Part 2 of 2. Part 1 here
Transhumanism — The Final Showdown
The West, in its essence, is neither a human nor a natural society. The current debate – is gender real? – is not directed at finding truth but is instead a program of action – “we will make it so that there is no such thing as gender.” Masculinity and femininity, their polarity, will be abolished. This process is already well advanced, especially in the urban centers, and can be objectively measured by tracing the plummeting levels of testosterone in Western men. It is also the meaning behind the pronoun controversy that catapulted Jordan Peterson into the spotlight during 2015, and why his stance is so important.
Transgenderism is only the prelude, the real showdown is still to come. This will go under the title, “transhumanism,” and if its proponents are successful it will mean the end. Humanity will cease to exist. The technology is not yet fully developed, but the work is being undertaken, and rapid progress is being made. Starting with heart implants, prosthetic limbs, and wearable tech, the ultimate goal will be to overcome the limitations of the human body and achieve immortality. This will be done through packages whose benefits are undeniable – the replacement of legs lost by soldiers to IEDs, the extension of life expectancy, early detection of disease onset, and for this reason will be hard to resist.
An idea of what this means for humankind can be seen in the stresses and strains already affecting peak human activity, the Olympic Games. On the one side, the dissolution of gender difference will destroy women’s sport, a foretaste of which can be seen in the controversy surrounding South African runner Caster Semenya. On the other, advances in prosthetics mean Paralympians will increasingly overtake “able-bodied” athletes in their achievements, this already being the case for the 1500-meter event. In the background lies the ever more murky divide between legitimate diet and nutrition supplementation, and performance-enhancing drugs, an indeterminancy that is also being exploited for political ends, as in the blatantly unjust treatment of Maria Shaparova over her use of meldonium. The point here is that the ruling to outlaw this drug in 2015, after years of its legally sanctioned use, was entirely arbitrary. The same applies to the earlier ban on blood doping.
All these trends lead in the same direction, a loss of meaning to the entire enterprise of elite sport as a human activity. This is nihilism playing itself out; it is Nietzsche’s “devaluation of all values.” The Paralympics for example, whose entire purpose is a celebration of the human spirit in the face of adversity, loses any sense of this once artificial limbs become a source of advantage rather than disadvantage, and replacing body parts becomes a desirable option. We approach the point in the first Robocop film where the decision is taken, “lose the arm,” even though it is undamaged. This has already happened on a small scale, with Australian Football League player Daniel Chick choosing to amputate an injured finger because it was harming his performance on field.
At the time, the idea of removing a body part for the sake of a sport was shocking. But the reasoning is clear, after all, what is there in our society that is not a game of some kind of other? What better use could he have for his finger other than play a game in which he had attained a high level of mastery and was being well rewarded for doing so. Here it is important to understand what games are, and how they are essentially feminine in nature. This is because they are self-referential, defined by rules of their own making, and pursued for their own purpose – for fun. The value of a game is measured by whether it is enjoyable to play, or in our time, to watch. This applies with equal force to games that make a concession to masculinity – Call of Duty – and are therefore fun for boys to play. Such games are not masculine at all, in spite of feminist protests to the contrary, precisely because they are games – nothing is at stake. They are the safe forms of play a protective mother is happy to let her boys engage in, but they are forms that will also never allow these boys to grow into men, because for men failure has to matter, it has to hurt, physically not emotionally, it has to leave scars, it has to shape future behavior, it has to teach, the hard way. This still happens at the elite level, but only so the rest of us can spectate from the comfort of our sofas.
This helps us understand why, once a society becomes feminine primary, as the West is, it also takes on a more and more childish character. If everything is a game, with well-defined rules to prevent anyone from being harmed, and whose sole purpose is to be fun, then it is entirely legitimate to cry “not fair” whenever someone or something interrupts the proceedings. This was Donald Trump’s greatest sin, he spoiled Hillary’s party, he didn’t play by the rules, he didn’t accept that the 2016 election was never supposed to be a contest, but a game with only one outcome. This is how girls like to play, it was a crowning ceremony not a fight, and then that nasty boy ruined it. The massive display of infantilism that followed her defeat, the historically unprecedented tantrum that ensued, reflects just how far this process has gone.
This is again why Spengler and Heidegger are so useful. By standing back and adopting a perspective that spans 500 or a 1,000 years, it is possible to see how all these various strands interweave and form part of the same picture. There is a logic to this madness.
