GABlog Generative Anthropology in the Public Sphere

February 29, 2016

The Androsphere, or the Return of the Big Man (Who Never Really Left)

Filed under: GA — adam @ 8:21 pm

I’ve been meaning to continue my discussion of the hidden infrastructures of civilization that the victimocracy has been seeking to suppress all memory of while in fact facilitating their unrestrained resurgence. There is a region within the alt-right that usually refers to itself as the “manosphere,” i.e., an unabashedly phallocentric online community that repudiates the “feminine imperative” dominating modern life. I prefer the “androsphere,” and I would hope that term would catch on—it’s got more of a social sciency rather than pop/therapeutic culture sound to it. The androsphere actually straddles the social scientific and the pop/therapeutic: it is a discipline aimed at helping men discipline themselves so as to restore proper patriarchal relations between the sexes; a form of discipline, though, that in its own way offers a rigorous study of the fundamental, enduring structural elements of sexual relations. I don’t see many footnotes in these discussions, and their discussions don’t seem to rely upon any of the traditions within philosophy and the social sciences that I am familiar with, so I assume that much of this discipline is the work of genuine autodidacts and original thinkers.

In thinking of how to think through the androsphere in originary terms, I considered Marshall Sahlins’s notion of the “Big Man” whose accumulation of wealth lies at the origin of social inequality, and whom Eric Gans has given a central place in his originary theorization of the succession of social forms from the egalitarian hunter-gathers to the modern market economy (perhaps the most important discussion is in The End of Culture). I’ve been thinking for a while that the tension between the irrepressibility of Big Manness and the declared equality of modern life was a source of many of our crises. The Big Man is the Alpha, a term central to the socio-sexual hierarchy constitutive of androspheric thinking. As I was thinking about this, just this very morning, I came across the following post on Vox Day’s (the author of SJWs Always Lie and Cuckservative) Alpha Game blog:

A Portrait in Alpha

Ironically, both primitive tribesmen in Papua New Guinea and anthropologists appear to understand the true art of Alpha better than most men in the civilized West today. I came across this in book I was reading today:

The New Guinea Big Man, for example, gains his status primarily as an organiser of feasts and dances in which his own group competes with others, and as a public orator on such occasions. He attracts followers by his force of personality and his political skills as an organiser and diplomat in dealings with other groups, and can certainly behave despotically to those at the bottom of society, the ‘rubbish-men’. But while he obviously enjoys his status, he is accepted and regarded as a legitimate leader because he is seen as an essential asset by his group of followers, and in my experience tends to be gracious and polite.
It’s not about being a bully. It’s first and foremost about being an asset to his subordinates and being a man they want to follow. Everything else flows from that.

It is interesting to note that even primitive societies have developed the concept of the Omega as well.

I believe the book Day is quoting from is Do We Need God to be Good?, by C.R Hallpike, about which I know nothing, but from VD’s brief mention on his Vox Populi blog seems to engage the science/faith (non) dialogue in a way that might be interesting to GAniks. At any rate, this clearly confirmed for me the link I was considering. Needless to say, questions of “firstness” are implicated in this discussion as well. My concluding discussion in Gans’s and my recently published book (The First Shall Be the Last: Rethinking Antisemitism), which Eric mentioned in today’s email to the GAList, argues that the resurgence of antisemitism (as resentment of Jewish firstness) derives from a crisis in firstness, which is to say an all out attack on and repudiation of decisiveness, authority, a willingness to take responsibility, even to dominate, which is to say an ongoing attempt to kill whatever remains of the Big Man among us. The Androsphere is an attempt to restore and find a proper place for the Big Man, the Alpha.

