Roosh V. is a cosmopolitan pickup artist and an author and blogger of some renown. He was recently in the news in Canada because his scheduled talks in Montreal and Toronto were protested. 42,500 Canadians signed a Change.org petition to bar him from entering the country because his writings allegedly violate Canada’s hate speech laws. Protestors threw drinks at him at a bar and hounded him. The hotel where one of his talks was scheduled cancelled the event, due to the negative publicity, forcing him to change venues. One of his articles, in particular, became infamous for allegedly advocating rape.
I was intrigued by this controversy and decided to investigate further, reading ten or so of his articles. Much of what he says turns out to be plausible or compelling, but limited.
Roosh’s Case for “Game”
His detractors call him a misogynist, whereas he says he’s more specifically an antifeminist. Arguably, he’s both. Here’s a summary of his case for “game,” that is, for realistic techniques for seducing women, gleaned from the following of Roosh’s articles: first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth.
Roosh is a traditionalist, at heart, who longs for the return of a more conservative era in which women accepted their natural roles as mothers, managers of the household, and supporters of men. He accuses feminism and Western culture in general of ruining Western women’s sex appeal. He went as far as to leave the United States, his home country, preferring places populated by more traditional women such as in South America, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia. The problem with the West, he says, is that feminists demand equality whereas biology makes men and women unequal. This leads women who are infected with the feminist virus, as he puts it, to insist on beating men at their game, acting tough and manly instead of allowing alpha males to tame them.
In his words, the Western woman “has lost her reproductive imperative and sees men as nothing more than sources of entertainment to improve her soulless existence of having to attain a meaningless education to labor in an insignificant office job”; moreover, “because of her rejection of the feminine nature given to her at birth, you [the male reader] are even more qualified to take care of children than she is.” According to Roosh, “within every woman on this planet, regardless of her education or background, is a bitch, a cunt, a slut, a golddigger, a flake, a cheater, a backstabber, a narcissist, and an attention whore that is dying to get out…This is the true nature that will come forth if society doesn’t put constraints or limitations on a woman’s behavior and choice…Free from the shackles of acting within traditional sex roles, all women of the world would much rather act like a lazy sailor than a prim and proper lady as long as male attention continues to flow…As the women of this era find their basic needs being increasingly met, and the direction of societies moves towards one of automatic reverence to women instead of bemused skepticism of their childlike decision-making and behavior, reversions will occur across all economically rising countries of the world” as the virus of feminist culture spreads.
“Game,” then, is a man’s donning of a clown mask to entertain attractive women so that both parties get what they want. Women should want to succeed in their premodern, feminine roles, but in the West women want to be equal to men, so instead of tending to their traditional duties and relying on men for their welfare, women become financially and emotionally independent. Instead of looking for love and happiness with a man, the heterosexual woman seeks only to be entertained by him. Thus he must act like a sociopath, putting her “on a rollercoaster of abuse,” as opposed to boring her with beta-male meekness and effeminateness. He must roleplay as the aloof villain to arouse her fear, giving her respite from the tedium of her office life. Nature’s blessed her with one true asset, which is her physical appearance, but she squanders her window of opportunity when she’s youthful and at her prettiest and most beguiling, going on libertine binges with alpha males who are too discerning to be interested in a long-term relationship with a debased Western woman. Thus, she’s left to court beta-male suckers on dating websites when she’s older, used up and saddled with children, begging those second-class men for companionship if not also for shelter.
Game, the quasi-science of seducing women, is a form of realism, for Roosh. A Western man should acknowledge the backwardness of modern culture and exploit the opportunity to satisfy his desire for a “healthy sex life,” if not also his anachronistic goal of finding happiness in a traditional home. As Roosh puts it, “I would be foolhardy to try to build a home with her [the modern girl] since she is not made of the same stuff as her mother and grandmothers, and so I will not treat her as if she’s something she’s not. She’s an oil well, and I will use my drill to gain as much black liquid as I can until the well taps out, and then be forced to move on to another.” Western culture makes clowns of men and women alike, forcing us into unnatural roles, but savvy men only pretend to be alphas to get laid or else are luckily born with no conscience, being sociopathic, bad-boy alphas so they can effortlessly attract women. Meanwhile, feminist women war with biology at the cost of all heterosexuals’ chance to be happy. Armed with techniques for exploiting women’s biological weaknesses and learned decadence, the wily male uses women for all they’re good for now due to female empowerment. Ideally, women’s empowerment would have doubled human ingenuity and vastly accelerated the rate of human progress, but that hasn’t happened. Roosh’s explanation is that “Women have been quiet in the history of the world not because of male privilege, but because they’re not designed to achieve.” Socially- and economically-equal women are ill-equipped to fulfill their natural role of being caretakers and are reduced to being objects for crafty men’s pleasure.
