Speaking as a man (that is to say, not generically as a member of the human race, but specifically as a male), there are certain things I just know—call it masculine intuition, if you will. And from that ineffable font of knowledge there comes also a fine sense for the characteristically masculine type of compassion; a type which is not widely discussed today, for it has largely been buried beneath two centuries of modern socialist-egalitarian rhetoric. That is not to say that there are none who now practice it; but they do so, in a manner of speaking, out of sight, in the hidden courses of life where the warmth of recognition seldom penetrates. It is not much admired openly, still less is it called forth and given its right and its due; for it moves against the basic presuppositions of our era, and consequently it is proscribed, ridiculed, and even eviscerated by the whole tone and timbre of our public existence.
Yet it does not die. It is, however, shifted into the realms of fiction and history, where alone it still seems permissible to venerate it. For there, in fiction and in history—in the timeless sighing of the human spirit, in the worthy accomplishments won by that spirit in the past—there only do we yet find those essential prerequisites which are necessary for comprehending the operations of masculine compassion. We may mention here, as examples of the same (but certainly not an exhaustive list thereof), such things as an acknowledged hierarchy of men and values; a settled and universally accepted understanding of what constitutes virtue, goodness, and the correct ordering of society; the presumption of permanence that attaches to marriage and property; and the duty of men (males), each in his own domain, to rule—to set forth laws and administer punishments—as the good of the place requires. This pattern is instinctive to us and therefore desired by us; however, in accordance with the now ascendant canons of modernism, it cannot be reflected in our ordinary manner of speaking. Thus it will behoove us, unfortunate men of the modern world, to throw off such mannerisms; and, eschewing all pretensions to sophistication, to speak a plain word, heart-spoken and real, in defense of our love and compassion, defining them in contrast to the phony versions thereof with which we’ve been saddled today; and in so doing, free our consciences from the guilt of acting falsely, to the great benefit of ourselves, and to that of the whole world around us.
The plain word, of course, is fatherhood. Masculine love is always an expression of fatherly care, either literally or metaphorically. But no man can act as a father to one who is greater than he; which is why, in all types of society, there must be a social hierarchy with a man at the head of it. In the absence of either one of these conditions, the possibility of fatherhood is implicitly denied. Therefore hierarchy there must needs be if we are to have fathers and be fathers; but we should not confuse this with some merely bestial struggle for primacy within the social group, or with a desire to put down our inferiors and lord our power over them. It is quite the opposite, in fact. The point is worth some attention.
Whenever a good man comes to realize that the person he’s dealing with is truly his spiritual and intellectual inferior, he is borne out of himself on a wave of fatherly compassion which lays claim to the other person and seeks his safety and his good. The bad man, of course, does not feel this way—he tries to exploit the weaknesses of the other. But since this essay is not meant to be a comprehensive treatise on virtues and vices, I will leave off talking about the bad man just yet. For the good man, on the other hand, the feeling is both familiar and, in the ordinary run of things, automatic. It is almost identical with the noblest aspirations he entertains, i.e. the chance to be somebody’s benefactor and hero. I would go so far as to say that a man’s kindly disposition towards his ward is the masculine analogue of the natural affinity women have for infants and children. So strong is this feeling, at times, that it seems not to matter if the inferior man has actually done you an injury in his ignorance and carelessness. You want to redress the wrong, certainly; but you try to do so in such a way that the punishment is not too harsh, that the lesser man may be raised up and tempered by the experience. In such fashion do good men love their children. So even do they care for their wives, domestic servants, and the whole of their extended family. So also do they adopt others, become mentors, take on students and apprentices. To their commercial and public lives they apply something of the same basic attitude. In short, to as much of the world as comes under their care in some capacity, for so much do they feel responsible, and would seek to bower so much under the protective mantle of their foresight, their thoughtfulness, and their courage. And finally, this high-minded gentility is the quality they look for when choosing friends. It is what they expect their friends to display, and what they expect their friends to expect them to display, so that they all may sharpen and perfect one another in goodness and humanity.
