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The Manly Barbarian:
Masculinity & Exploit in Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class

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Thorstein Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class was written as a treatise on economics, but in pieces—like the work of Freud and Darwin—it reads today like an early stab at evolutionary psychology. I decided to dig into it after reading Venkatesh Rao’s brilliant essay “The Return of the Barbarian.” Rao updated some of Veblen’s basic ideas and used them as a jumping off point for an argument about conflicts between sedentary cultures (which invest everything into civilization and become completely dependent on it) and pastoral nomads (who are used to thinking on their feet). I was interested in the way that the traits Veblen assigned to Barbarians overlap with the archetypal essence of masculinity I developed in The Way of Men. “Manliness-as-barbarianism” offers a muscular way to expand an anti-modern, extra-Christian understanding of men and masculinity.

Veblen’s opening “Introductory” essay is alive, colorfully written and packed with interesting ideas. The rest of the book, although peppered with smart and timeless observations, suffers from a middle class bookworm’s ressentiment toward both “delinquent” bullies and predatory elitists (who he thinks have a lot in common) as well as a lot of rambling, convoluted writing and thinking about classes which no longer exist in quite the same forms.

His basic theory rests on the idea that humans were once relatively peaceful savages who acquired a predatory habit. These peaceful savages—“noble savages,” you might say—shared work and resources, and could afford no class of individuals who abstained from certain kinds of work. However, as men developed the knack for preying on other living creatures, including other groups of men, divisions of labor occurred. Men are generally better suited to hunting and fighting, so hunting and fighting became man’s work, and women were left to do the work which remained. This gendered split of labor occurs at the “lower” stage of barbarism, when technology has advanced to the point where hunting and fighting are feasible, and opportunities for hunting and fighting occur with enough regularity for the action to become culturally important to the group. For instance, an isolated island with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, but no pigs to hunt, would be less conducive to the predatory “habit” of mind.

According to Veblen, the barbarian man’s work is characterized by exploit. He “reaps what he has not strewn.” The manly barbarian takes what he wants with a violent hand and an iron will.

More broadly, the work of men deals with animate phenomena. Veblen stresses that, to the barbarian, that which is “animate” is not merely what is “alive.” Like his contemporary Thomas Carlyle, he recognized that our forefathers inhabited a far more magical world. As Carlyle wrote in Heroes and Hero-Worship:

To the wild, deep-hearted man all was yet new, not veiled under names or formulas; it stood naked, flashing in on him there, beautiful, awful, unspeakable…

. . . The world, which is now divine only to the gifted, was then divine to whosoever would turn his eye upon it.

The angry volcano, the changeable sea, the exclamatory thunderclap and the snap of lighting—each one as animated as a bear or a snake or a herd of aurochs. Before our age of conceit, the whole world was alive in a way. The task of man was to challenge and master the world, to dare and to fight against its untamed fury. To leap a crevasse, to climb a mountain, to tramp through the white powder that falls from the sky. In Veblen’s words, the work of men was work that demanded “prowess,” not mere “diligence” and “drudgery.”

According to him, “virtually the whole range of industrial employments is an outgrowth of what is classed as women’s work in the primitive barbarian community.” Men reserved their strength for dynamic activities. Mere chores—the preparation of food, the production of clothing, the repetitive execution of menial processes—were assigned to women, to the weak and infirm, to slaves.

Masculinity must be proved, and the work that demonstrates strength, courage and mastery, bestows proof. A fresh carcass, a rack of antlers, a string of ears, your enemy’s wife. These proofs of exploit convey achievement and status. The trophy is physical evidence of honor and successful initiation into the hierarchy of men, a symbolic representation of dominance demonstrated in conflict with men or beasts. Veblen wrote:

Under this common-sense barbarian appreciation of worth or honor, the taking of life—the killing of formidable competitors, whether brute or human—is honorable in the highest degree. And this high office of slaughter, as an expression of the slayer’s prepotence, casts a glamour of worth over every act of slaughter and over all of the tools and accessories of the act. Arms are honorable, and the use of them, even in seeking the life of the meanest creatures of the fields, becomes an honorific employment. At the same time, employment in industry becomes correspondingly odious, and, in the common-sense apprehension, the handling of the tools and implements of industry falls beneath the dignity of able-bodied men. Labor becomes irksome.

