The Kindle Apocalypse of Western Morality
If radio’s The War Of The Worlds gave us panic and civil disorder, YouTube allows every crackpot with an opinion to become a talk-show host. Kindle Direct Publishing turns them into philosophers. Indeed, a Heart Of Darkness-style journey up the Amazon(dot com) reveals a subterranean library of alt-political manifestos. Bazillions of dollars, apparently, provide enough incentive enough for the platform to broaden its definition of ‘inclusive’ outlandishly. Cast a net among them and discover paeans to the nuttiest political systems as ever ruled a Star Trek port-of-call.
Jack Donovan and Markus Willinger are unhappy guys. Jack finds himself displeased with the state of men, Markus, at the state of Europe. Both decry what they believe to be a decline in Western culture and values. And, like good snake-oil salesmen everywhere, both seed their pitches with enough sense to make them seem reasonable. In so doing, both fall into the same philosophical error.
Donovan’s The Way Of Men is the better written of the two. Donovan “recovered” from homosexuality and sprinted to the opposite end of the gender spectrum, where he cultivated an iron-muscled, Alpha-male persona who urges men to give up masturbating and reconnect with their inner Mongol. Men, he claims, were better off in the old days of continuous brutality and warfare, stealing one another’s women while slaughtering vast hordes of opposing tribesmen. Like many he-men, Donovan is content to romanticize our historic “noble savagery” while conveniently ignoring the dysentery, filth, squalor and premature death that characterized the European tribal salad days.
In fairness, Donovan did his homework. The Way Of Men’s appendix of citations lists everything from Homer’s Iliad to the more recent maunderings of the Robert Bly set of pre-MRA era “guy” writers. Donovan urges a revival of the phenomena, but with a Fight Club twist. He issues an Operation Mayhem-style call to destabilize civilization so that men can once again prowl the perimeters of a half-savage world. But the truth is that nobody wants to hear that shit anymore. So my final literary verdict on Donovan is summed up in three words: Frag the lieutenant.
Where Donovan is clownish, Willinger, a student of history and political science at the University of Stuttgart, is downright sinister. Generation Identity is the product of a mature, trained philosophical mind, which makes it even scarier. Subtitled “A Declaration of War Against the ‘68ers,” Generation Identity opens with a detailed and highly defensible critique of the Baby Boom generation. Point by point, Willinger details the sloth and self-indulgent idiocy that characterized the 68ers’ mass abdication of responsibility and tradition. Hating Baby Boomers is an easy sell, particularly in an EU facing mass youth underemployment and cultural transition in the form of rising populism and immigration during the Union’s crisis of legitimacy. Willinger segues from this to a polemic on the political dislocation between populations and their representative governments. After all, every European has two these days.
England chose Brexit. Willinger chooses mass relocation of non-European peoples.
How we get from Baby Boomers to Europe’s trains running on time again is unclear. Like Donovan, Willinger’s aspirations lie in a tribal past we’ve long since outgrown. But when we reach for solutions that nostalgically hearken to the Shoah, we know we’ve outstepped the bounds of reasonable discussion.
Both men decry what George Carlin eloquently termed “the pussification of Western civilization,” though to be fair, he was talking about Harley-Davidson theme restaurants. The effect of political correctness and feminism has been to place them at a cultural disadvantage. In this, they use their victim status as a point of departure, but in so doing they succumb to the very victim narrative they claim to rail against. In seeking to avoid weakness, they instead fall prey to it. Serious philosophers abandoned the might-makes-right argument soon after the Inquisition, naked force being an evil to guard against rather than an avenue of philosophical discourse.
Men won’t regain some mythic status by cosplaying the past any more than Europe can return to the era of great states. Both have painted themselves into corners from which extrication will prove messy. Identifying enemies as an easy way to start a crusade is neither useful nor desired. Instead, we need to struggle to find common ground. One good principle of bridge construction is this: Don’t burn them before you start building.