Dalrock has recently tackled the question “What is the manosphere?“ Posts like this are an important service to other branches of the neo-reactionary tree, somewhat sympathetic outsiders trying to decide whether the entity in question is entirely, partly, or not at all compatible with their own commitments. “Definitions are important”, Dalrock rightly says. I would add that dogmas, properly enunciated, facilitate conversation rather than shutting it down. It helps to know very clearly what one is being asked to agree or disagree with. This is, if anything, even more true for the “orthosphere”, since the words we would ordinarily use to describe ourselves–”social conservatives”, “traditionalists”, “orthodox Christians”–have been stretched and debased almost to the point of uselessness. I don’t blame liberals, men’s rights activists, or anyone else for believing that social conservatism is what prominent people calling themselves social conservatives say it is. What else are they to think? Nevertheless, what passes for conservatism, even Christian conservatism, these days is deeply contaminated by liberalism, as a look at the historical record and an examination of basic philosophical premises makes clear. By the same standards, the orthosphere is not thus corrupted. The following will be a work of dogmatics, not apologetics. I will not try to convince you that the orthosphere’s beliefs are true, but I do want to give you a sense of what they are and how they differ from those of related schools of thought.
Here’s something closely related to my last post. At the Atlantic, Ann-Marie Slaughter calls us to commit ourselves more fully to the feminist dream: more public day care so that women can spend their days self-actualizing in an office while their children are raised by paid professionals. Sunshine Mary isn’t buying.
[...] The best option, both for individual children and for society as a whole, is high-quality, affordable day-care, either at the workplace or close by. High-quality means care provided by trained professionals who are specialists in child development, who can provide a stable, loving, learning environment that can take care not only of children’s physical needs but also provide stimulation and socialization.
Day care workers do not love the children they care for. They may care about them, but they do not love them; it is dishonest and denies human nature to claim that they do. Should children spend fifty hours per week with someone who does not love them? Only a very sick society would choose this, but Mrs. Slaughter is fully on board with it.
Someone who accepts (or claims to accept) at least some of the basic truths of Christianity, but who does not regard these truths as the most important truths in the world. In other words, a liberal Christian is someone who accepts (or claims to accept) at least some propositions that are essential to Christianity, but whose basic worldview is not Christian. The liberal Christian puts something other than Christianity first, and Christianity second—at best. Continue reading
Forgiveness is horribly dear; it entails relinquishing a precious moral asset. But unless we forgive, and so long as we hold on to our grudges, or to any creaturely treasure, for that matter, we are tethered to Earth, and unfit for Heaven.
For those of you who haven’t seen it, the article on gay marriage by John Milbank (Mr. Radical Orthodoxy) is pretty good:
During the course of recent debates in the British Parliament over the proposed legalisation of gay marriage, it has gradually become apparent that the proposal itself is impossible. For legislators have recognised that it would be intolerable to define gay marriage in terms equivalent to “consummation,” or to permit “adultery” as legitimate ground for gay divorce….Why, then, should Christians worry, if this is all just a matter of terminology? Can we not live with differing definitions of marriage? …This may, indeed, be the direction that the churches now need to take. However, the graver fear surrounding the new legislation is that secular thought will not so readily let go of the demand for absolutely equal rights based on identical definitions. In that case, we face an altogether more drastic prospect. Not only would “marriage” have been redefined so as to include gay marriage, it would inevitably be redefined even for heterosexual people in homosexual terms. Thus “consummation” and “adultery” would cease to be seen as having any relevance to the binding and loosing of straight unions…
Secondly, it would end the public legal recognition of a social reality defined in terms of the natural link between sex and procreation. In direct consequence, the natural children of heterosexual couples would then be only legally their children if the state decided that they might be legally “adopted” by them.
And this, I argue, reveals what is really at issue here. There was no demand for “gay marriage” and this has nothing to do with gay rights. Instead, it is a strategic move in the modern state’s drive to assume direct control over the reproduction of the population, bypassing our interpersonal encounters. This is not about natural justice, but the desire on the part of biopolitical tyranny to destroy marriage and the family as the most fundamental mediating social institution.
Heterosexual exchange and reproduction has always been the very “grammar” of social relating as such. The abandonment of this grammar would thus imply a society no longer primarily constituted by extended kinship, but rather by state control and merely monetary exchange and reproduction…
It is for this reason that practices of surrogate motherhood and sperm-donation (as distinct from the artificial assistance of a personal sexual union) should be rejected. For the biopolitical rupture which they invite is revealed by the irresolvable impasse to which they give rise. Increasingly, children resulting from anonymous artificial insemination are rightly demanding to know who their natural parents are, for they know that, in part, we indeed are our biology.
