On the Original Meaning of “Red Pill”

To have been “red-pilled” has come to mean that one has experienced a change in one’s political orientation. More often than not, the expression, as it is used in popular discourse, is meant to signify that a person, man or woman, has come to realize that certain dogmas of Leftism or Progressivism rest on falsehoods. One can claim to be “red-pilled” after having come to see that the Left’s critique of free-market capitalism is inadequate. To be “red-pilled” might thus be understood to entail an unthinking acceptance of what the “Right” thinks. To which doxa of the Right might one ascribe? The unsettling quality of the new meaning of “red-pilled” is that it culminates in the acceptance of any dogma of Conservatism Inc. What is most characteristic of the new meaning of “red-pilled” is that it is a rejection, a “moving away from.” To be sure, the so-called “red-pilled” are correct to wish to distance themselves from the false views of the Left. But these individuals run the risk of undergoing a false or incomplete liberation from untrue opinions.

To put it succinctly, the so-called red pilled have set up a simplistic disjunctive syllogism.

 Premise 1: Either the Left or the Right is correct.

Premise 2: The Left is wrong.

Conclusion: The Right must be somehow correct.

The truth of the matter is that, in reality, the syllogism above is presented in the form of what modern logicians call an “enthymeme.” In other words, the first premise is hidden and never stated explicitly. The so-called red pilled actually make the following argument. The Left is wrong. Hence, the Right must be correct. It can be no question that this signifies a deterioration in what the term “Red Pill” means. The “red-pilled” know of no other place to go than to the Right. (It goes without saying that by “the Right” I mean the mainstream Right.)

In its original usage the term “Red Pill” meant primarily the acceptance of specific, unsettling truths about human nature. Of course, the acceptance of these truths also entailed a rejection of what one previously thought. But there was never any guarantee that one would conform to a common political ideology after the acceptance of newly discovered truths. For one would be irreparably severed from the horizon in which one is able to see the simplistic disjunctive syllogism described above as a genuine way to deliberate about the world. In other words, to take the Red Pill, in its original sense, would necessarily entail not only seeing the Left as wrong but also seeing that the first hidden premise of the above syllogism, either the Left or the Right is correct, must be rejected. In this respect, the original meaning of Red Pill has been fittingly lifted from The Matrix. If both the mainstream Left and Right are part of the “Matrix,” then how could one ever believe that either of them is true after taking the Red Pill?

What, then, were the truths about human nature that were said to sever someone completely from his earlier horizon? These truths concerned human sexuality. It was the disclosure of essential, natural differences between men and women. Among these truths was the harsh fact of the phenomenon dubbed “hypergamy.”* After one has come to see this aspect of female sexuality, one might very well become a proponent of traditional sexual morality. But the ground of that defense of traditional sex roles is essentially different from that to which a typical conservative might appeal. The individual who accepts the truth of hypergamy will come to recognize the necessity for strict regulation of human sexuality. Accordingly, he will not see marriage or strict sexual taboos as a divinely granted sacrament or commandment but as stern political necessities which every healthy body politic must uphold with institutions and inculcated senses of shame.

Hypergamy, the name for the fact that women ineluctably, to put it literally and politely, “marry-up,” brings to light the ugly consequences of the Left’s teaching about sexual mores. For instance, the sickly groups of men known as “incels” or “men going their own way” are consequences of unfettered hypergamy. While I have no sympathy for incels, their existence makes manifest the fact that marriage is becoming an untenable endeavor for many men. Even men who, unlike the incels, are quite able to attract the opposite sex cannot have any great confidence that their wives or girlfriends will remain faithful to them. The institutions and mores that used to provide some modicum of confidence that one’s children would be one’s own have ceased to be.

My intention is not to complain or be angry about the present state of things. My intention is merely to recover an unfortunate truth in order to face it squarely and act accordingly. Despite the fact that we live in an undesirable time, one can still benefit from the sexual chaos. For one thing, men should find it easier than ever before to climb to the top of the sexual hierarchy (most men today are, after all, quite low on the sexual totem pole). Hypergamy, of course, means that the men at the top will get the attention of the vast majority of the women; the unfettering of hypergamy has restored the sexual aristocracy. Thus, the lack of restraints on hypergamy can provide an incentive to men to become better. You don’t have to just want to become a philanderer. If you want more than mere sexual gratification, e.g., to get a wife and start a family, then you are compelled to create the security a healthy society would afford by your own means. How do you do this? Lift. Read. Become better. Don’t date feminists. Keep lifting. In short, never be a schlub; always be a man.