Critique of Roosh’s Case: From Misogyny to Misanthropy
As I see it, the root of the problem in this modern war between the sexes is individualism, the ideology common to the Protestant Reformation and to the Enlightenment. The culture descried by Roosh is based on the idea that human nature isn’t biological but psychological. In each human body there’s an individual, otherwise known as a person, who has the right to self-determination. By contrast, the traditionalist maintains that members of a society should defer to their elders or ancestors and to their conventions, for the sake of social cohesion, favour in God’s eyes or some other higher good. Curiously, Roosh arrives at his Sayyid Qutb-style distaste for modern individualism, by way of modernity’s science-centered hostility towards all fact-free traditions; hence, his appeal to biology in support of his contentions about gender inequality. The individualist, in turn, mixes naturalistic critiques of stifling premodern ideologies, with the modern invention of the individual moral agent. You see, on one hand, premodern social conventions are assumed to be merely mythical, the myths being instruments for imposing mass ignorance so that the populace might be more easily oppressed and exploited by some gang of power elites. On the other hand, the sovereign individual takes on God’s role as the originator of morality; whereas science may show that we’re merely clever animals, all moderns—including the power elites—foist on each other a new metanarrative, a noble lie according to which they’re persons rather than animals and are thus entitled to a higher form of happiness.
Roosh speaks of women’s “natural role” as feminine caregivers, as though there were any room in modernity for natural rights; instead, science eliminates any such supernatural basis for traditional societies, which means that the inference that women ought to do what biology equips them to do efficiently is merely a crude instance of the naturalistic fallacy. Even were Roosh’s generalization about the different biological strengths of men and women correct, such empirical knowledge would have exactly zero prescriptive implications. Roosh’s case seems to lack the philosophical step between those premises and that conclusion, such as the existentialist’s assumption that we must create our values by a leap of faith in something’s sacredness. That latter assumption, however, happens to be implicitly individualistic and thus liable to be consistent with the principles of feminism.
But what to make of Roosh’s argument about the damage wrought by feminism? That argument rings true to me, but the phenomenon of Western infantilization is much broader than Roosh suggests. Many men are likewise reduced to being childish consumers; indeed, Roosh’s distinction between alpha and beta men implies as much. Only the enlightened alphas consume women with a tragic yearning for a more honourable quest, as opposed to doing so with the glee expressed by the clownish mask they wear in their pursuit of deluded women. Beta males, or at least those with no interest in emulating alphas with game, are as deluded as the women poisoned by feminism: they too eschew their biological roles as hunters and providers, domesticating themselves and thus requiring a wife not for any romantic reason but just to complete their To Do List, adding one more possession to their catalogue, the woman who turns into a harpy who duly pussy-whips him. If some men are free from the process of Western infantilization, the same is likely true of some women. They, too, may toy with men, hoping for a sea change in modern culture, but stoically coping with the farcical conditions of the mating game.
Roosh says women are inherently inferior creatures and require male guidance to avoid making self-destructive, childish decisions. Thus, he says women who toy with men are bitches and flakes, whereas alpha males who do the same to women are wise game-players. The arbitrariness of this double standard means that Roosh’s misogyny is only half right: the more adequate philosophical response to our scientific enlightenment is misanthropy, contempt for humanity in general, not just for half of its members. Roosh lauds males for the human history of cultural achievements, blind to the fact that such progress appears to be utterly self-destructive. Our technological breakthroughs merely speed up the rate at which glorified monkeys may destroy themselves, taking half the planet with them. From the anthropological perspective, such as that of Harari in his history of our species, Sapiens, our cultural achievements are so many propagations of useful fictions to distract us from the catastrophes caused by our ballooning populations. The men who carried human civilizations forward have hardly been free from delusions. Most alpha rulers of megamachines (dominance hierarchies in which a minority controls the majority by treating it as a social machine) thought of themselves as gods. The current titans of Wall Street are sullied by their weakness for all manner of Ayn Randian or social Darwinian fallacies of egoism and narcissism. His swagger may be attractive to helpless women, but this doesn’t mean that a sociopath is an admirable figure. Indeed, the sociopath’s selfishness pales next to the average child’s. We must remember that while children are helpless without their guardians, children are also notorious bullies if given the slightest opportunity, so both women and men who display advanced forms of those behaviours (helplessness or arrogance, respectively) are equally comparable to children. Advocating for men’s rule over women is advocating for the quintessential case of the blind leading the blind.
