Thermidor

© 2017 Thermidor Magazine.

Designed by Jonathan.

Degeneracy in the Age of Enlightenment and Beyond: The Trailblazing Neoreactionary Sociology of John Brown

The new Reaction, they say, entails a “full reboot of the social sciences.” A new body of knowledge, in the course of drawing epistemic lines of demarcation around itself, does not simply wipe the slate clean of all past traditions and knowledges; rather, in the process of demarcation, it defines for itself what Michel Foucault called a “field of memory” in the form of a scholarly canon that identifies important pioneers and precursors in past authors marginalized or ignored in the field of memory of the previous paradigm. These authors are thus made to return from oblivion in the dust of archives, and resurrected to live once again in a new intellectual tradition. Reading an author made to come back to life this way is very different from a history of ideas that, so to speak, is content to read the epitaph on the intellectual gravestone of a hallowed but long-dead ancestor. To read an author revived and replaced in the living chain of a new tradition means doing more than reverently summarizing his ideas and leaving it at that; it means critically interrogating his ideas, unhesitatingly pointing out their flaws and limitations, and indicating where the new thinking must be willing to go far beyond him.

The emerging new sociological paradigm defines research problems and questions in terms of how society, understood as something indispensably defined by hierarchical structures and relations of authority that cannot be abolished or even abstracted away for purposes of analysis, either secures orderly functioning within and between the levels and components of the hierarchy, or fails to and so visits upon itself negative outcomes of a greater or lesser degree of severity. An early exemplar of this very approach was John Brown's Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the Times, published in London in 1757, famous in its day but today only known to a handful of social and intellectual historians, and totally ignored in standard-model social science—until right here and now that is. Won't you join and help him live again so we can hear what he has to say about grave social problems of his times, and moreover bring him into the conversation about the problems of our own?

The subject of the treatise is degeneracy. "Degeneracy," here, is considered not in terms of individual moral defects or failings, as they would for a moralist, but in terms of broad and long-term social trends that, if left unchecked, can be predicted to eventually have catastrophic effects on State and society, and in the worst-case scenario lead to the decline and outright destruction of the Nation.

For Brown, degeneracy cannot be understood as the product of chance factors, or as so many idiosyncracies of individual conduct. At the same time, Brown rejects any understanding of degeneracy in terms of the civilizational life-course model according to which a society, just like a biological organism, eventually grows old and dissipates into death. The physical body of the individual is doomed by the laws of physics and chemistry to die according to a brief and determinate time-table; but "in societies of whatever kind, there seems to be no such necessary or essential tendency to dissolution. The human body is naturally mortal; the political only so by accident" (214). In other words, decadence and decay are variable-values, not constants, and like any scientific variable stand in need of positive explanation in terms of underlying causal-independent variables. Hence the task is to uncover the "general causes...which operate in every State" and which either "raise, support, or overturn it" (13).

This all situates the thought of Brown squarely within the epistemic terrain of the new Reactionary sociology, and distinguishes his analysis of degeneracy from the familiar and exasperating narratives of national decline that have dominated social criticism on both Left and Right from after the second World War. The latter genre of criticism weaponized the analysis of pathology, decadence, and degeneracy in order to fight various class wars on the terrain of social theory. Accordingly, this genre conceived degeneracy in terms of a putative usurpation of political and social power carried out either by the plebeian masses or social elites, depending upon the political proclivities and class pretensions of the author. This took two basic forms:

  • A snooty critique that, from the (self-assigned and often dubious) lofty vantage point of the elite, would sneer down at the "mass culture" of the plebs, who watch pro wrestling on TV and guzzle beer instead of spending their evenings producing learned commentary on Hegel and savouring the nuances of fine wines they can't afford. The "lowest common denominator" thus comes to rule everything at the expense of the self-styled "aristocratic individualist", who is superior to the mass of "sheeple" that oppress his individuality by not being just like him. Moreover, these uncultured "sheeple" and other sub-human brutes imminently threaten to drag civilization down into outright anarchy and barbarism, what with their proclivity for clinging to religion and guns, and (worst of all) their support for values, policies and political leaders the social critic doesn't approve of.

  • Alternately, the threat of usurpation can be perceived, from the ground-floor level of the hoi polloi itself, to reside up above, in the rarefied ranks of rent-seeking crony capitalists, Wall Street banksters, crooked politicians, and highbrow professors. These elitists, having turned their backs on democracy and the Constitution, conspire to usurp the rightful sovereignty of the People and bring down the rule of law in order to unleash their own boundless Nietzschean will to unlawful power. The result, once again, will be barbarism- but for these critics, barbarism will assume the form not of anarchy, but the tyranny of a new breed of Caligulas in a once-free Nation tragically descended into a new Rome, and which will accordingly see spectacular forms of exploitation, oppression, and war at the hands of the new emperors and oligarchs.

Brown's approach side-steps both of these narratives (which were already around in his day); and while it covers overlapping grounds, it does so from an altogether heterogeneous set of assumptions in whose light the same set of facts appear quite differently.

Against the narrative that, from its perch on high, sees in degeneracy a looming spectre of anarchy emanating from the ranks of the plebs, Brown makes it clear at the outset that, in his view, moral turpitude in the latter simply isn't worth worrying about, since it is those:

who make the laws or execute them [that] will ever determine the strength or weakness, and therefore the continuance or dissolution, of a State. For the blind force or weight of an ungoverned multitude can have no steady nor rational effect, unless some leading mind rouse it into action, and point it to its proper end: without this, it is either a brute or random bolt, or a lifeless ball sleeping in the cannon; it depends on some superior intelligence to give it both impulse and direction" (25).

This conception, in the very same stroke, also discards the populist narrative that sees, in the governing classes, a race of would-be oppressors whose despotic spirit can only be held in check by making them more accountable to the democratic scrutiny and will of the masses. This sort of rhetoric is irrelevant and useless inasmuch as the masses lack the wherewithal in terms of agency to force a debauched elite back into order in any case.

As for the apocalyptic prophecy of liberty and the Nation being crushed under the boots of new Caligulas, Brown assures his readers that they don't have much to fear, since decadence hasn't exactly turned the elite into a race of Nietzschean supermen. The reality is much less heroic than that. The rhetorical image of moral decay leading to tyranny rests on an implicit conception of morality as that which subtracts from and diminishes masculine virility, strength, and potency. But Brown isn't working with this species of cucked morality; for him, the decline of morals attending degeneracy doesn't unleash Nietzsche's blonde beasts from the moral tethers that hold them back. The very opposite is true: it finds expression in a "vain, luxurious, and selfish EFFEMINACY" (29). Indeed, he observes that:

The sexes have now little other apparent distinction beyond that of person and dress: their peculiar and characteristic manners are confounded and lost: the one sex having advanced into boldness, as the other has sunk into effeminacy. (51)

It follows that, whatever other political pathologies and dysfunction may obtain under unchecked degeneracy, people simply no longer have the mettle to plunge society into either a despotic reign of terror or a Hobbesian bloodbath, and so, "in the present effeminate tho' factious times, we have no danger of this kind to fear. For as our manners are degenerated into those of women, so are our weapons of offence" (125).

