Among the Gamers

The big discussion over at In Mala Fide, which includes some conservative critics (I posted three or four comments there myself), has continued hot and heavy all day, with a new comment arriving in my Inbox every couple of minutes. If you want to form your own opinion of the Game movement and of the young men who are presenting it as the answer to our society’s problems, this would seem as good a place as any to start. While I do not yet have a definite opinion on the subject, and while I acknowledge that some of the participants make intelligent and reasonable remarks, any truth that may exist in this belief system seems so mixed up with gross falsity that I wonder if it’s worth the effort to untangle the former from the latter.

These kids feel that they have their hands on the truth, the truth that no humans before them have ever seen—the truth of female sexuality. They lay great stress on the idea that social conservatives are on the wrong side, because the “SoCons,” as they call them, see men as beasts and women as refined beings whose job it is to civilize the men. Now it’s true that such a view is fairly common among today’s social conservatives and Christians, and I agree with the Gamers that it is a sentimental and destructive delusion. But what the Gamers don’t see is that the Christianity they are accusing of naivete on this score is the contemporary, emotion-based brand of evangelical Christianity, which in their ignorance they mistake for historical Christianity, and that the social conservatism they are blaming is a feminist-tainted conservatism. They thus commit the quintessential liberal mistake of blaming conservatism for what are really liberal errors. They don’t seem to be aware that historical Christianity and conservatism put human sinfulness first and foremost in its picture of human nature—including an understanding of female sexuality in its evil aspects. Like all ideological movements in possession of a world-changing “truth,” the Gamers think that no one knew about predatory female sexuality before they came along. They’re so decultured they haven’t even read the biblical story of Potiphar’s wife, written 3,000 years ago, let alone Euripides’ Phaedra and The Bacchae, written 2,500 years ago, or some of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, written 600 years ago. Instead, they are filled with their own “revelation,” frequently repeating in somewhat bullying tones that anyone who doesn’t see the truth that they are the first ever in human history to see (the truth of female sexuality) is to be swept aside and consigned to oblivion.

But a more fundamental flaw than their cultural and historical. ignorance and their ideological arrogance is their biological reductionism and determinism. Thus they treat the female attraction to dangerous and irresponsible men, which is so noticeable today (see the VFR thread, “Why has the female sex lost its mind?”), as a fundamental and unchangeable truth of existence on which society must be built, not realizing that this “truth” is itself the result of contingent cultural factors. In Christian terms, it would be like translating the idea that “man is inclined to evil but capable of good,” into “man is biologically determined to be evil.” Of course, some things are biologically determined; but the Gamers seem to think that everything is biologically determined.

I’ll quote some comments from In Mala Fide to give a flavor of the discussion.

A commenter named Rum wrote:

saving Western Civilization is still the ultimate Right Thing to Do, it is just that this will have to be done without putting women on much of a pedestal, and with the awareness that most womens deepest sexual instincts are no different than a chimp’s—they only want to mate with elite males and will hook up with ordinary nice guys if they have no choice. The hind-brain-vagina connection always lights up brightest in response to the type of man that is unlikely to be an ideal, stable provider.

To which I replied:

If you think that this is true, and if you think that speaking about human beings in this way can be the basis of any politics at all, let alone of some alliance between bio-cons and social conservatives, let alone of saving Western civilization, you’re living in a fantasy.

Look at what you’re saying. You’re saying that the way to save Western civilization is to regard women as the equivalents of chimpanzees.

A commenter named Tupac Chopra quotes my comment about chimpanzees and replies:

Look at what you’re saying. You’re saying that the way to save Western civilization is to regard women as the equivalents of chimpanzees

It has been said before that “all morality relies on the sense of smell”, and while it understandable that one would wish to turn away from notions one finds odious, it neither serves the cause of truth nor the task of managing one’s affairs in the world.

Right here we see the problem, at its root.

