GABlog Generative Anthropology in the Public Sphere

July 2, 2016

Little Big Men

Filed under: GA — adam @ 7:20 am

It’s convenient and accurate enough to speak about the civilizational war in the West in terms of nationalism vs. globalism/imperialism or alt-right vs. SJW. A more comprehensive approach, though, would explain it as a crisis of the producerist/consumerist split which goes back to the (pre)historical emergence of the Big Man. The “globalists,” the “managerial class,” the “political class,” the “ruling class,” the “transnational elites”—whatever you want to call all those aligned by their sharing interests and therefore outlooks across national boundaries—want nothing more than to create a global subject class defined solely in terms of consumption. You get educated in order to get a job in order to spend your life as a consumer and define yourself in terms of your consumption choices. There’s nothing morally or ethically objectionable about such a life—many people are suited for it and are quite happy living it, assuming their income is sufficient to support it. To force everyone into it, though, requires quite a bit of violence and lying—moreover, not everyone who buys into it has read the fine print, and there might be quite a bit of buyer’s remorse. The symmetry of all on the margins in relation to a single center eliminates a lot of smaller resentments, against smaller and overlapping centers, only to concentrate them all into one totalizing one: the all against one (and one against all) of tyranny. Judaism and then Christianity, realizing that the desire for centrality was not eliminated through the actual seizure of the center but, rather, that everyone on the margin would now define himself in terms of that desire for centrality, posited a King behind the king to whom any terrestrial king was ultimately accountable. Kings suffer, are defeated and overthrown, sin and are punished, die—like everyone else; and that “critique” of monarchy is actually the way “everyone else” comes to be defined, or anthropomorphized. The brilliance of the modern imperative is to off-load the center onto impersonal systems, like democracy, the market, science and technology, in order to remove the bullseye while centralizing beyond the dreams of any ancient pharaoh—the bureaucrats, executives, managers and public servants all act in the name, first, of some transcendent principle, and, then, some self-referential procedure, not their own concentration of power. But this strength has turned into a weakness because someone has to take responsibility, and all we have now are “experts” who are expert mostly in deflecting responsibility onto someone else. You could explain the entire Obama administration pretty well by simply imagining them doing little more than, after something happens, asking themselves how can we make the Republicans, Fox News and talk radio responsible for this. It’s trolling and baiting all the way down. The victimary, the SJWs, are just a virus released by the final breakdown of all pre-modern immunological systems—it has taken a long time to extricate the natural sense of responsibility. In what is a confirmation and slight modification of Arendt’s theory of totalitarianism, the consumerist bureaucracy itself just becomes another horde of ravenous consumers.

Producer’s desire begins in the realization that the world is your construct—you can complain about the “media,” or “ideology,” or whatever (complaint and outrage are just consumerist twitches—the world didn’t serve up what you were promised, and you want some Consumer Protection Agency in the sky to get you a refund)—but what you pay attention to is up to you. You can look at your responses to the bait laid around you, and instead, say, of getting outraged at someone else’s evil, you can see that they are acting purposefully in some way that has been effective in the past for the sake of some stake they are protecting; you can, then, assess your own behavior, and the role it has perhaps played in rendering action you now see to be harmful effective. And then you can act more purposefully, in particular by modeling and encouraging others to train themselves in the discipline you have formed. You can look calmly at the “sh*t tests” (a very illuminating term I have learned from the androsphere) the SJWs put you to, and realize that they really just want someone to draw a line and stick to it. (Is it possible that the SJWs are really shocked that so many take their BS so seriously?) By now we’d have to be really gullible to think that anyone considers allowing transgenders to serve openly in the military (with the costs of the “gender reassignment” therapy and surgery covered by Uncle Sam) to be a “human rights” issue. Those whom the alt-right call “cuckservatives” take such bait and with Pavovlian predictability go on to write think pieces about how, while of course the army has to maintain discipline and we have to make sure it is not politicized what is most important is that the bigots on “our” side must be disavowed. Surely conservatives will soon get the idea that the Democrats are the real transphobes, the Republicans the true protectors of the trans. They fail the sh*t test. Look at the final paragraph of an essay by David French in National Review that otherwise says some good things about this latest sh*t test:

Fortunately the warrior culture is resilient. Infantry platoons aren’t likely to go full PC anytime soon, but the Left keeps chipping away. It will keep chipping away until the horrible reality of the battlefield reminds us all that our military isn’t a social laboratory. Our enemies focus on war while we sidetrack our soldiers with social justice. Not even our immense technical and material advantage can save us forever from the consequences of our own folly.

