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A commenter writes:

“The next fifty years may be years of despair or enlightenment. We will have to wait and see.”

And WallStreetPlayboys tweeted:

“We can either fix it. Or watch it crumble. The USA still has the most innovative products so the brainpower is there. Just no collusion yet.”

I think both of these speak to the heart of the problem.  We have a visceral reaction to what we perceive as the mismanagement of an entire society, perhaps even extending to a global scale.

Take an issue such as feminism.  While its modern basis was a natural outgrowth of Enlightenment values, it has developed over the past 200 years into an increasingly anti-egalitarian, misandrist farce.  Whether this is a feature or a bug, remains to be seen.  It should be noted, ideologies can moderate and are not monolithic.  There are man-hating feminists, career-focused feminists, equal-rights feminists, choice-feminists, (there are also women who are not feminists).  However, there are realities to feminism’s continued prominence:

  1. Voting.  This chart speaks clearly enough. (click to enlarge)Male and Female Voters
  2. Consumer spending.  While there is an oft-reported “fact” that women control 80% of consumer spending, the truth remains in doubt.  This WSJ piece, however, still points out that anecdotally, there still may be some truth to the primacy of women in a consumer driven economy.  HBR also points out that this holds true globally.
  3. Lifespan development.  George Friedman makes the point in The Next Hundred Years, that while the primary task of a woman’s life prior to 1900 was child rearing (due to infant mortality rates, death in child birth, necessity of large families for agriculture), since the advent of industrialization, child rearing is merely a single task among many which a woman will pursue over her lifetime.  To paraphrase his analysis: “prior to 1900, from 15 to 45 a woman would be raising children, if she survived, she may spend the last 15 years of her life helping to raise her grandchildren.  Now, due to education, better healthcare, etc, a woman will spend between 5-10 years raising her children (2-3) between their birth and entry into the education system.  She will then reenter the workforce (if she ever left it), and work or be retired until 80.  Compared, what was once a woman’s primary task (2/3 or more of her adult life), is now at most 15% of her adult life (10 years / 80 – 15 adult lifespan).”
  4. Education.  More women than men are getting degrees.  Also, at least according to this article, more women than men read.  And I think reading is a key factor in changing your life. As Malcolm X says in his Autobiography:

 “I have often reflected upon the new vistas that reading opened to me. I knew right there in prison that reading had changed forever the course of my life. As I see it today, the ability to read awoke inside me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive. I certainly wasn’t seeking any degree, the way a college confers a status symbol upon its students.”

So, with apologies to James Brown, this isn’t exactly a man’s world, anymore.  And while this post wasn’t primarily intended to be a screed against feminism (I think I’ve given it a fair shake), the larger point is that even in this one issue, the tide has turned against traditionalists, and probably for the long term.  There are dozens more issues where progressives have won the day, or where traditionalists have ceded the field.

Which brings us back to the question, What is to be Done?

In my mind, there are probably three main courses of action: fight, flight, or adaptation.

  1. Fight.  This is probably the least successful, but most common reaction.  I think that the entire basis of Conservatism is the “fight response”, in which political means are used to overturn the existing paradigm.  However, it’s not working and likely won’t work.  The reason is simple: culture is in the driver’s seat, not politics.  To rephrase, the cart is sitting squarely in front of the horse.  One only needs to read the previous information to see that while Conservatism may have short-term victories through legislative change, the overall cultural shift has already been made.  And therefore, political action can only be used as a rear-guard to allow for strategic retreat and regrouping of cultural forces.  Even then, cultural change in a progressive direction is already baked-in to the very post-Reformation/Enlightenment values that go unquestioned by the vast majority of Conservatives.
  2. Flight.  Some may choose to call this the chickenshit response.  Ultimately, it is a losing proposition as well.  While individuals or even groups may withdraw from society in order to preserve their traditions, eventually the realities of the world come crashing in.  One needs only to look at the fate of Rome’s Patricians who withdrew as the barbarians encroached.  Similarly, today, a man seeking to find a more traditional woman may choose to venture to another country to raise a family.  Others choose to flee from their value system itself, while not fully accepting the culture’s values.  They may find themselves becoming nihilists or hedonists, seeking to only take care of themselves and their needs.  Or some groups seek to isolate themselves in cultural enclaves.  The Amish, Mormon, and White Nationalist responses to the problem will be able to operate successfully as long as the outside culture tolerates them.  Once tolerance fades, they will be forced to rapidly choose between fighting, succumbing, or adapting; (and they may not have the resources available to fight or adapt).