Universal among mankind (except in the modern world, that is) is the belief that commanding, courageous fatherhood is a virtue to be cultivated and respected. Universal, too, is the solemnification of the principal rites and practices which lead to fatherhood, or in which fatherhood is notably conferred or exercised. The revelation of the true religion of Christ has done nothing to negate this common conception of mankind; on the contrary it has strengthened it immeasurably. Therefore we can say that, in its plenary aspects, fatherhood is both a natural and a supernatural virtue. It is natural inasmuch as even the pagans practice it, for it appeals to man’s sense of natural goodness, justice, and permanence. It is supernatural inasmuch as God has established himself as Father over all; that He has given His divine blessing to both marriage and worldly authority; and that Christ His son has infused His own dignity into all our acts of care, sealing it with His solemn promise that, for good or for ill, He will count what we do to the least of His brethren as something done unto Himself.
(Now, in the interests of synthesizing and simplifying all that has been said thus far, and before proceeding to other matters, please permit me to offer the following summary. We have said that masculine compassion is something instituted by God as well as something good in itself. We have given this type of compassion a name: We have called it fatherhood, by which we mean to express both fatherhood properly so called, and also the characteristic manner in which men care about anything or anybody inferior to themselves. That the object of fatherly care is inferior to the father who cares for it, is intrinsic to the nature of fatherhood and inseparable therefrom. Absent this condition, fatherhood cannot be said to exist.)
Of all the components and characteristics of fatherhood, it is the unapologetic existence of a hierarchy of individual men and the differing values that they represent, which most directly opposes the sentiments of the modern world. For mention the words ‘lord’ or ‘master’ to anyone of the modern mindset, and you will elicit only negative reactions from him. He hears in such words nothing but the footsteps of tyranny, which he has never actually experienced himself, but which he regards as an ancient menace which his delightful modern society has rightfully put off. Now tyranny and oppression are abuses of the fatherly concept, to be sure; but democracy, egalitarianism, relativism—these deny the very nature of fatherhood. In a world where true lordship can scarcely even establish itself, it is something of a red herring to maintain an exaggerated fear of its prior distortions once again becoming prevalent. But since it is the latter, “popular” qualities for which modernity has set its cap, and since these qualities would not long endure the presence of genuine lords and masters, it is necessary for modernity to somehow prevent lords and masters from showing up its pretensions, which it does by (among other methods) calumniating them as “tyrants and oppressors” when they attempt to exercise their prerogatives. So prevalent is the capacity of modern man to equate authority with oppression, that proper respect for properly constituted authority—and knowledge of the nature and limits thereof—have all but disappeared from the scene. It may be helpful, then, to sketch a picture of masculine authority in action, which we can later contrast with the counterfeit version in vogue today.
So imagine, if you will, a small human community living a relatively uncomplicated life in a rustic setting. We say ‘rustic’ not because we are trying to set up some speculative primitivism as the standard by which to judge modern societies, but simply because, for the purposes of this example, we wish to avoid the logistical complexities introduced by contemporary urban living arrangements. You may allow your community to have machines, internal combustion engines, even electricity if you wish. The important thing is that they cannot count on receiving much outside assistance, nor can they take their standard of living for granted. They depend on their own efforts and on the land around them to supply them with their daily requirements.
Let no one in your community be known to you. In fact, remove them as far as possible from all familiarity. Set them in the distant past, the remote future, or perhaps even on another world. You may wish to endow them with a coat of fur or some other exotic feature, the more so to distance their mere humanity from your own. It goes without saying that you cannot speak their language. Finally, imagine yourself as an invisible man, a secret anthropologist projected into their midst, able to observe them but capable in no wise of interfering with them or even making your presence known. It is true that much of their culture and conversation will be lost upon you, for you will never participate in their mysteries or catch the nuances of their speech; but precisely due to this lack of involvement on your part, the pure and essential facts concerning your subjects—their basic characters and the power relationships that exist between them—will stand forth, bold and denuded of all the attachments and ironies that so complicate such analyses in our own world; and you will see their hearts, perceiving therein the substance, logic, and effects of all their actions, as solid and algebraic as brick-masonry.
