Monday, November 21, 2011

A Few Points.

This is a religious post, so whilst I'd encourage my atheist readers to have a look at it, I can understand them if they don't.

I  felt that I should clarify a point with regard to my last point. Unlike Dalrock, I don't believe that there is a collusion between Feminists and Social Conservatives. People need to understand that the two movements are, at their core, fundamentally opposed to each other. I personally think that the claims about  Social Conservationism deliberately assisting Feminism are wrong. Rather, the traditional mainstream conception of femininity is synergistic with Feminist conception of it. Indeed, the more I think about it, the ascetic romantic conceptions of Gender may have laid the groundwork for feminism. Gender is rooted in biology, not spirit, and hence any weakening of the legitimacy of biology strengthens an ascetic conception of it. 

The reason I wanted to make this comment is because I'm Catholic and pro-Christian, and many of the manosphere crowd are profoundly hostile to both, and I want to clearly disassociate myself from them. In identifying a weak point in mainstream Christianity I hope to assist it, not destroy it which does not seem to be the case with a large portion of the manosphere, who seem to feel that some sort of western renaissance can occur without the foundation stone of European Culture: Christianity.

Some commentators have (on other sites) have accused me of painting a caricature of Western tradition.
I suppose Benedict's Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, should be mentioned here;
This is due first and foremost to the fact that man is a being made up of body and soul. Man is truly himself when his body and soul are intimately united; the challenge of eros can be said to be truly overcome when this unification is achieved. Should he aspire to be pure spirit and to reject the flesh as pertaining to his animal nature alone, then spirit and body would both lose their dignity. On the other hand, should he deny the spirit and consider matter, the body, as the only reality, he would likewise lose his greatness. The epicure Gassendi used to offer Descartes the humorous greeting: “O Soul!” And Descartes would reply: “O Flesh!”.[3] Yet it is neither the spirit alone nor the body alone that loves: it is man, the person, a unified creature composed of body and soul, who loves. Only when both dimensions are truly united, does man attain his full stature. Only thus is love —eros—able to mature and attain its authentic grandeur.

Nowadays Christianity of the past is often criticized as having been opposed to the body; and it is quite true that tendencies of this sort have always existed [ED]. Yet the contemporary way of exalting the body is deceptive. Eros, reduced to pure “sex”, has become a commodity, a mere “thing” to be bought and sold, or rather, man himself becomes a commodity. This is hardly man's great “yes” to the body. On the contrary, he now considers his body and his sexuality as the purely material part of himself, to be used and exploited at will. Nor does he see it as an arena for the exercise of his freedom, but as a mere object that he attempts, as he pleases, to make both enjoyable and harmless. Here we are actually dealing with a debasement of the human body: no longer is it integrated into our overall existential freedom; no longer is it a vital expression of our whole being, but it is more or less relegated to the purely biological sphere.
Benedict here acknowledges the existence of anti-corporeal tendencies in the Christianity (I presume here he means all of Christianity. Catholicism had its puritanical elements as well as the Protestant and Eastern Orthodox religions). So, I suppose my fellow Catholics who feel I'm being revisionist with regard to the Church may want to take the matter up with the Pope. The impression I get, from a historical perspective, is that the Catholic Church has been trying to re-emphasise the legitimacy of the body recently. JP II was particularly active in that regard.

47 comments:

Mark Richardson said...

SP,

We live in liberal societies, but the men's movement seems hell bent on targeting social conservatism as the source of feminism and the ills of society.

Why?

The Social Pathologist said...

@ Mark

The first thing about the Men's movement is that is a disparate group of individuals, many of which are not social conservatives in any way or manner. Spend some time around the blogs and you'll find libertarians and anarchists as well. What unites them is the subject of women. Some men hate them, others want to bed them and others want to marriages work. I don't think that you should think of the men's movement as some monolithic ideological block.

As for why Social Conservatism is being attacked I suppose there are several reasons. Firstly, as mentioned some previously, quite a lot of the men's rights crowd aren't conservative. Secondly, amongst the crowd their is a strong belief in Game, which Social Conservatives tend to dismiss. Thirdly, many feel that social conservatism has been both politically unprincipled and politically a failure. Finally, men like myself, feel that the origins of the current crisis may have their origin within social conservatism itself.

This last aspect is problematic, since many social conservatives refuse to countenance the fact that some aspects of social conservatism may be wrong and may actually be the wellsprings of today's maladies.
I'm trying to be objectively analytical here and not taking a cheap pot shot.

