On Saturday I had a great discussion with Anthony Johnson, Rian Stone (Married Red Pill Reddit) and “Carl” from Black Label Logic. The topic was a critique of the impact Dr. Jordan Peterson is having on a society of ‘lost’ (mostly) young men and how his message is affecting this generally rudderless generation of men. It’s a little over two hours long, but from the overwhelming response on YouTube, Facebook, Reddit and other forums it’s definitely struck a nerve. As an aside here, I’m considering making this meet up video format something I may do semi-regularly (like every other week) with some of the men I consider peers in the manosphere.
You can watch this talk at your leisure, but it has taught me a few things. As I mentioned in the chat it’s next to impossible to have any disagreement or critique of people whom other’s believe are your betters. As Rollo Tomassi it’s impossible for me to be critical of any high profile guy in the sphere without the accusations of professional jealousy or sour grapes being the first reflexive response from haters. I got that, but I’ve learned the conversation is more important that trying to convince anyone of it being genuine. In fact, I think it belies a bigger problem when they are above critique.
That aside, I think it was good to finally parse where Red Pill awareness and what Peterson is advocating have some overlap and where we differ. Peterson is a fountain of hope for the ‘lost’ boys, so anything critical of his message is going to sound like it’s endorsing an “enjoy the decline” mentality. I can’t expect everyone to have read up on my own opinion about that, but the short version is that I’ve never been convinced of some inevitable decline and fall of western civilization. In other words, I think it is possible to turn the ship around; where I may differ is in how that might be done.
For the record here I want to say that I have a great respect for Dr. Peterson. I think he’s what the sphere has needed for a while and I think he fits the role of ‘champion’ that a generation of young men have wanted to place on someone. Ideologically I agree with about 85-90% of what he advocates and there’s no doubt that he’s got definite skin in the game. In fact I really hate it when people use that as some catch phrase to disqualify men today. As a man we all have skin in the game now. How much and to what degree may be debatable, but we all live in a feminine-primary social order and as such we all have a lot to risk whether we acknowledge this or not.
Where I differ with Peterson is in his very Trad-Con solutions to turning the ship around. I wasn’t shocked to see him endorsed in videos for Prager University. In some ways what he proposes resonates with young men looking for a direction because their fathers and generations of Blue Pill men haven’t been able to deliver a way out of Hell for them. I go into this in more detail in our talk here, but here are some of my issues with Peterson’s take on things:
• Life is suffering and sacrifice: In every video I’ve watched Dr. Peterson’s founding (zen-like) premise is that life is suffering and the best men can do is to find ways to minimize that suffering. Men (and I’ve yet to see a video addressing women) must sacrifice parts or all of themselves in order to qualify for “genuine” manhood. The degree of that self-sacrifice is relative to how high a status that man can achieve.
I fundamentally disagree with this premise though I do understand why it’s so appealing to a ‘lost generation’ of young men. From my own perspective, life is based on a perpetual discontent, but how a man deals with that discontent – creatively or destructively – is the measure of him. Furthermore, I would argue that women fundamentally lack the capacity to appreciate the sacrifices men make in order to facilitate their reality.
• Blue Pill conditioning seems to define his perspective of women: Essentially the archetype he has for women was formed for him as a 7 year old boy when he first developed a soul-mate ONEitis for his wife. His reluctance to acknowledge the Alpha Fucks side of women’s Hypergamy in any video (beyond his repeated use of 50 Shades of Grey as a humorous example) leads me to the impression that he defaults to women as innately ‘good’ and above too much criticism. As such he focuses almost entirely on the good provider / parental investment / Beta need side of Hypergamy. This is unsurprising as it follows the same Trad-Con interpretations of women being “closer to God than men” and men must qualify themselves, and sacrifice themselves for women’s (wives) intimate approval. Dalrock has covered this dynamic among male “complementarian” Christian leaders quite extensively.
