Just as much as modern neoliberalism demands a blind adherence to a rigidly held set of ideological positions that are increasingly out of step with human nature and reality, so also does modern conservatism.
One of the most obvious examples of this is the conservative/libertarian idolization of “rugged individualism” and “the sovereign individual.” Conservatives and libertarians have created an elaborate mythology that places the “rugged individual” at the center of the American experience. Like most beliefs built on a purely ideological foundation, this mythology is deeply held, while simultaneously being deeply out of touch with actual history and reality.
If I were to make this criticism on a typical conservative site, it would be roundly met with automatic and unreasoning condemnation. How dare I suggest Americans should be anything less than atomized individuals with no connections or associations of community to each other! I must be the reincarnation of Josef By-George Stalin!
And yet, the whole history of America has been one of traditional communities acting in concert. The Revolution, regardless of its goodness or badness, was driven by citizen associations formed in churches and taverns, who then fought as community militias. The settling of the West was not done by individuals, by and large, but by groups who traveled by wagon train for mutual support and self-defense. Even today, most local community matters are handled by citizens acting together. While the individuals in American history may have been rugged, they were not alone. America, like most other traditional Western societies from the classical period forward, was communitarian and group-oriented.
In other words, there is ample evidence that suggests our choices don’t have to be either Ayn Rand or Bernie Sanders. There is a third option, which is to recognize the organic bonds of community, society, and nation which bind men together.
There are any number of influences due to the modernism of our world that act to draw people away from community and the positive associative bonds we have with each other. One of these, which I’ve discussed previously, is the set of social phenomena surrounding the creation of suburbia after World War II. Our forms of popular entertainment work toward this end as well – instead of towns and villages coming together to celebrate births, marriages, and deaths with song, dance, and competitions, modern American man sits alone in front of his television or in a darkened movie theater where he’s not allowed to talk to those sitting next to him.
Modern American religion plays into this, as well, with its selfish emphasis on “what church can do for me,” rather than the other way around. This also encourages Americans to “church hop” from assembly to assembly, never integrating into a body of believers, but always flitting about looking for the next new program for their kids.
We ought to reject this modernism as inferior to what we once had.
In place of the atomized individual of conservative and libertarian fantasies, those of us in tradition and neoreaction ought to seek to restore and strengthen traditional social bonding institutions.
The three institutions I’d like to discuss in particular here are churches, the Männerbund, and militias. Each of these institutions play different, yet complementary, roles in communitarian society. Each also appeals particularly to one of the three complementary and interdependent tripartite divisions (spirit, soul, and body) of the holistic makeup of man.
Thus, the first institution of community I will discuss is that of the church, here defined as the local assembly of believers who are called out from the world at large and who are assembled together as a body of like-minded brethren. This is the most natural, logical, and philological understanding of the Greek term ekklesia, which appears in the New Testament.
It is within the church that many of the building blocks of traditional community are built. Religious devotion is one of the most typically defining aspects of culture, and as I’ve noted before, culture is both powerful and persistent. As those who are religious can attest, religious faith involves much more than just doctrinal beliefs – they entail the shaping of an entire worldview, one which typically exercises its influence far outside the walls of the buildings where the assemblies meet.
In traditional Western cultures, churches were involved in setting the standards for their communities, and acted indirectly as socially coercive and punitive rectifiers of social order. From the earliest years of Christianity to the present, churches have been the transmitters of the cultures in which they exist, and the same has been true for our Western culture. It is within churches that both religious faith and social standards have been transmitted to the generations following.
There’s a reason progressives have made undermining our churches one of their top priorities.
Outside of a Christian context, this same role is fulfilled within most other traditional religions and cultures, as well. Whether we’re talking about Hinduism or Norse paganism, religious faith went hand in hand with both social stability and the maintenance of culture. It is not surprising that societies that see a decline in faithfulness to their traditional religion(s) also see the degradation of social order and cultural decay.
The second institution for community is the Männerbund. This is one many may not have heard of, though it has been present throughout traditional Western societies from the beginning, even if not under that name. Rather than present my own inadequate explanation of what the term truly entails, I will point the reader to Mark Yuray’s excellent overview of the concept of the männerbund. Because this institution involves the conscious, thinking reinforcement of traditional, and especially masculine, social mores, I would associate this with the soul, the psyche, aspect of man’s being.
