"America is a melting pot."
I grew up hearing that, and it rarely occurs to us in America how singular a statement that really is. Because for the vast majority of human history, there was no such thing as "a melting pot." Every human being was a part of a tribe; exclusion from the tribe was death- abandonment not only to violence at the hands of another tribe but also to natural threats of any and all kinds, including plague, famine, and so forth. As a result, the tribe- or as we call it today, "culture"- was everything, and remaining a part of that tribe was more important than any other consideration.
What most people think of today as "race" problems are actually "culture" problems. Human cognition- like all cognition- tends to take shortcuts: Processing every bit of information in our environment is costly and time-consuming; processing that information according to heuristic rules of thumb is far quicker, and results in higher rates of survivability over time. Consequently, we tend to use "race" as a proxy for "culture;" it is an ancient equivalency: "That person does not look like me; he must be a member of another tribe, and so he is a threat." And although it is true that being raised with people of other cultures may mitigate this tendency when it comes to skin color, we should be careful not to be too proud of ourselves: Tribalism can take many forms, and open-mindedness in one realm does not preclude narrow-mindedness in another realm (i.e., a person who "sees no color" may still very well unjustly accuse others of being "dumb bigoted fascists"- and with equal animosity).
Culture is everything; color is nothing- and at the bottom of most "racism" is the underlying presumption that "race" is a useful shorthand for "culture." What "racists" actually find disagreeable is probably not skin color itself but rather what that skin color represents: a different culture, a different political worldview, a different way of seeing the world; in short, a threat to their own culture and way of living life. And given the vast history of the species- replete with war, conquest, subjugation, and genocide-, that is an understandable evolutionary program. And so how do we overcome a program that has evolutionary usefulness? Simply put, we do not; rather, we must press it to our purposes.
Psychological tribalism cannot be done away with. We cannot flip a switch and overturn thousands of years of evolutionary programming; we can, however, change our definition of "tribe." And most people do over time when confronted with individuals of different creeds or colors with whom they share values. Because, ultimately, all of these different methods of human categorization come down to values; they are cognitive shorthands for values and for value-systems, for particular ways of viewing the world.
And that does matter.
I am a realist, but I am not a cynic. We cannot rewrite our programming, except within boundaries determined by that very same programming; that is a fool's quest, an endeavor doomed to failure. But that is no reason not to use that very same programming to our advantage: We can redefine our notion of "tribe;" we can expand the horizons of our "tribalism." And indeed, that appears to be the general trend of human history: People show far greater concern today, for instance, for political differences than for racial differences, when perhaps in the past the situation was reversed. Tribalism remains, but the definition of "tribe" has changed.
That being said, nothing in this world is a certainty, and if we believe that such a world would be better, then we should be diligent in its creation- not to mention cautious that we do not allow that old hydra to rear a new head yet again. Furthermore, there is no utopia in the redefinition of "tribe;" there is only a new and different kind of conflict. Still, culture- which really does say something intrinsic about what a human being is- matters far more than color- which really says next to nothing intrinsic about what a human being is-, and so if we are going to be in conflict with one another, we ought to at least be in conflict with one another about something that actually matters. And what matters at all if not our individual visions for what the world might look like tomorrow?
~ Joshua van Asakinda
Although it is no longer politically correct to speak 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.
What Is 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.
"Boys Will Be Boys..."
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 peers: 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. This can be seen in the graphs below.
The power of the father cannot be overestimated. And this can be proven by the profound effects his absence has upon the psychology of his children. The absence of a father has been shown to increase the risk for virtually every disorder it has ever been tested against; the children of single mothers have higher rates of violence, gang involvement, drug and alcohol abuse, and of course criminality in general. But perhaps most shockingly, there appears to be no increase in risk for any of this for the children of single fathers.
