[Author's Introduction: What follows is a general description of my "heroic theory," agonistic existentialism- or Æ, as I have abbreviated it-, which is quite clearly rooted in Nietzsche, as well as in the wisdom of Buddho-Taoism. The reconciliation of these two seemingly-antithetical worldviews has been important to me, as I spent much of my life as a Nietzschean before discovering Buddho-Taoism. And I believe they can be reconciled; in fact, I believe they must be reconciled. Because, to my mind, the problem Nietzsche so prophetically recognized- that is, “the death of God” and the potentiality for mass-cultural nihilism- is no less a problem today than it was in the 1800s, and for myself, there has only ever been a singular solution to that problem: the principles & disciplines of Mahayana Buddho-Taoism.]
We all seek fulfillment. But too often we find ourselves lost, confused, and frustrated. This has not always been normal. However, the world is changing, and it is changing far more quickly than we are. Simply stated, we were not designed to live in the world as it is, or as it is becoming. And so rates of crime, violence, depression, anxiety, sex addiction, and drug addiction in the western world are all rising- in spite of our being more connected and more prosperous than ever in history.
Clearly, something has gone wrong.
Psychology as a field of study has led us all astray, as it has become far too focused on perfecting the world and far too little focused on perfecting the human being that inhabits that world- and often for reasons that are political rather than scientific. And so the way forward must entail a severing from the present, and even more importantly, a resurrection of the greatest wisdom of the past: that all human fulfillment begins with mastery of the self. This wisdom- referred here loosely as the classical tradition- has survived for millennia because it informs and upholds the natural design of the human being. Many psychologists believe we have evolved beyond such things; those psychologists have been proved catastrophically wrong- and we have all paid for it.
Thankfully, there is always hope for a better, brighter tomorrow. But this new and hopeful tomorrow cannot be achieved by means of the same paradigm that created the problem in the first place; instead, we must chart a new path- which is, paradoxically, very much like the old path we abandoned a few generations ago. And so through the rediscovery of that timeless path to self-mastery, we may once again reclaim our own destinies, not only as masters of ourselves but also as worthy stewards of one another and of this planet, which may be the first of many kingdoms. This vision is our vision for each of us, and for all of us together.
01 Wille zur Macht
Whatever is has power; whatever is not is powerless. Fundamentally, therefore, what we perceive as reality is essentially a system of power, a dynamic and evolving matrix for power-acquisition, power-ascension, and power-annihilation. Power- whether represented through physics, biological complexity, or socio-cultural symbolism (money, women, etc.)- simply is reality itself, and everything that exists within reality is an expression of it. This, of course, is hardly a popular idea.
A few great minds notwithstanding, the general trend of modern society has been against "power"- at least linguistically. "Power is bad; power is wicked; power is tyranny"- so goes the argument. However, power itself is neither moral nor immoral; power simply is, and like anything else that exists by virtue of being fundamental to reality itself, power can only be moral or immoral insofar as its use is moral or immoral. But that is not an ontological truth, nor is it an epistemological truth; rather, it is an axiological truth- that is, a truth about values, a truth about virtues. And so it is, simply stated, not a question of philosophy but rather of psychology.
Regardless, even the argument against a philosophy of power remains an act of power. Because what is power but the capacity for will, willing, and willfulness? It is the capacity for vying, acting, pushing, fighting...the question "For what?" is entirely irrelevant (at this point, but more on that later). And so whether we prefer to be honest and forthright- and so call power what it is- or rather lie, deceive, dissemble, and manipulate- and so call it by one of ten thousand socially-sanctioned labels-, the disagreement itself is proof of the point: We cannot exist without power, without seeking power, without contending for power.
The only real question is what one should do with it once he has it. But who asks such questions these days? Nobody. Or rather, far too few...
Today, power is considered only with skepticism. We condemn power; we have been conditioned to be untrusting of powerful persons, and of the pursuit of power in general. It is, perhaps, the consequence of our shared Judaeo-Christian upbringing. But what is life if not a continual struggle for power? Where there is life, there is will, and the will to power- what Nietzsche called der wille zur macht-, for power is merely the capacity to will, and that is the essence of being as opposed to non-being; it is the capacity for the creation of something beyond ourselves. Nietzsche's original term in German, after all, implies a creative act- macht as opposed to kraft-, an important distinction that is too often overlooked.
