Extension of the Domain of the Struggle

You talking to me?
Robert De Niro-Taxi Driver 1976

To judge from the  photos of the participants at the ‘Unite the Right’ event in Charlottesville, Virginia it was attended exclusively by two types. One was the usual knuckle dragging good ole boy Klansman and skinhead bovver boys, the kind of people who live for brawling and probably instigate a confrontation with their own shadows when nobody else is around. The other type was the alt-right who are laughably called the intelligentsia of the far right. Aiming for the preppy with white polo shirts these toy soldiers still convey the stench of male adolescent geekiness. It was to the second group that the accused killer of Heather Heyer, James Alex Fields, undoubtedly belonged.

Reading the details of Fields life leads to a depressing feeling of deja vu. All the standard tropes that feature heavily in the biographies of so many psychopaths, school shooters and spree killers are present. Quiet, introverted, kept himself to himself, socially inept, intelligent (but I suspect that they are never as intelligent as they think they are), absent fathers, unsettled childhoods, thwarted desire to serve in the military/police. And, although this remains unsaid, everyone knows to fill in the blanks, an unmitigated disaster with the opposite sex. In other words, real life imitations of Travis Bickle, Robert De Niro’s character in Martin Scorsese’s seminal movie Taxi Driver.

Travis Bickle frequently rails against the degradation and filth that he sees all around as he drives through the New York City night and longs for a return to purity (with unstated but definite racialist overtones). Yet we soon begin to have doubts about Bickle, especially as he chooses the night shift himself and spends part of the day watching blue movies. We only begin to fully understand Bickle’s profound disconnect and lack of social mores when he takes the beautiful and classy Betsy (played by Cybill Shepherd) to a hardcore pornographic movie theatre on the first date.

Paul Schrader the screenwriter for Taxi Driver has long acknowledged the debt the movie owes to Existentialism, and Bickle’s alienation bears some resemblance to the classic of Existentialism, Albert Camus L”Etranger (The Stranger), the story of the affectless Meursault who indifferently commits a murder.

Michel Houellebecq, the controversial French novelist and right wing provocateur first novel  Extension du domaine de la lutte (literally  Extension of the Domain of the Struggle, a parody of the titles of Situationist texts popular during the student uprisings of 1968, translated in English as Whatever) updates and expands upon The Stranger. Central to Extension and other novels by Houellebecq is his theory regarding the sexual revolution of the 1960’s which he believes resulted in sexual capitalism instead of communism.

In an economic system where unfair dismissal is prohibited, every person more or less manages to find their place. In a sexual system where adultery is prohibited, every person more or less manages to find their bed mate. In a totally liberal economic system certain people accumulate considerable fortunes; others stagnate in unemployment and misery. In a totally liberal sexual system certain people have a varied and exciting erotic life; others are reduced to masturbation and solitude.

This dynamic is given racialist overtones in Houellebecq’s work. According to Houellebecq black men and Asian women are the greatest benefactors of this liberal sexual system while the standard white collar, white male office drone is no longer guaranteed a mate. This would go some length to explaining the alt-right’s obsession with ‘cucking’ and their veneration of Trump, after all here is a white male who has enjoyed a successful sex life and wants to reverse the tide of sexual liberalisation back toward the way things used to be. Trump in return refuses to distance himself from these toxic movements because of deep seated insecurities resulting from his sense of absolute sexual entitlement.

The alt-right’s ugly and incendiary language and actions are a perfect example of Nietzsche’s theory of ressentiment, a reassignment of socially maladjusted inferiority projected onto an external scapegoat. Their inadequacies are not their own fault, it is the fault of other people. Because the typical alt-righter has lost out in the sexual marketplace and cannot get laid, others must suffer.

20 thoughts on “Extension of the Domain of the Struggle

      1. “Their inadequacies are not their own fault, it is the fault of other people. Because the typical alt-righter has lost out in the sexual marketplace and cannot get laid, others must suffer.”