The Masculine-Feminine Polarity: The Key Battleground
It also helps us to understand what it is that needs to be defended, if all is not to be lost. First and foremost, it is this – masculine-feminine polarity.
Masculinity and femininity are opposite impulses, but not only do they complement one another, they are mutually dependent on each other if either is to fulfill its true nature. Masculine without feminine can no more be itself than feminine can be so without the masculine. This is why our current feminine primary world is so at risk of annihilation; it has lost the counter-balance it requires to avoid oblivion. Femininity alone is a black hole, it is an attractive force that has no limit, and as such will consume everything, including itself. Masculinity left to its own devices would be no different, exploding outwards into nothingness, just as the Mongol horde was able to roam the known world and conquer vast expanses of territory, but whose heartland was left a depopulated desert as a result, much as was Alexander’s Macedonia at the height of his empire.
Both Alexander and the Mongols were conquerors, but they were not builders. In their modes of warfare lay truth, they were victorious in battle, but they left nothing of beauty. They did not create a space for the feminine, no architecture to admire, no style to imitate, no structures to dwell in. As a result, they came and went, in a very short span of time, and they did so because they lacked internal cohesion, their territories were broken up from within, not without.
These were masculine primary civilizations, in which one polarity is taken to such an extreme that the absence of its opposite became its downfall. A feminine primary society works in a different way, in that what it does is undermine polarity itself. This is because the feminine impulse is singular, solipsistic, so that anything external that has shape or definition is experienced as a constraint, and as such must be neutralized or eliminated. Gender roles are by definition oppressive, not because they disadvantage women, but because they are defined, and as such are limiting, only non-gendered, abstract beings can be truly free.
This is the “tendency towards abstraction.” It is being applied to human bodily constraints, to social, ethical, and moral codes of conduct, and also to time and space. This goes under the name of “globalization.”
Globalization: The Loss of Any Meaning for Time and Place
Once again Heidegger assists us to understand what globalism is, in its essence. He does so in his classic work, “The Question Concerning Technology.” Here he takes the river Rhine as an example, whose role and function in modern Germany is primarily to serve as a source of hydroelectric power. This statement is usually interpreted as a kind of pro-environment stance, that the earth should not simply be seen as a set of resources for human beings to exploit. Heidegger certainly did believe that, but it is not the main point he wants to make. We see this when he introduces Hölderlin’s 1808 poem, “Der Rhein,” into the discussion. For Heidegger, this poem represents the possibility of history, in which a people can emerge, a specific point in time that is their moment, and in a place that is their’s too. “Der Rhein” is not only a poetic work, it is the river, except that in the hands of Hölderlin it becomes more than a moving body of water, but a historical location, the site of “Germanien,” the people whose language the poem is written in, the people for who this river is “Der Rhein.”
It is this kind of possibility the river as hydroelectricity denies. The current it produces is distributed through a grid. It is made available to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Who they are, and what they do with it, is irrelevant, in fact through the network the precise power source for any single wall socket might be any river, or any one of the various types of generating plant. This means that whatever people manage to create or achieve thanks to the availability of this electricity, it cannot bear the same relationship to the river Rhine we find in Hölderlin’s poem. The connection has been severed, even if what comes into being is an online community of “Rhine lovers,” arrangements for a tourist cruise along its course, or a Heidegger fan page on Facebook. All of these can be enjoyable activities for those who participate, they can take on great significance in their personal life stories, but they do not have the capacity to be moments in historical time, where a “Germanien” is founded. There is no longer any possibility of history being made, of a “Der Rhein” coming into being.
This is globalization. It is the rupture of any meaningful link between place, time, and people. This is the postmodernist “end of the grand narrative,” which creates a lived experience of complete disorientation and disconnection, it is why our reality always feels so “artificial.” The problem is not so much that everywhere becomes the same, although this tendency is also present, but in the fact that any differences that do exist between locations are entirely random and meaningless. Even if a particular site has historical merit, or architectural splendor, this is now preserved purely for the benefit of tourists, who are visitors from nowhere in particular, who have come solely in order to be entertained, and whose value is entirely abstract – the money they spend. The great pyramids of Egypt may be the country’s main source of foreign currency earnings, but they bear no more relationship to the present nation’s culture, religion, language, or way of life, than they do to those who flock to see them. This is one reason why genuine study of these monuments has been effectively shut down for decades, in case any new understanding emerges that might have a negative impact on the tourism industry.