It was Whittaker Chambers who finally made me "get" 20th Century History. His idea was that there already something wrong with late 19th Century European Society and that the "isms" that so blighted the 20th Century were "the enlightened" responses to these problems. The problem with Conservatism was that it couldn't respond because it was mired in traditionalism; it's always going backwards because within it there is no legitimacy going forwards. Thus the defeat.

The thing about Game, is that it empirically repudiates the traditionalist conception of women and love. Two vital components of a man's existence. So when the traditionalist conception of women is reasserted by social conservatives, they're going to cop some heat.

Mark Richardson said...

SP,

Thanks for the response. You wrote:

Finally, men like myself, feel that the origins of the current crisis may have their origin within social conservatism itself.

But it's important how this is framed. The changes to Western society have been powered by liberalism. Conservatism did not succeed in its opposition to liberalism - society has continued to move along liberal lines.

It can be useful to ask why conservatism didn't prevent the drift, though I suspect the answers will be similar for the year 1840 as for 1980.

I think you overstate what you believe to be the conservative attitude to women. It's true that there are some Christians who tend to argue from abstract principles unanchored in the realities of human nature.

It's also true that a society which focuses on romantic love will tend to idealise women.

It's true as well, I think, that the emergence of ladette culture in the 80s and 90s was a shock to many men - and not just socially conservative men.

But what I don't believe to be true is the idea that socially conservative men have as their ideal the asexual woman. Why would a normal red-blooded man choose to think of women this way, regardless of his politics?

And men's minds are capable of combining the romantic with the sexual. Can't a man admire a woman's beauty and her grace - and still want to bed her? (And I seriously doubt that too many socially conservative men have failed to understand or accept that women have bodily functions.)

Western men have always selected for women in terms of some combination of marriage compatability, romantic love and sex appeal. Things go awry when the marriage aspect drops out too much. Right now, it's arguable that the love aspect has dropped out too much as well.

As for Game, that has had a mixed response from younger socially conservative men. Some, I think, intuit the nihilistic side to it and reject it. Others, myself included, try to winnow out what is useful.

Ulysses said...

There is much blame placing and a general "I'm taking my ball and going home" attitude to many of the loosely confederated quarters that I find off-putting. Though I disagree with the specifics of what Bennett and Hymonwitz put forth, I agree with the general sentiment. If we men are everything the manosphere says we are, why do we get so upset whenever anyone suggests we exercise leadership and solve some problems? Become active in church and try to create good on a micro level. Start a Boy Scout troop. Spread truth to your friends. Raise your kids well. It's much easier and more effective than trying to find bogeymen.

Thursday said...

Ulysses:

While I agree that one can do a lot of good just through individual action, some things require change at the societal level.

Thursday said...

But what I don't believe to be true is the idea that socially conservative men have as their ideal the asexual woman. Why would a normal red-blooded man choose to think of women this way, regardless of his politics?

Because such women are safe bets not to cheat on you.

Thursday said...

There is a tiny grain of truth in the message of mainstream socons. While the deck is stacked against men, men are not powerless. It is possible to find a good girl and keep her happy, even in these times. Certainly caution is warranted, but not necessarily withdrawal into celibacy or playerdom.

Thursday said...

SP:

Bonald seems to be a very associationist thinker. You have been attacking aspects of social conservativism, for your own reasons, and other MRAs and gamers have been attacking social conservativism too, so you've all been lumped together. That's ridiculous, of course. But you're being attacked for those associations, not for any logical connections of your work to any kind of anti-Christian worldview.

Similarly, game is attacked because of its undeniable associations with nihilistic hedonists.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Mark

But it's important how this is framed. The changes to Western society have been powered by liberalism. Conservatism did not succeed in its opposition to liberalism

Mark, liberalism didn't arise ex nihilo rather it was a response to the social conditions of the time. There would have been no Marxism if workers in the industrial age were treated fairly. Liberalism is a second order phenomenon. Until Conservatism deals with it's weak points it will provide the fuel which fires liberalism. Ask yourself, what intelligent woman would want a return to the patriarchy of the 1880's? If that's what your offering to women, it's no surprise that they resist it tooth and nail, and in the absence of any alternative, their going to nail their mast to liberalism.

Conservatism did not succeed in its opposition to liberalism - society has continued to move along liberal lines.

And the question you've gotta ask yourself is why? Actually Mark, why do you think it failed?

But what I don't believe to be true is the idea that socially conservative men have as their ideal the asexual woman

Sorry Mark, the whole romantic concept of woman glosses over the "physical and the erotic". Romantic love exists on a higher plane according to the traditionalists and sex has always had the stigma of being a bit "dirty".

The Social Pathologist said...

@ Mark

Sorry about the your/ you're
and their/ they're. In spaz mode again.

