The dismantling of Western masculinity has been ongoing since at least the “Enlightenment,” but was initially hidden from view by the modern heroicization of industry and industrial labor and the association of masculinity with the figures of the industrialist and the militant worker. What in recent decades appears in the West as the triumph of an emasculatory feminism is really the collapse of this modern fantasy of entrepreneurial and proletarian prowess. The oversized figure of the former “captain of industry” is now reduced to the proportions of the typical, larvally arrested Silicon Valley CEO. Old John Henry is a screen-fixated drone confined to a cubicle. The truth of modernity turns out to be the transformation of machine-worshiping and machine-reliant man into a machine, or worse, a machine appendage, with all that implies about the redundancy of gender. The myth of gender “equality” issues from this functional abolition of the gender distinction. “Equality” is predicated on sameness; it imposes sameness. But this imposition is only possible when the markers of difference, in this case sexual difference, lose their functional/social value. This liquidation of gender is masked by the myth, the ideology, of female “empowerment.” But what modernity empowers is not women but an unsexed hybrid. The “empowered” career woman is no longer a woman but a phallicized freak, a forced mutation. Likewise, the modern, accommodating, pliable, “sensitive” male is no longer a male but an equally synthetic product, a complementary modern abomination. Today, surgical transgenderism brings into the open the price of the Faustian bargain between man and machine. It becomes evident that the modern “liberation” from the cruel exigencies of nature was achieved by the wholesale artificialization of the human, the self-disfiguring transformation of both sexes into Frankensteinian oddities.
One ought to recognize in the Marxist critique of capitalism a covert loyalty to an antecapitalist community. Marx was too sophisticated, too urbane to throw in his lot with those he dismissed as utopian socialists, yet, as his early writings show, his animus against capitalism derived, like theirs, from a reaction against capitalism’s desecration–desacralization–of traditional, patriarchal norms. He was, at heart a romantic reactionary, but forced by intellectual vanity to give his anticapitalism an avant-garde “progressive” cover, a project facilitated by the mental suppleness he absorbed from Hegelian dialectics.
If this covert nostalgia for the predeluvian past at the heart of Marxism is acknowledged, then the tendency of communist revolutions to bring to power archly paternal figures like the Man of Steel and the Great Helmsman can be appreciated as preservative of an ancient notion of regality. In effect, communism was able to give an absolutism threatened by the encroaching democratic corruption a new lease on life, thus safeguarding in distorted but still recognizable form the authority of the Great Father. Insofar as masculinity and what today is disparaged as “authoritarianism” are essentially the same thing, communism can be credited with having found a way to reinvent heroic virility as a modern virtue. This is why the monuments and edifices that remain from the Stalinist era, despite efforts to dismiss them as bombastic anachronisms or icons of “totalitarianism,” are paragons of aesthetic probity compared to the hysterically performative structures to which the postmodern cult of lameness has accustomed us.
Communism ultimately failed because, like modernism in general, it could not sustain the contradiction of attempting a modern, secular, humanist revival of a world that modernity, secularism, and humanism had destroyed. Nonetheless, the passing of modernism has left a void because modernism, for all its paradoxes, was the last heroic gesture that a senescent Western civilization was capable of before it completely surrendered to flaccidity.
The claim that pornography ruins marriages is more than risible; it inverts reality. Most middle-class marriages would likely not survive without it, middle-class marriage being the graveyard of sex. Pornography is a pacifier, the opiate of the contemporary male libido. It is the soma of the middle-class drone.
When contemporary ninnies complain of toxic masculinity, they are not entirely off the mark, even if they remain oblivious of the implications.
Masculinity becomes toxic when the complexity and attendant fragility of a society grow to the point where the male libidinal drive becomes too disruptive to accommodate. Such tightly regimented, dense, automated, networked societies require subjects that must increasingly approximate to genderless automatons.
Freud had already observed in Civilization and Its Discontents that the level of interdependence and collaboration that social life demands would be impossible without the repression of aggression. This was always true, but modernity pushes the instrumentalization of the human organism to the point where the modern subject must be completely stripped of any inclination that might ever so slightly misalign it with the Borg-like corporate hive that encloses it. Inevitably, this translates into an aversion toward every manifestation of refractory masculinity.
The early modern worshipers of the machine did not foresee this. To Marinetti, the machine promised hypermasculinzation, an amplification of the most primitive virility. What it delivered instead was a wholesale gelding of Western man, his transformation into a species of hermaphroditic worm. And it is these invertebrates who today declare that masculinity is toxic, for to them the sight of a man can only convey an intolerable rebuke.
This “Cultural Marxism” that conservatives like to invoke as the source of every cultural outrage is really just a mask for the anti-cultural agency of capitalism itself. Progressivism has always nicely aligned with capitalism’s drive to dismantle all traditions that impede the absolute supremacy of money. This is why patriarchy and masculinity are objects of unrelenting progressive assault. For money to rule without restriction, all residual patriarchal notions of honor and integrity had to be discredited as outdated and oppressive. Unable or unwilling to comprehend what Marx had already figured out by 1848, that capitalism profanes everything formerly holy and turns everything solid “into air,” the right responds by invoking nostalgia for a slightly less developed less-monopolistic capitalism and wishing for the restitution of pre-1960s ideals of masculinity. Someone like Jordan Peterson, for instance, is reduced to advising his readers to clean up their rooms, stand straight, and refrain from telling untruths, advice that any schoolmarm might in the past have dispensed. He too rails against “Cultural Marxism,” but avoids noticing how well the evil designs of this phantom Cultural Marxism mesh with the requirements of corporate-driven consumerism: how, for instance, feminist and queer claims about the constructedness of gender feed into making gender a commodity, how the conscription of women into the labor force has undercut wages and benefited corporations, how identity politics has fractured the working class and disabled its resistance to capitalism.
So the net effect of “Cultural Marxism” has actually been to further entrench the globalist corporate order. Where is the “Marxism” in that?
The “empowerment” of women is an artifact of the disempowerment of tradition. To resort to a Marxist formulation, what men today encounter as feminism is the alienated form of their own labor.
An intellectual refutation of feminism would be pointless since the very attempt would constitute an emasculation. Men distinguish themselves by deeds not words. It is women’s lust for violent men that refutes feminism.