• Sacrifice of men is a parallel to men’s disposability: Men will blow themselves up for pussy. From what I gather from his talks Peterson endorses male disposability as a form of Honor. He seems to play on the ‘Man Up / Shut Up’ dynamic I talked about in The Honor System. What ever aspect of maleness that serves the feminine purpose is a man’s masculine responsibility, yet any aspect that disagrees with feminine primacy is labeled Patriarchy and Misogyny. I’m not suggesting Peterson is accusing men of Patriarchy or Misogyny, rather, like most Trad-Cons, it’s a question of living up to one’s duty as a man in his disposability and his usefulness in that sacrifice.
• “Get your shit together” is also a plea for sacrifice: If a man is less valuable his sacrifice is less meaningful. No one cares about mediocre / average men’s sacrifices, but if a man accepts that he is to improve himself it is so that his sacrifice is more appreciated and important. Thus, the comparisons to Christ’s sacrifice as being the ultimate expression of sacrifice and meaning which Peterson uses in his dissertations on manhood and the Bible. My issue here is that women and a feminine-primary social order lack a capacity to appreciate the sacrifices men make because these are taken-for-granted expectations of what a man just “ought to do”.
• Peterson is egalitarian to a fault: The mantra may be for men to sack up and make something of themselves, but this is couched in an egalitarian equalism that’s prevalent today. If I had one question to ask Jordan it would be this; is there a dominance hierarchy in a healthy LTR or marriage? I don’t know for certain. My guess is he would say it passes back and forth between a husband and wife which is to say he falls back on an egalitarian ideal. However, outside the family structure he acknowledges that men and women in a state of egalitarianism choose to adopt traditional gender roles (I think he gave the same example as was covered here).
• Dr. Peterson regularly resorts to shaming language with men, rarely does he do the same with women: This may be a simple question of his delivery, but Peterson is always harder on men than he is with women. In so doing he adopts the AMOGing of only men techniques that a pastor like Mark Driscoll uses from the pulpit. Inso doing he pedestalizes women and absolves them of any consequences of their Hypergamous choices by imploring men to “man up and marry those sluts“. In essence the sacrificial nature of men becomes one that is necessary for the continuance of ‘family’ and western culture in spite of women. I also see how this plays into the idea of women lacking any moral agency, personal responsibility and wiping the bad behavior of women off on the men who have allowed this to happen. Once again it comes back to the hypoagency of women.
• Peterson believes that desire can be negotiated: This is my biggest problem with Peterson’s approach to women. This undoubtedly comes from his being a clinical psychologist, but like most therapists he defaults to the idea that genuine desire can be motivated by a process of negotiation. If there is one example of his lack of experience with women it is this belief. In several of his interviews and podcasts he makes reference to appealing to women’s reason and negotiating terms for acceptable behavior (always a man’s behavior) in exchange for intimacy and/or a stress-free marriage. This is the egalitarian, Oprah Approved, male-sublimated means to achieving transactional intimacy.
As you might guess, I strongly disagree with negotiating intimacy. You cannot negotiate genuine desire. You can obligate a woman to fuck you (now called rape) via negotiation, but you cannot organically inspire genuine desire in a woman. This has always been my main point of contention with the marriage counseling trade for a long time.
What is the Red Pill version of “man-up”?
I had a commenter ask me this in the last comment thread. I think there’s two sides to this question. First, I think there’s a need to keep the Red Pill (in the intersexual sense) as close to an objectivist purpose as possible. That means Red Pill awareness is the result of a continuing praxeology.
I’ve locked horns with a few Red Pill guys recently who seem to think that ‘Red Pill’ is an ideology and it’s just the counter revolt to feminism; basically it is feminism for men. I think that does a huge disservice to everything and everyone that’s brought us to where we are today in Red Pill awareness and all of the work and personal risk that was put on the line to explore what we know as Red Pill awareness now. Not only that it casually devalues the effort and work that’s continuing right now.
