Our guide’s name is Leap. He’s a squat Cambodian in his mid-fifties, leading us through the museum’s displays of military hardware and genocide kitsch. Leap’s right leg is a clomping wooden peg. The exposed skin on his arms is covered in bullet and shrapnel wounds. He can’t pivot his arms at the shoulder, and so points to exhibits with his hand at hip level.
Our group of five is ushered to a wreck of a tank covered in blackened shell holes. The broken turret sags piteously to one side. Leap narrates:
“The Khmer Rouge would poison all the water when they left an area. Every time we drank water, there was a chance it would kill us. But what could we do? You need to drink water.
“They had us trapped on a hill. Forty of us, and one tank. River on one side, swamp on other, and we had good defense, but they were waiting down the hill. Whenever we did not know if water was good, one man would try it, and then we see what happens. One man had tried the water and died, so we knew the water was no good. They knew it too, so they only had to wait.
“We attack, because what else can you do? There is no surrender. So we can die slow for sure, or die fast and maybe live. We decide to die fast.
“I’m shot right away. Lie on ground, can’t move. My brother in the tank, with tread blown off so it can’t move, and no more shells. Still have pistols though, so Khmer Rouge can’t approach tank and open door. But, there is one side of tank they cannot shoot from, so Khmer Rouge take dry dead trees and bush and pile up next to tank, then light on fire.
“This tank here is same that my brother died in. Not same tank, but same kind. These are small holes they were able to shoot from when they had no more shells. Here is exit hatch the Khmer Rouge covered from outside to keep crew from escaping. My brother could have come out and die fast. But, instead they all stay in the tank while it burn slowly. They scream for long time, while I lay on ground pretending to be dead.”
Leap’s eyes were hollow, emotionless. He had clearly memorized the story over hundreds of tellings. This was just a job to him, like mopping floors or bagging groceries. I wondered if anything he said was true, and if it wasn’t, whether the truth was more or less horrifying than the lie. I’m skeptical of sob stories, but it’s a simple historical fact that few Cambodian men his age made it through the reign of the Khmer Rouge without passing through the gates of Hell.
“Would anyone like to stand on the tank and take a picture?”
Genocide had become a banal tourist attraction, and a lucrative source of employment. iPhone cameras flashed. Our group moved on to a long table with rows of automatic rifles and several varieties of defused landmines.
The Khmer Rouge murdered between two and three million of the nation’s population of eight million. The primary victims were market-dominant minorities (Chinese, Vietnamese, and Laotians), members of the Cambodian intellectual elite (teachers, professionals, government officials) and religious groups.
The mechanisms of death were simple and cheap: forced marches out of the major cities to agricultural work camps with inadequate food and water. The workers faced starvation and illness, while the threat of torture camps for the rebellious kept the meek in line. Pickaxes were used for mass executions, because bullets aren’t free.
Cambodia’s experience isn’t unique. Mao starved 40 million Chinese in three years. 7.5 million died in the Ukrainian Holodomor. The Second World War was an orgy of death on both sides, ending with the United States dropping atomic bombs on Japanese cities, incinerating hundreds of thousands of civilians in a few moments. And that’s just the 20th century. Humans have made a habit of murdering each other since well before the beginning of recorded history.
The hard truth of life is that man’s natural state is the war of all against all. Civilization can tame us for a while, but it also ensures we’re grimly efficient when the levies inevitably burst. The modern era, far from ushering in a new age of peace and brotherhood among men, only made us better at our favourite pastime.
We are living in a relatively peaceful era, some say. Barbarism has been defeated, the world is safe for democracy, and we have reached The End Of History. Civilized people no longer make war against each other, nations are at peace, and ethnic rivalries have subsided from life-or-death struggles, to the petty signaling games of microaggressions, safe spaces, and privilege-checking. That is the official narrative.
Here’s a video of a dying man. It’s graphic:
Malcolm is 34 years old and lives with his parents. He has never had a job or kissed a girl. Is Malcolm alive? If your answer is yes, by what criteria do you separate the living from from the dead?
I think it’s reasonable to consider him dead. Malcolm has experienced thirty-four years of dull suffering, without any of the emotional highs and lows that characterize life as healthy man in his formative decades. Malcolm has never known the unfading eternal summer of impulsive young love; nor the comfort of true friendships between men who are good and alike in virtue; nor the pride of earning respect from his community. He may occasionally eke out some shallow masturbatory pleasures from the confines of his bedroom, but nothing that could possibly compare to the qualia of a life truly lived.
