Sour Grapes

Well, I thought I had avoided this, but it’s finally starting to sink in.

It’s that time of year again; I thought I had avoided it this go around but it finally crept up on me. I generally do not like the holidays. At least out here I can rationalize the inevitable loneliness I feel this time of year (being thousands of miles removed from friends and family helps to do that), but, alas, it has not eliminated such feelings.
Being that I am not of the best mood, I may be slower to comment back, the quality of my comments may be sub par, and it may be a week or two until I write something big again.
It doesn’t help that we’ve been having a lot of these types of weeks again, either.

Disassociating with Liberalism: The Lies of Moral Relativity and Equality

The problem with my previous post was that I did not, at any point, identify clearly what it was I was going on about. This is partly my fault and partly the fault of the slippery nature of the language under discussion (and often, critique); those that generally call themselves “liberals” today employ a lot of terms in an absolutely false way.

So, let me start by defining some terms. I will provide each term with a connotative definition, which is what I feel the word means in the modern context. The denotative definition is the one most people assume the word still holds. Because of these assumed definitions, there can be massive problems in communicating ideas clearly. Just think if you were in the era when the word gay was coming to mean homosexual – every time you heard it, you assumed it meant happy, but the speaker was assuming you knew the new connotation. If the connotation was never expressly defined for you, you’d have a hard time figuring out what was going on.
Without further adieu, it’s time to dig in and redefine some terms that have been massively abused as a result of political agendas:
Liberal
  • CONNOTATIVE: I mean the group of people who most commonly identify themselves as liberals. These people tend to be very intolerant of differing viewpoints. These are the types of people who militarize PETA and bomb research centers that use animal testing. These are the type of people who shout “tolerance!” on one hand but condemn pro-lifers on the other. These are the type of people who use political correctness as a shield to insulate themselves from open critique. These are the type of people who rely on “feminism” to sound legitimate, since most people misunderstand what feminism (currently) is. They have an absolutist world-view where their way is the only right way, but shield themselves from criticism by claiming they hold a relativist viewpoint that condemns no one and accepts everyone. They are slippery, confusing, and generally blind to their own inconsistencies and hypocrisies. (I know I was!)
  • DENOTATIVE: Dictionary.com actually provides a reasonable definition. “Favoring or permitting freedom of action, esp. with respect to matters of personal belief or expression.” The problem with modern liberals is that it is pro-choice or bust. Animal rights or bust. Their way or the highway. Liberalism has lost the implicit tolerance that would be necessary to permit absolute freedom of action in regards to matters of personal belief or expression.
Moral Relativism
  • CONNOTATIVE: This phrase is mostly doublespeak jargon or a thought-terminating cliché. It is used by liberals (see actual definition above) who, under assault for their absolutist views, trudge this term out to conjure up associations that exist due to the assumed definition below. In this capacity, the term functions as a red-herring, though I don’t know if the younger generation of liberals (having been indoctrinated since birth) can really be accused of intentionally committing logical fallacies, since they mostly regurgitate what they’ve been taught.
  • DENOTATIVE: An understanding of moral theory as being particular to either individuals or cultural groups but having no basis in physical reality. This contrasts sharply with absolute moral theories, whereby our moral rules have some kind of absolute basis in reality to give them further weight. For example, strict religious interpretation of the bible tends to lead towards an absolute moral view, whereby the Ten Commandments (and other scriptures) that describe certain moral rules are the literal word of God, and obeying these moral rules will get one into Heaven and disobeying them will land you in Hell. A more relativist mindset recognizes that morals exist only “in the brain,” so to speak, and have no corresponding implications on physical reality (such as heaven or hell); such an understanding of moral systems leads to the conclusion that no one moral system is objectively any better or “more right” than another moral system.
Equality
  • CONNOTATIVE: A nebulous and vague idea that makes everyone feel better about everyone else but has no basis in reality. This phrase borders also on being doublespeak jargon or a thought-terminating cliché like moral relativism. Examples are when one makes statements like “all men are born equal” or “men and women are equal.” This serves only to ignore unpleasant differences like physical prowess or the different distribution of intelligence quotient among human beings. Ignoring these fundamental problems causes lots of misattribution when it comes to describing social disparity and injustices (it may even cause one to perceive injustice where none exists).
  • DENOTATIVE: A mathematical phrase that describes two values of the same quantity. For example, 2 x 2 (two multiplied by two) is equal to 4. Equality is something that can be proved, demonstrated and double-checked. There is no mystery in establishing equality, and only those quantities which are known to be equal are asserted as such. Saying that 3 is equal to 4 is nonsense.
To recap, the CONNOTATIVE definitions are the ones I’m examining from here on out. I reject all three terms based upon their connotative definitions (ie, those that are more accurate at describing what the terms currently mean or how they are used). I will be referring to the connotative definitions when I use the above terms unless otherwise specified.
Describing Modern Liberalism Generally
Exposed for what it truly is, liberalism seems to be little more than thinly-veiled hedonism. The over-arching common theme in a lot of modern liberal agendas is to be able to have more freedom to do whatever it is we may “want.” You want to do drugs? Legalize ’em! You want to have sex without consequences (ie, be less discriminating with your sexual partners)? Pro-choice! You want to go back on your vows and commitments? Divorce him (or, rarely, her)! You want to go back on your vows and commitments without any financial repercussion and “maintain a quality of life you’ve become accustomed to?” Alimony! And so on.
Understood this way, liberalism is just trying to philosophically justify the indulgences and whims of a child. A child rarely has a good reason for wanting something beyond his or her own immediate desire. Most people recognize that constantly indulging a child will (generally) result in a very maladjusted, problematic teenager (and usually, adult). When you refuse a child the candy he or she wants, the child will kick and scream and holler. You may provide good reasons as to why the child should not get the candy (he or she has already had enough sugar for the day; the candy does not provide any nutritional value; the chemical preservatives are harmful; you’ve already prepared a more healthy but still sweet alternative that is waiting at home; and so on) but these may not suffice in silencing the child. Furthermore, if you indulge the child because he or she kicks and screams, you merely teach him or her that hollering is a good way to get what is desired.
It seems to me that our nation has committed itself to a policy of legislation that amounts to little more than indulging the child that kick and scream the loudest – if only to shut out the cacophony of hooting and hollering for a little while. But indulging people for no good reason never satiates their desires (as you will learn with children), and they will always find something new to want. Furthermore, they’ll continue to use the strategy that rewarded them the first time. It is only by taking a firm stand, demanding good reasons as to why such a desire should be fulfilled and not indulging until those demands are met, that you can properly teach people how to behave (and reason).
Liberalism has, however, managed to isolate itself from criticism by relying upon several powerful doublespeak terms and thought-terminating clichés. Feminism and political correctness contribute to this engine of irrationality, but this post is going to drill-down on the confusing terms of “equality” and “moral relativity.” These elements of liberalism make it appealing, particularly to young people who don’t know any better – it is much easier to cope with a world you believe is “fair,” where “all people are born equal,” where everyone should be “tolerant,” and those that disagree with these ideas are “intolerant” (but uh-oh! I’m getting ahead of myself and naming thought-terminating clichés already).
Equality: The Well Intentioned Misnomer of Disastrous Proportions

It is easy to understand why the concept of equality caught on quickly and appeals to so many different people. It is notoriously hard for humans to admit defeat. We all buy into the propaganda that tells us we can be whatever we want to be, so long as we really put our hearts into it. Equality helps us buy into this world view – we’re all born “equal,” and furthermore, have “equal opportunity” to excel. This stands in contrast to a large body of literature and evidence that builds towards the conclusion that, in fact, we cannot. I’ll take an example that doesn’t even require hard proof (ie, a good study or article or something): Not everyone is of (denotative) equal intelligence.

We all know this is true. It doesn’t need to be proven – just think about the people that you know. Surely some are more intelligent than others? It is recognized that intelligence in human beings is roughly distributed (like most other human attributes and parameters) along a bell curve – with most people being of average intelligence (after all, just think about what the word “average” really means!), some people being above or below average, and a few rare exceptions being “mentally handicapped” or out-and-out geniuses.

“But that doesn’t mean people aren’t equal,” pipes up the liberal. “A person who is not very intelligent may be gifted in another area – such as having a high degree of social graces, or being physically gifted. In the end, our unique strengths and weaknesses balance out and everyone is equal.” Or, at least, that’s my highly condensed summary of the logic that most liberals would use to defend this notion of equality they cling to so dearly.

