Archive for January, 2009

I have been known to urge the world at large, “Behave better so that I can feel like I’m being naughty!”

Nature meant me to be naughty. Not a fallen woman or a strumpet, merely naughty. I am the sort of woman who in another era would have been a king’s mistress. Had I lived in an era when respectable women wore only face powder, I would have worn rouge. Had I lived in an era when ladies did not smoke or drink spirits, I would have done both. Had I lived in an era when good girls let their hair stay whatever color their chromosomes had inflicted on it, I would have dyed it. Had I lived before the 1960’s, I would have had a collection of French postcards and perhaps a copy of The One Thousand and One Nights. I’m reminded of my saintly grandmother, who shocked her fellow churchgoers by boldly stating that she had read Forever Amber. (It had no observable effect on her behavior.)

Nowadays, of course, the sort of art and literature I find titillating is quaintly old-fashioned, preteen girls routinely enhance the coloring of their hair and faces to hues never found in nature, someone who (like myself) has never used illegal substances is considered square, and the double entendres with which I could have had a ball shocking people pale before the obscenity found in shampoo commercials. At least I can still shock people by smoking.

This is on my mind partly because today the blogs I follow yielded several posts about something that should not be a political issue: homosexuality. In saner times, homosexuality was a perversion indulged in secretly by some people who just couldn’t help themselves. If an unlucky king had this affliction, the misfortunes of his subjects were blamed upon his sin, but aside from that, it was a trivial matter that hardly anybody cared about.

Nowadays, thanks to the completely inappropriate politicization of homosexuality by the Frankfurt School, homosexuality has become something it never was before: a threat to civilized society. I cannot imagine that this has done homosexuals any favors. Essentially, the result is that most of them believe that if they do not join with the forces of evil, they will never be left to carry out their perversions in peace. This political exploitation of people who are already saddled with a difficult burden by nature is shameful. It has also been quite successful. Take the case of these children who have been put in the care of a gay couple despite having grandparents eager to care for them. (Hat tip Irish Tory.) The only possible reason for this immoral interference in the biological family is that the social workers believed that the gay couple would do a better job of indoctrinating the children in leftist ideology than their own grandparents would have. They are probably correct, but I cannot help but think with amusement of a Log Cabin Republican of my acquaintance who is one of the most right-wing people currently drawing breath. (She likes to say that Rush Limbaugh would be perfect if only he were a little more conservative.) Had she been one of the prospective adoptors, I rather think that the social workers would have deemed the biological grandparents to be young enough to care for children after all.

Another politicized vice is that of fornication. In the past, everyone understood that given fallible human nature, some people would have sex before marriage, in which case the couple were expected to marry posthaste in most cases. Adultery was also accepted, not as something morally permissible, but as something which would unfortunately happen from time to time, and most people’s reaction to an unfaithful spouse was to find some way of keeping the marriage functioning so as not to damage the children, the social position, and so on. Nowadays, of course, adultery is a reason to tear the home apart, because the pleasure of the adults is considered more important than the needs of their children. And fornication is considered such a basic human right that women are even believed justified in murdering any consequences that inconvenience them in their pursuit of physical gratification.

The unfortunate result is that by contrast, civilized people (known as “conservatives” or “tradionalists”) have been forced to demand unrealistically high standards of conduct of people in a society that does not support even the barest amount of self-control.  This reactionary puritanism is probably inevitable, but it deters many people who would rather live in a civilized society from joining us; they find the saintly standards we are having to hold up quite understandably daunting. Once when I expressed disapproval of prostitution, someone else reminded me of one of my own vices and informed me that it ought to make me “more open-minded”. People have come to believe that only a saint can have any standards.

In times when general standards were higher, conservatives had a matter-of-fact acceptance of vice, because we understand the fallibility of human nature. Indeed, to an extent, we still have it. Ann Coulter cheerfully acknowledges that at times she has lived on cigarettes and champagne and that in her days of gainful employment, she and her then-boyfriend used to “make out” in the stairwell. Republicans laughed long and hard a few years ago at the vaporings of liberals when it was discovered that a prominent conservative whose name I cannot recall was a poker player, as was the late Senator McCarthy. P. J. O’Rourke was driven to invent the “Republican Party Reptile” to describe conservatives who are not entirely chaste.