And even if Malcolm is happy (although clearly he is not) what of it? is happiness our highest purpose? if a man dies poor and alone, having created nothing that endures past his death, what did his life amount to?
I hope Malcolm turns his life around. It’s certainly possible. Malcolm, friend, if you’re reading this: you’re still a fairly young man in good health with a decent head of hair. There are millions around the world who would love to trade places with you, and have the opportunities you still have. But here’s a hard truth: when a child comes home from kindergarten and says the other kids are picking on him, it’s easy to look him in the eye and say: none of this matters. You’ll be in the real world soon enough. You can say that, and it rings true. But what can you tell a middle-aged man with the same issues? What could you possibly say to Malcolm?
“Hit the gym, start a business, join Tinder”?
He’s thirty-four fucking years old. If a man hasn’t made it by thirty-four, he probably isn’t going to make it.
How many men like Malcolm are out there?
Pew (1) estimates there were 4.3 million NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) men in the United States in 2015. The next cohort of young men looks to be in even worse shape (2):
Data from the U.S. Department of Education and from several recent university studies show that far from being shy and demoralized, today’s girls outshine boys. They get better grades. They have higher educational aspirations. They follow more-rigorous academic programs and participate in advanced-placement classes at higher rates. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, slightly more girls than boys enroll in high-level math and science courses. Girls, allegedly timorous and lacking in confidence, now outnumber boys in student government, in honor societies, on school newspapers, and in debating clubs. Only in sports are boys ahead, and women’s groups are targeting the sports gap with a vengeance. Girls read more books. They outperform boys on tests for artistic and musical ability. More girls than boys study abroad. More join the Peace Corps. At the same time, more boys than girls are suspended from school. More are held back and more drop out. Boys are three times as likely to receive a diagnosis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. More boys than girls are involved in crime, alcohol, and drugs. Girls attempt suicide more often than boys, but it is boys who more often succeed. In 1997, a typical year, 4,483 young people aged five to twenty-four committed suicide: 701 females and 3,782 males.
But while statistics are valuable, it is not to be carried on by steam. There are better ways to understand and illustrate The Killing Fields of the 21st Century.
The internet provides a window into the lives of millions of broken men around the world. Reddit’s r/ForeverAlone is a good introduction to the underground world of invisible broken men. Here you’ll find a digital museum of dying men, wasting away in a decentralized prison camp of their own making. But if you truly wish to gaze into the abyss, read some clippings from the 4Chan r9k forum:
More examples of 4Chan “battle stations” can be found here.
These men are beasts in human skin: unemployed, unloved, surviving on social assistance, family support, or inheritances; waking up every day and playing video games, masturbating, watching cartoons, and sharing their lives, such as they are, with each other on internet forums. Many will never escape. They will hide in their rooms, dying one day at a time, while the years and decades slip by. Is their fate less tragic than being roasted alive in a tank – or more?
Thesis: millions of young western men are suffering from a crisis of spirit that is morally comparable to genocide.
Their dying is less painful, but slower and more dehumanizing. By allowing this massacre to occur on their watch, Western governments are as morally culpable as Mao and Stalin. Pickaxes to the forehead, mass starvation, poisoned wells, firing squads – all these are the crude, low-tech, messy and obvious tools of 20th century genocides. Why go through the trouble of actually killing people, when you can persuade them to do it on their own?
Is it crass to compare hunger with spiritual deprivation? The end result is the same. Human life require meaning and narrative, as much as food and water. Deprive a man of food and you’ll kill him; deprive a man of meaning, and you’ll persuade him to kill himself.
Dear reader, are you suicidal? Think before you answer.
There are many ways for a man to end his own life. Some jump off bridges. The archtypal 4Chan user can lock himself in a dungeon of video games and porn. But there are other mechanisms of gradual suicide that appear perfectly healthy: an outwardly successful man can spend his twenties in a socially-approved haze of drugs and alcohol, coasting through life and letting the potential for something greater slip through his fingers; another might adopt a fey hipster obsession with life’s most pointless trivialities, an endless pursuit of the tastiest craft beers and most-liked Instagram posts of food from newly-opened local restaurants; yet another could squander his life and talents with aimless travel, pickup artistry, and empty novelty-seeking.
These are all forms of death, or at least the slow eschewing of life. Great men throughout history spent their energies building families, nations, and pursuing the highest truths. What would they think of the modern western male?
