The incel “movement” needs no introduction. Everyone’s talked about it, the mainstream media did its little song and dance blaming it for a rise in misogyny and attacks against women all throughout the West a few years ago then things died down a bit after Trump’s election and people forgot about the whole thing. Now Trump’s campaign is back in the limelight and everyone’s hyper focused on social issues once more. So sites like The Guardian are back in the game, publishing hit pieces on male-centric communities that emphasize finding fulfillment on one’s own terms even if it means shunning most contact with the opposite sex.
I’m being facetious here. There’s an obvious, glaring undercurrent of anger in pretty much every online forum or site that’s part of the manosphere. It’s inescapable, and anyone claiming not to notice it is either being willfully ignorant or has ulterior motives. There’s a growing contingent of young men who, having grown disenfranchised with their own generation, aim their frustration at the part of society least likely to retaliate in any meaningful way.
That said, the narrative surrounding the recent string of alleged incel-inspired attacks is ridiculous and displays a blatant disregard for context and causality. The common thread running through most, if not all, male-centric communities is not one of rejection or misogyny, it’s a feeling of helplessness in the face of widespread moral and, in many cases, economic decay and degradation. Incels don’t simply spend their days lamenting their lack of sexual prowess (though there is a great deal of self-lynching and finger-pointing), their discussions are often based on the fundamental proposition that life in our modern, post-industrial societies has reached a point of peak gratification. A point after which nothing can feel truly real or fulfilling.
It’s why these communities idolize characters like Tyler Durden from Fight Club. Or Joker. Or Ryan Gosling’s silent protagonist from Drive. It’s the reason why so many MGTOW and incel types focus on their physique and become gym rats. Noticed an uptick in the gym-related memes where muscular dudes are pictured lifting weights while the bottom text usually has something to do with not being enough or not being able to outlift depression? That’s the reason. These communities were spawned by widespread alienation on a level never seen before and their answer, in many cases, is to take matters into their own hands the only way they know how. For most, it’s trying to follow the common existentialist mantra of giving life their own meaning even if existence itself is, as a whole, devoid of it. For others, the struggle for personal agency and individualism takes a darker turn. It’s these cases that are publicized and touted as examples of the widespread proliferation of incel terrorism.
This isn’t to say we shouldn’t be worried by the masses of angry young men desperate to turn themselves into messianic figures for their own subculture of weirdos, misfits, and social outcasts. We absolutely should be. But what we should be more afraid of is the overarching social narrative that has spawned them — a culture war, framed as an epochal clash between progress and backwards tradition. The politics of identity that have been adopted part and parcel by every relevant party in the West, whether it be left-liberal or Bible-thumping traditionalist, have torn apart the very fabric of popular consensus and dragged us into an age of petty squabbles, semiotic transgressions, and the perpetual exertion of emotional labor for the resolution of non-problems.
The substantial issue at the heart of the spread of MGTOW and incel culture is the dissatisfaction of the private-managerial class, the depressing reality of city life, and the march of automation and its consequences. The very complex nature of these problems makes them inaccessible. So what do we do, as flawed humans with tiny brains? We break them down. I certainly couldn’t tell you how to accommodate for automation in an economy that relies on constant growth and artificial inflation while the modern nation-state flatly refuses to accept any form of unemployment as acceptable. So I turn to something I do know. Immigrants, illegal aliens, gastarbeiters, all those pesky job thieves, it must be their fault I’m losing my job.
The same applies to gender as well. The time is approaching for a very serious discussion on the role of the modern man in a society that no longer needs breadwinners and stoic protectors. We’ve been replaced, both by the higher number of college educated working women, and the aforementioned automation process. We have to find ways to redefine a “useful” existence, one that isn’t necessarily defined by vocation, salary, or social standing. But this isn’t something that can be done in a day. And it’s not something that capitalism, ever inspired by its Protestant roots, would willingly allow for, at least until it comes time to swerve away from total disaster. So we bicker. Instead of resolving alienation, we resign ourselves to it. Fall deeper into loneliness. We push the weak away and force them to fester somewhere. Out of sight and out of mind.
So is this a mental health issue? A socioeconomic one? Fuck if I know, I’m spent.