The real danger, then, is that elites, under unchecked degeneracy, will eventually become so frivolous, foolish, self-centred, incompetent, and feeble as to no longer be willing or able to do what it takes to keep the ship of State afloat, above all when it comes to co-ordinating and mobilizing social forces against external security threats.

This thesis is especially relevant right now at a time when all too much social-science and public-policy thinking is dominated by half-digested, crypto-anarchist notions of e.g. "autopoiesis" and "spontaneous order" according to which a social system has a rather mysterious ability to automatically steer itself through the miracle of "unintended consequences", without anybody having to consciously think about it or formally organize social action under authority to that end. To be sure, a society is a self-organizing system- but that notion, rigorously pursued, does not lead to the conclusion that its workings are entirely governed by processes that take place beneath the threshold of consciousness and thus bypass intentional action and deliberate planning. Rather, a society, in the course of actualizing itself as such, institutionalizes political authority in order to supply its own functional need for social co-ordination- in other words, as the very mechanism of its self-organization- and is rigorously thought of as self-steering to the extent that it can be said to do so. Anything else is short-circuited thinking to the point of manifest absurdity; it would be like a physiologist arguing that the human body doesn't really need a central nervous system, since, after all, the body is self-organizing.

The State is therefore indispensable to the existence of society; and, since the State has no existence apart from the actions of its agents, so is an elite governing caste. And not just anybody is fit for the job or born that way. Society, in order to exist, thus additionally has to be able to produce and reproduce its Statesmen, and in order to so must be capable of instilling, in the members of the governing caste, a set of attitudes, values, dispositions, competencies, etc. conducive to the fulfillment of the obligations attached to their role- what Brown calls "manners and principles". And if the manners and principles of the governing caste at large should change in such a way as to leave them unwilling or unable to fulfill their role, then an extremely serious state of social pathology exists. In the worst case, the State might tank altogether, and foreign conquest (analogous to biological death in the human body) therefore become inevitable.

Hence Brown's task of producing, as per the title of the book, "an estimate of the manners and principles of the times" in light of their implications for the functioning of the polity. The estimate, we have seen already, isn't a very positive one, and, in light of the foregoing remarks, Brown's characterization of the transformation of manners in terms of "degeneracy" is far from mere grouchy moralizing.

In the England of Brown's day, the aristocracy, par excellence, supplied the ranks of officers of the national armed forces, and the members of Parliament- which latter, as today, was the sole legislative and revenue-raising organ of the State. Arms and politics were still regarded as the natural career paths for gentlemen, and would continue to be for a long time to come; but, in an already-commercial society that was rapidly industrializing, commercialization, according to Brown, was effectuating a dramatic transformation of the manners and principles of this English Kshatriya caste.

The aristocracy was rapidly losing its military and Stately character and, we have seen already, becoming foppish and feminized, interested mainly in high fashion, luxury goods, creature comforts, and pampered indulgence that only a short while earlier would have been considered unmanly. The martial cult of honour that leads men to seek fame and status through heroic feats of arms (or alternately, outstanding achievement as a Statesman) was being transformed into a vanity that seeks status points through conspicuous consumption, to the point where the only seeming vestige of the old warrior ethos was the practice of dueling. Brown discerns a tell-tale red-flag of the feminization all this entails in (of all things) the decline of dirty jokes:

Excess of delicacy...hath carried off our grossness of obscenity. A strong characteristic, this, of the manners of the times: the untractable spirit of lewdness is sunk into gentle gallantry, and obscenity itself is grown effeminate (44-5).

A much more distressing effect was the decline of, and indeed, outright scorn for, Machiavellian virtu in service, both in the fields of arms and governing:

a man who should go out of the common road of life, in pursuit of glory, and serve the public at the expense of his ease, his fortune, or his pleasure, would be stared or laughed at in every fashionable circle, as a silly fellow (61)

The decay of the Stoic values of serious and sober gravitas indispensable to the character of a Statesman were giving way to a spirit that was frivolous, superficial, self-centred, insouciant, and moreover proud of it. Under this transvaluation, the serious and the weighty were, by upper-class social etiquette:

long since expelled from every modish assembly. To speak of any thing that carries weight and importance, is an offence against good-breeding. The supreme elegance is to trifle agreeably. (38)

The flippant and dilettantish sensibilities of the times naturally went hand-in-hand with anti-intellectualism and a degradation of learning and letters. Where "a knowledge of books, a taste in arts, a proficiency in science, was formerly regarded as a proper qualification, in a man of fashion" (41), the reading habits of the aristocracy had been dumbed down to "weekly essays, amatory plays and novels, political pamphlets, and books that revile religion" (42), all strictly for amusement. Anti-intellectualism had reached the point where many aristocratic youth wouldn't even bother going to University, opting to travel abroad instead, and then only half-educated would immediately embark on careers as Parliamentarians. The University was evidently in pretty bad shape itself; professorships had "degenerated into sinecures", leaving adjuncts to teach courses on all sorts of subjects in which they had no particular expertise, resulting in a superficial education for those who did opt to pursue a degree.

Anti-intellectualism inherently goes hand-in-hand with irreligion and atheism, and Brown's time was no exception. While the indolent attitude towards higher learning, according to Brown, for the most part kept irreligion from assuming the form of outright Enlightenment-style philosophical materialism and atheism (since the fashion-forward young fop couldn't be bothered to slog through weighty and boring tomes on metaphysics), the irreverent attitude towards religion was nonetheless producing a demand for middlebrow anti-religious literature that mercenary hack writers were all too happy to supply. Meanwhile, the clergy was increasingly becoming indistinguishable from its secular counterpart, more interested in attending fashionable dinner-parties than in taking care of their parishes.

Finally, it should go without saying that all of the foregoing is conducive to the rise of atomism, the loss of civic spirit and concomitant social withdrawal into the domestic-private sphere (a symptom of feminization, for Brown), the decline of Nationalist sentiment, and the latter's replacement with unmitigated self-interest.

It all ominously portends potential catastrophe inasmuch as the internal strength of any Nation depends on the "capacity, valour, and union of those who lead the people" (72) ; respectively, the "National capacity", the "National spirit of defence", and the "National spirit of union". With respect to capacity: obviously fecklessness, irresponsibility, semi-literacy, self-centredness, etc. just aren't going to cut it when it comes to successfully administering the affairs of a great State, and, if widespread enough in the governing classes, could be expected to eventually produce grave political dysfunction. Parliament would degenerate into one big bouncy-castle in which "forwardness of young men without experience, intemperate ridicule, dissolute mirth, and loud peals of laughter, would be the ruling character" (76).