Implicit here is some narrative of “us” waking up, “snapping out it,” and realizing that “we” have been foolish. Although “we” probably won’t until we lose a war or two. But why would that “remind” us of anything? French imagines some essential American identity—rather than a war, there is a confused “we” (it’s like describing World War II—and of course we do see such descriptions all the time—as some Western “we” considering but finally eschewing suicide). If those infantry platoons can hold out a bit longer, we’re all sure to realize that and get “our” head straight. Constructing and expressing faith in these imagined “we’s” is the quintessential consumerist posture—one waits, Godot-like, for the margins to align symmetrically before a vanishing center. But if, as French says (spotting the obvious right away), these new rules are about social engineering rather than military readiness, then those issuing the rules are derelict in their primary responsibility. They are saboteurs. (It’s an easy call—“social justice” is intrinsically sabotage of any institution in which it is advanced.) The duty of every commander is to immediately jail and then dishonorably discharge any soldier who murmurs a word questioning his gender and thereby disrupts discipline. If he is not permitted, he can only continue to be a commander if he resigns, and informs all those infantry platoons that it is their duty to do so as well. The preservation of something like a “military” then requires the announcement of the formation of a people’s militia, preparing for war against the saboteurs, with an invitation to all those soldiers to volunteer. (I originally thought to say “traitor” instead of “saboteur,” but “traitor” presupposes the very community that doesn’t exist—a saboteur is not a traitor from his standpoint, and we learn more from studying that standpoint than bewailing the betrayal.) Clearly all this would be unthinkable for French—but what, exactly, is wrong with the argument? Once you, as a consumer, realize you have been suckered, you can either up your dosage of snake oil (we need to return to the true principle of equality, or implement it sincerely for the first time), or you discover a discipline—a mission, a vocation, a cause, a calling, if you like, and then you’ll realize that those principles oddly seem to have no other purpose than to get in your way.

The commanders and soldiers who acted in this way would be enacting producer’s desire—they would all be Big Men, albeit little big men as there would be a lot of them. Rather than trying to conform to commands issued from the existing center, they would be imagining and constructing new centers, giving shape to their vocation as soldiers and defenders of the people. That is what it means to be a “producer”—to disregard threats, blandishments, attempts at shaming, side issues and chumming, in order to pursue your discipline. If you read the consumerists, you can see that underlying their discourse always is the imperative to stay in line, make sure you keep getting fed, fear social disapproval, defer to those with greater credentials than yours. The most courageous among them figure out ways to become troublesome enough so that someone else will consider it cost-effective to appease them—it’s not such a hard scam to run on people who, more than anything else, want no trouble. If you read the producerists, you see a contempt for social approval, ridicule of credentials, defiance of The Narrative, an eagerness to take what they are told not to think as a cue to what they should think about, and an overwhelming desire to stay independent of the institutions (by now, almost all of them) infested by the SJWs. For the first time in the history of civilization, the role of the Big Man or Alpha (desperately suppressed by monotheism and metaphysics until this day) can be openly broached. And that’s what the war of Western civilization is really all about.

Perhaps one could say that I’m just complaining here—even worse, I’m complaining about people complaining. I don’t think so because I don’t expect anyone to do anything other than what they want to do. I don’t really want anyone to do anything other than what they want to do. I don’t accuse anyone of not conforming to some ethical or moral model that I imagine has been inscribed somewhere. I prefer the logic of compensation to moral indoctrination—if there are some who want to rape, loot and murder, there will have to be enough who want to deter, confront and neutralize the rapists, looters and murderers—and there will have to be enough who want to have enough people who want to do that. And those who want those things will do so because they want other things as well. Then we’d all have to figure out how to get what we want, rather than expressing outrage when the world we want doesn’t magically materialize from our own good intentions. I would just have people consider whether they want to study the origins of their wants more systematically, because I think they will conclude that the more their wants entail delegating responsibility to others for the satisfaction of those wants the less what they get will turn out to be what they really want. And to consider that if you are among those who want to discipline your wanting you will want to have as little as possible to do with those who don’t.


