Mike Cernovich blames the failure of his first marriage on “feminist indoctrination.” Ben al-Fowlkes sent me this profile piece from the New Yorker, in which Cernovich says his former wife, whom he met in law school at Pepperdine, wanted him to take charge but resented him when he did. “So I would be more assertive, and she’d be happier for a few days,” he said. “Then she’d go, ‘No, I need to be in charge,’ and we’d butt heads.” Cernovich does not add that he failed to pass the bar for nine years after he finished law school, during which time his wife made millions. The “seven-figure” settlement he received in their divorce appears to have been his primary source of income for the past several years. Cernovich, however, insists his money comes from sales of his self-published 2015 book “Gorilla Mindset,” a manual on how to become an alpha male.
What we have here is a contest of assertions. It’s a fact of Cernovich’s own admission that he got at least one million dollars in his divorce. But who’s to say the vanity publication he started selling on Amazon hasn’t also made a million dollars in the last year? Anyone of sense, probably, but the truth does not speak for itself. It requires someone to trot it out, for instance in the pages of The New Yorker.
Cernovich makes truth the same as advocacy by inventing his own. He advances his version of events on Twitter every day. “To beat a person, you lower his or her social status,” he wrote on his blog. “Logic is pointless.”
Logic is pointless if you only care about people agreeing with you, of course. Its point is pretty clear if you see it as a tool you might use, by yourself or in collaboration, to arrive at some truth independent of popular opinion. But Cernovich seems to have little use for truth. His view of truth, knowledge, reason, etc seems to be purely instrumental. Primarily, they are instruments for aggrandizing himself.
The contrast between Cernovich’s gorilla-mindset fantasy and the reality of his life looks a little like these white nationalists’ plans to monitor polling places on election day. It’s easy to get alarmed when a representative of an alt-right website tells Politico they’re organizing volunteers to watch urban polling places and hiding video cameras in Philadelphia schools. But then he says this:
We also have some teams going in to the ghettos in Philly with 40s and weed to give out to the local residents, which we think will lead to more of them staying home. We have had success with this in the past
No you haven’t, bro. No you don’t. Reading that quote gives one to suddenly understand what’s happening here. These people say scary things, but they are internet Nazis, living an internet-supported fantasy. They are going to black neighborhoods to hand out malt liquor and joints the same way Cernovich makes a living from his book: in their mutually agreed-upon role playing, as the versions of themselves they would most like to be.
Meanwhile, in the actual world, a woman in Des Moines has been arrested for voting twice. Terri Rote told Iowa Public Radio she did it because she worried her first ballot, cast for Trump, would be changed to a vote for Hillary Clinton. “I wasn’t planning on doing it twice,” she said. “It was a spur of the moment. The polls are rigged.”
Here we stumble across an important element of these right-wing fantasy narratives. Maybe their primary purpose is not to aggrandize the fantasts but to justify them. Cernovich doesn’t believe “feminist indoctrination” brainwashed his ex-wife so he can feel better about his first marriage. He believes it so he can feel justified in peddling misogyny now. Trump voters don’t believe the election is rigged because they want to feel like the rightful winners; they believe it because they want to subvert the democratic process themselves. In order to do evil confidently, you must first decide there is no such thing as good.
Anyway, I look forward to a week from now, when Cernovich goes back to writing seduction tips and the rest of these people return to harassing their gay nephews on Facebook. Assholes can find agreement with one another more readily now than at any other time in history. Fortunately, this does not materially change the texture of their lives. Congratulations to Mr. Cernovich on the upcoming birth of his child, and best of luck in the job hunt to follow.