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‘Man Is More Inclined to Do Evil Than to Do Good’ – Machiavelli

The differences in the debate about the sexless spreadsheet husband go deeper than some men's rights vs feminists culture war.

by
Dave Swindle

Bio

July 24, 2014 - 2:30 pm

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See the first five parts of this ongoing discussion and you are invited to leave your ideas in the comments or submit via email: DaveSwindlePJM AT gmail dot.com

Dr. Helen Smith: Would You Want a Wife This Clueless About Sex and Your Emotions?

Dave Swindle: Would You Want a Husband This Incompetent at Turning You On?

Dr. Helen Smith: A Classic Example of White Knighting

Dave Swindle: Deeply Religious Marriages Are Better Than Secularist Civil Unions

Francis W. Porretto: Some Thoughts on Sex and the Bonded Couple

Dear Francis,

I very much appreciate your contribution to the discussion about sex and marriage yesterday. As I made explicit in my answer to Dr. Helen Smith’s reply, I think these disagreements about marriage and sex are really expressions of more fundamental philosophical and religious conflicts. These comments of yours in particular jumped out, indicating that our worldviews start from very different places as I already knew from these years of enjoying your great comments and occasional pieces. Emphases mine:

Male orgasm — his spasmodic release of tension and seminal fluid — is not the reason a decent man cherishes his lover’s body and access to it. That there are a fair number of “indecent” men roaming about need not cloud the central issue.

Indeed, a mature, self-assured man, properly reared and past the urgings of adolescence, is less concerned with his own physical pleasure than with bringing pleasure to her. Her desire for his desire, with all that follows from that, gives him what he most wants: the opportunity to bring her pleasure, even if he gets little or none for himself. This has often been dismissed as merely a form of politeness, but in fact it’s the source of his greatest sexual fulfillment and, apart from progeny, his principal reason for wanting her to want him.

Yes, there are men so self-absorbed that a woman’s sexual desire is merely an opening through which to seek their own fulfillment, including the evanescent and essentially trivial pleasure of orgasm. Yes, there are men who never bother to learn “what she likes.” But in any decent society these will be a minority.

I’ve written over the years about my ideological shift from Nation-style progressivism to Tea Party conservatism. I’m not the person today that I was a decade ago at 20, in the middle of my undergraduate days when I expanded my studies from English to political science. Amongst the many shifts that I’ve made gradually over the years as life experiences and new philosophical influences chipped away at the ideology I was indoctrinated in from K-12 through college, one of the most fundamental has been my change in understanding human nature. It’s a change from what Victor Davis Hanson has described as the “therapeutic view” to the “tragic view.”

When I was a progressive who supported big government programs and a dovish foreign policy it was because I naively assumed that most human beings wanted the same things, were decent people at heart, and could be trusted not to deceive others. Multiculturalism taught that all cultures were equal and all religions expressed the same basic, universal moral values. Anytime someone did something wrong it was because they were ignorant or mentally unbalanced in a way that was distorting their perception of consensus reality. Sure, occasionally nature would make a mistake and burp out serial killers, child molesters, or Hitlers but in general such people were aberrations. Thus it was possible — and necessary — and moral to move forward with trying to reason our way to a perfect, peaceful world by convincing everyone else what was best for them to do.

But I don’t believe that at all anymore. Now I believe the exact opposite. The state of nature from which humanity escaped is chaos, cruelty, hatred and selfishness. More people in the world are evil than good, more of the cultures in the world will die through suicide rather survive. It’s more normal for humans to worship death than for them to pursue eternal life. And the pimp-prostitute, promiscuous, polygamous sexual culture is more natural and universal than monogamous marriage. The absolute nuclear family that powers American prosperity is an aberration that we take for granted — see James C. Bennett and Michael Lotus’s amazing America 3.0 for more on this. And in failing to understand and defend this culture today it’s slipping away.

134982

Michael Ledeen here at PJM on Monday:

If we accept that war, and the preparation for war, is the basic leitmotif of human history, we might also overcome the parallel myth:  that all men are basically the same, and all men want the same (good) things.  Not so.  Just ask Vladimir Putin, Ali Khamenei, and their friends, proxies, and agents.  They want bad things for us, namely death and domination.  And they’re not likely to change, which is why it’s very dangerous to give Khamenei more money, and try to make Putin more “reasonable.”  They’re going to continue the war.

“Man is more inclined to do evil than to do good,” Machiavelli wrote, and he knew whereof he spoke.  Which is why war is normal, and peace so rare.  And why we’d better get used to it.

That happy time is done and gone, at least for now.  We’d better stop whining and get about the business of winning.

Surviving in the cultural war begins much the same as in winning in the military war against the jihad. One must recognize the nature of the enemy and his location. Alas, the realization of both is where the “tragic” worldview reveals itself: the enemy is us — he beats within our chest. The human heart left to its own devices runs across a range of moral confusions as it shifts from one new idol to another. Examples that illustrate what monogamous marriage is designed to combat, indecency toward which man is naturally drawn when he fails to transcend himself:

France’s English language site The Local reported in January about their country’s attitudes toward adultery:

A majority of French men, 55 percent, and nearly a third of French women admit to cheating on their significant others, an Ifop study has revealed.

The behaviour has been growing since the 1970s, when the percentage of cheaters stood at around 19 percent, according to the study that was carried out for extramarital dating website Gleeden.

“People have more partners these days, women are much more in the working environment so they come into contact with other men, there’s technology and social media, meaning people can communicate in private. There’s basically much more temptation around now,” Ifop researcher François Kraus told The Local.

