Whilst we normally credit writers at LR as best we can, this piece was sent to us and is being published anonymously for fairly obvious reasons – it’s an account of some family issues with those involved potentially quite obvious. Names etc have been changed.
On a recent trip out of state, my boyfriend and I had to stop at his aunt’s house for the night.
“Had to” might actually be a little strong – we had an offer of free accommodation on a long trip and we took it, even if it meant spending time with people who were strangers to me and meeting my boyfriend’s “Weird Cousin.”
How weird was he, I asked? We all have a weird cousin, I know, but they can range from “a little odd” to Charles Manson and I wanted to be prepared. My boyfriend said that he’d been a totally normal kid, but had been affected by the death of his grandma and the divorce of his parents. His mother then decided that he was autistic and wrapped him in cotton wool and never let him out of her sight.
“I don’t think Zachary IS autistic,” my boyfriend admitted on the long drive. “I think he’s just never been allowed out. He certainly has no problem with making eye contact or reading people as far as I’ve seen, and my sister works with kids who have development problems. She says the autism diagnosis is bullshit, too.”
In the event, my boyfriend’s aunt told us all about her “autistic” son, who now lived in a small house they’d built for him in their extensive garden. How he described himself ruefully as “a shut in” and how he’d been a world-ranked player in one of those online multiplayer games until he got sick of it.
Around this time, he showed up. Zachary looked exactly like what I expected – rail thin and chalk pale, and with the sort of delicate hands that felt like they would break even under the negligible pressure of my dainty handshake. Still, he was pretty talkative and didn’t seem any more socially awkward than the average person who lived in his mom’s annex and played video games all night.
He was also, clearly, very smart. He had brought some sort of diet chocolate that he’d made himself using some form of alcohol sugar that basically contained zero calories whilst still tasting sweet. At least, that’s what I understood the explanation to be under some fairly dense chemistry that he reeled off as though he were discussing how mixing blue and yellow paint makes green. He had also clearly spent a lot of time thinking about his political opinions. Unfortunately, those opinions led him to describe himself as “anarcho-capitalist.”
Whilst neither I nor my boyfriend wanted to start a serious political argument at a family dinner, we both had similar reactions as Zachary explained how the “tragedy of the commons” proved that socialism would never work, and how basic evolutionary theory meant that if there was a public pool of resources, it was in the interest of every individual to exploit it to the best of his or her ability.
He admitted to being a fan of Jordan Peterson (I mentally scored myself a point for that little piece of psychic prediction) and thought that all businesses and organisations should be run for profit.
He also owned a MAGA hat, which I really hoped was ironic. I didn’t ask in case he was serious about Trump, which probably would have caused a full blown argument.
In spite of his views, I actually sort of liked Zachary. He was self-effacing and he was polite in his disagreements and there was something shy and delicate about him. He showed us around his house as the evening wore on, and made special mention of his at-home workout regimen, obviously slightly uneasy around my boyfriend, who is squat and muscular and, whilst secretly a big soft libtard snowflake, looks like he could have bent Zachary’s chin up bar in half if he felt like it.
As we hit the road the next day, we both had the same thought: That we had met the enemy, and the enemy is… well, silly. Zachary was a genuinely intelligent right-winger, and yet for all his skill with chemistry and electronics, his political opinions were childish and hypocritical. The guy arguing for every-man-for-himself anarcho-capitalism lived in a house his mommy built for him, like Ayn Rand in her later years subsisting on welfare in social housing.
This ardent adherent to Darwinian logic and survival of the fittest didn’t believe in charity or supporting the little guy, and yet seemed worried that bigger guys in favour of those things were about to steal his lunch money.
It also felt like Zachary didn’t really have a right to his opinions. He seemed like an absolutely typical alt-righter; convinced of his own mental superiority, certain that he could reduce all of human interaction to a form of game theory, worshipful of Jordan Peterson’s shrill pseudo-machismo… and yet confined to his bedroom by his own jitters and his fawning mother.
People like him think they know what’s best for a world they’ve never been to. Which seems like a fairly basic criteria for deciding how the world should work, right?! Like, you shouldn’t get to say how other people should live until you’ve actually met some other people in real life.
People like Zachary are scared of people who aren’t going to hurt them (anyone from Muslims to bodybuilders) and contemptuous of people they could actually help. They’re insecure and therefore convinced that they’re involved in some sort of desperate struggle for survival against grasping immigrants out to steal the jobs they don’t have, or unwed teen mothers trying to take their money through handouts even while they live on handouts themselves, or even that they’re under physical threat from anyone who looks like he might be able to beat them up.
The tragedy of it all is that none of that is true. If the alt right would come out of their mom’s basements once in a while they might find that the world is mostly full of basically nice people. Even the immigrants and the leftists and the blacks and gays and jews.
It’s a lesson they’d feel a lot better for learning.