On the other hand, we are forced to waste time arguing about people’s sex lives, and we can’t avoid it because progressives are using the “right” to sexual indulgence as justification for legislation. Gay marriage is the least of it (and the institution of marriage is now so damaged that I can’t see why homosexuals would want any part of it anyhow); it’s used to support abortion, easy divorce, the legal preying of grown men upon fourteen-year-olds of both sexes in some European countries, entrusting helpless children to porn stars, sex education that involves such things as forcing young children to tell their classmates their sexual fantasies and telling kindergarteners about the most extreme acts, and the “right” of billboards, television and magazines to make pornography, not availabe to adults, but inescapable by anyone. Fighting all of this requires stating the traditional sexual ethic in pure, undiluted form. In the past, an author writing a novel about adultery was a trivial matter; today, progressives will seize upon the slightest irregularity as a wedge for their unbridled debauchery.

I do not have a solution for our current excessive puritanism, except to remind my fellow conservatives and traditionalists that it is a reaction, not our proper habit.

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The sacred cow, or perhaps I should say golden calf, of “equality” is wreaking immeasurable damage on our society. It started with a principle that at least sounds good, that of “equality before the law”. Of course, equality before the law precludes any sort of  nobility or aristocracy, and now we are feeling the lack of those.

The principle of equality before the law had its first major exploitation when feminists demanded that women be treated precisely the same as men by the law. The problem here is that women are not the same as men. Women have different capabilities and needs. Women require more protection from roving criminals; men are more apt to be able to defend themselves.  (Part of the reason that schools have become so dangerous is that most teachers are feminists and they are unwilling to tell boys not to hit girls, as this would imply that girls are not equal to boys!) There are roles, i.e. those of soldier or policeman, that require physical strength and stamina that women simply do not have. Women also require protection from being seduced and left on their own with children. I could go on, but I believe my point is taken. Naturally, the attempt to force the law to treat men and women equally has backfired in a thousand ways, and by now, of course, the legal inequality has simply been adjusted. For example, women angry at not being treated like ladies can now sue for sexual harassment, but how often do men sue for the exact same thing? Suggest that men ought to, to someone who claims to believe that the sexes are the same, and even they will laugh at the idea. Statistics demonstrate that women commit more than half of domestic violence, so where are the shelters for battered men? And why do divorce courts routinely demand that deserted husbands give most of their property to the alleged equals they married and financially support those “equals” in perpetuity?

The mania for “equality” has created in most people a pathological intolerance for being shut out of anything. It has also led to an excessive emphasis on age, as children or adolescents are among the few people who can still be justifiably discriminated against. In the introduction to a recent edition of one of E. Nesbit’s novels, a modern woman told us everything that was wrong with these nonetheless charming novels. (I don’t have a sarcasm font, but let me assure you that the sarcasm is very much there.) She attacked a scene in which a man took one of the boys aside for a man-to-man talk about how he shouldn’t be mean to his sisters because girls and boys are different, and have to be to do the grownup work of women and men. She was furious at how “patronizing” this was; personally, I wish that the boys I was forced to associate with as a child had patronized me that way. She was also outraged that these upper-class children gave orders to the family’s adult servants, and demonstrated better judgment than they did. She did not explain how she thought the children and servants ought to have related to each other, but I hazard a guess that she thought that these children, who would grow up to have a measure of power and influence in their society, ought to have been deferring to, taking orders from, and perhaps even learning from their servants. Reflect for a moment on whether you wish your laws to be made by people who were taught about the world by servants, or whether you wish your retirement fund to be invested in the stock of a company run by such men, and you will see how absurd the notion is.

