The Matron And The Cowards
I try not to use the first person style of writing when I present an article, but this strikes so close to home that I cannot help but to take the more personal writing style. Recently I was viewing photographs from World War I which inspired me to review my own collection of antique paper ephemera, which is a cute and clever way of saying really old photographs and paper items like wills, newspapers, books and other assorted documents. I own this collection as I used to deal in antique photographs and ephemera way back in a former life and haven’t lost the fascination I’ve always held for that type of pastime even yet.
The reason for the review was something that somebody said as I was looking at the photographs of World War I that was there subconsciously when I was viewing them, but which he articulated in a way that made me sit upright and say “Yes, that’s exactly it, that’s the thought that was lurking unspoken in the back of my mind”.
The comment was simple and straight forward.
“Every one of those faces has honor and courage written across them, something we rarely see in anybody these days.”
That simple, that direct, and that absolutely true.
The comment was meant as a point of contrast between modern times and today. Now normally it’s quite easy to cherry pick great photographs out of a pile of bad ones, present the photos and proclaim how great things were in the past, or are today. That’s easy, and it’s done all the time by politicians, historians and philosophers, not to mention marketing executives in commercial enterprises and even professional photographers who take your family portrait down at the studio. The photos in question were so clear however in the truth of his statement, with every single visage holding an incredible amount of what can only be termed valor, directness and an almost haughty courage, and all from common men and women, that it prompted me to investigate further.
That night I went home and went through my stacks of daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, cartes de vistes, and cabinet photographs, as well as looked at photos and documents online of this era, all photos that would generally be taken at latest around WW1 and generally that were taken long before WW1, spanning a timeframe from the 1850’s to the early 1900’s. And there they were, the same people. Not the same physical individuals, but the same people from a cultural viewpoint. Proud, certain, direct, kindly in appearance but also strong, full of a dignity that I dare anybody to find these days outside of a movie where an actor is coached to appear on screen in that manner. From standard individual photographs to groups, to families, to civil war and old West photographs, even to photographs of children, each held a common man or woman, a regular person of that time period, who had what can only be said to be a clear vision into life, a joyfulness of soul combined with a serious, sober and marked determined and brave look about them. To the last person, even the scalawag photographs from the Old West contained proud men showing off their poker winnings with pride, their firearms displayed as they smiled defiantly and confidently, or the local thug dead in a coffin surrounded by smiling, proud avengers of justice who were not lawmen, but average men who did the right thing.
But is this an illusion? A trick of the camera or an expectation when one is preserving one’s image for others to see, that we simply don’t adhere to these days? That’s where the other items I examined came in.
Letters to home written by Civil War enlisted men, men whom we’re told today were little more than illiterate bumpkin farmers and laborers with no clear understanding of the world, contain what can only be described as poetic prose the likes of which any modern author couldn’t hold a candle to. Even in non-wartime communications, words to loved ones back home drew pictures of, and communicated a simple strength, intellect, sureness and valor, that would shame any professional writer by today’s standards. References to figures from antiquity were not uncommon and clearly were expected to be understood by the target audience, and concepts were wrought that today would fall on ignorant ears were they uttered out loud. Newspapers detailing the handling of the few miscreants in a direct and forward manner, with murder confessed without reservation and punishment quickly meted out. Advertisements that often featured actual renderings of the factory of the product they were made in, as a sign of pride and strength. And again, an expectation that others shared those values fully.
We’re all familiar to some degree with literature from the 19th and 20th centuries. Reading even literature and poetry that was meant for the common man finds a sentiment of courage unrestricted by the modern demand of being ashamed of strength. Courage is encapsulated not in how well one feigns saccharine sympathy for a litany of victims on constant parade before us, nor on how “bravely” one stood up and demanded that others “respect” deviancy; but rather on how forcefully one confronts the hardships of life by refusing to be a victim, how one does the right thing out of a sense of duty regardless of consequences.
