Salvo 07.08.2020

Fight First, Club Later


An open letter to aspiring Chads.

I read Hugo Thomas’s article “Corona and the Crown” in these pages and shared it with my friends. Rarely have I simultaneously found something so descriptively right and prescriptively wrong.

Thomas is right that our moment exposes the need for masculine virtue and the opportunity to exert masculine gifts in a constructive way. But he is utterly wrong about how that will come about.

Hugo—I will speak to you in the parlance of our times—you seem young. Imagine with me the audience member you redpilled on the issues you raise. Is this young man Chad or Not-Chad? He is, you will agree, not Chad. Certainly not Giga-Chad. The many members of this Not-Chad audience realize they desire to become Chad and so you advise them to start where they are.

Stay with me. Where is your young Not-Chad? At “Catholic young adult events which most dioceses have”? Ah, so in a Sunday school class. Young Not-Chad spends his free time being lectured about the ancient Catholic tradition of bad liberal theology from the ’60s by an effeminate boomer priest. Now, the young Not-Chad will likely be at this place in an effort to sniff out a Tradwife. These young women, though, are not interested in the parade of dweebs under the tutelage of this priest. In fact, they are confessing to the priest about sexytime with their Chad boyfriends. But here the hapless young man is.

Now, your plan, if I’m following along correctly, is that young Not-Chad will pivot from wifehunting to scope out candidates among his fellow devout Not-Chads to build some kind of based army? More likely they will shoot their eyes out just as their TV mothers warn them. A bank? They will earn negative interest. A monastery? Well, at least the old priest will have someone to flirt with. I know the Catholic Church too well to believe you believe what you are saying. Open your eyes. Confront reality. Your plan is performatively Not-Chad: Anyone caught attempting to execute it is laughable.

Of course the concepts of Chad, redpill, and Tradwife are (forgive me) brainworms. So let us leave off from the parlance of our times and take up the precise language of the West. Not as clumsy or random as a meme. The elegant words of a more civilized age. What I think you’re speaking of, Hugo, is the need for manliness and the avoidance of effeminacy. This is a real need and an urgent one. Urgent enough that St. Paul lists effeminacy among the vices opposed to the kingdom of God in 1st Corinthians 6:9. But you are a Roman Catholic, and don’t read the Bible. Let us look, then, to St. Thomas. Let us hope that pure philosophy will clear your head of murky “seven ages” mysticism.

Turn with me to the second part of the second part of the Summa, question 138, the vices opposed to perseverance. I will let your namesake speak briefly:

Perseverance is deserving of praise because thereby a man does not forsake a good on account of long endurance of difficulties and toils: and it is directly opposed to this, seemingly, for a man to be ready to forsake a good on account of difficulties which he cannot endure. This is what we understand by effeminacy, because a thing is said to be “soft” if it readily yields to the touch…. Wherefore, according to the Philosopher, properly speaking an effeminate man is one who withdraws from good on account of sorrow caused by lack of pleasure, yielding as it were to a weak motion.

Here you will find secret wisdom. Effeminacy is opposed not to chastity as you may suspect, but to perseverance. It is a lack of follow-through. Picture the man who never comes back from picking up cigarettes at the corner store. The drive to finish pushes men to long hours in difficult jobs. The same keeps men in a family in spite of poverty, the difficulties of raising children, or a disagreeable spouse. The same inspires honorable actions, from battlefield to boardroom. Finishing the task given to you: this is man. We speak of making a good end. Doing your job. Running the race. Competing to win.

Now reflect back on your essay, Hugo. First, you advise young men to recruit men to start little manly clubs. Perhaps you have watched Fight Club too many times and mistake made-up Tyler Durden for a flesh-and-blood virtuous male. Men don’t waste time trying to be men, especially characters played by actors. Real men are men in as much as they finish some task outside themselves. This is the first problem I outlined above.

The second problem is just as bad. You admit that the task you have set for your reader requires Daddy (whether Thiel or whomever) to show up and solve the problem for you. Admitting this is to admit you are not interested in masculinity which, of necessity, aims at the good it was put here to do and devotes every effort to complete it.

Bite off more than you can chew and you decide beforehand that you cannot finish. The sheer embarrassment. Even damsels in distress don’t plan on needing to get rescued. You sound like a lobbyist for a bank hoping to get bailed out before it has even begun investing.

Man doesn’t gather a group of other men programmatically, but essentially. When men attempt to accomplish the good, they will inevitably tackle projects others are working on, too. And so, in pursuit of finishing big jobs they lend their effort to the common pool. A man goes to Bible study not to discern how to become a manlet, but how to contemplate God in His fullness. He starts a business not to gaze into his navel to glimpse what a man should look like in the market, but to make money and support the common good through his toil. And he picks up arms not to discover his masculinity in the show of force (“it’s not the size of the gun”) but to defend his home, and achieve either noble victory or a noble death.

These things you must do if you are to be manly. Risk them now and you may succeed in your political program or you may not. But either way it is your only hope at achieving what you were put on earth for, which is something far more than politics.

The map of the way forward has been obvious to men for most of the past decade. Events are moving in the direction you gesture at. But anyone who takes your advice will end up ignoble, ridiculous, and effeminate. The virus may kill us, but death comes for us all. While you live, before you fall, live as a king, Hugo.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

Suggested reading

to the newsletter