As to National defence: this same sort of personal incapacity in the ranks of Statesmen is also, in the field of arms, unlikely to produce new Hannibals or Alexanders able to rise to the occasion and expertly lead the Nation through security emergencies. Moreover, effeminacy, with its intrinsic fear of danger and aversion to hardship, is hardly conducive to military life and warfare, and will make cowardice inevitable- as will irreligion. A potential ace in the hole is that the armed forces could conceivably serve as a school for re-educating people and inculcating military discipline and character in them, and so serve as a corrective- but this solution is moot to the extent that the officers themselves are debauched, since they are brought up in the exact same cultural milieu, and thus hardly in a position to make men out of others.

The effects on National union, according to Brown, are factionalism and extensive rent-seeking and patronage/corruption in the State- phenomena obviously at cross purposes with the ends of the State due to the inefficiencies and distortions in decision-making caused by the conflicts of interest and gridlock involved.

Here Brown's analysis reveals some massive lacunae of the sort that are a tell-tale sign of the intervention of an ideology in a social-scientific discourse. Brown notes at the outset that the spirit of National union is "naturally strong in absolute Monarchies", but "naturally weak" in "free countries", by which of course he means the English Parliamentary system of the time, with an elected lower house and a separation of legislative and executive power formally similar to that of the USA right now. Under the separation of powers, the Crown is forced to resort to patronage appointments in order to leverage a Parliament that can no longer be dismissed at will, and which has a Constitutional monopoly on taxation to boot. With the creation of choice patronage plums in the form of Ministerial appointments and the like, a seat in Parliament becomes a valuable and coveted commodity; and in the fierce political contests that promptly follow, constituents come to realize the power their votes now have, and make their wishes known accordingly.

The result is the formation of a "great chain of political self-interest" extending from the lowliest voter to the Prime Minister. Hence the notorious political machinery of Old Corruption in England, so Byzantine that Engels would later aptly describe its workings as "a sore trial to the reasoning mind".

Brown rejects the argument that such political machines are a source of social solidarity based on reciprocity; since they are based on pure self-interest, "there is no cement nor cohesion between the parts" (111). On the contrary: they are inherently unstable and fragile, liable to explode into factionalism. This is asserted more than proven or demonstrated; and, while it would presumptuous to say Brown totally misconstrued the Nature of a phenomenon he was in a position to directly observe with his own eyes, one must nonetheless take the assertion with a grain of salt. Brown's assessment of corruption is haunted by a Liberal moral criticism that judges political reality against a Utopian ideal of self-abnegating sacrifice for the "public good" (which would later turn up in e.g. Che Guevara's "new man of Socialism"). But as long as men have physical bodies which must be fed and housed, then patronage will be a standing feature of social life; neither Che's "new man" nor the saintly-heroic ancestral Statesmen of Machiavellian rhetoric ever existed or ever will.

That having been said, there is no gainsaying the horrendous inefficiencies and pathologies of the machinery described by Brown. Instead of inspiring talented and public-minded men to Machiavellian excellence, machine politics ends up driving them away- not least of all because the "despicable train of political managers, agents, and borough-jobbers, which hang like leeches on the great" regards "the man of genius, capacity, and virtue as its natural enemy" (133) and does whatever it can to thwart and undermine such men.

Having brilliantly diagnosed the structural etiology of the disease in democracy and the separation of powers, Brown goes into denial mode and superimposes a misdiagnosis in terms of the corruption of manners and principles. The possibility that the Constitution may have induced, or at least aggravated, the degeneration of manners by creating structural conditions favorable to that outcome occurs to him- but is brushed off with a rather bizarre argument that faction in the State is pernicious only when motivated by self-interest, but harmless and indeed "salutary" when it follows from "the freedom and variety of opinion", or alternately (and ridiculously) "from the contested rights and privileges of the different ranks and orders of the State" (105). Exactly how caste war in the State (of all things!) is supposed to be salutary to the State is very unclear- but we need not take the argument very seriously, for here he is simply repeating the stock pieties of the dominant Liberal ideology of the day. Whether he actually believed them, or was just mindful of appearing insufficiently Whiggish, is a matter for his biographers- but it should be borne in mind that, at a time when Jacobitism was still a thing, openly criticizing the Constitution would have been seen as tantamount to treason.

Both the theory and practice of Liberalism, and of the modern State more generally, are likewise conspicuously absent from his causal explanation of effeminate degeneracy, which he traces entirely to trade, wealth, and the commercialization of English society. Brown does not conceive of the deleterious impact of commercialization on morals exclusively in terms of a Philistine bourgeoisie irreverently profaning all that is sacred, as did both Marx and the abovementioned snooty genre of social critique on both Left and Right. For Brown, the specific character of English degeneracy is the result of a toxic interaction between the manners and principles of two castes: the commercial bourgeoisie and the landed aristocracy. The leading principles of the bourgeoisie are "industry and avarice"; the bourgeois chase money as an end in itself, with an appetite that can never be satisfied, since it is artificial, and do so with single-minded zeal and devotion at the expense of everything else. (Cf. Max Weber's theses on the Protestant work ethic, and also Marx). In the "mixed state" that existed in Brown's England, commercialization comes into contact with a landed aristocracy that nonetheless isn't destroyed and assimilated into the culture of the bourgeois, but instead pathologically deformed in the encounter.

This aristocracy continues to live off ground rent under initial commercialization, and so doesn't acquire the bourgeois work ethic, a fortiori its spirit of avarice. It thus continues to view money as something to be spent lavishly as opposed to accumulated for its own sake. But, with commercialization, there's a lot more money around, and a lot more things to buy with it. The result is that upper-class tastes grow ever more exquisite, and every "coarser mode of pleasure is by degrees despised; new habits of higher indulgence come on; gross luxury is banished, and effeminacy takes its place" (157-8). The insatiable bourgeois appetite for money thus finds an aristocratic cognate in an insatiable appetite for consumption in the interest of self-pampering indulgence and status-signaling ostentation- both of which are really foreign to the workaholic bourgeois commoner that had no social honour that could subsequently be perverted into effeminate vanity.

Thus, while commercialization always eventually leads to degeneracy, the latter assumes variable forms according to caste. For example, in both the purely commercial-bourgeois and the mixed state, religion is doomed to decline. The difference is that, in the purely bourgeois state, it is the "active" but not the "speculative" aspect of religion that gets destroyed. Your Babbitt figure doesn't give a hoot about anything except churning out the cash, and thus religion seems to him a waste of time; and yet nothing strikes this money-grabbing Philistine as a bigger waste of time than studying or arguing about philosophy or theology. It follows that religion ends up dying of neglect rather than being rejected on principled materialist-atheist grounds. But the spirit of effeminacy, luxury, and refinement, unlike the Babbitt who is all business, is intrinsically opposed to religion; hence the aforementioned demand for anti-religious sophistry that commercialized intellectuals are only too eager to supply. Thus, in the mixed state, both the active and speculative aspects of religion are destroyed.

Both outcomes are but two variables of a variable whose constant element is anomic self-interest, which has different expressions according to the caste in which it is manifested. Either one, according to Brown, is guaranteed to eventually prove seriously corrosive to the State.

Brown's causal explanation of degeneracy by commercialization, while ingenious, is nonetheless unconvincing and seriously incomplete.