Tennyson calls out to fight hardest when odds are the worst, celebrates even mistakes which reveal strength and valor (The Charge of the Light Brigade). Byron, in Manfred, paints pictures of a magnificent man who, through greatness, intellect and strength alone, has risen above the clouds of mortals to become more than the sum of what he was created to be and who suffers not because of weakness, but because he has nothing higher to aspire to; and poems of love where the target is nearly dared to stand up and be with him. The Time Machine by Orson Wells presciently predicts a future where valor and honor, courage and right were discarded, finding a future world of weak simpletons and mindless predators, neither with morality nor courage, in a pedestrian existence of sustenance living and fear, and sees the protagonist rejecting that world as vile. Even the simple tales of Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn we see described active minds, strong wills, courage to stick to one’s convictions, and a joy of living that would be embarrassing to the modern person.
But was this something new, a product of the 18th and 19th centuries, or is there more to it than this? It’s a difficult question to answer when confronting the Dark Ages and Medieval times, since literacy had nearly extinguished in the West for centuries on end, and what little writing was present was written by educated elite who served the interests of other elite, which lends no insight into the character and culture of the common man. One can perhaps smile at the poetry of Don John, but at the end of the day his view represented little more than the view of a courtesan fop amongst other pampered and extremely out of touch nobility and royalty. To get back to the real essence of cultural expectations and vision for the West, one has to examine further back the mythologies of the Germanic and Celtic cultures, and Roman and Greek, as well as Egyptian approaches to life.
It’s no secret that the mythology of the Germanic, Celtic, Greek and Roman people was one of a pantheon of gods who expected that men stand upright and fight for honor, valor and who were judged by their courage in the face of adversity and battle. Brave deeds were expected and cowardice was considered unmanly to the point of being held in spite and derision. There was no bowing and groveling before these gods, rather, there was proving through strength and bravery that you were worthy to call upon them. This similarity is not surprising given how closely related these people were at the time, not terribly removed from their distant common ancestors who it is believed worshipped the same exact virtues.
Ancient Egypt, with its close ties to the West through intermingled commerce and cultural sharing with Rome and Greece, also mirrors these kinds of expectations. Unbeknownst to many, pre-Arabic ancient Egypt was not a land of slaves and harshness, but rather was a highly literate and cosmopolitan culture of very free people, that did not communicate primarily in hieroglyphs on sandstone walls, but rather in a one off cursive type of script that allowed for writing on a much more informal level. And write they did, to each other, man to woman and woman to man, in a language that no longer exists as a living language in Egypt but survives in print as Coptic, found today only in arcane references and libraries. Below are some examples of the poetry written by common people, which will be kept short in order to retain interest and illustrate the point.
(From a woman to a man)
O, my god, my lotus ...
The north wind is blowing ...
It is pleasant to go down to the river
My heart longs to enter it
To bathe with you.
I let you see my beauty
in a shirt of finest royal linen,
moist with balsam.
My hair is plaited with reeds
I enter the water to be with you
And leave it to join you
With a red fish.
It is beautiful on my fingers
I lay it down before you
Contemplating your beauty.
O my hero, my lover!
Come and look at me!
(Another from a woman to a man)
Come, my Soul, swim to me!
I hear thy voice, O turtle dove-
The dawn is all aglow-
Weary am I with love, with love,
Oh, whither shall I go?
Not so, O beauteous bird above,
Is joy to be denied....
For I have found my dear, my love;
And I am by his side.
We wander forth, and hand in hand
Through flowery ways we go-
I am the fairest in the land,
For he has called me so.
Notice how both celebrate openness, hero worship, strength and unashamed desire for that strength? How many typical young men today do you think would impress these ladies? Odds are few to none.
Great, so where is all this going? I’ll hearken back to my original inspiration, the photographs from World War I. Clearly, as we can see by historical examples of common culture brought to us through the ages, from the times of the ancient Egyptians to Antiquity, to Anglo-Saxon warriors seeking glory on the battlefield, through the Renaissance and up and into the beginning of the early 20th century, Western culture was based on several common factors, chief amongst these was a very masculine based reverence for strength, truth and honor, a clear desire for heroism, an expression that virtue and greatness were expected of all men and that women responded not to weakness but to strength. Virtue was found in courage and not in worshipping weakness, and even if that courage was accidental that was all right too as at least one was still courageous. Charity to the weak was given as an alms, as a gift of the strong to the weak, not as a must be obeyed, demanded entitlement from the weak. Men and women both held themselves proudly before the world, brave and unafraid, and expected no less from anybody else. These are the strong warriors and heroes from whence we came.
So what happened?
