Everything in life is a cycle. We experience cycles as a kind of circle. Keep turning right, and you end up where you started.
The right could benefit from doing this.
As mentioned in other pieces, conservatives are fractured because they don’t know their own belief. They do not have a core statement or summary that explains not only what conservatism is, but why it is a good idea for others to adopt and join.
In the ensuing confusion, conservatism has become a mirror image of the dysfunctional society it seeks to reconstruct. Like our society, the right wing is torn in as many directions as it has members. Without a direction of its own, it allows itself to be defined by its opposition.
As for why self-identified conservatives were much less likely to trust science in 2010 than they were in the mid-1970s, Gauchat offered several possibilities. One is the conservative movement itself.
“Over the last several decades, there’s been an effort among those who define themselves as conservatives to clearly identify what it means to be a conservative,” Gauchat said.
“For whatever reason, this appears to involve opposing science and universities and what is perceived as the ‘liberal culture.’ So, self-identified conservatives seem to lump these groups together and rally around the notion that what makes ‘us’ conservatives is that we don’t agree with ‘them.’” – “Study: Conservatives’ trust in science has fallen dramatically since mid-1970s,” Science Blog
This applies not just to American conservatives, but European ones of all stripes. Since the French Revolution, they have realized that liberalism is massively more popular than conservatism. Their response has been to fight liberalism, instead of the harder way to strengthen conservatism.
When a belief turns away from refining itself and becoming more competent, and instead allows itself to be forced into a defensive role of us-or-you’re-wrong, it naturally becomes a cognitive dissonance endeavor. The game is no longer to win, but to be “right” especially if everyone else is “wrong.”
This is a binary endeavor: whatever they do, you avoid. It becomes knee-jerk and makes you easy to manipulate, and means that if they touch something that is true, you reject it along with all their crazy ideas.
In turn, this forces conservatism into an in-group. It is formed of people who agree on the Most Holy Truth (MHT). Others don’t understand the MHT, so the group trusts only itself. The only problem is that it will never grow. It stagnates and dies.
Conservatives must know the the audience we want tomorrow, not our people today. We don’t need to preach to the choir, but to recruit the people out there who we seek to help alongside ourselves. A sensible society lifts us all to greater heights.
This lifting occurs not just economically, but in our perception of ourselves and our value. When we are part of a morally healthy, logically sound and constructive social wave, we feel good about ourselves. We do better work and treat each other better.
That wave can only come from conservatism. Liberalism does not create a wave, except of destruction, because it pulls people apart by insisting on radical individualism. The individual comes first, before nature or its fellow citizens. The result is social chaos as everyone pulls in a different direction.
In one of life’s little ironies, the same thing that afflicts our politics also afflicts our science:
The editors of Infection and Immunity are sending a warning signal about modern science. Two editorials (1 and 2) published in the journal have given other biomedical researchers pause to ask if modern science is dysfunctional. Readers familiar with the state of academia may not be surprised but the claims have been presented today to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) that level the following allegations:
‘Incentives have evolved over the decades to encourage some behaviors that are detrimental to good science’ and ‘The surest ticket to getting a grant or job is getting published in a high profile journal, this is an unhealthy belief that can lead a scientist to engage in sensationalism and sometimes even dishonest behavior to salvage their career.’ The data to back up such slanderous claims? ‘In the past decade the number of retraction notices for scientific journals has increased more than 10-fold while the number of journals articles published has only increased by 44%.’ At least a few of such retractions have been covered here.” – “Dysfunction In Modern Science?,” by timothy, Slashdot
Our society can crush your soul with the futility of its practice. We sell our disciplines to the highest bidders, then wonder why they are corrupted from within. We sabotage our own motivations with money, popularity and trends.
The right-wing can crush you with the futility of its dogma. It moves in a false circle: from dogma to its opposite and back again. Like the election cycle every four years. Nothing persists, nothing gets built. We uphold the system and not much more.
The right wing needs to grow in order to overcome the disproportionate popularity of liberalism. Liberalism will always be more popular since it is permissive, and because it assumes nothing can wrong with that, it provides an easy way to blame our problems on whoever is in authority at the time.
Conservatism needs to restyle itself as not a resistance movement, but a forward movement toward a different type of society. We cannot let liberals define the discourse and the solutions.
Instead, we must paint a picture for people of a new world, and extend our hands to invite them in, and restart the cycle in earnest once again.
We are privileged to conduct an interview with Jack Donovan, writer and publisher of masculinist theory and dissident opposing the nanny state. His latest work, The Way of Men, is a comprehensive theory of masculinity and tribalism that presents profound challenges to modernity — and vital suggestions for what comes next.
Your writing style seems like a cross between a Jack London novel and an instruction manual for a computer programming language. What are your influences?
I’ll take any comparison to Jack London I can get. London wrote for average men. Like Wolf Larson, his stories grab you with authority and drag you along for the ride. I try to keep in mind the fact that I am writing for men, and most men want you to get to the point.
I broke a rule of writing in The Way of Men by using the word “you” a lot. It’s formally considered presumptuous. But, instead of speaking to a general audience, I made it personal. I wanted to show men what I was thinking, but I wanted to put every reader in a situation where he had to think and make decisions and follow my train of thought. This is often the way men talk to each other and teach each other in real life, so I figured I’d give it a shot.