Assuming for a moment that we can all agree that strength of will is worth having- and it is, for nothing can be accomplished without it-, and assuming for a moment that strength of will is a necessary prerequisite of all other virtues- and it is, for virtue is nothing if not the capacity for self-command in the face of trial and tribulation-, then we might ask ourselves a question: What is necessary in order to develop power? And the answer is, first and foremost: pain- and not only pain, but perhaps also conflict, suffering, despondency, degeneration, and nihilism. After all, where there is no stress, there is no growth; where is no adversity, there is no overcoming of adversity. Because what is good within us is always entangled with what is dark within us...
And so, we must be grateful for strength, and we must therefore also be grateful for our trials and tribulations. Because it is only through trial and tribulation that we develop the strength of will necessary to overcome the next set of trials and tribulations; we grow, hour by hour and year by year, through pain and the conquest of pain. There are always two forces at work in everything: yin and yang; right and wrong; goodness and darkness; the Buddha and Mara; Jesus and the Devil; nirvana and samsara; AWAKENING and the Wheel of Birth and Death...
This is the essence of the philosophy of power- of agonistic existentialism (Æ)- insofar as the human being is concerned: It is a kind of quasi-moral dialectic. "Is such-and-such right?" we wonder to ourselves. "Perhaps, but it will only seed its opposite: Goodness leads to weakness; weakness leads to darkness; darkness leads to hardness; hardness leads to goodness- and the wheel goes round and round and round..." Finally, we are compelled to admit to ourselves that our foreground estimates of right and wrong- that is, our moral categories- are quite a bit more complicated than most of us would care to admit. Because it is not difficult to imagine, for instance, that one might do a very "good" thing for a "bad" reason- for instance, slavish obedience to the law-, or that one might do a very "bad" thing for a "good" reason- for instance, out of a sense of love and loyalty for a friend or family member. Furthermore, if the relationship between these two categories of value is indeed as complicated as it appears to be- if, in other words, "good" outcomes can come from "bad" inputs and "bad" outcomes can come from "good" inputs-, then we must admit that we require a new standard by which to measure the relative value of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; we find ourselves pressed with a decision either to find a deeper solution to the moral problem, or to abandon moral evaluations of any kind altogether.
Now, clearly, individual human beings cannot be held accountable for the large-scale consequences of their behaviors, which are at any rate incalculable; they can only be held accountable for themselves - and yet that is precisely the point. Because there is only one measure by which we can determine whether or not an action is desirable (we cannot even say "right" or "wrong" in this sense); there is only one question that we must ask ourselves: "Does this reveal strength, and mastery of the individual over himself?" Ultimately, that is all what we all desire, after all, and in any event, we cannot reasonably predict the end results of our actions past their immediate effects. So to judge the value of an action by any other measure conceals from us our own motivations, which leads to deception and dishonesty towards ourselves and others, not to mention moral and psychological slavishness. To judge the value of an action by its consequences, however, is an equally foolish goal, and also destined to fail; the complexity of the world is far too vast to calculate "ends" or "effects" of actions. After all, how far down the road should we calculate the consequences of our actions? A day? A year? And to what extent? How far should our estimations reach, across how many miles and millions of miles? Quickly we realize that such a theory of behavior would lead to insanity- and it has.
Our modern conceptions of right and wrong are deeply flawed; we have traded wisdom, which is ambiguous yet authentic, for short-hand rules for moral action, which are unambiguous but inauthentic. The effect has been disastrous; the world is now filled with philosophical contradictions- we ourselves are filled with philosophical contradictions!-, and too often we find ourselves unwittingly condemning the very causes of the conditions that we claim to support, and vice versa. Everywhere we look, we find turmoil and conflict, and it is entirely due to our inability to recognize three very important truths:
1) WILLPOWER: that all human beings- indeed, all living beings- want power of some sort, and only differ in two regards: in their degree of power, and in their mode of expression of power- in other words, in how much power they possess, and in how they choose to apply that power; 2) HAPPINESS & SUFFERING: that because the external effects of our actions are wildly complex, and that "positive" effects and "negative" effects cannot be disentangled, utopianism is impossible- not to mention undesirable!-, for we tend to respond to extremes by rushing to the opposing extreme, and psycho-physiologically speaking, stress- that is, pressure and conflict (anti-utopian conditions)- is the primary requirement for growth, and for the flourishing of the human being; 3) REVEALING THE MASTER WITHIN: that because the "positive" and the "negative" are so entangled, all of our immediate estimations of value are rendered meaningless, and so the only means by which to measure the value of an action is through its internal effects- that is, by determining whether or not it represents power (over the "self," over the "passions," etc.), or whether perhaps it represents powerlessness, and a hidden weakness- which we might prefer not reveal either to ourselves or others (for instance in the case of what is today known as "virtue signaling").