That question can only be answered by looking at what culture has become. Today strength is rarely celebrated unless it is coupled with a submission of that strength to the weakest; and only in accordance with how those who deign to “rule” society wish for it to be used, where the strong individual’s choice in the matter is neither asked nor wanted. Scorn is directed at strength celebrated as a virtue in and of itself. One is judged not by how virtuous he is according to what used to be traditional standards, nay, adherence to traditional virtue in the modern world is mocked, derided, seen as a sign of lower intellect, a weakness, as something to educate a person out of, not something to emulate. For one to have modern virtue, one is expected to do away with the concepts of personal integrity, honor, truth and uprightness and submit oneself to whoring out one’s talents to be consumed by an ever demanding beast called “compassionate society”. One is touched only when somebody bows to the weak and weeps, while somebody standing proudly as a conqueror of a heroic task usually receives little more than rolled eyes and glares, or shrugs of the shoulders. Men have become, by and large, effeminate in how they approach the world, and women have stopped caring about how strong a man is in character, preferring instead “friends with benefits!” from men who weep on command and who are in touch with their so called “feminine side”. Boys in school are put on medications to stop them from becoming masculine, and females are talked out of admiring the daring boy who manages to escape medication and who stands apart from the herd not as an effeminate brooding “rebel” but as a strong, conquering warrior type.
There are exceptions of course, but these are only kneejerk reactions that occur when extreme danger manifests itself. For example, following the attacks on 9/11/2001, there was a flurry of calls for masculine men, commercials played which celebrated strong working men and soldiers, and women grasped about nearly in vain searching for heroes in popular culture reading and entertainment. This quickly passed of course and reverted quickly back to the effeminate model we find ourselves in today. The question of “Where have all the cowboys gone” was answered, with only a few exceptions, with the silence of a deserted prairie wind at midnight.
The question is begged then, why? How?
Was it material abundance? No, the ancient Greeks and Romans and Egyptians all had an abundance of food and luxuries that were present throughout all levels of their societies. In fact, ancient Rome was not terribly different than the modern world in how leisurely it was for the common man, with common workers taking vacations at luxury spas and resorts, living in apartments or homes whose floor plans we’d immediately recognize as “modern” and with many “modern” conveniences (hot water, air conditioning, etc).
Was it Christianity, which some have pointed to as substituting the older warrior culture with one of meekness? No, clearly not. The warrior culture prevailed on, and the modern interpretation of Christianity as a pacifist meek and pliable weakness creator is an invention of the mid-20th century. Every man who fought on the field of battle in the 18th through early 20th centuries was likely far more in touch with Christianity than even the top church leaders of today. Men don’t march into battle, rifles in hand, singing “Onward Christian Soldiers!” and “The Battle Hymn Of The Republic” if they think that Jesus was a pacifist hippy, so that’s not it either.
So what was it?
The focal point for this change seems to be World War I. Those who entered World War I as enlisted and officers were overwhelmingly a reflection of their mainstream culture which was, for lack of a better term, what we call today Classical Liberalism. Classical Liberal is a modern term which differentiates modern Liberalism with what used to be called Liberalism; namely libertarianism and/or paleo-conservatism. Even a brief reading of history and references from that time and previous see a marked adherence to and celebration of individual liberty. Men openly and proudly stood for virtue, honor and doing “the right thing”, which was combined with an extremely masculine attitude that would as quickly stand up and fight as not.
Just a few decades prior to World War I, so called intellectuals who cited science as their source had come to the conclusion that the “old ways” were deficient, that there was no heavenly reward to be found for virtue and honor, and that clearly a change was required in society as a whole to reward mankind now, on this earth and do away with the “old ways”, which they openly regarded with contempt. This was the period in history that saw the invention or advancement of what were previously fringe ideologies; socialism, feminism, radical artistic departure from realism, nihilism, deconstructionism, communism and hedonism. There were a few “leaders” elected to public office who either openly proclaimed their desire for these ideologies but mixed them with the language of the day, either in references to strength or on calls for Christian compassion, so as to not raise alarm.
