Author: Gregory Gorelik

What Sadomasochism Can Teach Us About Human Sexuality

Like all good husbands, I took my wife to see the latest instalment of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie series—Fifty Shades Darker­­—on Valentine’s Day weekend. Admittedly, this romantic gesture was not entirely altruistic. As it happens, I am currently doing research on the role of dominance and submission in human sexuality. Although neither of us is in the “scene,” we are nonetheless swept up in the current cultural fascination with consensual sadomasochism, albeit for different reasons. My fascination stems from my general interest in human sexuality and its evolution. My field, evolutionary psychology, has been at the forefront of exploring human behavior through the evolutionary lens for more than two decades, and has made immense advances over the years. Although its greatest accomplishments are in the realm of sex differences and mating behavior, it is not confined to the sexual realm, as is evidenced by the increasing output of research on the evolution of morality,1 religion,2 and politics.3 Indeed, E. O. Wilson’s dream of a consilience of knowledge across the biological sciences and humanities is …

Totalitarianism Rising

She walked up the subway stairwell, smiling. Atop the Fifth Avenue sidewalk landing, a crowd had already gathered. Cheers broke out as the first glimpses of her were caught by the impatiently awaiting audience. Once on the sidewalk, she gracefully and confidently approached the prepared lectern and waived to the gathered masses. Her smile slowly faded. “Our country is fallen,” she began. “The legacy of colonialism and racism still haunts our communities. From small towns to big cities, police brutality is destroying lives and ruining families. Hate crimes are on the rise. Our Muslim and LGBTQIA brothers and sisters are traumatized by hate speech on college campuses and in the media. White, straight, cisgender men are bringing racism, they’re bringing sexism, they’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.” These apocalyptic images were followed by a few more depicting rampant bigotry and oppression and the all-consuming fires of capitalism. “But today,” she continued, her voice brightening, “we say no more! Today will be remembered as the day when we all came together and dealt …

How Sexual Dominance Influences Politics

The link between sex and dominance is age-old and pervasive. From the works of the Marquis de Sade to Vladimir Nabokov, literature is suffused with its ecstasies and tortures. Its depictions in popular cinema and print, from 9½ Weeks to Fifty Shades of Grey, suggest that this inseparable link is more than a fringe fetish, and that its dark fantasies haunt even the dungeons of respectable minds. This popular fascination also suggests that the influence of sex on dominant political movements such as fascism deserves a closer examination. The Sexual Origins of Fascism Fascism is a political movement or form of government marked by the complete control of individuals and military and economic institutions by a single dominant leader or ruling party. Although totalitarian communist regimes often lack the nationalistic sentiments associated with fascist regimes, their reliance on dominance and complete control of personal and social life as a political strategy often make them indistinguishable from fascism. Steven Pinker suggests that even the philosophy of National Socialism is no different from Marxism save for its …

The Regressive Left and Its Word Games

Last month, US Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill) shamelessly admitted to calling for a revision of up to 900 pages of the FBI’s counter-terrorism training manuals so as to make them more palatable to Islamic interest groups. One of the results, as reported by PJ Media, was an official FBI lexicon that excluded any mention of “jihad,” the common thread underlying incidences of global terrorism from Baghdad, Dhaka, and Istanbul, to Paris, Brussels, and Orlando. If the ideological basis of terror is to be combated alongside the bigoted politics of right-wing authoritarianism, the left must abandon its political word games. The Unnamed Enemy The Obama administration defends its policy of reticence with respect to “Islamism” and “jihadism” by claiming that the use of these terms might alienate moderate Muslims — the community whose cooperation is most needed in the fight against terror. Simultaneously, the president and his staff portray their critics as myopic pedants arguing over semantics. “Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away,” the president insisted following the Orlando …

To Defeat Jihadism, the Battle Over Sacred Values Must Be Won

The war against Islamic terror will not be won in the trenches. Political Islam’s most insidious weapon is its ideology. In this respect, defeating it will take more than just guns or bombs. This is not to say that there will be no use for guns, bombs, or drones, but if democracy and human rights are to prevail, these espoused values must stand for something. As attested by history, enmeshing values with politics is usually disastrous. Nevertheless, it is often the case that the only way to defeat a toxic ideology is with an alternative one. An example that comes to mind is the American civil rights movement of the 1960s. Inspired by Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence, black Americans and their allies defeated racist bigotry by wielding values such as tolerance and equal rights. Similarly, the war against ISIS must be waged on the battlefield of values, ideas, and beliefs. Although it is possible for ISIS to smuggle its fighters overseas among the outpouring of Syrian and Iraqi refugees, the larger threat is homegrown terror. …

The Longevity of the Traumatized

My Grandfather By passport, my grandfather is 94-years-old. Owing to the lackluster record-keeping of the former Soviet Union, however, his legal age lists him as being two years younger than he actually is. Although my father sometimes tries to cheer him by pointing out that he outlived most of his generation, it often has the opposite effect on my grandfather. Indeed, I can imagine how saddening it is when most of your friends and loved ones are no longer around. My grandfather is also a Holocaust survivor. At his age, he is one of the few remaining Holocaust survivors. His story is unsurprisingly a harrowing and sad one. At the dawn of the Second World War, he was a young artillery officer in the Soviet Army. Because of his high marks in artillery school, he was recruited as a commander of a battery and was among the first young men to be sent to war. After two or so years of fighting the Germans, he was captured by them as a Russian prisoner of war. …