Essentially, it is an aspect of social organization that uniquely applies to men, and is based around the social need for men in a society to organize themselves along hierarchical lines on the basis of competitive interactions with each other, which in turn serves as a sort of “social glue” enabling men to act together for the joint defense and advancement of their cultures and societies. This social bonding centers about the inherent natural patriarchy which will exist within any traditional, non-perverted society. Yuray refers to the Männerbund thusly:
It could be argued that the family (specifically the nuclear family) is a more basic socio-political unit than the Mannerbund, but this approach is incorrect. To paraphrase Mencius Moldbug, hominids need government and politics because hominids are social and violent. To clarify Moldbug, hominids need government and politics because male hominids are social and violent. A man’s woman and children are extensions of the man and dependent on the man’s capacity for violence on their behalf, i.e. on their man’s capacity to defend them physically from other men. Women and children are social but their capacity for violence –- physical, but also psychological — is negligible compared to that of men’s, and for this reason they are de facto property, not political agents themselves. The Mannerbund, not the family, is the basic working socio-political unit.
Because men are both social and violent, men need a means by which to channel that competitiveness and violence into socially non-detrimental ways (i.e. men can’t always be out there fighting wars and bonking each other on the heads with clubs to steal each others’ women). This means is through uniquely masculine social bonding interactions which serve both to define the hierarchy and dominance within any group of men, and also allows for men to engage in masculine activities as groups that serve to reinforce masculine roles and attitudes.
I think this is an important institution, especially considering the way modern American man has become “tamed” by modernity. Men need to be around other men. My belief is that, aside from the obviously close bond of the marital relationship with their wives, the closest relationships men should have is with other men. I am not a fan of men being close friends, for instance, with women – both because of the potential for adultery, but also because of the effeminizing tendencies that arise from it.
Men need to hunt, or play sports, or philosophize with each other.
This is one of the reasons why homosexuality is such a corrosive danger in traditional societies. It is a signalling hazard because when it reaches widespread acceptance, it leads to a breakdown of traditional male bonding exercises because normal, masculine men increasingly do not want to be mistaken for homosexuals, so they withdraw from each other. In societies where homosexuality is not accepted, men can be more open toward each other. As an aside, this explains why we see this in the Bible:
Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle…And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him: for he loved him as he loved his own soul. (I Samuel 8:3-4; 20:17)
Despite pages upon pages of ignorant eisegesis by homosexualist apologists, these verses do not indicate that David and Jonathan were gay lovers. Rather, and somewhat ironically in light of these claims, they were traditional men in a Männerbund who could express their masculine attachments of close friendship without the fear of being mistaken for homosexuals specifically because their society did not accept homosexuality at all.
The third and final socially cohesive institution that we have largely lost, and which is vitally important that we regain, is that of the militia.
When I use this term, I mean it in a completely comprehensive way. The militia is to be the entire body of adult male citizens, each sacrificing his time, energy, and possibly limbs and life, in the defense of the community. My belief is that a robust militia system is greatly preferable to the sort of mercenarized standing army of volunteers that we currently have now. In our current system, the members of the military are segregated away from the citizenry at large, and become increasingly detached from their social attachments and loyalty to the communities they are supposed to be serving.
This makes them more potentially dangerous to the organic community, specifically because of that weakened loyalty. It was not for nothing that not only our founding generation, but many traditional communities throughout history, have viewed standing armies as dangers to the traditional rights and liberties of the people in those communities. It is much more difficult to oppress the people of a nation when the people themselves, as the body of citizens, are themselves also the military.
But protection against oppression, as well as outside enemies, is not the only reason to return to a militia system. The militia system builds strong social bonds because it places each male member of the community, most of whom are or eventually will be heads of households, in the position where they must provide mutual protection to each other and their families. Every man has his role and duty, and the safety of his society depends on him to play the part of a man and uphold that duty. This interdependence also serves to strengthen individual bonds between men, which translates into social cohesion on a larger and larger scale. Within a genuine and robust militia system, there are no freeloaders who can shirk their duty to their society. Each man drills together, trains together, and comes under discipline together.
Because militias involve the quasi-mobilization of the citizenry as a whole, I would associate them with the “body” aspect of man’s tripartite being. Society as a body is supported by the sacrifice of each individual man’s body to the community.
Militias generally come with the added advantage of being highly resistant to being thrown away in extravagant foreign adventures. If the United States returned to a militia system (which does not mean the National Guard, by the way), we might find ourselves finally free of the constant meddling all over the world which the Cathedral is always getting us into.
All three of these institutions have a great deal of overlap with each other. Within a religious context, one’s Männerbund will likely be drawn from the men in one’s local assembly or other religious group. Likewise, local community militia units – as was amply seen in the Revolution and other wars in which militia played a large role – are often drawn from the community’s churches. The protective and defensive roles of the Männerbund certainly have a great deal of crossover with those of the militia. Each is interdependent toward the others, and all are necessary for strong and healthy traditional societies.