For the past few months I have been reading what is embarrassingly called the “Manosphere” (would one for women be called the “Womanosphere”?). I understand what the Manosphere is about – it is an understandable, inevitable, and in many ways necessary reaction to 40 plus years of the evils of leftist/lesbian “feminism.”
Feminism would be irrelevant – indeed just another nutty left-wing ideology – except for the fact it has been enshrined in law by the State. And the State, as is its nature, meddles, damages and destroys – it never heals or creates.
Since the Manosphere is a reaction to the destructive influence of feminism there is of course a lot good to it. Unfortunately, there is some bad to it, too.
One of the bads is the idea of “the Alpha.” The Alpha as such does not exist; it is a concept without much of a referent.
The reason the Alpha does not exist is the definition is too broad, and since the definition is too broad it doesn’t make much sense and therefore confuses people who are already confused – which are the people who read the Manosphere blogs looking to find structure and meaning for their lives – structure and meaning (i.e. rites and rituals) that have been destroyed by the State.
There are actually two kinds of Alphas: the bad one, and the good one. The accepted definition rolls both into one, which doesn’t work.
The bad one has traditionally been called a cad. Strictly speaking, while the cad is male he is not a man, since his values are the opposite of what has traditionally defined a man. So then, a man would be the good Alpha.
My experience of bad “Alphas” is that they are immature, childish and cowardly. Their loyalty is almost nonexistent (it exists toward some guys but not to women), and they have little discipline in the important things. They are impulsive, self-centered, deficient in empathy, prone to drug addiction, and when they become middle-aged they are filled with regrets over their ruined lives and lost opportunities for happiness.
Any man who continually babbles that he is an Alpha, such as the washed-up loser Ted Nugent, isn’t. (It’s like crowing, “I’m a manly masculine man!”). Such babbling is an excellent indication the babbler is a cad, who covers up his lack of character with empty rhetoric.
I know one cad whom I first met when I was 21. He was never a friend, just an acquaintance. Back then I was getting huge red flags on him, even though I did not know what he was doing (I was informed about his behavior years later by a mutual friend).
He was a fairly good-looking guy who did some pretty vile things. He would target women who weren’t good-looking (and never very bright), tell them what he described as “what they wanted to hear,” lead them to think he was their boyfriend, then have sex with them for two weeks (while seeing other women), then dump them.
He did this approximately 100 times.
How did he end up? As a drug addict (and has ruined his teeth because of it), who is alone, and who has never had a serious relationship with a woman. He did say, finally, “I got a taste of my own medicine.” He is also, not surprisingly, a coward (a coward is someone who is a blowhard and a bully who collapses when someone – or life - gets the best of him, which isn’t all that hard and sooner or later always happens).
Cads can be quite popular with the more stupid and immature women who can’t see through them. (As an aside, men are far better judges of men’s characters than women are, and any woman with any sense will ask other men what they think of the “boyfriend” and if they don’t listen to their judgments they have no one to blame but themselves).
Some women did see through this cad. They were very rare, and all of them were intelligent, perceptive and sensitive. In college one of them ended up with me, and when this cad, who was just starting out his career as a cad, found out about it he threw a fit - because she was one of the few women he was seriously interested in. And she very quickly dumped him.
Cads are actually quite narcissistic, which means they can be charming and manipulative, but have nothing on the inside. They collapse in middle age. This has been seen by therapists so many times dozens of books have been written about it.
Artists (who as Ezra Pound commented are the antennae of the human race) have noticed what happens to cads. The example I use is of Cal (played by Billy Zane) in the movie Titanic. Cal was a coward and a bully who happened to have looks and money.
But what happened when he lost his money during the Great Depression? He shot himself. This happened because he was empty on the inside, again typical of narcissists. They’re like balloons, nothing on the inside and easy to pop (I am reminded of that old saying: “All hat, no cattle”).
An earlier movie about a cad is the ‘60s film, Alfie, with Shelly Winters and Michael Caine. Caine is a womanizer, who never gets emotionally involved, and when he finally falls for a woman – Winters - she dumps him by telling him, “You’re too old.” The shock on his face is priceless; he suddenly realizes what he is and where he’s inexorably heading – because he cannot change.
