Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Camille Paglia & the masculine virtues

Camille Paglia is a long way from being a traditionalist. She's a lesbian feminist academic who I have criticised before for her vitalist nihilism (see here and here). Even so, she is an independent thinker who makes some good criticisms of liberal modernity.

In her latest interview, Paglia has again criticised the liberal idea that sex distinctions are an oppressive construct that should be abolished. Even as a young academic she couldn't go along with the denial of biological distinctions between men and women:
Then there was the time she "barely got through the dinner" with a group of women's studies professors at Bennington College, where she had her first teaching job, who insisted that there is no hormonal difference between men and women. "I left before dessert."

She believes that a denial of sex distinctions has led to a denaturing of men and women and a culture which "doesn't allow women to be womanly" and which leaves men with "no models of manhood."

I've covered that ground before at this site. What's a little different is that Camille Paglia then goes on to connect the "neutralization of maleness" with civilisational decline. According to Paglia, "What you're seeing is how a civilization commits suicide."

She believes it would be better if more political leaders went through the military:
She starts by pointing to the diminished status of military service. "The entire elite class now, in finance, in politics and so on, none of them have military service—hardly anyone, there are a few. But there is no prestige attached to it anymore. That is a recipe for disaster," she says.

For reasons I'll explain shortly, I believe her instincts are on the right track here. But she herself doesn't give a very convincing explanation for her position. She says of the current crop of politicians:
"These people don't think in military ways, so there's this illusion out there that people are basically nice, people are basically kind, if we're just nice and benevolent to everyone they'll be nice too. They literally don't have any sense of evil or criminality."

I don't think that's the real issue at stake. Let me say, first, that as long as the state ideology is liberalism it doesn't really matter what calibre of leader you get. A better leader will put their talents to the wrong ends.

However, I do think it's true that modern society tends to produce leaders who are stuck at the material level. They tend to be technocrats: "economic men" who are oriented most strongly to material outcomes like GDP and who see the nation state as a vehicle to assert power and influence internationally or to reshape domestic society along highly reductive ideological lines. These leaders want to establish an administrative state that, for the sake of rational and equal function, prefers to deal with people as abstracted, interchangeable, individual units.

So, even if we manage to successfully challenge liberalism as the state ideology, we are still left with the task of producing leaders with a better mindset than this. We need an elite class which is raised to get above a crudely material level of thought (and above reductive ideology).

The question is how you achieve this. One way is to allow boys and young men to belong to fraternities of various kinds, as this tends to bring out virtues such as loyalty, courage, honour and self-discipline, and also a positive sense of history and tradition.

The military is one institution that has some of the features of a fraternity (though in Western countries the military is just now being feminised) - which is why I think Camille Paglia's instincts are at least partly right.

Schools can also act as fraternities, though only under certain conditions. If a boys school has a long history, fine buildings and grounds, a strong sporting tradition, a mostly male (and masculine) staff and an ability to enforce rules of discipline, then you are likely to have the beginnings of a fraternal culture amongst the boys.

Sports teams can act as fraternities; so can adventure activity organisations like the scouts; so can cadets; so can service organisations; so can rescue organisations such as surf lifesavers. Even all male occupations and workplaces can have some of the same effect.

It's little wonder that a sense of masculine virtue has declined, given that most of the traditional fraternities have now been feminised. Even the boy scouts had to give up the "boy" part of its existence.

I'm not suggesting that fraternities are sufficient to produce a higher quality elite. I do believe, though, that they are part of achieving this aim - of getting men to think beyond a bean counting materialism or individualistic hedonism. That was once part of the reason for their existence - the cultivation of character and masculine virtue - within the Western tradition.


  1. What do you mean by "reductive ideology"?

    1. I mean an ideology which reduces reality to a single principle and which then logically unfolds from this single principle. With liberalism, for instance, the principle might be that the aim of life is equal freedom, with freedom understood to mean maximum individual autonomy. This one principle then trumps all other possible goods. It seems to be a habit of intellectuals in particular to want to discover one clear principle that can act to organise life and society; this happens not only in terms of politics, but also religion - some Christians tend to reduce Christian theology to one single thing (e.g. if we love each other indiscriminately nothing else matters).