Set aside for the moment that heterosexual divorce is as great an abomination as gay marriage, and you’ll agree that Milbank ably makes two key points. First, gay marriage does affect straight marriage by forcing straights to radically impoverish their understanding of their own unions. Second, this is an attack by the state on a rival social structure, the kinship group.
Next, Milbank realizes where his logic is leading him and tries to draw back:
From this it follows that we should not re-define birth as essentially artificial and disconnected from the sexual act – which by no means implies that each and every sexual act must be open to the possibility of procreation…
Perish the thought.
By the way, the discussion we had here earlier on paternity testing got my thinking about what marriage really means from a purely legal standpoint. Here is what I came up with:
Marriage is an agreement that party A (the husband) should automatically be recognized as the father of any children born to party B (the wife), “automatically” meaning that once the marriage is contracted, neither party may refuse to acknowledge A’s paternal rights and duties to any children subsequently born to B.
There is much more to marriage, of course, but it’s all built on top of this. The point of marriage is to legally establish fatherhood. Once this is explicit, it is quite obvious that 1) marriage is heterosexual (such a contract would still be meaningful for an infertile heterosexual couple, but not a homosexual one); 2) a woman can have no more than one husband (since having more than one father would negate the essential paternal authority of all of them); 3) women may not divorce and remarry (because otherwise fatherhood would depend on the mother’s subsequent will, in violation of the contract). Again, everything else is on top of this. Love is the reason to make this contract, but it is not the essence of the contract itself. This contract is a fitting metaphor for the union of Christ with His Church, but only because it already has a nature fixed apart from theological considerations to make the metaphor apt.
For those who take an interest, Angel Millar has published my essay on Gustave Flaubert’s “Herodias,” a tale of John the Baptist, and one of the Three Tales (1877), at his People of Shambhala website. We think of Flaubert as the consummate social novelist (Madame Bovary  and A Sentimental Education ), but he was also, despite not being much of a believer, a powerful religious thinker (Salammbo  and The Temptation of Saint Anthony ).
The essay is also a meditation on the function of the Holy Spirit. Here is the link: http://peopleofshambhala.com/herodias-of-flaubert/
The essay explores additional themes such as the relation of mimesis and crisis and the relation of text and conscience.
I just saw this map (here’s the post in which it is embedded) of anti-liberal blogs at Habitable Worlds, and it’s pretty cool. At least at a quick check, both the groupings and the connections seem about right. Presumably, the Orthosphere would be placed in the middle of “Christian Traditionalists” (hereafter “CTs”) with no connections to other groupings. The map has an obvious focus on secular reactionaries–not that there’s anything wrong with that. It is obvious that CTs are the cluster least integrated with others. This is to be expected, given that the various groups of secular reactionaries aren’t separated by any sort of deep philosophical differences from each other the way they all are from us. The map correctly shows some CT sites leaning toward manosphere/femininity territory. One might have expected us to blend in seamlessly with the Christian manosphere, but if you read their blogs like I do, you know that they despise us. A tighter connection to the “Political Philosophy” cluster might be an unrealized possibility. Our goal is 1) to be right and 2) to make our arguments strong and interesting enough that we can seed ideas among the wider class of people disaffected with the modern world.
Some dogmas of the modern world are evil, and some are merely stupid. A few might actually be true. As reactionaries, we often face the choice of how widely to spread our quarrel. Do we fight all the beliefs of the Leftist establishment with which we disagree, or only the evil ones? The answer depends both on the extent of a given reactionary’s passions and also his current social status. Is it a case of saving one’s ostracism for that one issue closest to one’s heart, or a case of already feeling so cut off from one’s fellow men that one might as well let loose on everything?
From Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World (1978; English translation, 1987); Book III, Chapter 3, “Mimesis and Sexuality” (Pages 337 – 338)
“If we recognize that the sexual appetite can be affected by the interplay of mimetic interferences, we have no reason to stop at ‘sadism’ and ‘masochism’ in our critique of false psychiatric labels. Let us grant that the subject can no longer obtain sexual satisfaction without involving the violence of the model or a simulation of that violence – and that the instinctual structures we have inherited from the animals, in the sexual domain, can allow themselves to be inflected by the mimetic game. We then have to ask ourselves [whether] these cases of interference are not likely to have a still more decisive effect and give rise to at least some of the forms of homosexuality.
I’ve published an analysis of the growing stupidity of Western public life at Crisis Magazine. The topic was the theme of a recent meeting of the New York meetup group.
Basically, I say the problem is the technological attitude toward human life. If thought is reduced to pure formal expertise and made a sort of industrial process it stops being thought. The more impressively it’s organized, the less like thought it becomes.