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Bonds of Brotherhood

Caspar David Friedrich, Two Men Contemplating the Moon, 1825.

2,681 words

Modernity is alienating, particularly for men. We all experience this feeling. Even those of us fortunate enough to have reasonably healthy social lives often find ourselves isolated, unable to completely trust people who we believe to be our friends. Holding opinions that are out of favor with “polite society” only exacerbates the aloneness that plagues us. As for myself, I always believed that “finding one good woman” was the answer. Divorced and middle-aged, I’ve wasted precious years tormenting myself for my “failure” to find this mythical unicorn and keep her.

In the journey that led me here, I spent my share of time consuming “MGTOW” (men going their own way), “PUA” (pick up artist), and “MRA” (men’s rights activist) material on the internet. The popular blog Chateau Heartiste was just one avenue along the way that colored my changing worldview on women and led me to the political sphere of the Dissident Right. I always understood that feminism was bad, but until I connected with the so-called “manosphere,” I had no idea just how destructive it was.

This essay will not be about women, however. It will not be about divorce or my failure to find “true love.” It will be about my most tragic mistake: my failure to keep, build, and maintain lifelong friendships with other men. I share this with you, dear reader, in hopes that I can influence younger guys in our circles to chart a different, less lonely course.

I do not wish to discourage anyone from exploring relationships with women. And while I empathize with men who incorporate MGTOW philosophies into their lives, I believe shunning 50% of the white race, particularly the half that is so critical to reproduction, is a sad recipe for further isolation and alienation. Instead of focusing on MGTOW and rejecting women, I want to encourage men to find balance in their lives and center their social goals around the concept of the Männerbund. But even more vitally and specifically, I want to encourage every man who reads this to build and maintain, or possibly reconnect with, one or two deep, trusting, lifelong male companions. I believe that male brotherhood, and ultimately contentment, must start at this fundamental level and expand from there.

I normally avoid being too anecdotal and personal in things I write, but this essay will be deeply personal, so I’m going to dispense with the formal writing templates. The first thing I want to convey to the reader is the importance of rootedness, and avoiding the economic (and egotistical) temptations of “striking out on your own.” My primary mistake when I “came of age” was leaving my family and moving away. There is a reason that this happened. My parents divorced a year after I graduated high school. The family that I knew, as dysfunctional as it was, no longer existed in my mind. This was a misguided notion, but that is how it felt because the structure of my family had changed. Likewise, many of my childhood friends had moved away for college, or left for other socioeconomic reasons, leaving me with this gnawing feeling that I needed to do the same.

The problem is that I didn’t have the prescience to understand in advance that embarking on a new chapter in my life, away from home, should ultimately lead me back to my family and community as a stronger, more well-rounded man. Instead I chose to run, to flee from what I perceived to be chains that hindered me from socioeconomic gain. I became as driftwood, floating through my twenties.

Not all of my choices were bad. Joining the military ultimately benefited me economically in the long run, and make no mistake, economics are important, but instead of bringing my newfound skills and experiences back home to my community, I latched onto a woman, believing that my manhood hinged on establishing my own family before I turned 30 (when I couldn’t even be bothered to keep close to the family that raised me.)

Marriage gave me new soil in which to embed my roots. I eventually had children to raise, a new career, and a wife. But what happens when the wife decides to move her roots elsewhere, along with the kids? Does a man pick up his things and move back “home,” three states away, to be with his family? Or does his sense of duty as a father guide his decisions? This is the choice I had to make. I don’t regret my choice to stay near my children. Once you create your own family, you no longer have the luxury of being someone else’s son. You are a parent, and that’s the end of it. My only regret is making the choice to build my family so far from my hometown roots in the first place.

My whole life I’ve felt rather like an immigrant from another country. There’s no church or religious institution here where I’m an intergenerational member of a broader “family” in both the literal and historical sense. No cemetery where my ancestors were buried, no old farmhouse or old school building where my ancestors lived and learned. I don’t even have a childhood friend living near me who I run into occasionally at the supermarket or hardware store.

I was never blessed with “networking” skills, and while I’m not really antisocial, I always find it difficult to connect with new people in a deep or meaningful way. It has only gotten more challenging as I’ve aged, because people in general become less open to new relationships the older we get, and since this reality afflicts other people too, the opportunities for new friendships wane as time marches on.

So the lesson here is to never lose contact with childhood, high school, and college and/or military friends, and consistently, enthusiastically dedicate energy into maintaining those friendships. By the way, this isn’t to the exclusion of female friends. I’ve often wondered what “could have been” with some of the females I knew growing up, had I not moved away and put both geographical as well as chronographical distance between myself and them.

I’m getting away from my original message, so let me steer us back on track. Having a woman in your life is great, but in this age of no-fault divorce and materialism, even a woman who you believe to be your soulmate can quickly become your mortal enemy. But how many male friendships in your past ended with the equivalent emotional damage of a divorce?

Simply put, men generally do not inflict the same kind of psychological hurt on each other when our relationships sour. The truth is, male companionship rarely ends in conflict, but instead suffers the steady degradation of anything that is neglected or poorly maintained. The one exception is when a woman is involved. Cheating with your buddy’s girl or white-knighting for her instead of sticking by your friend when times get tough is a sure way to end a friendship badly. But even there, those conflicts are often reconcilable, given a little time.

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I know an old boomer fellow whom I used to work with; he retired a few years ago. Every day he’d change out of his work clothes into a gym outfit at the end of the day. My coworker had been doing the same routine for 30 plus years, stopping on his way home at the university gym where he was an alumnus and working out with an old college friend. My coworker had a rocky marriage with a difficult woman. He often confided in me on his troubles, despite the generation gap. I believe that his college buddy gave him an outlet and a sense of balance, as well as perspective, from a source that didn’t judge him and in whom he could place his complete trust. I often found myself jealous of my coworker, especially when I went through my divorce but didn’t enjoy the same kind of faithful friendship to carry me through.