I was also presenting a kind of system, a “way” of understanding manhood — so that might have contributed to the “instruction manual” feel you are talking about.
The underlying themes of this book seem to be the need for tribalism, specifically an identity as “Us.” Do you see these topics having a broader reach than men’s concerns?
Men make up a pretty broad audience. We’re 49% of the population. And of that 49%, only a few are really moving the chess pieces on the global game board. If you break into smaller groups, a higher percentage of the men are relevant. I think feeling as though his influence over the group is relevant is important to a man’s sense of self worth. It’s why democracy is so attractive.
People feel like what they have to say matters. You can have general consensus in a small, emotionally connected group. But as that group becomes incomprehensible in scale, people become aware that the consensus is being manufactured without them — even in spite of them. This sense of powerlessness creates a general apathy, and tends to make the people who do care seem like suckers.
You write about civilization as if it is the cause of its own entropy. How does a civilization avoid that gradual fate?
I don’t know if it can. I think we need cycles of destruction and rebirth. We may crave “sustainability” but the human mind can’t comprehend “forever.”
You gave a truly excellent radio interview in which you said that one aspect of tribalism for you is that you like to live near people like yourself. How do you define this group?
There are a lot of ways I could define that group. In an ideological sense, I want to live around people who have the same ideas about how the world should be, because that means we are all working in some harmony and chugging along in the same general direction, rather than working against one another. People “like myself” would also be people who share a similar frame of reference, so that we can speak in a cultural shorthand, understand each other, and trust each other to some degree. I grew up in a white American middle class family with solid working class roots. I am not from millionaires or French aristocrats, and I don’t know ‘bout no ghetto. My pap worked on the railroad and my dad plays horseshoes. I’ve never worked on a train and I suck at horseshoes, but I have a connection with folks like that. Those are my people.
Our modern world seems built upon utilitarianism, or the idea that “what (the most think) is good for the most is best.” Your theory that men need to fulfill tribal roles seems to be an existential task, measured by the quality and aesthetics of existence, in defiance of utilitarianism. Is this the basis of an alternate view of human society?
Absolutely. Most people want to buy flashy disposable stuff, get stoned or drunk, and watch petty dramas on bad TV. Many human advancements have resulted from wanting those things and having the intelligence to figure out how to get them. However, the struggle of getting them is also part of our humanity.
In The Way of Men, I asked “The Conan Question.” I asked, “What is Best in Life?”
It is natural for humans to seek security, to want comfort and plenty, to crave pleasure. But is that all? I don’t think it is. I think that is the easiest and safest thing that elites can provide. Without struggle and strife and identity, our lives lack narrative and meaning. Narrative and meaning are also important, especially to men. Ask men why they volunteer to join the military or gangs, or why they take on a task that’s harder than it has to be. Men want the story of their lives to be worth telling. And stories without conflict are boring.
In alluding to William James, who proposed an outlet for young men through surrogate warfare against social challenges or problems, you also connect this idea to a strong tribal identity. Do you think such outlets exist?
I don’t know if the idea of peaceful warfare would really work. That was William James’ thing, because he was a pacifist. A state could create programs to keep men active and engaged and connected, but they would have to be sex-segregated, and marketed that way, to appeal to men as a viable substitute for primal gang activity. The American government is committed to serving women, who make up a larger part of the electorate. Leaders of women, whether they represent the views of average women or not, refuse to allow the nurturing of different sex roles or sex-segregated activities. So while, some state could create a corps of men to, say, “fight pollution” by sending them to dangerous locales to suffer together while cleaning up oil spills, our state can’t. Universal suffrage guarantees that women will gain a more prominent influence over the direction of government, especially over a long period of time.
Women do not want men in isolated groups together without female supervision, because women know that brother-bonded men set their own values and stop looking to women for guidance or approval.
The Men’s Rights movement wants men to have equal rights to women, who get a government rights subsidy. You seem to be proposing that some rights or roles exist for men alone. Do you think the MRM is barking up the wrong tree?
The MRM is a feminist movement. The poor bastards just don’t know it yet. Equality between the sexes is the stated goal of the feminist majority. However, feminists are humans, and because they are human they will ultimately protect and further their own interests, and that will lead to inequality. The MRM recognizes that feminism is creating inequality, but refuses to deal with the reality that equality is an impossible goal. It dooms itself by following behind feminism, shouting the same slogans and carrying the same signs.
“Equality! Equality! Equality!”
Further, the MRM seems to take the female view on happiness, meaning that happiness the result of security, plenty, and health. The MRM seems to accept a bizarre fiction — that men were the true victims of patriarchy. They base this on the idea that men had a lot of responsibility, and that they were forced to fight wars and sacrifice themselves for the greater good. It seems absurd to me that men would have lived like that for all of human history if they didn’t want it.
Men had more power throughout history because they had the ability to take it, and I think they made the world in their own image.
Women today are remaking the world in their own image.
My question to men is: “Do you want to live in that world? And if not, what are you going to do about it.”
In this space, can you tell a little bit about your current and future projects, and where you hope this book to fit in with that plan?
My main project for the past year has been writing The Way of Men. Right now, I’m mainly concerned with getting the book into the hands of guys who will get something out of it. I’m also looking forward to writing articles that build on the ideas in the book. You and I had a back-and-forth about masculinity in blogs a couple of months ago, and I had to hold back a lot of my best answers because I wanted the ideas in the book to feel new when people read the book. Now, I get to write with The Way of Men as my point of reference.
