Left-wing narcissism: an adolescent disorder
Alana McLaughlin is a Mixed Martial Arts fighter who recently trounced a girl in a fight to considerable public chagrin. Basically, he left the girl in a very bloody state after the fight; and this is what you would expect, because McLaughlin is essentially a man—a few bits and pieces here and there excepted—and so when a man really fights a girl it can get quite ugly. Now, I am not going to regale you with fedora-tipping concern for “our women” and their safety; just as nobody really cares what happens to any children except their children—hence nobody really cared when many girls were rounded up into sex slavery in Rotherham—so nobody really cares about the safety and dignity of “our women”. Those who express concern always come across as some faint echo of a prim Victorian matron who is concerned about decency among the womenfolk. “It just isn’t cricket, old chap.” Well, this attitude—being innocent and genteel, it is widely sneered at—represents a civilised view; and this is no civilisation. It is civilisation that creates conditions whereby people can play status games that involve deference to ladies and gentlefolk and where, well, civility is valued. Of course, MMA is uncivilised in toto—let alone letting women do it, let alone letting men who pretend to be women do it.
Put your bow tie away, the time for conservatives has passed. “It’s simply frightful,” you might write, with your quill pen, to The Spectator; but no one has thought that way since 1875, except as a joke. Nor are we real barbarians, either. The Taliban are barbarians: they are tribal groups that exist without a state and for whom honour and family are everything—debts are settled directly, they do not wait for the police; there is no police. They do not care for science because science is universal—it cannot respect the particularity of tradition—and, as a tribal elder would observe, in the end it facilitates, well, live-streamed MMA competitions where a man beats up a woman; although if anyone points out he is a man in forceful terms he will be arrested for “hate crime”. “This is the truth of your science?” enquires the tribal elder. The barbarian beats the decadent civilised man in war: the Americans could easily beat the Taliban, even now they could scream into the country and subdue it in a month; however, they are so mired in lies and bureaucracy that they cannot do it; and so the barbarian beats the decadent civilised type.
McLaughlin’s fight was not truly barbaric; the true barbarian would have put all fighters—male, female, and, if you like, shemale—to the sword; and probably finished off everyone outside the ring and the executives who facilitate MMA for good measure. This is the barbarian way; the honourable way. No, the whole fight was truly decadent civilisation in action; and as such to complain it was uncivilised cannot cut ice. The time for protests at the lack of civility passed long ago.
The above was all a lead up to what I really wanted to say, for this post is mostly about masculinity and what it means to be on the left. A fairly common point made by the right is that the left is characterised by femininity; so it is often said that if leftists just got down the gym, pulled the necessary reps, and shaped up then they would lose their left-wing views. This is the gym teacher approach to politics. The view seems plausible at first; for starters, the left complains about masculinity all the time—the patriarchy, actually non-existent in the West, remains a perennial target for leftists. Similarly, left-wing men are often not very masculine; they typically fall into the neurotic New York liberal intellectual category—not a dig at the Jews by the way, true stereotypes notwithstanding, the phenomenon is more general than that. We are talking about bleeding-heart liberals, men like Woody Allen or Leo Tolstoy; essentially rather “nice” men who are insulated from reality and indulge in peculiar status games connected to politics. The gym-based rightist says: “Get them in the gym for five months. Sun and steel. You cannot talk your way around metal.”
This seems like a plausible explanation for leftism and yet figures like McLaughlin give the lie to this assertion. McLaughlin is on the left—really, I think any transsexual is on the left by default—being involved in antifa, a state-sponsored paramilitary terror group. Antifa is, incidentally, identical to the neo-Nazi terror group Atomwaffen, except in two respects: firstly, the state and para-state organisations cheer and support antifa; secondly, antifa has killed more people and destroyed more property that Atomwaffen. McLaughlin’s leftist orientation notwithstanding, he is obviously in excellent physical condition and, unlike some with excellent physiques, can really fight. In his previous manifestation, McLaughlin was in the American special forces; so we are a long way from the pantywaist liberals like Tolstoy and Allen. McLaughlin hit the gym—has hit the gym—for quite sometime and has even been a warrior, the ultimate male archetype. Yet he is definitely on the left; so though the Western left disprivileges masculinity, being masculine alone is not enough to make a person adhere to the right. McLaughlin must be, I presume, competent, rational, and pretty logical to have achieved what he achieved; he has climbed the dominance or status hierarchy—so why is he still a leftist? According to what most of the Western right says makes someone a rightist he is a prime candidate to be, well, rightist.
When we think about social status, we are closer to the mark with McLaughlin. This is a competitive man, a man who aimed to be in the elite within the military—already a competitive and, by default, hierarchical environment. Transsexualism is high status; indeed, it has been recorded that many transsexuals are often drawn from the very environment McLaughlin came from, the military—or ultra-masculine pursuits. These are men who want to win everything; and the same instinct that leads a person to successfully join the special forces will also lead them to become transsexual and join antifa, if these are high-status pursuits. Perhaps there is some biological explanation to do with hormones and competitiveness that also draws these men towards transsexuality, but that is a matter that one day—when real science is done again—will be resolved by experiment.