Incidentally, the lyrics to the theme song run thus: “What’s it all about, Alfie? /Is is just for the moment we live?” That is how the impulsive cad lives his life and it’s why he ultimately collapses and ends up alone and desolate, with no relationships, no meaning and no importance to his life.
The easiest way to needle a cad is to say, “You know what your problem is? You’re not a man. You’ve never grown up” (the shorter version being the aforementioned “All hat, no cattle”). They’ll get upset and angry every time, which means you’ve hit a very sensitive nerve.
Cads think they can go on with their behavior for decades and nothing bad will happen to them. They almost always think, “Well, I can manipulate and lie to stupid women for years, but still get a good one.” It doesn’t happen unless they change – and it takes a lot of bashing in the School of Hard Knocks to effect that change. Even then, it doesn’t happen very often.
What is the opposite of a cad? A man who has loyalty and honor. He has self-control (meaning he is not impulsive except in certain select circumstances). He tries to be brave. He tries to not manipulate and lie.
These characteristics are generally considered to be the good military virtues (there are also the bad military qualities, which have now pretty much overwhelmed the American military). I am not necessarily defending the military; I’m just pointing out that, ideally, what it embodies has traditionally been the best masculine virtues.
For that matter, these ideal masculine virtues run back to at least the Greeks, who referred to it as Stoicism. A Stoic, contrary to the common belief, is not someone who tries to have no feelings (a delusion also believed by those ignorant of Buddhism) but is someone who tries to achieve equanimity, peace and happiness amidst the turbulence in the world.
In other words, a Stoic has humility (meaning knowledge of his limitations), self-control (i.e. is not impulsive) and tries to be a rock who lets the chaos and disorder of the world flow past him without disturbing him. In other words, he has mental, emotional and physical discipline.
For that matter, the above qualities were the ideal of the Victorians, whom Neal Stephenson wrote about extensively in his novel, The Diamond Age. Those masculine virtues of self-control, discipline and selected venting of impulsiveness allows societies based on them to achieve great intellectual, moral and financial wealth.
By the way, the Victorians were a reaction to the preceding age, which was the degraded one that Dickens wrote about in his novels. That decadent pre-Victorian age is what we’re repeating now, leading to the inevitable pendulum-like reaction of the Manosphere, which in its good aspect is an attempt to roll back the society-destroying evils of “feminism” and re-impose morals on which American society can thrive.
Here I will quote from The Diamond Age: “[H]umility and self-discipline…are moral qualities. It is upon moral qualities that a society is ultimately founded. All the prosperity and technological sophistication in the world is of no use without that foundation…”
The Greek word for humility is “sophrosyne.” It can be defined in two famous sayings: “Know thyself” and “Nothing in excess.” The opposite of sophrosyne is hubris, or the belief that one is above the law (and that means more than anything else moral law, the one written on our own hearts).
It is always a good thing to have self-knowledge. It is also a good thing to not do things in excess – such as drug abuse, uncontrolled impulsiveness and devoting your life to seducing as many women as possible (I have, of course, seen these problems among women). The ancient Greeks also noticed that those who devote their lives to physical pleasure become degraded. It might take years, but it will happen.
As many have noticed before, men not only invented technology; they created civilization. They were the ones who realized what self-discipline and true humility leads to. They discovered the ideas of political and economic liberty, law, and religion. And ideas, as Richard Weaver wrote, have consequences.
Now, unfortunately, many men have abdicated their responsibilities. Or perhaps better yet, forgotten what they are, which is why they read the Manosphere blogs looking for guidance. They are looking for models and mentors. Ideas to guide their lives.
These bad things, again, are caused by the damaging interference of the State.
Men and women are mirrors of each other. When women don’t act like women, men mirror them and don’t act like men. And when men don’t act like men, women mirror them and don’t act like women. Since it is easier to sink than swim, each sex is bringing down the other – and therefore society with them.
The fact that the common definition of “Alpha” includes both what a man should be to have a good life and should not be because it will destroy his life is why it is a terribly confused definition, and is in fact a dangerous one. The main reasons are that the real Alpha has the good virtues of bravery, honesty, loyalty, humility and self-discipline, and the cad – selfish, irresponsible and childish – doesn’t have any of them.