The standard way of thinking of individuals as liberated persons is all wrong. The myth is that the freedom to choose your course is an inherent right, a modern victory for humanity. In reality, this Western myth papered over the breakdown of medieval civilization. Just as Christian egalitarianism was a rationalization of the fall of the Roman Empire, since the vigorous, rugged militarism of Rome couldn’t last into the Dark Age and an ethic of compassion was needed for an impoverished, fragile continent, modern individualism rationalizes the fall of the Catholic Church. When many Christians awoke to the unsettling fact that God isn’t present in the primary Christian institution, in the Church which had become unspeakably corrupt, they retreated to a proto-Darwinian doctrine according to which each isolated soul must work out its salvation in fear and trembling, to paraphrase Kierkegaard. The Church’s disgrace brought on the Protestant Revolution, whereupon the idol of scripture replaced the priesthood’s authority, and each Christian had the duty to bolster her precious faith by divining the hidden meanings of God’s Word. Protestant individualism was secularized by Enlightenment substitutes for theistic formulations of the underlying admission, which is that when society breaks down we must reap the whirlwind: we must inure ourselves to our basic, existential situation, which is that we’re lowly animals and can’t count on our social structures. Even when aided by others, natural patterns prevail, we fall well short of our dreamlike ideals, and we’re left with genetic narrow-mindedness, with the empty freedom to do whatever we will in the concrete jungle, lacking the direction that requires faith in something besides our pitiful selves.
In the existentialist’s big picture, freedom is something other than this state of being bereft of social guidance, of being alienated from our dysfunctional institutions. The lone individual’s freedom is a crypto-Satanic adventure that began with the advent of sentience, with the genes’ loss of direct control over their animal hosts, and with the development of mental powers of self-creation and thus self-control. Individuals in the broadest sense are animals that have been severed from nature and thus liberated from the self-creating god (the only divinity there manifestly is, being nature as a cosmic whole), animals that are therefore free to create themselves anew from next to nothing, which is to say from an artistic leap of faith in some ideals. With higher-order thinking, primates face the curse of reason which is also the problem with modern individualism and with feminism: these celebrations of liberty are unbridled in their optimism, because the corresponding conventions are noble lies. The point is to conceal what was lost in the breakdown of Catholic and of ancient Roman civilizations and above all to distract from the implication that American society too will fail. We assume we needn’t dwell on such downfalls since they have a silver lining, the individual’s freedom, that is, the creation of persons in the fullest, most existentially dazzling sense, since such disappointed persons are socially-inclined animals that are nevertheless left to their own devices in deciding how to live. This is evidently the reason for the current burgeoning of post-apocalyptic fiction (The Walking Dead, Mad Max, etc) and for the earlier popularity of Old Western fiction. The heroes in such tales are perfectly free in the absence of social constraints, but the context hints at the dark side of self-determination: social creatures are inept at role-playing as sovereign, self-sufficient deities; after all, the freest individuals in the aftermath of the apocalypse are homeless and doomed to wander aimlessly and anxiously in the hostile wilderness, the thought of suicide their only consolation. This is the dark, satanic aspect of liberty which existentialism brings into the light.
The Vacuity of Canadian Individuals
With this in mind, we can explain the Canadian overreaction to Roosh’s antimodern writings. Canadians, and especially Ontarians, strive to be as uninteresting as possible to live down to the Enlightenment diversion of self-determination. The Canadian practice is to erase cultural differences to eliminate the distinction of specialness, reducing Canada’s citizens to cogs in the technocrat’s megamachine. We Canadians become just rationally autonomous individuals and thus neutered, neither masculine nor feminine, but views from nowhere indeed. We're freed by detaching ourselves from any tradition or organization that deserves our trust and thus we're hollow, lacking ultimate goals that are meaningful to each person in so far as they’re self-chosen by faith (by a heartfelt, creative endeavour).
You might be thinking this is obviously false since Canada is multicultural whereas the United States, for example, is a melting pot in which cultural differences are more effectively dissolved. But these differences are only superficial. Cultural differences are indeed nominally preserved in Canada, because Canada has no unifying culture to uphold as superior to its competitors. What transpires is a postmodern reduction of all ways of life to mere variations of culture-in-the-abstract, as Canadians drag foreign cultures down with them into the abyss of nihilistic relativism. For example, the question of whether Muslim women should be allowed to wear a hijab or a niqab in government buildings in Quebec isn’t decided by reflecting on the garment’s religious significance. Canadian liberals think of religion only in sociological terms, not in the theological ones that indicate the practitioner's leap of faith, so the issue becomes the mathematically-decidable one of whether one “culture” should be given special consideration. Secular Canadian government is anticultural, which means its role is superficially to preserve cultural differences, but it does so by ignoring the latter and implicitly secularizing cultures, interpreting them in sociological or anthropological terms.