The idea that capitalist production is self-sufficiently capable of effectuating major cultural transformations for good or bad, of course, later became a staple of materialist explanation in the social sciences, above all Marxism. Like all materialist explanation, this thesis confounds necessary and sufficient conditions, and tautologically presumes the existence of the very phenomena it seeks to explain. Capitalist production and commerce are means of satisfying human wants; it cannot create those wants out of nothing; it can play an amplifying, accelerating, and facilitating, but not an etiological, causal role with respect to wants. It is a sloppy abuse of language to say that capitalism creates new wants; it is far more rigorously held that capitalism creates new ways of satisfying existing wants.

There is, no doubt, an element of reality to Brown's claim that commerce amplifies, accelerates, and facilitates the development of exquisite and rarefied tastes in consumption. But one fails to see how just how quantity becomes quality; is there some point where the exquisite necessarily becomes the effeminate? Is the man who smokes only aged Cuban cigars and drinks only single malt because he can afford to more effeminate than the guy who has to smoke cigs and swill down some Beam? Is it more or less manly to own a custom-gunsmithed .45 or luxury Italian shotgun than some old Saturday Night Special bought at a flea market?

If consumption trends towards the effeminate, it is because the consumer had effeminate proclivities to begin with, not because the merchant makes feminized luxury goods available, or because of their novelty. Ever buy a pair of high-end women's shoes for yourself just because you saw them in a window, or because you fancy a new experience? Neither have I. The attempt to causally read the contents of consumer wants and tastes off of capitalism ends up in the exact same logical place as the long-discredited criminological theory that guns "cause" homicide: causes and effects are confounded, a means is designated an etiological cause, and the cause itself is nowhere to be seen in the "explanation", but instead taken for granted as a theoretical constant as opposed to an independent variable. Brown's account, then, isn't a causal analysis at all; it is purely descriptive. Luxury consumption that trends towards the effeminate doesn't explain degeneracy, but is rather part of the overall syndrome of degeneracy it purports to explain, and remains to be explained.

The explanation must instead be sought precisely where Brown refuses to look for it: the structure and configuration of the specifically Modern, and particularly Liberal, form of State, and the juridico-political and moral ideologies that accompany its rise, legitimate its power, and institutionalize its practices. As we have already seen, Brown deals with the former by pretending not to see things he vividly and with precision describes seeing. As to the latter: as a matter of methodological principle, Brown defines "manners and principles" in such a way as to exclude formal ideas and systems of ideas, which for him are a secondary phenomenon, since "habits of acting are prior to habits of thinking" (52). This is another characteristic monstrosity of materialist social-science explanation- one famously championed by Marx, who made it a cornerstone of his own theories. But where Marx nonetheless regarded ideology as a logically indispensable component of the very concept of a mode of production, albeit in a secondary ("superstructural") role, in Brown's scheme it is invisible. This may or may not have been intended as an excuse to avoid calling the political orthodoxies of the day into question and so risk offending his audiences.

In any case, it remains for us to fix both of these grievous errors, by taking into account both structure and ideology under the sign of a single master causal principle: the monopolization of the legitimate use of violence, and by extension, political power by the Modern State. This is something that does not even occur to Brown, who takes the Modern form of State, defined in its special configuration across its variants by this very feature, as a given, as though an eternal and immutable constant that need not be explicitly mentioned in analysis- a typical foible and aporia of Whig thought.

The credit should go to Norbert Elias, a 20th c. sociologist of renown, for having been the first to draw detailed attention to how the monopolization of justice, taxation, and arms by the State in the early Modern period, and the subsequent pacification of the National territory by a unitary "public" power that abolished "private" wars, disarmed the aristocracy, and subjugated all rival and parallel internal powers and jurisdictions before its centralizing will, was attended by a general transformation in manners and principles- first those of the aristocracy, then of the bourgeois and the people at large. In this so-called "civilizing process", the values and emotional make-up of individuals change in a way that instills in them a heightened fear of danger and death, fear and revulsion towards violence (bordering on the neurotic), sensitivity to suffering and corresponding abhorrence of cruelty, and so on. Where the old aristocratic warrior ethos prized and cultivated the ability to e.g. swiftly rise to an occasion and deal out sudden death, bear extreme physical duress without complaint, etc., the new sensibilities saw the ability of men to suppress anger, to experience tender feelings, etc. become a marker of refinement and high social status. In light of Brown, we can rebrand the so-called "civilizing process" as the "effeminizing process".

The effeminizing process cannot be conceived as some mere accident of history; it necessarily follows from the structure and functioning of the Modern State, at both an apodictic and a transhistorical level:

  • Apodictic: The Modern State as we know it would not be able to exist unless the manners and principles of its subjects were adjusted to life under it, which life by definition is pacific. This psychological adjustment, which makes ostentatious and constant coups d'autorite relatively unnecessary (in stark contrast to traditional power, with its ritualized spectaculars of brutal corporal and capital punishment) is logically indispensable not least of all because State monopoly power very carefully styles itself as legitimate force that overcomes so-called "despotic" and "arbitrary" power based on "naked violence" and "repression" as opposed to "the rule of law". This State ends up ironically hamstrung by its own boasts, and thus by necessity cannot govern by pure and direct coercion all the time; the standing historical tendency of domestic security-force activity to produce public scandal to the point of crisis speaks for itself here.

  • Transhistorical. At a primordial human level, the use of violence is the prerogative of the male- something inscribed by Nature on sexually dimorphic bodies, and in the elementary mental structures and categories that underpin social life. Mutatis mutandis, it appears to be a human universal (as Machiavelli, the Whigs, and the American Founding Fathers were painfully aware) that a man who is legally forbidden to bear arms and forced to rely entirely on other men for his protection, or alternately refuses to fight if qualified, comes to be defined, and to define himself, to at least some extent as socially interchangeable with a woman. (Consider institutionalized sodomy as it exists in the demi-monde of prisoners, and in slave States everywhere).

The effeminizing process, then, unfolds with the causal necessity of a scientific law of development of the Modern State- not an historical accident, some external trauma or pathogen that infects it from without in the form of economic processes that insidiously corrupt its normal workings. In medical jargon, the disease is "systemic". Marx would have identified it as an "internal contradiction": the same manners and principles that are a condition of the State's existence go on to pose a dire threat to that very existence.

Having established causality with full scientific proof (i.e. apodictic and transhistorical necessity grounded in theoretical precepts that define the Nature of things, and demonstration by experience), we can move on to the social mechanisms that intervene between cause and effect. The effeminizing process is not a force that just radiates from the formal structure of the State to directly shape manners without intermediation. (An implicit assumption to the contrary is a big flaw in the thought of Elias).