Sperm is cheap, eggs are expensive; women are hypergamous, men are polygamous. These seem to be the founding axioms of the Androsphere. I’m sure they’re not new, but on websites like Alpha Game, Return of Kings, Rational Male, Chateau Hartiste and, I am sure, others, the implications of these axioms are explored in great detail, with an inventive, colorful and often profane conceptual vocabulary, and through numerous examples taken from contemporary social life. I’m not going to work through the whole system—instead, I’ll enter it from one particular angle, and suggest its relevance to some of my recent posts. One thing the Androsphere makes clear (and these writers seem to be quite aware of this) is what a difficult and monumental achievement monogamy has been. The natural state of male-female relations involves, roughly, women craving sexual relations with the Alpha males (the top, I suppose, 10% of males in terms of—well, in terms of all the things that characterize the Big Man, referenced by Vox Day above) while maintaining long term relations with Beta Males for the sake of raising their children (which is uninteresting to the Alpha) in security. Here, already, we have the roots of all manner of male-female mistrust, misunderstanding and dissatisfaction, cuckoldry, dysfunctional power games, and so on. (We will leave aside the very interesting categories—employed regularly by Day to discuss politics—the ultra-Alpha status of Donald Trump being a major source of his appeal to this corner of the alt-right—of the Gamma, Delta, Omega and Sigma, familiar to all from high school days and, perhaps, honest introspection.)

Without monogamy (which must therefore be considered a central category of civilization), and all of its discontents, 10% of the men would possess something like 50% of the women, leaving a very large minority of men with no access to sex and family life at all. This would obviously pose a constant threat to any social order organized around the direct rule of the Alphas, while stalling any ethical, cultural or economic progress by letting the talents and effort of those men (who have no incentive to exert themselves) go to waste. The Republican Party founders knew what they were doing when they raised the banner of opposition to the twin barbarous evils of slavery and polygamy. In monogamy, the male sacrifices his polygamous desires, the woman renounces her hypergamous strivings. There are still Alphas, and they are still emulated, followed, and resented, but they must prove themselves to be “legitimate leaders” in the public and economic spheres rather than monopolizing the available women (while, of course, reaping the rewards of possessing the most desirable women). The current fraying of monogamous norms is therefore an event of world historical consequences. The androsphere diagnoses this ongoing event, and tries to teach and train men to resist and, in some cases, it must be said, to exploit it.

Feminism, for the Androsphere, is the attempt to install the “Feminine Imperative” as the dominant social principle. The Feminine Imperative is the repudiation of the woman’s side of the monogamous arrangement, to which men are nevertheless to be held, within even more restrictive terms. The abolition of the sexual division of labor due to the liberating effects of modern technology and civilization is what has made the victory of the Feminine Imperative over Patriarchy possible—but we could add the general advance of victimary logic, on which feminism has hitched a ride and to which it has added an important dimension, that of feminizing men. The writers in the Androsphere can be very insightful and hilarious in analyzing the logic of feminism and its pop/therapeutic spinoffs in these terms. You can really see how commonplace the notion that men should defer to women’s desires and judgment in all manners regarding women’s sexuality has become—what, for example, is the campaign against “slut-shaming” if not the insistence that women should have the right to experiment freely with relationships with a series of Alphas without their future (or, eventually, some suggest, even present) Beta husbands factoring that into their marriage “market value”? What is the entire legal and institutional apparatus for continually expanding and more restrictively applying the rules regarding sexual harassment if not a capitulation to the demand that women should never have to suffer the indignity of having to even entertain so as to reject the advances of a man of lesser market value than herself? As Vox Day put it in a post on a sexual harassment charge that ruined a male scientist’s career, (I paraphrase) nothing—nothing—not science, not sterling personal accomplishment—is more important than that women not be touched by men they find unattractive. (One can also find some startling socio-sexual analyses of the leading role played by European women in welcoming the current wave of “refugees.)