“The interesting stat for me was that 35 percent of French, more than one in three, say they are prepared to cheat on their partners as long as they were sure they wouldn’t find out,” he said.

These results line up with a Pew Research Center study from 2013,which found that of the 39 countries surveyed, the French were the most forgiving. About 47 percent of French people reported that infidelity was morally unacceptable.

Americans, on the other hand, came in at number 27 on the list, with 84 percent of people believing that cheating was morally wrong. Other European countries viewed infidelity more harshly. Sixty percent of Germans, 65 percent of Italians and 64 percent of the Spanish were morally offended by affairs.

The Guardian reported in 2010 on the astonishing rate of rape in South Africa:

More than one in three South African men questioned in a survey admitted to rape, the latest evidence in the country of a violent culture of patriarchy.

Researchers found that more than three in four men said they had perpetrated violence against women.

Nearly nine in 10 men believe that a woman should obey her husband – and almost six in 10 women also agreed with the statement.

South Africa has one of the highest rates of rape in the world. Last year a survey by the Medical Research Council (MRC) found that 28% of men in Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces said they had raped a woman or girl.

A new MRC study in Gauteng, the country’s wealthiest province, found that 37.4% of men admitted having committed a rape, while 25.3% of women said they had been raped.

The New York Daily News today on an interview Hillary Clinton gave years ago, expressing her embrace of the therapeutic worldview in understanding her husband’s serial exploitation of women:

A year after the Monica Lewinsky scandal shook the presidency, Hillary Clinton told an interviewer that Bill Clinton’s mother abused him and caused his sex addiction, an explosive new book claims.

The comments were made to Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Lucinda Franks in a 1999 interview – and Franks admits in her new memoir that she watered them down for publication.

“He was abused. When a mother does what she does, it affects you forever,” Hillary said, according to the new book.

She did not specify the nature of the abuse but said it was the source of her husband’s infidelities. “I am not going into it, but I’ll say that when this happens in children, it scars you,” she said, according to Franks’ account. “You keep looking in all the wrong places for the parent who abused you.”

Every time the Clintons’ name comes up I feel compelled to remind everyone of this mysterious, unresolved factoid via the Daily Mail and everything it implies but that we really do not want to consider:

A new lawsuit has revealed the extent of former President Clinton’s friendship with a fundraiser who was later jailed for having sex with an underage prostitute.

Bill Clinton’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, who served time in 2008 for his illegal sexual partners, included up multiple trips to the onetime billionaire’s private island in the Caribbean where underage girls were allegedly kept as sex slaves.

….

Tales of orgies and young girls being shipped to the island, called Little St. James, have been revealed as part of an ongoing lawsuit between Epstein and his former lawyers Scott Rothstein and Bradley Edwards.

It is unclear what the basis of the suit is, but they go on to call witness testimony from some of the frequent guests at Epstein’s island to talk about the wild parties that were held there in the early 2000s.

Flight logs pinpoint Clinton’s trips on Epstein’s jet between the years 2002 and 2005, while he was working on his philanthropic post-presidential career and while his wife Hillary was a Senator for their adopted state of New York.

‘I remember asking Jeffrey what’s Bill Clinton doing here kind fo thing, and he laughed it off and said well he owes me a favor,’ one unidentified woman said in the lawsuit, which was filed in Palm Beach Circuit Court.

Woody Allen, as Breitbart reported yesterday, is also looking for love in all the wrong places:

American filmmaker Woody Allen says there is one major reason the protagonists he creates usually view life as meaningless — because it is.

“I firmly believe — and I don’t say this as a criticism — that life is meaningless,” the Oscar winner declared at a New York press conference to promote his latest big-screen comedy Magic in the Moonlight.

“I’m not alone in thinking this,” he continued. “There have been many great minds far, far superior to mine that have come to that conclusion. Both early in life and after years of living and, unless somebody can come up with some proof or some example where it’s not [meaningless,] I think it is. I think it is a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. That’s just the way I feel about it.”

“What I would recommend is the solution I’ve come up with — distraction. That’s all you can do. You get up. You can be distracted by your love life, by the baseball game, by the movies, by the nonsense: ‘Can I get my kid in this private school?’ ‘Will this girl go out with me Saturday night?’ ‘Can I think of an ending for the third act of my play?’ ‘Am I going to get the promotion in my office?’ All of this stuff, but, in the end, the universe burns out. So, I think it is completely meaningless. And, to be honest, my characters portray this feeling.”

The belief that life is meaningless, that “nothing matters,” has a name. The worship of nothingness is called nihilism. Allen concludes by naming its twin sister. The worship of pleasure — to try and fill the painful void — is called hedonism.

The antics of the anonymous spreadsheet man-boy smack of both. He has nothing better to do than feel sorry for himself and his under-supply of sex.

And this is the way the way humans are naturally inclined to go. Where did Machiavelli get this insight? Not from the Apostle Paul but from the person he regarded as Western civilization’s archetypal moral leader: Moses.

Ledeen in a 1999 column at Jewish World Review exploring themes from Machiavelli on Modern Leadership:

Machiavelli tirelessly denounced the soft, forgiving, turn-the-other-cheek themes of Christianity, and called instead for a return to older, pre-Christian values of manly virtue, courage and a willingness to do the hard, sometimes even evil things that are required of great leaders, a theme that is found explicitly in several Mishnaic lessons, as well as implicitly in the Torah.