This then- the internalization of the pursuit of power- is what we may call self-mastery, which is a far stronger and more truthful philosophy than what most of us believe in today (if the vast majority of people can be said to believe anything at all; most of us are merely conditioned to believe). It is also the essential characteristic of all ancient religious traditions; it is only because of modernism- that is, the weakening effects of material prosperity on human psycho-physiology- that our religions have decayed. And it is what might be loosely called the way of the warrior. Tragically, the wisdom of old has been almost entirely abandoned, and with catastrophic consequences…
02 Modernism & the Psychology of Slavery
There is no doubt the world is in disarray. For generations, public social policy has been determined largely by academics who long ago abandoned the classical tradition of philosophy. As a result, masculinity of worldview- that is, heroism, in philosophy and in psychology- is no longer even discussed in academic circles, and in spite of the fact that both war and the warrior continue to exist. But as a result of the abolition of masculinity from the humanities (it still exists to some degree in STEM fields, where reality matters and truth is paramount), the classical has been replaced by the modernist; philosophies oriented towards truth, meaning, and willpower have been replaced by philosophies oriented towards contempt for truth, contempt for meaning, and contempt for willpower- in short, nihilism. Consequently, the modernist/post-modernist worldview (if it can even be called a worldview) now has a de facto stranglehold on theory, which has resulted in a long-term, downstream de facto stranglehold on public policy. Because of this, most public policy is now anti-male in orientation, whether policymakers are aware of it or not.
Western society has thus shifted its trajectory away from manhood, sex roles, the natural family, hierarchy, competition, the pursuit of meaning, etc.- and towards a more "progressive" worldview in which truth is suppressed, weakness results from decadence, and nothing has meaning but the satisfaction of physical desires. Such a worldview is untenable; it cannot endure for long- because it runs contrary to the higher needs of the human being and thus results in psycho-social regression. After all, the classical tradition was the fundamental foundation upon which civilization has always been predicated; it developed over thousands of years as a method for leveraging the human condition to the advantage of the species, and as a method for overcoming the selfishness that sleeps at the heart of the human being. And so when the classical tradition is abandoned, the basic underlying principles that make civilization possible are likewise abandoned. Predictably, the fabric of society begins to wear thin, and we find ourselves returning to savagery and tribalism...
The modernist paradigm is a philosophy of weakness: It condemns power and the pursuit of power in theory; it looks with distrust (if not contempt) upon those that possesses power, either as individuals or as groups of individuals; it sees victors and victims everywhere, and cannot even imagine a non-zero sum relationship between individuals of varying strata; it breeds and conditions weakness in practical application, and openly condemns traditional modes of pedagogy merely by virtue of their being traditional- that is, masculine in orientation. This results in the gradual erosion of self-agency at the level of the individual, and the ever-increasing feeling that something is fundamentally wrong with the world- and this is the root of much resentment. Modernism destroys the will by destroying the conditions that strengthen the will, and thus destroys the capacity of the individual for self-determination- and that is slavery almost by definition. Because what is slavery if not the eradication of the will of the individual, and the suppression of his capacity for self-determination?
What is needed most today is a new virilist psychological paradigm to counteract the old feminist psychological paradigm, which has so completely taken over the field of psychology that the study can no longer be said to represent men or manhood at all. Because the current system breeds weakness; it can do nothing but breed weakness, as it has abolished the very principles that result in strength: stress, trial and tribulation, victory in the face of danger. Furthermore, because it destroys the human being, it in effect destroys the basic unit of human civilization itself; it is a ticking bomb laid at the very foundation of society.