  1. I’m curious why you speak of extricating a “natural sense of responsibility”. If this is equivalent to being able to theorize the role of the big man for the first time in history, what is natural about this hard-won revelation beyond discovering a heretofore tacit possibility? I imagine the new big man’s sense of responsibility still owes some debt to monotheim’s creation of guilt culture (one can avoid and transcend the baiting and shaming of the consumerists inasmuch as one maintains a faith in/responsibility to some deeper relationship to the sacred) replacing the shame/honour of the more ritually bound. And why does someone have to take responsibility for what happens? Is there no chance the consumerists can return us to blindly sacrificial culture? Thanks!

    Comment by John — July 3, 2016 @ 11:35 am

  2. Yes, you’re right, it’s not “natural,” but rather deeply embedded–there have always been Big Men since their emergence, and, as a more general category, we could say there have always been Alphas even prior to the Big Men. (Someone had to take charge when the hunt went wrong, someone was looked to when the invaders struck, etc.) So, it’s really as “natural” as anything can be for humans. But I think I wasn’t clear enough here–it is consumerism, not myself or us as theorists, that is “extricating” responsibility–I probably should have said something like “excise” a sense of responsibility.

    Aside from that, I think we probably do have an interesting disagreement here. There is something in Alphadom and in the Big Man that is immune to monotheism’s guilt culture. Perhaps a deeper relationship to the sacred can resist the baiting and shaming, for a few, but that resistance is continually eroded (even the evangelicals are getting sucked in), so I suspect a weakness in the basic immunology of such faith. We can’t eliminate shame and honor, and we can’t do without them–your argument, to me, suggests how powerful the desire to believe that we can is, for those invested in “guilt culture.”

    I’m probably missing something in your last two questions. The answer to the first seems obvious to me–communities in which no one takes responsibility will be destroyed by those in which some do. Even more, the impulse to take responsibility is (perhaps we should be clearer here: for men, or many men at least) so deeply rooted (that’s probably why I used the words “natural” and “extricate”) that it can’t just be laid aside–it must be uprooted, and then any little shoots of it that pop up must be poisoned. Regarding your final question, I’m at a loss–do you take me to be suggesting that consumerists can, or that it cannot, return us to blindly sacrificial culture? I assume that you take such a return to be destructive, but the form of the question makes it sound, to me at least, like something we might aspire to (as if the consumerists can do something I’m relying on the producerists to do). So I must be missing something here.

    Comment by adam — July 3, 2016 @ 12:05 pm

  3. Well, i agree we can’t do without shame and honour; guilt culture was an important addition that by no means eliminated the former. (I’ve just been reading a bit of Martin Gilbert’s Churchill biography, in the run up to the WWI when, as First Lord of the Admiraly, C. Is full of talk about how Britain must be dragged into war, or pick battles, on a point of honour; and yet in letters to his wife he – supposedly an atheist – talks of hoping God will forgive him his zeal for war and the horrors he is helping unleash; is that just to please her? I don’t think he could have been a man with crippling guilt – he obviously lived with many hard decisions – but i’d guess he felt sincere when in WWII he spoke of defending Christian civilization against German barbarism.). There are of course big men pretty immunized to guilt, or simply unknown to it, but i think we could point to many in the Western tradition only partly so. And I would tend to see that as a strength though of course it wouldn’t always be. And one thinks of C’s arch opponnent in the Second War who led a most powerful nation and yet exercised a great lack of ability to take personal responsibility, dabbled in the occult, and scapegoated madly. Was he an alpha or just a gamma fooling everyone? Still, i take your point about the superiority of communities in which responsibility taking is serious business. Germany was destroyed.

    But my vague sense, fwiw, is that no community was too serious about responsibility for many tens of thousands of years of early human existence; or at least those who tended in that direction weren’t able to accumulate win after win in order to deeply institutionalize it and seriously diminish the superstitious. A bad hunt or battle required visits to the shaman to cast spells that would best the power of the opposing shaman (or that tried to appease the offended animal who didn’t show up for the hunters, etc.); the same for intratribal problems. And blame the shaman if that doesn’t work.

    So, while i certainly wouldn’t like it, i have some fears that the globalizing consumerists might (imagine attempts to control a dire peak oil scenario) lead us to a world where responsibility takes a clear second place to scapegoating. But it would strengthen my resolve if i could be convinced that isn’t possible!