You will search in vain throughout Machiavelli’s writings for a kind word about Jesus, Mary or the Apostles. Instead you will find praise for ancient Roman and Spartan kings, generals and Caesars. Occasionally there are bows in the direction of contemporary figures, most famously Cesare Borgia, hardly a model of Christian virtue.

But above all, you will find praise for the greatest of all Jewish leaders, Machiavelli’s greatest hero, Moses.

He reveres Moses because Moses was the leader of both a new religion and a new state, and spoke directly to G-d, thereby placing him atop the list of history’s greatest leaders.

….

“States are not held with paternosters in hand,” as Cosimo Medici once remarked. Moses’ revolution could not have succeeded if, as he himself preferred, he had led by example alone. Moses led the Israelites out of bondage, guided them through the wilderness by divine light and nourished them with manna falling from heaven. To no avail! No sooner had he left them to their own devices, they demanded new G-ds to worship (there’s that nasty impulse again). The execution of the sinners was necessary to confirm Moses’ — and G-d’s — authority.

The revolt against Moses in the name of slavery is one of the most powerful of the “infinite examples” to which Machiavelli refers in order to show the difficulties in leading to freedom a people that has become accustomed to living in slavery, a fundamental Jewish theme that is as important to us today as it was in the Italian Renaissance. As Machiavelli puts it, “It is as difficult to make a people free that is resolved to live in servitude, as it is to subject a people to servitude that is determined to be free.”

Francis, in your piece you concluded with,

His “spreadsheet approach” does seem misguided; at any rate, he could have been subtler. But far greater demerit attaches to her demotion of their coupling to a status below that of an after-dinner drink. Where’s the love that caused them to become husband and wife? Where did they leave it behind? And why on Earth did they replace it with swivel chairs and a conference room table?

From this you seem to suggest that love should be the basis of a marriage, that merely loving one another should suffice as a reason to get married and should be able to maintain the union for a lifetime. I once would have agreed with you on this, as an abstract, Beatles-era John Lennon-style idea of universal love and peaceful brotherhood lies at the heart of the therapeutic view’s delusional understanding of human nature. But now I’d go a step further: marriage must not only be based in love for one another but in both husband and wife embracing the same moral values. Both spouses must have the adequate moral understanding to be cognizant of the idols threatening to swallow up their marriage and then the resolve to set about fighting them together.

Warmest regards and best wishes,

David

****

images via shutterstock / glenda

David Swindle is the associate editor of PJ Media. He writes and edits articles and blog posts on politics, news, culture, religion, and entertainment. He edits the PJ Lifestyle section and the PJ columnists. Contact him at DaveSwindlePJM @ Gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @DaveSwindle. He has worked full-time as a writer, editor, blogger, and New Media troublemaker since 2009, at PJ Media since 2011. He graduated with a degree in English (creative writing emphasis) and political science from Ball State University in 2006. Previously he's also worked as a freelance writer for The Indianapolis Star and the film critic for WTHR.com. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and their Siberian Husky puppy Maura.
Top Rated Comments   
Dave I was with the majority of this article, but trying to connect hedonism and nihilism with one guys frustration of not getting sex from his wife is at best grasping for straws. Which is too bad because this article had so much going for it.

I don't know a single guy who was faithful to his wife and treated her well that wasn't getting sex from his wife that wouldn't be absolutely frustrated.

Again he did something in poor taste but maybe he was at his wits end?

Who knows Dave, maybe when they got married they were - hell they still could easily - be in love and also were on the same moral wavelength. But something has happened, according to what we know work has gotten in the way on her end. It's unfair to wrap that dude in the cloak of hedonism/nihilism because God forbid he wants to have sex with his wife.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
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> "Indeed, a mature, self-assured man, properly reared and past the urgings of adolescence, is less concerned with his own physical pleasure than with bringing pleasure to her. Her desire for his desire, with all that follows from that, gives him what he most wants: the opportunity to bring her pleasure, even if he gets little or none for himself. This has often been dismissed as merely a form of politeness, but in fact it’s the source of his greatest sexual fulfillment and, apart from progeny, his principal reason for wanting her to want him."

The Christian ideal is that the husband loves his wife as Christ loved the church, willing to die for her.

However, the Christian wife has obligations too. We almost never hear about them nowadays. Her job is to respect and submit to her husband. The culture apparently doesn't want to hear that. Yet, more than once, I've read articles where formerly devout feminists were taken aback by how natural it seemed to them to wear a burqa and submit to a Muslim husband. Funny how that works.

Wives, above all, need to be cherished. Husbands, above all, need to be respected. Neither one is optional; both are necessary.

8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dear Dave,

Please excuse the length of this reply.

Why We Marry

Look. We are fallen people living in a cursed world. In an ideal world men and women would join for life, enjoy each other, have sex and go forth and multiply and fill the world and subdue it.

And not that Adam or Satan were not without guilt in this, but the curse of God included that women would desire ("desire to rule over" is how this word "desire" is seen in the lexicon) men, but that men would rule over them. History has born this out. And we see that women use sex far more to control and reward their men than to please them. But men still have the God-spoken biologically determined drive to have sex, though usually contorted, confused and corrupted in how they act on it.

And now that women (and men) have the Pill, sex is even more divorced from this first command to "go forth and multiply". Women have separated themselves from their role as the "helper" to man in this command. And sex is considered a matter of pleasure only.

And sometimes all that really pleases a woman is a new pair of shoes. So…

“What do women want?!” – The world’s most singularly insightful charter of the human psyche, even if he was a hypocritical crack-pot, and admitted that he had no insight into the fundamental drives of the specifically-female mind.