03 The Pursuit of Meaning & the Dangers of Nihilism
The human being is a meaning-seeking organism. For although he may pursue sex, fame and fortune, or the intoxication of military victory, ultimately, all of these are but proxies; they are mere expressions of a deeper and far more primordial instinct: the pursuit of purpose- that is, of a goal, of a path to that goal, and of a will sufficient to walk that path no matter the consequences. And so when all the superficialities of society are stripped away, it becomes clear that what man truly needs and longs for is not material gain at all but rather meaning and manhood. This can hardly be argued; philosophers have known it since the beginning of history- but who reads philosophy these days?
Man's pursuit of purposeful living- what Socrates referred to as eudaemonia (εὐδαιμονία), the nobility of the spirit- can hardly be ignored. And yet we live in a world that is, to quote Nietzsche's madman, "plunging continually" into chaos and darkness:
"Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: "I seek God! I seek God!" -- As many of those who did not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. "Has he got lost?" asked one. "Did he lose his way like a child?" asked another. "Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? emigrated?" -- Thus they yelled and laughed.
The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. "Whither is God?" he cried; "I will tell you. We have killed him -- you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.
"How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us -- for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto."
Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. "I have come too early," he said, then, "my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars -- and yet they have done it themselves.
It has been related further that on the same day the madman forced his way into several churches and there struck up his requiem aeternam deo. Led out and called to account, he is said always to have replied nothing but: "What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?”" (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science)
Friedrich Nietzsche, of course, has not been the only one to fear the dangers of nihilism- of a world without meaning. In some form or other, the idea has been discussed by great minds as diverse as Émile Durkheim, Viktor Frankl, Joseph Campbell, and in more modern times, Simon Sinek. And there is good reason for fearing "the advent of nihilism:" A man without meaning is a terrifying thing indeed. When man finds himself devoid of meaning, he finds himself alone and adrift, alienated even before himself- and finally, toxic, vicious, self-denying and self-destroying (and that is to say nothing of what such a man may do to the world!).
However, recognizing that nihilism is dangerous- both personally and culturally- is only the first step; determining what can be done about it is something else entirely. The problem is complex, and seems resistant to simple solutions. It is not a problem that can be legislated away; no amount of social or political engineering has ever been or will ever be sufficient to quell the chaos at the heart of the human being. And so there is nothing to be done but for man to rediscover at last his own purpose and destiny. There are no other options.
After all, if we fail in this regard, we may truly find ourselves lost forever in "the tombs and sepulchers of God…"
04 The Poisoning of Manhood
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...
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 always, as Nietzsche noted, "some 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.
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.
05 The Rebellion of Manhood
What we are witnessing in the world today is essentially the revolt of men against a world that no longer honors or respects manhood. This is without doubt the most dangerous problem facing society today; the incarceration of mass numbers of young men is only a small part of the situation. After all, men constitute nearly half the human species (statistically, just under 50%), and if history is any indication, a small subset of those men possess the vast majority of the potential for taking up the mantle of leadership in the world today. Historically, the minority make the world, and that minority has almost always been male.
However, something has changed in the world today. For maleness is not merely genetic; it is cultural- and that culture of maleness must be learned, and can only be transmitted from man to boy. Because ultimately, we do not learn through education; we learn through emulation. In the case of boys, the object of that emulation is and must be the father, or some surrogate father figure (actual genetic kinship is at least to some degree irrelevant). And yet now the lineage of transmission between grandfather to father to son has been broken, and boys are no longer raised by their fathers but rather by their mothers, which can be seen seen in the following graphs.
This situation, which is the result a welfare system that has artificially distorted human psychology- not only in males but in females as well- is absolutely untenable. Not only has it destroyed men; it has destroyed women as well- and will destroy human society if the situation is not rectified. But how can that be accomplished, when so much damage has already been done? Fortunately, the situation is not hopeless, provided we admit and understood the root of the problem.
