“The internet is a mistake”
I spent a good part of my early 20s being angry. That shouldn’t be surprising to anyone. Angry because I wasn’t masculine enough, because I wasn’t the best looking guy, because I couldn’t meet women that I wanted to meet.
It sounds horrible now, but I did get caught up in the “pick-up artist” movement that was blossoming in the late aughts. Not that it ever got me anywhere, it only further contributed to my isolation and entitlement. But thinking back on it now, it’s difficult for me to believe that I once listened to garbage being peddled by the likes of Tucker Max and David D’Angelo.
Times change, of course. The older you get, the more you realize that none of that shit matters. However, because of this Travis Bickle-like isolation, I have this strange empathy with the alt-right movement. Don’t misinterpret me, I don’t agree with anything they say. But our internet age is producing a whole generation of Travis Bickles. And the failure to recognize that is allowing this movement to flourish.
Angela Nagle is an expert in these internet subcultures that she claims doesn’t have any consistent ideological foundations. In fact, they appear to hate each other as much as they hate the Left, SJWs, etc. And they diverge from the traditional conservatives in rejecting any Judeo-Christian ethic, almost appearing to embrace a nihilistic worldview. Nevertheless, they champion a return to a form of patriarchy, MINUS any of the responsibilities that have traditionally came with such a tradition. So although they embrace a male-dominated society, they’d rather sit at home playing video games than going into the world and experiencing actual stress.
From a leftist perspective, we can point and laugh at this all we want. But in doing so, we risk further contributing to this isolation that fosters alt-right ideation. Leftist taboos have prevented liberals from engaging in any sort of meaningful debate with the alt-right. There’s a fear within the Left that prevents any sort of debate because the appearance of doing so might be viewed as “legitimizing” alt-right concerns. So by ignoring this movement and manufacturing “outrage” against their beliefs is, in fact, contributing to their growth.
And as you can imagine, much of alt-right discussion is directed at feminism. This has infamously led to the formation of the “men’s rights movement”. Again, this is a misguided concept, but paraphrasing from Nagle (in the interview above): “imagine growing up with liberal parents, in a liberal neighborhood, and being unable to find a date. Then you have to listen to the Left mock male concerns.” (Which Nagle would seem to suggest that feminism should spend its time building up women rather than tearing down men). Even though some concerns might be misguided, nevertheless people ACT on these concerns and they appear to become legitimized when mocked.
So much of the alt-right movement consists of young men that aren’t successful with forging sexual relationships with women. Which, as I can attest to, is a debilitating thing. It doesn’t justify embracing a return to patriarchy or disregarding feminism and all the struggles that women face daily. However, instead of getting bogged down in what the alt-right supports, perhaps it’s time to examine what the alt-right represents. And that is a generation of socially ill-equipped men that are acting in angst. And the movement is filling a void via the internet, that can’t be found in the real world which is seemingly becoming more hostile to their pleas. Because of an inability to find a mate, they are forced to seek help from an online “pick-up” community, which somehow becomes a bridge into alt-right delusion.
I’m not exactly certain on how we address this problem. But having a generation of socially-inept men, which can often lead to violent conclusions, is cause for alarm. If the Left is smart and truly interested in attracting new followers, they should be willing to engage in an intellectual conversation with members of the alt-right. Even if their arguments are misguided, we shouldn’t ignore the source of their grievances: a lack of success with the opposite sex. So while men’s rights movements are invalid, desiring and failing to find a sexual relationship is an issue that needs addressing.
But again, I don’t know how we address THAT issue in a POLITICAL sense. In fact, that’s not a political issue at all. But it IS a social and mental health issue that needs addressing. And establishing alternative routes for helping those that struggle with this problem need to be investigated by the mental health community…SO THAT those that are struggling don’t have to resort to the “pick-up” community for help.
I know that not everyone within the alt-right fits this description. Many are these Trump-like alpha males that drive large trucks and watch MMA. They just want to feel good about being a MAN. But they share the same concern with their beta male brethren. They rallied around Trump because of a lost sense of ‘American Machismo’. For one reason or another, they felt emasculated by the bleeding-heart liberalism that flourished under the Obama years, and became especially threatened by the prospect of living under the first female president. When Donald Trump emerged in 2016, this strange congregation of alpha-males and socially-inept internet trolls rallied around him. This would explain the almost schizophrenic nature of the alt-right movement, where everyone hates each other but remain united under the “strongman” politics of Donald Trump.
Many believe that this movement will ultimately cannibalize itself. And we can hope that that will be the case. But wishful thinking doesn’t usually save the day. In the English-speaking parts of North America, we’ve managed to avoid a dictatorship. Although large scale conflicts have occurred on the continent, save for a few confined instances (September 11th, Pearl Harbor, etc), it’s been awhile since there’s been generationally-scarring event. Compare this to the European continent, which during the 20th Century saw two large-scale wars, rise of dictatorships, holocausts, and the Iron Curtain. And not just Europe, but nearly every continent (except maybe Australia) has experienced a degree of large-scale and violent political instability over the last 100 years. But again, not English-speaking North America. We have it good, and we continue to believe that this system will continue indefinitely. Therefore, no idiotic movement can take down the UNITED STATES, we’re too great for something like that to happen!
And this is the assumption that the Left takes when regarding the alt-right. Now I’ve been on record saying that “history doesn’t repeat itself”. But it can provide us with a few warning signs. And, I don’t know, perhaps this might be misguided… But I don’t quite feel comfortable with a young generation jumping into hard-right politics. Additionally, American politics walks a slippery slope with its nationalistic overtones. We might dodge a bullet with a Donald Trump presidency potentially going down in flames, yet we may not be so lucky next time.
In fact, the blatant anti-intellectualism of Donald Trump should terrify everybody.
Not that the Right has ever really been an “intellectual” movement. It’s always been somewhat hostile to academic consensus. But this new right seems to be completely disengaged with policy making…and far more interested in “shock value” or offending others. Their primary thinkers don’t offer much in thought. They mostly prefer designing content that will help boost their Twitter followers.
The internet had dumbed down our political discourse. It’s no longer about learning and shaping ideas. It’s now about getting likes and followers. It’s about seeking information that will confirm our deranged beliefs. It provides a reality that simply allows us to escape the actuality of the physical world.
Unfortunately this alternate reality is fueling the worst parts of human nature: hatred and narcissism. And out of this cesspool of false information, the alt-right was born. The internet is a mistake.