        ~ Cake, I agree that the alt-right, like their Great Promoter, blame others for their failure in achieving the American Dream – whatever that means to them. However, I don’t agree that a lack of sex lies at the root of their dissatisfaction.
        ~ Under our unfettered global capitalist economic system, our all-white patriarchal world order is under serious threat as increasing numbers of the white male working class lose their standing and privileges. Lack of sex is merely an outcome: No money, no love.

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      2. Thank you Rosaliene for your detailed reply. Obviously the cause of dissatisfaction is more complicated than just lack of sex for a lot of people, however I do think that sex is underestimated as a motivating factor in human behaviour, and it does seem to tip the balance in people who are obviously on the edge. I like to argue from analogy and I try to point out things from a skewed angle. The aim is to provoke thought.

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  1. Your text completely ignores the social and political roots of fascism. There have been in every country and at every epoch mediocre people whose life is a failure, but you don’t see mass fascist movements everywhere and at every time. A general factor is the depth of the crisis where ruined “middle class” people don’t see any way out and the labour movement is unable to offer an alternative. Specific to the USA is its deeply ingrained racism against blacks and native Americans, as this country was built on the genocide of the First Nations and chattel slavery. Racism and “white purity” are at the basis of all panics related to drugs, read the work of Richard Lawrence Miller and others. For the basic psychology of the fascist, rather than Nietzsche, I would refer to Wilhelm Reich, in particular his book The Mass Psychology of Fascism. For the political dynamic of fascism and the way to fight it, I recommend the numerous writings of Leon Trotsky on the subject.

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    1. I am well aware of the social and political roots of Fascism, that is not the main thrust of the article.I was pointing out that Fields bio resembles so many other loner killers. This mentality, which is the little mans delusion of grandeur finds a natural home in right wing extremism and ideology. I do think Nietzsche theory of ressentiment is relevant in this matter, it occurs when people feel there have lost their natural entitlements and a subsequent loss of prestige. I also think that Houellebecq comments regarding the sexual capitalism throws light on the present day component of the so called alt right. Thank you though for the lengthy comment and I will certainly refer to the books recommended.

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    2. I would also add that the profile of Fields also fits a lot of second generation immigrants in Britain and France that become involved in radical Islamic terrorism. To counter your argument regarding mediocre people, in less turbulent times society finds a place for them. However in the zero sum game of capitalism they is only winners and losers.

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  2. Looks like you got a bit (just a bit) of negative feedback on this one, which is only to be expected when posting something on such a heated subject. But if I may say, it was extremely well done. You addressed issues I hadn’t seen so far on the topic. In a world quickly losing its mind, insightfulness may just as quickly lose its relevance, but rest assured that yours wasn’t lost on me. 🙂

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      1. Yeah it is a mind field. There has been a decline in civil discourse as well, I suppose that happens when everything has become so polarised. My post Glory is about exactly this topic. I will send it to you my friend.

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  3. In my experience, people are just incredibly thick! Many people haven’t learned much since they were 16, haven’t even really wanted to – they don’t have a platform on which to build proper thought, they just add further prejudice to existing resentments learned from their parents and peers, then when the going gets tough, they come out the woodwork – thats my take on it!

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    1. True Ogden though depressing. I did mention the Klansman and the skinhead bovver boys who would certainly that category, though they are rarely the zealots and fanatics of the twisted cause. There is a certain personality that goes beyond and they always seem like diminished personalities to me. Thanks for reading and the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, Nigel Farage is a case in point, He’s married to a German, and then he goes on a lifelong xenophobic campaign – its very peculiar of him, I’d like him to spend some time in the psychiatrist chair!!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. People can be very strange. Mishima was very anti-West, yet he dressed in Western clothes, lived in a western house, spoke English and German, read western authors and was always delighted when he got translated. He blamed Americans for importing homosexuality into Japan and the west generally for corrupting the soul of Japan. As I said in the post, convoluted self-hatred. Hasn’t Farage taken up with a French girl now? He seems to like European women.

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