Red said...

The social conservative view of women and the feminist view of women are the differences of 80 years of progressive thought.

The current social conservative view of women was institutional in the 1880s with a series of laws concerning child custody always going to the mother, women being treated better in court than men, and a host of other female privileged. Women's right to vote was predicated on the idea that women were more moral than men and would pick better leaders. Hell the entire temperance movement was about stopping men from going to male only saloons and drinking. It pissed off their wives that men could escape them and enjoy themselves without female control. It was a thoroughly christian movement. This is first wave feminism and I've seen it repeatedly in churches.

The second and third wave feminists were not christian based but had a similar transcendent view of women and the same goals of basing men for everything wrong in the world.

2ed/3ed and 1st wave feminists oppose each other in practical details but their core ideas are exactly the same: Women good, Men bad. When something bad happens it's almost always the man's fault.

So yes they do oppose each other but only on the best way to extract special privileges that they have not earned. It's like a wolf and a loin arguing about the best way to butcher a sheep.

If you don't believe me, do some reading about first wave feminists from older sources. You will be surprised.

Ulysses said...

Thursday - I agree that changes need to occur at the societal level, I'm just a believer in the ripple effect. Send small waves out from your center and gradually attempt to draw others in. It's not as sweeping or gratifying as wholesale change, but it might be more realistic.

OT and self-serving: I'm contributing to a new group blog, http://patriactionary.wordpress.com, and your name came up in an email discussion of contributors we'd like to draw out of retirement. Our goal is more about prompting discussions than convincing. If you're interested, you can email me at thehiddenulysses at gmail dot com. I remember why you retired so no worries, just throwing it out there.

Mark Richardson said...

what intelligent woman would want a return to the patriarchy of the 1880's? If that's what you're offering to women, it's no surprise that they resist it tooth and nail, and in the absence of any alternative, they're going to nail their mast to liberalism.

What happened in the 1880s is exactly the same as what happened in the 1980s. Society shifted in a particular direction because of what was thought to be just or right. And as liberalism dominated politically and intellectually, what was held to be just or right was determined via liberal first principles.

The changes in the late 1800s were pushed on society from above by a liberal political class just as they were in the 1980s. Whether individual women wanted the changes was immaterial.

So what was thought to be right and just under the terms of liberalism? The idea was that impediments to individual self-determination should be abolished.

And so you got the idea of a blank slate human nature, in which our sex did not give a particular direction to our lives. You got family life treated as secondary to other more individual pursuits such as careers. You got the rise of the "bachelor girl" who was focused on a single girl lifestyle. You got the idea of socialising the functions of the family. You got utopian concepts of a "new family" which would be run along technocratic lines. You got utopian communes in which children were only allowed to stay with their natural mothers for 15 months before being raised by a class of "experts".

The problem is that once you accept a particular concept of the good and the just it is going to be followed through by the more intellectually consistent and idealistic members of the society. And the liberal view leads on ultimately to the idea that the family is an oppressive institution that ought to be either abolished or radically recast.

The first task, then, is to make sure that the liberal principle is challenged. After that you can then debate what the ideals of family life should be.

From what I can observe, most married women with children are happy to put family first. The number of full on careerists in this group is relatively small. So I very much doubt there would be "tooth and nail" resistance amongst most women if traditionalists defended the male provider role - particularly not if the traditionalist position wasn't stringent.

Mark Richardson said...

The second and third wave feminists were not christian based

Nor was the first. It was based squarely on traditions derived from "philosophy" and not theology.

Here, for instance, is how Elizabeth Cady Stanton presented her beliefs:

The isolation of every human soul and the necessity of self-dependence must give each individual the right to choose his own surroundings. The strongest reason for giving woman all the opportunities for higher education, for the full development of her faculties, her forces of mind and body; for giving her the most enlarged freedom of thought and action; a complete emancipation from all forms of bondage, of custom, dependence, superstition; from all the crippling influences of fear — is the solitude and personal responsibility of her own individual life. The strongest reason why we ask for woman a voice in the government under which she lives; in the religion she is asked to believe; equality in social life, where she is the chief factor; a place in the trades and professions, where she may earn her bread, is because of her birthright to self-sovereignty; because, as an individual, she must rely on herself

That's liberal talk: self-sovereignty, individual rights, independence, equality, freedom from tradition etc. From the Christian point of view it's heresy: in Christianity God is sovereign, we are to follow His will, there is an order to creation in which we partake and which rightly guides our conduct and so on.

The Social Pathologist said...

Sorry Guys, back from work.