Even if we grant the liberal that, for every strength a person might have, there is a corresponding weakness (even though this may not necessarily be true – ever met someone who just seemed to be gifted at damn near everything? Physically attractive, strikingly intelligent, socially charming, a great athlete or otherwise in great shape, with a happy and healthy attitude? I’ve met one or two), how do we go about assigning values to each of these strengths and weaknesses to establish equality? An IQ of 120 adds 10 to your score, whereas being rated a 6/10 subtracts 3? Nevermind the difficulty in quantifying things like ugliness or figuring how detrimental it is to be ugly in life compared to being beautiful (without first establishing a common standard for success).

As Angry Harry alludes to, equality is a concept which is infinitely regressive. It is impossible to prove. At best, it ends up distracting us from useful distinctions and lines of inquiry. For example, if we really wanted to improve the physical capabilities of women, wouldn’t it make sense to study precisely why it is women tend to only have half the upper body strength of men, or why the average woman has only 70 to 75 percent the aerobic capability of the average man? Once we understood why, we could next work on figuring out an agreeable solution to the problem. Instead, conventional wisdom has us completely ignore the problem by changing the standards by which men and women are evaluated, creating the illusion of equality.

Don’t believe me? There are plenty of examples of the evaluative standards changing based solely upon gender out there (and I’ve linked to some in this post already), but I’ll give you one that hits a little closer to home – the United States Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test. Read and weep, my reading audience – women receive 100 points for running 3 miles in 21 minutes, while men receive 100 points for running that same 3 miles in 18 minutes. How is this “equal?” (When women argue it is “equal” because it adjusts for the fact that women are on average less capable then men, they ironically admit that equality between the sexes does not exist.) The only event that is truly equal on the test are crunches – women are evaluated by a completely different metric for upper body strength than are men! (Men must perform dead hang pull-ups in a consecutive fashion; women must merely perform a flexed arm hang. Women who hang on the bar for 70 seconds without straightening their arms or dropping off score the same in upper body fitness as males who are able to perform 20 dead hang pull ups consecutively without getting off the bar.)

The Marine Corps Combat Fitness Test at least has men and women performing all the same events, but here the standards are adjusted even more blatantly. The chart in the link outlines the bare minimums for passing the test, broken down by gender and age; here’s a link that has charts for the maximums too. (I’m too lazy to find a full chart, but if you’re really interested, I’m sure you could find one.)

The problem here is that both fitness tests are absolutely crucial to determining who gets promoted and when – women are given quicker promotions for less work in a job field (military!) that desperately needs physically tough leaders. Yaaaaaay “equality!”

Lastly, equality can be used to generate thought-terminating clichés. When you bring up reasoned arguments as to why women should not be in the military, for example, equality justifies the thought-terminating cliché that labels you a misogynist. If one were to bring up reasoned perspectives about the differences between various ethnicities, equality trudges up another cliché – only a racist would pay attention to differences between ethnicities!

Equality is best understood denotatively, and we should discuss fairness instead of equality as it is currently understood. How is it fair that women get a leg up on men when it comes to promotions in the military? How about, it isn’t? The requirements of a job do not change depending on what gender the job applicant happens to be; if you cannot meet the standard, then you cannot meet the standard! The demanding reality of physical combat won’t care or notice if you are a man or a woman, but it will notice if you are unfit. (This is entirely separate from the issue of whether women should be in the military at all – I’ll leave that pariah for another day.)

Moral Relativity: An Extended Analysis

You’ll most often hear about “moral relativity” from a liberal when you try to demonstrate how decidedly closed-minded they have been. They’ll drag out the phrase and silence all opposition by conjuring up its denotative meaning, even though it does not apply in any way, shape or form, to the liberal that trotted it out. In this way, the phrase is a thought-terminating cliché. Moral relativity is intoxicating because it is impervious to criticism – it is the ultimate “tolerate everyone” philosophy, and how can you really be critical of that? Most of what I said about the doublespeak nature of equality above applies also to liberal interpretations of moral relativity, and I don’t think it’s necessary to cover the same ground again.

So let’s take a moment, instead, to look at the actual philosophical idea of moral relativity.

Moral relativity seems to make a lot of sense as a matter of public policy. It certainly seems like it is impossible to establish one system of morality as being “better” than another system – and it certainly seems to be the case that various moral systems arise as a combination of cultural and environmental factors (that is to say, various moral systems are unique to various cultures, and it seems more likely they result from a response to those cultures than from anything else). In light of these perspectives, it seems unfair or perhaps even foolish to persecute any specific system of morality, as a matter of public policy.

Moral relativity allows the individual (be it an individual person, an individual society within a larger society – such as a Christian society within a nation – and so on) to come to their own conclusions about morality without the State having to make that decision for them, so long as that individual learns to respect the morality of other individuals. So far, so good. Everyone has the freedom to choose whatever it is they would like so long as nobody else is being harmed.

Or so we think.

See, the problem here is that morality essentially describes what is good and bad behavior. In other words, a person’s sense of morality (or lack of morality) is what is going to determine how they treat other people. Public conceptions of harm tend towards more obvious harms – such as physical assault. So long as people behave lawfully, then they are allowed to believe (and do!) whatever they would like to do.

Laws are an expression of a culture’s morality, in a way. Somewhere along the way, people decided it was “wrong” to murder other people or take their belongings – if not for religious reasons, then probably for good and practical reasons, like because it would be impossible to have a healthy society without such rules. People recognized that desire was not sufficient cause to allow people to do as they pleased (so people who wanted to kill other people to satiate their bloodlust, for example, were not found to have good reason to be allowed to murder). However, “thou shalt not kill” was not found to be a universal maxim – soldiers need to kill, law enforcement agents may need to kill, and people need to be able to defend themselves. Therefore murder (which is basically “unjustified” killing) was prohibited and a precedent for requiring good reasons to do things was established.

There is no physical law (like the law of gravity) that dictates humans should not kill each other unless they are actively employed as a soldier. In fact, if you observe nature, there are plenty of examples of wanton slaughter in the animal kingdom. Moral relativity hinges upon the fact that morality does not exist like physical laws do. I reject the idea that, merely because morality has no discernible physical law governing its tenants, we have no reason to prefer one system of morality over another.

For MRAs, I think this concept can easily be demonstrated – the loosening of restrictions on natural sexual impulses (particularly women) has led to all kinds of unintended consequences for society, and society is mostly worse off for it. Even though morality may have no basis in physical laws, I believe it is possible to measure the impacts it has on a society. The evaporation of moral practices and ideas that led us to respect and cherish marriage and the family, for instance, seems to have had a disastrous impact on the quality of all of our lives.

Attempts to be more tolerant have tragically and somewhat ironically backfired. The law is rife with language about being non-discriminatory, and it is true that alimony laws apply the same way to men as they do to women. However, these “unbiased” laws fail to account for the natural differences that exist between people of different genders (for example) and lead to their unequal application. It might be argued that the law is not yet truly relative, since it offers up rewards to one party in divorce situations (when instead it could offer up no reward, for example, eliminating a possible incentive for divorce) – but I think it would be hard to argue contrary to the interpretation that these changes to our society were pursued earnestly with the idea of moral relativity (tolerance) in mind.

Moral relativity reminds me a lot of the idea of equality. It sounds great on paper to say that, objectively, no one moral system is any better than another and we should therefore tolerate all moral systems. However, it seems that in endorsing tolerance we are also endorsing chaos – if there is no authoritative guidance on what is right or wrong behavior, our society runs a grave risk. Whoever is the most eloquent and resonates with the most people will be able to have the most adherents, regardless of the merits of their moral system.

Moral systems have a tangible impact on society. Just look at what the lack of consensus on morality has done to our society. At least when we were on the same page, we were progressing towards something. The facts of the world are thus: the world will never be fair and it is probably impossible for every person to always be happy all the time.
Why, then, do we waste so much time trying to make the world fair and make everyone happy? Why not work on more tangible goals, like increasing literacy, decreasing poverty, decreasing hunger (note that “perfect” states in each of these categories are likely impossible – 100% literacy, 0% poverty, 0% hunger – but “better” states are almost always bound to be achievable) and so forth? Utopia is impossible. Improvement is not.