Next time you hear someone misuse the expression “Red Pill,” remember what it really refers to. Then, act accordingly.

*Note: For the best account of hypergamy, see Roger Devlin’s “Sexual Utopia in Power.”

The Beneficence of Necessity

All human beings want the good. More precisely, every man wishes to be better than he already is, to become the best version of himself of which he’s capable. Despite this innate drive, we are fickle creatures. We are frequently unable to bring the objects of our desires into being. Why? We lose sight of our clear-sighted view of the good. We become enslaved to our low, unreflective appetites. This shameful lack of willfulness arises whenever we think that things can be otherwise, whenever we tell ourselves, “I don’t have to lift today” or “Why can’t I just spend my time scrolling through social media?” or “There’s no need for me read a serious book.” On the other hand, whenever we clear-sightedly grasp that something cannot be otherwise, we act far more prudently. Whenever it’s necessary for me to wake up at 5:00 in the morning, I do it. No questions asked.

So: use necessity to your advantage. In those moments of clarity when you genuinely see what’s good for you, make it impossible to act otherwise. I’ll provide a more concrete explanation below. But first, three historical examples are in order. I was inspired by three books I’ve been reading recently: Leo Strauss’s Thoughts on Machiavelli, Xenophon’s Anabasis, and Julius Caesar’s Gallic War. I take an example from each work.

In the third chapter of Thoughts on Machiavelli, Strauss briefly discusses Machiavelli’s praise of what “some moral philosophers have written.” Strauss writes, “The philosophers in question had understood ‘the virtue of necessity’ or they had realized that necessity is the mother of the highest virtue. Their insight agrees with the thesis of the chapter that necessity makes men obstinate and hence excellent fighters. The wise captain or ruler will therefore use every artifice to liberate his enemies from such salutary necessity; he will deceive the enemy populace by making large promises to them and by claiming that he has no quarrel with them but only with the ambitious few in their midst” [1].

Strauss is discussing here Chapter 12 of Book III of Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy titled “That a Prudent Captain Ought to Impose every Necessity to Engage in Combat on His Soldiers and Take It Away from Those of Enemies.” As the chapter heading indicates, Machiavelli is drawing a universal conclusion. He solidly grounds that universal on a phenomenon he has observed in both the ancient and the modern world. It is a recurring phenomenon that discloses a permanent truth about human nature. Machiavelli argues that if a captain is going to capture a city, he ought to look at the necessities constraining its inhabitants. If the inhabitants are compelled by necessity to defend themselves, then the captain should know that capture will not be easy. Similarly, if the captain’s own men are constrained by necessity to fight, they will do so; and they will do so with vigor.

As he is wont to do, Strauss divulges an impious conclusion that Machiavelli quietly points to: “The last of [Machiavelli’s examples] shows how the Romans drove the Volsci, led by Messius, into extreme obstinacy. Machiavelli quotes in Latin a part of the speech with which Messius exhorted his soldiers; in the part omitted by him, Messius says: ‘Do you believe that some god will protect you and carry you away from here?’ Here we are meant to see how an enemy of Rome was driven by necessity into ‘operating perfectly’ precisely by his subjective certainty that he and his army will not be saved by any god” [2]. Machiavelli’s impiety is not especially important for my present purposes. What is important is that Messius’s disclosure of the fact that his soldiers were under necessity caused them to operate perfectly. Necessity proscribes imperfection. It makes weakness impossible.

This lesson is not a Straussian or Machiavellian quirk. Machiavelli was right to draw this universal conclusion. For instance, in Book VI, chapter 5 of Xenophon’s Anabasis, Xenophon recounts an episode in which he and his men were running low on provisions and needed to procure some from nearby villages while contending with an enemy. As Xenophon’s army is marching forward, they come to a large ravine that is difficult to cross. Sophaenetus, an older general, tells Xenophon that they should not even discuss crossing the ravine. It would be too dangerous. Moreover, before this episode, the Greeks had struggled to acquire propitious sacrifices. So Sophaenetus is likely also worried that the Greeks have lost the gods’ favor.

