There should be no doubt in the mind of anybody even slightly well-acquainted with the study of psychology that something is deeply, deeply wrong with the world today. From a purely psychiatric point of view, the evidence is clear: We are currently witnessing monumental explosions in the prevalence of virtually every known psychiatric disorder; millions upon millions of human beings have been rendered nearly incapable of functioning in the real world without being under the influence of some form of drug, whether via prescription or self-medication. With every passing year, the psychology of the typical westerner becomes more and more a psychology of confusion, fragmentation, and degeneration. But the rapid descent of the psychological wellbeing of modern man is hardly new; the roots of the problem run deep into the past...
Human beings are the only species that need a reason- a higher, deeper reason- beyond and behind the physical in order to feel themselves fulfilled. Consequently, it might be said that the question of fulfillment is inherently metaphysical- that is, that it requires a greater-than-merely-physical answer-, and thus that its answer stands dependent upon this most metaphysical question. Historically speaking, the problem of nihilism was rarely a problem at all for most of human history, for both religion and philosophy were in agreement upon this at least: Man has meaning, and man's world has meaning as well. Whether that meaning might be called God, Logos, Jehovah, or Buddhadhatu- was hardly relevant.
However, things had already begun to change when Friedrich Nietzsche defined nihilism as that condition in which "the highest values devalue themselves." For it was during the 19th century that two movements paradoxically at odds with one another- capitalism and communism- met, waged war, and effectively destroyed "the highest values." Capitalism with all its luxury and decadence had already begun to poison what might be called the European classical tradition; communism addressed this event, and in so doing condemned that same classical tradition while claiming to be the path to a newer, better, brighter world. Between them, the classical tradition- "the highest values"- had little chance of survival. As Nietzsche had warned, "the death of God" was on the horizon...
The catastrophic consequences of "the death of God" and man's isolation and alienation from himself and from his highest values- primarily by means of a great number of theories that might be loosely defined as modernism- was a common theme in the works of a diverse range of thinkers, such as Fyodor Dostoevsky (Demons), Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good & Evil), Émile Durkheim (Suicide), Carl Jung (Modern Man in Search of a Soul), Viktor Frankl (Man's Search for Meaning), Joseph Campbell (The Hero with a Thousand Faces), and Philip Rieff (My Life Among the Deathworks). And although their ideas and analyses regarding the subject vary widely, they all touch upon a similar problem: Man has been disconnected from himself and from his natural condition, and this has resulted in a kind of psychological distortion- that is, an abiding sense of meaninglessness-, which Nietzsche called nihilism and considered the most horrifying of all historical possibilities.
Tragically, nihilism in praxis has now become the norm. And although we may call that nihilism by many and even contradictory names- capitalism, communism, consumerism, corporatism, etc.-, it lies festering within the vast majority of modernism either as a cause or as a consequence, and it must be dealt with eventually. Hopefully, it will be dealt with soon; time is running out, after all, and we are already two centuries behind. Nobody denies that the world has its problems- and yet nobody wants to address what lies at the root of all of them...
Mas & Fem
Although it may no longer be politically correct to speak the truth- even an obvious truth-, men and women are fundamentally different, and at every level of human development: the chromosomal, the genetic, the structural, the neurological, the psychological, the social, the cultural, the behavioral. There are literally no aspects of the human condition in which men and women are equal. None. Zero. Furthermore, these differences express themselves at both the personal level and the cultural level- that is, they scale in magnitude.
These differences persist across time and space, and are apparent in every culture ever tested. The social argument- that these differences are mere "social constructs," and have no reality in and of themselves- would perhaps hold water if cultures could be found that show the opposite trend, but such a culture has never yet been discovered. The list of sex-specific universals is enormous: Never in history have females formed the majority of any military; never in history have females formed the majority of weapon makers or metal workers of any kind; never in history have females formed the majority of workers of the most dangerous jobs. The list goes on and on. And controlling for socialization provides no help: Cultures high in gender equality oftentimes show even greater degrees of gender differentiation than cultures low in gender equality, almost as though the free pursuit of personal fulfillment creates a higher degree of inequality- and indeed, that seems to be the only answer.
So men and women are fundamentally different, at every level of human development, and in every culture ever studied, no matter where in time and space. Men and women, once more and for the last time, are different. This does not imply that the one is better than the other, or that the one is more necessary than the other. In fact, the very spirit of male-female relationships is one of partnership: Human sexuality is founded upon cooperation and complementarity rather than combativeness. This natural propensity for partnership benefits both sexes, though for the purpose of this discussion, we will focus on manhood.