The accumulation of objects of honor becomes an end in itself, and Veblen’s economic theory is based on the idea that as civilizations become more complex, symbols and the appearance of honor become more important than honorific deeds themselves. The upper classes make ostentatious and often wasteful displays of wealth as a matter of habit, and—especially in the open-caste system of American society—the lower and middle classes toil to gain honor by attaining high-end goods. Hence, the popular obsession with logos, luxury vehicles and all our sundry forms of bling and swag.

More relevant to the discussion of masculinity, however, is Veblen’s breakdown of manly and unmanly work. As the drudgery of industry among those engaged in lackluster occupations increases in efficiency, a surplus of goods allows particularly talented or well-born men to devote themselves completely to tasks which produce little of tangible value, but which deal specifically with the animate world and the application or management of exploit. These non-industrial occupations include government, warfare, religious observances, and sports. In the barbarian world, where manly exploit is righteousness, the highest status men are warriors, priests, and kings. Athletics include abstract rehearsals for war and the practice or demonstration of skills applicable to hunting, fighting or mastering nature. The rightful role of the barbarian priest—as storyteller, shaman, philosopher, scribe and artist—is to place the exploits of men in the magical, animate world. The barbarian priest provides the barbarian warrior with a compelling narrative. As Mishima might say, the priest finds the poetry in the splash of blood.

Veblen’s take on the predatory culture of barbarian thugs—and evidence of it in the aristocracy of his time—was somewhat snide. He was clearly biased in favor of the sensible, hard-working middle class, who he saw as being less concerned with violence and exploit, and more in touch with the peaceful ways of pre-barbarian savages. Today, there is every reason to believe that tribal violence has always been golden to males, as it is even in our close ancestors, the chimpanzees. The supposedly non-violent savages studied by the scientists and explorers of Veblen’s era are more reasonably understood as culs-de-sac in human cultural development. In zero scarcity pockets of peace and plenty, men tend to lapse into softness and mother-worship. Men who are attracted to the barbarian way of life—or the idea of it—continually warn against this tendency. Settled as we are in this suburban bonobo cul-de-sac of a global empire, the majority of modern men can only daydream about an age of blood and poetry, and listen to stories about the days of high adventure.

If we put aside fantasies of noble savages and recognize the barbarian as the father of all men, his interest in exploit and preference for demonstrations of prowess over mere industry help to explain some of the conflicts between manliness and our modern industrial (and post-industrial) way of life. Anti-modern passions in men, while often couched in talk of the greatness of dying or past civilizations, are also often connected to a yearning for a return to the “barbarian values” of blood, honor, magic, poetry, adventure and exploit which are forbidden to all but a few in our “evolved” modern world.

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  1. Posted October 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Permalink


    Have you read any theory (anthropological or otherwise) that does not turn devotedly to ecology in order to explain the origin (and nature) of male predatory behavior? I have not, or have not seen one that does not resort to some form of materialism, but would love to see a narratively based understanding of these behaviors. What would one look like? Well, much like Livy’s and your own narrative of the founding of Rome: a story of gods, sex, blood, wolves(!), fighting, honor, and chicanery.

    Yesterday someone asked what form of history I would promote (see comments to Michael Polignano’s essay). Well, this would be it: a history that inspires our men to be the men we once were. How much love of Rome would have been inspired by a history of the city that said, “well, the founders of the city simply looked for a bend in the Tiber, and ultimately lucked out to have a bend AND an island across which bridges could be spanned”?

    As you said in my favorite line, “masculinity must be proved,” but also inspired. Thanks in large part to your work, and also the parallel path we seem to walk, I see masculinity as a, if not, the fundamental issue of our predicament. Most of us are weak, dishonorable, cowardly, masters of nothing. If we could just change this we would be a long way toward solving our (contextually) bigger problems.

    Finally, Veblen’s (and other’s) theory of civilizational development strikes me as wishful thinking: we always see contemporary man as the culmination of all that has come before. This is ludicrous, as it assumes (via modern understanding of History as a simple recording of minutia) that no selection or discrimination takes place in making us what we are. (What would he say about men who still believe in the Lupa narrative? That we are backwards, parochial, or just living in a fantasy world? And what does it say about the choices that have been made to rob history of myth and beauty that we cannot say it is he who lives in the dark?)