Xenophon interrupts the old man’s shameful words with a speech that is worth quoting in part: “Now this is the situation: it is not possible to go away from here without a battle, for if we do not attack the enemy, they will follow us and fall upon us as we retreat. Observe whether it is better to go against these men with our weapons thrust forward or to behold our enemy following us, attacking us from behind, with our weapons facing away from them. You know, certainly, that retreating from enemies is like nothing noble, while following them implants confidence even in the bad…. As for putting a difficult ravine in the rear by crossing over, is this not even a situation worth seizing for those who are going to do battle? It is for the enemy that I would wish every path to seem easily passable—so they retreat! But for us, we need to be taught even by the place itself that there is no salvation unless we are victorious” [3].

In this truly remarkable passage, we find Xenophon putting into practice the very same principle articulated by Machiavelli, and this is not even one of the examples to which Machiavelli referred in the Discourses. Xenophon uses necessity to his advantage. He knows that his men have become too timid and are overly apprehensive about crossing the ravine. They need to have the ravine behind them so that retreat is not an option. Necessity will compel them to fight well. Necessity will make them operate perfectly. The episode concludes in the following way: “The enemy rushed against them, both the horsemen and the line of Bithynians, and they turned the peltasts to flight. But when the phalanx of hoplites, marching quickly, came up to meet them; when the trumpet sounded and they sang the paean and then shouted the war cry; and when at the same time they lowered their spears—then the enemy stood up to them no longer. Instead, they fled. And Timasion pursued them with the horsemen, and they killed as many as they could, though they themselves were few in number. The enemy’s left scattered at once, with the Greek horsemen against it.” The next chapter begins, “After this, the enemy kept busy about their own [affairs], and they took both their households and their possession as far away as they could” [4].

This passage from the Anabasis is an example of a necessity that wasn’t consciously brought about by a human being. Xenophon did not wish for his men to come to a ravine. He simply made the best out of a tricky situation. My final example, however, is a necessity created by human deliberation. In the beginning of Julius Caesar’s Gallic War, he retells the deliberations behind the Helvetii’s decision to leave their homeland behind. They were persuaded to desert their homeland by a man named Orgetorix who told them that they could easily take over the whole of Gaul and rule it themselves. Orgetorix’ efforts at persuasion were facilitated by the inferior geographical position of the Helvetii. As Caesar puts it, their geographical situation “limited their ability to move far and wide and hampered them in attacking their neighbors. This galled them enormously, since they were a people keen to wage war” [5]. The story hitherto would have been sufficient to include this example in my discussion. What Caesar tells us next, however, is utterly incredible. After the Helvetii had resolved to leave their homeland (and after the rhetorically skilled Orgetorix had died), the people guaranteed that they would stick to their plan: “After Orgetorix’ death, the Helvetii did not give up their efforts to realize their intention to migrate from their country. When they thought they were ready to go, they set fire to all their towns, around twelve of them, as well as roughly four hundred villages, and all their other private buildings; furthermore, they burned up all the grain beyond what they were going to carry with them—all this in order to eliminate any hope of returning home, so that they would be more fully committed to undergo all dangers” [6].

The Helvetii knew the nature of human beings. They knew that they would be tempted to return home because the way forward was hard. So they made it impossible for themselves to return home. They used necessity to their advantage. To be sure, Caesar did eventually trounce the Helvetii despite their resoluteness. But that was because he, being a great leader, knew more about necessity than they did.

These insights taken from military history don’t have to be limited to captains on a campaign. You can use necessity to your advantage in everyday life. Do you see things that are likely to drag you away from your goals? Are you constantly tempted to turn away from the merciless path of excellence by trivial distractions? Then burn down your temptations. You don’t have to literally burn them down, but you have to get rid of them. Do you have trouble waking up in the morning? Put your alarm on the other side of your room, or get an app that prevents you from constantly hitting the snooze button. Do you play too many video games? Get rid of your console. Sell it and spend the money on protein powder. Do you spend too much time mindlessly scrolling through useless social media? Delete your Facebook account and read Caesar’s Gallic War. Was that not enough? Get rid of your smart phone. Are you constantly tempted to eat that ice cream in your freezer? Throw it away and celebrate the victory over your slavish desires with vanity lifts. Do you have trouble working out every day? Make a pact with your friend to shame one another whenever one of you fails to lift. (Shame, of course, can be a kind of necessity.) If your friend doesn’t go to the gym with you like he promised, call him what he is: an object worthy of your contempt. If he’s a true friend, he’ll do the same for you when you act like human-shaped pond scum.

