The Way of Men has been reviewed a few more times, and I’ve added the reviewers to the blogroll here.
As was noted in Prax Americana’s review, the majority of the reviews of the book so far have been almost 100% positive. These two bloggers each added some criticisms. I’m not worried about what lefty academics or feminists say about the book, because they’ll read the book with a fundamentally different conception of “what is best in life” than my target audience. I’m far more interested in what guys who liked the book had issues with. In the feedback I’ve received lately, there have been some common themes. I’ll address a few points.
TWOM isn’t “academic” enough
I actually pulled a lot of sources and related arguments out to achieve the overall effect that everyone seems to like about the book. Add a bunch of qualifications, and you end up with an overflow of verbage that is too guarded, says less, and says it weakly. The book wasn’t written for academics, it was written for average guys. Over the years I’ve come to see different levels of discourse. Mark Dyal, for instance, writes on one level of discourse, and I write on another, though often we say very similar things. To bring a message across to “the people,” you need to address different audiences in different ways. I address the audience I’d be most comfortable having a beer with. I’m a popular writer.
Definition of Manliness Isn’t Inclusive Enough
The Way of Men tried to answer two questions: 1) What is manliness/masculinity? 2) How does manliness/masculinity fit into the modern world?
I think I got question# 1 dead on. The way that we sense “manliness” in other men isn’t necessarily about how valuable any given man could, somehow be to a gang or civilization over time. It’s about basic survival instincts and immediate physical reality. That’s the masculinity that is most exclusive to men and most consistent across cultures and across human history. Are there other valuable roles for men within a gang — even roles that men are often better at than women, linked to predominantly male traits (engineering aptitude, for instance)? Of course.
The project of The Way of Men was to universalize a definition of what we perceive as manliness in other men.
I’m probably more of a priest/shaman type myself, and that’s often a male dominated role, and it has value in every culture, and value to almost every gang of men once you get past the SHTF stage. But, being honest with myself, I can’t say that priests/shamans, or even the guys who invent the weapons, are at the top of the manliness pyramid. I tried to resist the temptation to remake masculinity in my own image to attempt to leverage its high social value, which is what I see most authors who write about it do — consciously or unconsciously. Inventors want manliness to be about invention, and philosophers want manliness to be about philosophers, activists want masculinity to be about social leadership, and so on.
Why Do We Have to Start The World? Why Tear Everything Down And Lose So Much “Progress”?
This has to do with Question 2, and my failure to be uplifting about our prospects for reviving the tactical virtues within the context of our “advanced” bourgeois, globalist, technologically advanced society.
My response is simple:
How are YOU going to do it?
No one has an answer to that, beyond “well, I think there must be some way…”
How are you going to remake, say, The United States, in its current form, into a civilization that encourages rather than discourages, manliness in men? Through political change?
I’m not trying to be snarky here. I really just don’t see another viable solution. How are you going to redesign the US in a way that obviously conflicts with the interests of both elites and women?
Why Should We Be So Concerned With The Emotional Needs of Men?
Why shouldn’t we?
Everything we do is catering to someone’s emotional needs. Right now, we are redesigning the world to suit the emotional needs of women, gays, nerds and conniving businessmen.
Nerds want to invent things because that’s what makes them happy. We don’t need AI, for instance, and it sounds like a terrible fucking Pandora’s Box-slash-science fiction horror movie, but nerds want to nerd out on it and businessmen think money could be made, so both groups do what they do and invent some bullshit narrative to make themselves feel morally superior for doing exactly what they want to do. They sell it to us as “inevitable progress” and equate “new” with “good.” Personally, I’d see them all hanged by the neck until dead for “species treason” — I’ve read so many posts from science guys wistfully fantasizing about the end of the human race, like that’s the best thing that could ever happen. By comparison, I find the whole violent breakdown of society fairly reasonable and humane.
Society is always designed around our idea of what is best in life. That’s an emotional thing.
Isn’t There Something Better Between A) The Bonobo Masturbation Society and B) Violent Gang Life?
Yeah, I think there is. I think there’s a sweet spot. Veblen called it “High Barbarian.” Sparta, Early Rome, pre-Edo Japan.
To get there we need B) and eventually we always seem to end up with some version of A).
Maybe there is some futurist sweet spot. Maybe we become Klingons. Hard and strong, with technology. But we can’t get there from here.
I’m not saying Violent Gang Anarchy will be fun and swell. I’m not that naive. I don’t expect to become a swaggering warlord. I don’t really even expect to survive. I’m not really that bad at civilized life, and it’s all I’ve ever known. But the current global Zeitgeist will — must — pathologize masculinity and slander, possibly even erase, the history of masculine virtue to prop up its new egalitarian, technophilic mythologies.
Thanks for reading and thinking about the book. I will probably develop some responses to your thoughts and questions and criticisms into an essay or so for the next book. Writing is a thinking process.