The Androsphere is an outright defender of firstness and enemy of the victimary, both symptom and diagnostician of the crisis in firstness, in particular in the sexual sphere. It serves as yet another example of the actual infrastructures underlying all the bleating about “equality.” For the Androsphere, feminism has never been about “equality,” and it’s easy enough to see their point—has feminism, in any of its forms, ever admitted to having won a single victory, and thereby being able to relax some of its demands and reparative asymmetries appropriate for an earlier stage of sexual relations? In demanding equal employment opportunity and equal pay, have feminists also demanded a reform of divorce laws that were predicated upon a woman’s inability to support herself without a husband? If, instead of taking feminist resentments at face value, we see the feminist wars as attempts by women and men, all specifically placed within the socio-sexual hierarchy, to seize terrain abandoned with each diminution of the territory covered by the monogamous arrangement. Even more, we can add an important dimension to our understanding of the victimary: its effectiveness in the sexual sphere lies in the greater value any community, necessarily and instinctively, places upon (contrary to feminist complaints) its female members. Eggs are expensive, sperm is cheap: a community of, say, 100, that loses 40 men in a war could get itself back up to its previous population within a generation through emergency polygamous arrangements; if 40 women are lost, it would take many generations. Feminism exploits these tacit calculations in constructing a double bind represented as “equality”: men who resist the introduction of protected feminine spaces within male dominated institutions (i.e., the breakdown qua parody of the traditional sexual arrangement) are shamed as, implicitly, failing in their (traditional) role as protectors. Here, therefore, as in issues regarding race, we may find that probing a bit below the surface of discourses of equality we find a very different drama playing itself out. This insight might save us the trouble of trying to figure out how these initially benevolent movements for equality somehow went wrong. And it might aid us in avoiding the debacle of trying to “balance” equality against other “principles,” rather than trying to preserve what is left of the monogamous arrangement and maybe winning back some lost territory. (It would be very interesting, for example, to imagine the possibility of a coalition of beta male and medium sexual value females—probably the majority of the population, and the ones who benefit most from the monogamy deal—for eliminating no-fault divorce.)

The Androsphere presupposes permanent hierarchies, which it wishes to make more explicit—at its best, in order to provide models for self-betterment. As we can see from the description of the Big Man above, there is a kind of ethics and reciprocity built into the socio-sexual hierarchy: the Alpha, in his own way, serves the community. But the Alphas by themselves certainly wouldn’t have promoted the transition to monogamy—that surely came from some kind of, most probably, gradual revolt of the Betas. What the Alphas, and the writers of the Androsphere, who take Alphaness as a model, lack, is what Gans calls the “ethical monotheism” of the Hebrew Scriptures, which forces an awareness of the ways self-interested actions carried out in disregard of an ethical order can generate unanticipated resentments and thereby self- and other-destructive consequences. The Alpha can’t really recognize any source of action other than those set by his own desires and values—he is Nietzsche’s natural aristocrat. So, it’s not surprising that the same kind of casual antisemitism found elsewhere in the alt-right permeates the Androsphere as well. (It should be said, though, that many in the Androsphere are Christians, and my remarks here would not apply equally to all.) After all, if the Jews are resented for their firstness, that firstness is the system of insights that ruins the unself-conscious freedom of the Alpha, i.e., an earlier and equally authentic and durable (and probably co-dependent) form of firstness. And, indeed, modern Jews bear some responsibility for the deconstruction of modes of firstness such as nationality, masculinity, and Western civilization. It might be better if the dialectic between the socio-sexual hierarchy and an ethics attuned to a wider range of possible resentments and that can therefore reach beyond the Alphas and even the Betas were to be internalized within all individuals rather than represented by differing ethnic groups in potential conflict. Maybe that will happen, if firstness is ever restored through a generalized immunity to the victimary. But we don’t get to choose how the dialectics of civilization take shape.


  1. “the Gamma, Delta, Omega and Sigma, familiar to all from high school days “.

    Well, i suppose if i delved into these blogs i would “get” the alphabetized caricatures – we all recognize a sociosexual hierarchy to some extent – but surely it can’t be too precisely rendered in abstract terms. Is this all tied to biological determinism? Wouldn’t it be just as compelling, say, to refer to different kinds of men by analogy to military ranks/roles? when social sciency becomes scientism….But then your comments on ethical monotheism, antisemitism and modelling for self-improvement suggest you share my doubts. How much, would you guess, of the androsphere truly appreciates what a break with nature is western monogamy and the nuclear family?

