The Way of Men by Jack Donovan – Book Review
Back in the early days of the Internet, before Web 2.0, before the Androsphere, back when blogging was a dirty word, there was the Tucker Max Message Board. A nascent collection of Manly Men and ne’er do wells, with authors such as PhilaLawyer and Robert Greene, a large contingent of military men, a brilliant writers’ forum, Tucker’s writings on proto-game, and, of course, Yours Truly. The conversations on the Idiot Board (the TMMB’s /b/) were as hilarious as they were insightful (it’s where I first heard of Roissy), and it was an exciting place to be.
There we were, a bunch of Young Turks; taking the Internet by storm, anticipating the next form of New Media, whilst discussing women, booze, pop culture, and what it means to be a Brilliant Writer. I owe a lot to that place, and not just the fact that it saved me from Law School.
But while many of the lessons I learned there became so internalized that I can no longer place them, the thing that sticks with me is a question which we were never able to answer.
“You guys talk a lot about masculinity, and being a Real Man,” started off one thread, “What exactly does that mean?”
Numerous answers were attempted. A real man pays his debts, or A real man keeps his word, he protects the weak.
“But don’t these definitions simply say A real man is moral? A woman who doesn’t pay her debts, keep her word, or protect the weak isn’t much of a woman, either. Aside from having muscles, what’s the fundamental difference between a Good Man and a Good Woman?”
We failed that day, and we knew it. Somewhere in our gut we had that sense of what a Real Man was, but no matter how we framed it, we were only able to define the Good Person.
I can just imagine Jack Donovan reading through that thread and chuckling to himself. “You guys are asking the wrong question,” he’d say, “Being a good man is not the same thing as Being good at being a man. Y’know, I should probably write a book about this or something…“
I have no idea how people manage to be confused about something that simple and obvious, but I’m pretty sure our ancestors would have killed them and taken their stuff.
There is a crisis of modern masculinity. Not the crisis of spoken of by the media; the Standard Narrative of the Talking Heads bemoans the Peter Pans, the boys who work part-time, and refuse to Man Up. Single Men who’ve eschewed the corporate world, playing video games and riding motorcycles, dating women but not marrying them, dropping out and going ghost. They’ve spoken loud and clear to us through the schools and the media: “We have no use for you and your patriarchy, bring that stuff around here and we’ll send you to Sensitivity Training!” Okay, we said, if you don’t want us then we’re out of here; best of luck raising those children on your own.
Their ‘crisis’ is nothing more than the fish starting to miss its bicycle. After whipping us, brainwashing us, drugging us, and using us, they’re now trying to guilt us into putting the yoke back on. It’s laughable, really, and the ‘crisis’ is theirs, not ours.
Our crisis is deeper. It’s the rot we feel as we look at our lives, and ask “Is this all that there is?” All the video games and porn leave us feeling unsatisfied, our dalliances with the vapid feminist sluts who frequent the bars are entertaining, but ultimately masturbatory. We look back to Men from fifty years ago – a hundred years ago – a thousand years ago! – and something in our gut tells us that we’re falling short of the standards they set. We might be doing the best we can in a game that was rigged from the start… but we’re not the Men we should have been.
We don’t have a great war in our generation, or a great depression, but we do, we have a great war of the spirit. We have a great revolution against the culture. The great depression is our lives. We have a spiritual depression. ~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club, Chapter 19
So what does it mean to be a Real Man?
Jack Donovan’s given it some thought.
The Way of Men delineates the masculine Virtues which underlie soldiers and gangsters, Zulus and Templars, Kings and peasants alike; the primordial Manliness which has been our birthright since we first diverged from our Chimpanzee cousins. The fiery virility that lives in our chests, and leads us to create civilizations, great works of art, Science, literature… as well as tear them down when they’ve become corrupted. The first half of his book is as perceptive Musashi, and I can already feel it sinking into the bedrock of my psyche. I won’t ruin it for you (I couldn’t have put it better than Donovan himself, and I won’t try), but I can tell you right now that his ideas are going to start appearing in my own writing. They are deeply influential.
But where the first half of the book is a case of “Exactly what it says on the tin”, the second half surprised me; it goes from “Read his book if you want to be good at being a man,” to “Read this book if you want to survive the 21st century.”
Graaaaaagh called it the Lesbianization of Society; Donovan calls it the ethic of the Bonobo. The masturbatory matriarchy of times of plenty, promoted by the social planners, but fundamentally against our natures. He explores the concept of Zero Scarcity – this Brave New World of Make Work and Human Resources, where the few at the top rent-seek and own all the patents – without getting lost in economic theorizing. He looks at societies which have destroyed themselves with their own wealth, how they transitioned from expansion and conquest, into consumption and self-pleasure. Globalism vs Nationalism. Feminism vs Patriarchy. Equality vs Freedom.
The new Way of Women depends on prosperity, security, and globalism.
Any return of honor and The Way of Men and the eventual restoration of balance and harmony between the sexes will require the weakening of all three.
The core of True Masculinity is completely at odds with ourcivilization. So what, then, is it really the time for the End of Men as we’ve known them? Does our future lie in being gelded little Cabana boys for self-focused, solipsistic sugar mamas?
If you’re a good boy, if you’re well groomed and have a J-O-B and you learn to say the right things, maybe you can convince a nice girl to let you give her a baby and help her pay for it. If that’s not your thing, you can spend your money getting drunk or busy yourself trying to hump whatever piece of ass strikes your fancy. Sex, after all, is social in the bonobo masturbation society. You’ll have the hard won “right” to rub yourself against whatever makes you feel good, as long as you follow the rules.
Can we deny 10,000 years of evolution?
“Can men change?” is the wrong question.
Better questions are: “Why should men change?” and “What does the average guy get out of the deal?”
I hope that men, to quote Guy Garcia, “yank at their chains and pull the entire temple down with them,” because I hate to think that this is the end of The Way of Men. Everyone from schoolteachers to the United Nations is rushing to do away with “outmoded” models of masculinity, but they’re not replacing it with anything better.
Their future is already falling. It just needs a push.
In the chaos that follows disappointment, gangs of men can restart the world.
Gloriously, darkly subversive, The Way of Men filled me with a deep-red optimism for the future. The entire alt-right/androsphere has been moving from depression-porn to hope, from complaints to solutions. This book is a provides a path forward, the path of Men; the Way of the Gang.
I only wish I’d read it sooner.
The Feminists are beginning to feel the drafts in their ivory towers. They can sense that a storm is coming. The Way of Men ought to fill them with a stark moral terror, as their time draws to a close…
Now there’s a thought that makes me smile.