I’ve also started a small publishing label, [DISSONANT HUM], and I would like to help men who write about masculinity and related topics get their work out there. Anyone can self-publish these days, but having a third party involved still says something to readers. I can also offer design and formatting. A lot of writers are just writers, and could use a bit of help in that area. I recently re-published a pamphlet by English thought criminal Simon Sheppard as kind of a test run. I will be looking for more projects to publish as time goes on.
Beyond that, I’m hoping to scratch together enough from this book to become a certified tattoo artist (Oregon is the only state where you legally have to go to school for it. Thanks, nanny state.) I was making art long before I started writing, and working as a tattoo artist seems like it would a natural complement to my work. Classic American tattoo flash art is all about manly nihilism and violence and primal gang masculinity. I could hang out and talk about that kind of stuff all day long.
There are two forms of conservatives today: those who submit to the order that exists like beaten men at the end of their energy, and those who rage against it but have no idea how to work with it.
Like most who choose radicalism in preference to compromise, the latter group tend to be completely uncontrolled. They rage at the world out of a fundamentalism of their own in which just about everyone is wrong, except the chosen few. This makes them impossible to work with. They also alienate everyone they meet.
On the other hand, the beaten conservatives don’t alienate anyone. They sound exactly like other politicians, except they do things like defend business against environmental legislation. Since these politicians resemble the leftist variant in all but what they seem to do for special interests, most people assume they are corrupt.
Conservatism suffers from one fundamental flaw: no one knows what it is. This is compounded by the fact that conservatism is several hundred thousand times more complex than liberalism. The idea of liberalism is simple: I should be able to do anything I want to, and none should be above me.
In contrast, conservatism is based on a complicated equation. We care about ends, not means; we look at consequences. This requires paying attention to the natural order that appears in patterns, not pure physical materials. That in turn requires appreciation for transcendent values, or those which rise above material. At that point, you’ve wrapped religion, philosophy, culture and wisdom into an inextricable ball. The result is a desire to conserve complex organic truths against the fanciful and divergent ideas of human individuals.
As a result, conservatives have no idea how to present themselves in public. That’s not quite true — the radicals do, although they’ve chosen a public image that drives away the public. Milktoasts don’t like going down this path because at some point someone will ask, “So aren’t they just liberals who defend finance and the military?” In all honesty, we have to answer yes, at this point.
On the flipside, the radicals can’t explain to the average person why what they want is important. They know what they want, and they make extreme statements, but they can’t say why. The result is that they are driven to increasingly symbolic and visual extremes in their imagery and get farther from any positive ideals.
The radicals think conservatives will never win elections because the sheeple will never face truth. The milktoasts thing conservatives will win elections if they just adopt enough liberal ideas to appeal to liberals. Both groups are wrong.
Instead, a simple and radical truth is staring us in the face: conservatism has an image crisis.
The best part of the radicals is that we can spot them a mile away. Conservatives need this kind of brand: an ideology with cult power, that stands out from the rest, and show us a glimpse of another world we might like more than our status quo (think Lord of the Rings more than Gone With the Wind).
Combine this with the best part of the milktoasts, which is that they demand this airy ideology be tied to something pragmatic. In their view, ideology by itself is the domain of the leftist and has no relationship to reality.
This new conservative party would take from the social conservatives, the paleoconservatives, even the far-right, because all are related by a heritage: conservatism itself, or the idea of conserving complex things against the fanciful ideas of human individuals.
Unlike past conservative parties, it would not be fighting a controlled retreat but going on the offense, seeking to replace a dying system with something better.
At Amerika, we have tried to illustrate this type of better world we’d prefer. One based on consequences and organic wholes; on time-honored traditions, and eternally successful strategies that produce not just quantitative victories, but qualitative ones.
What would this future conservative world look like to you? Let ’em fly in the comments.
Conservatives have a depression problem. This isn’t news; in fact, it’s the anti-news. It’s a repeat from 1789 and every year afterwards.
1789 was when liberalism really won. It won because it was popular, not because it was right. It’s often that way with things. If a lot of people want to believe something, it’s a profitable product. If your leaders have let the economy out of Pandora’s box, we all chase the money.
This however starts a cycle of despair in those who can think clearly. They know that the long-term result of this path is destruction. They realize that knowing we are heading for destruction will sabotage each life with doubt, confusion, selfishness and bitterness. They prefer to avoid it.
But when they get up there to explain their vision, there’s a smiling man who looks like he sells things for a living. He calls them hateful, because they want to exclude some behaviors. He offers instead a simple solution: love everyone, give everyone something, make us all happy.
On the surface, liberalism sounds a lot better than conservatism (which was the way things were done before liberalism). It is foolish to deny it.
In the conservative worldview, there is a natural order to existence. We work outward from our egos toward it. We meet it in some reverent state, and do what is sensible according to it, hoping to reach a transcendent understanding of life despite death. Our goal is internal: refine ourselves, get clear, become disciplined, see the world clearly.
In the liberal worldview, the natural order is random and probably horrible. No transcendence can be had. Instead, we must maximize our time in life by focusing on ourselves. There is nothing which we should deny any human being, lest they have miserable lives. Thus, if anyone has anything, they have a moral duty to share it equally. Our goal is external: fight the bad rich/kings/elites/gov’t/corporations, and then live in a perfect society of harmonious equality and tolerance.