Obligatory Disclaimer to Preempt Criticism and Provide Possible Clarification
I am not saying that society should dictate to you whether or not you believe in God, for instance. But I am saying that society should dictate how you treat and relate to other human beings in a way that increases tangible results – healthy growth of things like GDP, birth rates, health care, life expectancy, and so on. I think this can only really be achieved through moral education from a young age -people must be taught to not think in such a narrow and selfish/egocentric way. They must be taught to respect other people, not just listen to lip service about how we should respect everyone. The list is endless and my energy is declining after several hours of writing. Hopefully you get the point.

Preliminary Thoughts of Moral Relativity (Unclearly Stated)

I’m afraid that this post will almost necessarily be long-winded, rambling, and maybe even incoherent to some. It was difficult to write and I may one day come back to it, but for now, here’s what you get:

This is the first of what I intend to be three posts regarding my rejection of what I term “modern liberal ideals” – which I was basically born into and indoctrinated with from the public education system. To me, modern liberalism is an essentially hollow philosophy, but one which is readily accepted – unquestioningly – by a disturbingly high number of people despite being little more than thinly veiled hedonism and “feel-good” mentalities. I see it comprised of, essentially, three constituent doctrines: feminism, political correctness, and moral relativism. It is my intention to deal fully with each subject in turn, but this post will focus on moral relativism. It is the element of liberalism which I held onto the longest – sometimes without even realizing it – and probably forms the basis for the other two ideas. Being almost a purely abstract idea, however, it requires less research and evidence to refute, and thus why I will be writing on it first.

Moral relativism has a lot of appeal in the modern world, which is extremely complicated and admittedly hard to understand. It requires a lot of mental energy to consider the values, morals and ethics advocated by competing societies or cultures, and attempt to arrive at a sound and reasonable conclusion as to why a person should prefer one over the other. And especially in our youth, when we are given (and encouraged) to pursue whatever is our fancy, it is easier to digest the platitudes that relativism offers than to take a more considered stance.
Why do women in the Middle East wear veils and why should that concern us? It shouldn’t concern us, relativism answers, and furthermore, it doesn’t matter! The way Arab peoples want to run their societies is their business, and ultimately, they are no better or worse than us. Relativism might even offer some more theorizing as to why this may be the case; Arab culture evolved differently due to different starting conditions, such as a different environment and different socializing tendencies. Ultimately, “good” and “evil” are constructs of the mind that do not exist in nature, says relativism, so judging other societies by such metrics is hypocritical and short-sighted at best, and the cause of war and genocide at worst.
Fair enough, one might say. That seems to make good sense and it seems an answer that would apply in every case of differing culture and belief systems that one encounters in the modern world.
The fatal flaw of moral relativity is its tolerance of all behavior, however. A person who is trying to lead a “good” life will inevitably run into problems with relativism. If you follow the tenants of relativism to its logical conclusion, no way of life is better than any other way of life. One is, in effect, permitted to do anything. When one is permitted to do anything, how does one begin to answer the question “what should I do?” After all, we may be permitted to do anything, but that does not mean we will have the opportunity to try out everything. Many choices we make in life open doors but simultaneously close off many others. If the ultimate goal of life is to be as happy as we can be (which is an ancient idea I tend to agree with – but that’s for another discussion, perhaps), how can we be sure under a relativist understanding of the world that the path we have chosen for ourselves will guarantee us maximal happiness over the long run compared to other choices we could have made?
Additionally, the idea that every behavior is of equal value should ring out as patently false for almost any person. I do not think any sane person would tell you that an adult who chooses to rape and murder one’s way through life is of equal morality to one who chooses to neither rape nor murder. Yet relativism would logically demand that we regard the two as equal. Morals, after all, are just a human construct, and they have no bearing on physical reality, and therefore neither person is “right” or “wrong” in their behavior.
In this sense, relativism seems to be a hedonistic philosophy that could be used to justify whatever placates one’s temporary indulgences. It is the philosophy that undermines feminism, for instance, when feminists shout that women should be able to do whatever they want to do without any sort of personal accountability, simply because it is what the woman wants. (That it is ironically applied in a non-relative and narrow manner is another matter entirely.) The only real justification one needs for one’s actions in a relativist moral world is that the actor wanted to perform the action; that’s it.
Indeed, relativism seems to be a very slippery idea that can seemingly be used to justify any sort of action. Long after I’d rejected feminism and political correctness, I still held on to relativism, not quite aware of its poisonous effects on my thinking. Here is an example from a letter I wrote, justifying in part my decision to enlist (a very complicated and multi-faceted decision, as you might imagine):

[I] no longer [have] an active, seething hatred, but something different. A kind of acknowledgment that humanity is flawed, over-arrogant…The kind of attitude that leads to relativism, the idea that my life is worth no more than any other life is worth no more than any other life. That extends to everything – your viewpoint is no less convincing than my viewpoint than any other viewpoint. There is justification for anything in this world. And right and wrong are moral judgments, and morals are a strictly human construct – there is no physical law that correlates to “good” and “evil” in the universe, or to “right” and “wrong.” “Right” is what an organism must do to survive, and “wrong” are actions that doom that organism to death. And with these kinds of attitudes, I can join the military with no qualms. Send me to Iraq, give me a gun, tell me to shoot whoever, it doesn’t matter. I don’t care.

Relativism also seems to inform mainstream ideas regarding equality. Equality, from a rational and objective analysis, is a patently absurd idea that will always be impossible to achieve. Angry Harry goes to lengths to explain this under the context of male-female relationships here, but really the analysis applies to any measure of “equality.” However, relativism teaches us platitudes like “all men are born equal” or “that’s just your opinion” or any number of other thought-terminating-cliches that sound authoritative and considered. A favorite appeal of the relativist for legislating equality is by mistakenly referring to the phrase “all men are created equal” as appearing in the Constitution when it in fact appears only in the Declaration of Independence, which is not a legal document by any means. (The Constitution never ceases to impress me.) The word “equal” (to include “equally” – “equality” does not appear) appears six times in the text of the Constitution, each time referring to divisions of votes and power of the various agencies of government; never to the abilities or even rights of citizens or non-citizens, nor human beings. The next time it shows up is in the 14th Amendment, where it applies to equal protection under the law. This is a dangerous use of the word, considering again it is logically impossible to have equal enforcement/protection of the law – we can certainly strive for “more fair” or “more nearly equal,” but we will never attain legitimately equal. In any case, it says nothing of humans being equal. The final time it appears is in the 23rd Amendment where it again is rightfully used as a mere mathematical term. Equality only makes sense as a mathematical concept, not a political ideology. A statement like 2 multiplied by 2 is equal to 4 is easily understood and demonstrated. Statements like men are equal to women or all men are equal or all women are equal, aside from being literally false, only ignore useful distinctions, raise questions and create confusion. Fairness is a much more reasonable ideology to advocate, so long as it is understood that perfect fairness is the ideal we strive for even if we may never attain it.
Of course, relativism isn’t actually adhered to, even if its platitudes are often cited. Instead what we have is an engine that creates many doublespeak ideas like “equality” and thought-terminating-cliches like “you’re just saying that because you’re a racist” or “you’re just saying that because you’re a misogynist,” which congeal into ideas like political correctness and feminism, ultimately destroying rational thought and considered debate.
The sobering fact we must own up to is that the world is not fair nor will it ever be. No amount of social engineering is going to change the fact that human attributes, such as physical prowess and intelligence quotient, are distributed unequally. This does not endorse a ‘might makes right’ notion of morality, however, where intelligent people are justified in manipulating less intelligent people merely by virtue of their superior intelligence (or whatever other permutation of “might makes right” you might conceive). What people have forgotten is that morality is the ultimate equalizer. Morality does not depend on any sort of measurable capacity – you are not more or less moral for being more or less intelligent, more or less strong, and so on. Generally, morality is concerned with the responsible use and application of one’s talents and abilities – regardless of how numerous and masterful those aforementioned gifts may be. You cannot legislate morality just as much as you cannot legislate equality, but you can certainly create a society that rewards good morality and punishes bad morality to foster moral growth and encourage, overall, increased moral behavior.
It is impossible to be “more moral” in a relativist system, however. Trying to discourage people from a “might makes right” disposition in a relativist system is hypocritical, even. Logically, you must tolerate all views as morally equal. And this is not conducive to a healthy or vigorous society. Shouldn’t we strive for the best instead of tolerating everything, to include the worst?
Moral relativism is intoxicating because while adhering to it you can never be wrong. It is ludicrous because while adhering to it you can never be right.

I just read this, and it is good.