Now whom would you call the ‘good men’ in your community?—not merely the ‘successful’ men, as if we were describing the dominant animals in the herd, but the truly good men? They are none other but the ones who bring order to the sprawling life around them. They are the ones who patiently instruct their children in all the important matters of life and conduct, not permitting them to deviate into base habits. They are the ones who order the work of the community, accurately foreseeing distant exigencies, appointing to each member some useful task that lies within the range of his skill, managing all with a wisdom that takes account of the complex interrelations between means and ends. The chiefest among them take thought for the welfare of the entire community and provide for its defense: some representing its interests in the world abroad; some judging cases and mediating disputes at home; while others of a different kind offer fitting sacrifices to the God in the temple, blessing the people and making atonement for their sins, exhorting them to remember those eternal things upon which their continued existence depends, and teaching them to live justly in the sight of the Lord. In other words, they all act like fathers, these good men, taking responsibility to see to it that what needs to be done, is done. They are empowered, each according to his level and his office, with a dignity of command, a sort of prescient beneficence such that disobedience to them seems both a crime and a folly, while obedience to them is revealed as righteousness.
But this power to command is not gotten for nothing; for the leader-man is not permitted to keep his ease or to amuse himself, or to follow his fancies wherever they may lead. He must develop a sort of immunity to ordinary pleasures and pains, must direct his mind toward the things which are higher than himself, and become grave. He must go forth from his comfort to wrestle with the Nothing, the Chaos; for his task is to make sure that his domain adheres to a form of justice which exists nowhere as a material fact but as spirit and contemplation only; a form, moreover, whose inexorable demands endlessly summon him to remake the life around him according to its fashion, while that very life in its wantonness is forever slumping and slipping away from it. So the leader must deny himself and take up his cross. He must knit himself together with cords of iron, shunning any affection, society, fame, or pleasure that threatens to interfere with his purpose. He must become competent at discerning spiritual things; and the things he comes to understand are things he must give away, dispensing incarnate wisdom in the form of edicts, corrections, reproofs, and punishments. He must hold aloof from all that is lesser than he, unless he worketh his love upon it so that it may come up higher. Above all he must strive to bring all things to perfection, such that the community lives in and through the strength of his spirit, feeding off his wisdom and his courage. He must break and divide himself and pour himself out in offering, sanctifying the world around him with lordly acts of chivalry and condescension. And that is masculine compassion. It is like heaven kneeling down to embrace the earth.
Surely such chivalry deserves the name of ‘master.’ Surely it can insist on its right to command, its right to be obeyed. But there will be some who say that this is not compatible with what they’ve been taught about goodness. They will say that the good man is humble, that he does not care to impose his will upon others. They will point to the figure of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet, and telling them that he who wishes to be the greatest among them must be the servant of all. And to these objections I say: Exactly! Commanding is the highest form of service that there is. For who is it who carries more cares, does more work, is more anxious for the future, is more solicitous for the wellbeing of others besides himself, after the manner of servants: the father of many children, or the children playing within his tents? Obviously it is the father. And which of these can truly be said to be the “greatest among them:” the children or the father? Again it is the father; for the children derive their protection, their nourishment, and everything else they possess—and indeed even their very existence—from him. And again, who is it who more carefully attends to a company’s bottom line, or who watches over its assets and husbands its resources more closely: the owner of the company or the wageworker? And who is willing to lay down his life for the sheep: the shepherd or the hireling? But clearly the father who provides for his children has the right to command the ways of their upbringing, lest his work be all wasted when they grow up to become dissolute knaves. Clearly the company owner, who provides his workmen with a living wage, has the right to order their work so that the company does not go bankrupt, and nobody receive a wage. So it is nothing contradictory to suggest that the prerogatives of command are attached to, and even inseparable from, the concept of service. And in response to those who would now reply that I am simply employing a creative use of words here, a kind of obscurantist newspeak which means the opposite of what it says, when I equate lordship with service, let me simply ask you this: Is there any greater disservice a father can do his children than to not raise them properly? Is their any greater disservice that a general can do to his army than to leave them leaderless at the approach of battle? Indeed, to serve by leading is simply an elaboration of the parable of the Good Samaritan. Who but a father proves himself ‘neighbor’ to his children?