Or, at least, according to Psychology Today, published on August 22, 2013, Noam Shpancer, Ph.D. answers, at least tries to.

“Sigmund Freud famously asked the question, but he didn\'t have an answer. Even today, the question of what motivates female sexual desire continues to resound. Definitive answers have proven elusive.
What men want we understand quite well. In general, their sexual desire is orderly, consistent, and narrowly directed. A heterosexual man is heterosexual. If you show him heterosexual sex, his sexual physiology and subjective, reported desire rise in tandem. Homosexual sex will leave him cold both physically and emotionally. For men there is an excellent match between physiological arousal (as measured by pen!le tumescence) and level of reported desire.”

"For women, the story is different. The female body, studies show, likes everything, or at least responds to everything (or does not know what it likes, some cynics will say). Female physiological arousal (as measured by vag!nal lubrication) occurs in response to viewing most any type of sexual activity: man with woman, woman with woman, man with man. Even watching sex among Bonobo monkeys stimulates physiological arousal in women.”

I show these opening sections of the article to show that even those academicians who search for an answer to Freud’s old query, no one can give with any certainty the answer.

I have been piqued by the various answers that have come as comments to various sites about the Spreadsheet Lover (as I’ll call him) for a few reasons: (1) The spreadsheet is clearly one of many ways that a husband may think will make his point – to say that it is clumsy or immature is to truncate any consideration that he may have discussed his complaint is many ways, many times in various ways – the spreadsheet in itself is not perfunctory or callous in itself. In fact it may be just what the doctor ordered if the wife uses spreadsheet herself, or if she particularly likes spreadsheets, or appreciates the trouble her husband may have gone to to create it, and the thought that went into it. I myself swoon at spreadsheets. And the husband seems fairly patient: He notices that his wife would rather watch TV than have sex (that it, co!tus and all the preliminary affection and foreplay and post-co!tal dénouement that goes with it, and he probably walks away and mutters under his breath “Once again!”, or perhaps snuggles next to her and puts an arm around her and watched with what focused interest he can muster the thirtieth viewing of “The Notebook”. Remember, in the space-time continuum, “Not now” is still “No”. Later it may be “Yes”, but that’s at a whole other time, and in the fifth dimension of sex, it may never come, or never come as a result of that previous suggestion for it. So “Not now” only counts if the man, due to his past experience really understands ”Shortly”. And it still is a declination by the woman. And (2) The husband clearly wants more sex (that is, co!tus), and presumably all the foreplay and interplay that leads up to it. What man would say ‘no’ to a woman who says, “Okay, I’ll relent and open myself to you, but only if you let me compliment you, and give you a back rub and fellat!o first”? (3) Many and various comments tend to several worldly views on the Spreadsheet couple’s recent discontent, based on personal experience, cultural training and philosophical perspective, as to how people deal with sex, what they expect regarding it, and how to react after being declined.

These views generally are: leaver her, you’re in a losing battle, and a fractured marriage; leave him, he’s a clumsy, insensitive los
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Please forgive all the typos and stuff, it was a long session.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dave, I thought you were Christian. Now I see you are thoroughly Manichean Gnostic. Thanks for clarifying that.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
I most definitely am not a Manichean Gnostic. I am a Judeo-Christian Hermeticist. Gnosticism is one of many occult traditions I've never found any use for.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
You sound like a half-crazed Calvinist to me. Welcome to the club!
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
I would disagree with you in the simple sense that most people are evil. I don't think most are evil. I think most people wind up doing evil things. There is a difference. Most people never mature enough to get beyond themselves and their own basic instincts for self-gratification. They are capable of understanding the "good" that the base hedonism brings to the moment, but they don't see the evil it brings. For me, it's not until they start acting with the intent to bring evil, that I would call them evil.

Maybe that's splitting hairs, but there it is.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
“[Y]ou seem to suggest that love should be the basis of a marriage, that merely loving one another should suffice as a reason to get married and should be able to maintain the union for a lifetime.”

(chuckle) Uh, no. Sorry if I left you with that impression, Dave. The society I had in mind when I wrote my tirade is our contemporary one in which arranged marriages are exceedingly rare. (Yes, I know there are some sects that still abide by that pattern.) Though love may not be *sufficient* for a satisfactory, enduring marriage, today it is *necessary* for the match to take place at all, and quite probably necessary for it to endure. At the very least we can say with confidence that he and she will not pledge themselves to one another sincerely without the conviction that each loves the other, in the prevalent romantic sense. Whether that’s good or bad is best left to another time.

But as my hero Ron Popeil would say: Wait: there’s more! There are deeper questions to be addressed, above all: *Why* does a decent person love? Romantically, mind you; not parentally, filially, or in any other inapplicable sense. It’s far more than mere physical attraction; of this we may be certain.

Let’s consult that considerable exponent of the joys of love, Marie-Henri Beyle, better known as Stendhal:

“If you are sure that a woman loves you, it is a pleasure to endow her with a thousand perfections and to count your blessings with infinite satisfaction. In the end you overrate wildly, and regard her as something fallen from Heaven, unknown as yet, but certain to be yours....The phenomenon that I have called crystallization springs from Nature, which ordains that we shall feel pleasure and sends the blood to our heads. It also evolves from the feeling that the degree of pleasure is related to the perfections of the loved one, and from the idea that ‘She is mine.’”

