elliot rodger, tantra, and moral development

There was a great little essay in the New York Times Sunday review, Two Lessons in Prejudice.

What I know of rural white America mostly begins and ends with the three times I went at the age of 8 to visit a friend’s farm in Butler County, Pa., about an hour north of Pittsburgh, where I grew up. I recall vast farmland, ample sunshine and no black people — or Hispanics or Jews, or for that matter, half-Iranian, half-Jewish people like me. There was, however, my friend’s father, who found it amusing to make fun of my name over dinner, coming up with a wide variety of ways to mispronounce it each time. I did my best to politely correct him each time, until it finally became apparent to me that I was participating in a game in which there was no chance of winning, and I ran from the table and out of the house and cried among the farmland…

About a year after that visit to my friend’s farm, my mother signed me up for Saturday morning art classes at a museum in Pittsburgh. I had very little aptitude for art, and I was mostly frustrated and bored, and the fact that it was a long, cold winter did not make it any easier to wake up early and catch the bus that took me there. There were a dozen or so other children in the class, one of whom was a boy who, unlike me, had actually been born in the Middle East and who had a noticeable accent and a name I can no longer remember, but which was as strange as mine. He saw in me, no doubt, a kindred spirit, and wanted to be my friend and to sit beside me and draw. But I was uninterested in having someone in such proximity who would emphasize my own foreignness — a predicament that I was already at the age of 9 trying my best to avoid.

So rather than be friendly with the boy, I ignored him. And when, midway through the course, I had the good fortune of becoming buddies with two white classmates, I saw that I had an even greater opportunity to stake my claim as a genuine American who, only through the misfortune of having an Iranian father (who was not much of a presence in my life), had been saddled with a secondary identity.

What transpired was gleeful mockery of the Middle Eastern boy by us three, in which we took turns ridiculing his name and accent and the clothes he wore. When eventually the boy could take no more and fled the classroom crying, exactly as I had done on my friend’s farm in Butler County, the teacher took me aside to point out the cruel absurdity of my behavior.

“How would you feel,” I remember her asking, “if your name was made fun of?” The point being that I, of all people, should know better than to humiliate someone because of his ethnicity. The teacher’s effort to guide me toward self-examination embarrassed me, and my response, which still rings vividly in my ears, was an emphatic, “I would beat them up!”

I knew, even as I said it, that this was patently false, that I was far too much of a coward to defend myself physically, that I had never once stood up to anyone in a situation like that, and that I lived my life in utter fear of being called out. But I relished the sound of my own false bravado, just as I had relished tormenting the poor immigrant boy. My yearning to align with power, particularly white power, had overwhelmed any sense of the rational. I was operating in a realm beyond logic, where matters of right and wrong, of good will, of humanity, no longer held any sway.

There is, of course, much to consider about the role played in all this by the ignorance of my 9-year-old self, about my easy capitulation to groupthink, about my desperation to somehow undo what I had been born into. But standing there with my teacher kneeling in front of me, a look of disappointment etched across her face, I was neither interested nor capable of being in touch with any of that. I was propelled by something far more fundamental and intoxicating and disturbing, something that could not be argued away with the use of reason: It had felt good.

This illustrates something I don’t think is obvious to white people: just because white people don’t want to know what it’s like to be a minority, minorities understand what it’s like to be white. Whiteness is that same anecdote, except your name isn’t Said Sayrafiezadeh.

A MAJOR reason it’s impossible to have constructive dialogue about race is that white people believe their inner crappiness isn’t transparent to us. Of course it is! Everyone is the same! Winning feels good. No shit.

It’s all there: the essential hypocrisy, the lack of solidarity, the secret shame of joining the asshole team, the cowardice and fear of that cowardice being exposed, the false tough guy stance, the pathetic inhumanity of the whole thing.

The teacher in this anecdote did the right thing, but it’s actually more common that the bully has a Christian name and the teacher likes the bully and doesn’t like trying to pronounce weird names and hates Middle Eastern people. Because of this, whiteness is emotionally stunted at age 9. The behavior was never corrected by a responsible adult! They learned it from the adults!

If a white kid in a group of kids harassing a minority does get a talking-to from their teacher, is the teacher going to make sure they understand what’s different about calling someone a poop-head vs. a sand nigger? Obviously not, because public discourse on racism among adults is based on a principled refusal to acknowledge a difference. The white kids learn that “making fun of people is not nice,” but that’s a lesson from childhood, y’know? Why are these adults so butt-hurt that we’re racially terrorizing them and pushing all these buttons about unspeakable horrors? Niggers are pussies when they’re not scary monsters. The difference has to do with how much you outnumber or outgun them at the time.

