How do young people become racists? On Reddit (a dubious source, I know), one young man explains how his own self-loathing was easily co-opted into support for “scientific racism”. It started with “4chan related memes, which were the coolest thing on the internet”, and then he gets deeper into LessWrong and other sites, and he discovers the two coolest people ever — Davis Aurini (!) and Mencius Moldbug (!!), which tells me that you have to be dwelling in an intellectual vacuum if you think a skull-posing misogynist and a blithering reactionary are intellectuals at all.
To me he was the coolest guy ever. A fearless intellectual who used facts, logic and reason to challenge society’s deepest taboos and come to disturbing conclusions, and a Silicon Valley programmer on top of that. One of his favorite conclusions was that there were biologically distinct human races, and some, like “the black race”, had lower IQ. At this time, 4chan was beginning to go alt-right, with the creation of /pol/, Stormfront brigades, and the pervasive idea that SJWs destroyed OWS and New Atheism, so “race realism” was a big topic there as well. They made it look like a valid scientific theory, with charts and data sheets and all, that just happened to be a taboo because of our collective trauma with slavery and imperialism. Sure, it makes sense that people approach the subject of race with caution, but does that really mean there are absolutely no differences between the races? If the Neanderthals were still alive, wouldn’t these PC leftists be telling us that even they are equal to us?
I was immediately sold on it. Part of the reason is the obvious: it told me I was the master race, and gave me a purpose in life, as a fighter in the war to save western civilization from degeneracy. The incels are always telling you that you are an abomination, that everyone hates you, that you are and will always be been genetic garbage, and the racists let me get some of my self-esteem back.
On top of that, I think part of the appeal of scientific racism is exactly that it feels so wrong. I was ignorant and had never understood what racism was and why exactly it was wrong. I thought it was just a moral failing, and for similar reasons as in “masochistic epistemology”, I was drawn to racist ideas exactly because they were so disturbing. When I was confronted with an argument I didn’t have an answer to – and they do come up with some intimidating statistics and ten-dollar words – I felt like my whole worldview was collapsing, like I was turning into a freak just for being exposed to these ideas, like I would never be able to go back and be accepted by society. There is a reason these far right people like the red pill metaphor so much: they present their ideology as a revelation so profound and disturbing that hearing it will change who you are forever, probably ruining your life. That’s what I felt: knowing this would turn me into an outcast, and I could never trust anyone outside of the alt right.
That rings true. He was deeply ignorant. His intellectual void encountered a body of bad ideas that were “edgy” and swathed in pretentious vocabulary, so he absorbed them. Then he is simultaneously hit with feelings of superiority because he knows the dark secrets, and isolated from better ideas by the feeling that he is now an outcast.
Now I have a couple of questions. How did a garbage site like 4chan become fashionable among young people? And how do we rehabilitate people so infested with bad ideas that they have become pariahs?