Stendhal’s concept of “crystallization” involves an overvaluation of one’s beloved in response to her overvaluation of oneself. Note how Stendhal moves effortlessly from the overvaluation of the beloved to the sense of victory for having won her heart. Such an overvaluation cannot last, yet many a couple initially possessed by that condition has gone on to marry successfully:

Through the years as the fire starts to mellow
Blurring lines in the book of our lives
Though the binding cracks
And the pages start to yellow
I'll be in love with you
[Dan Fogelberg, “Longer”]

But should either party be wildly wrong, having attributed to his beloved values and properties she lacks, or worse yet the reverse of what she really possesses...what then?

The odds are powerfully in favor of a transition from romantic intoxication to extreme unhappiness. Should this unfortunate couple marry, the marriage has little chance to endure or prosper.

Ayn Rand asserted that “To love is to value.” This is true enough, but the converse, as Stendhal hints in the above, is equally pertinent and even more important: To value is to love! The two cannot be separated without destroying one another. In this lies the essence of sincere romantic love, which so many persons animated solely by the urges of the body cannot grasp. It explains why the stablest and happiest marriages are formed on the basis of protracted acquaintance, wide and deep familiarity, and enduring mutual admiration: those conditions which, in the absence of mutual sexual attraction, produce lifelong friends rather than spouses.

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8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
"*Why* does a decent person love? Romantically, mind you; not parentally, filially, or in any other inapplicable sense. It’s far more than mere physical attraction; of this we may be certain."
Your paradigm of assuming the "decent person" is one that I no longer accept for the reasons stated -- we're all indecent people at heart, our apparent decency only a reflection of the values we strive to live by.

So of course, I totally reject Ayn Rand's understanding of love and all that her narcissistic ideology has to say about marriage and relationships. She showed with her own marriage how Objectivism operated. You just keep making more clear how different our value systems are. To love is not merely to value something -- "I love eating ice cream!" To love is to transcend the self -- a concept more rooted in Moses than Rand...
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah, Ayn Rand certainly had her flaws (I've met people who knew her personally), but her philosophy of objectivism is still way better than than any other I have encountered. And, yes, I do recognize its flaws. Nevertheless, I also stand by Rand's concept of romantic love being a valid one. Its certainly possible to love without engaging in self-destruction.

To suggest that love requires self-destruction implies that it is zero-sum. However, love is not zero-sum. It is positive-sum.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Yeah, Ayn Rand certainly had her flaws (I've met people who knew her personally), but her philosophy of objectivism is still way better than than any other I have encountered."

Have you encountered Jewish mysticism?

It's not about self-destruction, it's about self-transcendence.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Transcendence can come about only through technological means. That is, when we get the biotech and nanotech to cure aging and allow for individuals to become greater than what they are now. This is what the transhumanist movement is all about. Any other concept of transcendence is a null concept.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Any other concept of transcendence is a null concept."
So I gather that's a "no" to my question about whether you had encountered Jewish mysticism, which is largely dedicated to the concept.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Really, Dave, I expected better from you. Rand had her less than worthy moments, to be sure,but she was accurate in associating love with a high valuation of the person loved – and by corollary, identification with the values of the beloved. Nor is the use of the word "love" in the metaphorical, non-personal sense at all relevant to the subject As Ann Landers once wrote, we speak casually of “loving” cherry pie, baseball, Rembrandt, Charlie Parker, and Bach, but those “loves” are mere appetites, and not at all pertinent to interpersonal love.

You assert that “To love is to transcend the self.” In one sense, that is true, for love requires the elevation of the beloved, her well-being, and her happiness to a plane equal to one’s own, that the two may create something greater than either self. But in another sense it’s misleading, for the self does not vanish, nor does it become irrelevant. You might say it’s there when it’s needed, and yields to the couple when the couple should take precedence.

I would say your real problem lies in *your* values, which denigrate Mankind ab initio: “we're all indecent people at heart.” I (and most other Americans) would reply “Speak for yourself, Bubba!” My values are Catholic Christian: “God does not make junk.” It would surprise me to learn that Judaism teaches that Man is inherently evil or predisposed to evil. That would render Judaism inherently incompatible with Christianity. Apropos of which, I’d advise you to be careful about your investment in the notions of Niccolo de Macchiavelli. Macchiavelli was an amoral man and a gifted political tactician, with all that implies. He can be quite seductive to a younger, less well traveled mind.

This leads to a far larger area of inquiry, touching upon human nature, the social components thereof, the various levels of rationality and their interaction with conscience, and the researches of the underappreciated Dr. Robert Axelrod. Perhaps I’ll address it some time soon. For now, we’ve each had our say. Let’s let our readers have theirs.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
"You assert that “To love is to transcend the self.” In one sense, that is true, for love requires the elevation of the beloved, her well-being, and her happiness to a plane equal to one’s own, that the two may create something greater than either self. But in another sense it’s misleading, for the self does not vanish, nor does it become irrelevant. You might say it’s there when it’s needed, and yields to the couple when the couple should take precedence."

We have a different understanding of what it means to love someone. I don't believe that loving someone means elevating their needs up to equal status to yours. I believe it means elevating them to a higher status than yourself - as in being willing to sacrifice yourself for them.

"It would surprise me to learn that Judaism teaches that Man is inherently evil or predisposed to evil. That would render Judaism inherently incompatible with Christianity."

You speak as though "Judaism" and "Christianity" were singular entities and everyone engaged in each of them agreed on what each believe. Within both Judaism and Christianity there are so many different competing theologies and ways to read and interpret the Bible.

