symbolic warfare and older ideas

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At The Federalist, James Poulos claims that the incel movement isn't really demanding the right to sex. He begins with a history of the term "incels, the self-described and so-called community of involuntary celibates:"

This term popped in public discourse recently because a self-described incel drove a van into a crowd in Toronto recently, killing 10. He was angry that women deny sex to some men. Incels characterize sex as a right others are obligated to provide them, and congregate online.

They and their identity have bubbled up to the top of the consciousness stack because of the Internet--how it works, who it organizes, what it enables, and what ideas it does and doesn't usher forth from its patterns of everyday life.

I'd say that this particular incel "bubbled up" and "ushered forth" his chosen appellation in a rather deliberate manner...but please continue:

Referring back to the fundamentals of the Internet, digital technology gives historic numbers of relatively unsuccessful men the opportunity for warlike activity of unprecedented regularity that poses zero mortal risk and requires only the use of symbols. [...]

Many relatively unsuccessful men engaged in constant symbolic warfare online may be more prone to forms of slow-motion suicide than other men. Of course, eventually all relatively unsuccessful men die, and the ranks of their battalions might be thinned out over time.

"Unfortunately," Poulos continues, "the delusion persists that our society with its surplus of unsuccessful and unhappy men can be made peaceful and harmonious through sheer force of will:"

Not even Christianity at its most fortifying and forgiving could do that alone. Humble marriage or woke modesty have their power, but for struggling men, the constant in all times and places has been war--often devastating, frequently barbaric.

A society where the vast majority of men almost never march into mortal peril has huge costs virtually no one wants to tally. But we keep racking them up. We rightly prize peace, but we are unprepared to face its full consequences in an age transformed by technology. In our anxiety over the redistribution of sex, we are blinding ourselves to the deeper difficulty of a society where the distribution of death is imbalanced away from the men who have borne its brunt since the beginning of civilization.

Men start wars for dark but inexpugnable reasons. Today's incels may seem a long way off from tomorrow's warlords. But in a world upended by unhinged technological change, the distance between them may be closer than most of us dare to imagine.

Well, they all appear to be suffering from some strain of toxic masculinity--and they share a fervent desire to make others suffer from it as well.

PZ Myers calls the incel rebellion the worst marketing of an identity ever. For his suggestion that incels can teach us "One lesson to be drawn from recent Western history," he pillories not just Ross Douthat but also Robin Hanson, a libertarian economist at George Mason, and observes:

Isn't it odd how a philosophy of individualism and worship of liberty has now come around to arguing for depriving individuals of their long as they are young attractive women? The only way they can do that without their heads exploding over the conflict is by denying the humanity of women, which is apparently something conservatives are comfortable with. No surprises there, I guess.

"Again," Myers writes, "this is a consequence of the near-religious worship of dogmatic capitalism:"

Everything is viewed as a transaction, with profits and losses, with numerical values that can be auctioned off. Every time someone utters the evil phrase, "sexual market value", you are hearing the canonization of a true perversion of human relationships. But this isn't how sex works! It's a gift of shared intimacy, voluntarily given, between two or more people.

Douthat's suggestion that we deal with incels by "reviving or adapting older ideas about the virtues of monogamy and chastity and permanence and the special respect owed to the celibate" also gets forcefully rebutted:

Those "older ideas" also involved demanding the submission of women and denying them autonomy, it was just a more genteel version of the same resolution, where a wealthy gentleman with an income above £10,000 a year could purchase a young lady of good breeding to be his kept spouse, once again reducing everything to a simple quantifiable transaction, where the women are kept in line with an absence of capital.

Do I even need to touch that Catholic nonsense of special respect owed to the celibate? Why? What does celibacy add to the virtue of a person...especially when so often it was only the appearance of abstinence?

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on May 4, 2018 9:42 AM.

the "live intellectual tradition" of Marxism was the previous entry in this blog.

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