    Nietzsche proposed instead that priests, and then merchants, were able to make these types of discriminatory selections to their benefit, making warriors and their codes of masculinity and honor both dishonorable and evil (because bad for business). What the Counter-Enlightemnent has been best at is making known the bases of the decisions that destroyed our will to be men, as it were, and proposing the viability of a return to our nature via “social/environmental alternatives”.

    Yes, I know “natures” are always evolving (becoming), but that does not mean that we cannot push that evolution in a direction that works to our benefit. I argue that this was 99.9% of what fascism was/is attempting. Make men, then order and nature will follow.

    • Dominion
      Posted October 9, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      Therein lies the difference between the myth and the history. The myth of the wolf and her adopted royal sons provides a heroic and Divine foundation for Rome. The archaeological and historical accounts of migrations and city building provide history and data which we may find useful for other endeavors. Alain de Benoist is correct when he asserts that we need to remember that myths are true in what they are intended to communicate, which is not history, but eternal truths.

      On what you said about natures, I find this to be one of the main differences between the traditional Conservative philosophers and the New Right and fascism. One of the foundations of Conservatism is that human nature is more or less constant and cannot be changed. Fascism and similar rightist movements (and left wing movements as well) theorize that a New Man can in fact be created. It seems to me as if different people would have different potentials for changing and controlling themselves to develop to a higher nature…Nietzsche certainly thought so. A transvaluation of values would need to recognize this distinction, and realize that the New Man, insofar as we can even talk about such a thing, can only be achieved by an individual and concerted effort undertaken by a person who wants to actually do this and has the will to follow it through, not by State attempts to transform all of society, all of which have failed.

      • Posted October 9, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

        Great points all around. Briefly, perhaps it is high romance that I delimit the differences between myth and history, at least in as much as Herodotus saw Homer as a perfectly legitimate source for explaining the enmity between Greece and Asia. Or perhaps I’m still very postmodern, because I see knowledge that either inspires to sensations of power, reverence, dynamism, etc, or to their converses summed as decadence. Ecology might keep me from building in a flood plain, but its not going to inspire me to fight or procreate in order to save my people. At this point in our arc/existence, we have enough history and science. We need myth.

        The point about the distance between Nietzschean New Men and fascist New Men is dead on, even if cruel to the fascists. At least they tried! But yes, one must read Nietzsche while looking in a mirror. Otherwise one has missed the point. As for what I see in the mirror? Let’s just say I know my inheritance.

      • uh
        Posted October 9, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Permalink


        Some guys just can’t accept passive roles.

      • Dominion
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 2:24 am | Permalink

        Cruelty only insofar as necessary for instruction, Mark. In my view, I have always found one of the shortcomings of fascism in practice to be a lack of reflection, a passion for action which could lead to incredible short-sightedness. Thus did many fascist groups find themselves co-opted by money power, making agreements with them in order to fight self-styled socialists, who were in fact workers who could have been absorbed into a truly organic system of power relations. Thus did a Reich which had built itself in a few short years to the strongest and most prosperous State in Europe plunge itself into war. As a Traditionalist, I would say that this is why an elite would need to have developed themselves to a state of ”detached passion”, or outer action backed with inner calm and stillness. But then, as a Nietzschean you may not agree with Traditionalists on that point. You know far more Roman fascists than I do…and I’m sure they’re tough minded enough to make that self-evaluation!

        Choosing between revitalized myth and ”scientific” thought systems is a false dichotomy. We must master and take advantage of all forms of knowing. Agriculture and ecology allow us to interact in our environment and care for nature, economics and commerce allow us to trade and live materially, science allows us to rise into the stars, myth allows us to remember the eternal truths of our ancestors, inspiring us to fight and bring forth the next generation, and the sacred Tradition allows us to achieve the highest forms of self-awareness. When all parts are developed to their best, then a Whole greater than each of them will emerge. This way of thinking is called holism, systems thought, or, in a more familiar phrase, integralism.

  2. Jaego
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    But how to go back without the loss of our higher selves – which quite rightly despise murder, torture, and rape? We don’t want to become like the Aztec warriors and priests, do we?