"Apropos of which, I’d advise you to be careful about your investment in the notions of Niccolo de Macchiavelli."

I'd encourage you to give Machiavelli another look. My interpretation of him is influenced of course by PJ columnist Michael Ledeen who is hardly a "younger, less well traveled mind."
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
See also Mollie Zeigler Hemingway's excellent article at The Federalist:
http://thefederalist.com/2014/07/22/a-spreadsheets-not-going-to-spread-her-legs-and-more-marriage-advice/
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dave, I enjoyed the article. After reading Francis for some time and finding him a very talented writer and deep thinker, I feel confident he also would conclude a shared set of moral values a prerequisite for a successful marriage.

But I hope you'll lend me the liberty for a moment....

Machiavelli tirelessly denounced the soft, forgiving, turn-the-other-cheek themes of Christianity...

If true, that's a truly twisted version of New Testament theology if I read that right. There's nothing soft about forgiveness - I personally have found forgiveness a heck of a lot more difficult and taking far more strength than to raise my fist and fight.

But what bothers me more about this misconception is that it would lead the nascent mind to believe Christianity and more specifically Jesus Christ, as some soft man. Are you kidding me? He told his own disciples to grab a sword to protect themselves and told the powers that be that they had turned His Father's House into a den of thieves while upending their tables. That's not soft.

These disciples of Christ and most of the New Testament heroes shared the same characteristics of Moses and other Old Testament Hall of Faith heroes. They were strong men and strong women, many who lost their lives on account of their message. They all held a special relationship with God Almighty because they preached only God holds ultimate authority.

These Christians I speak didn't willingly go to their deaths to preach a message because the message was 'soft.' In fact, the message was so loud and so threatening, history records eleven of the twelve disciples lost their lives on account of the message, and thousands more of First Century Christians lost their lives too at the hand of Roman legions who swore allegiance not to God, but to Caesar.

8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Again, the author is taking a long-winded approach to saying that a successful long-term marriage is between partners who share the same values and long-term life dreams and goals. Duh! And why having a long-term relationship with anyone should requires a belief in any of the Abrahamic religions is unfathomable to me.

As side point, it should be recognized that none of the Abrahamic religions are an organic product of Western civilization. They are, indeed, alien oriental(*) imports to the West and, thus, cannot be regarded as a natural part of Western civilization.

* Oriental means the original definition, which meant anything east of Istanbul.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Actually, Western civilization is largely the product of Christianity.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Although I doubt that it will put this couples' issue to bed (sorry, low resistance level here), I congratulate you, sir, on an excellent article.

You zero in on the fact that the root of the problem, which is the root of so many problems today from the level of a feuding couple to the world stage, is that these two have not progressed from the very lowest level of moral behavior.

For those interested, the levels are Self / Family / Community / Nation / Race (as in Homo Sapiens, not the other kind). (Hat tip to Colonel Rasczak, vice Robert Heinlein.)
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks so much for your support!
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dave I was with the majority of this article, but trying to connect hedonism and nihilism with one guys frustration of not getting sex from his wife is at best grasping for straws. Which is too bad because this article had so much going for it.

I don't know a single guy who was faithful to his wife and treated her well that wasn't getting sex from his wife that wouldn't be absolutely frustrated.

Again he did something in poor taste but maybe he was at his wits end?

Who knows Dave, maybe when they got married they were - hell they still could easily - be in love and also were on the same moral wavelength. But something has happened, according to what we know work has gotten in the way on her end. It's unfair to wrap that dude in the cloak of hedonism/nihilism because God forbid he wants to have sex with his wife.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
"It's unfair to wrap that dude in the cloak of hedonism/nihilism because God forbid he wants to have sex with his wife."
He IS having sex with his wife. If I recall from the original story it was a 7 week long sample size period and they had sex 3 times during it -- something like every other week or so. He's just obsessing over wanting more!
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
True - he is having sex with his wife. That is one hell of a drought though. I can't say he's acting in a nihilistic/hedonistic way, he wants to make love with his wife more than once every other week.

I really can't blame the man.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
What makes him nihilist or hedonist is not that he'd like to have sex more often. It's that all that seems to matter to him is how to extract more sex from his wife.

Even in an obedient, traditional marriage, we'd say there was something wrong if a wife's legitimate desire for material support turned into a single-minded obsession with getting money out of her husband. It's a two-way street; if the relationship is right, he'll want to supply her material needs--even shower luxuries on her if he can--without her having to present him with a spreadsheet detailing his inadequacies. If she's a boor in this department, it won't do her much good to point out that, in fact, he really ought to be supporting her financially. That much is obvious; what's gone wrong is that she's treating him like an ATM--just as the man in the original story seems to be thinking of his wife as a machine to deliver sexual gratification.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dave's position makes sense when you realize that he does not believe Paul's teaching authority is equal to the other authors. Paul taught that a wife has a duty to surrender her body to her husband just as he does to her. A wife is supposed to **try** to take care of her husband's needs even if they are 5x stronger than hers, just as he, like Christ, is to love her, provide for her and readily lay down his life for her.

Paul would say of such a wife that she is not being her husband's keeper and will account for it before God.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
The bigger issue at play here with the spreadsheet guy is that Dave is effectively dismissing him as a horny loser who wants to use his wife as a sexual analog to a toilet, when in fact we have no idea what he's really like. Most men have known decent men who loved their wives, but whose wives for whatever reason were no longer attracted to them or had actually found things more important to them than their marriage and its duties. Yet we are given to understand that such men must become sexy romantics in order to have any chance of getting what was implicit in their marital vows, and if they don't, they must manfully deal with it (ie just accept it).

