482. Possession in great measure (V)
It used to be said that libertarians are autistic. The basis for this was that libertarians will do things like assess the need for a city to have so many fire stations on an objective basis; they will take this as, say, a routing problem—and find perhaps, paradoxically, that the city would be better served if there were fewer fire stations and fewer firemen. The autist-libertarian stands up and confidently announces that the city should shutter several fire stations and make the firemen redundant—it makes sense, the city will actually be safer. When they do so, a great cry goes up from the citizens—perhaps manipulated by the fire service union—who complain that those “great lads” or “brave boys” are going to be laid off. The libertarian-autist persists, oblivious, since he is totally indifferent as to what people say about him. He is the outsider against the crowd, here in the strictly scientific sense—a real-life example is Robin Hanson.
There is still some truth to this view, I think; however, surveys on political beliefs and autism have revealed that genuine autists—in the clinical sense—are attracted to Marxism and neo-Nazism; to the most extreme positions on the political spectrum. The reason for this is that most “moderate” or normal politics is quite a sociable affair. If you speak to the average Labour or Conservative supporter—even an activist or MP—you will find that they do not take it *that* seriously. “I’m Labour because I’m for fairness for working people,” says the Labourite. “I’m Conservative because I’m for Britain and freedom,” says the Conservative.
As far as beliefs go, there is not much more to it than that—practical affairs, such as potholes, predominate. For the moderate politico, “politics” is as much about making speeches, shaking hands, being on TV, being applauded by a crowd, networking, and generally feeling socially important as it is about “socialism” or “the nation”. Indeed, to want to be in “politics”, as ordinarily understood, you better be a sociable person who loves lots of superficial encounters; just think about Bill Clinton, a man so charismatic—who knows how to make an immediate connection—that he sometimes *connects* a bit too well…
Yet, for the autist, this is all rebarbative: crowds, speeches full of contradictory platitudes, meeting lots of people, “just saying things”, saying one thing and doing another, bright lights and cameras. Everything about politics—ordinary politics, what most people mean by “politics”—is hateful to the autist. Just look at how much poor Greta Thunberg suffers when her parents push her out in front of those lights and crowds; she experiences real physical pain, yet Bill Clinton suffers pain if he is not out glad-handing the crowds. “Sara, ah feel your pain—truly…” (lightly cups her hands in his). “I thought I’d hate Bill—he said I could call him ‘Bill’, not ‘President Clinton’—but, you know, he really listens…I think he’s so misunderstood…”
By contrast, Marxism and National Socialism—in their neologistic forms—provide everything the autist desires: the idea comes first, not “people politics”—you socialise with others rationally, over the idea, not through *empty* glad-handing and pure emotional engagement; the idea is rigid, with very clear rules that must be obeyed—this provides autists what they crave, security and clear consistent rules; the idea has definite in-groups and out-groups, it requires you to strictly classify people (Aryans or sub-humans; bourgeois or proletariat); finally, the idea is pure—purity is very important to the autist, no racial or bourgeois contamination allowed. “It has a pea in it, I’m not eating it! Throw it all away! All!”
So extremist political beliefs allow autists to be political in an inhuman way, whereas politics, in its widest sense, is really about extraversion and, basically, “being popular”. The autistic neo-Nazi or Communist, by contrast, can find in “idea-politics” what he also finds in computers and trainspotting: rigid rules, consistency, inhuman concerns (“the idea”), clear distinctions, and purity.