@ Ulysses

There is much blame placing and a general "I'm taking my ball and going home" attitude to many of the loosely confederated quarters that I find off-putting

So do I Ulysses. There is something fundamentally wrong with opting out.
I can understand a man not wanting to marry if he can't find the right one, but to cast off the entire female sex is yet another heresy. The love of a good woman is a good thing.

Become active in church and try to create good on a micro leve

I think this is very important. Top level social changes will only occur in the presence of grassroots support.

@Thursday

Bonald seems to be a very associationist thinker.

Hmmm... I think there is more going on there. He's not stupid and I feel he is capable of making the distinctions if he wants to. The thing is he doesn't. I don't like trying to impute motive but I feel that debating him is a waste of time.

I must admit, that for a long time I had a rather had a decarnalised version of love, and found that the flesh and fluid bits of it was at odds with the vision. I think that Bonald is approaching the subject from that aspect of it.

The Social Pathologist said...

Red

Thanks for comment. I was actually skimming through Lynn Dumenil's, The Modern Temper last night and she says the same thing. (Good book by the way.)

Progressive feminism arouse out of the Christian Churches, particularly in the U.S. Some partisans even argued for female suffrage on the grounds that "womens superior moral standing" would drive out corruption in politics.

@ Mark

Nor was the first. It was based squarely on traditions derived from "philosophy" and not theology.

No Mark, the great reform movements, especially in the Anglosphere were originally religious based.

Mark, I know that liberalism arose within the conservative context, but why? Did people wake up one morning and decide wreck western civilisation. I didn't know who Elizabeth Cady Stanton was so I looked her up on Wiki. She suffered quite a bit of injustice in her early life. Considering what happened to her, do you think she should have copped it sweet or should she have agitated for change. Do you think the education of women is wrong? I don't. I like smart women. The problem is when people exhaust legitimate avenues of appeal they'll go radical and traditional society provided no avenue to address these issues. In fact traditional society did not think women warranted an education.

Mark, with due respect, you still haven't answered why conservatism failed. And from what I can gather from your response, it would appear that you think that the masses were hoodwinked by the elites.

Correct me if I'm wrong.

Mark Richardson said...

Why did conservatism fail?

It failed for a number of reasons:

a) It never sought adequately to lead public opinion (recognised by Disraeli in the mid 1800s).

b) It never articulated a principled opposition to the underlying liberal and modernist currents in society. So it had no basis for pushing back against liberal policies, once those policies were legislated.

c) It never found an adequate social or institutional base. Back in the 1600s it had a more solid base in the landed gentry, the clergy and the universities. But by the 1800s, liberal moderns had a strong base in the growing bourgeoisie, the grandees, the dissenting churches, and the increasingly "philosophy" oriented universities.

d) Liberalism was less radical up to the 1880s. It didn't seek to rule by its own principles alone, but fused itself with other sources of authority, including Christianity and aristocratic sources of honour.

It was therefore more possible for a person of conservative temperament to identify positively with the "settlement" and to be complacent, particularly as the scientific wing of modernism had brought forms of technical progress that gave the West an edge for a period of time.

There was still worthwhile culture being produced; scientific and technical advance; an advance of the West in global politics; and society had not yet lapsed into a demoralising nihilism.

Mark Richardson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark Richardson said...

No Mark, the great reform movements, especially in the Anglosphere were originally religious based.

No. Let's go through the early significant leaders. Wollstonecraft was a strong critic of organised religion, though she did believe in a personal spirituality. But her ideas derive from Englightenment humanism, not religion. She thought humans were distinct because they could be self-directed via individual reason. For this reason she preferred the masculine virtues to the feminine ones and wished that women would become more like men.

John Stuart Mill rejected Christianity. He couldn't decide between a secular humanist religion and a Manichean one.

Susan B. Anthony was an agnostic.

Friedrich Engels was a lifelong enemy of organised religion.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a lifelong adversary of organised religion and a famous "freethinker". She blamed the Bible for oppressing women.

Matilda Joslyn Gage was an atheist.

Ernestine Rose, elected president of the National Women's Rights Convention in 1854, was an atheist (who called herself an "infidel" and authored a pamphlet "A defence of atheism").

Frances Wright was a "freethinker" and opponent of organised religion.

Thomas Hertell was a radical and a freethinker.

Lucretia Mott was a bit different being a member of the "Free Religious Association" - a group that religious humanists claim as a forerunner.

Anna Doyle Wheeler was a feminist, socialist and atheist.

Alexandra Kollontai was a communist and an atheist.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Mark
Sorry Mark, I was loose with my terminology.

No Mark, the great reform movements, especially in the Anglosphere were originally religious based.