    Or do we? If we do, we should send someone to New Guinea or Borneo to apprentice with a witch doctor. The art of shrinking heads must not be lost. Also some good recipees for you know what could be gotten.

    We must reject Marxist Anthropology at all costs: different tribes were not the same even if they used the same technology and lived in an identical ecosystem. The Sioux despised the Pawnee for their cannibalism for example.

    But sure, I get your drift. Morality is cheap if nothing is involved – like our White Collar Marxist revolutionaries. Get the power and only then is morality real. But power corrupts – as does the lack of it. Just because we are suffering from the latter is no excuse to forget about the former.

    • Posted October 9, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      The point is not to become those who would murder, torture, and/or rape, but to cast off the morality of passivity that is taking us very far from something natural (I argue something noble) about being men, for the sake of protecting the weakest among us.

      One is not a barbarian for being willing to be violent and harsh. I never realized how far Nietzsche had moved beyond modern values until I began discussing his association of beauty with violence. People simply cannot deal with it.

      My reading of Jack Donovan probably foregrounds a ‘will to be men’ too strongly, leaving the “what would a society of these types of men look like” questions for those Anglo-Saxon capitalist types who only think in terms of ‘how’ and ‘exchange value’. I don’t want to sound crass, because this is serious stuff, but until violence becomes part of our reality we will never be free (even conceptually) from liberalism. No one has better explained the bourgeois prohibition against violence than Sorel. He goes so far as to say that no ‘revolution’ against liberalism will succeed if we believe violence to be immoral, because the state will fight us until we are extinct. Take remorse, along with compassion and pity, and throw it atop a bonfire. We have to become a different breed of men to win this war.

      Personally, I love ‘all or nothing’ scenarios that force our men to fight to the death for the sake of our people. Only in such a scenario will we discover who we are, and of what our race really is capable.

      • Jaego
        Posted October 9, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

        Nor did I say that being violent and harsh was the same as being a savage. But if we only have the virtues of the barbarian, then we’ll probably have his vices too. Whites aren’t immune though I dare say it’s deep in our subconscious now. But that’s just what you (and I) want to shake up. After all, Mr Donovan’s ancestors painted themselves blue and hunted heads. And even the Celts of classical times sometimes performed large scale human sacrafice – although it was often of criminals and prisoners of war and not just anybody. Not on the scale of the Aztecs and the Maya of course.

        Hunting heads was not and is not necessary you see. But violence devoid of shame is. But no remorse? Even when you’ve just killed a “collateral” or a child by mistake? No compassion on a dying man who needs a drink of water? That’s not the warrior code. That’s not the way of the Aryan warrior, but rather the “total war” of the Assyrian Semite. I think you’re ready to throw our virtues away with our passivity. Mumford warned that this might come; that people so frozen with passivity would follow “the terrible simplifiers” as a last desperate chance at freedom. We have waited far too long to act and now this looms as a possibility – and one I fear the Enemy can eploit.

      • Posted October 9, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

        Sorry Jaego, I assumed you’d know I meant universal pity, compassion, and remorse – these as virtues qua virtue via a Jewish god. No one here is talking about barbarian virtue but pre-Christian virtú.

        I’m Nietzschean in every way about war and enemies, and a bit Homeric. Therefore I would never pick a fight with a lesser opponent, and I honor what I battle. No barbarity in that, but certainly no Christianity either. There is simply no virtue in compassion, pity, or remorse when dealing with enemies.

      • Posted October 9, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

        “until violence becomes part of our reality we will never be free (even conceptually) from liberalism. No one has better explained the bourgeois prohibition against violence than Sorel. He goes so far as to say that no ‘revolution’ against liberalism will succeed if we believe violence to be immoral, because the state will fight us until we are extinct. Take remorse, along with compassion and pity, and throw it atop a bonfire. We have to become a different breed of men to win this war.”

        I agree with this completely in theory, though as I suggested in TWOM, I think the how and why will happen organically and it will come from the men most inclined to live that way. I’m more of a barbarian priest who could be a warrior in a pinch, but I have no idea if that pinch will ever come. I am interested in this Sorel character, and he may end up on my reading list, because yes, manhood without the possibility of violence is no longer manhood as I understand the definition.