By contrast, American government is nakedly xenophobic rather than cosmopolitan, and so a bastardized form of Christianity predominates there as the standard by which all other cultures are judged. That is, Americans haven’t absorbed the fact that science has demolished the foundations of traditional religion, for example, and so they naively cling to their guns and bibles, as President Obama put it. Americans still take what they misconstrue as their founding culture for granted, so in practice they preserve cultural divisions as so many iterations of Us versus Them. In Canada, there is no us or them, but only technocratic distractions from the emptiness of what Arcade Fire calls the modern and the normal people. For example, in Canada there’s no bluster about a titanic struggle between Christian/modern atheistic and theocratic Islamic civilizations; at least, there’s no such native fear-mongering that isn’t borrowed from the American discourse. This is because Canadians have no culture to lose and thus nothing to fear from the threat of having some culture imposed on them. Of course, there’s fear of being killed by terrorists, but in Canada (and perhaps in Britain, France and Germany too) the ideas that drive militant jihadists are neutralized by the nihilism born from the incompletion of Canada’s satanic adventure.
What I mean is that Canadians and Europeans are stuck with the postmodern angst arising from the failure of secular institutions to replace the foundered medieval ones. In Canada there’s hockey and in Europe there’s football, while the US has Hollywood as well as its military and its own football. But these secular institutions infantilize us by reducing us to small-minded consumers, as opposed to teaching us how to live as awakened, sentient beings. There’s a process of alienation which begins with the realization that social norms are preposterous compromises that tend to abet a minority class of spoiled alpha males. According to existential philosophers, that process can end in a rebellious, self-creative act, in a leap of artistic commitment to certain speculations and values. Canadians have no faith in their society, because they can’t even stay awake long enough to summarize how their society works. But Canadians haven’t used their individual liberty and alienation to create something new. And so when Roosh V. comes along with his politically incorrect talk of how men and women aren’t equal, he arouses the ire of ashamed Canadian feminists who rally around the invisible flag that stands for pride in Canadian technocracy. Of course men and women should be treated equally as persons, says the average Canadian, just as cultures should be treated equally. This amounts to saying that gender and culture should be eliminated, that there’s nothing special about persons or societies, because all are equal according to some pretentious postmodern abstractions or to sociological explanations of their material underpinnings. Women and men are equal as persons, but a modern person is just the disembodied inner self, a capacity for higher-order thoughts that could excite only an introvert with too much time on his or her hands.
The Existential Stakes of Individuality
To say that men and women are different is to say that they have different specialties, and because something’s specialness alone can interest us, inequality between the sexes is a precondition of sustainable sexual attraction. Feminized men no longer interest women even though their feminization is caused by the understandable feminist reaction to decadent, patriarchal masculinity. Likewise, “liberated” women who behave just like masculine men set themselves up as friends or as sex objects, as Roosh says, not as mysterious others that excite lust and awe. The reason most Western couples are serially monogamous rather than committed to a stable, long-term home life is because the sameness of Western men and women, that is, their equality, bores them so they lack the endurance needed to tolerate each other’s presence for long. The hope of each affair is that it will be qualitatively rather than just quantitatively new. Alas, we’re mostly just half-born individuals, not masculine men or feminine women, not special classes of creatures with distinct habits to complement each other. We’re infantilized consumers, distracted from our suspicion that precisely as hypermodern individuals we’re fundamentally all alone with faith in nothing, no values to guide us to some transcendent state of salvation from our natural doom.