Western men are dying, because they have no spirit, no purpose, no thumos. Their vital energies have been stifled by a culture designed to suppress their natural ideals of virtuous masculinity – duty, family formation, tribal loyalty, and spirituality. Our culture and education systems are optimized to crush the western man’s natural drive to build something for posterity.
Previous generations of men had important individual roles to play in the coherent and life-affirming narratives of service to Family, Nation, and God. The modern era has suppressed these ideals, leaving men adrift. Physical hunger leads to death by starvation. Spiritual hunger leads to death by slow suicide.
In spite of this crisis in masculinity, our culture is hostile to any expression of concern or sympathy for the men who are left behind. No one is allowed to feel bad for men; no one is allowed to help men; no one is allowed to suggest that the 21st century social justice zeitgeist of anti-male demonization might cause lasting psychological damage to the men who are raised in a culture which demands self-loathing.
What few men have the courage to push back against the War on Western Men (such as Heartiste, Mike Cernovich, Krauser, Roosh, Matt Forney, Vox Day, Jack Donovan, Illimitable Men, and Free Northerner) are shunned by mainstream figures across the political spectrum. Outside of this small corner of the internet, our culture has been purged of the traditional masculine ideals that would be familiar to our ancestors throughout Greek, Roman, and European history.
Humans understand the world through stories. We take action, when such action is consistent with our understanding of the story we’re in. Your life is a story, and you are the main character. Are you a likable character? Are you the hero?
In the official story of contemporary American and European society, there is no constructive role for heterosexual white men. We are the obstacle, the Shadow, the Big Bad. The official narrative is: noble marginalized people come together to throw off the shackles of evil Eurocentric cis-heteronormative oppression. The slow spiritual and demographic suicide of the western man is thus viewed as a cause for celebration. We are right in the middle of Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, playing the role of villain.
There are other stories available, mostly contained in fringe and universally reviled subcultures:
Mainstream Conservatism pretends to believe in balance, pendulum theory, the eternal struggle of Yin and Yang, Left and Right, Republican and Democrat, always failing to notice the 400-year-and-counting one-way progressive ratchet. Their story goes something like this:
“Sure we’re going through a bit of a rough patch right now, but we just need a good strong Republican in the White House to fix things up. And if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, well, that could be the best thing to ever happen for us – people will finally see how extreme the left really is, and they’ll be discredited for a generation! Now, let’s go watch some football!”
The Red Pill subculture also has a story to tell:
“The world is completely fucked. But, it’s still possible to eke out a pleasurable life by hitting the gym, banging some girls, making some money, never marrying, never having kids, and doing our best to smile and nod through life’s occasional mandatory diversity awareness lessons. Duty is beta; I’ll be poolside.”
Christianity in it’s truest, strongest, most patriarchal literal form, offers a narrative that is oh-so-close to life-affirming truth and strength, but contains within it a fatal poison pill:
“Of course the world is fallen! Of course we’re being persecuted and replaced and driven from our nations. That’s what Jesus told us was going to happen, right? But don’t worry, we’ll get our reward in the afterlife. None of this matters, as long as we keep faith, turn the other cheek, and do not lay up for ourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt.”
Each of the these narratives contains enough half-truth to hold temporary sway over some amount of young men smart and courageous enough to look outside the mainstream narrative. But each falls short of actually offering them a tribe worthy of their life and loyalty.
Modern western civilization has no traditions, no purpose, no animating mythic structure. But nature abhors a vacuum, so here is my prediction.
At some point, the current narrative will be replaced. Someone will compose a new mythic story, and it will multiply rapidly through young male brains, vectored by social media, anonymity, and high-speed internet cables. The New Story will infuse young men with a sense of purpose and focus they’ve never experienced before. It will feel like waking from a dream state, and entering a new world of consciousness and meaning. Western men will be the heroes in their New Story. There will be a journey; an ordeal; allies and enemies. There will be a villain.
What will the New Story consist of? The details will depend on circumstance, Great Men, and pure chance. But here are some broad predictions:
- The New Story will offer men a path to heroism
- The New Story will offer a tribe
- The New Story will offer a traditional warrior code of ethics
- The New Story will offer an opportunity to die for something bigger than ourselves
- The New Story will focus its merciless resentment on a villain
The Western Man, starving for something to believe in, has already shown himself to be highly susceptible to Charismatic Personality Cults. He is in a psychologically fragile position, primed to follow the next radical movement which promises to fill the void in his soul. Who or what will fill this void? This is the world-shattering question, the answer to which will echo through the chilled years ahead.