By David Futrelle
A specter is haunting the IncelsWithoutHate subreddit, a specter who calls himself leftexincel, and he’s bringing with him the glorious science of Marxism.
Leftexincel, a former incel who now boasts that he’s had “a couple of girlfriends” whom he’s “had sex with on multiple occasions” showed up on Reddit’s main hangout for supposedly non-hateful incels last week to warn them of the dangers of losing their true selves in what he sees as a pointless quest “to obtain what is today arguably the most important form of social capital, a female companion … .”
The weird thing is that he kind of, sort of, has a point, or at least half of one. But in the end the small bits of truth in his critique become buried underneath a pile of bullshit. The problems isn’t really his turgid Marxist language — though this doesn’t help — but rather his lingering hatred of both himself and the women he’s apparently convinced to date him.
Leftexincel introduces himself as a “by no means very attractive” twentysomething who,
with an inhuman amount of effort, [has] ‘ascended’ to being a normie, with my own day job’s income and place, a halfway finished BA at a university, a couple of girlfriends (none higher than a ‘4’) and a current girlfriend I’ve had sex with on multiple occasions (also probably no higher than a ‘4’ or maybe ‘4.5’ if I asked the layman), all met at work and school.
Despite his newly-won status as a “normie,” and what he correctly calls “the ‘reactionary’ character of the online incel community,” leftexincel informs the IncelsWithoutHate crowd that
I highly sympathize with it and believe that it is the product of legitimate structural failures of modernity against men and that the cause lies in the increased social demand to be more than just an authentic individual and partner to a woman, but a full ‘product’ that needs to be valorizable as more than a partner but as a commodity and status object in general.
Here leftexincel is basically reiterating the old critique, articulated perhaps most clearly by sociologist David Riesman in the 1950s, that modern capitalism has transformed people from “inner-directed” characters, living according to moral codes, to “other directed” personalities more concerned with impressing others and fitting in. Back in the 50s, cultural critics complained about other-directed up-and-comers trying to curry favor by glad-handing at the office and holding well-attended dinner parties; today, the critics lament all those wannabe influencers building their brands on Instagram.
But leftexincel quickly loses the plot, insisting that, in our excessively materialistic world, money not only can buy you love but that you really can’t find love without it.
With the decline of old rigid patriarchal structures this subjectivity in relations has opened up but in a world where, increasingly, value must come from socioeconomic status, which can primarily be sold materially in the form of: disposable income or other forms of capital, a conformed physical appearance and outwardly matching confidence and (sexually enticing) personality; all elements that improve one’s ability to sell oneself and acquire the means to purchase others.
Never mind that most poor people the world over end up finding love — and that some rich people never do.
Attraction is a financial transaction exchanged for either financial or social capital, and one must have both or be able to acquire either one with the other to succeed in obtaining intimacy.
I strongly believe that ‘neurodivergent’ incels in reality fail to find intimacy because they would never want to sacrifice their authenticity for conformity, and that this is then communicated through a resentment of the object of desire (an authentic female companionship).
Close, but very much not it. He’s right about the resentment part, but he doesn’t realize how poisonous the incels; “authentic” selves are to begin with. To put it in Reisman’s terms: While excessive other-direction is both phony and manipulative and in the end rather shallow, incels tend to embrace a reductive form of inner direction, castigating women for not seeing their supposed sterling inner qualities and focusing instead on their supposedly sub-par physical features. What incels don’t realize, of course, is that the toxic attitudes they exude are the real turn-off, not their allegedly inferior bone structure.
Now leftexincel wants these resentful dudes to know that they won’t be happy even if they do finally manage, like him, to “ascend.”
I’m not much happier now that I’ve improved myself, but in effect that is the real problem: anyone can ‘ascend’ if they truly try hard enough, but it will never really fulfill any real needs … .
Well it won’t if you have that attitude, mister!
So why doesn’t leftexincel believe in life after love? (Sorry, Cher.) Is it because the relationships he’s stumbled into so far haven’t lived up his exaggerated hopes? Or that they were objectively shitty relationships? Is he resentful that the women he’s dated haven’t been as “hot” as he would like? That’s got to be at least part of it, given that he managed to bring up their allegedly worse-than-average looks of his various girlfriends twice in a single sentence.
Leftexincel follows this dispiriting take on love with the least-inspiring utopian vision I’ve seen in a long time:
My ideal would not so much be a world in which society itself coerces women to (once more) conform to being the guaranteed other to men (enforced monogamy, arranged marriage, social division in sex, etc.) … but rather a world in which propertied social capital is an impossibility and … sex and romance is then reduced purely to its own, non-vital element of life.
Well that’s rather depressing. There are people who live happy lives without sex or romance — because they honestly don’t desire those things. It’s considerably less healthy to abandon such things because you’ve basically given up in despair.
Essentially this means that for all intents and purposes incels are right about the present state of things, and do identify a problem, and are right when saying that, objectively, when one is an incel, there is little more to do than try to ‘looksmaxx’ or whatever oneself to be as close to a ‘normie’ as possible. And likewise I share the agreement that this is a decrepit state for a society to be in.
I’ll give him points for at least recognizing that returning to patriarchy would be both impossible and a bad thing for women. But I don’t think he’s going to win over many incels — or anyone else, for that matter — by proclaiming that the world sucks and love is an illusion and there’s pretty much noting we can do about it.
His message certainly didn’t win him many fans in the IncelsWithoutHate subreddit. One regular proclaimed that he’d
rather work my ass off and save some money so that I can finally go to Eastern Europe or Thailand on a sex vacation, and cope by indulging in all of my perverted fantasies, than live at the mercy of a benevolent communist state that would pretend to take care of all my material needs, in exchange for conformity of thought and abandoning my personal freedom … .
Another complained that under communism
the same Chad who used to bully us will be able to use his charisma to get elevated into Comrade Chad, worker’s council representative and valuable member of the party .. .
Meet the new Chad. Same as the old Chad.
For what it’s worth, leftexincel insists that the “the violent power fantasies” of Stalinists and other totalitarian communists
are just re-imaginings of their own particular resentment through a modern lens.
As far as he’s concerned,
any hypothetical future communism is guaranteed to have nothing to do with historical Stalinism in the slightest … .
But let’s set all that aside for the moment. Because in the end what undermines leftexincel’s critique isn’t so much its Marxism, which is somewhat attenuated to begin with. It’s that, to paraphrase his own rhetoric, leftexincel’s new science of Marxism-Incelism is basically little more than a re-imagining of the same old incel resentment through a quasi-Marxist lens. And that’s not very revolutionary at all.
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