Inevitably someone pipes up and says, “But what about classical liberals? They were more like anarchists or libertarians. Do whatever you want in your yard, and I’ll do whatever I want in mine.” This is essentially the same idea as modern liberalism. Build a civilization out of many individuals acting in self-interest, but as we see, that leads to total social chaos and thus breakdown of civilization. It’s a laughable idea, which is why modern liberalism has incorporated a strong state into its view.
This was why when the West made its shift to liberalism back in 1789, it embarked on a slow ship to destruction. Liberalism started out as a pleasant idea. It gained momentum. Finally, in 1968 it won over the most populous generation (the Baby Boomers) ever born in the West. It won socially and culturally, and the right has been so seriously marginalized since that time that it’s a shadow of itself.
1968 was when the conservative depression problem ramped up also. Before then it had been: “Well, maybe we can hold on like a rearguard action for another four centuries, and this liberalism thing will burn out.” After 1968 it was clear that would not be true — liberalism is the final stage of civilization, much like stage five cancer is the final stage for many human individuals.
It’s not a phase. It’s a death sentence, and it leaves in its wake third-world countries like the ones that were left behind after ancient Rome, Greece, India and Mexico fell. There would be no holding out, but facing a world in which conservatives would never again win elections.
Ronald Reagan was a respite. For a brief decade, the West produced a leader who could beat a formidable adversary. But it was temporary. After Reagan, conservatives were unsure of themselves so they started pandering to the left by incorporating leftist ideas.
Not surprisingly, they lost popularity the more they incorporated ideas from the left. Why would anyone want to leave behind leftism for conservatism if the two are very similar? They can get everything they need from leftism, with fewer unpleasant realities than in conservatism. Conservatism had ceased to be an alternative, and had become instead a different flavor of the same.
Conservatives don’t believe they can win and thus they are dysfunctional. In Europe, the conservatives are all neoconservatives whose only real sense of right-wing policies is militarism and a lingering but unspoken nationalism (the love that dare not speak its name).
In the United States, all of the conservatives are also neoconservatives. They want what liberals want, which is equal, social welfare, pacifism and a strong paternalistic regulatory state — but unlike liberals, they’re willing to go to church, war and a mentally taxing day job in order to achieve that.
This dysfunction in conservatism means that people elect them without having any idea why. Usually conservatives get elected after the country has swung too far to the left, and leftist policies have ruined something important, so “the people” elect the opposite to fix it.
The problem with that is that it allows the cycle to continue. Liberals win all the elections until they screw up, then we get the right-wing in place. They promptly start fixing things, which removes freebies and forces unpopular truths on the population. Thus next election they’re gone.
For this electoral cycle, conservatives should try something not attempted since 1789: be functional, not dysfunctional.
State your case calmly, logically, cooly and firmly. There are logical reasons behind conservatism: know them. Know there is a center to the philosophy, which is a sense of natural order and preserving identity, tradition and nature. Point out that conservatives think long term where liberals refuse to.
I can’t guarantee this will win an election. But it will ensure the voters know there is a real alternative, not just two flavors of the same failure.
There has been a lot of talk, in recent days, about honesty.
It must be in the process of becoming a high priority, at least for some, made evident by its extreme lack.
Where did it go?
Why did it go?
How to get it back?
We can’t ‘get it back’. Not in the instant-gratification style, anyway.
But it is eminently possible to recover it, on a personal level.
Simply by being personally honest.
There exists a strange figure of speech: To be ‘brutally honest’.
Brutal? Hard to imagine how such a term became associated with honesty.
Honesty, it is said, is a virtue. The same can hardly be said of brutality.
It speaks of the modern mindset, that brutal becomes equated with honesty.
There needs be nothing brutal about honesty.
Reflecting reality is hardly brutal. Certainly it can be, if designed to be, but there is nothing inherently brutal in avoiding misrepresentation of what is.
Woman buys hat (see picture).
Woman asks man: “Do you like my new hat?”
Man thinks hat is grotesque.
Man says: “That hat stinks. It makes you look like an aesthetically-challenged group of tadpoles.”
Well, that may be honest, or it may be dishonest. The man may actually have nothing against the hat, but something against the woman. He may have something against the hat, and something against the woman. He may actually despise the hat.
But the woman’s response, to his response, is largely the woman’s responsibility, not just the man’s.
She asked him if he liked the hat.
She did not ask him if he liked her.
If he replies that he does not like the hat, it does not explicitly imply that he does not like her, even if he doesn’t.
So we have a situation in which the woman expects a certain response. A positive one. Thus a negative one, even if honest, becomes ‘brutal’.
It would seem that honesty is not necessarily brutal, in itself, then, but is perceived as being brutal by the expectations and demands of the recipient of honesty.
Thus honesty, by itself, needs not be brutal, at all. Only its perception.
The man may respond:
“That hat doesn’t do you justice, but that is only my own opinion of it.”
He may go even further, and say:
“It is what you think of your hat that counts, my love. No hat could improve upon, or detract from, your vast and incomparable beauty.”
Or personality. Or graciousness. Or fearsomeness. Depending upon the sort of woman being responded to, or the sort of relationship he may have, with her.
But this essay has begun to descend into the ridiculous, and so…
Honesty is neutral, then, unless, by intent, it is designed to be otherwise.