Ethics and Leadership, Part 1

Long, Rambling Preamble

Others argue that (good) morality is a chiefly male enterprise, and it is something I’ve always concerned myself with. Growing up without much of a father figure (save my brother, who had his own problems) made developing a good sense of morality and ethics trickier than it otherwise could have been. Yet even at a young age, I still tried to work out some kind of code – without the help of a religion. And before you get too critical of some of the sophistry evident in those earlier posts of mine, keep in mind I was then a sophomore in high school, with the incessant emotional abuse of my mother and heart wrenching nonsense of my first girlfriend providing constant background noise. Again – without a father figure. At best, I had video games and random internet friends to study under. What were you doing when you were 16?

If I seemed a little pre-occupied with partying back then, it was because I’d seen my brother completely ruin his life due to an indulgence in alcoholism and drug addiction (that began with innocuous partying in high-school – he’s still recovering, at age 29), and my girlfriend of the time (who I had convinced myself I loved dearly) was stringently pro-partying. You’ll notice after the break-up and prophetic-though-emotionally-tinged revelations that followed, I rarely, if ever, wrote about partying again.

The take-away point from all of the above is this: before enlisting in the Marine Corps, my personal ethics had congealed around a simple idea I’d developed with one of my best friends. Together, we determined that there was no higher purpose in life than trying to improve oneself, and the best method for improvement was total honesty. As writers, we were fans of brevity and trying to pack a big idea in a small space. Below is how we phrased our ethics:

Self improvement is the only priority; honesty is merely the best way to achieve it.

I suppose “self-improvement” is rather vague, but we took it to mean becoming stronger, smarter, inflicting less damage on the world and causing greater good, among other things. And honesty meant total honesty – critical honesty – none of this politically-correct coddling horseshit. If I found fault in myself or others, honesty demanded that such faults be addressed and corrected. Regular introspection and self-reflection were thus necessary requirements for self-improvement. Things like integrity, accountability, resolve, respect for logic and rationality, and so on, naturally folded into our conception.

But it isn’t easy ‘going-it-alone,’ if you will. Isolation seems to have a distinct effect on the mind, and I believe the mind naturally seeks to commiserate with like-minded individuals in order to cope with that isolation. Unfortunately for me, it is notoriously hard to find people above self-indulgence and consumerism in the general American populace. I used to wonder why that was, but now I know I was just looking in all the wrong places. I wanted something more, some allies in the fight against decadence and mindless consumerism. Someone else always says it best, and in this case, that someone else was me, albeit a year or two ago (from my memoirs):

American living was so completely unsatisfying to me. Why bother going to college, when all one can hope to do is make more money and buy more things? Where was the virtue in that? Our ancestors fought and died for freedom, liberty, for a noble and beautiful idea, in order to change the world forever. We fought and died for the latest electronic gadget and the prettiest estate. What was the fucking point in life?

Success in American culture was based on a disgusting infatuation with value – value defined not by intrinsic quality, but by how much money something could generate. “Good” music was not necessarily well composed, performed, or emotionally stirring – “good” music generated a lot of sales. Good writing was not necessarily perceptive, striking, or emotionally stirring – good writing generated a lot of sales. Anything “good” was something which generated a lot of sales. Even in public debate, be it the lunch table or on the internet, followed this notion – disputes over whether or not something was “good” often boiled down to how successful that particular thing was commercially.

Military service seemed like the only place I could escape this ubiquitous lust for wealth. Here were the men and women who still believed in freedom and liberty, in giving up their lives for something greater than themselves. Here were the men and women of noble character and virtue, fighting to protect those who were too weak to protect themselves. Politicians be damned. Even if you were tossed into a war you didn’t agree with, you could still fight to make sure the Marine to the left and the right of you had a chance to go home to his or her family and his or her loved ones. Selflessness – a necessary trait for anyone in the military, perhaps THE necessary trait.

This isn’t a post about the military failing to live up to my hopelessly high ideals. On the contrary, this is a post about Marine Corps ethics, which are surprisingly robust and cogent. Then again, the Marine Corps has produced stellar heroes like Major General Smedley Butler, Lieutenant General Lewis “Chesty” Puller, Sergeant Major Dan Daly, and Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone, to name a few. (MRAs and feminists alike might note the lack of female exemplars. Sorry – none come to mind, except for Opha Mae Johnson, who we remember merely for being the first female Marine.) Oh, while we’re at it, why not throw in Colonel John Ripley, Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock, and a personal favorite of mine from more recent times, Captain Nathaniel Fick (read or watch Generation Kill to understand why I admire him)? This list is by no means exhaustive, so maybe it shouldn’t be so surprising that the Marine Corps has a lot of intelligent and well-reasoned things to say about ethical behavior and leadership.

So, Marine Corps Ethics

The Marine Corps, like myself, tries to distill ethical behavior down to the absolute simplest ideas it can. The backbone of Marine Corps ethics revolves around a set of three values – called the Core Values – that are taught to every Marine during basic training. If you’ve ever known a Marine, you probably know them already – they are Honor, Courage, and Commitment. Those three words conjure the essence of the Marine Corps – the fabled “esprit de corps” – the much talked about “brotherhood” of the Marine Corps. Let’s take a closer look at the Core Values.
HONOR is the idea that Marines must possess the ultimate sense of gallantry in service to the United States of America, and embody responsibility to duty above self, including, but not limited to:

  • INTEGRITY: Demonstrating the highest standards of consistent adherence to right, legal, and ethical conduct
  • RESPONSIBILITY: Personally accepting the consequences for decisions and actions. Coaching right decisions of subordinates. A chain is only as strong as the weakest individual link, but a battalion of Marines is more like a cable. Together we are stronger than any individual strand, but one strand may hold us together in a crisis if it’s strong enough. One Marine taking responsibility for a crisis may save the day.
  • HONESTY: Telling the truth. Overt honesty in word and action and clarifying possible misunderstanding or misrepresentation caused by silence or inaction when you should speak up. Respecting other’s property and demonstrating fairness in all actions. Marines do not lie, cheat, or steal.
  • TRADITION: Demonstrating respect for the customs, courtesies, and traditions developed over many years for good reason, which produce a common Marine Corps history and identity. Respect for the heritage and traditions of others, especially those we encounter in duty around the world.

At first, one may be inclined to think that respecting tradition for tradition’s sake is a fallacy, and such a reader would be correct. Note, however, that the Corps compels obedience to traditions that have been “developed over many years for good reason.” The Corps has a keen interest in adopting and maintaining only those traditions which make sense or serve some useful purpose, generally speaking. Most Marines will be able to explain the origins of their uniforms and certain customs to you, as most are emblems of former battles or serve to honor former heroes – try asking a soldier (Army) why his uniform is the way it is or why he acts the way he does and see what sort of response you get.

So, who would be a paragon of honor? In the opinion of this Marine, Smedley Butler fits the bill. Like all of the examples I mentioned above, he could easily be a paragon of all three Core Values, but I chose him for honor for a specific reason. He certainly served his nation with gallantry, but his personal integrity, responsibility, and honesty were peerless. There is a well known example from his time as a younger officer – then Major Butler exposed himself to enemy sniper fire in order to direct the fire of his own men to the snipers’ nests. He was awarded a Medal of Honor for this action – which, tellingly, he then tried to refuse! He claimed he was merely doing his job and had done nothing spectacular to earn the award. Later, in his post military career, he would warn of the burgeoning military-industrial complex decades before Eisenhower gave it a name – demonstrating again his integrity and honesty.

COURAGE is the moral, mental and physical strength to resist opposition, face danger, endure hardship, including, but not limited to:

  • SELF-DISCIPLINE: Marines hold themselves responsible for their own actions and others responsible for their actions. Marines are committed to maintaining physical, moral, and mental health, to fitness and exercise, and to life-long learning.
  • PATRIOTISM: Devotion to and defense of one’s country. The freely chosen, informed willingness to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.
  • LOYALTY: Steady reliability to do one’s duty in service to the United States of America, the United States Marine Corps, one’s command, one’s fellow Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen, citizens, oneself and to one’s family.
  • VALOR: Boldness and determination in facing danger in battle, and the daily commitment to excellence and honesty in actions small and large.

In effect, the Marine Corps idea of Courage could be summed up as “doing the right thing,” regardless of circumstance or personal expense/danger/peril. Marines are often reminded that being a good Marine means “doing the right thing, even when no one is looking” and this is essentially a matter of having the courage to do said right things. Sometimes it takes courage to report the discrepancies of your buddies, for instance – but if everyone in the Marine Corps lacked such courage, and valued friendship over duty, discipline would quickly erode and have a precipitous effect throughout the rest of our operations! As is outlined in our General Orders, a Marine knows no friends in the line of duty.

