Thursday, September 5, 2019

The Jeffrey Epstein Enigma

Theodore Dalrymple spent his career as a prison psychiatrist. Thus, we welcome his thoughts on the strange psychology of one Jeffrey Epstein. And we are happy to find his analysis insightful and valuable. (via Maggie's Farm)

He begins by noting that it could not have just been about sex. If Epstein had merely wanted lots of sex, Dalrymple hypothesizes, he could have bought it. Of course, if his fetish involved underaged girls, i.e. children, buying it becomes more problematical and outright criminal. If I recall correctly, buying underaged girls for sex in Cambodia, for instance, is still a crime under American law. 

By the way, considering the number of girls involved, one is shocked that the traffic did not come to light sooner. Then again, after Rotherham, nothing shocks any more.

Anyway, Epstein was not just in it for his own sexual gratification. He was providing girls to a legion of rich and powerful men. This makes him a procurer, in addition. One does not know if he was providing any for women, so that question remains open. 

Dalrymple suggests that Epstein was trying to corrupt them:

My guess about the late Mr. Epstein’s taste for orgies is that it was only partially sexual in origin. After all, a man in his situation could have paid for any amount of sex, of any kind, in private. What he really enjoyed (I surmise) is corrupting others—and not just others, but prominent and powerful others. He enjoyed being, or playing, Mephistopheles, quite apart from any sexual gratification he may have had on the way.

Before presenting Dalrymple’s cogent analysis, allow me a small speculation. Let’s say that Epstein was suffering from certain perverse proclivities, proclivities which, had they been exposed in public, would have subjected him to imprisonment and ostracism. On the one hand he might have told himself that he was not alone with his criminal tendencies. All other men, and even some non-men, had the same desires. He was unique in having the means to gratify them. Other men, offered the opportunity to indulge, would all have done as he did.

Where might he have gotten this idea? Well, it sounds like it came straight out of Freud, from Freud’s theories about the polymorphous perversity of infantile sexuality,. By Freud's light this truth about human sexuality could only be socialized by being repressed Thus, civilized morality and social norms were designed to prevent people from living their true sexuality. They were instruments of oppression. 

Within this context, Epstein would have been a member of a master race, of superior human beings who could get away with what others could only dream about.

The second issue is this: how could Epstein imagine that he would never get caught? Considering the number of girls involved, how would it have been possible for him not to be found out. We might conjecture here that by involving large numbers of rich and powerful men, all of whom would have wanted to protect their own reputations, he might have been buying something like protection.

For his part Dalrymple aims at the fact that Epstein came from nothing. He grew up in relative poverty and did not succeed through family connection. So, he was the classic parvenu. How did he feel about hobnobbing with people who would have treated him like scum if he was not in possession of a great fortune? Or better, with people who would have pretended that his family did not exist.

One might have thought that his achievement of great riches (by whatever means obtained or accumulated) would have assuaged any feelings of inferiority that he felt vis-à-vis those who had succeeded via family connection or the conventional academic route, but it is a curious thing about great success from humble beginnings that it does not always, or perhaps even generally, extinguish the flames of resentment, but rather fans them. In these circumstances, to prove that the great ones whose ranks the parvenu has joined are actually no better than he—that underneath their polished exterior and behind their inherited or academic distinction there is still a person of crude and basic appetites—is a joy and a relief. To implicate them in his own depravity gives him a certain power over them: the power of equal standing. Never again will they be able to consider themselves his superior. His apparent generosity toward them is in reality no such thing; it is, rather, the establishment of the relationship of a blackmailer to his victim, of a spider to a fly. They are caught in his web.

He is suggesting that Epstein wanted to corrupt the rich and the famous, to take power over them, to bring them down to his own level. Of course, we still do not know how Epstein accumulated his own fortune. Did he earn it by hard work? Or did he extort it from the men he procured for? That mystery remains unsolved.

If I am right, Jeffrey Epstein’s desire to bring people down to his own level, the better to have some hold over them and feel at least their equal if not superior, is only an extreme manifestation of a very commonplace egalitarian impulse to bring everyone down to one’s own level, if not lower. The pleasure we take in a debunking biography, irrespective of the greatness of the subject’s achievements, is a relatively harmless satisfaction of this impulse, though debunking can become an addiction to the point that we cease to admire any achievement and therefore to try to achieve. And which of us does not take pleasure (unless we are an investor) in learning that Warren Buffett has made a very poor investment that proves that the fallibility of his judgment is the equal of our own? 

There is much greater pleasure in pulling people down than in raising them up, besides being something much easier to do, which is why egalitarians hate the privileged much more than they love the unprivileged (underprivileged is a word that should be expunged from the lexicon, for it is as absurd as demanding that everyone in an exam should have a mark above the average).

Indeed, Dalrymple closes with an astute observation. The male victims of Epstein’s sex ring were supposed to be among the wealthiest members of the American and international elite. What does it tell us about about them to see them being lured into this trap and now facing opprobrium?

That he seemed to have been able with such ease to befriend and probably corrupt so many of a prominent elite will have the effect of casting further suspicion on the very notion of an elite. But an elite, like the poor, have ye with you always. There is an elite among anti-elitists.


whitney said...

Someone interviewed students at the school where he taught when he was 20. Weirdly without a degree and very young and he was just as pervy then. That seems to be intrinsic. But corrupted people do like to corrupt the ones around him. Perhaps the high level of his depravity is actually what gave him access to the elites in the first place

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Being disgusted with Epstein is antisemitic?

Sam L. said...

Blackmail came immediately to mind. He almost certainly had hidden cameras through out all the orgy areas and each separate rooms.

I agree with IAC's comment.