It reports reality. It can be relied upon, because it is unchanging.
It can become a baseline from which to venture out, on sorties into the chaos of society, and to return to, when society becomes too chaotic to bear.
There is no downside to honesty, although that may seem to fly in the face of reason.
I speak from experience. I have tested this, to destruction, only to find it remains intact, undestroyed by all my destructive testing.
I have had policemen, for example, inviting me to lie, to exaggerate, to misrepresent, in order to make a better case, and when I refused to do so, finding that I remained, as if by magic, among the living, and with no dire consequences to deal with, or further misrepresent.
When you don’t lie, you are dealing with data that does not change.
There is nothing to keep track of, to take into account, to organize and keep consistent.
The only limitations upon honesty are those that are dependent upon one’s memory.
Alzheimer’s sufferers, or amnesiacs may have some difficulty with this, but then, they have a valid excuse.
Nobody else does.
So we find we have a choice.
We may choose to be brutal.
We may choose to be honest.
We may even choose to be both.
But we have a choice!
The Way of Men
by Jack Donovan
62 pages, Dissonant Hum, $6
Very many academics have studied gender but very few have studied masculinity. As the presumed original privileged gender, masculinity does not interest those who are looking to re-make nature in the image of human preferential notions. But Donovan, along with only a handful of others at the top of the masculinist ecosystem, has undertaken a penetrating analysis of what it is to be a man.
His latest, The Way of Men, first gives us a working definition of masculinity as an expression of the ideals men must share to be effective in hard times. It then describes the inherent tension between masculinity and society, expressed as the contrasted ideals of “being a man” and “being a good man.” Donovan disentangles the two, showing that the masculine imperative of the former conflicts with the type of compromise-based society favored by committees, merchants and the politically-correct that the latter endorses. Finally, he gives us a roadmap for the time after such a degenerated society, and hints on how to get started before that downfall.
A man who is more concerned with being a good man than being good at being a man makes a very well-behaved slave. (32)
For an e-book that runs to 62 pages, that’s a lot of information in a compact form, much less an ambitious thesis. Donovan keeps the writing interesting throughout with eclectic examples and analogies. His verbiage doesn’t sparkle, or quirk, or do any of the other stuff that self-pitying literary magazines do. Instead it keeps a solid focus on its theme while yanking in related ideas to broaden our horizons. The result reads like it could be a keynote address and keep the interest of a large audience. This enables him to tackle controversial ideas from their gentlest sides, as if discussing rotor diameters for automatic transmissions.
What is most convincing about the prose however is that for writing that could appear in a mainstream magazine, The Way of Men is forceful and direct in a way that modern people would consider feral. It is not apologetic, or evasive. It is not indirect or passive. Like a boxer, it walks right to its objective and begins the pummeling. It is not a tantrum, or a rant, or any of the other artifacts of the democratization of language. It is Jack London-style writing, words applied with intent and unrelenting pressure, yet with an inner soul and attention to detail. Nothing is unnecessary. This alone lifts it from the cloud of frustrated impotence that is most writing about masculinity and manliness.
The central theme of The Way of Men is the definition of masculinity not as an individual trait but a social one. Masculinity according to Donovan is a sense of being able to uphold one’s role in a tribe by virtue of the four cardinal abilities of a man, which are Strength, Courage, Mastery, and Honor. In his architectural description of these abilities, Donovan relates them to the ability of men to rely on each other in pursuit of the objectives that have been the traditional domain of men: hunting, defense, conquest and exploration. These are things men will live for, or die for, and it’s the latter that gives them the significance to convey meaning to life through them.
Men respond to and admire the qualities that would make men useful and dependable in an emergency. Men have always had a role apart, and they still judge one another according to the demands of that role as a guardian in a gang struggling for survival against encroaching doom. Everything that is specifically about being a man—not merely a person—has to do with that role. (12)
The Nietzschean undertones to this book are not concealed, but are downplayed from the almost metaphysical ideals of the German philosopher and translated into an assessment of human experience and what makes existence worth surviving. This is an existential view, not a utilitarian one. Most of our social rules and regulations consist of utilitarian thinking, like “What quantity will materially benefit the majority of people?” and never concern themselves with the quality of existence. Donovan’s point, and Nietzsche’s, is that we should look at life as artists: what will make our experience here the most intense, the most vivid, and the most worth living?
By embarking along this line of thought, Donovan touches on where the right-wing and the masculinists combine. Both groups believe that morality and civilization, through their equalizing and leveling tendencies, both adulterate our population with incompetents and also reduce life experience from a natural, organic, inequal and exciting existence to a hum-drum and dull one in which we make few important choices and as a result, feel impotent in daily life. What do we really have control over? The TPS reports? We are manic consumers and individualists because we are seeking a meaning that no longer exists for us, Donovan argues, and so we have embarked on surrogate activities that much like the relationship between pornography and sex, replace an experience with a symbol.
Cosmopolitan journalists from elite schools like Betty Friedan filled women’s imaginations with fantasies of exciting big-city careers that only a few could ever hope to attain. For every woman living that fantasy today, there are a bunch of women scanning merchandise through a checkout line at some big-box retail store, or doing repetitive data-entry in some gray office…Many of those women would probably rather be spending more time actively engaged in the lives of their children, but they no longer have the choice to stay home.