Much has been written, by conservatives far more moderate than myself, about the difference between “equality of opportunity” and “equality of outcome”. In fact, some of the more mischievous attackers of feminism have mischievously suggested that the ERA is exactly what we need: hold women to the precise same standards as men for employment and men will triumph over them. It only takes a few minutes of examination to see that what the agitators of feminism and affirmative action are demanding is special privileges for their protected group. Many mainstream conservatives and libertarians ask ingenuously, “Why aren’t they satisfied with a level playing field?” The answer is that, whether nature or nurture is to blame in the various cases (in the case of women it is most definitely nature), if we have a genuinely level playing field, the winners overwhelmingly will be white men, Asian men, and Jews.  But this is unacceptable, because at some point we convinced ourselves that all humans – every last one of us – is exactly equal in potential and ability. Therefore, unequal outcomes must be the product of evil prejudice!

And of course, to any sensible person (that is, anyone who is not a progressive), it is obvious that such policies do no disadvantaged group any favors. Few will publicly admit it, but many people are reluctant to use the services of black professionals because they might have attained their positions by affirmative action rather than ability. When you need surgery, do you want your doctor to have been given special privileges out of a sense of “reparations”? When you have been accused of a serious crime, do you want to be defended by a lawyer whose grades would have been too low for admission to law school were it not for racial quotas?

But even more than that, affirmative action and similar measures deter members of the newly privileged groups from striving for achievement. This to the groups that can least afford such deterrence.

But I am wandering from my thesis, which is that the notion of “equality” detracts from achievement in general society. Once the notion of equality has gotten about, it routinely becomes a mania that all people must be equal at all times and in all ways. Never mind that, to a sensible person, men and women are equally vital for the survival of a society; the fact that their contributions are necessarily different is intolerable, and women must be forced to turn themselves into imitation men. (When that doesn’t work, men will be forced to be less manly so as not to make women feel bad about not being men.)  We are now even seeing various proposals to prevent people from leaving their own property to their own children, because God forbid that those children should have any “unearned” privilege. That parents work for the express purpose of creating a legacy which can be passed down to their descendants, a legacy of property or beliefs or codes of behavior or skills, seems to elude these egalitarians. Deprive people of the right to bequeath a legacy to their own children – which is precisely what schools do when they teach children values different from those of their parents – and soon there will be no more reason for achievement of any sort. We have to endure a bit of “inequality” in order to enjoy the benefits of civilization.

(Personally, I am in favor of entailments preventing parents from disinheriting their children. I believe that when you put your zygote where another zygote can get at it, that is the moment at which you accept your obligations to your offspring, and there is no getting out of them.)

I submit that people had a healthier attitude towards inequality when it was institutionalized – that is, when we had an aristocracy. A thousand social customs and laws reminded people from day to day of the very real differences in rank and station. This constant reinforcement of inequality of rank no doubt aided people in accepting differences in ability, made it easier for them to accept that some people were better at things than they were. They were used to being unequal; encountering a different sort of inequality was just a fact of life.

In addition, the modern attacks on ability were unknown, because ability was one of the few ways in which those born to a low station could hope to rise. Nowadays we punish people for superior ability. Bright children are expected to wait for their duller agemates to catch up, because what is important is that everyone go through precisely the same indoctrination routine, not that they be taught anything. Capable men see the jobs they have spent years working towards being given to less qualified women who then demand the right to be paid the same amount for part-time work. Such madness was unknown a mere century ago.

Bring back titled aristocracy and we will become a meritocracy again in no time.

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Modern Relationships

When I was 15, I met a boy. He was 16 and he took a fancy to me. I would have been content to have someone to go to movies with and neck with, but he had to talk serious about it. I didn’t have my present strict code of conduct then, or any religious restraints (which I have in abundance nowadays), so he didn’t have to claim he was in love with me and generally put on his convincing show of devotion to score. Indeed, when he broke it off, one of his chief complaints about me was my enthusiasm for physical affection. (That is why he was the only Catholic I ever dated.)

So this boy, not content with getting companionship and sex, introduced completely unnecessary emotional involvement into what I had intended to be a casual, fun adolescent fling. How could any ardent young girl resist such romantic courtship? He put a great deal of effort into making me fall for him. And then, once I was securely hooked, he unceremoniously and without warning dumped me, with a list of vague complaints.