    Comment by John — July 3, 2016 @ 2:58 pm

  4. Maybe we’re more in agreement than I thought. Yes, I suspect that pre-Big Man responsibility was pretty unsystematic but, still decisions would have to be made during the hunt or battle, and some decisions would have visibly better effects than others, with some credit accruing to the decision makers. But, certainly, an egalitarian community cannot, by definition, institutionalize responsibility. And egalitarianism undermines responsibility now. I think your C/H dichotomy makes the point well–you can’t defend Christian civilization with allowing some leeway for unChristian and barbaric dispositions, while making sure to justify and thereby limit their scope–and bring things back to “Christian civilization” as soon as possible. And your point about consumerists, which I think I understand now, is important–in a real crisis, that slips the reins of the globalist managers, can we really imagine most Western citizens would behave any differently than the mobs in Venezuela right now? The producerists would be in the best position to survive and create some kind of order.

    We need people who can step outside of guilt culture–in which case there’s a risk of never stepping back in. But that’s the lesser risk today.

    And on Hitler’s place in the socio-sexual hierarchy–perhaps Omega:

    “The truly unfortunate. Omegas are the social losers who were never in the game. Sometimes creepy, sometimes damaged, often clueless, and always undesirable. They’re not at the party. It would never have crossed anyone’s mind to invite them in the first place. Omegas are either totally indifferent to women or hate them with a borderline homicidal fury.”

    I’d need to see this category elaborated on, but this seems to me the psychopath type (Gammas are too timid to rise to power), the more intelligent of whom can generate a kind of temporary charisma by dazzling others with the intensity, purity and comprehensiveness of their hatreds.

    Comment by adam — July 3, 2016 @ 3:39 pm

  5. Adam, you can usually assume i’m mostly in agreement with you; i read the blog to learn where i might be if more disciplined!

    Perhaps i am overly invested in guilt culture; I haven’t sufficiently thought it through. I can see that in a crisis we need hard and creative men who draw lines without guilt getting in the way, for whom trust won through bonds of honour is key. Churchill thought this was the supreme factor in the integrity of the British empire, and yet there was always something that restrained pure will to power among the British. Anyway, a world without guilt (see the left/Venezuela) is surely more prone to crises in the first place.

    It is indeed plausible to see an immunological problem in guilt culture without today sufficient desire for productive action to redeem ourselves. I’m wondering though if it is just implausible that the Christians and Jews getting sucked into the victimary may have been let down by insufficient guilt to motivate redeeming acts at an earlier point in the history of the victimary and Western decadence (if you avoid the fight at the start, it gets harder and harder as Churchill knew). I barely remember an earlier post where you briefly tried to explain the unlikely emergence of large modern markets given the lack of big men, as you see it, under Christianity…. what do you make of Max Weber’s equation of Calvinism and the spirit of capitalism? As i recall, Weber’s emphasis is less on guilt than on the producer’s motivating need to prove he has been favoured by predestination… Anyway it’s not readily apparent to me that we can’t have big producers with feet simultaneously in both guilt and honour camps. I think one need not see any alleged “hypocrisy” as a major problem however much it has been denounced by destructive forces in the past.

    Comment by John — July 3, 2016 @ 8:09 pm

  6. There will always be some disagreements on the margins, and they’re generally worth pursuing.

    I don’t remember the post you have in mind but I think that the Renaissance had a significant “beyond good and evil” component to it, represented most obviously be Machiavelli. The Prince involves an unqualified celebration of the unrestricted Big Man, and I think a kind of Machiavellianism was part of the rise of markets and the willingness to defy traditional culture.

    But I think we can think about all this in different terms. The “porducerists” I have in mind may or may not be Christians, but they’re not really Nietszchean “supermen” either. Mike Cernovich wrote a post a while back calling shame a “slave emotion” and encouraging his readers to “not let them shame you.” He wasn’t thinking about shame vs. guilt, or honor culture–he was celebrating Trump’s shamelessness, which means the media can’t control him, and then made the larger point that letting someone else shame you gives that person moral authority over you and why would you do that? You could write a very similar post on “guilt” as a “slave emotion,” and I doubt this distinction would be all that important for Cernovich in this context. The point is, any time you “feel” something you can realize that someone else, or your imagination of someone else, is inducing that feeling, and that someone else can and probably will capitalize on it. Once you realize that, control over your emotions is on the agenda. So, what feelings don’t cripple you and provide others with a mechanism for controlling you? If you’re invested in guilt culture, the only alternatives might seem to be psychopathy and sociopathy. But self-discipline with the only end of encouraging self-discipline in others (so you will have worthy colleagues) seems to preclude “evil,” because you want the entire world as potential “disciples” and models. You would be interested in a kind of maximum exposure that precludes the secrecy psychopaths and sociopaths need. Rather than guilt and shame, then, the empowering feeling is one of being able to direct people’s attention to new things–things you can only see once you are sufficiently disciplined. I wouldn’t know what to call that feeling yet.