So much suffices to describe our good men. Now we must turn our attention to some of the bad men in the community. Certainly some of them will be bullies, abusers, molesters, liars, shucksters, cowards, and dandies. Some of them will be intemperate, drunk, quarrelsome, lazy, and good for nothing. Among the most notable of bad men will be those who appropriate the powers of some office to themselves but are incapable of discharging the duties thereof, being interested only in the amenities of rank and the freedom that their station affords them to indulge their crude appetites. But about these types of men we need no further warnings. All of human culture and human history are already full of admonitions and excoriations concerning them, so there is no need to say much more about them here. These men are obviously bad. They suffer from glaring defects which are difficult to miss, but which they could quite possibly correct if they were willing to work hard at it. I would like to talk instead about the men whose badness is not so obvious, but is all the more insidious for that.
“The corruption of the best is the worst,” said Aristotle; and as is so often the case with Aristotle, nobody can argue with that. Therefore, as we survey the ranks of bad and worthless men falling like flakes of detritus down through our society, we ought to pay special attention to those who are not content with merely corrupting themselves, but are intent on ruining all who follow them. These are the men who pretend to be fathers, but who drag everything down to a lower level rather than raising it up. They are not hard to discover, these false fathers and pseudo-males, especially when you are quite detached from all inward involvement with their society. You will know them by their low standards, by their immodest refusal to put on that dignity which the good of their community requires them to assume. You will see them walking about among the masses, shamelessly fraternizing with the very people whom they are supposed to command, dissolving that pathos of distance without which there can be no respect for any authority whatsoever. In their upside down system of values they call this being compassionate, although in reality compassion has nothing to do with it. It is more a type of theatrical production, a certain persona they affect, which has its root in their codependent personalities. They seem to have had it impressed upon them one too many times, perhaps through pious-sounding phrases which are innocuous enough in themselves, how generous the “good” man is when it comes to helping the poor, how the “good” man will take the shirt off his own back to clothe the poor, etc. But being natural drama-queens themselves, they focus all their attention solely on the performance of the action. They know that such charitable acts—especially the more visible and melodramatic varieties thereof—are already lauded throughout the wide world, and far be it from them to forsake so ready and eager an audience. What be it to them if they lose a shirt, when in return they gain the adulation of the masses that they so slavishly crave? Yet in their continuing quest for popularity they find that they must stoop to ever more and more absurd levels of self-abasement, as if the value of charity consisted not in lifting up the dignity of a fellow man but in disencumbering oneself of one’s own. Any negative consequences they experience as a result of their foolishness—from the ruination of their fortune to the loss of their children’s respect—these they count as a burnt offering made unto God, a further proof of their sincere generosity and their attunement to a spiritual reality perceptible to no inner eye but their own. Thus they gradually lose contact with all real life and sobriety. Their very faculties for understanding actuality become corroded through chronic exposure to the dissipation they call charity and the self-indulgence they call compassion. So here we see a man pretending to be a father, even though—in fever-fits and mad iconoclasms—he is busy destroying both the fruits and the nature of fatherhood wherever he can find them; and there we see him pretending to be a leader, even though his only “leadership” consists in exhorting others to imitate his own vicious sentiments as he drums them down a path that tends to the destruction of all virtues, and ends with both him and his flock shipwrecked in the very abyss of hell. Here, my friends, we see a being who is consumed with the most strident pride, who amplifies the miseries of the world to gain the cheers of the gallery; and who does all this, moreover, under the astonishing supposition that he is being humble!