I was, of course, devastated. I lost ten pounds because I couldn’t eat. I had to take two weeks off of school because I couldn’t function even in the most minimal way. One night I came within a hair of swallowing an entire bottle of sleeping pills. Some adults are fond of pretending that teenagers don’t “really” fall in love – invalidating the emotions of the young gives them license to abuse those emotions. As so often happens, science has vindicated what I knew all along; in The Female Brain, Louise Brizendine explains the very painful and very real neurochemical reaction a young woman, even a teenager who has not been issued the permit to experience valid emotions that everyone is issued on their eighteenth birthday, experiences when she loses a romantic partner.

While I was trudging around in that miasma of heartbreak, I remember reflecting on the irony that if that boy had stolen my wallet, he would have been sent to jail, and yet he had done something far more harmful and vicious, and there were no consequences whatever for him. At the time, I considered this one of life’s inherent ironies; I could see no way that society could have restrained him from breaking my heart for a whim or punished him after he did so.

Of course, until very recently, society did a fairly capable job of just that. A century earlier, he probably would have had to settle for bad girls for female companionship until he was in his 20’s, but a 15-year-old girl would have been quite eligible. In any case, any young man who took an interest in a girl who was not a prostitute would have had to seek her parents’ approval and make her an honest offer. No one would have given any young man the idea that it was all right to entice a girl to fall in love with him, make a commitment to her, and then abandon her at whim. It was simply understood that one did not go beyond a certain level of flirting if one did not intend to marry. Certainly some rogues did so anyway, but nowadays this is commonplace and there is no restraint. Until the past century, social customs were in most cases successful in discouraging people from harming each other in this way. Nowadays it is considered normal and inevitable that one will have many relationships and many heartbreaks before marrying, and that most people will probably be married more than once.

In addition, it was once possible for rogues to have a code of honor in their amorous adventures. Many, for instance, confined their seductions to women who already had experience, rather than preying on the young and innocent. Men with Don Juan reputations did not pretend to offer anything else. Women who wanted the adventure of a brief affair with a man who would soon move on could have one knowing precisely what was being offered. Nowadays, there is no standard of honorable conduct in love. Two people come together, and perhaps things will work out and perhaps they won’t, and perhaps they are dealing honestly and perhaps they aren’t. Honor has been taken out of the equation. People cannot even be honest with themselves if they are mere adventurers and not searching in the bleak modern landscape for someone who just might be The One, or who might be gone tomorrow.

Laws have also ceased protecting people’s hearts. At one time, they did so – imperfectly, but laws are never universally obeyed. Nowadays one can no longer sue for breach of promise, or for alienation of affections, and of course divorce has made it easy to shed a spouse at whim.

Just a few decades ago, society protected its members from heartbreak as it did from assault, not always succeeding in either case, but offering some shield nonetheless. This is yet another protection of which we have today been deprived.

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The Personal is Political

I spend a large portion of my waking hours reading books by dead white men, preferably ones who died before I was born. I also watch old movies by the truckload. It’s all part of my ongoing project to install the Pre-1960 OS in my brain and wipe out the Post-1960 OS that my schools and the MSM installed. But it means that with each passing month, ever more tiny details of the modern world take on sinister significance, and I expend a great deal of energy refraining from getting into futile arguments with people whose context is completely different from my own.

Florence King once remarked that for the sensitive misanthrope, a category in which I count myself, modern life is like Chinese water torture. She’s right. Here is a random sampling of commonplace remarks I’ve heard or read recently that outraged my reactionary sensibilities:

“Oops, in my previous LJ post I used the universal he. What is wrong with me? *headdesk*”

Person #1: “I don’t understand why anyone would be so unenlightened as to oppose gay marriage.”
Person #2: “Well, it’s partly because quite a few of the leading advocates of it also advocate whacked out things like polygamy.”
Person #3: “What’s so ‘whacked out’ about polygamy?? You’re unenlightened too if you see anything wrong with polygamy!”

