There’s a joyless routine to a burst of mass violence in the West. After making sure the people we love who are anywhere in the area are ok (“You live in Canada; you didn’t happen to be in Toronto, did you?”), we pass a pro forma state of horror and revulsion, and then begin feeling around for a reason. Or, rather, we begin searching for a broader movement to blame, and hope that it isn’t ours.
It’s not that we hope the killer isn’t on our side; very few leftists actually consider themselves on the same side as brutal theocrats. It’s that we’ve gotten to the point where we hope that the murderer isn’t someone who could be used against us politically, or who could be used by the other to promote their own rancid ideology.
As what seems to be the case now, the van-driver in the deadly Toronto attack, which has left 10 dead, and dozens (if not hundreds) more traumatized, and which will push cities even further intro entrenched military zones, full of tranches and truncheons and a thin veneer of normal life painted over cracked-wood fear, was someone who couldn’t get laid.
That seems to be…well, a bit simple, and if you are blessedly removed from the world of violent misogyny, this might be pretty confusing. It certainly doesn’t seem ideological. It’s not Islamic radicalism used by the right to dehumanize refugees fleeing from that same violence. It’s not Dylann Roof or a sovereign citizen, with their toxic racism and deep American hatred.
I mean, from time immemorial people, especially men, have not been able to have sex whenever they wanted. 88% of the movies in the 80s were about that. It happened all the time in the aughts, too.
But what we didn’t have were “incels”, or “involuntary celibate”, which is how Alex Minassian, the Toronto killer, saw himself. Well, we had involuntary celibates, but we didn’t have fancy names. We didn’t have a movement. We just called them Caruso.
(note: approximately three people reading this blog will get that, but so what?)
It’s more than just a fancy name, of course. The idea of the Incel Movement, and the Incel Rebellion, which Minassian apparently saw himself as a part of, is wrapped up in ancient feelings and primeval longings, but nurtured in our stupid and self-selecting times. We form new tribes every day, and foster new grievances, and cast our tribe as both heroes and victims. Minassian is an avatar of our times: a disturbed or maybe just annoted individual, lashing out, and finding succor and support in the like-minded, who don’t provide comfort, but encourage anger and violence. He looks for others like him, and they help him find Others.