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:
Yahweh: Judaism, the Middle East Zeus: Paganism, Ancient Greece Jove: Paganism, the Roman Empire Jesus: Christianity, the Middle East and Europe Wotan: Paganism, various Nordic peoples Brahma, Vishnu, & Shiva; Krishna: Hinduism, India The Buddha; Manjushri, Vajrapani, & Avalokiteshvara: Buddhism, the Far East
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 is made apparent below.
“Our fathers were our models for God; If our fathers bailed on us, what does that tell us about God?”
~ Fight Club ~
The consequences of the corruption of faith in a higher power that has the authority to restrain human behavior is hardly theoretical. It is a dangerous thing to have young men raised without concern for authority; in fact, it may be the most potentially catastrophic state of affairs in all human history. Because the downstream effects of male psychology run amok have an impact on every aspect of society. And these effects are hardly pleasant...
06 Sex & Violence
Violence is nothing new, although in light of the current condition of the world, it may at first glance appear somehow more shocking; we recoil, and wonder what has gone wrong- never thinking to reflect upon the fact that violence is the default state of humanity, and anything else is a luxury. Still, it is a problem, and problems have solutions. However, virtually nobody really understands the problem of violence today- mostly because nobody who has the power to do anything about it is really interested in a solution. Shootings, after all, are both politically and financially useful, not to mention dramatic; they appeal perversely to the uncivilized barbarian in each of us, and we simply cannot turn away from the spectacle, no matter how morbid, no matter how tragic.
The media knows this, and has been admitting it for decades: “If it bleeds, it leads.”
Just look at the ratings.
And so we focus upon the most dramatic aspect of the story- the part that sells; we focus upon firearms, for instance, or we focus upon poverty. But firearms and poverty are merely a symptom of a much deeper and far more difficult problem…
In order to solve this problem, however, we must first ask ourselves why so many young, disaffected men- and they are young, disaffected men, all of them- feel so isolated, and so alienated. Because mass shootings are without a doubt a modern problem; such events were virtually unthinkable even half a century ago. So what happened? How did such horrifying violence suddenly become so damnably commonplace? What did we do to cause this trend (and we did do something)?
It did not simply magic itself into being.
The secret may be revealed in “the manifesto.” So many of these young men leave their thoughts behind after the fact. More and more often, we see them leave behind “the manifesto,” that biography of confusion and frustration. And these manifestos share a number of themes, usually centering on three points:
1. nihilism; 2. social alienation; 3. and failed romantic relationships.
However, what is most critical is the fact that “the manifesto” exists at all. Because what is a manifesto but a desire to be heard? And this, ultimately, is the problem: With each passing year, more and more young men find themselves feeling that they are not being heard, that they are not being listened to, that their problems are not being addressed- and this is resulting in a pervasive sense of nihilism, social alienation, and failed romantic relationships (we will focus on this last point, incidentally).
The question is: What changed in modern society that resulted in that feeling of not being heard, of no longer being a part of society but rather outcast and alienated- and therefore in the feeling of being justified in doing it harm? And for that answer, we must turn to the sexual revolution. Because the sexual revolution resulted in a number of changes to society that were extremely damaging to young men in particular:
First, the sexual revolution resulted in far greater sexual promiscuity, and although this may at first glance seem to be appealing, it has resulted in far fewer long-term monogamous relationships, which are emotionally stabilizing for young men. Furthermore, because of the increase in sexual promiscuity and the resulting decrease in long-term monogamous relationships, the sexual revolution has also resulted in mass numbers of boys being raised without fathers- for the first time in human history-, with no guidance and no sense of how to navigate their own masculinity.
Because the sexual revolution began to eat away at the fabric of monogamy itself, it resulted in a rapid and dramatic shift in social mores. In some sense, it resulted in a regression to an older form of society, with looser social ties and more ambiguous relationships between men and women. Even cuckoldry and polyamory have found themselves becoming popular once again. However, en vogue or not, such “arrangements” are psychosexually disastrous- both for men and for women-, but because men are by nature more violent than women, and tend to express their frustrations through physical violence more often, the consequences of psychosexual frustration in men are far more dramatic, and far more dangerous.