“Back during the Cold War, a lot of paranoid people believed that the Soviet Union was trying to take over the whole world. In reality, they were just protecting their own interests.” [I expect the residents of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine, Latvia, Afghanistan, East Germany, etc. etc. would be rather surprised to hear this.]

White person #1: “I’ve been listening to country music lately. I kinda like it, but I have to complain that most of the singers are white.”
White person #2: “And what, pray tell, is the matter with that?”
White person #3: “Tsk, tsk. WP#2 just doesn’t get it.”

“I think it enriches us to have a lot of immigrants in our town.”

“Though I’m usually in favor of low taxes, I support high inheritance taxes because I don’t think anyone ought to have any unearned privileges.”

For a while, I considered myself neurotic for seeing deeper meanings in all these offhand remarks, most of which people are obviously reciting because they’ve heard them hundreds of times on TV or from their professors. But now I realize that the neurosis is not mine. It was the forces of progressivism that decreed that “the personal is political” and felt the need to intrude on ordinary people’s daily lives by meddling with their most basic assumptions. The year I was born, only the most radical ideologues would have said anything so revolutionary as the above. Now even some registered Republicans see nothing wrong with them.

They are the ones who made the personal political. We shall have to reclaim the personal if we ever wish to make any political progress.

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Child rights activists are going about it all wrong, but there is a method to their madness. They present the undeniable fact that there are horribly abused children, who are not only suffering but who are likely to grow up to be delinquent if they are not helped. But instead of guaranteeing a child’s right to, as Murray Rothbard put it, “homestead himself” by simply leaving abusive parents, the solution they have presented is a thick layer of government bureaucracy with unlimited power to meddle in that most private of human institutions, the family. Given any excuse, such as a teacher’s report (even though I doubt any inhabitants of Earth are foolish enough to believe that a teacher’s word is more trustworthy than that of the average serial killer), a divorce, a single night spent in a women’s shelter by a wife after a trivial spat, or even excess cellulite in the child in question, social workers have the wedge which enables them to drag helpless children, in chains if necessary, away from caring parents. Meanwhile, actual victims of abuse are left to languish; their escape depends on the whims of some adult who cares for them no more than their parents do. If you read the frequent news articles about victims of infanticide, you will see that in most cases, the abuse was reported months or years before the murder, but social workers left these children in the clutches of their tormentors. In addition, victims of emotional or psychological abuse have no hope of help; if your abusers aren’t putting you in the hospital, nobody cares about the permanent damage they are doing to your psyche. Until you grow up and become a murderer or a charge upon the state, that is.

Patently this system is not created to help abused children, nor does it do so except occasionally by chance, just as an earthquake will inevitably kill at least a couple of people who deserved to die.

Compulsory education, an unambiguous violation of the Thirteenth Amendment, is another astounding example. What is really worrying is that even most conservatives now see no problem with turning their children over to the government for indoctrination. And even though all of the data about schools demonstrates clearly that not only are they about as safe as Central Park at midnight, but that their ostensible purpose, to teach children, is not being met. No child has ever learned anything in a government school except what it is like to be punched in the face. Parents were not always so meek; in the nineteenth century, it was not unusual for counties with compulsory education laws to have to send the militia out to drag the children to brainwashing camp by force. (For more on this, go here.)

The change came when labor unions needed a way to remove children from the factories so that union members could take their jobs. Even my fellow capitalists always defend the right of labor unions to exist, but I have never heard of them actually doing even one good thing, and the destruction they have wrought on civilization would far outpace any positive contributions even if they had made any. The guff about concern for the welfare of children in those nasty old factories, and the pretense that they would learn something in schools, was never anything but a lie. Compulsory education was brought about so that labor unions could take children’s jobs away. Never mind that the conditions in which those children now live are far worse than those found in any sweatshop, we continue to believe this ludicrous lie nearly a century later.