Dave has said that he rejects Christianity, so I wouldn't be surprised to learn that he also rejects the method that Christ laid out for resolving conflicts which was first to go to the offending party, then bring witnesses, then bring in the elder and only then publicly shame. While the husband's language may have been less than compassionate, a wife who flagrantly refuses to uphold her marital vows without a biblical reason (her career is not one of them) is not entitled to a soft rebuke. His language may have been spiteful and wrong in that respect, but she was deserving of a hash rebuke for trampling her marital vows.

I will also add that people like Dave typically have no problem with forcing men to fulfill their duties to their wives even when the wife has let herself go, is bitter and a generally worthless wife. I welcome him to prove me wrong by saying that if a man who is on the outs wth his wife because he's no longer attractive to her must fight for her, then the reverse is also true. That is to say, the husband is justified in not fulfilling his duties to her until such time as she's fixed her issues. I rather doubt we'll be seeing that. And that, is the reason why white knights are so detestable to so many. They hold men to a standard that harbors little justice for them while giving women what amounts to indulgence for their bad behavior.
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8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
"I will also add that people like Dave typically have no problem with forcing men to fulfill their duties to their wives even when the wife has let herself go, is bitter and a generally worthless wife."

What does this mean? How would I -- or anyone -- "force men to fulfill their duties"?
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
"What does this mean? How would I -- or anyone -- "force men to fulfill their duties"?"

Through the family law courts. If they had children and he issued an ultimatum to uphold her end or else, and she then divorced him, no self-respecting modern white knight would fail to enthusiastically support her taking him to the cleaners in the family law courts. I've seen a number of good men go through them and never--not once--was the outcome equitable. But even if they didn't have children, many white knights have no problem with forcing him to pay alimony if he made more money than her.

As I said, I don't know you, but I know the general disposition of those who use many of the arguments you made. The reason white knight is a pejorative is because it is synonymous with "hopeless romantic who invariably blames the man while exonerating the woman from all but the worst moral offenses."
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't meet your definition of a White Knight.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
In your estimation, you don't. But then you see nothing wrong with condemning a man as a hedonist for thinking a woman who is in her 20s, healthy and not yet a mother should be up for sex more than once every other week. That is well within the range of white knight behaviors you are being accused of committing.

Funny since Michelle Duggar, with 19 kids and a reality TV show seems to have a healthier sex life with her husband than this woman who has none of those excuses.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
"But then you see nothing wrong with condemning a man as a hedonist for thinking a woman who is in her 20s, healthy and not yet a mother should be up for sex more than once every other week."
I'm not "condemning" him by accurately identifying his hedonism. And it's not "White Knighting" because I've similarly identified and "condemned" the idol that the wife is worshiping -- her career. Not everyone who disagrees with Men's Right's Movement cultists fits into your boxes.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Now I really have to object. Wanting sex with one's sife is NOT hedonism. By your thinking doing it once to "consumate" the marraige is all that is necessary, and after that, then it's hedonism.

What, Dave, is the lowest frequency before the man is justified is complaining she's denying him too often?

And if once a year is within your acceptable frequency range, then what's the point of marrying? Marriage is the only voluntary relationship that is fundamentally about sex. So what's right in denying it?
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Now I really have to object. Wanting sex with one's sife is NOT hedonism. By your thinking doing it once to "consumate" the marraige is all that is necessary, and after that, then it's hedonism."
That's obviously not my position considering I'm promoting books on Kosher tantric sex and calling on husbands to seduce their wives instead of "asking" for sex.

"What, Dave, is the lowest frequency before the man is justified is complaining she's denying him too often?"
The problem is him having the attitude that sex is something women "give" and that as a wife it's her "duty" to "give" it whenever he commands.

"And if once a year is within your acceptable frequency range, then what's the point of marrying? Marriage is the only voluntary relationship that is fundamentally about sex."
Therein lies our values difference. The point of marrying is to create the best environment to raise a family. Marriage is fundamentally about raising a family, not about having sex. I'm reminded of the joke about how getting married for sex is akin to buying a plane ticket for the peanuts.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Accusing someone of being hedonistic is a condemnation of their character every bit as much as calling someone a racist. What you haven't proved, and even some of your supporters here are observing, is that sex every other week is not healthy. A desire for more frequency is not hedonistic, but simply normal, healthy male sexuality. A man in his 20s or 30s who could be **satisfied** with sex 26 times a year is either in possession of a spiritual gift of the Holy Spirit or has low testosterone.

No one is suggesting, not even him, that they have sex 5 times a day. You seem to have serious issues with a man thinking a few times a week is reasonable. In a healthy marriage, it is actually not that abnormal. In an international study of marriages, most married Americans reported a sex life about 4x more frequent than what she's giving him.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Accusing someone of being hedonistic is a condemnation of their character every bit as much as calling someone a racist."

It most certainly is not. Hedonism and racism are not at all morally equivalent.

"What you haven't proved, and even some of your supporters here are observing, is that sex every other week is not healthy."

I'm not saying it's "healthy" or "unhealthy" either. You're missing the forest for the trees on my points because you're not wanting to confront the fact that we simply have different moral value systems.

"A desire for more frequency is not hedonistic, but simply normal, healthy male sexuality."
Yes, "Normal, healthy male sexuality" and an *obsession* with quantity, unguided by moral values IS hedonistic. Reread my post again if you don't understand my very low opinion of human nature. Hedonism is every human being's default setting.

