Becoming a Barbarian
Milwaukie, Or.: Dissonant Hum, 2016
Jack Donovan has finally released the sequel to The Way of Men. Donovan suggests that one should read The Way of Men prior to reading Becoming a Barbarian. In The Way of Men, Donovan argues that the “gang” is the way of men. In essence, a gang is a tribe of men who share the same set of values. In his sequel, Becoming a Barbarian, Donovan lays out his blueprint for how men can go about forming their own tribes and becoming modern day version of the barbarian.
In the first chapter, Donovan revisits masculinity and defines it. His understanding of masculinity is crucial for understanding his philosophy on tribalism.
Understanding masculinity means understanding that men can only reach their greatest potential through vital conflict and competition with other men. . . . Human masculinity – the testing and proving of strength, courage, mastery and the desire to earn the respect of a given group of men – requires conflict to thrive, but also to survive. . . . Eternal peace is the death of manliness.
Donovan goes on to proclaim that universalism is the death of masculinity because without separation there cannot be conflict and without conflict there can be no meaningful masculinity.
The essence of Donovan’s masculinity is tribalism. He expands on this further by making it a point to distinguish between “us” and “them” which is very similar to Carl Schmitt’s friend-enemy distinction in The Concept of the Political. Donovan’s work is very much a critique of utopian liberalism.
Donovan goes on to talk about what he calls the “Empire of Nothing” which consists of modern Western governments and corporations that are Hellbent on promoting global free trade, open borders immigration, and multiculturalism. Since the Empire of Nothing is concerned with facilitating corporate profits, it is in their best interest to encourage moral universalism – to treat all individuals regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, etc as all belonging to the same in-group.
As you can imagine, tribalism interrupts the regularly scheduled programming of the Empire of Nothing. The Empire of Nothing has no need for exclusive forms of identity. To be exclusive means to exclude and when you are driven by the need to increase corporate profit margins, being exclusive means potentially losing profits. To the Empire of Nothing, these provincial identities are an inconvenience. They’re in the way.
Since there is nowhere left on this planet to escape the reach of the Empire of Nothing, we must work towards becoming barbarians. In Ancient Greek, to be a barbarian meant to be an outsider. In today’s context, to be a barbarian means to reject the universalism of the Empire of Nothing. First, we must do this by defining who “we” are. Who is our “us” and who is our “them”? Once we know who “we” are, then we can work on building social networks and relationships that are not dictated by the Empire.
Donovan then goes on to critique individualism. An individual is nothing without a tribe. An individual is a threat to no one. The lonely nutter can lash out all he wants at corporations or governments and he will be rightly dismissed. He has no ability to influence any of these corporate or governmental bureaucracies. Individualists, ironically, are very much dependent on the institutions of the Empire. Being a lone wolf does not make one a great man, being a leader does. In order to be a leader, one needs men to lead, he needs a tribe. To belong to a tribe means to belong to something greater than yourself.
Donovan then goes on to have the reader let go of the idea that we should be concerned about all of the human suffering in the world. There are over 7 billion people on this planet. We simply do not have the energy to care about the plight of every human being on the planet. Not only that but universal love is worthless. To spread your love over billions of people dilutes and waters down the meaning of what love is. To only love those who you truly care about, your tribe, is to make that love more potent. If they are not your people, then it is not your problem.
The next important step is shifting our moral gears, as Donovan puts it. We must reject the moral universalism and the slave morality of the Empire of Nothing. We must reject the lie of “universal good,” for there is only one good – and that is what is good for “us.” We only have one responsibility in this world and that is to our tribe.
Donovan says we do not have to be apologetic for taking our own side. Let the cucks – the Universalist man – attempt to care and take responsibility for all of the people on this planet. He will flagellate himself into oblivion and ultimately he will fail. There are few reasons, if any, to engage our ideological opponents and attempt to convince them of anything.
Since we are becoming the barbarians within the Empire of Nothing, Donovan recommends that we do what barbarians are known for doing – looting and pillaging! Since we have defined our “us” we know that the Empire is the “them” and we should do whatever is in our power to take advantage of them. We cannot go completely off the grid in the current environment, it is impossible. Instead, use whatever resources the Empire makes available to us towards strengthening our tribe. You owe nothing to your government and you owe nothing to your corporate overlords. Use and abuse them for your benefit. They are not “us” so who cares what happens to them.
Now we have defined who we are and worked towards building a tribe and strengthening it. Donovan leaves us with some parting words, “The Empire of Nothing has created an emptiness where anything can happen, where magic and creation can happen . . .”
So go out there with your tribe, become the barbarians, and start the world!
About the Author: Charles Lyons blogs as Reactionary Tree at Fangorn Forest, https://fanghornforest.wordpress.com/