Should have been

No Mark, the great feminist reform movements, especially in the Anglosphere were originally religious based.

You yourself know how hard it is to get a conservative movement off the ground when people aren't interested. The reason these guys got any traction is because they exploited systemic grievances that were already there: The cultural fault lines of traditionalism.

Now, I agree that a lot of the ideologues opposed to traditionalism were atheist. But that's not the subject of today's discussion, which is the conception of womanhood in the Western tradition. A conception which was strongly influenced by the romantic ideal which in turn was influenced by Christian asceticism; a romantic ideal which Social Conservatives uphold. Now Stanton's ideas will resonate with people who think that identity is rooted in "noble spirit" instead of "base flesh". And the ascetics who belittled the body and elevated the spirit set the foundations for the rubbish of the feminists. Now Susan B Anthony and Stanton did not drive the movement on their own, rather their acceptance into the Christian movements (especially the temperance movement) was made possible by a synergism between their ideals and certain Christian popular conceptions. Marxism and the Social Gospel similarly resonate and quite a few Christians have pushed the Marxist cause despite the fact that Marxism is profoundly anti-Christian. Just as Marxists were able to use the Bible-(selectively)-so to were the feminists able to use this romantic conception to further their cause.

I'm not arguing that the atheists did not lead the rebellion, what I'm arguing that there were problems in traditionalist societies that caused the atheists to rebel and provided a fertile field for their ideas to take root.If you were to try to turn the clock back, it would only be a matter of time till another Susan B Anthony arose, she was not an aberration but a product of the times.

Brendan said...

The interesting question, having seen the direction of the posts here for the past couple of months, for me is this one: what does a non-traditional conservatism look like, and how is it distinguished from other contemporary forms of conservatism as well as from political liberalism, and on what basis (i.e., based on what authority)?

Brandon said...

"Do you think the education of women is wrong? I don't. I like smart women."

I don't know, SP. Most educated women I know can either be "smart" or "feminine" but rarely both. "Smart" women often become mannish dykey types, while the educated women who remain feminine generally don't flaunt their education and thus the "smartness" is rendered irrelevent. Most women either way are simply not interested in what men consider "smart topics". These bore women immensely. The prefer light and airy frivolity, gossip, and drama.

Thursday said...

Why did conservatism fail?

1. When people are rich, comfortable and secure they quite spontaneously and naturally lose reverence for religion, hierarchy and traditional virtue.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/willwilkinson/2011/03/28/the-moral-default-setting-liberal-or-conservative/

2. The appeal of hedonism.

Thursday said...

What SP appears to mean by conservatism is a variation on the libertarian/traditionalist fusionism we have in the Anglosphere. Hence, it is a mixture of liberalism (of a mostly right wing variety) with traditionalist conservatism.

Thursday said...

I think people often forget just how truly and spontaneously unpopular real conservatism is. The mass media and the education system haven't helped, but they are more symptom than cause.

Brendan said...

What SP appears to mean by conservatism is a variation on the libertarian/traditionalist fusionism we have in the Anglosphere. Hence, it is a mixture of liberalism (of a mostly right wing variety) with traditionalist conservatism.

That's the question I have, though. I don't read him as being traditional, really, but rather as critiquing traditionalism for being hide-bound and creating a lot of problems. I'm not sure, however, what conservatism, in the personal/moral sense, really means, though, in that vein. Libertarianism isn't big on the personal/moral side of things, generally retreating to the "as long as no-one else is directly injured, it's fine" school of thought.

Brendan said...

One other, unrelated, point on this that strikes me is that the relationship between corporeal pleasure and Christianity is a bit more complex, I think, than what is being suggested here.

In the West, I think, the anti-corporeal *disciplines* that used to be present in the Church have been dismissed (i.e., fasting). Paradoxically, it seems to me that when this is done, the danger is that the faith becomes de-corporealized to some degree - i.e., religious practice is "on a higher level" than the corporeal, and the corporeal is seen as less relevant in terms of religious practice and discipline.

The balance, as I think you have stated in other recent posts, lies in affirming the goodness of corporeal pleasures while at the same time embracing ascetical practices to prevent one from becoming enslaved by them. These practices also serve to corporealize religious practices (rather than keeping them all of the "spiritual level"), while simultaneously giving religious practice a legitimate and central physical dimension. That physical dimension is not only expressed in ascetical disciplines, but also in enjoying the physical fruits (food, alcohol, sex), when one is not fasting. In this way a balance is achieved that incorporates the physical with the spiritual, while still emphasizing control over one's appetites.

