'Man Is More Inclined to Do Evil Than to Do Good' - Machiavelli
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?
Dr. Helen Smith: A Classic Example of White Knighting
Francis W. Porretto: Some Thoughts on Sex and the Bonded Couple
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.
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.
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,
images via shutterstock / glenda