  2. Any collective of males not supervised by a woman will always plot against women. Male only collectives are not to be permitted.

    1. Gwallan,

      You're right that this is the prevailing attitude. The assumption amongst the political class is that men have organised together to enforce an unearned privilege at the expense of women. Therefore, male organisations are suspect - they are thought to be supremacist. Hence the boy scouts isn't allowed to exist as a boys organisation but the girl guides is thought OK.

      Within our own communities we need to replace this mindset with one of fidelity between men and women. Women would not see men as being against them, and so would encourage boys to grow up to be men of strong character.

      As for the liberal state, there are always ways to get around things. You could, for instance, have a school organised into several colleges. You could then employ a roughly equal number of men and women, but have more of the men teaching at one college and the women teaching at another.

      Where there's a will there's a way.

  3. I see lots of similarities between her and Bettina Arndt. Both seem to have realised that he revolution did not turn out as planned.

  4. Here's an interesting article... written by a scumbag

  5. "These people don't think in military ways, so there's this illusion out there that people are basically nice, people are basically kind, if we're just nice and benevolent to everyone they'll be nice too. They literally don't have any sense of evil or criminality."

    Politically correct enforcers, shaking with "vomiting, head-exploding rage" at conservative women who dare to say they are women, at whites who are not ashamed to identify as whites, at sexist Christians who disapprove of what the Bible disapprove of and so on, who ban people and punish people and defame people and lobby to get them fired and lobby to get them ostracized - have "no sense of evil or criminality"?

    That's ridiculous. Of course they see evil and criminality.

    They don't think us white people are basically nice and kind and benevolent. They identify us as the enemy.

    So they defame our traditional cultures. And they identify with anyone who attacks us and displaces us, as non-white immigrants do, according to the principle 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend".

    If non-whites flood into all white countries and only white countries and blend us out, eliminating the white race and only the white race, that's good. If Muslims attack traditional whites religiously, that's good. If feminists attack our family life, that's good.

    And if all these things are inconsistent with each other and will lead to conflict, that's all right, it's just collateral damage.

    Anti-whites, and other politically correct groups who all line up with anti-whites, do not lack hostility, anger, hate, the concept of enemies and wicked people, or a militant attitude.

    1. Titus, good point. There are some on the left who see us (white males) not just as the enemy but as a "cosmic enemy" holding the world back from universal equality, justice and freedom. That's one reason why there is so little concern for our demise

  6. Yes.

    White politically correct political gays, in particular, seem to have a "berserker" attitude, eager to destroy the "enemy" without protecting anything of their own for the long run.

    But the Viking berserkers had a religiously serious Valhalla to look forward to. The politically correct just have a cynically invented and propagandistically maintained fantasy of universal happiness when the "cosmic enemy" has been eliminated.

    Of course, it didn't work that way in Haiti, it doesn't work that way in Zimbabwe, and it's not working that way in South Africa. But the politically correct don't care.

    They just keep singing "...peace has come to Zimbabwe..." and pulling for victory in more white countries. (And they are very persuasive because they own the entertainment industry and all the top talent.)

    Reality is of no interest to them; they keep pushing the fantasy to motivate their troops and to make themselves feel good. Truth is what serves the revolution!

    It's a Communist attitude. (Which should be no surprise because political correctness is basically Communism 2.0.) The story was that once the kulaks and capitalists were eliminated universal prosperity would break out. Of course what broke out was poverty and mass starvation, as in the Holodomor in the Ukraine, but who cared about that? Not the New York Times, that's for sure.

    Where Muslims have settled in numbers sufficient to control the justice system and attack Christians with impunity, it's unsafe to preach the Gospels. The politically correct don't care about that.

    Mass non-white immigration into Great Britain has introduced slavery - literal, brutal slavery - and socially organized child rape. The politically correct don't care about that either, because it's non-white Muslims doing it and white girls being victimized.

