March 2022

Selected articles and essays, including Nina Power and Chad Pecknold on the patriarchy; Ethan Strauss on Gen-Z athletes' mental health paradox; and Paul Kingsnorth on the culture of inversion. Plus, links to four essays on Russia, Ukraine, and the global order.

Why We Need the Patriarchy

Nina Power in Compact Magazine argues that the societal ills so often pinned on "the patriarchy" are, in fact, the result of a weakened patriarchy, which has been supplanted by a culture of that asks too little of its infantilized men by dissolving the boundaries between men and women.

Despite claims to the contrary, we do not live in a patriarchy. A patriarchy would require men taking responsibility for their families and for society at large. Instead, we live in an infantilized culture in which men and women are more like brother and sister, contending against each other in a condition of perverse equality.
Complaints about patriarchal men are ironic, because they take aim not at the effects of patriarchy, but at those of its absence. The frat boy, the porn-addled young man who acts caddishly and frivolously, isn’t a father figure, but literally a “brother.” The more women act like brothers, the more uncanny our social and sexual relations become.
Men are no longer encouraged to be protective of themselves, of women or children, or of their communities. When masculinist writers suggest that men should take responsibility, they are dismissed by liberal critics as “right-wing” or worse. These attacks should be ignored if we are ever to fully reconfigure a form of life that permits the celebration of the beauty of sexual difference, and the roles of fathers and mothers. We celebrate an image of freedom that may be the logical consequence of revolutionary ideas of equality, but in doing so, we have left millions of people without meaning and positive social values.

By dismantling patriarchy, we have lost some things of value: the protective father, the responsible man, the paternalistic attitude that exhibits care and compassion, rather than simply placing constraints on freedom. This has resulted in a horizontal, competitive society that suits consumer capitalism very well, one in which there is no power outside the market and state. Those who oppose injustice should think twice before denouncing patriarchy.

See also Chad Pecknold in The Postliberal Order on Power's essay, in his post entitled In Defense of Fathers. He writes:

As someone immersed in the very real world dimensions of the sacrifices this will require of men, I can also attest that it’s infinitely better for us if we embrace the essential fatherhood of a man than the pathetic bro-regime that exists as a parody of right order.

Why Western men gave up on war

Mary Harrington in UnHerd meditates on masculinity in culture within the context of nuclear-era war and the increasingly "mechanised and mediated life" within which today's wars are being fought – and asks what sort of masculinity may yet emerge from such a condition.

Hemingway began his life in the shadow of Tennyson’s Light Brigade, and finished it in the shadow of Hiroshima. Over the same period, the raw, elemental struggles between man and man, or man and nature, so characteristic of Hemingway’s work, grew more attenuated. His literary career was both as a “masculine” writer, but also as an elegy for a world where the conventionally masculine virtues of courage, risk-taking, stoicism and heroism were easily celebrated and widely accepted as culturally essential.

Since his time, the world has retreated steadily from conflict, toward mechanised and then mediated life; a process culminating in the radical safetyism and dematerialised common life of Covid lockdowns, and the online-first social life the pandemic ushered in. And now that we have virtualised social life to the point where any physical violence is foreclosed, even most arguments about masculinity now inevitably take place in the feminine key.

Young men, already restive, are growing mutinous under this regime. The lurid and angry literature emerging captures these men’s ambivalence: sickened by, but also usually still implicated in, the banality and perceived effeminacy of a modern world denuded of both danger and opportunity. We can only speculate on what may happen if (or when) such men leave behind the neutered disaffection off the internet, and start searching en masse for danger and heroism beyond the screen.

Pity the Zoomer Athlete

Ethan Strauss in House of Strauss observes the deteriorating mental health of young athletes and the hyper-sensitive attitude of the media environment, asking whether or not all the therapeutic coddling is good for anyone.

