Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Are men the cosmic enemy?

There are enemies, and then there are cosmic enemies. What is the difference?

Let me explain it this way. There are liberals who believe that humanity can be decisively liberated, so that the "new man" who is free and equal can triumph and thereby achieve the proper end of history (i.e. of human progress).

But what is stopping this decisive victory of the new man? Why can't we move forward and be liberated?

Some political moderns (usually radicals of various kinds) answer: there is an enemy group, an oppressor group, which is frustrating the arrival of the new free and equal man.

This oppressor group comes to be seen not just as a normal political rival or opponent, but as a powerful "cosmic enemy" whose existence prevents the realisation of our true humanity.

The hand of the cosmic enemy is detected in all the problems we suffer, to the point that the normal rules of morality are put aside and it is thought desirable to abolish the very existence of this enemy.

But who exactly has filled the role of this cosmic enemy? If we go back to the time of the French Revolution, the aristocracy were seen to be the enemies of "liberty, equality, fraternity" and a considerable violence was meted out to them in order to abolish the ancien regime.

So this represents, perhaps, the first development of the idea of a "cosmic enemy".

At the time of the Russian Revolution, it was the bourgeoisie who were thought to be the natural enemies of a workers' state, again with violent measures attached.

However, the fullest development of the idea came with Hitler, who identified the Jews as the cosmic enemy, and who violently sought their annihilation.

And since then? There still exist whites who see the Jews as a cosmic enemy. But it is more mainstream now for gentile whites themselves to be seen this way.

The most obvious example is the politics of Noel Ignatiev, a Harvard professor, who publishes a journal with the motto "Treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity". Ignatiev has written that "The goal of abolishing the white race is on its face so desirable that some may find it hard to believe that it could incur any oppostion".

Finally, there is also a current within feminism which views men as a cosmic enemy. Consider the following quote from Higginbottom and Roy in Feminist Action 1 (1984):

Men's minds are not true ... We must learn about men and their archetypes in order to put them back in their place - they are an aberration and out of control ... Men won't exist for much longer.

Here we have feminists yearning for the very abolition of men. The Sydney Morning Herald published another feminist piece earlier this year, by American columnist Maureen Dowd, which also breezily contemplated the extinction of men.

Dowd quotes a male researcher, Dr Bryan Sykes, who has perfected the "men as cosmic enemy" line. According to Dowd,

He fantasises about "a world without men", a version of the mythological "cult of Diana" hunter-gatherer societies where women were in charge and men were just there for entertainment, where there would be "no Y chromosomes to enslave the feminine, the destructive spiral of greed and ambition diminishes and, as a direct result, the sickness of our planet eases. The world no longer reverberates to the sound of men's clashing antlers and the grim repercussions of private and public warfare."

It is this kind of thinking which is the most dangerous kind of "hate speech", because it is not merely a criticism of an opposing group, but a totalising world view in which the enemy is responsible for a failure to achieve the promised land, so that the abolition of the enemy, even by violent means, is eagerly anticipated.

But note that this notion of a cosmic enemy stems from a "progressive" politics. It rests on the idea that the arrival of a "new man" is imminent, but is frustrated by the cosmic enemy.

It is difficult for conservatives to understand this mentality. For us, the human condition does not allow an "end point" to history. There will always be a struggle to achieve what we think is ideal in society, not just because of the challenge of outsiders ("enemies"), but even more so because of the inevitable frailties existing within our own natures.

(Hat tip: this post, including the term "cosmic enemy", was suggested by comments made by the American traditionalist, Lawrence Auster, at his website View from the Right, as well as ideas expressed at the same site by the commentator Matt.)


  1. Great post Mark. One way in which the liberal concept of the cosmic enemy or untermensch may have evolved is in how far liberalism wants to go in exterminating him. So for example it used to be good enough to have the goal of exterminating the Jew; now it isn't just men or the white race as such that need to be exterminated but the very concept of men and the white race. It isn't enough to identify the oppressor-untermensch and insist on his physical destruction: now not just his physical existence but the very concept of him must be expunged from reality.

  2. HI there
    I went through a sort of pro feminist phase thaen I was a snag but eventually I realised that the problem with Femisist analysis is that it ignores the different biological imperitives of both sexes and it wants men to be nothing more than ersatzs women.a good post by the way and I have put your blog into my favorites for future reference.

  3. Iain, thanks. It must have been a weight off your shoulders when you finally accepted those biological imperatives.

    Matt, thanks for visiting and commenting. One thing I miss about the comments at VFR were the discussions between Lawrence Auster, Jim Kalb and yourself.

    I always thought your analysis of the "oppressor untermensch" had merit, and my subsequent reading has confirmed for me that it's an important thread in modernist politics.

    Just one example: the politics of Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple (who subsequently suicided in Guyana).

    They believed that white men were the "spoilers" in achieving an earthly utopia of freedom and equality.

    They even had what they called "white nights" in which they pretended they were under attack by whites, as a radical test of loyalty.

    More on this here.

    And yes it's noteworthy that the response to the "cosmic enemy" now is not only his physical destruction but even the deletion of his existence as a valid concept.