I’ve been wondering why there hasn’t been much grumbling from the right about terrorism after the Toronto van incident on April 23rd. (even I find myself minimizing this act as anything other than one of terrorism). Attack just sounds too calculated and as most of these types of incidents are, the only planning this one seemed to involve was renting a truck and targeting its random victims. There is an ideology behind it, after all nowadays every asshole crackpot with a chip on his shoulder has some stupid manifesto to shape their out-sized rage.
This guy was one.
As usual the mainstream press is too late to the cultural changes that have been pointing right at this type of insane baby rage. Some guy who never learned proper coping skills, gets turned down by women he thought he had the right to and all of a sudden he’s the member of some made up protected class. In the case of Alek Minassian couldn’t even handle hanging out with other dudes (He left the Canadian army after a short stint for the reason that “(he) wasn’t adapting to military life, including in matters of dress, deportment and group interactions in a military setting.”
They call themselves “incels” or involuntary celibates, an outgrowth of the Pickup Artist(PUA)/Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW)/Men’s Rights Activists (MRA) with a side of alt-right victim-hood, they are the disgruntled kid still living in mommy’s basement all growed up.
These movements, mostly the result of demographic and cultural shifts have cross pollinated, colluded and combined in some terrifyingly interesting ways. They take an already fragile combination of identity, masculinity and frail senses of self to create a toxic soup of discontent.
I’ve watched from the sidelines as the first wave of fragile male PUAS made their marks, as self published gurus (many of which had interesting things to say about masculinity and independence, but as our culture usually goes, take them too far and in the wrong direction) make side hustles out of e-books fashioned from kooky mysticism and 90’s self help, podcasting and blogging their way to a form of stardom that could only come about in the digital age.
Many of these were barely distinguishable in language to many of the books the authors admired, self-talky and simple, the “mindset revolution” was strong with them. Initially the few who were really vile, like Roosh V’s. “Bang” were relegated to a space that seemed not too far removed from the pick up artistry of yore, the main difference being that they never tried to hide their disdain for the female sex. They met in a weird place that brought together Libertarian and Libertine with a dash of Bob Guccione. They are bitter, young, economically affected, generally White or Whiteish, and either they believe or in actuality, that their future is bleak (comparatively) and they are a new class of lone wolf terrorists.
It’s a weird time. The full transformation from self-styled pick up artists, lunkheads, meme-lords and internet Nazis into the nebulous “alt-right” is living proof of a kind of social Darwinism. Seeing how this movement evolved proved to me that the biggest threat to liberal democracy is the misuse of technology. The wildfire spread of bad, harmful, malignant ideas from a combination of attention whores, grieving man babies, workout gurus and the sons of angry white males was amazingly fast, scorching the whole of the earth. It was the textbook example of an organic social movement fueled by many of the above players and fanned by people looking to profit from the rise of right-wing sentiments. Its hard sometimes to tell who is who.
These years will be fodder for future case studies on how trends evolve. So many different influences have crafted the current tide of disaffection across the cultural spectrum it’s really hard to link our current cultural state to a single one factor.
I’m sure, even now there ate authoritarian streaks in other communities that we have yet to activate. Sleeper cells of toxic culture that are hiding under the cultural radar waiting to explode. As a person of color I especially worry about a resurgence of more militant “Black (or Brown) Power” movements rising up to meet the AWM factions activated by the latest cultural trends.
I suspect that there are a fair number of educated, disaffected young Black men who also are involuntarily celibate and rage filled. Personally, I think this whole country needs some quality time on the couch.