World War I struck, for reasons that are rarely reasonably explained or defined, but which occurred more as an avalanche than as a single event. Treaty alliances were invoked and honored out of duty, and armies of noble and virtue loving, strength celebrating, honor holding Classical Liberals, entire cities, an entire generation of men actually, marched dutifully to protect what they considered their homes and their birthrights as free men. Little discussed today is that at the outset of World War I, it was looked on as a jolly contest of warriors, and during the initial months civilian carriages would show up and lay out picnics and they would watch the soldiers fight. The horror that it was to become was clearly unexpected by all. But hell it became.
Modern machinery chewed up men by the city full. Tactics that were designed for a more leisurely age were not adjusted in time to compensate for the wholesale death dealing ability of machine guns, chemical weapons, tanks and aircraft, rapid fire and highly accurate artillery. Even expectations of honor were drilled out of the foot soldier by those at the top of the command chain, at the orders of politicians. Politicians, many of whom had bought into the “new, compassionate, and effeminate” politics of the day. A prime example of this was the mutual celebration of Christmas held between Allies and the Germans along the lines of trenches, where soldiers who just days earlier were fighting each other, came together and shared pictures, presents and held a Christmas feast together, men mixing, shaking hands and exchanging mementos from their uniforms with people who were their declared enemy. The warrior culture, you see, was not one of rage and total destruction of everything in a mad emotional sweep, it was one of valor and honor, and warriors, in time honored tradition, saw each other not as the demon spawn to be destroyed on command, but as men that they fought for glory. The enemy, they held, was still like them and when not fighting, deserved respect. Politicians, adhering to the rage inspired and newborn Progressive ideology on both sides quickly put an end to this mutual admiration and expectation, with orders to execute any troops caught fraternizing with the enemy. Fraternizing is an odd thing to punish, when you realize it means “Be as brothers”.
By the end of the war almost an entire generation of men had vanished from the face of the earth. This is not mere hyperbole, history documents entire swaths of men vanishing, leaving very few survivors. Their names can still be seen today by the countless thousands, all across Europe on wall memorials. What men survived were horror stricken, broken by not only the battles, but by the demands that they abandon everything that they held as right only a few years earlier.
What does this mean? It means that, for the first time in Western history, the bulk of the entirety of Western civilization’s children were raised by their mothers in what are now called “single parent households”. The nascent feminist movement was also starting to exert serious pressure, especially via the suffrage movement of the time, which led in a short matter of years from traditional female behavior to outlandish and convention defying behavior that emphasized pleasure without work and started to de-emphasize the role of men. Politics, no longer restricted to masculine impulses, started emphasizing “caring” and emotionalism in calls for legislation. Young men brought up under this new tradition had role models still of the “old ways”, but the role models cum grandfathers themselves were old, much quieter and much more content to mourn the loss of their son than to instruct their grandsons in the ways of masculine virtue or classical liberalism. Many of them too were lost and had lost faith in Western culture and civilization.
The results are as predictable as the sun rising and setting. Men started to emasculate in an attempt to fit into the new paradigm, intentionally making way in traditional professions and roles so that whatever girl they were interested in would “approve” of them. Mothers counseled the boys to be “nice guys”, hoping to divert them away from the path of their dead fathers and onto what they saw as a more civilized path, and the young men, lacking guidance otherwise, obliged. While many old ways stayed in place between World War I and World War II, even by then society was shifting and making a marked move towards feminization. No more is this more seen than in the large, sweeping and emotion based policies pushed by Progressives in the united States, movements which coincided precisely and directly with the rise of effeminate emotion based movements of socialism, communism and fascism across Europe.
By World War 2, one might still confront a bully or go through traditional rites of passage, but now mother would firmly condemn these rites. Fathers entered far more comfortable jobs and started engaging each other and others in society with a more personally devious slant that involved less proving oneself through skill and more making under handed, deceitful moves. Values instilled by Christianity and traditional Western culture started to be mocked, and the “new way”, the “kinder, gentler way” was seen as far superior by more people than saw it as a negative. There was a very strong push, still present in this day, to eliminate all danger and conflict, which manifests itself in what can only be called a Maternal based society, or a Matron society.