Notice that the liberal wimpiness of some white lady teacher is directly responsible for the white supremacist bullying 20 years later. When the teachers see the children do precious things like pick on the scapegoat for the first time, they have a bunch of issues around not being willing to name the behavior for what it is, in all its ugliness. They’ll say it’s not nice, and that’s true, but the child really needs more explanation than “that’s not nice.” They don’t receive that explanation, because that would require honestly teaching American history instead of white supremacist mythology.

Then they make the men sexually insecure and tell them that listening shrinks their dick by at LEAST half an inch, and women will not have sex with them unless they’re dominating somebody. You’ve now created a wall so thick it can’t be torn down for 400 years. Tim Wise explains:

CD: How does gender intersect with the white supremacist movement and what occurred in Charlottesville? If you go to white supremacist websites, there are these recurring narratives about white men’s “pain” and how white people “don’t have anything for themselves” in America. Some white women are also part of this movement, with a yearning for a “traditional” family where they are “protected” and “taken care of.”

TW: White women have always been involved in the white supremacist subculture. It is nothing new. Now, having said that, it is a male-dominated movement because it is so overtly misogynistic. On The Daily Stormer, Andrew Anglin wrote after Charlottesville that, “For those of you who are still in town,” talking to his comrades in the movements, he said, “For those of you who are still in town go out have fun, have a good time,” and this is really revealing and has not been talked about much. He said, and I’m paraphrasing, but not by much, “Go out, have fun, there will be women who cannot wait to fuck you.”

He says, “Seriously because we are the bad boys now and every woman in the world” — this is a direct quote — “every woman in the world wants your dick.” This was on Daily Stormer the night of the murder. Over the last few years there has been quite an overlap between [the] white nationalist and the “pickup artist” communit[ies]. This is a group of overtly misogynistic losers who think feminism is why they can’t get laid and women are too picky.

CD: That gets us to the “men’s rights” and “incel” stuff, correct?

TW: Elliot Rodger, who went on the killing spree out in Santa Barbara several years ago, had been on some of those chat boards. There has been a real overlap between some of that pickup artist community, appealing to this sense of fractured masculinity and fractured whiteness. With Andrew Anglin’s post it all comes together — like he actually does believe that women are falling over themselves to screw skinheads.

Here’s a movement that says, we can restore your sense of fractured white masculinity. Essentially, you are entitled to everything; the world is your oyster. If you’re told that and anything in your life doesn’t go right, you don’t know how to deal with it, and so at least for some of them they turn to stuff like this and Andrew Anglin says, “Hey, you’ll get laid tonight.”

The feeling of victory from the playground at age 9 has faded. Oh noes! The economic policies I voted for screwed me out of a job, so now I can’t be a real man and support my family! Fuck niggers! I want those Mexicans out of my country! Take my job and see what happens, motherfucker! RAWR!!!!!

 

Normal people are very loathe to admit that he does have an excellent point about sexual double standards. Your bullies always have a gaggle of girls around them. Duh. It’s like the most obvious fact in the universe. All his bragging and stuff looks ridiculous because he doesn’t have the social status to pull it off, NOT because acting that way is always or even usually considered ridiculous.

Among the least helpful people in the dialogue around this topic are sex-positive feminists with OkCupid profiles about polyamory and kink, telling the Elliot Rodgers of the world that they’re sexually entitled and deserve to die alone and otherwise making fun of them. Congratulations, you have alienated your most likely allies among men.

Feminists are against patriarchy sort of like white liberals are against racism. It doesn’t occur to them to reach out to men who are losers under patriarchy because the women in large numbers are making those men losers under patriarchy.

Women were a distant abstraction to Elliot Rodger, so of course he objectified them. He had to ask YouTube why they wouldn’t talk to him, rather than learning from experience that they’re people.

We always tell racist white people to get some experience with minorities. That makes sense, so who’s volunteering to help out Elliot?