Generally speaking, men are bigger, stronger, faster, more violent, less sympathetic, tactical, tribalistic, and prone to linearity and discrimination in thought process. These traits make sense from an evolutionary point of view: Men have been, are, and will always be the protectors of the tribe, and so they display a far stronger inclination towards leadership and that general willingness to march into danger, destruction, and death that so typically characterizes the heroic personality, which makes sense in this context (because the male investment in children, physically speaking, is exceedingly small compared to that of the female- a few hours, perhaps-, he is, from the genetic perspective, more disposable, and so more inclined to risk his own safety for that of the tribe); women, on the other hand, have been, are, and will always be the creators and caretakers of children, and so they display higher degrees of empathy, verbal fluency, and appreciation for verbal communication, along with generally higher risk and danger aversion, which also makes sense in this context (because the female investment in children, physically speaking, is exceedingly large compared to that of the male- nine months plus years of care-, she is, from the genetic perspective, less disposable, and so less inclined to risk her own safety for that of the tribe). And so all of these differences take on a kind of logic when considered from an evolutionary point of view: Because it only takes a single man to repopulate a village while every pregnancy threatens the life of a woman, masculine psychology is designed for self-sacrifice while feminine psychology is designed for nurturing life.
Furthermore, men appreciate the traditionally "hard" virtues far more than women, and vice versa: Men appreciate "tactical" virtues- that is, virtues that are useful in battle, such as strength, wisdom, and fearlessness- while women appreciate "pathetic" virtues- that is, sympathetic virtues that bind individuals together, such as love, mercy, and compassion. This yin/yang polarization of human sexual psychology is deeply ingrained in the species, and cannot be argued away, no matter how subtle the academic sleight of hand. The pattern repeats over and over, in all times and in all places.
Men, therefore, are characterized by two qualities that generally set them apart from women: leadership and protection- that is, men enter into danger first (the real meaning of leadership), and establish borders and boundaries (both physical and philosophical) in order to protect the tribe. This is manhood in its most simplistic form: It is hardness of mind, and the willingness to make difficult decisions for the greater good. Paradoxically, this may sometimes look a lot like amorality, or even immorality. But there is sometimes reason in madness.
Walking that fine line is not easy, however. The entire purpose of society, after all, is to teach individuals to obey what is highest within themselves, in order to rise above those seeds of self-destruction that lie within each of us: hatred, greed, and delusion. This is even more critical in the case of boys, who- by virtue of the fact that they are bigger, stronger, faster, more violent, less sympathetic, tactical, tribalistic, and prone to linearity and discrimination in thought process- can wreak havoc on society if they are not taught how to master themselves. And so for the vast majority of human history, there has been a tradition of training boys- of teaching them what manhood really means- and this tradition has always been passed down from grandfather to father to son, or, alternately, when the natural father is absent, the tradition can even be passed down from teacher to student, or from mentor to mentee, as in the case of military cultures, but it is always passed down organically, from adult male to adolescent male, and never from adult female to adolescent male.
After all, the natural character of a woman is oriented towards softness rather than hardness, and so the quality of masculine psychology- and therefore, all the needs of male-oriented pedagogy- typically run contrary to female psychology. The willingness to draw hard lines, the willingness to demand heavy sacrifices- these cannot be communicated via womanhood, partially because most human beings do not learn so much through education as through emulation. So although a mother may try to give her son some idea of what manhood is, she can never be a man, and so her instruction will always be the instruction of an outsider. Thus, her teachings will always ring hollow.
So what happens when there is an explosion of single-motherhood, and boys are left to their own devices, without fathers to teach them the tradition? What happens when boys are left in a perpetual state of boyhood, and never learn what manhood really means? Predictably, the results are catastrophic.
How Manhood Goes Wrong
The purpose of boyhood is the effective transition into manhood.
Every behavior expressed by a boy is essentially manhood in development. When he plays, he plays at things that will one day make him useful- not only to himself, but to his wife, his children, and his companions: He plays rough because life is hard; he competes with other boys because male social systems are hierarchical in structure, and and he prides himself on being strong and loyal and courageous because males are psychologically attuned to crisis environments that require strength, loyalty, and courage. These behaviors are normal and natural in boys, in spite of their having been condemned by feminist psychologists. But they are neither "harmful" nor "dangerous;" they are neither "toxic" nor "problematic."
So the phrase "boys will be boys" really means "men will be men"- in other words, that boys are unique (in that they are not girls) precisely because men are unique (in that they are not women). And that is an eminently rational position, one supported not only by common sense but also by thousands of years of scientific enquiry.
However, because common sense is no longer common, perhaps some data would be in order. Because psychiatric disorders and general psychological dysfunction result in lower success in life and higher rates of asocial behavior, incarceration rates can be used as a general proxy for dysfunction. As we can see from the graph below, imprisonment in the United States was fairly uncommon up until the 1980s when there was a sudden spike in rates of imprisonment.
Incidentally, these rates are almost entirely male rates. Women are wildly under-represented among prison populations, as can be seen in the graph below. Similar variations in representation can be found universally throughout human civilization, no matter the time or place. Crime, whether we like it or not, is a quintessentially masculine phenomenon.
So the question, of course, is why do we see the explosion in incarceration rates specifically in the 1980s? One possible suggestion- and, it should be noted, the only correct suggestion in light of the data- is that this had everything to do with the rise of single motherhood and the corollary drop in father engagement in the United States. Although it should go without saying, the welfare system has essentially incentivized the single parent family, and to disastrous effect.
Something clearly needs to be done; the only question is what.
~ Joshua van Asakinda
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