The cost of civilization is a progressive trade-off of vital existence. It’s a trade of the real for the artificial, for the convincing con, made for the promise of security and a full belly. (45)
It’s best not to be fooled by the seemingly specialized title. This book is about men, and being a man, but it’s also about “being good at being a man” and not “being a good man” as defined by the selfish desires for control and equality of others, which become the voice of civilization. However, that is the doorway to its underlying topic, which is about civilization itself. We know we can regulate ourselves into a stupefactive state of no risk, but how much should we?
Between the primal state and the neutered over-socialized state, is there a stopping point? Civilization has for centuries been headed in one direction only. Conservatives put out a hand to halt progress, but Donovan snarls and turns on progress itself, suggesting that when we let our fears rule us, we eliminate the few things that make us feel actually alive. This underlying tension makes The Way of Men a challenging and provocative read.
Another four-year cycle, another American election gone to the left because the right is disunified.
Popular sentiment blames the social conservatives for this. After all, they are the lone group refusing to come to the table, compromise, and join the system of government where economics and popularity determines what is “real.” People power, individualism and democracy, you know.
Social conservatives have a different ideal. Not all of them are religious, but all of them believe something should come first before our material calculations: God, transcendent reverence for nature, morality, heritage, tradition or at the very least time-honored methods of survival.
This doesn’t sit well with the rest of the Republicans because they want to join the left. Both neoconservative right and all parts of the left wing short of Communism can speak the same language, which is a big government leading itself by economics and popularity. It’s universal, to those groups.
Social conservatives point out that this puts the cart before the horse. God, like nature, is an order that encompasses all that we see. Yet the order itself is invisible. We either work in harmony with it, or spread destruction as we walk. Even if that destruction may take centuries to manifest.
When we pander to the crowd, or to the dollars of the crowd, we are reversing this healthy process. We replace looking at the world, trying to figure it out and adapting with a different human spectrum of behaviors, which is projection, transference, cognitive dissonance and denial.
We can talk all day long about conservative values but the real conservative notion is not disunified. It has a center. That center is that reality, God and nature come first before human desires, opinions and ideologies.
The social conservatives are going to take more flak this election. The neocons want them to buckle under and fold, and the left of course wants that, not only because it means only leftists are running, but because it discredits the Republicans by making them into a more difficult flavor of leftist.
Despite what is popular to think, reality is as it has always been. Social conservatives focus on a transcendent ideal instead of the crowd composes of individuals who want to believe in what they desire, not what they see. As a result, they posit the only sane position in this whole campaign.
The West burns again. Like most of our modern experiments, the diversity experiment started with the ideal of equality and only later did we try to figure out how to make it work. Right now, it is failing. The future looks to be similar.
Our President has said that ‘If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon’, a sentiment that many Americans share. But what caused the shooting of Trayvon Martin was not his appearance, but the larger division of American society caused by class warfare and with it, racial antagonism.
For example, we don’t hear about how Trayvon was assaulting a neighborhood watch officer in a community that had experienced numerous crimes, many of which were committed by residents of nearby poorer communities:
The answer may lie in police records, which show that 50 suspicious-person reports were called in to police in the past year at Twin Lakes. There were eight burglaries, nine thefts and one other shooting in the year prior to Trayvon’s death.
In all, police had been called to the 260-unit complex 402 times from Jan. 1, 2011 to Feb. 26, 2012.
…Census figures show Retreat at Twin Lakes is 49 percent white, non-Hispanic, 23 percent Hispanic, 20 percent African-American and 5 percent Asian. – “Shooter of Trayvon Martin a habitual caller to cops,” by Francis Robles, The Miami Herald
It didn’t take long for the media to turn this into a good-guy-versus-bad-guy neighborhood. First the half-Hispanic Zimmerman became “white,” for the sake of an easy story. Then Trayvon became the photograph of a young child, not a picture reflecting how he appeared at the time of the confrontation.
The usual media pundits weighed in, always careful to stir up just enough discontent to sell newspapers. Controversy does not come from complex moral situations and studying the past history of the event. It comes from outrage, tears and rage, and feelings that we all might be victims together.
As a result, the media was quick to launch into a “narrative,” or a background storyline, in which they could wrap this story. The rich white people killed a poor black kid, just for being black. It’s like when they shot MLK or blew up those little girls in Selma.
They are joining the Trayvon Martin crusade by the hour now.
It feels like an echo from another era — when there was racial injustice in the headlines, when federal troops were dispatched to comb Southern swamps to look for blacks who had vanished.
And when lawyers for the NAACP slid into town with briefcases and addresses of safe houses. – “Fla. shooting stirs memories of civil rights era,” by Wil Haygood, Brady Dennis and Sari Horwitz, The Washington Post
People are channeling their frustration into protest. It’s unclear however what the target of their protest is. The division cuts down the middle: half see this as an example of latent racism in our political system, while others see it as sympathetic useful idiots coddling a kid who assaulted a neighborhood watch officer.
The emotional stories always bring out the “compassion” in people who want to be seen as compassionate. They want to believe in innocent victims and simple solutions. But as even the facts of the incident itself show, there are no such primary colored, yes-or-no answers. It’s a web of intricate dependencies.
Zimmerman, who was patrolling the neighborhood, saw Martin walking in his gated community. He called 911 and reported what he described as a suspicious person. Moments later, several neighbors called the emergency number to report a commotion outside.
