Liberals, ancaps, incels and redpills

Image: Dylann Hendricks


An ideology that organizes certain seemingly unconnected manifestations of antisocial and interpersonal toxicity

Freedom is on the rise in trivial public debate, taking advantage of the wonder with which we honor certain ill-defined notions. We are perplexed by manifestations of disgusting ideas, labor and affective oppression, destruction of image and reputation, among other flagrant abuses, afraid that the only possible answer is the slippery slope of censorship and authoritarianism. In addition to shallow moralism, a key to understanding this malaise lies in the fundamentally contradictory concept of the free individual and, by extension, in the system of beliefs that prophesies social harmony based on contractual mediations of mutual agreement, which is commonly called liberalism. Taken to its extremes of causal deduction and practical application, this ideology organizes certain apparently disconnected manifestations of antisocial and interpersonal toxicity, which I intend to correlate here.


Let's start by demystifying the notion of the individual, according to which each person is essentially defined by their unique attributes, as a constitutive arrangement logically prior to their interrelationships with the world and other people in it. Although it is deeply naturalized in our daily lives, the understanding of the individual as an isolated atom of interactions is an abstract and fragile fiction, both in its internal coherence and in its power to describe our real experience.

After all, even the atoms that make up the Universe both have an internal relational structure between their constituent particles and only manifest themselves as matter under the mediation of force fields, in interaction with all the other particles in space. Similarly, the individual is only defined by his unique characteristics, such as his physiology and his history, to the extent that these are opposed to those of other individuals, and, therefore, later to their social relationships. My body delimits itself when it touches yours; my name distinguishes me because it is different from yours; my ideas identify me because they compare to yours, mediated by the language relationship.

There is not, even in mathematical abstraction, an element before a set, since any property attributed to an element defines at the same time its own truth-set: I am Brazilian because I participate in Brazil, and Brazil is the set of Brazilians, and it is not appropriate to speak of that before this one. This is our experience of the world: we are conceived by an interpersonal relationship prior to ourselves, then gestated in an organic bond with another body, and for a long time still completely dependent on a network of relationships, which diversifies and extends throughout the whole world. our life and even beyond as grief and legacy. Except perhaps for Adam and Eve, created by an act of craft, the atomic moment of the individual prior to bonding never existed. Although this notion is sometimes useful as an analytical resource, like its uses in Physics, it is far from being the defining core of the human condition: we are born, live and die in relationship, and therefore I am a relationship long before being an individual.


It is called “liberal” the one who, by understanding himself as an abstract individual, imagines possessing the primordial attribute of freedom. He defines it as a natural condition of detached autonomy, from which all his powers of thought and action are at the same time authorized and regulated by some metaphysical mockery of universal law based on easily understood principles, such as coercive non-intervention. in the freedom of others. Reciprocally, any constraints imposed by others on their free action are understood as violations of their own essence. The liberal then believes that relationships between individuals are established a posteriori, voluntarily and contractually according to their wills and desires, as further expressions of their original freedom.

To illustrate this mistake, let's imagine the experiment in which a liberal is abandoned in the Amazon rainforest or in the Atacama Desert, let's say a reality show hypothetical. Initially, the liberal sees himself in a state of maximum freedom, behold, there is no one around him to restrict any action. However, pressured by his bodily condition, he quickly realizes that he needs to guarantee his own survival, and the emergency search for food and protection in a hostile environment, in practice, exhausts all his power of action in the world.

Our entrepreneur logically starts to devise ways of signaling his position with a view to rescue, or else he sets off in search of some village. After all, its only possibilities beyond mere – and even then uncertain – subsistence are in the re-establishment of relations with a collectivity. He will thus be able, again, to carry out specialized work and exchanges, receive affection and generosity, rest and have fun. He will then realize that he has recovered to some extent his power of action in the world, behold, every action necessarily takes place in the time he has again at his disposal, which is why he is called free.

The liberal will learn that the social genesis of free time is the superadditive effect of human cooperation, and is, therefore, based on a web of relationships that requires each person to obey social rules that he or she does not like, that is, limits to individual freedom. As can be seen, in extreme circumstances even a liberal is capable of concluding that the freedom to act derives from his own restriction within the framework of social relations that are, necessarily, prior to him. The state of mind capable of accommodating this apparent paradox – a freedom that only exists in fact as a narrow margin of maneuver, insofar as it is originally constrained by social relations – is what we usually call an adult.


Current times offer us the tragic amendment to the liberal sonnet given by the anarcho-capitalist perspective – or etc, out of laziness. While a pragmatic liberal accepts submitting to a State that guarantees the social peace that is minimally necessary for the free celebration of contracts, this strain is characterized by its radical opposition to any superstructure of control. Ancap utopia is a world made up of individuals, or narrow family groups, fully responsible for meeting their own needs and interests, whose preservation therefore depends both on their vocation for work and on their capacity for commercial and paramilitary association with their immediate neighbors, on a sufficient scale to balance forces against other groups. ancap believes that such an arrangement would maximize their individual freedom, defending themselves against any coercive power and therefore exercising the fullness of their universal right.

