A short Twitter thread, expanded on the blog for posterity:
Charlie Kirk warns “the transgender movement is an introductory phase to get you to strip yourself of your humanity to mesh with machines,” adding “if you stop being a man, then maybe you can stop being a human being”
The video attached to the above tweet is intriguing. Charlie Kirk’s fear-mongering about the “transgender movement” and its “transhumanist” attacks on “reality” reveals the bare face of mainstream neoreactionary ideologues.
The knowingly embraced paradox of neoreaction is, of course, that it is the new face of traditionalism and conservatism. It is conservatism but bigger, better and more postmodern. Though it denounces “postmodern neomarxism” as an attack on reality as such, it is driven by a complementary demand for not just the protection of “reality” and its norms, but the generation of more reality — a reality that is often nebulously defined, gesturing towards vague traditionalist tropes and exaggerated aesthetics. (Think about the much-memed figure of the “trad wife”: a beacon of “natural” womanhood with bleached blonde hair, big hips and big boobs — like a sort of European-coded fertility idol who cooks you dinner.)
This is what you find in the neoreaction’s renewed enthusiasm for high Toryism, Christian fundamentalism and seasteading Randianism on the blockchain. Each of these things fit the Classic Liberal pattern of beliefs and behaviours, albeit enlarged and emboldened. When they demand the return or preservation of law and order, they mean more law and more order. It is a conservatism that ironically progresses by generating more and more exaggerated responses to its own ideological supernormal stimuli. It generates moral panics by exaggerating social phenomena or events in order to legitimize its own exaggerated responses. The strange paradox of postmodernism is most visible through this knowing taste for an exaggerated reality. It’s what makes the familiar feel new (and vice versa), giving form to our accelerated phase of capitalist realism and its associated stasis. It is a quintessentially American preference for hyperreality — political reality as Disneyland.
We can see this clearly in Kirk’s exaggeration and conspiratorial conflation of motives. “[I]f you stop being a man, then maybe you can stop being a human being, maybe you can just plug into some sort of machine”, he says, assigning motive to “the trans lobby”. “This is where their control, their profit motive, is coming down the line.” It is especially telling that the only way he can understand the very idea of transgender identities is as just another form of “business ontology”.
Note how he conflates trans “control” — supposedly of opinions and behaviors through political correctness — and an assumed trans “profit motive”. This is how most major companies function, of course. (Though he seems to be against tech monopolization, casting aspersions on the assumption we’re all going to be controlled by “five companies” in our VR pods, Kirk is an unabashed capitalist.) The exaggeration of health benefits or prestige of certain products is a way to “control” consumers, convincing them to buy things, and subsequently driving profits. It’s the basic nefariousness of marketing. But it is telling that Kirk cannot think of any other reason why a group of people would collectively want something. He cannot compute the desire that transgender people have to just exist without concluding they must also want people to buy stuff. He has no conception of a “post-capitalist desire”; on the contrary, desire for anything must proceed in capitalist terms. Ergo, transgender people are in cahoots with a transhumanist Silicon Valley to get you to change your gender and buy VR headsets. (It’s called syzygy! Look it up!)
But this conspiratorial conflation and inflation of trans rights with big tech’s profit motive does nothing other than provide us with mundane insight into how Kirk constructs his hyperreality. By defining “transgenderism”, as an apparent political project, through his own closed capitalist mindset, he seems to tell us more about what he would do than what transgender people actually want. And the way he inflates and conflates is an integral part of that process. He extrapolates outwards from the logics of his own worldview to disparage the presumed outcomes of his ideological enemy’s desires.
“If I were them, I’d do this.” “God, that’s evil.” “I know right.” Not a single ounce of self-awareness is to be found anywhere.
This is, of course, how capitalist realism has always functioned. Though it may be ideologically static, it is not productively inert. When Fisher talks about our “frenzied stasis”, this is what he is talking about: the churning hyperreality of postmodern conservatism and neoreactionary politics, albeit at a time when things were a lot less explicit than they are now. (That being said, we find it presciently described in the work of Baudrillard, who Fisher has drawn upon from the beginning, before he’d even appropriated the term “capitalist realism”.) As he argues in an unpublished essay from 2013, “Rather than being defined by the disappearance of reality … the hyperreal is instead characterised by a claustrophobic excess of reality. Change can be imagined, but only as a metastatic expansion of that which already exists.”
This is how Kirk understands trans people. If they want change, it must only be through this same kind of metastatic expansion, but not of their world — of his. Unable to see outside of his hyperreal capitalist perspective, he tells us far more about the world he’s trying to protect than the new world his “opponents” desperately want.