Historically speaking, monogamy stabilizes society. Without monogamy, rich and powerful men tend to hoard women, which results in many men being left without a partner; there is even a modern term for such men: incel (that is, involuntary celibates). This diminishment of the number of available sexual partners increases the risk of violence among men, and by a ridiculous margin. Such a situation has more often than not resulted in sky-high murder rates in non-monogamous societies (I recall reading once about a particular tribe in which 100% of the males in the tribe had murdered another male of the tribe at some point); with the institution of monogamy, however, comes peace, both personally and culturally. And so there is a very real psychological mechanism underlying the sexual frustrations of these young men who are driven to such horrific ends in order to be heard, to be noticed, to be recognized- as men, as men worthy of being heard, noticed, and recognized.
Their logic is distorted, obviously. But that is entirely the point: Our society is creating and perpetuating psychosexual distortion; this is resulting in real, physical violence on an unheard of scale- and that is a problem. Because the very structure of modern society is contradictory to our shared evolutionary programming, and thus, to psychosexual health in general. As a result, greater and greater numbers of young men are finding themselves feeling lost, confused, frustrated, and without leadership; they have no sense of belonging to society, and no sense of society belonging to them; the world, for them, is entirely alien and enemy- and until that problem is addressed, any other so-called “solution” is destined to fail.
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.
07 How Manhood Gets Right
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, "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.
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. 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 we may not remain silent, content to watch the world fall apart, like sheep, meekly awaiting the slaughter.
08 Lost Boys
Now it is paramount to take a short detour in order to discuss MGTOW more fully. This is critical because MGTOW is rapidly growing, and no longer merely a fringe phenomenon; rather, it has become indicative of a societal shift away from fatherhood and the natural family and toward...what, exactly? Nothing good: crime, violence, and suicide at the personal level; chaos, single-motherhood, and mass societal destabilization at the cultural level. Because the central problem with MGTOW is that it does not represent the rebirth of manhood, nor does it lead toward a condition that might result in the rebirth of manhood (and thus, the survival of civilization in general); rather, it represents quite the opposite- capitulation in the face of catastrophe, psycho-sexual failure decked out in the garb of culture war victory.
Men attracted to MGTOW have intuited something correctly- that something is profoundly wrong with modernism. But identifying the problem is not enough; solving the problem is the whole point of identifying the problem, after all. MGTOW absolutely does not solve the problem; it merely exacerbates it through voluntary self-isolation. And self-isolation is not sustainable, either personally or culturally.
Is the game rigged- against men and in favor of women? Of course it is. So let us un-rig the game. Because the goal ought to be to win the game, not to opt out of playing, which seems to be the central strategy of MGTOW: "If I can't win, I'll take my ball and go home."
09 The New Crusade: Resurrecting Masculinity in the Modern World
There are those who say that our modern social system is at odds with masculinity- and they are quite right on that account. But the cause of this antipathy is difficult to tease out. Some argue that it is a conscious war, that the world is out to destroy manhood, and that may very well be; feminism, pacifism, nihilism, and the rest of our modern -isms, are, after all, hardly masculine. However, there is another, more dangerous possibility: It may be that there is no conscious war at all; it may be that this apparent antipathy is entirely unconscious, a merely accidental byproduct of the continual civilization of man- that is, of the transformation of man into a civil being.
Although we must certainly be willing to admit the possibility that modernism in its liberal form is anti-masculine in orientation, with all its "Ni dieu ni maître!" ("Neither god nor master!"- the slogan of the French Revolution), we must also be willing to admit that apparently-organized movements are not necessarily conspiracies. Sometimes history moves- and mankind cannot help but to move with it. Civilization- and especially the kind of civilization associated with the digital revolution- is a powerful thing indeed; the movement of mankind towards civilization is nearly inexorable. That progress is only periodically punctuated by war, crisis, and tragedy- and then only temporarily.
Humanity's march towards tomorrow cannot be halted. It is, ultimately, rooted in our common will to power- that is, in the primordial will to command and control. Insofar as this will is concerned, we are helpless to surmount it; we can only hope to transform it into something useful. Civilization is one such example of this transformation of the will to power; technology is another. Both serve the same purpose: They are sublimations of the will to power.
