What is a cult? When the mere word is uttered, most think of people with seemingly insane beliefs. They think of mass suicides with the people’s temple, or people wearing matching jumpsuits. The last thing they think about are young kids from middle class families, going to university. Why would they?
When we think of college, we think of a place of respected academics. We think of people working hard for a better life. The last thing we think of college being, is a place producing cultish ideologues, devoid of logic and critical thinking. However, that is precisely what many universities have become.
In the past two years of studying this phenomenon, I’ve tried to figure out where it comes from. I asked myself, why do people work themselves up into hysterics? What created this cult of identity politics where everyone is so emotionally invested in labels? Is it the left or the right? What is at work here?
What I’ve come to believe is that the place this comes from is not necessarily a dysfunction, but a part of humanity. I think our brains are still wired to gravitate toward a group for safety when we feel scared, threatened, and insecure. I think that something deeply wrong has happened in the last 40 years, to the cultural identity of people living in first world countries that have large diverse populations.
I think that the human brain isn’t built to handle the overload of information that it gets from living in a city or a group larger that 100 people. It makes people, scared and anxious, which is normal and natural. Try to think of that in your mind now, a city of over 1 million people. No one can truly fathom that and think of every single individual, you can try but it’s unlikely that you will succeed. It exceeds the limits of the human mind.
So what happens when you have scared, insecure, anxious individuals? Well, they gravitate to a group. But I think that the phenomena happening in universities now is more than just anxiety. I think several things are happening. We have young people receiving biased information about their national heritage, causing them to feel like they aren’t a part of that country or culture and that the culture of their country is evil, wrong, and must be destroyed.
They receive this information in the public school system and in universities. This is not to say that countries like the United States have never done anything wrong, but it’s very easy to twist this information, and to badly explain why people historically made decisions that we today consider abhorrent. It’s very easy to fail to explain how other countries did things just as bad, based on a lack of information and a lack of technology.
This information, which becomes twisted and dispensed to the youth, causes a cultural unrest. These people seek out an identity because with the increasing cultural unrest, and single parents households, these kids have no idea who they are. There’s fatherlessness, and a loss of national and cultural identity. They are losing good role models, and many young people now grow up having never seen a healthy adult or an intact family.
The result of which is that people start padding out this lack of identity and insecurity with labels. They have no identity or sense of accomplishment, so they ride on the coat tails of people who fall under those labels. They gain a false sense of pride from, being black, or female, or non-heterosexual. Which is kind of like having pride in your shoes being yellow, or your shirt being red. It doesn’t actually mean anything on it’s own.
Instead of taking pride in their own accomplishments, or focusing on learning important skills, they focus on having people appreciate things about them which don’t actually matter. This is where I think the obsession with identity politics is coming from. These people aren’t building their identity through their own actions, accomplishments, and experiences, but through this belief that labels and certain attributes make them special and important. So they then gravitate to things like campus activist groups because it makes them feel like a part of something for the first time in their lives.
A cult doesn’t always form around a charismatic leader. It often forms from the desire within scared, insecure people, to feel safe and taken care of. They want to have a sense of family and acceptance. In the 70’s radical feminists were calling for the destruction of the traditional family structure, finding it patriarchial and oppressive. In a way, they’ve succeeded in sewing the seeds of that destruction. Promiscuity is more acceptable now, as well as divorce and single motherhood. Now young people are more confused and insecure than ever before.
People have lost that sense of family, and create a new family in the fight for a cause. It satisfies a deep primal need, to have a tribe, and a group that makes them feel secure. People think that every activist group forms from a cultural need for change, but that’s not exactly true. Most groups in my opinion form from that desire to fulfill something lacking within themselves, by pursing a cause or goal. The reason these people become so rabid and irrational, is because their fight isn’t really about making the world better, it’s about helping them in their own insecurities.
Even a belief in something as crazy as inter-sectional feminism or critical race theory, makes people feel more safe and secure because it gives them the answer to a question. Believing that certain classes of people inherently oppress others by virtue of attributes like race and gender, makes them feel like there’s a kind of order to the universe. These crazy philosophical theories make them feel like they have the reason for why some people are complete assholes to each other, when in reality, there isn’t always an answer.
This is why I say that activists are assholes. It doesn’t matter whether or not these people are true believers in their cause. It doesn’t matter whether they are right or if their cause is just. That is irrelevant. They are assholes, because the aftermath is always the same.
Someone always ends up getting hurt in ways that are entirely avoidable with basic things like critical thinking and conflict resolution. It happens because every long term activist group eventually comes to value the cause more than the people in the group or the people they aim to help. They eventually focus more on some huge idealistic goal like ending world hunger, instead of feeding the people in their own backyard.
In trying to help people, they end up making people more lost and confused than before. The reason is that it’s not the cause that is actually helping people, but the group and larger community that grows around it which acts as a kind of stability. Those people derive security from the group, but the leaders who eventually form within the group are blind to it. So they take any and all resources and pump them into things which lead to the group imploding in on itself, or splintering into a multitude of sub-groups.