Change in the structure of the State to a unitary monopoly power also had structural implications for religion- since traditionally, the Church had been a co-equal power in its own right alongside the State, as expressed in the doctrine of the "two swords" given Peter by Christ, one for the spiritual, the other for the temporal power. In the same historical stroke that the aristocracy was disarmed and parallel powers and jurisdictions restricted or abolished, the Church was increasingly excluded from Sovereignty and progressively kicked down into the "private" sphere, where it became more and more associated with the domestic, and with women, indeed coming to be metaphorically seen as a woman itself under the protection of the masculine-gendered temporal and public power. Instead of arrogating the sacerdotal function to itself and becoming the custodian of the sacred, the State, in setting itself up as the final authority on Earth, set itself above religion as a strictly this-worldly and profane entity tasked with securing its interests without regard to moral considerations- and if necessary, in direct opposition to morality- all on the basis of value-neutral scientific knowledge. This is the doctrine of raison d'Etat.

Thus, in stark contrast to sacral-Divine Kingship, in which the King is the very font and guardian of morality, here we have a structural separation of moral and political authority, with the former delegated to the (structurally feminized) Church. This has a number of decisive effects:

  • Morality, as Nietzsche observed, is now defined in opposition to Sovereignty, and the manners and traits of those who rule: strength, martial prowess, willingness and ability to fight and kill, ruthlessness, scorn for a defeated opponent, etc. Meanwhile, morality is redefined in terms of pacificity, pity, tenderness, sensitivity, empathy, sympathy with suffering, etc.- in short, the manners and sensibilities of women. Moreover, the traits associated with Sovereignty are now seen as immoral, and the task of morality to pacify, soften, mollify, and subtract from them, in short, to make men more like women.

  • It is out of this configuration that two defining features of modern society emerge: the idea that women are morally superior to men, and that it is the duty of women to "civilize" and polish the rough-hewn manners of men, and stamp out any residual warrior spirit in them to the best of their ability (something greatly facilitated, as Brown noted, by the increasing prevalence and importance of mixed-company gatherings from roughly the turn of the 18th c. on) . Hence the structural basis and historical reality behind Nietzsche's quip in The Will to Power that "[w]oman has always conspired with the types of decadence, the priests, against the "powerful", the "strong", the men" and "brings the children to the cult of piety, pity, love" (460).

  • This cucked deformation of Christian religion and morality accordingly set its sights on the martial cult of honour. From the 16th. c. onwards, moralists set out to hollow out the concept of honour, and manhood more generally, from the inside so as to re-define it in terms of the new sensibilities to the extent possible- to the point where the English-language word, "virtue", which originally denoted the prowess and potency of a man, henceforth came to be synonymous with the morals and manners that traditionally defined an upright woman. This all went hand-in-hand with a centuries-long moral crusade to eradicate aristocratic dueling, spearheaded by self-starting proto-SJW militants acting in the name of Christian religion.

Also of supreme ideological importance in the effeminizing process and the war on honour was the Liberal juridico-political theory of social contract, which legitimates the State monopoly on power and force by giving it a rigorous formal foundation on Natural law grounds. In traditional society, the legitimacy of the State and all social arrangements was predicated on the duty of each and every individual to play the part assigned him in the social order, which was a Natural and Divine order. Honour codified the duty of the men counted as free in this order to freely, fearlessly, and relentlessly fight and, if necessary, die for the honour of their God, their King, and their own family name and household. Dereliction of this duty, i.e. cowardice, was the most vicious and contemptible behaviour, an unpardonable offence and an indelible disgrace.

The ground-breaking innovation of the contract theory was that, instead of trying to discover the duties of each individual according to his place in a timeless corporate order with a legitimacy guaranteed by the God that created it, the new theory derived both the existence and the legitimacy of the (monopoly) State from the rights of asocial individuals- first and foremost, the right to self-preservation

The thought of Hobbes is most illuminating here. For Hobbes, all men are born equal by nature; there are no natural distinctions of rank or indeed, any natural social relations between them. Each individual atom has a primordial Natural right to see to his self-preservation by any means necessary. This right becomes fact inasmuch as each individual in the “state of Nature” becomes an obstacle to the other’s quest for self-preservation, which results in a generalized “state of war” in which every individual, at any given time, is either trying to kill every other individual or expecting to be killed himself. The individual ends up exposed to constant danger and material deprivation, which produces in each individual belligerent a subjective state of fear so intense as to become unbearable, at which point it irresistibly impels all the individuals to disarm and submit to the totalitarian State in exchange for protection.

Thus for Hobbes, fear of danger and death, and selfish interest more generally, are not potential obstacles to duty and thus vices to be overcome, but rather virtues, the very cornerstones of State and society. For Hobbes, it follows that anything one does in the pursuit of selfish interest and self-preservation, no matter how craven, is perfectly justified, and he even explicitly defends the legitimacy of cowardice, arguing that e.g. men of “feminine courage” who are just afraid to fight have a right to refuse obligatory military service on those very grounds. Martial courage and self-overcoming are replaced with the utilitarian calculus of the certainty, celerity, and severity of pains. Indeed, heroism, in a Hobbesian world, can scarcely amount to other than a vice, since implicitly the fireman who sacrifices himself to save a dozen people is, if anything, derelict with respect to Natural law. Meanwhile, the guy who could have helped but pretended not to see anything in order to save himself doesn’t even need to be justified, let alone say he’s sorry.

Hence a key ideological wellspring, not only of the effeminizing process and decline of the military spirit, but of one of the other hallmarks of degeneracy identified by Brown: the tendency to pursue selfish interest no matter the potential harm to State, religion, and society, as long as it is allowed by positive law. According to Hobbes, men create and submit to the State for no other reason than to facilitate their doing so. (The State, for its part, gets legitimate omnipotent monopoly power in return). The relentless pursuit of luxury and corresponding attrition of religion described by Brown, then, aren't created by commerce, but an artifact of changes in the structure of State and society associated with the State monopolization of force.

Brown repeatedly made it clear that his estimate was not intended as a Jeremiad prophesying imminent apocalyptic doom next week or next year, but rather to warn that unchecked degeneracy, in the course of going through its developmental paces, can be expected to comprise an eventual limit-case on the ability of the State to go on functioning. It is generally useless and pseudo-scientific to attempt to forecast according to precise time-tables in the social sciences. The State in England did not reach the fateful point of the functional-existential limit in Brown's times and has not in our own thus far.

It could be that something like a secular Providence has unobtrusively and surreptitiously guided us with an invisible hand immanent in a multitude of consequences we do not intend in our actions and cannot possibly foresee in our knowledge, and has thus watched over us in our decadent and feckless incapacity in much the same way that God is said to protect fools and drunks. But there are other, more modest possible explanations.

The decline of the martial spirit in the civilian population was accompanied by the rise of the Modern full-time standing army, as the other side of the coin of State monopolization of force. The army, eventually physically segregated on bases and barracks from the rest of civilian society, was able to quietly maintain a martial subculture within its own ranks in relative social and political invisibility as a sort of shadow caste, in spite of the fact that the highest ranks of officers socially overlap and interlock with the civilian governing caste.