Paragon of courage? None other than Chesty Puller, of course. My own words would do him shame, so here’s one of his many telling quotes: “They are in front of us, behind us, and we are flanked on both sides by an enemy that outnumbers us 29:1. They can’t get away from us now!” MRAs may find something to like in this quote: “Our Country won’t go on forever, if we stay soft as we are now. There won’t be any AMERICA because some foreign soldier will invade us and take our women and breed a heartier race!” But he wasn’t just bark. Take a look at some of his bite, as evidenced through one of his MANY award citations:

Fighting continuously in sub-zero weather against a vastly outnumbering hostile force, Colonel Puller drove off repeated and fanatical enemy attacks upon his Regimental defense sector and supply points. Although the area was frequently covered by grazing machine-gun fire and intense artillery and mortar fire, he coolly moved along his troops to insure their correct tactical employment, reinforced the lines as the situation demanded, and successfully defended the perimeter, keeping open the main supply routes for the movement of the Division. During the attack from Koto-ri to Hungnam, he expertly utilized his Regiment as the Division rear guard, repelling two fierce enemy assaults which severely threatened the security of the unit, and personally supervised the care and prompt evacuation of all casualties. By his unflagging determination, he served to inspire his men to heroic efforts in defense of their positions and assured the safety of much valuable equipment which would otherwise have been lost to the enemy. His skilled leadership, superb courage and valiant devotion to duty in the face of overwhelming odds reflect the highest credit upon Colonel Puller and the United States Naval Service.

COMMITMENT is the promise or pledge to complete a worthy goal by worthy means which requires identification with that goal and demonstrated actions to support that goal, including, but not limited to:

  • COMPETENCE: Maintaining, and improving one’s skill level to support the team. Commitment to growing toward a standard of excellence second to none.
  • TEAMWORK: Individual effort in support of other team members in accomplishing the team’s mission. Marines take care of their own. All worthwhile accomplishments are the result of team effort.
  • SELFLESSNESS: Marines take care of their subordinates, their families, their fellow Marines before themselves. The welfare of our country and our Corps is more important than our individual welfare.
  • CONCERN FOR PEOPLE: The Marine Corps is the custodian of this nation’s future, her young people. We exist to defend the nation, but just as importantly, we are in the business of creating honorable citizens. Everyone is of value, regardless of race, nation of origin, religion, or gender. Concern includes a commitment to improving the level of education, skill, self-esteem, and quality of life for Marines and their families. On the battlefield, a Marine is fiercest of all warriors and the most benevolent of conquerors.

Emphasis in the Marine Corps, from day one, is on the triumph of teamwork over individualism. You can’t turn shit into gold, unfortunately, and as the youth of our nation decline in moral character, the Marine Corps can only do so much to undo the 18 years of poor training that many potential enlistees “receive” as a result of poor social circumstances. Still, for those that are willing to learn, or looking for something more in life, the Marine Corps provides excellent guidance.

Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone is my paragon of commitment. After being awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Guadalcanal (where his 15-man unit was decimated to two men, who still managed to hold off 3,000 Japanese troops), he was shipped back to the States to go on a sort of public relations tour for war bonds. Generally, Medal of Honor recipients are not allowed to go back to combat, but Gunnery Sergeant Basilone was committed to the defense of the nation and the unit of Marines he had left behind on the front lines. He returned to active combat duty and gave his life in the battle of Iwo Jima, one of America’s (and the Marine Corps) bloodiest battles. (Anecdotally, my grandfather, who retired from the Marine Corps as a Lieutenant Colonel, survived Iwo Jima.)

Parting Thoughts

The bulk of this post comes from work I had done previously in preparing to teach an ethics course at my command. I pored over order after order, assembling the best and what I felt was the easiest to understand information about ethics. I relied on materials that are used to prepare company grade officers for taking command of their units, and tried to make that information as accessible to junior enlisted Marines as possible. I think it is accessible to a wider audience as well.

I think it’s pretty easy to see why Marine Corps ethics and values resonate with me – my insistence on honesty and self-improvement are part of the building blocks of ideal Marine behavior. I hope you enjoyed this crash course in Marine Corps ethics and leadership.

An Analysis of "Sexual Utopia In Power" Part 1

I’ve been reading, among many other things, Sexual Utopia in Power by F. Roger Devlin, Ph.D. and apparent regular contributor to The Occidental Quarterly. I was not previously familiar with either the author or the publication, but on the basis of this stunningly well-written (and, presumably, researched, with thirteen sources listed for approximately 27 pages of writing) article, I will have to become more intimately familiar with both. The entire article is worth commenting on; I had intended to merely pick “the best” parts but found myself copying entire paragraphs or pages in preparation for this analysis. Let me start by suggesting that perhaps the best course of action is to not read anything I am about to write, and to go read the article yourself.

Still here? Well, perhaps I can convince you to read it by quoting the parts that stuck out to me, with some of my own commentary. Devlin begins quickly and makes an important point about the basics of male-female relationships: that women, ultimately, do the choosing, while men do the competing. Women have a natural advantaged state in this regard. They do not need to “prove” their worth or suitability – the dictates of nature demand that men compete for the mating privilege of women. In the words of Devlin:

Nature has played a trick on men: production of spermatozoa occurs at a rate several orders of magnitude greater than female ovulation (about 12 million per hour vs. 400 per lifetime). This is a natural, not a moral, fact. Among the lower animals also, the male is grossly oversupplied with something for which the female has only a limited demand. This means that the female has far greater control over mating. The universal law of nature is that males display and females choose. Male peacocks spread their tales, females choose. Male rams butt horns, females choose. Among humans, boys try to impress girls—and the girls choose. Nature dictates that in the mating dance, the male must wait to be chosen.

Why does he bring up this point? Because his main aim is to then discuss “sexual utopias,” or the ideal sexual situations that could exist for men and women alike. He discusses the ideal sexual utopia for males and compares it with the ideal sexual utopia for females. He tackles males first, who “are in every respect simpler” when it comes to the matter. A male sexual utopia, Devlin argues, is much what you might imagine it to be: a harem for every man with women constantly coming to him in droves for sexual attention. Marriage, it seems at first, would get in the way of that:

Marriage, after all, seems to restrict sex rather drastically. Certain men figure that if sex were permitted both inside and outside of marriage there would be twice as much of it as formerly. They imagined there existed a large, untapped reservoir of female desire hitherto repressed by monogamy. To release it, they sought, during the early postwar period, to replace the seventh commandment with an endorsement of all sexual activity between “consenting adults.” Every man could have a harem. Sexual behavior in general, and not merely family life, was henceforward to be regarded as a private matter. Traditionalists who disagreed were said to want to “put a policeman in every bedroom.” This was the age of the Kinsey Report and the first appearance of Playboy magazine. Idle male daydreams had become a social movement.

But reform could not have been brought about without the consent of women, Devlin posits, and thus begins his analysis of the ideal sexual utopia for women. As you might imagine, it contrasts quite sharply with sexual utopia for men. He dispels the myth that women are naturally monogamous – something I don’t think needs dispelling if you’ve been paying much attention to the relationships that men and women have even in your own daily life, not to mention what you can read about in news articles and magazines and see on “reality” TV or read about on the internet.
Devlin describes female sexuality as naturally hypergamous (a term I was not previously familiar with), which can be understood with a simple analysis: “They are always satisfied with the best. By definition, only one man can be the best. These different male and female “sexual orientations” are clearly seen among the lower primates, e.g., in a baboon pack. Females compete to mate at the top, males to get to the top.” Thus, in an ideal female sexual utopia, she is able to mate with the hypothetical “perfect” man and is able to get him to commit at the same time (to commit meaning to cease mating with all other females). Just as James Bond appeals to men for being a work of fiction that relates to male sexual utopia, so does the pulp fiction romance novel appeal to women, says Devlin. But just as everyone knows it is impossible fantasy for every man to have his harem, so to is it fantasy to suppose a hypergamous utopia can exist: “The fantasy is strictly utopian, partly because no perfect man exists, but partly also because even if he did, it is logically impossible for him to be the exclusive mate of all the women who desire him.” At best, then, only one female would be able to live in the utopia. In a world of approximately 6 billion people (and approximately 3 billion women), a hypergamous ideal does not seem to be the best way to organize society for the maximum happiness of all.
Devlin draws a further distinction between monogamy and hypergamy:

Hypergamy is not monogamy in the human sense. Although there may be only one “alpha male” at the top of the pack at any given time, which one it is changes over time. In human terms, this means the female is fickle, infatuated with no more than one man at any given time, but not naturally loyal to a husband over the course of a lifetime. In bygone days, it was permitted to point out natural female inconstancy. Consult, for example, Ring Lardner’s humorous story “I Can’t Breathe”—the private journal of an eighteen year old girl who wants to marry a different young man every week. If surveyed on her preferred number of “sex partners,” she would presumably respond one; this does not mean she has any idea who it is.