It is quite a sad spectacle to behold, even among a tribe of hairy-backed foreigners. Yet if this was the uppermost limit of the devastation we might still be compelled to overlook it, however much we pitied the children of such a man, however much we might wish to break our anthropological silence and extend a helping hand to his poor, deluded followers. We may regard it all as a necessary aberration which must be allowed to persist if real charity is to exist in the world. But unfortunately the damage does not stop there; for, you must understand, the pseudo-man’s kabuki theater is not a one-man play. Besides himself he always requires the presence of some wretch to serve as his counter-pole and the object of all his theatrical compassion. Therefore he not only makes a habit of consorting with all manner of undesirables, he soon presses his preference for them to the utmost extremes of irony. This is why, after exalting the common man and trumpeting his ordinary accomplishments, he proceeds to cultivate an especial affinity for the truly stupid. After making an ostentatious display of “mercy” and “understanding” for some notorious ne’er-do-well, he deigns to excuse all criminals from their crimes and absolve them from their punishments. When unwelcome immigrants start showing up in troublesome numbers, he can ever be found among them crowing about “our universal humanity,” the better to show off his broad-minded cosmopolitanism. Saddest to see, perhaps, are the concessions he makes to the enemies of his own country and creed. Not only does he disgracefully praise their good qualities in the public places, but he actively undermines his own people by carping ceaselessly on their supposed faults while remembering none of their virtues. Perhaps there is no need to see any more. At the conclusion of our observations we are tempted to say that these false men, whatever their ostensible motives might be, yet show every sign of being nothing but small, jealous creatures, prideful to a fault and sore contemptuous of all that is not devoted to their worship. Although they advance their whole program under the banner of kindness, liberality, and disinterested care for the world, they have done little more than to re-baptize old villainies as the virtues of a new, enlightened age—and that is NOT masculine compassion. It is the very opposite thereof.
Let us jog on back to our world, the real world, now that our excursion into alternative society has (hopefully) furnished us with some new eyes wherewith to comprehend our own situation more clearly. Who are the false men of here and now that we must beware of? Who are those seducers and deceivers of the people who make great shows of their compassion, but inwardly are filled with bile and the nastiest sort of cunning? We know them at once to be the liberals, socialists, Democrats, internationalists, environmentalists, and other professional mourners who use their twisted sense of morality as cover for their devious power-grabs. And it is not a new discovery, that this is so. The same, or similar, point(s) have been made by others, sometimes at greater length and with more artfulness than what I have done. George Orwell, for instance, owes his enduring fame to several not dissimilar observations, which he largely confined to the political sphere.
My field is otherwise. Before I leave off and commit this essay to the fickle winds of public digest, I would have it known that every charge, every criticism, every rebuke I’ve here laid down, I mean to stick squarely to the foreheads of the Roman Catholic clergy and the mindless dolts who follow them. These are the falsest of false fathers, these pedophile priests, illegal immigrant lovers, world-development enthusiasts, ecumenists, labor union agitators, pacifists, and progressivist punks. They are far worse than any ordinary Leftist, for they have taken the best, noblest, and truest religion—the only religion established by Christ for the salvation of mankind, the Roman Catholic Church—and turned in to another of their fetid illusionist hives. The corruption of the best is the worst. If there are any who still maintain that disaster did not strike with the Second Vatican Council, let them compare the “masculinity” of the churchmen 100 years ago with their counterparts today. Compare the thoughts, writings, gravity, and mien of Pope St. Pius X with, say, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, current president of the USCCB. Compare clerical authority…
…with clerical buffoonery.
Who is the real man here? Which of these would you rather have leading you through the Valley of the Shadow of Death: St. Pius X, who did confront and withstand all heresies, or Timothy Dolan, cheesehead and idiot? The choice seems clear to me. I hereby warn all Catholics everywhere that to follow such men (as Dolan) is dangerous. I warn the clergy that they are leading vast numbers of souls down the easy paths into hell. I admonish everyone to turn themselves around and embrace the faith of our fathers, the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, as it was constituted prior to Vatican II. And I warn you that failure to do this will result in you falling into the pit that is bottomless, there to burn for all eternity. I tell you this to raise you up, to save your soul.
And that, too, is masculine compassion.