As for the practical consequences of such ideas, let us consider the edifying experiment on the cruise Satoshi, acquired in 2020 by the intrepid Grant Romundt, Rüdiger Koch and Chad Elwartowski. Under the promise of creating a legitimate ancap community in international waters – free from taxes and laws of any country – and supported by infallible cryptocurrency mining on onboard computers, the young people attracted a few dozen enthusiasts.

The undertaking soon proved to be, internally, a perpetual disagreement in condominium meetings and, externally, hostage to minutiae such as the recurring moorings in ports and shipyards (in countries with taxes and laws) for medical care for residents or supply and maintenance of the vessel. , thus getting the worst of both worlds. After accounting bankruptcy and a mutiny by the hired professional crew, our pioneers were finally forced to abandon the project – they sold the boat itself –, learning the already debated lesson that there is no effective freedom except in a social network of interdependencies.

While the dream of an entrepreneurial world free of the State does not arrive, the political intervention of the ancaps takes place from think tanks so-called liberals, financed by billionaires and foreign governments, promoting agitation and ideological propaganda in the party sphere, in academia, in the formal press and on social networks. Its action is guided by the fight against all forms of social solidarity mediated by compulsory mechanisms, such as taxes, environmental and labor laws, distributive or affirmative action policies and restrictions on the expression of opinions.

Under the pretext of ensuring the natural contractual balance between abstract free individuals, its effective agenda is to perpetuate asymmetric bargaining conditions between groups of individuals formed in networks of social relations with different positions of power, that is, privileges. What is revealed in practice is that the typical Ancap militant does not claim freedom as a genuine exercise of autonomy – honorable exception made to the Satoshi crew –, much less does he seek to achieve it by breaking any limiting bonds imposed by other individuals; even if a bond is broken by the other party, he denounces it as cancellation. For example, when some ancap agitator verbalizes an abject consequence of his fundamentalist notion of freedom – eg. the legalization of organ sales or the normalization of Nazism – he resents the loss of followers and the curtailment of his platform, as his freedom of expression requires others to remain linked to his channel out of respect for his repugnant opinion.

The ancap claim, in its subtext, is the abusive maintenance of asymmetrical relations in its favor, without reciprocal responsibility. As an effort at empathy, let us recall a profound example of such favorable asymmetrical relationships, in the form of unconditional parental love, which demanded little or nothing from us in exchange for the resources and care it could offer us. From this key it is possible to understand much of the Ancap behavior spectrum, as the freedom they demand is a childish desire.

incel and redpill

The transposition to the male affective field of this immature perspective on the liberal worldview, which understands freedom itself as a grant of favorable asymmetry in its social relations, has recently produced two other caricatured and worrying identity phenomena.

The so-called community of involuntary celibates – or incels, even lazier still – gathers men from a specific type of misogynistic rancor. The incel resents his difficulty in establishing intimate relationships with the opposite sex, which he attributes to his inferior position in a socio-biological hierarchy imposed on men by women. He interprets female rejection as a violation of a metaphysical right that he believes he possesses – in which, incidentally, men at the top of the hierarchy are accomplices – and therefore demands relationships in which his desire has absolute centrality, not being up to the desired party to even configure it. as a subject capable of refusal. The news is sadly filled with tragic consequences of incel frustration, such as self-destructive behavior, misogynistic attacks on social media, and even gun violence in schools and workplaces.

On the other hand, we find an alternative and equally wrong answer to the same anguish in the identity redpill - allusion to the movie scene Matrix in which the red pill symbolizes seeing the truth behind the narrative mask of the status quo. The man redpill recognizes the same biological hierarchy in women's preferences, but seeks Hacked this system with a two-pronged strategy: the superficial emulation of symbols and attitudes that he associates with female attraction (financial ostentation, bodybuilding, arrogance, etc.), and at the same time the radical renunciation of establishing genuine affective relationships with the women he attracts .

the subculture redpill of male toxicity proliferates in a communicational ecosystem of digital influencers, seduction courses and relationship mentorships in the style coach. For the most part, it enlists insecure (post-)adolescents, preventing them from discovering rewarding relationships and at the same time victimizing women who are unlucky enough to cross their path.

Finally, it is worth highlighting the basic regularity between the incel and redpill perspectives: both have the same childlike emotional understanding of freedom, according to which affective relationships must be, by universal law, asymmetrical in their favor. The difference is that the former avidly desire such relationships to the point of resentful frustration, while the latter categorically abdicate building them, in favor of a psychic discipline of desensitization and artificiality. Not by chance, both profiles often identify themselves on the political level with the ancap ideals, and almost entirely with the liberal label, of which they are all bastards.

*Henrique N. Sá Earp Professor at the Institute of Mathematics, Statistics and Scientific Computing at Unicamp.

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