It is at this point that I suspect a reader with a feminist bent might criticize myself or Devlin for being misogynists by daring to suggest that women are anything but perfect. “Women are not fickle,” they might shout, stamping their feet, “you must either just hate them or you have a small dick!” Maybe they would complain that we’re only saying what we are because we never get laid. Maybe they’d be incensed at the suggestion that there are differences between men and women that are biological as opposed to social. Perhaps only a few years ago, I would’ve had to submit to such shaming tactics and been shouted down; thankfully, I’ve found the resources that enable me to have civil debates with those who would disagree but want to carry on in a rational manner with that disagreement. We can, thankfully, ignore those that would just shout down discourse.
Moving on, then!
Devlin goes on to say that an important part of hypergamy is the rejection of most men. Obviously, not every man can be the best man – hell, not even most men can be the best men – so in a hypergamous utopia, there’d be a whole lot of rejected men. He has some choice words to describe women which, again, would incense most feminists – saying that rather than being naturally modest, they are actually naturally vain, being inclined to believe that they are deserving of only the best suitors – even if this is a logical impossibility. Devlin asserts that the feminist movement was an attempt to realize this female utopia:

The sexual revolution in America was an attempt by women to realize their own utopia, not that of men. Female utopians came forward publicly with plans a few years after Kinsey and Playboy. Helen Gurley Brown’s Sex and the Single Girl appeared in 1962, and she took over Cosmopolitan magazine three years later. Notoriously hostile to motherhood, she explicitly encouraged women to use men (including married men) for pleasure.

It is at this point that feminists might critique myself or Devlin for not knowing what feminism is all about, bellowing that it’s all about “equal rights for equal work!” I would suspect such a commentator is not at all familiar with feminism, and suggest he or she get acquainted with what feminist leaders have to say on the matter of male-female relations. And to those who would say that the extreme opinions of the few are irrelevant in the end (even in light of the last essay), I would say: not so!
Moving on, then!
I’ll skip the play-by-play and cut to the chase. There’s a lot I’d love to comment on from Devlin’s work, but hopefully at this point, I’ve convinced you to go read it yourself. I am going to offer up only the parts of the article that resonate most strongly with my own experiences and opinions before posting this.
After an in-depth analysis on the myth of date rape – exposing it for the lack of personal accountability that it is, rather than a rape in any meaningful sense of the word – Devlin goes on to say this:

I sympathize with the young woman, in view of a miseducation which might have been consciously designed to leave her unprepared for the situation she got herself into. But as to the question of whether she was raped, the answer must be a clear no.

I’ve already linked once to the essay I wrote years ago in school that attempted to debunk feminism on several fronts, one of which was the way in which “rape” has been virtually weaponized as a political tool to achieve political ends. Others have begun to notice and take action, trying to raise public awareness about the insidious effect that such deplorable tactics have had on relationships, men and women. Aside from critiquing feminists for exploding the definition of rape to be practically useless (in the words of Catherine MacKinnon: “All sex, even consensual sex between a married couple, is an act of violence perpetrated against a woman,” and therefore, one would presume, rape) which has been done elsewhere, Devlin offers up a cogent reason why we should oppose legal reform that seeks to explode the definition of rape:

To anyone who believes that a society of free and responsible persons is preferable to one based on centralized control, the reasoning of the date-rape movement is ominous. The demand that law rather than moral principle and common prudence should protect women in situations such as I have described could only be met by literally “putting a policeman in every bedroom.” However much we may sympathize with the misled young people involved (and I mean the men as well as the women), we must insist that it is no part of our responsibility to create an absolutely safe environment for them, nor to shield them from the consequences of their own behavior, nor to insure that sex will be their path to happiness. Because there are some things of greater importance than the pain they have suffered, and among these are the principle of responsibility upon which the freedom of all of us depends.

The only way to protect against rape, as feminists define it and as they attempt to legislate it, is to enter into a Orwellian world of Big Brother and totalitarianism. How else can we protect against the fluid and changing situations under which women discern whether or not they consented to a sexual act, and to absolutely guarantee that no man continue to “go” after he has been told to “stop” even if the woman worked him up into a frenzy up until the point she decided she wanted to stop? There is no way. This is why we must reject such expanded interpretations and return to a moral code that promotes personal responsibility and accountability. Devlin goes on:

It is a cliché of political philosophy that the less self-restraint citizens are able to exercise, the more they must be constrained from without…Human beings cannot do without some social norms to guide them in their personal relations. Young women cannot be expected to work out a personal system of sexual ethics in the manner of Descartes reconstructing the universe in his own mind. If you cease to prepare them for marriage, they will seek guidance wherever they can fi nd it. In the past thirty years they have found it in feminism, simply because the feminists have outshouted everyone else.

I disagree that it is simply because feminists have outshouted everyone else, and would argue it is because feminists have outmaneuvered everyone else; other than that, however, Devlin makes a fine point. And before someone goes whining about generalizations (as so often seems to be the case in discussions like these), it is implicit that Devlin means ‘most human beings cannot be expected…’ Certainly, there are some who will work out such systems of ethics on their own (I might argue I am one of them, though, only to a certain degree of ‘being on my own’) but they are far and away in the minority. And we are speaking of proper ways of organizing a society, for the maximum benefit/happiness of all.
And maybe that’s the most important point of all, and a good one to end on. Devlin does go on to talk about the benefits of marriage and what can be done to save us from our desperate situation, but the real take-home point I’d like people to consider is this. When we are afforded a system that allows us to do whatever it is that we wish (and feminism certainly seeks to allow women to do whatever it is they may wish), we end up, among other things, misbehaving like a spoiled child that is allowed to follow its impulses whenever it pleases. In the words of Devlin: “In a word, [we] learn to think and behave like spoiled children, expecting everything and willing to give nothing.” Expecting everything and being willing to give nothing is a recipe for disaster when it becomes the social norm.
On an entirely unrelated note, I would still consider myself “single and looking,” by the way. Just not looking to get (ab)used, is all.

Room for Improvement

Framing an Objective

The men’s movement has come a long way in the past 8 years, when I was first introduced to it. Back then, the only site I could find that spoke to the inequalities I was living with was NiceGuy’s, which was far from perfect. It wasn’t always objective, it alienated people because it focused on criticizing women rather than solving problems, and so on. I’m not saying this is necessarily bad – catharsis and community are great – but it’s far from the website you’d want to use as an introduction for a skeptic: someone who may be persuaded that feminism is bad, but who isn’t sure just yet.

Further, after a few years, it seemingly dropped off the face of the earth and was hard to find. (It was recently resurrected, mind you, but my point was that even if there were sites that would crop up here and there about men’s rights or critical of feminism, they were just as apt to disappear or fall into disrepair, too.)
As many have noted, feminism has made it extremely hard to get to the truth of the matter. To quote another blogger:

Being of an intellectual bent, I started investigating to see if my impressions were supported by facts.

It took a lot of digging. Feminists try to present themselves as a beleaguered minority, surrounded on every side by Neanderthals who constantly preach the inferiority of women, but try to find male chauvinist books and see if you can keep believing that. But I persevered, ordering expensive out of print books, scouring the internet, hunting through long books about neurology and history and so on to find one or two pertinent facts that had been allowed to slip through.