The therapeutic language has been going strong in these spaces, and, to quote one television psychologist, “How’s that working for us?” The Zoomer athletes appear no more happy for the large-scale sensitivity to their pain. We, the media, might just be enablers of unhealthy behavior, most especially when we’re trying to promote “mental health” through celebrity avatars. We eat up nearly every celebration of their narcissism, and encourage solipsism like it’s the path to enlightenment. So we get what we incentivize: Athletes who talk a lot about their sadness in between LARPing as righteous revolutionaries.

And yet I still feel horribly for the athletes, but most of all their non-celebrity generational brethren. They’ve all come of age in a narcissism trap, using devices that were designed to be highly addictive, powerful contraptions that stoke obsessive inward focus. At least old-school television was about other people. The IG scroll is about you, either explicitly or implicitly.

For most people, the self is a road to hell. No man is an island, of course, which is why Facebook sold a world that’s more connected, even while likely adding to its atomization. Connection, true connection, isn’t simply the ability to communicate. It’s about something else.

Saturn's Children

Paul Kingsnorth in The Abbey of Misrule continues his analysis of Western liberalist ideology as a "culture of inversion," obsessed with destroying "rooted" cultural inheritances and those (often of the lower classes) who depend them.

The globalised, post-national elites, complete with their adversary intellectuals, are the creation of this culture. Technologically interconnected, urban, consumerist, mindlessly memetic, at home in any world city but homeless in their own provinces, they are transnational capital’s handmaidens, despite their performative rebellion against it. They feast on the remnants of their own past whilst condemning those in the lower orders who continue to ‘cling’ to any aspect of it. Children of the liberal age, they demonstrate the truth found in the claim of the Marxist critic John Berger, that ‘liberalism is always for the alternative ruling class: never for the exploited class.’
Those entrusted with guarding and extending the heritage of their nations and peoples - the publishers, librarians, museum curators, artists, writers, academics, intellectuals - have given up believing in either nations or peoples. Whether their sad, lingering sense of shame is genuine or performative, it has the same effect: the dissolution of the supporting architecture of the culture. We are Saturn’s children, being eaten by our own mad guardians, and we do not know where to run.
Globalised, top-down and universalist, waging war against all limits, borders and traditions, the West’s new ideology is a perfect fit with the needs of capital. This is why it is promoted, funded and disseminated by universities, NGOs, think tanks and transnational corporations. This is why you will hear the same language being parroted around the world, as American, British, French or Irish elites talk about ‘whiteness’ and ‘decolonisation’ and ‘diversity’ in identical vocabulary transmitted to them through their identical corporate smartphones.

But real diversity is the last thing this new dispensation will tolerate. Instead, like all colonising systems in all times and places, it is committed to destroying it wherever it is found. The rising system of universal values and universal control cannot tolerate genuine cultural diversity anymore than its elites can tolerate dissent from reactionaries, anarchists or anyone in between. All must be homogenised, from streetscapes to language to opinions. Everything must go: nations, local economies, local communities, attachment to the past, dreams of a human future. All the Olds must burn so that something new can be born: something we can all feel rising around us, even as we bicker or squabble or turn our faces away, hoping we will be rescued from what is surely approaching.

This is part two of his Culture of Inversion series. The first essay is called Kill All The Heroes, in which he describes the "culture of inversion" thusly:

The methods that Western colonial administrators had used to demolish and replace other cultures - rewriting their histories, replacing their languages, challenging their cultural norms, banning or demonising their religions, dismantling their elder system and undermining their cultural traditions - were now being used against us. Only we had not been invaded by hostile outside forces: this time, the hostile forces were within.

Bonus essays on Russia, Ukraine, and the global order

Russia, America, and the Danger of Political Gnosticism
What Eric Voegelin can teach us about today’s international crisis
Will Western Sanctions Accelerate Russian Realignment? | City Journal
As the Russian economy falters, it may have to look east.
Ukraine and the End of Dreams
How many more delusions are still to be burned away?
The Multipolar World Dies in Ukraine
With war underway in Ukraine, Russia and Europe are once again divided. Their ultimate dependency on China and the U.S. sounds the death knell for a multipolar world.