Adaptation

I think that ultimately this is the wisest decision a man can make.  But, it comes with a price: one must give up the urge to fight, to “retake society” (at least in the short and even medium terms); one must also give up the urge to flee, to “abandon the bastards to their fate”, because ultimately in a globalized world, there is (or will be) nowhere to run.  Therefore, we’ve got to adapt.  This does not mean that one gives up their values and joins the herd.  No.  This means engagement with society, realizing that though we can’t change the culture rapidly, we may be able to slowly temper its worse excesses and (most importantly) to be able to live lives we can be proud of.

 Lastly, the example of early Christians ought to be illuminating.  In the very beginning they were a tiny sect of a minority religion in an unimportant province of the Roman Empire.  Within a few years, they had acquired a Roman citizen (no small feat) in the personage of Paul who then spread the religion throughout the Empire.  Now large enough to suffer persecution, their numbers continued to grow.  By 313, Constantine I had issued the Edict of Milan, legalizing Christian worship.  From the reign of Nero to the reign of Constantine I is a mere 245 years.  This is not much longer than the period separating us from the Declaration of Independence.

Here’s how I see adaptation working out, on a personal level:

  1. Understanding (pt 1).  First a man must figure out what he stands for.  For some this will be harder than others.  Those who are religious may be able to look to a long-standing tradition; those who aren’t will have to develop a set of values.
  2. Understanding (pt 2).  After (or while) figuring out what values he holds, we’ve got to figure out what society believes, where those values come from, and how much those values conflict with our own.
  3. Growth.  Once a baseline set of values are established, we’ve got to work on ourselves.  This isn’t some call to “Man Up” by those who would seek to use you.  This is a call to re/make yourself into the best possible you that you can be.  The primary areas here are Ben Franklin’s “healthy, wealthy, and wise”.
  4. Conversion.  This step is the giving back stage.  It’s not “fighting” the culture, it’s subverting it.  By spreading the ideas you’ve discovered, communicating your values, and ultimately helping other men grow as men, you’ll neither be fleeing or fixing society, but as Jack Donovan says, you’ll be “starting the world”.

So, there is hope, there is despair, there will be darkness and there will be Enlightenment.  How we react is a matter of personal choice. I know what I’m doing, do you?

Reading through a book like The Republic has given me perspective.  There are no unchanging political beliefs.  I think each one of us goes through a development, as age, experience and wisdom take hold.  Here is an overview of my own development:

  • Raised in a moderately evangelical Presbyterian household, my family held mostly what could be called GOP-favoring beliefs.  They were (and still are) largely Reaganites.  During my teen years, I started attending a much more evangelical church where most of the believers were first-generation or recent converts.  Even in high school, as I became more familiar with official church doctrine, I could see that there was a disparity between the official political structure and the beliefs held by the majority of the congregation.  In my high-school’s debating squad, I was a party-line right-winger.
  • Around 17, this all began to change.  It was during that year that a major shake-up struck my church, with the founding pastor being found in adultery.  Within the year, a new pastor (with a gambling addiction) would enter and leave.  The board also removed the youth pastor for supposed financial indiscretions and several unconfirmed reports from an “anonymous” youth.  The youth pastor was truly a man of God, but a bit immature, to be perfectly honest.  TPing is a crime, donchaknow?  After this shake up, a truly idiotic woman with no formal pastoral experience was appointed to lead the youth group.  Her level of idiocy?  The image of the fat hausfrau bible-thumper shown by the media is too kind.  Even at 17, I knew I was smarter than her, had more knowledge of the inner workings of Presbyterian polity/doctrine/etc.  But she liked games!  Needless to say, I left formal religion in disgust, though the event was the mere first blow of a gradual withering.
  • By the end of the year, 9/11 had happened, and I became fully a neo-con.  This period would last through around 2006.  What else can be said?  I cheered on the invasion of Iraq, I watched closely as each new leg of the global war was broadcast on Fox News.  But something bothered me.  You see, the reason I mentioned my religious upbringing, is because due to that experience, I had been conditioned to distrust authority.
  • In the midst of my neo-con days, I read the works of Ayn Rand.  For many, this is a life-changing event.  For me, it was as if a set of shackles were slowly loosened.  No, I didn’t become an objectivist.  But, I did become someone for whom the statement, “Who is John Galt?” and the idea of stopping the motor of the world had great appeal.  It continues to do so.
  • By 2006, I saw that the GOP was largely made up of quislings.  While they were trying (so it seemed) to honestly fight wars overseas and ensure domestic tranquility at home, I had misgivings about the fact that in 6 years of near-total control (the most that the GOP has had in a half century, at least), they instead moved the progressive agenda forward.  By 2008, I was nearly a Paulista, but I was also starting to see that the electoral process was incredibly damaged.  Before the ’08 election, I remember listening to various talk-radio commentators.  One used the terms “RuPaul” and “McClane” often about those GOP candidates he didn’t like.  And yet, after Huckabee handed the election into McCain’s camp, his tone changed.  It was at this point that I can remember telling a co-worker who was strongly in favor of the GOP, “It won’t matter: socialism slow, or socialism fast; pick your poison”
  • On November 4th, the shouts of “Obaaaama, Obaaaama” from neighbors confirmed my distaste.  At this point, all hope of electoral change, collapsed.  Since then, I’ve been wandering in the desert, trying to find a political compass.