It is also why we can travel to Victoria in Australia and stumble across a large-scale copy of the Sphinx, at what turns out to be a suburban gambling venue. Why a Sphinx? Who knows? Who cares? We can imagine future generations of archaeologists attempting in vain to decipher its meaning, because there is none, no greater relevance to the former manufacturing center and woolen industry export hub of Geelong than the original does to present day Cairo. Instead, the inspiration for this choice of design is more likely to have come from Las Vegas, where such total disregard for history and geography is taken to its logical extreme.
Las Vegas provides a good example of the “tendency towards abstraction” at work. The city’s location was chosen precisely because it was in the middle of nowhere, inside a state without any legal restrictions on gambling. Its founding was enabled by the availability of technology that overcame the natural constraints presented by the desert. Its central economic activity consists solely in the manipulation of symbolic values, games, whose appeal lies in their entertainment value. These games require as little skill acquisition as possible, and are governed purely by luck. Physical input is kept to an absolute minimum, no more demanding than pushing a button, the environment is carefully controlled for comfort, safety, and security, and no concession to time is made – venues are open 24/7 and no indication of whether it is day or night permitted. The entire enterprise is either entirely abstract or seeking to become so. Casinos, however, are not the final word in this process, their main competition now coming from the online gambling industry.
We see a similar tendency across the economy, which takes on an ever more “immaterial” character. This has two major forms. The first consists purely of symbols, above all banking and finance, which generate capital flows in various directions, but also the world of information technology that provides the platform for this kind of activity. These bear some relation to the “real” economy of tangible goods and services, but as the global financial crisis showed, this link is tenuous at best, and at times is broken entirely. The second is made up of “cultural” production – entertainment, fashion, style, brand identity, academic research, social media content, also dependent on IT to a large extent. As with finance capital, this constantly strives for autonomy from outside “reality,” it seeks to become self-referential, and in this it is becoming increasingly successful.
The Impossibility of Beauty without Truth and Truth without Beauty
This is why a defense of male-female polarity is so important. Without this, both truth, the masculine value, and beauty, the feminine value, collapse. We see this in the Geelong Sphinx, which has neither truth nor beauty – it is tacky and looks ridiculous. We also see it in trends such as the “fat acceptance movement,” whose express purpose is to separate truth from beauty by denying that there is any such thing as a naturally beautiful female human form. On this question Gad Sa’ad has provided an overwhelming mass of evidence, but his argument only stands if we hold truth to be a value, and in a feminine primary world this is simply not the case. This is because the entire objective is to escape the truth, it is to create a world free of such constraints, so that any female, no matter how morbidly obese, can be considered beautiful. It is not a matter for debate, it is an agenda to be realized, and once again it is making rapid progress, as can be seen in the overwhelming number of Western women who are seriously overweight.
Beauty requires truth, it needs to be real in order to be truly beautiful. At the same time, truth needs beauty, because reality can be ugly too. There is a truth to female genital mutilation – by making sexual intercourse a painful act it serves as a powerful reinforcer in a patriarchal order whose goal is to subordinate women’s sexuality to family and property interests. As such, female genital mutilation works. Male genital mutilation, which is much more widespread in the West than female, also achieves its original purpose, almost identical to FGM, by reducing men’s enjoyment of sex. These truths do not make either practice any less cruel or barbaric.
The masculine-feminine polarity is the central battleground today. It is why feminist ideology is the main opponent, because this is where the insurgent forces of annihilation are currently deriving their inspiration. What is at stake here is not simply an assertion of masculinity, or men’s rights, although our society is increasingly hostile to men; it is also a defense of femininity, because there is no single force on the planet more misogynistic than feminism, especially its radical wing, which detests everything feminine with the utmost venom.
In order to combat this misogyny and androgyny, it is necessary to set it in its proper historical perspective, to understand its source, and to appreciate the critical roles played by the concepts of “freedom” and “equality.” This is not to promote “unfreedom” or “inequality,” especially in relations between the sexes, but to grasp that the masculine and the feminine are forces that run in opposite directions, have different values at their core, but who ultimate complement and are necessary for one another to flourish. It is to protect a world in which truth and beauty both have a place, and it is to preserve the possibility of a new civilizational project, or projects, arising to replace a West now well into its terminal phase of decline.