Modern man hates necessity because he loves softness, vice, and wretched contentment. Don’t become a victim of the siren-song of modern depravity. Love necessity, virtue, and shame. If you make vice impossible, you have no choice but to pursue virtue, excellence, and beauty. Make excellence a necessity and it will become a habit, i.e., a second nature.

Notes

[1] Leo Strauss, Thoughts on Machiavelli, (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1978)119.

[2] Ibid., 220.

[3] Xenophon, Anabasis, trans. by Wayne Ambler (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008) 6.5.14-18.

[4] Ibid., 6.5.26-28 and 6.6.1.

[5] Julius Caesar, Gallic War, in The Landmark Julius Caesar, (New York: Pantheon Books, 2017) 4-5.

[6] Ibid., 6.

Throwing Out Nature With A Pitchfork: What COVID-19 Discloses

The present outbreak shocks us. Why? Our experts claim that it cannot properly be called a “plague.” We cushy moderns have been jolted from the slumber of our artificial, globalized mode of existence. Having been reared as citizens of the technological world, we expected, nay, demanded that the world, that necessity itself, bow before our will. 

But our will lacks force. Although we have willed a mere life of comfort and tranquility, we have not had the stomach to guard our last man existence. For to guard something is to recognize the possibility of losing what one has; we cannot endure this prospect. “Let us remake the world in the image of our cowardly desires,” we decided. If all goes well, we thought, we will never even have to think anything genuinely horrifying. “Thou shalt not fear” is the only categorical imperative to which we cling (shame, of course, is a species of fear). We want nothing more than to pass through existence without confronting the awareness of that cruel necessity, the awareness that ever lurks beneath the surface of the waves of our thoughts: you will die.

This outbreak discloses the impotence of our human, all too human will. It discloses that our impositions on nature have never been, and can never be, permanent. It discloses that nature lacks the intelligibility we wished to ascribe to it.

For all our mockery of teleology, we have ourselves unwittingly and unconsciously imposed a teleology on nature. Hence, we exclaim, “This should not have happened.” It is a stern, terror-inducing reminder that the world is not our oyster. 

Confronted with this fact, whether we want to face it or not, we are currently presented with a choice. Do we take flight from the truth nature has so cruelly revealed? Or do we dare to look at the horror at the heart of existence, a horror of which we are always dimly aware but which elusive nature has now permitted us to glimpse? How we choose indicates our own nature; it brings to light that piece of nature we are. When we are afforded the opportunity to contemplate nature herself do we flee from an enemy whom we can never defeat? Or do we recognize her as kin?

Who Follows Bronze Age Pervert?

“The vain-glory which consisteth in the feigning or supposing of abilities in ourselves (which we know are not) is most incident to young men, and nourished by the histories or fictions of gallant persons; and is corrected oftentimes by age and employment.”

—Thomas Hobbes

“Many times I’m asked, why the Bronze Age? Because it’s the heroic age you see in Iliad and Odyssey, yes, but don’t forget what hero really means.”

—Bronze Age Pervert

As Bronze Age Pervert continues to grow in popularity (as, I assure you, he most certainly will), the prisoners of our regime will inevitably turn to one another, blink, and ask: “Who are they?” With this question in mind I take up my current task: to tell you, reader, in a sketch, who we are and who I am.

In a word, we are a problem: a hated, wicked, confused, and tortured problem. I offer the following auto-vivisection in order to limn this problem. My audience is perhaps twofold. Those unfamiliar with the longings, demands, and cruelty of our souls will begin to fathom depths they’ve never imagined. Could others gain clarity about themselves—as if they’d fallen, suddenly, to their knees and been permitted to glimpse the divine, painful light of self-knowledge? Is self-knowledge today possible?A strange, questionable question to be sure. Even the question mark casts a long shadow. For far too long I thought it impossible to find the contours of that long shadow; instinct and habit look the same in the dark. I thought it folly even to risk posing the question on account of the boundless, terrible shadows of the formidable question mark. Do not blame me if you lose your way in the dark.