On an absolute moral level, everyone is responsible for treating other people right from first principles. In reality, not everyone ever reaches that level of moral development

People vary considerably in moral reasoning. According to Kohlberg’s theory, individuals who reach the highest level of post-conventional moral reasoning judge moral issues based on deeper principles and shared ideals rather than self-interest or adherence to laws and rules. Recent research has suggested the involvement of the brain’s frontostriatal reward system in moral judgments and prosocial behaviors. However, it remains unknown whether moral reasoning level is associated with differences in reward system function. Here, we combined arterial spin labeling perfusion and blood oxygen level-dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging and measured frontostriatal reward system activity both at rest and during a sequential risky decision making task in a sample of 64 participants at different levels of moral reasoning. Compared to individuals at the pre-conventional and conventional level of moral reasoning, post-conventional individuals showed increased resting cerebral blood flow in the ventral striatum and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Cerebral blood flow in these brain regions correlated with the degree of post-conventional thinking across groups. Post-conventional individuals also showed greater task-induced activation in the ventral striatum during risky decision making. These findings suggest that high-level post-conventional moral reasoning is associated with increased activity in the brain’s frontostriatal system, regardless of task-dependent or task-independent states.

This other finding about touch is probably not unrelated:

Humans belong to a minority of mammalian species that exhibit monogamous pair-bonds, thereby enabling biparental care of offspring. The high reward value of interpersonal closeness and touch in couples is a key proximate mechanism facilitating the maintenance of enduring romantic bonds. However, surprisingly, the neurobiological underpinnings mediating the unique experience of a romantic partner’s touch remain unknown. In this randomized placebo (PLC)-controlled, between-group, pharmacofunctional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study involving 192 healthy volunteers (96 heterosexual couples), we intranasally administered 24 IU of the hypothalamic peptide oxytocin (OXT) to either the man or the woman. Subsequently, we scanned the subjects while they assumed that they were being touched by their romantic partners or by an unfamiliar person of the opposite sex, although in reality an identical pattern of touch was always given by the same experimenter. Our results show that intranasal OXT compared to PLC selectively enhanced the subjective pleasantness of the partner’s touch. Importantly, intranasal OXT selectively increased responses to partner touch in the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) and anterior cingulate cortex. Under OXT, NAcc activations to partner touch positively correlated with the subjects’ evaluation of their relationship quality. Collectively, our results suggest that OXT may contribute to the maintenance of monogamous relationships in humans by concomitantly increasing the reward value of partner touch and diminishing the hedonic quality of stranger touch.

“Nucleus accumbens” and “ventral striatum” are basically the same thing. So here we have a convergence of reward, affection, and morality. I think that this has a lot to do with Tantric and Taoist sexual stuff. No Mahamudra without karma mudra.

Elliot Rodger was trying very hard to prove himself worthy as he was taught by crappy Los Angeles people. It wasn’t attracting anyone. He didn’t understand why, and he asked the internet. He didn’t receive a constructive answer. As a little girl says in the movie Dragon Girl, “If no one takes care of you, you are a savage.”

Any well-meaning answers he received most likely denied his actual near-subhuman status and more or less said “Surely someone else will sleep with you.” Society isn’t offering a monastic system for him to give up and find peace in or anything.

The Amanda Marcottes of the world really do have contempt for him.

A man who’s at the bottom of the patriarchy has a choice: try to beat them or try to join them. Joining them offers the promise that the women of the world want their dick. Trying to beat them means losing and not even getting laid for the trouble.

Is the feminism motivated by impartial compassion for everyone, or personal irritation when losers do things that are rewarded when other men do them? You want to put on a slutty Halloween costume at a frat party, and feminism means everyone keeps their hands to themselves? That’s all it means? What the fuck are you even doing there? And we both know it’s disingenuous to respond that this is about men telling women who to have sex with, in the usual sense. “The personal is the political” has been abandoned. Why not just fuck cops if they slap your ass real hard just how you like? That wouldn’t have anything to do with larger social problems, now would it? You’ll be real safe from all the blacks, Mexicans, and other rapists.

The difference between Elliot Rodger and myself is that I was exposed to different value systems and also spent my childhood creeped out by Navy men. So where is the outreach to the Elliot Rodgers of the world, to do the important propaganda work of the revolution? Only women can do that work, and only if it brings a credible promise of ending their loneliness problems.

Yeah, once anarchism happens, it’ll be paradise on Earth with everlasting life, but what about right now? Women who might one day touch them would easily out-recruit a bunch of bitter, angry Nazis.

The fact that this is not happening reveals an ugly truth about life. Fascists are much more at home in a world that’s ugly.

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