It is here that we are forced to enter into the realm of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell (with some modification). From a psycho-mythic point of view, it is the father that represents authority, especially for males. The reason for this is simple enough: The father is stronger than the mother, but less prone to sympathy- in other words, the father has power but lacks mercy while the mother has mercy but lacks power. As a result, we are psychologically predisposed to viewing the father as the earthly representation of discipline and to viewing the mother as the earthly representation of compassion.
This is seen in religion as well, as God is almost always represented as a father rather than a mother, and is only represented as a mother in pre-civilized- that is, unstructured and undisciplined- social systems. All the examples of man rising out of savagery into civilization have entailed the rise of a masculine and patriarchal religious authority of some sort. For instance:
The list goes on and on, but the point is easily made. Furthermore, we can see the relationship between God and the father in the negative effect of an absentee father on religion, which can be seen in the graphs below.
"Our fathers were our models for God.
If our fathers bailed on us, what does that tell us about God?"
~ Fight Club ~
However, it does no good to pretend that we can turn back the clock.
We are here, and this is the situation we find ourselves in. So what do we do now, and where do we go from here? How do we re-instill a healthy manhood in an entire generation of boys raised by women, with no conception of what healthy manhood really is? That will be difficult, admittedly, but not impossible.
Boys- and men as well- thirst for social interaction. This fact flies in the face of much of modern psychology, which has effectively branded boys and young men as anti-social. Such an argument cannot be taken seriously by anybody who understands manhood: Males are not anti-social, but simply long for a different kind of social interaction than do females. And that is why males typically are attracted to competitive, hierarchical social systems: sports, business, leadership, military, etc.
Such things are more and more being denied them today. While the push for "inclusion" has resulted in more and more opportunity for females, it has resulted in less and less opportunity for males to be males among other males. There are no environments left anymore in which men can be men with other men. The consequences are troubling: Males are being judged more and more by the standards of females, and worse, males are judging themselves more and more by the standards of females. Not only is such a situation deeply demoralizing, it is also psychologically dysfunctional in the extreme. Simply stated, men are not women, and cannot be judged according to the standards of what is psychologically healthy for women.
And yet we do just that, at both the personal level and the cultural level.
The result is that boys have simply been opting out of the game, hence the rise of gang violence, "incels" ("involuntary celibates") and MGTOW ("Men Going Their Own Way"), none of which is healthy, but all of which express the same sense of disenfranchisement that young men feel in the face of a world that no longer values their masculinity. They have been left utterly alone and adrift, with no idea how to right the ship. And there is really only one solution: mentorship. Older men- or even men of a similar age who have already found their way- simply must begin taking other men under their wing.
Resurrecting the Classical Tradition
Mentorship, which exists all throughout the ancient world in the form of various rites of passage, is the psychophysiological mechanism by which boys are directed into the state of manhood, which is essentially a state of leadership and fatherhood, and which is necessary in order for the human being to flourish, not only as individuals but as groups of individuals. Sadly, rites of passage are barely an afterthought in the modern world: They do still exist in certain arenas- sports, the military, and the martial arts, for instance- but in general have been condemned; even fraternity "hazings" have been nearly universally abolished on college campuses. However, these rites of passage, though apparently senseless and barbaric, actually serve a very important purpose in male psychology because male psychology is both hierarchical and competitive; male psychology is dependent upon stratification, and the competition that determines placement within that order of rank. When these mechanisms are removed, male psychology becomes unmoored from its anchoring point in the world. This results, predictably, in a rapid descent of male psychological health and wellbeing. Finally, society itself begins to unravel, because when that half of the species designed for leadership loses its way, the rest will surely follow.
This is why it is so very important for us all- men especially- to rediscover the classical tradition of manhood. And of course this is why I began formulating Virilis (originally called Heroic Theory, which is telling): It became apparent to me early in my graduate studies that the modern psychological paradigm had utterly abandoned manhood in all respects, and that a new paradigm was needed. Hopefully, it will make some impact in the world. But if not, at least I did not remain silent, content to watch the world fall apart, like a sheep, meekly awaiting the slaughter.
~ Joshua van Asakinda