    I see monogamy as strongly tied to the nuclear family and the product of what one might call the Abrahamic spirit of leaving home; more generally, in the West the nuclear family was the product of a long war by the church against the extended family (e.g. laws banning cousin marriage, favouring the church as inheritor of private property, officially celibate clergy, the creation of a non-kin fraternal and sororal civil society). And I think it’s important to read the Bible’s war on male homosexuality as a fight against the pederasty i believe was common in the ancient world (and if we accept there was some basis for the Spanish conquistadors’ excuses for certain tribal genocides – “the priesthoods were sodomitical” – this was also a fact of new world sociosexual hierarchies), something i think will always tend to follow from polygamous societies. Even today, with all the attempts to domesticate male homosexuality, there remains a connection between fantastic gay desire and unobtainable alphaness.

    So I wonder to what degree the androsphere could appreciate your point that, however necessary to infrastructures of civilisation, there is nonetheless a need to bury some of what historically attended alpha-friendly barbarism? I’m also curious how much the sphere would share my belief that feminism, as it is known in the West, is unimaginable accept as the product of monogamous nuclear families. Of course there is recognition that Western feminists are fighting against the culture and family that allowed their emergence and the androsphere argues they are today cutting their own throats in their embrace of barbaric others (who may be rather more matriarchal than patriarchal, though it is usually thought the latter simply because of a desire to dominate women: have you ever seen a good account of just what patriarchy is? Would you say it exists outside of a certain kind of sexually- disciplined monogamous civilisation?). But I think there is also a need to recognise that despite its relative modernity feminism is somehow deeply rooted in the West’s war against extended families, its embrace of non-kin civil sibship, and so its continuing emergence, in some hopefully more fertile form, is probably inevitable if there is to survive a West.

    Anyway, thanks for the blogging. Any chance of the new book coming out in a cheaper paperback? I hope it gets a wide readership.

    Comment by John — March 4, 2016 @ 12:28 pm

  2. How much remains of pre-human hierarchies (including whatever gets recycled into the specific cultural hierarchies of human orders)? Some of it, at least, which makes the alpha-beta… rankings more appropriate than ones derived from institutions. But it’s enough that we do recognize such rankings, even in their diluted forms–sure, the high school jock becomes a henpecked bureaucrat bullied by his boss and ridiculed by his co-workers–but that in itself might be a resentful anti-alpha trope, and to the extent that it’s true another alpha has emerged. It’s not just about physical strength but, rather, “presence” more generally. Much of Judaism, Christianity and the modern notions of democracy they engendered is straight-out anti-Alpha, and I think that has had destructive consequences.

    I don’t think that the androsphere would need to quarrel with your history of monogamy–your account is consistent with the need to cut Alphas down to size to ensure the productivity of the Betas and Gammas. (One, by the way, could argue that Alphas have little need to do much thinking, meaning that high culture is primarily a Beta, maybe even Gamma product–for the androsphere, that would explain the idealization of women in the Western, especially Christian, tradition. Differences have a way of turning around and revealing different aspects the more you look at them.) Certainly men deprived of sex with females are more likely to engage in homosexuality. But, more broadly, breaking up the extended family is an anti-Alpha project–extended families are under the rule of allied patriarchs, who no doubt have sexual access, licit or illicit, to a wide range of women. I do suppose that monogamy is one kind of patriarchy, but a less dominant one, than one finds in tribal and feudal relations. But I don’t really have a good answer to that question (thug I find it hard to see, say, Islam, as “matriarchal.”). Anyway, that it’s a weak patriarchy would be confirmed by your suggestion that feminism has roots in that earlier anti-Alpha struggle. The war against extended families becomes a war against any family. Maybe. That would be evidence of the inherent difficulty and fragility of monogamy. But I think the androsphere’s collective insight (as I read it) that the breakdown of the nuclear family allows for a more undisguised and unmediated socio-sexual hierarchy stands. The arguments there are about whether to exploit or resist this development. Maybe that’s an alpha-beta argument.

    Regarding the book: yes, that price is crazy. I’ll ask them about it.

    Comment by adam — March 4, 2016 @ 2:52 pm

  3. I think it might pay to reflect not just on what the Judeo-Christian rejects in the alpha but what it reworks. But as you say, it’s breakdown leaves the door open to forces more primal.