The populist and anti-elitist character of Liberal society proved to have been good for something after all in that, as we have seen, moral censure and above all, ridicule of putatively effete and feckless upper-class twits is a stock-in-trade of the rhetoric of Modern class conflict. In the New World especially, where the middle class until recently was exalted but the word "bourgeois" an insult, bourgeois people, and males in particular, historically have been anxious to prove that they remain red-blooded and popular in character, no matter how cucked and snootily genteel they actually are. This bourgeoisie, indeed, predicates its very caste identity and claim to legitimate social paramountcy on a claim to be, at once, more civilized than the working classes and more manly and down-to-earth than the intellectuals and aristocracy, and thus to have discovered a golden mean between extremes of barbarism and decadence against which everybody else should be evaluated and made to conform (cf. "transvaluation" and "herd morality" as analyzed by Nietzsche). The self-consciously popular middle-class style seems to have been facilitated by historically wide-open social mobility that saw legions of rural and working-class people, themselves socialized in relatively rough-and-tumble subcultures, enter the ranks of the middle class.

These sorts of manners and principles were sanctioned, and to some extent actually devised, by Christian moralists, especially Protestants, who didn't like the idea of effeminate degeneracy any more than they did the old martial culture of honour. Hence the revival and reconstruction, from the 16th century onward, of Stoicism as an alternative to both extremes. Originally aimed at Sovereigns who could not be compelled to act, it accordingly emphasized virtues of voluntary conformity to rational precept through iron self-mastery of the passions in those destined to rule, who would thus prove their fitness to lay down the law by force to those by Nature unable to do so. This philosophy had advocates across the political spectrum from staunch Absolutists to fierce Libertarians; and, while initially intended for elites, it found a Natural home in the bourgeois whose pastors and moralists loved it because of its emphasis on controlling anger, its austere disdain for luxurious indulgence as immoral and unmanly (something that profoundly influenced the thought of Brown), and its definition of virtue in terms of a rational mean between extremes, which dovetailed with the political pretensions of the bourgeoisie to the status of the class that all legitimate government is exercised by and for.

I shall suggest that the manners and principles of the bourgeoisie that rose to cultural dominance by the 19th century, to the extent that it was shaped by the aforementioned combination of populist and Stoic-via-Protestant influences, more than anything else checked the tendency to effeminate degeneracy. These manners and principles militantly restrained, especially in men, not just violence, but the sort of arrogant flamboyance, extravagance, and recklessness that Brown described in the governing caste before caste homogenization along bourgeois cultural lines really got going in the 19th and early 20th cs. A good social indicator of the depth of their penetration and influence was the transformation in menswear that produced the contemporary suit and tie; even today, the dress of the aristocratic fops of Brown's times would be liable to stigmatize its wearer as utterly ridiculous and moreover, almost psychotically homosexual.

The same manners and principles that produced this transformation also cultivated seriousness, sobriety, level-headed rationality, and a solemn sense of personal responsibility in men, especially to the extent that they were in positions of authority; and this particular form of manly gravitas (whose colloquial antonym, "light in the loafers", is highly suggestive here) was really the only licit form of expression of masculine power available when even fist-fights were placed beyond the pale of acceptable behaviour by both custom and the State.

These values were inherently patriarchal, emphasizing the authority of the head of the household as the very foundation of his duty, and thus checked the idea that women are the rightful moral tutors of men. They thus acted as an offset against the tendency of Modern women to use the sexual incentive in order to "civilize" the manners of their men- something that, as we have seen, in built into the very structure of social control in Modern society, and historically more pronounced amongst the bourgeois than anyone else.

It is incontrovertible that these manners and principles had some pernicious side-effects. With their one-sided emphasis on a man's obligation to competently take care of practical affairs in this life, they were aggressively utilitarian and proudly Philistine, and thus tended towards irreligion and the materialist world-view, liable to regard intellectuals and artists as effete drones and religion as something mainly for women ("women pray, men work"). Worst of all, the emphasis on the middle or mean as the supreme value, when combined with Liberal doctrines of popular sovereignty and the separation of legislative and executive power, indispensably helped make the demand for democracy irresistible throughout the West by the 19th c. (cf. Nietzsche on "herd morality"). But the bourgeois take on Stoicism likely helped to keep the trains running on time and the works up and going- an historic boast and source of class pride for the button-down, old-school bourgeois.

Even as it rose to paramountcy, though, the middle class and its values were subjected to a campaign of withering critique and subversion spearheaded by its Natural enemies, the secular intellectuals. A genre of fiction, starting with Flaubert, depicted the bourgeois manners and principles as stifling and suffocating of the human spirit, concealing lives of quiet desperation behind a grim veneer of hypocritical respectability. Marx and the Socialists initiated a high-low-against-middle game, assigning themselves the role of champions of the industrial proletariat and later, non-Whites, against the exploitation they claimed was inherent in bourgeois economic activity. The unit of the middle class- the patriarchal nuclear family- came under assault from Feminists who demanded it be legally dismantled. Freudian psychology, transposing these themes to the key of medical discourse, famously diagnosed the bourgeois family as nothing less than a disease vector ("seething cauldron of morbidity").

As psychological "talk therapy" rose to prominence, the strong and silent Stoic type of man, who disdains to chatter effusively about his inner feelings, accordingly was deemed pathological and indeed, potentially dangerous to the extent that he is inscrutable and unknowable (as Nietzsche saw presciently). The very Stoic self-mastery over emotion that helped men control their inclination to violence was itself liable seen as a type of despotic violence, and an ominous index of anti-social tendencies menacingly lurking just beneath the quietly dignified patrician bearing of the "repressed" individual. There was a corresponding transvaluation under which the talkative, emotionally expressive and sensitive, playful, and uninhibited manners of women and children, since supposed to help unleash the "creativity" within individuals, were held up as the gold standard of both psychological health and "personal liberation".

The LGBT movement was the Natural correlate of all this, as was the new wave of Feminism that emerged by the late 1960s. The latter, over the next several decades, saw the rise of a truly remarkable industry, a therapeutic-academic-media complex that, in the name of "equal rights" and "women's liberation", strove with all its forces to actually induce anomie in middle and upper-class women where none existed before ("consciousness raising"). It seems impossible to describe this phenomenon without the appearance of hyperbole; Rev. Pat Robertson wasn't exaggerating in the least when he pointed out, in 1992, that this industry "encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians".

By the turn of the 21st century, the derogation of the (White) middle class and its culture had ascended from something hitherto more or less quarantined within the ranks of bohemians, psychotherapists, labour and race militants, and a minority of radical students and professors to the status of a fully-fledged dominant ideology. Political elites now treat this class with open scorn to the point of musing aloud about the desirability of destroying it altogether even as they continue to depend on its votes; and academics face far greater censure for defending this class than they would have been subject to for deriding it a century ago. This all went hand-in-hand with an implosive concentration of enormous amounts of wealth in the hands of the infamous "one per cent" while middle-class incomes stagnate, and also an unexpected development in which the main stream of the Left has made its peace with its erstwhile sworn enemy- capitalism- conditional upon its ability to command political support, extract rent, and influence decision-making in big economic corporations ("cultural Marxism").