        Arguments about how much more “civilized” culture X was than culture Y don’t really move me much.

      • Fourmyle of Ceres
        Posted October 9, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

        Jack Donovan in blockquote:

        Arguments about how much more “civilized” culture X was than culture Y don’t really move me much.

        Rightfully so, as there are many definitions of “civilization,” and many measures of same.

        I suspect process enter into the decline phase when they work to counter their organic function. For instance, for men, “civilization,” in theory, has become “femininization,” in practice, to the detriment of all.

        We shall have to purposefully recover the Warrior Caste. They will need barbarian priests to help in this. I might recommend discussions with certain Pagan Elders, who might well share your ideas, and have a few of their own.

        One speculative avenue worth a look is “Snow Brother,” by Steve Sterling, part of the Fifth Millenium Series.

        Just saying.

  3. excalibur
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    What is manliness? It is to oppose a power not to acquiesce to it,to struggle, to fight to sacrifice.
    Today the power is not only physical,it has evolved and assumed different and often more effective forms.The power to control ideas,thought and behaviour.
    To oppose such power requires intellect,moral courage,sacrifice.The goal is not saving the family,tribe but the race.That defines today’s manliness.

  4. Persephone Gray
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    I’m always hesitant to comment on these essays, as the erudition and eloquence of other commenters is rather intimidating and I fear my own thoughts will appear trivial in comparison. But I must say I really enjoyed this piece, and especially appreciate the distinction drawn between activities requiring prowess and those which involve mere drudgery. This seems to me an overlooked but crucially important aspect of true historical manliness; perhaps even a defining aspect. Men as a sex, in their natural state, are driven to mastery — of themselves, their households, their environment, their enemies, their arts and pursuits. This was part of the ancient Roman concept of *virtus*. Women as a sex have always been the ones performing the repetitive, day-to-day work that can be performed either skilfully or otherwise. Obviously women can perform their duties with diligence, skill and a right spirit, but their work and its capacity for excellence and evolution into art is obviously in a very different category from that of men.

    This brings to mind a fascinating book called “The Forgotten Arts & Crafts” by John Seymour, which catalogues and explores in considerable detail the numerous skilled activities of pre-industrial society. Part I is dedicated to the arts practised by men, such as woodland crafts, building, field work, workshop arts and textile production; Part II is dedicated to the household crafts of a woman’s domain, such as kitchen work, dairying, laundry, textile crafts, and decorative arts. The thrust of the work is that mass production has all but destroyed true prowess in the creative endeavors and that the loss of true masculine and feminine virtue is directly related to this decline in proud craftsmanship and homemaking.

  5. Sandy
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Some men trade in money and other men trade in genes. Can we learn from the big boys? One of the greatest Wall Street operators of all time was Jesse Livermore. The quote (bold face) is from his biography and the commentary from Adam Hamilton
    (Chapter V) … “And right here let me say one thing: After spending many years in Wall Street and after making and losing millions of dollars I want to tell you this: It never was my thinking that made the big money for me. It always was my sitting. Got that? My sitting tight! It is no trick at all to be right on the market. You always find lots of early bulls in bull markets and early bears in bear markets. I’ve known many men who were right at exactly the right time, and began buying and selling stocks when prices were at the very level which should show the greatest profit. And their experience invariably matched mine – that is, they made no real money out of it. Men who can both be right and sit tight are uncommon. I found it one of the hardest things to learn. But it is only after a stock operator has firmly grasped this that he can make big money. It is literally true that millions come easier to a trader after he knows how to trade than hundreds did in the days of his ignorance.”

    Be Right and Sit Tight! Marvel at Jesse Livermore at his finest! Like so many great truths in life this is so simple to understand, but so incredibly difficult to actually act out and walk the walk. So much of speculation really boils down to patience, that extraordinarily difficult trait to acquire. Do your research, determine the primary trend, deploy your positions, and then just hurry up and wait.

    The patient and prudent contrarian speculator usually wins in the end, but the whole modern financial-market arena is configured to award impatience. From 24/7 financial television to 3-second guaranteed executions on Internet trades to after-hours trading, our modern market environment is cunningly designed to nurture a culture of continuous frantic trading. The brokerages and financial industry love this go-go focus because they make money on each and every trade, and higher trading volume leads to much higher Wall Street profits.