    My problem with the concept of patriarchy is that when I imagine an elite of men controlling women polygamously I can see how favoured sons might be brought up by fathers to inherit their role in the community, but the majority of sons have to be cast out and so cannot exist to encourage fatherly disciplines. And with multiple wives raising children, it is surely the women who, most of the time, are going to have their children’s attention and be key in shaping identity, not so much the fathers. They may fear but less likely respect the father. So if we think of patriarchy as being some kind of discipline it is not obviously one that goes deep or is widely shared among the polygamous; and to the extent favoured sons share in it, it is not something that is going to constitute the large majority of their socialization. The larger world of all the competing children and of humiliated and resentful mothers and outcasts is going to create strong counter-currents to the rule of the alphas. There are going to be other deities besides father figures.

    And can we consider even phallic idols as “patriarchal”? Pederasty is not simply a case of what males without access to women do; as I understand its working (in places like Afghanistan today) it commonly involves alpha males dominating boys and young men. “Boys for pleasure, women for children”. The social hierarchy co-opts sexuality, again in a way, I imagine, that cannot deeply develop paternal concern for offspring.

    So, while there is much in a culture like that of Islam that gets labelled patriarchy, because many fear and try to dominate women, I tend to think that those, most famously Rushdie, who see the Islamic rituals as a veil covering, co-opting and transforming an earlier age of matriarchal idols are probably on to something. I cannot but see certain forms of blatant “alpha” behaviour as inherently insecure, in a human context, howevermuch I agree with you that there are also forms that constitute a necessary civilisational infrastructure. If we compare a god who is all will and power, who does not covenant with men, with a god who does bind himself to allow free will to men, which is really the more secure and certain father figure? Surely for a patriarchal discipline to dominate a culture it can’t be one that simply humiliates women, but must integrate them in the cause; and to the extent it must deeply involve men in thinking about the good of their children, and accordingly invest in developing disciplines, it can’t be too polygamous. To the extent that Islam copies or mistakes Judaism (as it does, from a Jewish perspective) wasn’t it adapting a patriarchal element (looking for something lacking in the tribal world)? for while Jewish men may tend to be hen pecked their religion is focussed on father figures (for the most part) and indeed there is a formal understanding that it is particularly men who need religious discipline to maintain order – only men are obligated to attend prayers. The commandment to marry and multiply is given specifically to men; say the rabbis, women don’t need it. Can you have real patriarchy where men are not commanded to invest in children? What engenders patriarchal “presence”?

    Congratulations on the book in any case. Any chance of an editing function for the comments, say to correct one’s lapses into orality?

    Comment by John — March 6, 2016 @ 11:27 am

  4. I understand you better now. This is very interesting. A powerful feminine presence in an order where father are scarce and withdrawn would certainly emerge, but I don’t know if that’s a matriarchy. It would certainly mean a failure to integrate masculine and feminine in any complementary way. An unmediated social-sexual hierarchy would certainly be highly unstable and limited. I wonder if ancient Athenian democracy is an example of such an order of alphas. Liberated from ritual and monarchy, and therefore undergoing a brilliant renaissance, but highly self-destructive. As I suggested, the alphas on their own would never be moved to share power with the betas (and below)–they would need to be pushed and dragged into doing so. But any energy invested in restraining and redirecting alphas beyond the basics–monogamy and basic political rights–seems to me counter-productive. We need alphas in the military, in business, in community associations–even more, every man needs to be able to summon up a bit of the alpha on occasion. Of course there is something a bit ridiculous about the alpha (the sigma, according to VD’s socio-sexual hierarchy is the outsider who can point this out, and throw the alpha off his game), but it still seems to work. And anti-alpha attitudes can get ridiculous fairly quickly as well–sometimes, in popular culture and everyday interactions, the desire to see the alpha fall, and, even more, to be told the alpha must fall, has always already fallen, is pretty transparent. I want all-out struggle against the SJWs, and for that, some of these older resentments need to be set aside. Two cheers for the alpha–it will be a sign of cultural maturity when we can all offer them up.

    Thanks, regarding the book. I don’t have anything to do with the technical aspects of the blog, though.

    Comment by adam — March 6, 2016 @ 9:13 pm

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