What makes men like McLaughlin really different from other competent high-achieving men is narcissism. Now, for a long time I was reluctant to write about narcissism because the word is so overused and practically anyone in the contemporary world we dislike or has become out-group is called a narcissist. However, there is real truth to it if used correctly.
We too often use narcissism as a synonym for egotism, but it is not the same concept. Donald Trump is an egotist, Barack Obama is a narcissist. The egotist is overly self-confident and pleased with themselves; they make outrageous statements or exaggerations as to their qualities. A narcissist may do the same, or they may be a fawning person who is always “concerned” about other people’s health and welfare. Narcissism is not really characterised by being self-centred: the narcissist is empty inside; they have no centre. We all wear various masks—at home or at work—and yet in a healthy person all these masks, though slightly different, revolve on the axis that is the self; the healthy person has, to borrow a phrase from Japanese Zen, a “vital centre”. The narcissist, by contrast, has lost their self; they have masks, but there is nothing behind their masks. Whatever they do—whether selfish or generous—it never feels real to them; they only have their act, and if the act is disturbed they fly into a narcissistic rage or slump into depression.
A narcissist has an externalised locus of control; they do not feel that they are the author of their own actions, so everything is hollow. In the narcissist’s mind, other people “do things” to them and they feel incredibly burdened and put upon by what they imagine to be the “demands” made by others. They have poor boundaries and are enmeshed with others; they cannot separate their self from others—being only a mask—and so feel that they are run by other people. Hence codependency frequently goes along with narcissism; the narcissist may spend hours being “nice” and “self-sacrificing” for someone but at the same time hates and resents them because the person they help “made them do it” as an obligation. An adult says, “Look, I’m not cooking the dinner. I can’t stand doing that, but I’ll wash up every night instead.” The narcissist cooks the dinner, secretly thinking what a good and kind person they are for making the sacrifice, and then makes everyone else aware that they are in their debt for the dinner. “But you don’t have to do it…” “Don’t be silly, of course I have to do it.”
Narcissism is no bar, incidentally, to achievement. We can easily imagine a person who graduates from medical school and then feels that all their work has been “nothing” or that they are “not really a doctor”; and we can further imagine that they only did their medical degree because their family and parents expected it or because they imagined the glow of status that would accrue when they became “MD”—except that real life, even in high-prestige professions, does not include a constant glow of social affirmation. The problem is that their heart was not really in it; and yet if they are intelligent and diligent there is no reason why they cannot act in that profession and even rise to its heights, although they will feel empty throughout the experience.
Now, narcissism is, of course, a more female trait than a male trait. I was going to mention “imposter syndrome” a little earlier, except I think that it is almost entirely an invention to describe female narcissism: another acceptable word for “imposter syndrome” is just narcissism, it is a synonym to dignify a pathology. Yet, though it is a feminine trait, there is no bar to being narcissistic and undertaking masculine activities: hunting, shooting, soldiering, surgery—all can be done by a narcissist and done well. Indeed, the narcissist will want to maximally succeed in high-status male activities; for him the status is the point and since his actions do not stem from the vital centre no accomplishment will ever satisfy—he will achieve, feel empty, and then do something else to stave off the emptiness. He might, for example, make it into special forces and then decide to become a woman—to accrue the status-glow that comes from femininity—and then become a transsexual who excels at “her” chosen sport at the highest level…So, obviously, if you put a narcissist in a gym and tell him to pump iron to be more manly they may excel, if they can imagine that people will admire that masculine mask.
Narcissism is feminine, adolescent, and Asiatic. Teenagers are narcissistic because they still need to “find themselves”, as the terribly hackneyed, though true, saying goes. A great many people never do “find themselves”; they remain permanently empty behind the masks they wear to please others. Really, Western societies are peopled by permanent adolescents. The reasons for this include: the school system, divorce, mass media, consumerism, and the decline in the spiritual world—many people never sit silently alone and so are terrified to be alone with themselves, so they cover up what they perceive to be a painful emptiness with a carousel display of masks to make themselves, apparently, loved.
A typical teenage narcissistic act would be to dress up as a stage magician—complete with top hat and cane—and then parade around town in the gear. The test as to whether this would be true narcissism would be if someone jeered at the teenager and said: “Who do you think you are, Harry fuckin’ Houdini?” If the teenager rushed home and sulked in their room for a week or had an angry outburst along the lines, “How dare you say that! How dare you!” then they would be on the approach to true narcissism. If they said, “Yes, I’m the reincarnation of Houdini,” or even, “Oh, I’m better than Houdini,” then perhaps they would be on the way to forming a stable identity as a stage magician.
There is nothing wrong about wearing a mask; the point is that the narcissist is owned by the mask rather than the reverse—hence if his mask is pierced by a joke he collapses in self-pity or erupts in rage. To say, “I’m better than Houdini,” approaches egocentrism—and is quite a Trumpian sentiment—and is easily confused with narcissism, but it could be genuine self-confidence and, if said somewhat knowingly, amounts to charm and self-possession. Narcissists can never be truly charming—they can only flatter—and this because no mask they wear is ever connected to something real. What is really real is the void behind all masks; we must accept it.
