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The radical loser

Hans Magnus calls the people who wish to end their life in a grand bloody finale “radical losers.”

Hundreds of years ago, the ability for these people to inflict massive damage was limited to stone throwing. Recently, however, their ability to inflict evil or harm onto others has grown exponentially.

Hans Magnus’ excellent essay, The Radical Loser, takes a closer look:

… But anyone wishing to understand the radical loser would be well advised to go a little further back. Progress has not put an end to human suffering, but it has changed it in no small way. Over the past two centuries, the more successful societies have fought for and established new rights, new expectations and new demands. They have done away with the notion of an inevitable fate. They have put concepts like human dignity and human rights on the agenda. The have democratized the struggle for recognition and awakened expectations of equality which they are unable to fulfil. And at the same time, they have made sure that inequality is constantly demonstrated to all of the planet’s inhabitants round the clock on every television channel. As a result, with every stage of progress, people’s capacity for disappointment has increased accordingly.

“Where cultural progress is genuinely successful and ills are cured, this progress is seldom received with enthusiasm,” remarks the philosopher Odo Marquard (book): “Instead, they are taken for granted and attention focuses on those ills that remain. And these remaining ills are subject to the law of increasing annoyance. The more negative elements disappear from reality, the more annoying the remaining negative elements become, precisely because of this decrease in numbers.”

This is an understatement. For what we are dealing with here is not annoyance, but murderous rage. What the loser is obsessed with is a comparison that never works in his favour. Since the desire for recognition knows no limits, the pain threshold inevitably sinks and the affronts become more and more unbearable. The irritability of the loser increases with every improvement that he notices in the lot of others. The yardstick is never those who are worse off than himself. In his eyes, it is not they who are constantly being insulted, humbled and humiliated, but only ever him, the radical loser.

The question as to why this should be so only adds to his torment. Because it certainly cannot be his own fault. That is inconceivable. Which is why he must find the guilty ones who are responsible for his plight.

But what happens when the radical loser overcomes his isolation, when he becomes socialized, finds a loser-home, from which he can expect not only understanding but also recognition, a collective of people like himself who welcome him, who need him?

Then, the destructive energy that lies within him is multiplied – his unscrupulousness, his amalgam of death-wish and megalomania – and he is rescued from his powerlessness by a fatal sense of omnipotence.

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(via Jessa Crispin)