Not content, governments and progressives are plotting, with considerable success, to remove children from the pernicious influence of their parents even younger. Feminism is one of the chief tools in this scheme. Many women have been convinced that they require a “career” in order to be happy. Never mind that men have always had “careers” and few of them were ever made happy by them. They worked in order to put food on the table, not to actualize themselves. But enough women were sold this delusion that the economy has now shifted enough so that even sane women are forced to work outside the home in order to pay the bills, even though many would rather stay home to take care of their children and husbands. Someone has to take care of these children, and progressively minded day care attendants and preschool teachers are eager to fill the gap. Get those kids away from their parents at all costs; parents are apt to teach their children traditional values. In France, rather than lower taxes enough that fathers could support their families, they have raised taxes to pay for day care centers to look after the children while the people provided by nature to care for those children are in an office or a shop, unable to contaminate their children with a feeling of belonging or a sense of right and wrong.

The governments and groups that pretend they are trying to “help children” are doing nothing of the sort. What they want is to indoctrinate the next generation. They can tolerate our blogs, our crank magazines, our ineffectual efforts at lobbying. Time is on their side. Their greatest weapon against us is our own children.

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The Age of Envy

Any thinking person, viewing the destruction both material and spiritual wrought by liberal policies, is forced to ask, “Why? Why are they doing this?”

In the case of the useful idiots, the answer is simply that they are responding to what they perceive as the most powerful pressures in their society. The very people who screech “Nazi” at anyone who disagrees with them and in the same breath condemns Sarah Palin for killing animals and for not killing babies would in Germany in the 1930’s have used the word “Jew” the same way they now use Nazi, and in the sixteenth century would have attributed society’s ills to those dreadful Lutherans. If we were the dominant force in society today, they would be denouncing single mothers and environmentalism with the same abandon with which they currently denounce racism and sexism.

But there is more to it than useful idiots. Michael Moore, for example, has to know that he is lying; he has put a huge amount of effort into telling his lies. There is no question that he is in possession of the facts he strives so hard to obscure. Why does he lie, knowing that he is lying?

A common explanation is insanity. Hitler was insane, Saddam was insane, etc. Certainly their degree of evil, far beyond the sins of any ordinary person, is so difficult for most people to comprehend that insanity seems like the only explanation. People today do not believe in evil, but it nonetheless exists.

Thomas Sowell describes the vision of the anointed in his book of that title, but while it goes a long way towards explaining how the liberal mind works, there remains the question of how their neurosis began, of how they are able to cling so fiercely to their delusions no matter how much objective evidence piles up before their eyes.

It is often tempting to ascribe the entire mess to a deliberate conspiracy. Indeed, a portion of it is, i.e. the Frankfurt School. Some of my fellow reactionaries believe that all of it is, but I am unable to convince myself that the New World Order is being masterminded from a smoke-filled room somewhere. Really, the almost perfect coordination of evil from multiple wellsprings can be just as well explained by the fact that evil is congruent. If one rejects the underlying principles of good, principles of evil must necessarily fill the void.

It is baffling. At least some of the leaders have to have some understanding of what they are creating. Can they truly look at the poverty, loneliness, violence, ugliness, ill health, and general unhappiness they are spreading and continue to do so? Patently they can. But how?

Ayn Rand grasped part of the answer when she coined the term “the Age of Envy”. She added that “envy” was merely the closest word in the English language to what she meant: hatred of the good for being the good – good by any standard.

A more complete grasp of this principle is to be found in a forgotten work, The Revolt Against Civilization by Lothrop Stoddard. The reason this brilliant work is forgotten is that the author’s eugenicist theories have proscribed him, and yet, his insights are frighteningly applicable to today’s dilemma:

And this answer is that, in the last analysis, civilization always depends upon the qualities of the people who are the bearers of it. All these vast accumulations of instruments and ideas, massed and welded into marvelous structures rising harmoniously in glittering majesty, rest upon living foundations — upon the men and women who create and sustain them. So long as those men and women are able to support it, the structure rises, broad-based and serene; but let the living foundations prove unequal to the task, and the mightiest civilization sags, cracks, and at last crashes down into chaotic ruin.
Civilization thus depends absolutely upon the quality of its human supporters.