All the higher-order functions of the human being are expressions of the will to power: art, music, religion, philosophy (for this argument, see the works of Friedrich Nietzsche). This does not, however, mean that they do not entail risk; every pursuit of power entails risk. Modernism in particular- and by this we mean quite generally the ever-increasing complexity of civilization via technology- implies a kind of risk that has never existed before, namely the risk of surplus, of wealth and of luxury. But how could surplus of all things be a risk?
And this is an important question indeed, yet its answer is simple- perhaps even too simple: What is best in mankind- and by this we mean specifically man, as a particular class of human being- can only be cultivated through hardship and deprivation, which is of course the very opposite of surplus, of wealth and of luxury. For just as an athlete requires ever-increasingly difficult trials in order to continue to grow bigger, faster, and stronger, mankind in general requires trials and tribulations in order to develop his greatest potential. And so mankind tends to thrive best- if by thrive we mean self-cultivate- in precisely the opposite conditions of civilization: in war, crisis, and tragedy. Consequently, civilization in its modern form tends to result in atrophy, in the slow but certain degradation of the human being.
This, one might say, is a problem.
There are those that feel this problem deeply. [Note: They do not know it; they merely feel it, as though it were a kind of tic, a kind of unceasing and yet entirely unconscious irritation with society.] However, they have no idea how to solve the problem- partially because few are even able to articulate it-, nor do they have any idea what to do with their dissatisfaction with the modernist order of things. And it is our suspicion that it is this dissatisfaction that underlies the vast majority of extremist ideologies in the world today (though perhaps not in the past, when resources were scarce and survival was the exception rather than the rule).
It may very well be that modern radicalism- that is, the desire to overthrow the order of things in spite of the fact that it produces tremendous surplus for everybody involved- is, essentially, a reaction to and subsequent desire to revolt against an environment that no longer provides the conditions necessary for men to prove themselves- not only to themselves but also to one another. For what constitutes status these days? Things that are entirely superficial: money, certainly, or perhaps fame and fortune, but never strength, never wisdom, never willpower. But there is only so much room at the top, and there are many millions of men that cannot compete in the new global economy- and perhaps do not even want to compete in it.
After all, is it not contemptuous of manhood? Does its progress not almost ensure the future destruction of the very conditions that allow men to cultivate what is best within themselves? Certainly, this is all true. But there is a solution.
Although humanity's march towards tomorrow cannot be halted, it can be altered in a number of ways: It can be rushed, constrained, directed, or sublimated. And so although we may wish to fight progress (a losing proposition), we may instead choose to direct it to our purposes (a better proposition): We may, for instance, create new forms of competition, and new systems of hierarchy- in spite of their apparent irrelevance; we may even resurrect the classical tradition of manhood.
It will be necessary for us to forge a new path. There are millions upon millions of young men in the world today that have been disaffected and disenfranchised by modernism. Their lives lack meaning and purpose; they have been raised to view their own manhood with distrust- as something "toxic," as something both poisonous and dangerous. This nonsense has undoubtedly been the consequence of a particular breed of feminism. After all, half of young men today have no idea what masculinity is- most have been raised by single mothers, and have never had a father figure to begin with-, and so how can they be held responsible for the "toxicity" of a manhood they have never known?
Ultimately, the problem with the world is not toxic masculinity but rather the fact that there is too little masculinity. Men must be afforded an environment in which they are allowed to be men- and manhood is a very different thing than womanhood, no matter what la intelligentsia would have us believe. But in our modern liberal society with its hyper-democratizing tendencies, whatever is set aside for men is immediately condemned- but that is never the case for what is set aside for women. Feminists, for instance, successfully pressured the Boy Scouts into allowing girls to enter their ranks- but shockingly enough (sarcasm intended), girls and girls alone are allowed to enter the Girl Scouts. Consequently, boys are finding fewer and fewer places in the world to be among other boys, and to develop themselves as males- and yet this is hardly the case for females, who are still afforded many opportunities strictly tailored for them as females. And this discrepancy cannot be allowed to continue, else we run the risk of losing another generation of boys- and society can hardly be expected to survive so long as half the human population has been suffocated by a theory of sexual equality that has outright condemned everything that makes it worthy of honor and respect.
This then is the new crusade: the creation of a world in which men may be men again, and in which they may be allowed to rediscover what is highest and deepest within themselves once more.