So, where does this leave me?  Well, there are only a few main branches of political thought open to me (in which I piss everybody off):

  1. The Mainstream Left.  This probably deserves a post of its own.  But, my distaste with the left is their overall ideology of embracing weakness over strength, while practicing ‘speaking power to truth’.  Their equalitarianism IS Nietzsche’s slave-morality.  In operation, they behave as pragmatists, while constantly (if in punctuated equilibrium, when opposition briefly blunts the ratchet) moving their ideology forward.
  2. The Mainstream Right.   They’re leaderless.  Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin… polemicists.  This is not a bad thing.  Every party needs vocal talking-heads who say what needs to be said.  But, a political party also needs organization men who speak as well.  And though several Senators and Congressmen fill this role, there is no Executive who fills this role.  The last to do so was George W., both as Governor and President.  Furthermore, the Party of No has acted like the party of “no means yes; yes means anal”.  This itself, demands a blog post.  But, I think most righties understand this drift.
  3. Libertarians, Paulistas, Tea Partiers, etc.  This is what has become of the populist right.  One attraction that the mainstream right had versus this group is that the neo-conservatives, (whether one agrees with their agenda or not), have had a sense of national greatness and national purpose.  From the 1980s through the GWoT, the neo-cons built America up as a “global force for good.”  The “hippies of the right”, to borrow a phrase from Ayn Rand, seem to have no such sense.  Instead they see an American government which has overstepped its bounds, which instead of being the force that defeated communism, is instead a blowback machine.  I don’t completely disagree with them.  However, my main point of contention with them is this: they are solely focused on politics as economics, and man as an economic being.  Nationalism or common identity, as a political force, seems to be lost with this group.  In fact, I fear that they are just as beholden to egalitarian ideology as those they oppose.
  4. Radicals:
  • Marxist, Socialist, Leftist.  There are surprisingly few Maoist or Leninist radicals out there.  Though there are a few notable intellectuals, (Zizek for one), the party strength of this group is mostly diverted into the Social Democratic parties of the West.  And while I don’t agree with their goals, nor do I find their past methods to be particularly worthy of praise (read Zizek’s In Defense of Lost Causes), I can find a certain respect for them.  These are not the banal bureaucrats of even Stalinist terror, much less the lazy incompetence of Brezhnev; no, the “revolutionary” impulse clarifies ideological struggles.  When Robespierre was terrorizing Paris, there were no conservatives or liberals… merely monarchists and Jacobins.
  • The Alt-Right.  For an American, this is where the detritus of other political beliefs fall.  I would say that this is where I fall.  Basically, if you’ve been kicked out of The National Review, you’re probably writing for TakiMag.  If you’ve left the left, you’re there too.  Jim Goad and Pat Buchanan in one place.  It’s the island of misfit toys.  But what makes the Alt-Right so exciting, is that one can “get in on the ground floor” of a new Enlightenment, so to speak.  I’ve gravitated towards them, since falling away from mainstream conservatism.  Yet, who knows where my ideological seeking will lead me?

*Now, some may argue that I did not include fascists as a separate category above, but I think that by-and-large, the impulse of populist fascism has been subsumed into one of the other major groups.  20th Century fascism was a unique response to a very different set of conditions.  Where fascism gained traction, there was by-and-large, a recent historical shift away from the Ancien Regime, a period of communist threat, followed by a tinpot populist or worse.