The result of all this has been a recrudescence of the pathological aberration of aristocratic manners and principles critiqued by Brown, but more intense and downright bizarre than he could have possibly imagined. These manners and principles, in very large part, ironically reflect the ambitions, aspirations and pretensions of middle-class people hoping to gain access to the ranks of the elite, or at least be taken as such on the Internet- something aggravated by both:

  • unprecedented levels of exposure to post-secondary education, at the very time that cultural Marxism punctiliously rules everything at the University to the point that the main stream of scholarship has degenerated into mission-statement and fund-raising boilerplate and political propaganda.

  • a sort of ideological pandemic in which cultural Marxism has spread from campus, where it was hitherto endemic, and been integrated into company policy, employee management, and the executive subculture at the workplace.

  • the one-two punch of a dramatic decline of Church attendance even in the USA, which has been inversely related to the increased diffusion of cultural Marxism into Churches of almost all faiths and denominations through the vector of University-educated clergy indistinguishable from, and interchangeable with, secular academics.

The new effeminate degeneracy, then, reflects the effacement of the caste distinction and antagonism between clergy and secular intellectuals within the ranks of Brahmins, and in turn between Brahmins and the temporal aristocracy (which latter, in turn, already both effaced in itself the distinction between landed nobility and commercial Vaisya and became radically decoupled from the military function of the traditional Kshatriya). It thus manifests in a sort of hybrid of priestly and (commercial-civilian) aristocratic pretensions. This pretended aristo-Brahminate, just like the purebred aristocracy of Brown's times, is characterized by its ever-increasingly exquisite and rarefied tastes in vanity consumption- but what it consumes isn't just high-end luxury goods, but ideas (purchased through very expensive University education), which confer upon their buyer the appearance of a rare ability to apprehend the distinction between good and evil. Aristocratic refinement is thus recast in moral-ethical terms of an exquisite sensitivity to injustice and "oppression". This "woke" person thus pretends to the status of a sacred person with priestly moral authority.

Another defining feature of effeminate degeneracy today is that the aristo-Brahmin is no longer merely an effeminate man, but ideally should actually be a woman. Indeed, the most sacred degree of White aristo-Brahmin is a male who publicly repudiates his sex and subsequently is deputized with the legal status of a woman and lives as one; the latter figures as a sort of redeemed and regenerate person analogous to the elect of Protestant tradition, and thus especially holy.

This perfectly logical culmination of the effeminizing process that necessarily follows from the "public" monopoly of force in which every "private" atom is forced into complete dependence on the "public" power for protection, and of the concomitant belief that woman is morally superior to man, makes it meaningless to go on speaking of effeminate degeneracy as a corruption of male manners. We are long gone past this particular post. What we are seeing is more aptly described as a morbid recrudescence of upper-class female manners.

In this light, it is no longer a mystery that the pretended members of the aristo-Brahminate, as Campbell and Manning have noted, are as sensitive to insult as any traditional aristocrat, and likewise adamantly believe (in sharp contrast to middle-class principles) that they may not be insulted with impunity- but, instead of violently avenging an insult personally (as any gentleman of Brown's times would have), publicly and dramatically feign injury in order to petition authority figures to white-knight on the offended person's behalf. The seeming contradiction disappears as soon as we realize that the aristocratic subject of the insult is a lady (actual or fictive), and never a gentleman. (Hence the administrative doctrine at University that a White male, by fact of his social status as such, is deemed incapable of receiving insult and thus disqualified from demanding satisfaction- just like a commoner in the old system of Estates).

At the same time, though, this upper-class lady of either sex is no dignified society matron of poise and good breeding. Far from it. The latter are the historic cognates of Stoic manners in the male; the next level of the process that saw the feminization of the male is the infantilization of the female. As facile as it may sound, the social prototype here is the rich girl spoiled rotten by her parents, writ large as a social ideal for grown women to aspire to.

Once again, Feminist indoctrination induces this sort of anomie, maladjustment, and arrested maturation where it didn't exist before through slogans such as "the personal is political", and an infinitely elastic subjective definition of "oppression" in which no personal narrative of the "lived experience" of oppression can legitimately be contested by anybody. The result is an almost comic inversion of traditional good breeding: the girl student being groomed for a career path in the elite ranks of the public or private sector learns, in the very course of being groomed for it at University, to think of herself as fully educated ("woke") and fit to assume a grownup role only as soon as she can bring herself to see that any situation in which she doesn't get exactly what she wants when she wants it is a scandalous injustice ("the politics of everyday life"). The infantilization this indoctrination is guaranteed to produce where it succeeds is no unintended consequence, as the example of "safe spaces" and "stress-free zones" on campus filled with toys, plates of cookies, and animals to pet for students in their twenties or even older makes all too abundantly clear.

The infantilization of the governing classes seems to already be manifesting itself in the form of a proliferation of all sorts of fashionable but unrealistic law-reform and policy proposals (e.g. gun bans, open-door immigration, abolition of fossil fuel and the natural-resources sector, women in front-line combat, etc.). These ideas appear to be superficially held, ostentatiously professed for purposes of status signaling at upscale dinner parties, and thus so many vanity items purchased with Ivy-League tuition fees. Those that profess them, upon being quizzed, often display a strikingly casual, et alors indifference to questions concerning the feasibility of these proposals (or take offense that the issue was raised at all), and seem almost entirely uninterested in the operational details of their implementation. We can recognize, in this, a vestige of traditional aristocratic disdain for work and corresponding affectation of unfamiliarity with the practical nuts-and-bolts of it (which is something for servants to worry about). But we can also detect the infantile wish-fulfillment belief that has yet to encounter the reality principle, or alternately the child's faith that if something does in fact go wrong, Daddy will fix it.

The obvious functional-existential threat to the State (and, in the private sector, the business organization) is that, if the governing class is infantilized extensively enough, Daddy's not going to be around to fix the broken State- since Daddy's princesses will happen to have his former seat at the table and be the very ones responsible for doing his job.

Neoconservatives will argue that those State functionaries with a long-term presence in the State apparatuses (the "deep State") will put a brake on the monkey-business and pull the Nation's affairs out of the fire at the eleventh hour, the way old-school party politicians used to, and thus pick up the slack. Fair enough- but what happens when the deep State is infantilized, too? The Neo-con hope rests on an implicit image of the deep State functionary as a faithful middle-manager type, the kind of guy you set your watch by: punctilious in his sense of duty, always ready to spring into action and pick up the pieces for feckless and indolent superiors with perhaps a sigh of exasperation, but without complaint. But this figure is precisely the Stoic type of man that is becoming an endangered species as the members of the middle-class, with no legitimate caste identity or pride of their own any more, are presently trampling over one another in a bid to affect the manners and principles of the aristo-Brahminate.

The final thing I will mention is a hypothesis concerning the impact, of the womanization (as opposed to feminization) of the governing castes, on what Brown called the "spirit of union" in State and Nation. Common sense has it that men, by Nature, excel at working collectively. Relatively speaking, they sort themselves into hierarchies easily, and maintain amongst themselves procedures for resolving disputes that are confrontational but quick and decisive. They are by Nature oriented to the public sphere, and have relatively broad social exposure. Women, oriented by Nature towards the domestic, travel in much smaller social circles.