The only good activist group is one that does precisely what they say they are going to do, and then everyone goes home satisfied. But this rarely ever happens. Things don’t get solved neatly, where people realize that the fight is done and go home. Instead what happens is that they get a victory and move onto the next goal. Because it was never about the goal. It’s about insecure people, who take comfort in conflict, going on a never-ending series of goals until they run out of funding and willpower.
These people can’t quit neatly, and calmly realize that it’s time to drop it all and go home. They can’t realize that the real problem is what’s lacking in themselves, because if they did, the group would have to breakdown. They are dependent on the group. They are dependent on the identity they receive from a stack of labels and their collection of attributes. It becomes one big creepy destructive group after another that dehumanizes people and declares them an enemy to be fought.
People like to say that this is politically left or right, but that’s not necessarily the case. Both ends of the political spectrum do this when they start becoming scared, insecure, and uncomfortable. This happens when they have no sense of identity and feel in some way separate from their country and the culture within it. This is what is directly responsible for groups like the Westboro Baptist Church, but it’s also what creates groups like #BlackLivesMatter, and the Ku Klux Klan.
These people shield themselves from ever having to deal with their problems and insecurities, with one cause after another. They wear victimhood like armor. They ignore how the system they claim they want to topple, is directly responsible for making their lives so good that they have time to protest on a weekend and aren’t immediately shot by government officials.
Like it or not, if you are even reading this article right now and scoffing at the content, you have a better life than most of the world. You have internet. You have libraries you can go to full of books. You are more likely to be literate and educated than most of the world. Yet you’d rather take pride in physical attributes than in your country.
The reality is that as the world gets better, these insecure conflict driven individuals have less and less to complain about. They have to invent conflict to fight. They have to be hypersensitive to find some kind of injustice. They have to see the world through a bizarre lens, to find things wrong with it. Mainly because the problems in the third world that also show up in the first world are human problems that no one can easily solve, and some that may never be solved.
Violence, war, poverty, religious differences, racism, intolerance, all that stuff is never going away. It’s a part of humanity itself. It’s the reason why identity politics persists and will continue to persist. It’s because protesting doesn’t make aspects of humanity go away. Protesting doesn’t make people stop demonizing each other. In fact these activists are every bit as terrible as the people they demonize. The only difference is that they feel righteous in being an asshole that pushes their subjective morality on everyone else.
They have problems and flaws like every other person. They are intolerant, hateful, and unpleasant like every other human is capable of being. The only difference is that they are able to cast off all responsibility for their actions by saying that they did it for the greater good. It’s how they can do terrible, unethical shit, and be entirely blind to it. They cast off all their problems, all their insecurities, onto a cause and never have to own any of it.
That’s why it’s all so toxic. It survives on conflict, and when there’s no conflict, they make it. When they can’t create conflict, they find it in the group because everyone in that group is equally fucked up. Then the people metaphorically eat each other alive, much like tribal people looking for a witch. They find someone lacking, they demonize them as they’ve been trained to demonize their enemy, cast them out, and then pat themselves on the back, feeling like it was a job well done.
But none of that lasts, because it’s like a band-aid over an open wound. You have deeply unhealthy people gravitating to a group, and everyone in that group is lacking in some way. Everyone there is capable of being attacked. So instead of coming to the realization that there are healthier ways of creating a support group, and that everyone in a larger community needs to be committed to conflict resolution for a society to work, these people just tack labels onto themselves and never fix their problems or heal.
They blame democrats, republicans, racists, sexists, heterosexuals, homosexuals, religion, atheism, capitalism, socialism,everyone and everything, but the fact their dissatisfaction with the planet comes from a deep dissatisfaction within themselves. They can’t feel safe and secure within themselves. They can’t feel special on their own through their actions and accomplishments. So they just keep gravitating to toxic groups of people who are every bit as fucked up as them, looking for answers and direction.
The planet will always be fucked up. Humans will always be fucked up and imperfect. There will always be injustice. There will always be people that get fucked over by the system. There is no perfect system. There are only systems which fuck over less people in the long run. The only thing that you can really reliably change, is yourself and how you feel about things. Happiness only really exists in contrast to hardship, and from the contentment that you achieve within yourself.
All this other stuff doesn’t really make people consistently happy. It’s all a distraction from how deeply unhappy these people are. Misery loves company, and instead of fixing what’s wrong within themselves, they just make everyone as miserable as they are.
That’s why activists are assholes, and why identity politics is so toxic. They talk about problems, but they don’t give helpful solutions. They don’t help people heal, and they give their discontentment to everyone else like an infectious disease that poisons generations of people against one another. All the while claiming that they are important groups of free-thinking individuals committed to bringing about positive change.
Source : https://medium.com/@naughty_nerdess/activists-are-assholes-or-the-toxic-nature-of-identity-politics-62632943a04e