This fact is that, while hereditary qualities are implanted in the individual with no action on his part, social acquirements are taken over only at the cost of distinct effort. How great this effort may become is easily seen by the long years of strenuous mental labor required in modern youth to assimilate the knowledge already gained by adults. That old saying, “There is no royal road to learning,” illustrates the hard fact that each successive generation must tread the same thorny path if the acquirements of the past are to be retained. Of course, it is obvious that the more acquirements increase, the longer and steeper the path must be. And this raises the query: May there not come a point where the youthful traveller will be unable to scale the height — where the effort required will be beyond his powers?
Well, this is precisely what has happened numberless times in the past. It is happening to multitudes of individuals about us every day.

Now, among our human categories we have observed that progress is primarily due to the superiors. It is they who found and further civilizations. As for the intermediate mass, it accepts the achievements of its creative pioneers. Its attitude is receptive. This receptivity is due to the fact that most of the intermediate grades are near enough to the superiors to understand and assimilate what the superiors have initiated.
But what about the inferiors? Hitherto we have not analyzed their attitude. We have seen that they are incapable of either creating of furthering civilization, and are thus a negative hindrance to progress. But the inferiors are not mere negative factors in civilized life; they are also positive — in an inverse, destructive sense. The inferior elements are, instinctively or consciously, the enemies of civilization. And they are its enemies, not by chance, but because they are more or less uncivilizable.

The word inferior has, however, been so often employed as a synonym for degenerate that it tends to produce confusion of thought, and to avoid this I have coined a term which seems to describe collectively all those kinds of persons whom I have just discussed. This term is The Under-Man – the man who measures under the standards of capacity and adaptability imposed by the social order in which he lives. And this term I shall henceforth employ.
Now how does the Under-Man look at civilization? This civilization offers him few benefits and fewer hopes. It usually affords him little beyond a meagre subsistence. And, sooner or later, he instinctively senses that he is a failure; that civilization’s prizes are not for him. But this civilization, which withholds benefits, does not hesitate to impose burdens. We have previously stated that civilization’s heaviest burdens are borne by the superior. Absolutely, this is true; relatively the Under-Man’s intrinsically lighter burdens feel heavier because of his innate incapacity. The very discipline of the social order oppresses the Under-Man; it thwarts and chastises him at every turn. To wild natures society is a torment, while the congenital caveman, placed in civilization, is always in trouble and usually in jail.

Such is the Under-Man’s unhappy lot. Now, what is his attitude toward that civilization from which he has so little to hope? What but instinctive opposition and discontent? These feelings, of course, vary all the way from dull, unreasoning dislike to flaming hatred and rebellion. But, in the last analysis, they are directed not merely against imperfections in the social order, but against the social order itself. This is a point which is rarely mentioned, and still more rarely understood. Yet it is the meat of the whole matter. We must realize clearly that the basic attitude of the Under-Man is an instinctive and natural revolt against civilization. The reform of abuses may diminish the intensity of social discontent.

Lastly, there is the “misguided superior.” He is a strange phenomenon! Placed by nature in the van of civilization, he goes over to its enemies. This seems inexplicable. Yet it can be explained. As the Under-Man revolts because civilization is so far ahead of him, so the misguided superior revolts because it is so far behind. Exasperated by its slow progress, shocked at its faults, and erroneously ascribing to mankind in general his own lofty impulses, the misguided superior dreams short cuts to the millennium and joins the forces of social revolt, not realizing that their ends are profoundly different even though their methods may be somewhat the same. The misguided superior is probably the most pathetic figure in human history. Flattered by designing scoundrels, used to sanctify sinister schemes, and pushed forward as a figurehead during the early stages of revolutionary agitation, the triumph of the revolution brings him to a tragic end. Horrified at sight of barbarism’s unmasked face, he tries to stay its destructive course. In vain! The Under-Man turns upon his former champion with a snarl and tramples him into the mud.

So what is to become of those who are ready and willing to be civilized, to take up the challenge of our ancestors? The answer is to be found in our ever-rising rates of suicide, alcoholism and drug addiction.
Unfortunately, this does not point to an obvious solution or any cause for general optimism. But without an understanding of the peril, we have no hope whatever of fighting it.

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