I would suggest that what you are arguing against in the Western church has more to do with this than "asceticism" per se, as asceticism in any formal sense has long since ceased being de rigeur in both the Protestant and, more recently, the Catholic West. Orthodox have fasting disciplines that seem strict from the outsider's point of view, but these at the same time amplify the enjoyment of the physical when one is not abstaining -- one example is the raucous party that breaks out around 3am in most Orthodox parishes on Easter Sunday morning, complete with booze and moussaka, because we have been fasting from these for weeks and weeks.

So, no, I don't think "asceticism" is the real problem here. In fact, it's more likely the disuse of asceticism that has exacerbated the longer-term trend away from a more corporeal religious practice and which serves to reinforce the concept that religion is about the spiritual and not the "mere" corporeal. It's insane that a radically incarnational religion like Christianity became this way, but "mistakes were made", I think.

Mark Richardson said...

I think people often forget just how truly and spontaneously unpopular real conservatism is.

I'm not sure what you mean by "real conservatism". But the one break on liberalism tends to be popular opinion.

We've had a situation in the West in which the liberal elite wants to push its program and has close to complete control of the political and education systems and the media in order to do so.

The one thing that slows them down is the unpopularity of many liberal measures: open borders, destruction of the family etc.

Popular discontent with liberalism has little place to go right now. The white working-classes have deserted the left-wing parties, but the right-wing parties don't do much better for them. So who are they supposed to vote for?

Ideally, they would establish their own parties. But most people don't have that level of commitment to politics. And that commitment is made all the more difficult by the opposition of the media and the political establishment.

It's difficult to get anywhere unless you win support from within the political class (broadly defined as those people with a sustaining interest in politics).

But the problem here is that those people from within the political class who break with the liberal orthodoxy are often too demoralised and susceptible to nihilistic attitudes.

It seems to me that if things are going to change it will rely on a small group of resisters getting far enough to show that some form of change is possible - but it's an open question whether that will happen or not.

The Social Pathologist said...

Thanks everyone for the intelligent comments.

@Brandon

I don't know, SP. Most educated women I know can either be "smart" or "feminine" but rarely both.

Maybe I move in different circles. A lot of women have been pushed into dykey type of behaviour on the expectation that this is how they are meant to be. I remember telling one of my pretty female patients off for starting to dress like a dyke and assume the bitchy attitude after being forced to attend feminist classes at University. Women are social conformists and if exposed to a society of feminists will behave like them. It's more like a nun's habit that they put on to show that they conform to the feminist ideal.

Still, because of hypergamy, a smart woman will show contempt to a dumb man. Although the problem is overstated, the recent academic advancement of women (without the corresponding advancement of men) has produced a class of women that are intellectually superior to a lot of men. This, of course, exacerbates the hypergamy problem no end and probably goes a long way towards explaining the "cat lady" phenomenon.

The Social Pathologist said...

Brendan

what does a non-traditional conservatism look like, and how is it distinguished from other contemporary forms of conservatism as well as from political liberalism,

I am traditionalist insofar as traditionalism conforms to reality. I think that the central question that legitimises Conservatism is its relationship to the "truth", and quite simply, our forefathers got a lot of things right but some things wrong. Our battle with the Leftists is not because they are modern, it's because they are wrong. The temporal nature of their beliefs has nothing to do with their legitimacy.

As for the personal moral side of things, I believe in in the Christian God as a fact; moral imperatives flow as a logical consequence of this. I'm a big believer in the Cardinal Newman conception of the primacy of the truth. The current Pope seems to be a big proponent of this view as well. I know many people here aren't Catholic, but if you can look past his "Catholicism" and look at him as a theologian/philosopher, he has many intelligent things to say about the matter.

Your comments on asceticism are quite insightful. Perhaps the better term is gnosticism on my part to explain the anti-corporeal tendencies of the traditionalists.

@Thrusday

Firstly, I think your contention that wealth is religious solvent has both theological and empirical merit, however, at least in my bit of the world, the most consistent practitioners of religion seem to be the upper middle class types, most of whom are in very comfortable economic circumstances. There's far more at play here.

What SP appears to mean by conservatism ......

Correct Thursday. In addition, the other big influence in Anglosphere conservatism is a strong Puritan element that isn't present in the traditions of Continental Europe.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Mark

Just try pushing a platform of no-fault divorce, anti-abortion and the stripping back of social security, and see how popular the move would be.

Mark, what do you mean by traditionalism?

Is it bringing back differential wages for the sexes, taking away the franchise from women, re-instating blacks as second class citizens, denying women the right to higher access education? These were all features of traditionalist societies?