Teenagers should, in principle, outgrow this stage. Women largely do not; and narcissism is a feminine vice, since it depends on excessive concern for social status and appearances. It is also an Asiatic vice, since Asian societies rely heavily upon social approval for moral regulation and to make social arrangements. The narcissistic Indian doctor who is a doctor because he “has to” do it for his family is a familiar stereotype, whereas Westerners generally push the importance of genuine individuality and personal—as opposed to collective—responsibility. Although narcissists can hold responsible positions, and, unfortunately, frequently do due to their obsession with status maximisation, they can never be truly responsible because they have an externalised locus of control. In their mind they do what they do—even if it is extraordinary—because “if I didn’t it would literally kill mom and dad”, or some iteration on that. As such, a narcissist engages in reality suppression because to them it feels like death if the mask is removed; if the mask is broken they either rage or curl up in defeat—in extreme cases kill themselves—until they can develop a new mask, usually deployed with new people who have yet to be burned or become caught in an enmeshed game.
So we have made a turn here; in a sense, leftists are feminised—they are narcissists, the left is feminine. However, it is no use picking on traditionally masculine traits as a safeguard against this narcissism: the narcissist can happily—well, not really happily but you get my point—be a special forces soldier or a football star or a nuclear technician. Hemingway, for example, was a classic narcissist—writers usually are—and he was famously obsessed with his image as a masculine man par excellence. The most narcissistic person in the world is probably a woman, but men can do perfectly well as narcissists as well—especially in ultra-masculine activities such as being in the gym. Aside from those social pressures that cause narcissism already mentioned, such as school and divorce, our entire society in its decadence encourages narcissism. We are so wealthy that many jobs are effectively ornamental or chiefly concerned with status or how to garnish it rather than any concrete results; we are status-conscious beings and we live in a giant status competition that is very far from our archaic evolutionary environment. There are entire industries that are effectively devoted to narcissism maintenance and promotion.
Although it is true that engagement with reality can pierce a narcissistic mask, much depends on the mask’s nature. Narcissists are more sophisticated than the teenager dressed as a stage magician, though not by very much. A doctor or a soldier, you would think, encounters very real situations that might puncture their narcissistic veneer; and yet, if their mask is constructed in a particular way, reality can be held at bay for them. The “real” thing that pierces the mask might not be directly to do with their job at all; ultimately, they can have no honour—since honour requires a real sense as regards responsibility for an action and its consequences. This is not, by the way, a moral question; and narcissists are actually often very interested in “morality” or “right and wrong”, since it provides an opportunity to posture behind various masks and catch people in complex games. A person with self-respect says, “Well, I had an affair and I’m not saying it was right but that is what I did.” The narcissist says, “You see, the thing is it wasn’t technically an affair; if you look at it from this perspective..and anyway I had to do it, I had no choice because if only I didn’t have to do X for you every day…and if you can’t understand that—and my therapist agrees with me—then that’s your problem, and you should sort out your issues.”
To complete the circle: the left is feminine, except this has very little to do with dresses, physical weakness, or masculine men—indeed, a preoccupation with the superficial markers connected to masculinity and femininity itself represents a leftist outlook; to be worried, as with Hemingway, that you are not doing “really masculine” activities is classically narcissistic. The right often claims that left-orientated elites are stupid or incompetent, but narcissism is not connected to intelligence or competence—or only loosely connected to the latter, since, so to speak, deep competence must be non-narcissistic.
It is perfectly possible to be intelligent and competent and to be a narcissist, by which I mean you can meet the standard to be a surgeon or in special forces; however, at some deep level—the consequences of which can possibly be avoided by sweet talk or promotion upwards—you will never be really responsible for what you do. You are still, to deploy the meme, a Non-Playable Character; even if you have superb skills. So when it comes to men like McLaughlin the situation becomes clearer; they are feminine in one particular dimension, whether they wear a dress or hunt big game—and they operate in a wider social context, a great artificial social game, that facilitates what amounts to a superficial engagement with the world.
All this should give rightists pause for thought—not least to consider whether they themselves are narcissistic to some degree—because it means that their opponents are not necessarily incompetent “girl-men” or “pansies”, although, of course, some are; academics, journalists, and intellectuals are all in roles that facilitate narcissism to a high degree, being insulated from reality and so providing an environment where the most ludicrous masks can be crafted.
However, there are many leftists who are perfectly competent and intelligent, although they are enmeshed in their narcissism: they are caught in a futile game to trap other people into “loving them”; they will never say, in Trumpian fashion, “Hey, I’m the greatest,” so much self-affirmation would kill them—rather they will always play at being the victim or the helper, and they will say those with fewer narcissistic traits, such as Trump, are the real narcissists. So the feminisation of the West is real, except it operates in a very specific way; and it will only be over when a great many people can sit in a room alone all day and feel content with themselves. This means to sit with the emptiness—the void—and accept that you are fake and that you can only ever be, as Alan Watts, said “an original fake”; the mask is not, as narcissists think, real—or very important.