    Where the back or "racism" has been broken, as in Detroit and in a growing list of American cities, whites are not safe or welcome any more. It's a standing joke that if you are white and you go to those places you can expect to be assaulted by blacks. The politically correct don't care about that.

    This is all brutal; it's just not perceived as such because the politically correct mass media refuses to report it as such.

    In none of this do I see the problems Camile Paglia sees, of an overly innocent, fluffy and pacifistic left, unable to grasp the concept of an "enemy".

  7. What you are witnessing is the typical thought process of a leftist day in and day out. Basically "The bugs.. I mean people are not doing what we want them to do. We must obtain physical power (military) to force them to accept our ideology".
    This is the reason why they are dangerous. They are describing an intention to abuse authoritarian power. Not just come to authority but abuse it. This is the thing that scares all right minded people even former left-liberals about the left-liberals.

    As for the left-liberals having a "berserk" state where they pursue people without regard for personal safety. I don't see it. I agree that they pursue agendas in a disgustingly relentless and fanatical way. It's always cowardly and Machiavellian though.

    This is what I think Camile Paglia is trying to articulate. Their movement has reached a critical mass of ineffectual, effeminate backstabbers they cannot push forward any of their goals in a decisive way.

    On their perception of evil and criminality. What they say about their despised groups and what they think are two different things. They regard these groups with contempt and a surety that if they keep attacking them the weaknesses of these groups will be their undoing.
    What the left-liberals do say is evil and criminal is a strange concept to most normal people.
    Its roots are from classic socialist thinking. That the honest man who does his job does not complain is a "criminal". A criminal because he gets by while others do not and more importantly does not need the help of any socialist movement.
    This is the bread and butter of socialist movements class warfare this is all it ever is. The pursuit of eternal revolution because this is how they make their living. If you want a cosmic enemy to all people it would be them. What is more evil than a group who will forever incite conflict between people?

  8. Anti-white, politically correct whites are in a berserk mode because the policies they support are white genocide and they are white. That's their own posterity they are destroying. They don't care.

    When groups attack other groups to take stuff for themselves, that's aggressive, it may be evil, but it makes sense. Group A sees that group B has lots of cattle, lots of land or just a pile of gold, so group A attacks group B to get the goodies; it's nasty, but it adds up.

    Attacking group A with cultural pollution, mass immigration, forced integration and privileges for non-group-As living among group A so that group A ceases to exist as an identifiable group and is eliminated as a genotype and a culture never comes into question, because that wouldn't make sense. But that's what politically correct whites are doing.

    They're committing genocide against their own race, and they don't care, because they are about destroying the cosmic enemy: evil, straight white Christian males. After which there will be paradise on Earth. (Like in Haiti and Zimbabwe.)

    But not for them, because they'll be gone, but they don't care about that.

    How is this all supposed to add up, when destroying traditional sexual norms leads only to broken or nonexistent families, collectivizing the means of production leads only to starvation and squalor, and genociding the white race leads only to societies like Haiti that go down and don't ever come back up? Anti-white, politically correct whites don't know and they don't ask.

    On some level they are aware that what they are doing is irrational, and that's a defense they use. People who are viciously anti-white will answer if you call them on it: "how could I be anti-white when I am white?" In other words, you can't accuse me of what I am clearly doing, because that would be crazy.

    In the movie Serenity, the Operative explains:

    Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: Why? Do you even know why they sent you?
    The Operative: It's not my place to ask. I believe in something greater than myself. A better world. A world without sin.
    Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: So me and mine gotta lay down and die... so you can live in your better world?
    The Operative: I'm not going to live there. There's no place for me there... any more than there is for you. Malcolm... I'm a monster.What I do is evil. I have no illusions about it, but it must be done.

    All important sin is identified with the cosmic enemy. When the cosmic enemy is destroyed, there will be a better world. That this is collective self-genocide, Peoples Temple-style does not matter; it must be done.

    That's berserk.