It follows that an ambitious man wants to rule as many of his fellow men as possible. Women, by Nature, aren't designed to rule anything outside their smaller circles and cliques, and additionally, whatever power they do have is parasitic of that of those they are socially attached to. It follows that, in a similarly ambitious woman, the will to power manifests in a will to status as socially exclusive as the male's will to rule is inclusive. The will to rule is, in large part, about negotiation, coalition-building, and securing loyalties; the will to status, by contrast breaks down allegiances and solidarities instead of building them up, since the goal, so-to-say, is to become lonely at the top.

Put simply, the ambitious man walks into a room full of people and, promising himself that he will one day be the boss of them all, gregariously glad-hands everybody he sees towards that end; while the ambitious woman takes mental notes concerning who in that room will not be invited to her parties once she ascends the summits of social standing there, and who to strategically make friends with now in order to realize that ambition. (We all know both types).

In this light, the behaviour of the heavily womanized American Left and Democratic Party organization during the 2016 Presidential election, in which Hillary Clinton publicly scorned a rather large sector of the electorate as "deplorable" and "irredeemable" while the media arm triumphantly heralded the dawn a of new age in which the entire State is run by and for fashionable and upwardly-mobile young urban women, LGBTQ, and people of colour at the expense of everybody else- with the latter frankly deemed to deserve nothing better than being radically excluded and left to die out- no longer seems as baffling. It does, however, remain just as potentially menacing to the health of State and Nation inasmuch as its socio-psychological foundations weigh against the possibility that the Left will profit from the lesson they were taught in that particular case, and can be counted on to do more of the same until the fateful day that luck is on their side and they don't lose because of it.

With respect to just what the future holds in store and when, I abstain, with Brown, from trying to precisely forecast. In the near future, though, it can, on the basis of the analysis here, it be safely said, as Brown might have, that the recent epidemic of rioting instigated by the elite ranks of Power and fought by a motley assemblage of students and street trash under the "Antifa" banner will prove a self-limiting aberration. The manners and principles of our times, we have seen already, trend toward men and women alike playing the part of damsels in distress crying for help, not that of knights. (It is highly suggestive that Antifa famously does just that even as they violently attack) The likelihood of private violence on a truly serious social scale seems low; in North America, even new Islamic migrants, steeped in the unreconstructed culture of honour of the Middle East, do not seem to practice honour violence on anything like a mass scale. But it is a decidedly Pyrrhic victory for public order to have a secure future only inasmuch as the USA has become a Nation of women of both sexes and children of all ages.

I have diagnosed the problem in the universal tendency of the Modern State to draw an isometric relationship between Sovereignty and an absolute "public" monopoly of force, so that today anything less qualifies a National-territorial authority as a "failed State" that as such, according to both the Left and the Neocons, is a legitimate target for invasion and "regime change" on humanitarian and global-security grounds respectively. We have to start seriously re-examining this definition of Sovereignty, which to our ancestors would have seemed strangely and unnecessarily rigid to the point of the autistic and the anal-retentive. We must proceed carefully, to be sure: nothing would be more contemptibly frivolous and irresponsible to argue that feudal lords should be, or possibly could be, allowed to wage war on one another in our great commercial centres. But there may be a compromise between barbarism and decadent womanization-infantilization; and Reason itself demands that we find it.

The American Founding Fathers, and their Whig precursors, were painfully aware of the distortion of masculine character attending civilian disarmament and forced dependence on the State, and thoughtfully and admirably saw to it that the Constitution positively defines a popular right to arms in its text. We could, from that starting point, without introducing bizarre innovations or experiments expand the right of self-defense to that of enforcement in well-defined spheres of jurisdiction. This is in fact already inscribed in both the theory and practice of the existing Federal system, under which the several States, and municipal corporations, enjoy the privilege of enforcement. We could, in perfect fidelity to the spirit of this system, create subsidiary spheres of jurisdiction in which the head of a civil-society-level corporation (e.g. a household) would have a personal right to use force in his own case.

To give just one example, homeowners could be delegated the right to pursue someone who has stolen their property beyond the boundaries of their homes.

As Karl Ludwig von Haller- a 19th century Reactionary and jurist of formidable rigour and erudition- pointed out, this sort of inclusive conception of self-defense was the legal norm in Continental Europe right up to the time of the French Revolution, when it was suddenly abolished by the new civil codes for no good reason anybody could define outside of the dubious zero-sum mythology of the Hobbeso-Lockean "social contract". There is nothing, according to Haller, in the inclusive conception of personal defense that can rigorously be said to compromise the Sovereignty of the State. The true heart and soul of Sovereignty is the capability of the State to protect its citizens, not the greedy monopolization of protection; it is therefore enough that the State make effective assistance in the form of law-enforcement and criminal-justice available to those who need it or want to use it.

There is no more good reason to fear anarchy as a result of judiciously and carefully rethinking and relaxing the State monopoly on force than there is from allowing private courier delivery alongside the US Postal service. But there are, as Brown teaches us, all too many reasons to fear the undoing of the State itself under unchecked effeminate degeneracy- and would the tanking of the ship of State not be just what haunted Hobbes' nightmares, come to terrifyingly real life in sober daylight?

Bibliography:

Barker-Benfield, G.J. 1992. The Culture of Sensibility: Sex and Society in Eighteenth-Century Britain. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

Brown, John. 1757. An Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the Times. London: L. Davis and C. Reymers.

Campbell, Bradley and Jason Manning. 2014. "Microaggressions and Moral Cultures".  Comparative Sociology 13(6):692-726. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/272408166

Carter, Philip. 2001. Men and the Emergence of Polite Society: Britain 1660-1800. Essex: Pearson Education.

Elias, Norbert. 1978. [1939]. The Civilizing Process: The History Of Manners. Trans. Edmund Jephcott. New York and Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Foucault, Michel. 1972. The Archaeology of Knowledge. Trans. Alan Sheridan Smith. New York: Pantheon.

Haller, Karl Ludwig. 1824. Restauration de la Science Politique. Lyon and Paris: Rusand.

Hobbes, Thomas. 1985 [1651]. Leviathan. Ed. C. B. MacPherson. Introduction by C. B. MacPherson. London: Penguin Books.

James, Mervyn. "English Politics and the Concept of Honour, 1485-1642”. Past and Present supplement 3, 1978.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. 1967. The Will To Power. Trans. Kaufman, Walter and R. J. Hollingdale. New York: Random House.

Oestreich, Gerhard. 1982. Neostoicism And The Early Modern State. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Shalhope, Robert E. 1982. “The Ideological Origins Of The Second Amendment”. Journal Of American History 69: 599-614)

Shoemaker, Robert B. 1998. Gender in English Society, 1650-1850. London and New York: Longman.

Valverde, Marianna. 1996. “Despotism And Ethical Liberal Governance”. Economy And Society 25: 357-72.

Follow Thermidor Magazine: