons — he does not even claim to owe his fame to his ability to actually produce anything. Predation, exploitation, and relentless clout chasing are the tools with which he has won fame and fortune. He is a symptom of a new brand of capitalism unincumbered by any illusions about progress. For Tate and his followers, the whole system is a scam and the only way to succeed is by pushing others down and clawing your way to the top.

Tate is the most toxic and popular figure to surface from the swamp of the so-called manosphere, which includes the likes of the steroid-enhanced, raw offal–chowing Liver King, and Gonzalo Lira, the pickup-artist-turned-geopolitical-“expert” living in Ukraine.

Tate and the Matrix

Tate’s entire persona is based on what an insecure adolescent boy imagines to be success in today’s world. His view of what counts as a marker of success — waving a sword around, smoking a cigar and posing next to his supercars — is unaspiringly crude. (Lil Wayne’s adage that “Real Gs move in silence like lasagna” is not one embraced by Tate.) Tate’s grift is to use this image to market an unoriginal synthesis of outrageous misogyny packaged with pseudo-spiritual wisdom to hawk his various obvious scams.

We are, according to Tate, living in what he calls “the Matrix.” The economy: a scam; the media: a scam; politicians: also a scam. So, too, is the traditional nine-to-five job. Modern dating is a feminist scam. Education a total scam. What Tate offers is a way to hack the system, to make the scams work for you. Why believe anything else in a world in which the charisma-free, sweatpants-wearing Sam Bankman-Fried is able to con his way into a fortune? Underlying this worldview is a kind of egalitarianism: shouldn’t the common man, too, have a chance to get in on the hustle?

Tate also owes his success to the skill with which he has navigated the attention economy and understood the moral outlook that underlies it. According to this worldview, his money, his cars, and his poisoned relationships with women are all evidence of his virtue. Tate sits atop the pyramid scheme of the scam economy because he is most deserving, and he is most deserving because he has done so well for himself. Unsurprisingly, he has a rags-to-riches fable of making money through a camgirl empire hat he has all but confessed was reliant on human trafficking.

Sadly, Tate is not the originator of the hustler gospel he evangelizes. A decade of slow growth following the financial crisis made possible the hustler economy of precarious gig work that was billed as empowerment, but that in fact was merely a way of subsidizing the incomes of the poor. Today, “hustling” has become thoroughly egalitarian. From Amazon drop shipping to crypto day-trading, anyone can get in on the action.

In a world in which self-exploitation has been universalized and critiques of capitalism are rarely advanced, Tate has been able to claim the mantle of an Übermensch — “the top G” — whose success can only be the result of his unique skills. As one British teacher stated, “He is brainwashing a generation of boys, and it’s very frightening.” She added, “They seem to think he is right. He’s right because he’s rich.” Clout makes right.

Unsurprisingly, Tate’s entire story is a scam too. According to Tate, he was born to a legendary African-American chess master and a British catering assistant, and grew up on a council estate in Luton, one of South East England’s least inspiring cities. Rising from the gloom of Luton, through the power of will, Tate was able to become a four-time world kickboxing champion. He eventually retired from the sport when he decided that it was not going to make him rich or bring him the celebrity status he so clearly desired (Tate was infamously kicked out of the UK edition of Big Brother in 2016).

Working with his brother he finally found a profession equal to his talent: the camgirl industry. Fleeing legal troubles, or “seeking freedom” in his own words, he moved to Romania and built an empire worth millions. Armed with the keys to success, Tate then proceeded to use his immense wealth to try to save young men from the Matrix (and increase his own net worth), leading him to international fame and fortune. For his efforts, Tate was punished and imprisoned by the Matrix.

In reality, Tate was only a kickboxing champion in a second-rate promotion. He was a failed reality-TV celebrity who had tried for years on various shows to gain public attention before he was kicked out of Big Brother following his arrest for rape allegations. He has publicly documented his desperate desire for clout from the beginning. An early Tate series on YouTube, “the Hateful Tates,” is one of the most bizarre and hilarious records of male insecurity ever posted on the internet. While he did end up making decent money from his stock of camgirl girlfriends, this was in his own words “a total scam” based on tricking desperate men out of their money by selling sob stories.

Fortune secured, true fame was somewhat harder to come by. To realize his dream, Tate embarked on a shameless campaign to ingratiate himself with the most odious representatives of the modern right. He infiltrated the alt-right media ecosphere, aided by a legion of media grifters from Alex Jones up to Donald Trump Jr; in the UK, he opted for his fellow Lutonite Tommy Robinson, disgraced founder of the far-right English Defence League, and Nigel Farage, architect of the Brexit campaign’s right wing.

He then proceeded to “hack” the second generation of visual-based social media by mixing short TikTok clips of his decadent lifestyle with utterly outrageous statements, followed by more reasoned, mature, and cerebral monologues in which he justified his wealth. The secret to his web omnipresence was also a scam.

What made Tate’s assault on two fronts possible was the unique post-pandemic climate. This provided Tate with an ideal target audience for his grift: the pandemic experience created insecure, lonely, and alienated young men, who rightly felt that everything is a scam but were quick to latch on to a personification of success rather than a real community or sense of meaning. This was in large part because Tate’s ideology doesn’t require them to engage in self-reflection or to challenge the dominant values of capitalist society.

The Hustler’s University

Tate’s most successful product was himself. He managed to transform his identity into a get-rich-quick marketing scam known to the world as “Hustler’s University.” This institute of higher learning promised to sell young men tried and tested methods to make money for a mere $49.99 a month. Hustler’s University eventually ended up with something approaching 150,000 students at its peak before Tate shut it down after his “cancelation.” It has since reopened with the new name of “The Real World.”

In a development that nobody could have possibly predicted, the Hustler’s University itself was a scam. Once students signed up, members were informed that they could make money by recruiting more members through sharing viral Tate content on social media with links to said higher education institution. Enrollees would receive 50 percent of the tuition of each member recruited. This pyramid-scheme university was not entirely devoid of academic rigor. Tate offered students a “PHD (Pimping Hoes Degree),” a course in which he basically confesses to being a human trafficker and webcam pimp, as well as more mundane courses on crypto or Amazon drop shipping.

As recorded in a recent Vice documentary, if you were ready to pay $5,000 you could join his secret society “The War Room,” where you can impress Tate by volunteering to be beaten to a pulp by a professional mixed martial arts fighter. This secret society includes such esteemed gentlemen as his court wizard/hypnotist Iggy Semmelweis and other cronies such as the so-called Alpha Wolf and a mysterious Australian ex-intelligence officer who goes by the moniker “Sartorial Shooter.”

While Tate was making money hand over fist through Hustler’s University, he was also trying to spread his own new-age-meets-dumb-rocks-misogyny worldview. For Tate, the Western world is utterly corrupt, destroyed by feminism and the Matrix. To this self-help guru, clout cargo cult leader, and troll, the West’s moral and economic decline is evidenced in the realities of harsh taxation, increasing authoritarianism, violence, and the climate of growing fear and alienation. Tate’s most recent marketing move was publicly converting to Islam in order to smooth his relocation to Dubai and also extend his reach to the legion of lonely young men in the Islamic world. He praises Islam as an alternative to the “cucked” religions of the West.

For Tate, the Western world has been deceiving women into abandoning their biologically determined role. “Women are programmable, women are blank slates, they are either programmed by you or society,” Tate proclaims. That men and their views about the world might also be shaped by society is a nuance he seems incapable of grasping.

Another Tate lowlight was urging women to take responsibility for being raped:

If you go out. Meet a guy. Take his drinks all night. Go to his apartment drunk. Start to kiss him. Then he grabs your tits. Not harassment. If I left a million dollars outside my front door — when it got stolen people would say “Why was it there? Irresponsible.” Take some personal responsibility. This zero-blame game is damaging to the female cause as a whole. Protect yourselves.

This misogyny is essential to Tate’s worldview and no doubt tied to some daddy issues. To him, femininity represents the opposite of individual freedom because women are a commodity one attains through building power; their autonomy is a direct threat to this reactionary vision of freedom.

Tate Atop the Scam Economy

This new scam economy is as obvious as it is widespread, from crypto to sports betting and the legion of tech firms that are worth billions despite never making a cent in profit. These are all made possible by the influx of cheap money and low interest rates since the Great Recession. A subway ride in New York or London introduces one, via ads, to a satanic menagerie of new startups. Each one touts the opportunity to rent out your bed or buy twee fair-trade dick pills. None of this is connected in any sense to a progressive vision of capitalism as a system capable of increasing productivity by creating laborsaving technology or producing actual things. Peddled instead is the indebted, alienated consumption of anxious lonely subjects.

However, this stage of the scam economy is coming to an end: inflation, high interest rates, supply chain issues, and the energy crisis are reshaping the global economy.

Tate is a creature born out of the ashes of a dying economy. Unlike, say, Bankman-Fried, he is an open scammer; he promised to teach his fans how to escape and avoid financial hardship by scamming in pursuit of freedom. The Tate cult is a world of something far worse than YouTubers: streamers, guys who make their money sitting on their computer playing games and responding to things to satisfy the innate desire for friendship and community that so many alienated, lonely young people have and lack in real life, indeed for a generation coming of age online during a pandemic.

Tate’s Downfall

Now Tate sits in Romanian jail awaiting charges, which by most reports will be extremely serious. The irony is that he boasted for years that he moved to Romania because of its reputation for corruption and loose attitude to law enforcement. Following several rape and assault allegations in the UK, he stated in one video that this was “probably forty percent of the reason” he moved there, adding, “I’m not a rapist, but I like the idea of just being able to do what I want. I like being free.”

Tate’s wish to share with the world how successful he was, was also the root of his own downfall. He had found a successful scam and convinced himself by virtue of its success that he was the smartest guy in the world, and went around shouting from the rooftops. The problem is that the Romanian authorities he lambasted as corrupt started paying attention and looked into the scams he just had to tell everyone about.

For his followers, Tate’s camp tweets content supposedly from their imprisoned leader, in which he describes the rats and roaches he faces in his cell and compares himself to Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, targeted by the authorities for speaking truth to power. Already, his legal defense team has claimed that he was “just playing a character.”

Regardless of Tate’s fate, it seems likely that the brand of grifting along with the perverse ideology that he has championed will be with us for some time. It is predicated ultimately on a vision of capitalism completely devoid of the idea of progress. Absent any hope for the future, what will become increasingly common is an intensification of the rat race and the justification of this war of all against all through an appeal to old and new forms of barbarism.