For generations now, psycho-social policy has been deviating further and further from the classical tradition- that is, from a traditional mode of living, both personally and culturally- and the results have been catastrophic: Religion has disintegrated; the nuclear family has been shattered; fatherhood is now very nearly held in virtual contempt, while fathers have essentially vanished; predictably, their sons are becoming men without ever learning the meaning of manhood; predictably, their daughters are becoming women without ever learning what it is to be loved by a man, leading to an endless cycle of toxic relationships; rates of drug addiction has been rapidly rising; violent behavior has become the norm among disaffected young men, and the misunderstanding of the causes leading to this has resulted in the mass incarceration of entire demographics; and finally, to top it all off, social media has effectively destroyed our ability to connect with one another organically, which is the only way we were ever meant to build relationships. Now we wonder how it all happened while doubling down on the very same theories that created the problem. With every step forward, we fall three steps back, and that is no coincidence: We have re-structured our world in contradiction to our design. So by misunderstanding human nature, we doom ourselves to misdiagnosing the source of our sickness, and to mistaking its cause for the cure.
The new world has failed us. It has always failed us; it will always fail us. And in fact, it must always fail, for all its basic presuppositions are incorrect: Human beings are meaning-seeking creatures, and designed to integrate that sense of meaning into their various social systems. To do otherwise is to detach the human being from his cultural context. But that is the old way of doing things; that is the classical tradition, with all its focus on non-material pursuits: virtue, love, and sacrifice.
That, in a word, is Virilis.
We live in a wildly dysfunctional world. The great problem for all of us today is that so much of modernism is diametrically opposed to all the conditions that are nourishing to our shared humanity, and the situation is especially bad for men:
Truth has been condemned;
Masculinity has largely been condemned, and all the traditionally masculine virtues co-opted;
Competitiveness has been condemned, so that every competitor gets a trophy whether he deserves one or not;
Family has been condemned, and young girls have been told that they have no need for a man;
Fatherhood has been condemned, and young boys have been told that there is no honor in family;
Meat itself has been condemned- not to mention typically masculine diets- in favor of estrogen-inducing vegan diets;
Tribalism has been condemned, and we are told to "love everybody" (whatever the Hell that means);
Responsibility itself and the duty to bear a burden of some sort has been condemned, and we are all told instead that we deserve everything merely by virtue of the fact that we exist, which reduces self-agency by reducing self-esteem and self-empowerment.
Because of all all this and more, the natural programming for the flourishing of the human being is very often thwarted before it even has the opportunity to begin. By rendering the individual unhealthy, we render society- which is nothing but an organization of individuals- equally unhealthy, and perhaps more so. After all, the classical tradition really hinges on a singular realization, namely that it is meaning that brings fulfillment, and that the discovery of that meaning requires both happiness and suffering- a kind of manliness in the face of adversity. In other words, in order for each of us to find fulfillment, we must be willing to submit ourselves to hardship, trial and tribulation, and so forth. Ultimately, it is this realization of the need for meaning and the stoical recognition of the necessity for self-mastery that characterizes the classical tradition. Simply stated, "Life is hard, but hardness brings strength, and strength brings fulfillment."
However, by making life easier- by favoring equality of outcome over equality of opportunity, for instance, or by favoring abstract notions of inclusion over practical considerations for merit-based exclusivity- we paradoxically make individuals less capable of tolerating difficulty. By raising children safely ensconced in an overly idealistic utopia, we distort their development, and thus render them weaker, and more fragile. The consequences are predictable: When they become adults, reality hits them hard- and they shatter. Or they become neurotically obsessed with socially engineering the world in order to create the very utopia that they have been indoctrinated to believe ought to exist.
To return to the point, however...
How do we resurrect a worldview that the world itself seems dead-set on destroying? By dedicating ourselves to its principles, and perhaps a bit fanatically. These principles can be distilled into six pillars, which are common throughout human civilization, and each of which tends to proceed naturally from the need for self-mastery in service to something greater: truth, mission, righteousness, self, path, & community. We must:
Find a mission;
Demand rightful behavior of ourselves;
Seek out our true self;
Seek out our true path;
And finally, discover how we can do all of this in service to those we count as our own.
