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Japanese Incels Are Fighting for a Marxist Revolution

If there's one thing they hate more than a happy couple in love, it's a consumer holiday like Valentine's Day

If you spend any amount of time reading the rants of western incels (I do not, by any means, recommend it), you’ll find that their views are couched in a capitalist framework. To them, women are a study in resource scarcity and depreciation, while alpha males (or “Chads”) are random winners of a rigged economic competition, enjoying unlimited, unearned sex the way One Percenters do their mega-yachts.

Were these guys not so mired in misogyny, they might step back and consider how their critique has better applications to the American marketplace than to dating norms. Instead, they seethe on message boards and YouTube channels, and when some decide to take their resentment public, it’s with explosive violence against women. These men have arrived at a nihilistic paralysis, and, believing the world as they see it cannot be changed, they indulge an appetite for terrorism. They are a proven threat to human life.

How odd, then, that Japan appears to have a group that fits the incel category but registers, at worst, as a harmless bit of performance art. Their official name, Kakumeiteki Himote Domei, has been translated a number of ways, including “Revolutionary Unattractive Male Alliance,” “Revolutionary Alliance of Unpopular Men,” “Losers With Women” and “The Revolutionary Grouping of Men That Women Are Not Attracted To.”

Key to any understanding of their identity, though, is the Japanese colloquialism “mote,” which means “popular with the opposite sex.” The term “himote” translates to “non-mote” — meaning these men claim to lack some ineffable quality that would appeal to Japanese women. They are essentially (supposedly) undesirable.

Kakumeiteki Himote Domei (sometimes abbreviated as Kakuhidou) was founded by a dude named Katsuhiro Furusawa. The story goes that in 2006, Furusawa was dumped by a girlfriend — and wound up reading Marx and Engel’s Communist Manifesto soon after. The epiphany he had combined his recent heartbreak with the ongoing struggle for a new socioeconomic order.

‘Crush Romantic Capitalism!’

As the Japanese art and design blog Spoon & Tamago explained it: “He quickly came to the realization that being unpopular with girls is a class issue.” From there, he began to organize rallies tied to consumerist holidays that place a premium on intimacy: Valentine’s Day, Christmas Eve (the year’s biggest date night in Japan) and White Day, an occasion on which men reciprocate the gifts they received from their sweethearts on Valentine’s. Slogans for these events include “Crush Romantic Capitalism” and “Sex Is Useless.” They decry both loneliness and commercial interests.

More from Spoon & Tamago:

Kakuhidou’s slogans combine Japanese internet culture with classical Marxism, and its origins in cyberspace can be charted through its choice of language. For example, one frequent target of the group’s admonitions are the so-called “riyajuu” (リア充), a neologism frequently used in online communities such as [the Japanese message board] 2chan to refer to those who experience fulfillment in their offline lives (riyajuu is a portmanteau that combines “real” with “jyuujitsu,” the Japanese word for fulfillment).

Another way to define the riyajuu is as the opposite of of the “otaku” — the male, socially maladapted obsessives of geek subculture who populate forums like 2chan. The closest English meme-speak analogue is “normies,” a disparaging label for comparatively well-adjusted people thought to have genuine friends, healthy relationships and hobbies that don’t involve the internet. Both words carry a whiff of jealousy, as the despairing incels and himote would presumably trade places with the normies and the riyajuu in a heartbeat. That envy, however, can be laced with anger.

A ‘Conspiracy’ Against the Lonely

Kakuhidou have mainly resisted the formulation of disturbing threats that tend to get western incels in hot water, which is not to say they’re above some casual sexism here and there. At one point, they protested the “housewives who control Japan’s future” while their husbands toil away at the office, putting them in line with the incel canard that women have ultimate power over society as we know it. And the organization’s de facto leader, Takayuki Akimoto, offered strident remarks at the 2017 Valentine’s Day march: “People like us who don’t seek value in love are being oppressed by society,” he said. “It’s a conspiracy by people who think unattractive guys are inferior, or losers — like cuddling in public, it makes us feel bad. It’s unforgivable.”

Akimoto also described Kakuhidou’s efforts as part of a “long, drawn-out war,” somewhat grandiose language for a club that’s existed for more years than it has active members: This week’s Valentine’s demonstration against “the conspiracies of the candy makers” boasted participation in the high single digits. They’re not exactly setting the country aflame.

Still, Kakuhidou may ultimately have less in common with the angry, frustrated incels than they do with the smug, aloof MGTOWs — Men Going Their Own Way, or straight guys who profess to voluntarily reject the company of women. It’s hard to say whether their bachelordom is deliberate or not, but their complaint is centered on love: It’s too commodified, they say, and the belief that it’s natural is incorrect.

One himote Twitter account describes the normies as “suffering from intimate human relations,” which could be sour grapes, a sublimated hatred of women or a niche form of irony. It’s also not clear to what degree we should be differentiating emotional attachment from sex here. All of these men play the wounded victim, contending that it’s hurtful for them to see an affectionate couple (Kakuhidou have been known to chant the line “public smooching is terrorism”), though incels usually let the mask slip in this regard. Where Kakuhidou target the hypocrisies and merchandising of romance, incels yearn for physical gratification, voicing total hostility toward women of age or experience.

A Challenge to Western Inceldom

That Kakuhidou feels a little sillier, or at least not as frightening, is no doubt due to their peaceful activism and cheeky theoretical background. In a certain light, they’re proof that the original concept of “involuntary celibacy” — coined more than 20 years ago by a woman who sought to create a support group for lonely people — is far from inherently evil. And however committed or coherent their strain of Marxism may be, the mere belief in revolutionary potential is a direct challenge to the illogical endpoint of western inceldom: the so-called “black pill” ideology of utter hopelessness and impotent fury. The critically important advantage the Kakuhidou have over their contemporaries in other nations is their faith in change, and in their responsibility to bring it about nonviolently.

This year, they even claimed credit for the trend of people buying chocolate for themselves instead of their crush, saying it was “unmistakably” the result of their efforts. In the grand scheme, it’s not much — but a movement has to start somewhere.