And that's what it means to pursue a strictly traditionalist program, otherwise it's your own version of traditionalism which others would call liberal.

Even with a neutral media, it would be political suicide to pursue the program, and more importantly, it would be morally wrong as well.

Pechorin said...

Interesting discussion. A few thoughts:

1. On the origin of feminist movements (theological versus philosophical), I think there is no contradiction between agreeing with Mark Richardson that they had a philosophical basis, and pointing out that were often allied with and even spearheaded by groups that justified themselves in Christian terms (for instance, in the temperance movement. As Keynes asserted that many men who think of themselves as practically minded are in fact slaves to some dead economist, one can say that many of those who think of themselves as Christians are in their conduct slaves to some dead (liberal) philosopher.

2. Concerning Bennett - his heart's in the right place. I don't want him to stop criticizing men, I want him to realize that he needs to criticize women too.

3. One may either say that social conservatives are (unknowingly) allied with feminists, or that social conservatives are (also unknowingly) not really conservatives. The latter approach, from definitions and first principles, is needed here, although the truth of the former remark can't be denied. The former approach is the sociological one, which doesn't distinguish between people who call themselves conservatives and those who really are conservatives.


4. Thursday characterized the reflexive opponents of game as associationist. Beautifully put. It's astonishing how common such reasoning is among those who imagine themselves to be truly traditional conservatives who work from first principles. Such conservatism, which is generally simply a doglike tendency to bark at the unfamiliar, is not enough. It will not triumph.

5. "When people are rich, comfortable and secure they quite spontaneously and naturally lose reverence for religion, hierarchy and traditional virtue."

Reminds me of Juvenal - "We are now suffering the evils of a long peace. Luxury, more deadly than war, broods over the city, and avenges a conquered world." Equating modernity with declining Rome is wrong, but the comparison is still instructive.

6. Re: Brandon on corporeal / ascetic practices - I'm reminded of Chesterton's observation (in his book Orthodoxy) that the genius of Christianity was reconciling contradictions not through an Aristotelian golden mean, but through the simultaneous embrace of opposite extremes.

Anonymous said...
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Brandon said...

"Although the problem is overstated, the recent academic advancement of women (without the corresponding advancement of men) has produced a class of women that are intellectually superior to a lot of men."

There are plenty of dumb men, but are you sure you are not confusing smarts and education with credentialism and the emphasis that modern society puts on educational credentials? I know several men with no college experience who are pretty damn sharp. As well as airhead women who have college degrees. I recall you yourself saying once that you think Roissy is smarter than just about member of an academic psychology department today. I don't know his educational background, but I'd be willing to be he doesn't have a Ph.D.

Formal education and credentials are two different things.

Brandon said...

Sorry, I meant to say education and credentials are to different things.

Mark Richardson said...

SP,

By traditionalism I do not mean "whatever existed in traditional societies". I do not even mean "tradition as the source of authority in organising society".

What I am most focused on is challenging the underlying principles of liberal modernity - principles which can sound very good but which have destructive outcomes.

If and when the dominance of liberalism on politics is broken, I would hope that whatever is left of the West would return to the idea of balancing a range of goods - or more specifically of attempting to bring the different orders of existence into as close a harmony as possible.

You mentioned a series of things you found objectionable in previous societies.

a) Differential wages. Do you find it objectionable that women today are effectively paid a higher differential wage? For instance, there is a proposal in the EU to pay women 20 weeks on full pay for maternity leave and then 2 hours a day for breastfeeding. That could lead to men working twice the hours in a particular year as women for the same wage.

You might argue that there is a reason for paying women a higher wage - that it is for family purposes.

But so was the old system. Men were paid more because they were expected to support a family on their wage. Society attempted to pay them a living wage on which they could do this.

Anyway, that misses the point. It's my belief that if the state ideology weren't so concentrated on female careerism, i.e. if that were removed, then the large majority of women would not want to compete with their husbands to be breadwinners. Some women would opt to be full-time homemakers, others would drop to part-time work after becoming mothers, and only a minority would prioritise careers.

That would be sufficient to allow the male protector/provider role to remain strong in society.

b) denying women the right to higher access education?

That's overstated. It's true that women didn't go to university until about the 1880s, but then only a tiny percentage of men did. Upper class girls were educated at home, often in the fine arts. Western women were the best educated in the world.

I have no problem with women pursuing a higher education in a post-liberal community. But the main focus now, surely, is not getting women into higher education, but men (as well as reforming the universities as institutions).

The Social Pathologist said...

@ Mark Richardson.