Because religion is in large part an endeavor to make a Human out of Man, religion will always appear naive to those of us who have grasped reality by the horns, warts and all.

Unless Auster and others like him can get past the indigestion of swallowing Bitter Pills, they will go the way of the dinosaur.

We simply MUST come to terms with female sexuality. There is no going back. The genie is out of the bottle.

Got that? The TRUTH is that women ARE the equivalent of chimpanzees, and people who refuse to grasp this all-important truth will go the way of the dinosaur.

Then Novaseeker said in response to me:

As others have pointed out just north of me in this thread, the issue is that social conservatives are quite open to viewing male sexuality as base, animalistic, predatory and wild, and in need of control, channeling and suppression for the social good. That’s all well and good, but when it comes to women social conservatives are out to lunch. Are women pure chimpanzees when it comes to sex selection? No. But are there strong elements of female sexuality that are just as crude, base, wild, animalistic and, in their own ways, predatory as male sexuality? Yes. Game helps people understand this by seeing, in action, what females actually respond to sexually—regardless of commitment to another man, marriage or anything else. Female sexuality is just as unruly as male sexuality is, and social conservatives need to stop shielding women simply because, traditionally, women were considered to not have a sexuality which was wild, base, unruly and so on. That is the issue that social conservatives and at least some trads are out to lunch about (Devlin excepted).

A little later Rum says:

Traditionalists of every stripe have been very comfortable talking about the animal, brutish, hind-brain side of men [by men he means males], especially in regard to sexual instincts. The idea that men’s sexual nature is something that must be channeled and controlled—and thus partly frustrated—for the sake of civilization is accepted without question.

It obviously makes traditionalists uneasy to think of their equally human female counterparts as having deep instincts that are equally unruly and problematic for civilization. Why this is true makes for interesting speculation but it cannot be denied that it does make them more uneasy than contemplating men’s bestial component.

Now this is a very interesting thought, and it would appear that there is a good deal of truth in it, but only in regard to certain sentimental brands of Christianity and conservatism. A more realistic understanding about women’s negative side has been around for a long time.

A commenter named Thursday writes:

Rum is onto something. Traditionalists have done a fairly good job of recognizing female imperfectness in areas other than sexuality, and their critiques of feminism often had traction because of this. But traditionalists haven’t really come to terms with the dark side of female sexuality. Traditionalists never really addressed why women were attracted to rakes and bad boys in the first place, nor why they would leave good men for the same. It was all chalked up to some sort of “trickery” on the part of the rake or some inadequacy on the part of the nice guy husband.

As Jacob M. has mentioned, Western Civilization had done such a good job of suppressing female sexuality for the past few hundred years that it became the conventional wisdom that women didn’t really have any sexual desires. According to this line of thought, what most women really wanted was committment and family and while they were willing to give men sex in exchange for these they weren’t really interested in sex in and of itself. Oh how wrong we were.

What world is Thursday living in? Victorian England? Has he never heard of the 20th century? Has he never heard of the Roaring Twenties (the first Sexual Revolution—meaning unmarried middle-class women were getting it on)? Has he never heard of the Fifties (a.k.a. the “Sixties before the Sixties”)? Has he never heard of the Sixties? Has he never heard of the Seventies? Shall I continue?

Then Rum says to a conservative commenter named Adam:

If traditionalists are found to be hopelessly naive and wrong about the sexual instincts of the females of their own species, they cannot expect to be looked up to as “wise elders” worthy of respect for what they might teach the young. If SoComs and traditionalists do not align their worldview correctly with this part of Truth, they will be ignored. And you guys are well on the way, imho.

To which Adam replies, making the same point I’ve made:

But it is just an act of religious faith that lead you to believe “traditionalists” are naive and wrong about the sexual instincts of the females. Where’s your evidence? Merely alluding to the fact that a countervailing ideal of feminine virtue has been championed by “traditionalists” does not mean that those so championing have no idea of the baser possibilities of the female condition. It is naive to think it is some secret or great recent discovery that woman is capable of sexual degradation and social nastiness.

