Robert Mercer is a billionare behind Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. He and his family are using their wealth to create an America they believe in – one where the nuclear fallout from the bombing of Hiroshima was good for the health of the Japanese, where global warming is good for agriculture, and where black people were better off before the Civil Rights Movement.
While listening to this week’s Best of the Left, I heard a piece (youtube link below) describing Robert Mercer’s eccentric beliefs, unemotional valuation of human life (value = wealth, so he’s more valuable than someone on welfare, who has no inherent value), and his reclusive habits. As mentioned among several sources, it seems painful for him to make eye contact.
The conversation around this person is centered in OMG how terrible awful he is, so robotic, so uncaring.
It’s painful to hear someone who is very harmful described as having autistic traits, and I wonder what the conversation would be like if those traits were named as autism. Is it possible to separate autism from ethical orientation? If he were to meet the diagnostic criteria for high-functioning autism, could that explain both his self-made accumulation of wealth as a “brilliant computer scientist” and also his robotic judgments regarding the value of human life?
I recognize that robotic valuation of life in myself. My value as a human is entirely transactional. I don’t apply this rule to other people because they possess many data points to which I don’t have access, I assign every other person the value of “Yes, you deserve a good life”. Also, I do inherently want other people to be happy. The idea of thinking someone else has less worth than me is completely horrifying.
But, because I have access to the data points regarding myself as a person, I understand that I inherently do not have the same social value as someone who has more symmetrical facial features and better social skills. You mean neurotypical people don’t think this way, don’t apply blunt logic and math to everything? I could delineate my entire existence onto a scatter graph on a whiteboard. Every relationship, every interaction, is a mathematical calculation.
(I have value to myself, I have value to the people who enjoy my existence, but I do not possess characteristics which are highly valued socially, therefore I do not possess a high social value)
If autistic people cannot experience emotion the way that neurotypical people can, and if we cannot experience empathy (because we cannot read and predict others’ emotional responses – obviously there is a range of ability here) – if it is really so terrible to have a calculator as a brain-
sometimes it is just very difficult to believe that I ought to continue to exist.