The Matron society from that point forward had a toe hold on the West that it has not released. Every year, more and more risk and competition is removed from society. Day by day, more and more the individual is made out to be a child in need of taking care of by the Matron aka state. More and more young men are marginalized, and individualism is discouraged except through Matron approved and typically feminine outlets, such as art or “expression” without action. Rightful anger and calls for justice have been replaced with the wholly feminine “rage and indignation”. Accepted is the notion that the strong are corrupt and rotten, that even heroes will be turned out to be phony over time. If heroes can’t be found who are corrupt, they’ll be ferreted out by the media until some appear. Also advanced is the notion that the avoidance of short term pleasure for long term gain or even for moral reasons is a sign of backwardness and foolishness.
Men are encouraged to be cowards, not in those words, but in how they are taught and expected to act and react. Boys are told that to be good, one must sit quietly and meekly in the classroom. Come recess they are not to engage in activity that is too dangerous, and harsh punishment is leveled against not only the aggressor in a fight, but also the boy who defends himself against the aggressor. And if a boy rises above these demands, refuses to participate in being a half-female, he’s quickly diagnosed with ADHD and put on psychotropic medication, or expelled from the school altogether. The little boy who put Susie’s ponytail in the inkwell is now considered a criminal and is charged with assault.
As adults men are instructed that conformity in the form of meekness is rewarded, whereas rebellion in the form of standing as different than the herd is punished socially. Fighting now leads to lawsuits instead of a night in the clink. Otis no longer spends some time sleeping off his revelry from the night before in Sheriff Andy's drunk tank; now he becomes a criminal whose job and self-sufficiency are destroyed by the law. Self-defense, if it is exercised, finds the actual victim disarmed by authorities and then groveling before a court justifying why he dared to defend himself. Across the sea in Europe this is even more severe, with innocent self-defending victims routinely punished by the legal systems, where once these men were held up to be models to emulate.
And men have capitulated, oh, how they’ve capitulated. The young men in the photos from World War I were in their teens and twenties, mostly, with only a few older, yet they hold our eyes with strength, determination, virtue, honor. Look at young men across the land today, is there anything except dejection, head lowered, floor staring moping, uncaringness and listless boredom in their eyes framed only by hope of getting back to a fantasy world of video games which imitate the actions they should by right be taking in real life? Look at young women across the board today, is there the quiet dignity of women prior to World War I, or is there rather a look of contempt, boredom, aggression, anger and loathing found in most of them?
We have become a society of cowards, obedient to an overarching Matron culture that demands meekness, mildness and mindless amoral hedonism. We have, in the span of three generations, nearly forgotten our entire history from antiquity forward, rejected all of our time proven cultural norms in preference of being able to do nothing, go nowhere, and having no consequences to our actions. We look to the Matron, more and more every year, to provide what we used to provide for ourselves – our own food, our own ability to take care of our own sicknesses, guidance for our children, the safety that all men proudly used to assume on their own behalf, protection from “the strong”, and moral guidance where once we found comfort in the Christian church and the foundational philosophies of Western culture.
As of this writing, we’re about to see the last peg of individualism and independence removed by the Matron, that is, our right to self-defense; the right to keep and bear arms as has been our recognized birthright since early Anglo-Saxon times. But there’s hope. The Classical Liberal, the man’s man, the true independent spirit, has not yet been totally extinguished. He lives on, in the shadows. Although maligned, made fun of, jeered at, snickered at by the culture at large and held in contempt, he’s managed to keep the flame of our way of life alive in his mind and actions, against all odds. In the face of this call to remove the last of our limbs of liberty, he has finally stood up from the shadows he’s been cast into, shaken off the lethargy, and said “No. No more. Not one inch more”. These men, the literal last of their kind in the West, know what happens if they do not reassert themselves, and they recognize the leering gaze of the Matron who lusts for nothing more than their destruction and thus the destruction of all sense of independence.
The time is drawing short, and I believe that even if this push fails, that more will soon come in its place. The Matron seeks, minute by minute, to claim every last vestige of our lives as Hers, from the bread on our table to the very way we smile at each other, to the words we say to our children. She is relentless, emotional and rage filled; she’s mindless in her lust for destruction. The classical Western man has stood up, at last, and stated that he will fight this. Pray, for the future of not only freedom, but for humanity, that he wins.
He says this: Never comply. Never submit. Never surrender your rights, nor your heritage. If they wish to bring a fight, then we meet them on the fields on our terms, and we give no quarter nor ask any in return.
Not one inch more.
January 30, 2013
Michael Campbell – Lewis Center, Ohio