I’ve often “coped” with my lack of meaningful male friends, excusing it by believing men to be less social by nature than women. This is absolutely not true, and is part of the social programming that our gender has endured the last few centuries. The very concept of teamwork is masculine and an artifact of our hunter-gatherer natures. The problem is rooted in the deracination and alienation that comes with modernity.

Modernity forces the competitive instincts of men to be turned on each other rather than on competing tribes. Feminism and consumerism force men to compete materialistically for the affection of women. Even in the one acceptable realm where men can bond in the spirit of teamwork, i.e. sports, we are forced to integrate with other tribes and sometimes even include women in our activities. These complications make it even more difficult to forge deep and lasting bonds with other men and often have the opposite effect by creating discord.

At this point I want to talk about homophobia as viewed from “the Right.” Yes, I’ll confess that I’m a homophobe, if that means that I’m a straight male who feels uncomfortable in certain situations around gay men. I’m also a product of the cultural norms of modern society, and the aggressive way that “the Left” is pushing the normalization of homosexuality upon the rest of us only serves to make straight men such as myself even more homophobic. The unfortunate byproduct of this is that boys and men are less able to feel genuine affection and form bonds with other men.

Anecdotally, I do have one good (long-distance) high school friend who I reconnected with several years ago on Facebook. He is what I’ll call my “I love you man!” friend. He’s one of the only guys I know who I can say this to (and vice versa) without fear of coming across as gay. It is a tragedy of modernity that the Left’s liberal values have created a paradox where the push for gay acceptance has created the opposite effect by driving wedges between straight men, where showing that kind of genuine affection is difficult. One wonders if this is by kosher design, but I digress.

So what to do? It’s one thing to identify a problem, but are there solutions?

I’m going to offer some ideas, and most will apply to younger men. It’s never too late to build or re-establish a friendship, but the earlier in life you embrace the value of male companionship, the more likely it is that brotherhood will be part of your life’s journey. If you are older and more set in your ways, perhaps pass these ideas to your sons (if you have any) and the younger men in your circle who may seek your counsel.

For teenage boys and younger men, my first advice to you is to rid yourself of social media and proactively encourage your peers to do the same. I do not believe that social media is compatible with genuine sociability. I believe that social media overwhelms us all with too much “on-demand” attention and interaction that is virtual in nature, and this discourages many of us from engaging in “IRL” social interactions. There is nothing inherently wrong with having a cell phone, but make a pact with your friends to call each other regularly and hold real-time conversions instead of low-commitment (and effort) text messaging, Snapchats, and Facebook posts.

Another idea is to start planning weekly and monthly social “traditions” with your friends. Something that becomes second nature to you. A weekly poker game, monthly or seasonal weekend trips to go hiking, fishing, hunting, canoeing, or camping. For some of these adventures, “the more the merrier,” but for most others, I think it’s good to keep a small tight-knit group of 3-4 friends. I myself always felt like a “3rd Wheel” or the “odd man out” when I hung out with friends in my younger days. So it is definitely important to find that one guy who you can always depend on, but to also encourage esprit de corps as to make everyone else feel welcome and part of the group.

As you age, go to college and/or join the military, meet and date women, and simply work on your personal life and goals, you will find it more difficult to maintain these friendships and traditions. The problem is compounded by the individual choices your friends will also make. Having a leader, or becoming that leader, who is willing to go the extra mile to facilitate your Männerbund is paramount. Keep up with your friends and call them regularly, even if distance and personal lives complicate things. Talk to them about the importance of your friendships. When distance becomes a factor, make it a point to set aside 2-3 times a year to travel to see your friends. Making an exception for social media might be necessary at this point, but don’t use it as a crutch to substitute phone calls and get-togethers.

Choose the women in your life wisely, and talk to your friends about jealous, possessive women. Uphold the ethos that a woman shouldn’t come between you and your male friends. Likewise, she should never feel threatened by them. The same courtesy should be extended to your love interest, and respect should be given for her time spent with friends. Talk about these things with the woman in your life openly and honestly. It is easier said than done to find the right group of friends and the right woman who tolerates them, and we won’t always be successful, but we should at least set out to try. And again, the younger you are, the better chances you will have if you are deliberate and discerning.

I suggest that you should encourage your love interest to establish a repertoire with your friends, and for you to do the same with hers. But I think it is best to establish boundaries that make it clear that your male friends are for you and her female friends are for her. There will always be temptations and opportunities for bad choices with disastrous consequences, but keeping a little distance will help mitigate relationship damaging drama.

If and when you eventually marry and start a family, I think it is good to do “couples” or multi-family social events with your friends and their wives and children.  But don’t limit yourself to couples or family gatherings. The “just the guys” things may become less frequent, but you still need them occasionally.

All of this requires trust in a society where we have very little. But you have to start somewhere, and ultimately the saying “be the change you want to see” holds true. Building these values while you’re young will make them second nature. If nothing else, do the best and be the best you can, and good things will come. Know in advance that you will be hurt and disappointed at times. You can’t control human nature and you can’t control other people. But you can control your own choices and the quality of people you surround yourself with. Just as importantly, you can be a positive role model for others. It’s cliche, but true: Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Lastly, as I said at the beginning, build your personal kingdom close to your own roots. The support of family is invaluable. Distance complicates things. Your family should be there to celebrate the achievements and events of your life, and if you can manage positive relationships with your family, you’ll be able to manage your lifelong friendships just as well.

You’ll always need those people and they’ll need you.

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