Critics and feminists alike want to draw parallels in the manosphere to whatever (fictitious) wave of feminism they think applies to whatever the Men’s Rights Movement is calling Red Pill at the moment. Believing that Red Pill is an ideology is one more casualty of how the term / brand has been bastardized by other ideologies who’ve never had any business referring to themselves as “red pill”.
Presuming Red Pill is just an ideology is juvenile, and unsurprisingly it’s an opinion of some underexperienced men in the manosphere who want for simplistic answers. They don’t want to think about what Red Pill awareness implies on a larger social scale. They want a flag to wave and an easy to understand ideology so they can stick it to their feminist enemies. I get it. They want Red Pill (however they define it) to be that ideology, but to me, I think, and I’ve always said it, the Red Pill needs to remain fundamentally apolitical, areligious and amoral to ensure that it stays true to understanding truth. It needs to remain true to being an aggregate of men’s collected experiences with intersexual dynamics.
What these guys want is a meaning to that truth, but that’s not the Red Pill. Meaning is what men will apply to that truth according to their individual needs, situations and circumstances. This is why Peterson and probably some more personalities to follow him will be popular in the future; they prioritize meaning above truth. If you listen to the first podcast of Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson they spend the entire time trying to come to an agreed measure of truth between the two of them so they can move on (in the second podcast) to what is meaning.
You want to know why I don’t do prescriptions on The Rational Male? Because we disempower ourselves when we follow someone else’s path and not our own.
There is a deep need in almost all people to improve or ‘fix’ ourselves in some way. I’ve written essays about it; discontent is is the human condition. That in no way means that life is suffering as per the Peterson (Zen) doctrine, but it is man’s condition to never be satisfied with even the greatest of accomplishments. That is what put us at the top of the species contest on this planet. You can be constructively or destructively discontent, but when you tell me that life is suffering and the only way to lessen that suffering (never to solve it of course) is to sacrifice my way to a better life all that says to me is that you’re out of ideas for a creative solution and you’re all-in on the destructive methods. Either that or you’ll continue naval gazing.
So, the Red Pill needs to remain a praxeology and it ought to always resist being force-fit into an ideology because it’s always some ideological hack who wants to claim the truth it reveals as proof of his own purpose. The Red Pill has to remain an open source aggregate of men’s experiences. That’s why we’re still here today in spite of the Rooshs who said it would die out 3 years ago – it’s open source and decentralized information.
Now, to the second point, what does ‘Man up’ mean in the Red Pill context? I think this is really for the individual to decide, but I’d say that it would involve a man utilizing and internalizing the awareness the Red Pill represents to him and improving his life with it. In the Safety Net post’s comment thread there are hundreds of examples of how men saved their own lives, often literally. How the Red Pill truth reached them and then manifested in their lives is highly individual. I mentioned the need for a dissociation with ideology because that usually means aligning oneself with the expectations of someone else’s version of truth, not the objective (or as objective as we can make it) truth of the Red Pill.
When I hear ‘man-up’, I identify the context only as derogatory… is there any other definition which is not?
It should, because in almost all contexts imploring a guy to “Man Up” is following someone else’s path, not your own. This is what I mean when I say that I’m not in the business of creating better men, I’m in the business of men making themselves better men. And in today’s world of men seeking direction there is no shortage of personalities who’d like nothing more than to profit from selling men on their paths.
If there is a definition of ‘manning up’ in a Red Pill sense it is living a better way than your previous life that was informed by the falsehoods of your Blue Pill conditioning. Manning up Red Pill is killing off that old Blue Pill-created persona and killing off the false idealisms it taught you. It’s understanding and internalizing that those lies made you a less authentic person because the Blue Pill is firmly an ideology, but one that wears the mask of freedom or choice or individualism. If self-improvement in a Red Pill sense entail some basic tenets, one is that a man cuts himself away from that old Blue Pill paradigm and rebuilds a better life for himself based on a real understanding of intersexual truth on the personal, social and political scales.
Manning up Red Pill begins with rejecting the lies of egalitarian equalism and a commitment to real objective understanding of intersexual dynamics.