Police arrived to find Martin dead of a gunshot wound.
Authorities say they have not charged Zimmerman because they have no evidence to contradict his story that he shot in self-defense. – “Obama: ‘If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon’,” CNN
It would be easier if there were not a broad pattern of dysfunction here.
According to those on the left, the broad pattern is one of white privilege, institutional racism, poverty for minorities and a permanent non-white underclass.
If you talk to those on the right, the broad pattern is one in which government, media, and socially popular voices demand a “diversity” that is dysfunctional. They point out that the happiest countries are homogenous and have something more to unify themselves other than economics, politics and political affiliation.
Depending on who you believe, the shooting of Trayvon Martin is either another sad incident of an abusive system, or the early revelations of the failures of diversity.
Certainly, the Americans are not alone. In fact, Europe has discovered that multiculturalism has failed there, as well. Others are pointing out how Europe intended to assimilate its immigrants, which makes them irate because it obliterates their culture and values and this collision drives them to extremism.
Still others are noticing that mass immigration has made their home countries unrecognizable and that culture clashes can be fatal even without violence. Even in India, diversity itself is revealed as the culprit, even if those participating are decent, educated, intelligent and compassionate people.
A political scientist at Harvard, Robert Putnam, recently published his research in which he found that the problem is not blacks, or whites. It’s diversity. In any form, diversity leads to reduced trust, lack of social cohesion, paranoia, selfishness and retribution. Even among the same race, diversity causes crushing problems.
Could it be that this problem is less about black crime, white racism, Muslim extremism and European xenophobia than it is about the fact that diversity is dysfunction, wherever it is tried and with whichever ingredients?
Merah’s background of petty crime and poor schooling on a housing estate in a drab neighbourhood of Toulouse has catapulted the question of social inequalities and the integration of minorities in France back onto centre stage in the electoral campaign. Some said the social alienation and discrimination felt by second and third generation, ethnic minority French youths must be addressed in the campaign.
“He’s French, but in reality he has different origins, doesn’t he? France is infested with them,” said one elderly architect near the gun siege. – “Toulouse shootings leave France confused and demanding answers,” by Angelique Chrisafis, The Guardian
The links in this article are from mainstream and left-leaning newspapers.
There is no longer consensus about the origin of this problem. In the 1960s, when riots wracked cities like Detroit and Los Angeles, the accepted cultural consensus on both sides of the Atlantic was that white racism had withheld economic success and caused a black uprising. In other words, racism was to blame.
Although the usual voices have chimed in with that aged and mystifyingly self-referential refrain, the cultural consensus has evaporated. People are no longer so sure this is a black-versus-white issue. They’re starting to see it as all sane people versus the idea of diversity itself.
How do you mix different cultures? You either end up with an aggregate, which like all averages removes any particular abilities and replaces them with inability, or you force the newcomers to assimilate. That destroys their culture and heritage and replaces it with the majority, or a mix. In other words, you cannot mix cultures.
Fellow student Rachel Bustamante wrote that Carr was asking “absurd questions” during a review section about female selection among peacocks, and eventually went on to ask why “evolution kills black people” in an increasingly insistent manner.
When Dr. Stephen Kajiura apparently couldn’t satisfactorily address Carr’s question, she began yelling as students cleared the area around her desk, rose from her seat and hit a male classmate in the forehead as she screamed in his face.
“She became increasingly belligerent,” Kajiura told the Press. “It was at this point, a highly emotionally charged individual who was no longer capable of responding rationally. She was threatening to kill both me and the students in the class.” – “Jonatha Carr, Florida Atlantic University Student, Has Violent Outburst In Class Discussing Evolution,” Huffington Post
Diversity assumes that we can. After the American civil war, it became assumed that giving all people equal rights would lead to peace. It did not. Riots broke out in the 1960s. In their wisdom, the powers that be decided to open up immigration in the USA and Europe to people from all over the world.
Now that fifty years have passed on those decisions, we are seeing that the results did not materialize. Detroit is still a burnt-out shell of a city. Whites and blacks still mostly live apart. And we have an endless march of Trayvon Martins, Troy Davises, Hurricane Carters, Mumia Abu-Jamals and other “civil rights martyrs” who attract the sympathy of one side of the political spectrum, and the alienation of the other.
Despite all of this, few will make the honest and clear statement that would get us actually talking about the roots of the problem. That statement is: “Does diversity actually work?” and the answer cannot be airy rhetoric or warm feelings, but hard cold facts. How do you mix cultures without destroying them and replacing them with generic mall culture and featureless gray races of people without history?
No one has answered this vital question.
No one has demanded actual justice for Trayvon Martin. You cannot bring him back to life. What you can do however is fix the situation that put him in a highly volatile conflict.
There is only one way to stop race riots, civil rights martyrs and constant class warfare based on race. It is to give each group self-rule. African-Americans, when ruled by one of their own for their own interests, will have no one to blame. Neither will white Americans, since if African-Americans are ruled by an African-American, that leaves European-Americans to rule themselves, and on down the line for every other ethnic group.
That alone is a solution. It is not a quick emotional fix like crying for Trayvon or raging against the machine. But it is an honest start to figuring out why this happened and working around it ever happening again.
The wise man was always wise.
He simply didn’t know it.
Many people specialize in labeling other people ‘stupid’.