This is a problem that I would argue is alienating many potential allies. Many reasonable people might be thoroughly convinced, if only they could be led to the facts presented in an unbiased, impersonal and objective manner. (Free of the sort of justifiable yet off-putting indignation on display when NiceGuy greets users to his website by asking “Ever thought women suck? Then welcome!”) Being that I am of a military bent these days, let me frame the problem using some military concepts.
Before enlisting in the Marine Corps, I decided it might be wise to familiarize myself with doctrine, and being that the Iraq War was the major conflict of the time, I thought it would behoove me to read the then brand-new Counterinsurgency Field Manual, produced in a joint effort between the Army and the Marine Corps. Perhaps it is a bit extreme to describe the situation with feminists as an insurgency, but the analogy does tickle me. In either case, paragraph 1-108 in the field manual states (emphasis my own):

In almost every case, counterinsurgents face a populace containing an active minority supporting the government and an equally small militant faction opposing it. Success requires the government to be accepted as legitimate by most of that uncommitted middle, which also includes passive supporters of both sides. (See figure 1-2) Because of the ease of sowing disorder, it is usually not enough for counterinsurgents to get 51 percent of popular support; a solid majority is often essential. However, a passive populace may be all that is necessary for a well-supported insurgency to seize political power.

Let’s do a word swapping exercise. Way back in 1995, Christina Hoff Sommers wrote a book called Who Stole Feminism? and demonstrated that a (I think “militant” is a fitting adjective here) minority of feminists had stolen the mantle of the larger movement for nefarious purposes. From page 22: “Sex/gender feminism (“gender feminism” for short) is the prevailing ideology among contemporary feminist philosophers and leaders. But it lacks a grass roots constituency.” This is the “equally small militant faction” opposing the “government” mentioned above. For our purposes, replace the word “government” with something more relevant – like, say, sanity, society, or whatever.
Meanwhile, the active minority that can be found supporting sanity/society/whatever would be places like The Spearhead and NiceGuy’s MGTOW Forums, among other sites. The vast majority of people, however, exist in that large undecided middle, and that’s where the true contest is. Being that feminism has all of the current political support, it isn’t necessary for this middle to actively believe in their philosophy, so long as they aren’t actively trying to destroy/inhibit it. Passive acquiescence is all feminism needs of the majority of people at this point; the men’s movement needs something more substantial from that, and would benefit most by having a targeted effort to get that large, undecided majority to do something about feminism. And an important point to consider is the “ease of sowing disorder,” which I think is pretty self-evident. Even reasonable people can be convinced of unreasonable things. I think many of us have had the experience of coming to the light from out of the darkness that is the feminist doctrine and all of its lies. They have proven themselves to be very good at sowing disorder indeed, but this could be combated by a reliable website with easy to navigate links to all the sources, facts, and figures that prove feminism isn’t what it claims to be.
Luckily, the situation isn’t an actual insurgency. We don’t have to worry about massive undertakings like providing a stable infrastructure to the undecided middle (electricity, plumbing, access to food and security, etc) and waging a literal war with bullets and IEDs and so forth. However, in keeping with the analogy, let’s talk about “infrastructure” for a bit.
Making Progress

If we liken the progress made by the disparate elements of the men’s movement to a military assault, we’re now in the phase where we need to consolidate. As far as I can tell, we have a whole bunch of great people working towards the same ends but in their own ways and with their own direction. Collectively, it’s apparent that headway has been made, but to truly capitalize on the progress that’s been made it is necessary to regroup before pushing forward. By regrouping, we can: assess where it is that we stand relative to our opposition, take a tally of our progress and figure out what battles we’ve won, and most importantly chart a course for the future.
Another part of consolidating our effort would be to potentially bring more people into the fold. To get back to the first quote I brought up, it is currently very hard to dig for information regarding the true state of affairs with the feminist movement. To that end, I propose someone design a single website to address this issue. While the sites I’ve mentioned before may be great for communities of like-minded individuals, what we really need is a website that addresses the undecided, middle-ground skeptic I’ve been talking about in this post.
The web-site should be a concise and articulate distillation of the very best essays and posts that the men’s movement has created so far. It must be designed with a purpose in mind, the purpose being to convince skeptics that feminism is not a healthy philosophy to adopt, support or even abide through passivity. There should be a clear introduction, then pages that expound a bit on various issues the introduction brings up, and then a conclusion that directs readers to where they can get more information or start doing something about the problem.
Something kind of like this, except for the men’s movement.
If there already is a site of this sort out there, I haven’t found it. That’s kind of telling, considering I’ve been looking for one like it for a long time (to include a pretty thorough search over the past few days). Whether or not a site is out there or we need to create one, we need to promote it. Realize that the undecided middle probably isn’t going to be able to devote every waking hour (or perhaps not even a full waking hour each day!) to this cause or to researching it. That is why it is important to distill the crux of the movement down to some concise and potent analyses. Once someone’s mind has been opened that way, they can then utilize the site to more fully explore the issues that concern them.
This website would be analogous to building infrastructure in a counterinsurgency operation to win the faith of the undecided majority. It would provide them with all the resources they would need to answer questions and criticisms that would arise from shrugging off feminist doctrine. It would point them to communities of like-minded individuals with a wealth of experience dealing with the problems that could arise from shirking off such a philosophy.
What do you think? Comments are welcome and encouraged.

A New Purpose, or, Solving the Problem

Background Preamble / Getting to Know the Problem

As I stated earlier, I’ve been reading all about gender issues again. This is something that’s been on my radar for a long time. I think I first became cognizant of the true extent of misandry and downright unfairness in American society around the time my parents were divorcing in 2001. I have distinct memories of reconciling the giant biological motivators of puberty with the sobering truths (that were pretty self-evident, even in my limited experience with girls in school) offered by a man I knew only on the internet as NiceGuy. I remember, clearly, reading NiceGuy’s articles while staying in my dad’s trailer shortly after he and my mother divorced, but shortly before my dad pretty much permanently removed himself from my life by moving to California.

