The American Conservative ran two pieces this week concerning the nature of the gang and its relationship to masculinity. The first, by William S. Lind, deals with the collapse of states in the Middle East after the so-called “Arab Spring” that enamored so many starry-eyed Americans. Here’s the money quote:
One of the characteristics shared by most disintegrating states is a vast surplus of young men who have no access to jobs, money, or women. Gangs are a magnet for them. We see this in American contexts as well: in public schools, in ethnic neighborhoods, and in our prisons, most of which are controlled not by wardens but by racially defined gangs.
Young men are also drawn to fighting, which, conveniently, is something gangs do. Much of what we see in states struggling for their lives such as Syria is supply-side war. Fighting spreads not because of some “cause” like democracy but because idle young men see a fight and join in. Why not? They have nothing to do, nothing to lose, and thanks to their new gang and AK-47, lots to take: money, women, and fame.
Gangs are really sub-cultures — and what they represent is the early, stubborn, even primitive foundation for new societies to come.
Vlahos also indulges my daydreams of collapse…
…if our world system entered into a devolution, a subsidence of the present exalted state we call globalization, then these marginal communities, some armed and violent, some infused with righteousness, others just looking to survive as themselves, would become a feature of a de-compressing, de-globalizing world.
START THE WORLD.
What’s particularly interesting to me is that both seem to accept the idea that men whose interests are not served — who have no other means to assert themselves — will work to undermine a larger state and form a proto-state in the form of a gang. It seems pretty obvious to me, too, but these kinds of basic assumptions about men are almost completely taboo on the left unless softened with motherly reassurances about the causes for this being rooted in “outmoded” models of masculinity.
The Way of Men is The Way of The Gang.
Read more about men, gangs and civilization in The Way of Men.