    Most individual speculators also love this light-speed market culture, primarily because we speculators tend to be adrenaline junkies. It doesn’t matter whether you are buying or selling, it doesn’t matter whether your trade is big or small, but whenever your finger hovers a quarter inch above your mouse button and you are ready to pull the trigger and execute a trade the adrenaline rush and euphoria are simply awesome. Let’s face it, trading is fun and addictive! The very act of trading is a rush!

    Yet, a truly great speculator must transcend and rise above this frenetic market culture. Rather than getting all caught up in the incessant hype, a speculator must carefully cultivate patience. He must figure out the primary market trends, deploy positions somewhere near the beginning, and then steadfastly ignore all the market noise and huge temptations to overtrade until the primary market trends appear to be ending. This is very easy to understand, but exceedingly difficult to actually accomplish in the real world.

    The key to being able to actually act out Be Right and Sit Tight in your own real-world trading is to relentlessly nurture your own patience. According to the Bible (Romans 5:3), patience is learned through tribulation, which is suffering. I think a great part of the education of a speculator is tribulation, the agony of defeat in losing precious capital in bad trades, as well as the psychological anchor of being caught wrong by the markets. Learning to speculate is certainly not an easy or trivial undertaking!

    But as these painful lessons accumulate, as a speculator suffers, gradually they learn. Jesse Livermore characterized this process as, “And when you know what not to do in order not to lose money, you begin to learn what to do in order to win.” The entire education of a speculator ultimately leads to the elusive and prized emotion of patience, which is so difficult to cultivate yet so priceless to possess. Only the abnormally patient command the crucial internal discipline and peace necessary to Sit Tight.

  6. rhondda
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Dear Persephone Gray, do you actually understand the myth of Persephone? I doubt very much it was sweetness and light like the feminists claim and she is her mother’s clone. In fact I would think it a kind of harrowing of hell rather like Inanna had to do with her sister Ereshkigal. Or the Goddess Hel in Norse myth or the Cailleach Bearha in Celtic myth. Scary mirrors of the self. She does not return the same. Whether Persephone is raped or has a delightful time is irrelevant to the purpose of the myth. It is about growing up and facing reality.

  7. rhondda
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    This is not personal Persephone Gray, but someone who uses that name should at least know the meaning. Just saying.

  8. Roissy Hater
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    Our world is now post tactile, the most influential and powerful men in our society are not the most superior in the categories Mr. Donovan espouses. That’s not going to change anytime soon as technology has really arrested the development of masculinity.

    I love Nietzsche, London, Junger, and Evola … but let’s get real … we live in a different epoch. The war is ideological and not physical. If you don’t like that, go play Halo.

    Even if modern society descends into anarchy it would be stupid to assume that strong, superior men would rise to power … more like the short fat dude who has the biggest budget to pay for a private security team of brainless thugs.

  9. JJ
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 2:16 am | Permalink

    Civilization X and civilization Y do make a difference. Theoretically, in man’s pre-civilized era, warmer climate tribes had greater population growth, which led to many clashes with other tribes. Nordic tribes were more timid toward ethnic warfare as each tribe struggled to maintain its population. This history is many thousand years longer than our recorded history, and certainly influences us in many ways. This talk of violence is a romanticization of the dark “noble savage” so common in our post French Revolution era.

    • Jaego
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      Before the little Ice Age, Nordic populations exploded leading to overpopulation and the Viking Age of Conquest. Also they saw that Christianty was intent of their destruction so they might as well strike. Whites as timid? Only now in our decline. We conquered all peoples and then their women conquered us.

      • JJ
        Posted October 11, 2012 at 10:36 am | Permalink

        I can’t speak for the Vikings-I have not met a Viking. No, we are not products of, “being conquered by their woman”. More likely, this age of economics in all things.

  10. Jay
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    “In the beginning, the noble caste was always the barbarian caste: their predominance did not lie mainly in physical strength but in strength of the soul—they were the whole human beings (which also means, at every level, ‘more whole beasts’).” – Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil #203.