    Comment by adam — July 4, 2016 @ 7:05 am

  7. Well the difference between shame and guilt slavery is that the former is in large part public, and the latter not. Guilt enslaves us to family, lovers, ancestors, maybe friends (and any shared god) but only to a larger economic or political context when we know we have cheated someone, broken laws we would generally think are good ones. One can feel guilty, when you (fear to) fail, towards employees or loyal business or political partners but if you’re lucky enough to have such it’s not immediately obvious to me how it holds you back. So i can see your point about needing to overcome shaming to move forward in public life, but how does guilt slavery defeat me (it might motivate me)? Yes, feeling i have to spend time with/for my ill mother instead of doing xyz diminishes my potential productivity but denying this “guilt” would be self-destructive of any sense of honour. Yes, a disgruntled lover or family member can try to pour on the guilt and that’s a potential trap but i think easier to escape than public shaming. Anyway, most productive people recognise their debts to family, and the rule of law.

    Comment by John — July 4, 2016 @ 1:33 pm

  8. I just wrote this and had the thought that the fertility decline in the West may be partly explained as the not fully conscious attempt to reduce the number of relationships that generate guilt!

    Comment by John — July 4, 2016 @ 1:38 pm

  9. We call it “white guilt,” not “white shame,” for a very good reason. If I can feel guilty for cheating my partners or breaking laws, then I can feel guilty for “cheating” by benefiting from my “white privilege,” and breaking the broader norms of equality of which the laws are only an imperfect expression. There’s no clear line separating “legitimate” guilt from exploited feelings of guilt. Precisely the fact that it’s internal makes its possible uses unlimited–when it comes to shame, at least, we have fairly familiar means of redemption; how can we tell when our guilt has been adequately expiated? If you didn’t know that your white privilege was a form of cheating and norm violating, that makes it even worse–you can now feel guilty for your complacency.

    Recognizing debts is something else, though–I can repay debts because I want potential creditors to be willing to trust me, and that includes more than monetary debts (what would we think of someone who lived the high life while his mother rotted in a third rate nursing home?). It’s just that I will limit my creditors as much as possible–the producerist above all wants to be an example, but only to those who might turn out to be exemplary in turn (including for the producerist himself). It’s like a trainer who is very interested in the good opinion of fellow trainers but couldn’t care less what those who will remain perennial trainees think. He might, after all, have something to learn from the other trainers.

    But that little theory of fertility decline is a very interesting one. We could also frame it in terms of wanting to take on as little responsibility as possible.

    Comment by adam — July 4, 2016 @ 2:51 pm

  10. You’ve reminded me that while i know about white guilt and should keep it in mind, somehow i’ve managed not to internalize it!

    Comment by John — July 4, 2016 @ 3:09 pm

  11. With a producerist’s “overwhelming desire to stay independent of the institutions” and “defiance of The Narrative” Big Men opt-out!

    Yet The Narrative is not defied. Producerists get a job and serve as social cuckolds. The Narrative (this one by Walmart) is aimed directly at producerists and glorifies wage slavery with an orwellian 1984ish inverted-logic newspeak of wage slavery as “independence.” (30 seconds)

    Comment by tommy704 — July 4, 2016 @ 8:19 am

  12. Most of the producersts (i.e., alt-rightists) I’m familiar with seem to be building little media empires that, so far, are keeping them independent and therefore out of reach of the SJWs. I don’t know how many could live that way, but the producerists don’t need to be a majority, or anywhere near it–even a fairly small minority would make it possible to wage war on consumerism, first of all by mounting counter-attacks on the SJWs that the latter are not prepared for–and, thereby, at the very least establishing deterrence, which is extremely important.

    Comment by adam — July 4, 2016 @ 10:47 am

  13. “You’ve reminded me that while i know about white guilt and should keep it in mind, somehow i’ve managed not to internalize it!”

    I think you should consider that a blessing.

    Comment by adam — July 4, 2016 @ 3:15 pm

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