This is the classical tradition, the very tradition that has inspired men throughout history to rise above their passions and to strive towards something better and more noble. Moreover, it is this striving- an essentially heroic endeavor in and of itself- to which we owe all of civilization, and indeed all the accomplishments of the human species itself. Without it, we descend into the very nihilism that Friedrich Nietzsche forewarned us all against; we find ourselves suffering from Viktor Frankl's lack of meaning and purpose. And then what is the point of even living?
Fortunately, all is not lost.
We can always begin again, but in order to begin again, we must first go back...
The Classical Tradition
The classical tradition is the underlying philosophical worldview common to all high cultures, both European and Oriental. This tradition is rooted in the human condition, and in our shared human psychology: Its teachings have provided the most certain path to individual fulfillment for thousands of years. Long ago, this tradition was passed down from generation to generation- from grandfather to father to son- but has now been largely forgotten, and to our great loss. Because by abandoning tradition, we have abandoned the very soil in which we were designed to flourish, and so now men, women, and children have been alienated from the very conditions that make the flourishing of our shared humanity possible.
This tradition requires, at the very least, the following:
The pursuit of truth;
The veneration of the natural family;
Respect for sex-differentiated behavioral patterns;
A call to live with virtue, love, and sacrifice;
A faith in the value of the natural order of things;
Some method for contextualizing loss;
The spiritualization of the human condition in religious terms.
All of these qualities and conditions are universal across human cultures. Though cultures may show variation insofar as how each of these aspects plays out, they all possess them in some degree or other. For instance:
Truth in its abstract may be called the Logos by the Greeks, or Jehovah by the Jews, or the Dharma by Hindus and Buddhists, or the Tao by Taoists, but every civilization pursues truth in some fashion, and structures society around that truth;
The natural family may be either large or small, but the most fundamental biological unit of every human society is universally father, mother, and child;
Sex-differentiated behavioral patterns may vary widely, and yet there has never been a society created in which men are not the primary leaders, or in which men do not constitute the vast majority of hunters and soldiers, or in which men are not the primary laborers in work that entails danger, death, and destruction;
Hierarchy has been expressed in many ways, and yet every society exhibits hierarchy, if only through respect for elders;
Competition has likewise been expressed in many ways, and yet men always struggle for dominance among one another;
No culture can exist without some set of moral codes for human behavior, though the specific character of the various conceptions of morality may vary widely;
No culture can exist without some faith in the value of the natural order of things, though the specific character of the various conceptions of the natural order of things may vary widely;
The contextualization of loss- usually via religion- is universal necessary in order to ensure psychological health and wellbeing in the face of mortality, and its disintegration is universally detrimental to psychological health and wellbeing;
And finally, religion itself, or rather the spiritualization of the human condition in religious terms, is so universal that we might- and correctly- define the human being as a fundamentally religious species- that is, it is religion itself that characterizes the human being most distinctly from every other species of living creature.
This system of development has been handed down through the generations organically from father to son, or from master to disciple. Because the classical tradition- much like manhood itself- cannot be educated; it must be emulated. And so when the fundamental structures of human civilization behind to erode- through the "death of God," through social welfare programs that de-incentivize the establishment of the natural family, through the rise of rates of single-motherhood, through the father's abandonment of his own children, through the mother's lack of judgment concerning the selection of a trustworthy partner, through mass incarceration and the subsequent vicious cycle of family destruction-, when all these fundamentals are cast away, the opportunity for emulation is annihilated. When this happens, the line of tradition is severed, and the axis around which all of human society spins is left unmoored.
The great sociologist Émile Durkheim once remarked in Suicide: A Study in Sociology that, "To free (man) from all social pressure is to abandon him to himself." And this is quite correct, for although we are so designed as to live as individuals, we are not so designed as to live in individuality. In other words, we as individuals require a cultural context, and that cultural context must be in accord with our shared human condition. When we divorce ourselves from those conditions that are designed to flourish in, we doom ourselves and our children and our culture at large to psychological dysfunction.
"The old way is the only way."
Virilis ~ Joshua van Asakinda ~
Joshua van Asakinda +1-330-314-4170 Joshua.van.Asakinda@gmail.com