I followed NiceGuy as best I could over the next year or two, but eventually I succumbed to depression after having my heart wrenched around by women. Perhaps I will write about my memories of that time at some later date – I’ve been trying to unearth some kind of written record from back then (as I tend to prefer to rely on facts rather than my faulty and fragile memory) but to no avail. One thing I do remember was an intense desire – that was inevitably dashed – to escape my mother and move in with my father down in California before my freshman year. This disappointment only exacerbated my sullen mood. In any case, I lost sight of gender issues again until my junior year in high school.
Literally the day before junior year began, I was dumped by my first (and so far only) girlfriend. I detailed this as it happened to me. That summary was written only two days after the break up. I did not end up so much bitter at her or beholding of a grudge towards her as I wound up completely unable to trust women even in the most platonic of relationships. For the rest of my life up until literally about now, my feelings were mine alone, perhaps to be shared with my closest male friends who I knew understood me and were bereft of ulterior motives that would poison my trust.
My natural reaction at the time was to attempt to get back into a relationship – after all, I had been denied affection my entire life (hating to be hugged by my mother) and even if I had refused to have sex with Haley, I still found physical affection with a woman to be intoxicating. I was able to appreciate the way I had felt with Haley even if the circumstances of our breakup and the fact she had been cheating on me and lying to me had poisoned those memories somewhat. I was young and willing to try again. But I was not stupid and I was not willing to be hurt again. In my new search, I began to pay a lot more attention to the attitudes of my potential romantic partners.
I came from an extremely liberal area of the country – in one of the larger townships north of Seattle. Therefore, I was completely inundated in a culture that told me I was to blame for all of society’s ills, as a white male. And no group was quicker to regard me as a villain than females (I did not fail to note the irony of white females taking absolutely no responsibility for the guilt society tried to shove on me for our decidedly shared ancestry, instead being perfectly content to aid in the pushing). It seems my subconscious memories of NiceGuy’s wisdom began to surface and I started questioning all it was I had been taught.
I had always been fed up with school, also, feeling like I had been doing all of my “real” learning on the internet, talking to people who were sometimes twice my age. School I felt was a means to an end – a guarantor of some nebulous future concept of success that I had to tolerate if I wanted to “get anywhere” – but I became increasingly disillusioned with the entire education system. This all came to a head when I was told I had to do a “protest” project for my AP Language class. I was incensed at the idea that I had to protest something – I didn’t care enough to be angry and whiny like all those vapid idiots that protested trivial bullshit that didn’t matter all day long in our streets! I was initially inclined to protest the project itself, but I decided for a more devious option.
I decided to protest feminism.
I was able to convince a male classmate to tackle this monumental beast with me. Teachers who respected me advised me against it, called it crazy. I took the project very seriously. I bought two or three full length books and read them cover to cover, highlighting the juicy parts. I wrote Jack Kammer and even got an autographed copy of his book with words of encouragement. I tried to have civil debates with females in the library and what have you, and felt vindicated every time I was shouted down by their senseless and shrill accusations I was a rapist bigot. (Rapist? I’ve barely hugged women, thank you.)
I crafted my essay and showed off my video project – my partner was sick and wasn’t there to do the presentation with me. The video was a satirical look at men struggling to deal with the realities of going to a feminist college that was completely unfulfilling to them. It resonated with many of the males in the class, who asked if I had been taking years of video editing classes. (Nah. Just had a clear vision and went with it.) I received an A on the essay and a B on the presentation from a very liberal male instructor (at least men can be reasoned with!) but I don’t think I changed the mind of a single female in the class.
My research for the project left me extremely disillusioned with education as an institution. I did not want to believe the facts that I had unearthed, but everything I had experienced in life corroborated them. I was able to find a college that seemed untainted by this increasingly frustrating and frightening agenda and was even accepted, without having to finish my high school diploma (a rare honor that was probably secured due in part to very strong letter of recommendation from Mr. Michel, one of the best teachers and mentors I’ve ever had).
The catch? In order to qualify for financial aid for this institution, I had to get both of my parents to file paperwork they were completely disinterested in filing. Neither of them were cooperative. I think my mom finally acquiesced but the college never did receive the paperwork from my father, who was in California and impossible to get a hold of. And I was told that even if I legally emancipated myself from my parents, the law mandated that their incomes still be factored into any assessment for financial aid I might have.
I had previously tried to be reasonable with my mother and offer her a compromise where I would stay in Bellingham and try to mend our broken relationship if she allowed me to move out of the house. Rather than be reasonable, she accused me of (among other things) constantly playing the victim and completely incapable of taking care of myself. I would never, ever again try to reason with her. When my hopes to go to St. John’s College had been dashed, I quickly turned to a friend, Nathan, for help. Nathan had always been a very good friend to me. (He is 9 years my senior and has a family of his own, and in some ways, I feel as though I am a part of his extended family. I initially met him in Bellingham, but in short order he moved back to the place of his birth – Utah.) He understood why I felt the need to get out of my house and said he would allow me to stay with him for a time in Utah until I could get a job and apartment of my own.
So, at the age of 17, I packed everything I owned (purchased with money I had earned working part-time since I was 15) into two or three boxes and drove with Nate to Utah to start what I hoped would be a new and more fulfilling life, free of the toxic influence of my mother.
Glossing over many interesting details, Utah did not solve any of my problems. I assumed the problem must exist with me, that I was somehow flawed. I needed to do something drastic to improve myself, I thought, and so I (for many, many complicated and complex reasons I will treat another time) decided to enlist in the Marine Corps.
About this time last year, I went on leave after graduating the final phase of my year long training process before going to my first duty station in Japan. I saw my brother for the first time in five years. My brother had been my idol and only parent growing up, and watching him spiral downwards into alcoholism affected me in untold ways. He had finally met a woman he was going to settle down with, and apparently kicked his habit, and he even had a child! My leave was to be a joyous reunion and the celebration of a new nephew named after me.
Instead, I got embroiled in a bitter and brewing custody battle. I spent my nights writing forum posts (let me know if that link works – somehow my IP address has been banned from that forum!) and emailing Dr. Warren Farrell to see if he would serve as an expert witness in the event of litigation my brother might have to get into. Much to my surprise, Dr. Farrell responded within 24 hours of my emailing him, and was more than willing to help if it came to it. I was planning on spending the entirety of my $15,000 enlistment bonus to help my brother if need be. This was my nephew, and I wasn’t going to see him mistreated. Even at this time, it seemed like men’s advocacy groups were in a minority on the net.
The situation never required litigation, thankfully, and my brother has maintained custody of my nephew. The situation was stressful but fulfilling. It felt good to help my brother. I felt like maybe it was the time to reconcile with my mother, that maybe the whole family could heal by uniting behind my brother and supporting our nephew. I decided to go visit my mother at home.
I was disappointed to learn that my mother did not trust my brother and was still angry with him over disappointments from the past. What’s more, she completely denied and decried all of my memories of growing up in her home as ridiculous (even though I corroborated and attempted to temper them with written records like journals, emails and forum posts I’d made during the time, and conversation with my brother).
Mine has been a life characterized by isolation, an infinitely repeating loop of trauma, trying to forget that trauma and once it was forgotten trying to remember it once again. My memory is awful, likely as a subconscious coping strategy to block out pain that would render me immobile for days. In Utah, I remember reading a book that rendered me paralytic for a whole day because of how it resonated with my tremendous and inexpressible pain.
I did some other things on leave that I’ll also have to write about later, but which resulted in me feeling like I was ready to try and enter the uncertain world of male-female relations once again. I had isolated myself for a long time (my entire enlistment thus far) from women and from thoughts of gender bias. I had thought that perhaps I was wrong and that previously I had just been buying into a crazy and bigoted world view.
I joined a dating website with the hopes of finding a woman to connect with. Over the past twelve months, I have had conversations with over 300 women from that website that have only served to completely corroborate the facts asserted by men’s rights advocates. Recently, I rediscovered NiceGuy’s page, and very recently, I decided to start exploring the forums, which led to me finding all sorts of links to a burgeoning men’s movement that seems to have cropped up almost overnight.
I spent the past few days reading all these various websites almost religiously, finding catharsis in knowing that I am not alone and that I am not crazy, at the very least. All of these sites and blogs and forums and statistics are excellent at articulating The Problem. I am assuming you already know what I am talking about – if you don’t, get acquainted. This is as good a starting point as any, with a well written posts and a billion links to explore for some more of the same. But, I need more than just catharsis and camaraderie. I need a…
Solution
There doesn’t seem to be too much written about solutions to The Problem. Granted, I have not fully groked the “men going their own way” movement, but it seems at best an embrace of being single. This does not seem like it will fix our society or civilization. Another common solution, and the one NiceGuy adopted all the way back in 2002, is to leave America altogether for greener pastures. While I cannot blame him for going somewhere where he will be more appreciated, if all of our best leave, who is going to pick up the mess? How many innocents will suffer because all of the best people have left to get what they understandably deserve?
No, I can’t just up and abandon America. And I don’t want to advocate a life of eternal single hood and possible celibacy – I don’t think that’s an advocacy that can catch on. America was founded on principles I agree with and I do not want to think it is completely beyond salvaging. I am not so optimistic or naive to hope that I will be able to fix everything that is wrong with America in my lifetime, or to enjoy the fruits of my labor, for instance. But that is not why I choose to stay.
America, and indeed, all civilization, was built on the backs of many quiet sacrifices. Every generation sacrifices for the next so that things will be better. If we all pursue only our own happiness, then our species would surely go extinct. So, it seems as though it is necessary for some capable people to answer a veritable call to arms, even if it means they stand to personally gain little in the process. We need realistic and practical alternatives to abandoning women or abandoning nation.
What can be done? I propose that we need to develop and adopt a new philosophical outlook towards life and towards relating to others that is more mindful of the interconnectedness of all people, or at least certainly of all people in a given community. It should be easy to articulate, easy to understand, and demonstrable by easily observed examples. I will devote some energy to thinking about and distilling such a philosophy.
But philosophy alone won’t fix this. There will also need to be some kind of activism. Some of us, to include I believe myself, are so damaged by what has happened that we are quite literally unable to trust women. Even women who may be our allies in this fight. That being said, I think it is best for those of us who are so damaged to not talk to women about these things, if we can help it. Our bitterness and resentment will likely seep through and poison our purpose, turning allies against us before they even get the chance to fight with us. We should instead focus our intentions on the still young generation of boys who are still salvageable. If we are able to rescue them, perhaps their successes will provide us with a measure of happiness and resolution and we will then be able to ease our way back into reasonable conversation with the other gender. If not, as I said, we should find satisfaction in our sacrifice to instruct and save the next generation of males from the perils and unnecessary trauma we went through. Were it not for such quiet and sometimes ultimate sacrifices occurring throughout all of human history, we wouldn’t be here anyway.
The idea is that we need to find a purpose that doesn’t just provide us with a reason for living, but also a reason for dying if necessary. A purpose that, regardless of whatever else we may achieve in life, the pursuit of will be good enough for us even if we do not reap the benefits of its attainment. Necessarily, this is hard decision to make, and I do not expect many will be able to make it. But I will do my best to do this. It is not so different from my duty as a United States Marine. In the words of Kierkegaard: “The thing is to find…the idea for which I can live and die.” I think this is one such idea.