  11. Persephone Gray
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    rhondda: Thank you, but I am very familiar with classical mythology and have no interest in whatever any feminists might say about it. Of course, Persephone’s myth contains elements of darkness and death, alongside aspects of transformation and rebirth. I took the name because I strongly identify with the themes of her story and consider her something of a patron goddess.

  12. guiscard
    Posted October 11, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    It’s as if history has forever condemned Russia to be antagonistic (or alien) in some way to ‘the west’ which is sad, considering the racial similarity. Let’s be honest – even if the J’s weren’t exacerbating the problems, it’s hard to believe they would suddenly lose their anti-west bias plus imperialist ‘designs’ on Europe in general.

    I applaud those who can extract valuable insights from his theories though… the idea of a new political system sweeping out of Russian Academia is about as alluring as the return of Genghis Khan for me.

  13. Thorsten
    Posted October 11, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    Pastoral Nomads indeed played an essential role in the forging of Indo-European civilization. The Proto-Indo-Europeans (i.e. “Aryans”) may be called “barbarians” in as much as they were not sedentary populations centered around cities as were the Neolithic agricultural societies of “Old Europe” and the ancient Near East, and therefore uncivilized in the most literal sense of the term. But they were not wanting in those areas valued by us who wish to see the West resume its tradition of excellence. The mastery of their natural environment was second to none, their martial prowess irresistible, their proficiency in oral poetry without equal. It was these “cultured thugs” who gave Europe and its kindred Indo-European societies in the East the indelible stamp of everything we call noble, Aryan, free, magnanimous, right, upright, worthy, and true.
    It was long the assumption of historians and anthropologists that pastoral nomadism was antecedent to sedentary, agricultural civilization. It is now widely accepted that Pastoral nomadism arose after the first agricultural societies. The early herder-warriors of the Pontic-Caspian steppes (whose material cultures have been rather conclusively identified with the speakers of Proto-Indo-European by Archaeologists) built upon and added to the innovations of the Secondary Products Revolution , and pioneered an economy based upon animal husbandry and transhumant grazing, beginning with the dairying of cattle in the Eneolithic, and including the harvesting of wool from sheep and goats by the beginning of the “Post-Neolithic”. The upshot being a way of life which was free of the both the squalor and cultural paucity of the hunter gatherer societies on the one hand, and the back-breaking drudgery characteristic of the soil-bound agriculturalists on the other, and in which horsemanship and other forms of martial prowess became the defining criteria of a man’s worth
    In addition to the gift of Indo-European speech, we have inherited a number of other traditions from these dynamic people, including but not limited to the patron-client system which underlies the hierarchical social order of classical antiquity and the feudal system of pre-modern Europe, and which made possible the artistic, philosophical, and scientific achievements of our civilization; the wide-spread archetype of the knight, qua mounted warrior held to the highest standards of personal honor, courage, and selfless service to one’s lord in defense of people and their well-being (“Protect men and cattle!” , Watkins, 1995), and bound by an honor code (the kalokagatheia of the ancient Greeks, the chivalry of the medieval warrior aristocracy) which distinguished the “well-born man from the rabble; the relentless pursuit of truth (which tends to be equated with the ultimate reality), as well as number of metaphysical values which could have arisen only in a culture in which the total validity of a man, in mind, body, and spirit was demanded. In addition to the (once) familiar classical formula of mens sana in corpore sano, historical and comparative studies of the ancient Indo-European languages reveal a profound agreement between the respective cultures on the integral link between physical and spiritual wellbeing: Words for “healthy” and “holy” in the Germanic branch are derived from one and the same root, and the root of English “sound”, rhymed with the root of both “holy” in Avestan, and of saint” in Balto-Slavic. It is also telling that the words for “virtue” and “excellence” is also the same word for “manliness”, “manhood”, and “virility” in the earliest stages of two historically prominent Indo-European language groups, to wit virtūs ( > It. virtù ) in Latin-Romance, as was astutely noted by several here already, and archaic English douth , being the now all but defunct noun form of the adjective doughty , along with its cognates in other Germanic languages, e.g. German Tugend (all from Proto-Germanic *dugunthiz ).

    These herder-warriors left their mark also in the traditional aristocratic concept of good breeding, the idea that one can breed men to excel in certain areas just as one does with horses. Yes the first eugenicists were bronze age “steppe-vikings”

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