This is a very odd phenomenon, but it must be a way to allow the stupid people, to feel less stupid, themselves.
The stupid man has this characteristic outlook:
If he hears, or reads, something he does not already know, or understand, he deems it ‘stupid’.
Whereas the wise man, hearing, or reading, something he does not already know, or understand, considers it as if it were true, and thus arrives at a considered knowledge, or understanding, of whatever it is he has heard, or read.
He investigates. He lets it be. He considers. And sees if it might be true.
The wise man says things that many have not heard before.
This is the nature of wisdom: few have heard of it.
If they have, then it is not wisdom, but general knowledge.
The wise man seeks to convert wisdom to general knowledge, yet in his wisdom, understands that this is not likely to happen.
Wisdom is paradoxical. True yet not-true.
True to those that can accept it. Not-true to those who can not.
The wise man is familiar with The Divine.
Not because he understands it, but because, for him, it clearly exists.
His own wisdom is proof of that.
The stupid man denies The Divine.
Not because it does not exist, but because it does not exist, for him.
And not-existing, for him, there can be nothing else, but him.
Therefore The Divine can not exist, if he can not perceive it.
The wise man perceives.
This is the root of his wisdom.
The stupid man does not.
This is the root of his stupidity.
Thus the stupid man is able to label others ‘stupid’.
The wise man lives a life beyond the boundaries of stupid/not-stupid.
The stupid man does not.
Stupid/not-stupid defines the stupid man’s life.
Thus he is right: The Divine does not exist.
Yet the wise man inhabits a life that is suffused with The Divine.
It would not occur to him to question it.
He is right, too: The Divine exists.
The wise man is made more, by his acceptance.
The stupid man is made less by his non-acceptance.
Thus the stupid man is able to label the wise man ‘stupid’.
While the wise man is not troubled by this.
The wise man is stupid.
The stupid man, wise.
This is the truth, for the stupid man.
The wise man is content.
The stupid man is not.
This is the truth, for the wise man.
The wise man would spread contentment.
The stupid man would spread discontent.
This truth is common to both.
You may be the one, you may be the other.
You may even be the one, and the other.
All at the same time.
Our political system polarizes us. Like many of our most important decisions, it causes us to drift toward extremes so our position is clear to everyone in the room.
We tend to analyze these positions as logical responses, but we miss out on what they could be: adaptive justifications. In other words, these attitudes are ways that we justify our continued participation in the system, which requires we believe it has a future.
There are two important vectors for the average citizen. First, they must believe in their own efficacy; second, in the efficacy of “the system” which is the combined effort of government, economy and culture around them. If the system is not effective, it cannot help them — or hurt them for disobeying.
Our modern systems are like the drunken, diseased and senile tyrant of fairy tales. Tyrants are not just authoritarians; they are authoritarians without any direction but maintenance of their own power. They aren’t just bad leaders, they are the anti-leader.
We know that the tyrant is pointless and will say and do anything to maintain his reign. Like most rich and bitter men facing death, he wants to take us all out when he goes. But we’re not yet to the point of saying the tyrant has lost his power, and enough of us rising up at once to oppose him.
In the case of modern society, the tyrant is all of us — it’s shared social attitudes and viewpoints that cause us to believe in certain religious icons like democracy, equality, economy, freedom, etc. These definitions are the tyrant’s power.
We don’t have a single leader to blame because as a mass we are the leader. When we swarm on a product, it makes billionaires. When we hover around a political idea, it makes world leaders. We are inward-looking, trying to figure out what the crowd wants so it will reward us.
This tyrant is harder than most to dislodge. Killing a king, or overthrowing a government, is easy by comparison. Even genocide is tame and easy. But when people stop believing the tyrant can reward them or hurt them, the tyrant will begin to fall.
Realizing the incompetence of modern society is essential to its downfall. Our governments cannot buy a hammer for under $20,000; our social crazes never find answers. And now that this has gone on for two centuries, we’re tired of the constant class warfare and internal division.
At that point, the adaptive justification shifts. We can no longer take either extreme because it’s a comforting illusion that helps us make it through the night. We see both extremes as illusions, and turn to the ideas that came before the great divide into these two illusions in 1789.
The opposition is strong however. They cling to the idea that a solution can be found in the options on their screen, both of which are mostly liberal. Whichever side they pick, they are reinforcing the power of the tyrant by affirming his legitimacy.
The young especially cling to their hollow rebellion, shaped from products bought from large corporations and entertainment activities, because it allows them to believe they have a future. Their ideal is that they can rage about a little bit, get some new civil rights laws passed, and then everything will be perfect.
It is saddest to see the young doing this, because they have the farthest to fall. Where they could demand actual change, they are too ignorant and scared, and so they adopt what “everyone else is doing,” which is rebellious but like all rebellions strengthens the idea of what it rebels against.
When you rebel, after all, you don’t replace that which is there; you replace the people who occupy the positions created by that power structure. You become another one of the options on the screen, inevitably swallowed up by whichever of the two is closest to your ideal.
The clinginess is growing in intensity as the tyrant accidentally displays more weakness in public. First his economy burped, then his military vomited, and finally his vision of peace and happiness keeps erupting in boils and class warfare.
Cling behavior of this type of ardent desperation can only mean that those who read this post are not the only ones to notice the imminent death of the tyrant. The next step is for people to accept this death, and then slowly realize that it opens up fields of new possibility for a better life.