To insist on equality between men and women in all matters is ironically to submit to forces that depersonalize us. Here’s the process in a nutshell: in a patriarchy, men are privileged and so after feminism, women demand to be treated like men; but the patriarchy had been defined by a subset of men who had dominated, namely the minority of sociopathic alpha males; thus, feminists effectively lobotomize themselves, holding up as their standard of personhood not the tortured, creative lone artist, but the calculating, shark-like machine at the heart of economic models, the corrupted, unfeeling male perfected by the invention of the “personal” computer. Equalized individuals lose their existentially-meritorious personhood along with their specialness that makes them different, and so they’re objectified—just as arid Canada objectifies cultures to tame them, to establish a firewall around Canada’s status as the least interesting place on Earth. Am I being facetious? Not really: hypermodernity ends in the extinction of values, of the difference between right and wrong, and of positive freedom, of the choice of an ultimate purpose in life to direct us towards some authentic destination for which we can take responsibility as worthwhile, enlightened and noble creatures. By taking a stand against being the least bit interesting, Canadians push modernity to its limits, diminishing themselves in the name of the obsolete modern ideal of the (merely) rationally-autonomous person. One glance at the current decrepitude of American democracy suffices to show that David Hume was right and Plato was wrong: for most “people,” emotions are stronger than reason, which means that most hominids aren’t people in the higher sense. Like Canadians, liberals, and other blinkered champions of modernity, feminists blather in their fight for self-destructive ideals as though they’re in a trance. And why did Western women seek to be equal to men? Not because of the allure of male power, but again because the medieval civilization that justified the social differences between the sexes collapsed, and the Enlightenment myth of the mere rational (as opposed to aesthetic, artistic) basis of individuality distracted from the horror of the existential stakes of sentience.
Individual freedom is a promethean opportunity to seize godhood by a creative act of artistic inspiration. This is more or less what Nietzsche surmised when he spoke of the bitter-sweetness of God’s death. John Stuart Mill likewise applauded the idiosyncratic individuals who stand out in a crowd rather than being submerged in an equalized mass of humanity, whose marks of personal distinction vindicate the compromised ideology of individualism. But we deluded moderns speak of freedom as though it were the ultimate good itself rather than just the means to some other end. We wage war “for freedom,” which is as nonsensical as warring against terror. The freedom to choose is valuable only if we choose well. But what should we choose to be? Should we choose to be the same in an infantilizing monoculture in which we rank each other according to how drastically we each consume the planet’s nonrenewable resources? Should we model ourselves on the spiritually poorest among us, that is, on the materially richest one percent of subcriminally-psychopathic males? And should heterosexual men and women strive to be like each other, to lose their specializations that alone are attractive to non-narcissists? (As the saying has it, opposites attract.)
Mating between equals is absurd. For example, the movement of sapiosexuality, of the alleged sexual attraction to intelligence in general ends in a Gattaca-like form of mating in which potential mates will scan maps of their brain or lust after the results of their IQ tests. But sapiosexuality follows from modern individualism, since both make idols of reason. Existential philosophers and theologians remind us that while reason makes men and women more or less equal, personhood is something more profound than rationality. Rationality is an instrument for succeeding in certain competitions, such as in the primordial war against the indifferent wilderness or in the Machiavellian conflicts that arise in ambitious tribes. Personhood is the fall from god’s monstrous grace of being blissfully ignorant in our animal oneness with the natural plenum, the original sin of being severed from the zombie god’s bosom so that we must face the existential, metaphysically-fraught choice to become something else, something unnatural, that is, something artificial and virtually miraculous. Like bastardized, so-called conservative Christians who twist their religion into an excuse for the palpably natural causes of American plutocracy and military hegemony, feminists and other liberals who demand equality between the sexes are effectively mouthpieces for that which would just as soon annihilate as create the conditions for all persons as such.
Equalized men and women aren’t original artists in the metaphysical business of complexification, dedicated to replacing the undead wilderness with a new order of being. Instead, they’re cogs in a dominance hierarchy, infantilized consumers who fall back on their lauded reason to exercise their mere negative freedom to choose between the goods that are served up to them, as opposed to the positive freedom to choose what they consider to be good. At a less lofty level of analysis, effeminate men and bossy women condemn themselves to a grotesque battle between the sexes that dares not speak its name. Disgusted by our doppelgangers, we sad individuals argue over petty grievances, searching for an excuse to summon the energy to move on to the next sexual conquest. We’re too much alike for our conflicts to be interesting, and yet our biological makeup condemns most of us to be curious about our physical opposites. The mismatch between the oppositeness of men’s and women’s bodies and the sameness of our modern mentality makes for a grim spectacle. We pretend to be individuals, but our preoccupation with (mere) rational autonomy makes us puppets—just as computers, the benchmarks of rationality, are playthings of computer programmers. Reason is the process of following rules of inference, but as any student of logic knows, a good argument is both valid and sound. Reason alone doesn’t provide the curiosity to search for premises as inputs to the argument of how to be a good person, if you will. Moderns believe that reason is the source of our specialness, of our being persons who stand above the animals. But the idolizing of reason at the expense of aesthetics and of our realizing that creativity is the name of our existential game prepares the way for Zeus’s revenge against Prometheus. The modern metanarrative of individualism desexualizes heterosexual men and women as in Canada and Europe, so that the liberals’ birth rate falls and enlightened civilization will be crushed once again by barbarian hordes.