To which Thursday acknowledges:

But you are right that there is no necessary connection between traditionalism and naivite about female sexuality.

Then Adam makes this excellent traditionalist statement that he denies is one:

Look, I don’t think of myself as a “traditionalist” like Auster because I don’t pretend to have a particular program. I simply want to be realistic and conservative of that which I feel is essential to the ongoing renewal (which entails change, within a tradition) of society.

Having said that, there is nothing contradictory about championing norms that many will fail to live up to. It’s how most of us live our lives.

All norms are articulated in response to disorder. What’s more they are articulated in the course of events, the participants in which are trying to frame its meaning but without ever being sure just what the event means or how the event will be remembered. The result is that there is never any straightfoward explanation of just how a norm emerges from lived experience. For example, we can talk endlessly about a great book that puts new norms or ideas into exchange. But we can find no formulaic way to explain what, exactly, makes the book great or how it emerged from experience. There is a quantum of mystery to the emergence of the transcendent norm that simply has to be accepted as part of the human condition.

All culture is transcendent—it has no material reality. Words, for example, only have material reality as letters or sounds, but the words that our minds somehow realize by associating letters or sounds are truly transcendent, as are all social norms—they are not imprinted on our neurons, genes, or in any material reality. Humanity is inconceivable without the transcendent, which is just why attempts to explain women and men by recourse to materialist reduction are bound to make you look naive.

At some point it may be worthwhile to give more detailed replies to the Gamers’ arguments.

- end of initial entry -

Novaseeker (a participant in the thread at In Mala Fide) writes:

To be honest what I see in these discussions is a lot of ducking and dodging. It’s quite common to see statements from conservatives here that in effect are saying, “Not all traditionalists think that way,” or “Only the most sentimental kinds of social conservatives and Christians think that way, not conservatives in general” and so on. At the same time, their approach to critiquing Game is that “Roissy is the definitive statement of everything on this issue, and to the extent we disagree with his ideas or his person, the whole enterprise is discredited, and there are no meaningful nuances to consider.”

To me, that disparity is rather disingenuous, yet it continues to permeate, and at times dominate, these discussions: the critics of the conservative critics of Game can’t “nail down” socon or tradcon or Christian views because we are to understand that only certain socons or tradcons or Christians hold the views we accuse them of holding, and therefore our points are not very worthwhile, being applicable only to a small and presumed irrelevant subset. When it comes to Game, however, if the conservatives can successfully critique Roissy, then they seem to think that the whole “system” (which as we have discussed, Game is not, to begin with) collapses to the ground, because of course there are no nuances on the Game side of the ledger worth recognizing.

This disparity in perspective (kind of a double standard) is undermining the integrity of the discussion, from my perspective.

LA replies:

I certainly don’t dismiss the importance of the fact that there are a lot of “conservatives” who have these weak views. But it is simply incorrect to take the views of a contemporary, liberal brand of conservatism or of Christianity and identify that as Christianity per se or as conservatism per se. So, that part of the conservative argument is correct.

As for the conservatives’ critique of Roissy, I haven’t read enough of it to know that your characterization of it is correct, but assuming it is correct, the critique still stands. Roissy is the main articulator of this movement. If flaws in his articulation cannot be seen as flaws in the movement, then what can be?

Your analogy is fatally flawed. Roissy in relation to Game is not analogous to modern sentimental evangelical Christians who make personal emotions central to Christianity and thus depart from the basic teachings of Christianity. No, Roissy in relation to Game is analogous to Christ, or at least St. Paul, in relation to Christianity. So when you say that flaws in his position cannot be taken as definitive flaws in Game, it would be as though you said, “The Gospels, the writings of Church Fathers, and the Nicene Creed cannot be taken as defining Christianity and therefore flaws in these documents do not show a basic flaw in Christianity.”

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 24, 2009 12:14 AM | Send

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