Ratzinger gives a good exposition on the relationship of conscience, liberalism and the truth. It probably explains my position a bit better and I think it is pertinent to the discussion. It's a Catholic piece, but non-Catholics might find his ruminations valuable. I don't really care if you don't accept the claims of the Papacy, but I'd rather you look at it as a philosophical document.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Pechorin

Good comments.

Such conservatism, which is generally simply a doglike tendency to bark at the unfamiliar, is not enough. It will not triumph.

Unfortunately a lot of Conservatism is like this. It is a reflexive rejection of any change; society's treacle. And since you raised the topic of Chesterton, I think this comment of his is pertinent to the discussion:

The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. Even when the revolutionist might himself repent of his revolution, the traditionalist is already defending it as part of his tradition. Thus we have two great types -- the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins.

The Social Pathologist said...

Brandon

I recall you yourself saying once that you think Roissy is smarter than just about member of an academic psychology department today.

Correct. But Roissy is an aberration and not the rule. College makes the average man smarter plus it credentials them. Raw intelligence will always impress but the credentialed aspect of the matter should not be dismissed too lightly. Many a stupid woman who is credentialed will automatically discount a man who is not; as she regards him "beneath" her. The cheapening of academic honours has done much to further the problem of male hypogamy.

Thursday said...

the most consistent practitioners of religion seem to be the upper middle class types

Some people are deeply, constitutionally religious. Of those people, the ones who actually make it to church, which these days requires some planning to get to, tend to be middle class types.

Brandon said...

@SP

I don't know, at least in the US, we have so many college graduates that a bachelor's and even master's degree really isn't all that impressive any more. I'm a year from graduating with a B.A. in Philosophy and I seriously doubt anyone will see me as all that special due to it. I see what your saying about hypergamy, but I think that is more an indictment of modern society's worship of credentialism over substance when it comes to intelligence. You basically prove this point when you say that a credentialed young woman will see an non-credentialed (but equally intelligent) male as beneath her.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Brandon.

One of the great things about Roissy's lack of credentials is that the more stupid types don't take him seriously. It's one way he can exert a lot of influence whilst flying under the radar.

In a similar vein, the blogosphere isn't really considered a serious intellectual forum, yet some of the smartest--and most stupid thinking--I've have seen has been from guys who would appear to be uncredentialed with respect to the topics in question. Given the global reach of the internet the ability of these guys to reach a global forum is a game changer, at least in my opinion.

Anonymous Protestant said...

"Do you think the education of women is wrong? I don't. I like smart women."

I don't know, SP. Most educated women I know can either be "smart" or "feminine" but rarely both.

Christian theology does not prohibit teaching women to read. Exactly the contrary, in fact. All must encounter the Word of God personally. Therefore some degree of education for all boys and girls is required, by a higher authority than you.

More generally, there are abundant arts that women can and should perform well. In order to teach sons, women should know their own civilization, and illiterates would be poorly equipped for that task. At a time when home schooling is a significant factor in Christian life, it makes no sense to oppose education for women.

An argument can be made that far too much of what is offered as "education" is mere propaganda, and that women are especially vulnerable to it, but that is not the same thing.

Robert Brockman II said...

Here's an excellent image which I think conveys the essence of the wisdom of this post:

http://alexgrey.net/a-gallery/8-24/praying.jpg

James A. Donald said...

Christianity from the seventeenth century to the early twentieth century was the chief pillar of western civilization, as paganism was the chief pillar of Roman civilization. Recall them in 1936 standing fast on the principle that a divorced woman should not remarry in her husband's lifetime

Is there one church today, one preacher with a congregation, one spokesman for Christianity, who would stand on that principle?

Christianity is a community. When one is baptized, one is baptized into a particular congregation. Since there are no Christian communities today, no such baptism possible.

Christianity was a good myth, a great myth, but it is dead. The corpse is starting to smell horribly.

James A. Donald said...

"So when the traditionalist conception of women is reasserted by social conservatives, they're going to cop some heat."

But this is not the traditional conception of women. It is a product of nineteenth century feminism. Before 1830, the conception was, on the contrary, that women were lecherous animals who unless firmly restrained would be howling for their demon lover.

Before 1840: Women need the firm hand, first of their father, then of their husband, or else they, like Medea, will cause disaster for those around them by pursuing their sexual impulses.

After 1840 and before 1960: Women are ethereal beings without sexual impulse, men, on the other hand are gross, coarse, and impure.

After 1960, women are sexual beings, and that is fine, because the family deserves to be history.

The problem with today's social conservatism is that it harkens back to yesterdays social radicalism. The reason for the prohibition against a woman remarrying in her husband's lifetime was to punish women with multiple sexual partners, thereby giving men an incentive to raise children.

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