Allow me to juxtapose our souls with our regime. Our regime is grounded on a promise: that human beings are all equal, endowed with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These rights are, in turn, grounded not on a greatest good, but on a greatest evil, a summum malum: fear of violent death. Our souls, by contrast, reject this fear. We are those who make that promise (the promise to end fear itself) a problem. We are the “vainglorious.”

You forgot that we existed. You thought that the vainglorious were products of a “backwards consciousness,” the bastardized results of particular, homogeneous, closed societies. You sought, from the very beginning, to extinguish us. Are you at all surprised when we, having struck your idols with our hammers and heard their hollow ringing, reject your way of life?

 Business, sports, pornography, video games, and travel. These are the “goods” you offer us and everyone to live for. In all healthy regimes these activities are rightly looked down on as contemptible, as symptoms of decline, a siren-song that leads only the weak astray. Can real men be satisfied with these paltry diversions that cloud our awareness that we have been denied a chance at experiencing the peaks of life? Other peoples look on your idol without understanding and hate it. Who can blame them? Do you not smell the rotting decadence in which you bathe yourselves and your families? Your valley of vice is an abyss.

We do not seek “recognition.” That is your way of life. We seek a regime that doesn’t wish to eliminate us. We seek a regime whose raison d’être isn’t our destruction. (Our destruction is indeed the sine qua non for your little happiness.) The fact that you ask us to live here in diaspora vindicates my thesis that you have never understood us. You have been grossly ignorant of that piece of nature we are.

Or have you? When we express our dissatisfaction, you call us sick and offer us poison. You can offer us no reason to live, but you imprison us with the numb pleasures of anti-depressants. Our sterilization starts early. You want us to be gentle, calm, malleable. When we don’t act effeminately, you “discover” that we suffer from attention deficient disorder and correct our “sick” spiritedness with Ritalin. It seems never to have occurred to you that the problem might reside in you and not in us. Did you sincerely expect us to coexist with you? We will no longer go voluntarily to the madhouse.

Some of us who survived the monotonous brutality of your “education,” turned inevitably to war and self-sacrifice. These botched-experiments came to believe that they could live a serious life by dedicating themselves to the cause of “freedom.” Only when we came face to face with our true enemy did we see the error of our ways. What exactly were we dying for? For you? For your “freedom”? Are we to lay down our lives so that you can go to Miley Cyrus concerts with your whorish daughters? So that you can smoke weed while watching Netflix? So that furries can attend conventions in their semen-stained costumes? So that mothers can chemically castrate their sons they wish to be girls? So that the people we protect can spit on the flag we die for and on the coffins of our fallen brothers? We thank you for the clarity and self-knowledge you have afforded us. We now seek our true good: the birthright of the vainglorious.

I close with a word about mainstream conservatism. In particular, I address Michael Anton’s critique of BAP, which is, for the moment, conservatism’s closest point of contact with us. Anton claims that BAP never addresses the question of the best regime and he (Anton) heralds the American regime (at its founding) as the best regime. When invoking any notion of the good, one must ask the question barely veiled beneath the surface: cui bono? To be succinct, Anton has not seen the good for what it is. He mistakes the good of the gentleman for the good of everyone. When he says that the American regime is the best, we ask, “Best for whom?” The answer is quite simple: from the beginning, at its peak, America was a regime for the benefit of shopkeepers. That is not best for us.

The choice is simple. Do we accept our natural longing for danger and beauty, cruelty and greatness, probity and virtue? Or do we accept the lie that the conventional idols propped up before us are true? Will we be men? Or will we be slaves? There is a great danger in choosing the former. For you cannot stomach honesty. If you had your envious, resentful way, you tarantulas with your gently suffocating despotism would softly flatten the souls of those who profess their vainglorious, piratical nature. Molon labe.

Are you still stumbling in the dark? Or do you feel the searing heat of the light of nature?—perhaps even of your nature?