"No one is suggesting, not even him, that they have sex 5 times a day."
But you are suggesting that the wife should submit to him daily -- "A wife is supposed to **try** to take care of her husband's needs even if they are 5x stronger than hers, just as he, like Christ, is to love her, provide for her and readily lay down his life for her." -- in other words, she should adapt her female sexuality to his male sexuality and submit to it without question. My position is one based in Jewish mysticism rather than Pauline theology -- both husband and wife should seek to transcend and transform the primitive nature of their "normal" sexuality.

"You seem to have serious issues with a man thinking a few times a week is reasonable."
Not at all -- the number of times a married has sex each week is going to vary widely. What I object to is your attitude -- and many men's -- that sex is something that the wife should "be giving him" and that it's just a "wifely duty" that she should submit to whether she feels like it or not. What I am opposing is the idea that a husband should "ask" his wife to "give" him sex. That whole attitude -- that sex is some wonderful magical thing a woman has that men must chase after forever -- is more Pagan than Biblical.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dave...

#1 Hedonism is not the natural state of man and Judao-Christian authorities have always regarded it as a wretched state in which desires are fundamentally disordered toward obsession with pleasure to the exclusion of other goods. It is not a desire for regular pleasure, but a warped moral state.

#2 There is nothing pagan about that attitude. Paul makes it clear that women should try to take care of their husbands needs when asked. You don't accept the authority of Paul which makes your "biblical values" synonymous with just a personal interpretation of Jewish scripture.

Since you have rejected Christianity, you cannot be faulted for #2. However, no Christian can follow your concept of "biblical marriage" because it is a heresy to Christians. A wife who has no sex drive at all and cannot be made to have one still must as a duty perform anyway. Obviously, a husband should try hard to make his wife want it, but at the end of the day Christianity rejects the notion that marital duties are voluntary. You consented irrevocably by becoming a married Christian. If your wife becomes a fat, bitter shrew you have no right to stop loving her and providing/protecting as a husband.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
And one more thing I'd just like to clarify... When you state in your first point - "#1 Hedonism is not the natural state of man and Judao-Christian authorities have always regarded it as a wretched state in which desires are fundamentally disordered toward obsession with pleasure to the exclusion of other goods. It is not a desire for regular pleasure, but a warped moral state."

Do you acknowledge that this is fundamentally disagreeing with the main point of my piece as summarized by Machiavelli in the headline "Man Is More Inclined to Do Evil Than to Do Good"?

Do you apparently believe opposite to Machiavelli, that man is more naturally drawn to do good? You seem to suggest as much.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Every man is inclined to evil, all are born sinners and unworthy of salvation. But that does not mean each man is oriented to evil the same degree. Some are indeed "reprobate" or turned over to the full measure of their wickedness such that they are absolute slaves to it. It doesn't follow that this is the normal state of fallen man. Fallen != absolute slave to sin (including hedonistic sin).
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh. "Reprobate." Now this theological disagreement is starting to make more sense. Are you a Calvinist?
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Nope. Just as many Arminians believe in that concept as Calvinists.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
So your understanding of the Bible and marriage is based in Paul and informed by Arminian theology, and mine is based in Moses and informed by Judeo-Christian mysticism. We have different theologies which cause us to interpret the Bible differently and advocate for different attitudes toward marriage as a result.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Jewish mysticism is indeed a "heresy" for Christian fundamentalists who only know how to snip out their favorite New Testament verses and idolize them, reading them at face value.

"You don't accept the authority of Paul which makes your "biblical values" synonymous with just a personal interpretation of Jewish scripture."

And you now admit that you don't accept the authority of the "Jewish scripture". You think that verses from Paul's letters can overwrite everything that came before it and that Christians need not concern themselves with anything Jews do.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
I admitted no such thing. You, however, have written at great lengths attacking Paul's teaching authority. The same Holy Spirit inspired Paul and Moses. You have not shown where Paul actually contradicts the prophets on sex and marriage. Again, just hand waving and assertions.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
1 Corinthians 7:8 contradicts Genesis 1:28. Paul doesn't think it's important for people to get married and have as many children as possible because Paul was an apocalypticist who believed that Christ was returning soon. http://community.beliefnet.com/go/thread/view/43851/30001661/Why_Paul_preaching_that_celibacy_trumps_marriage_proves_he_was_an_apocalypticist.?post_id=533843141

Just because people were both divinely inspired by the same spirit it doesn't mean that they're saying the same thing or that what they said should be interpreted in isolation and read at face value.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is part of your misperception. "Yes, "Normal, healthy male sexuality" and an *obsession* with quantity, unguided by moral values IS hedonistic"

Some of us men are not really taking at all about quantity -- you are.

We are talking about acceptance and rejection. No decent man says to his Bud, hey, I got 3.2% more action this week then last. I am getting real good with those buttons, and I'm increasing my productivity levels to verrrrry intimate. No we just want what God designed us to do, and what women (by word and by experience) are cursed with resisting.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Cursed with resisting? What women resist isn't sex, it's being treated like a piece of meat. It's true that women can go off sex completely if they get too discouraged about the treatment they associate with it, but it doesn't make them happy. It only makes them less unhappy (for a while) than being treated like a piece of meat. Most women are practically desperate for sex that reinforces the intimacy between them and their husbands, and they won't readily accept a deadened, empty substitute even if it does make them feel guilty that their partners are clearly frustrated.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
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