Some days ago, Roosh posted on Return of Kings excerpts of writings by the philosopher Seneca. Earlier in 2015 he posted an introduction to Stoicism by Epictetus, another philosopher who thrived as a member of this school of thought.
Stoicism appeared in the ancient Athens among other schools such as Epicurism and Aristotle’s Academism. It gained success after being introduced in Rome on the second century B.C., and it seems to enjoy a renewed interest in the manosphere today.
The following story encapsulates a core feature of Stoicism. Though he was born a slave, Epictetus had started studying Stoicism under the guidance of a teacher. According to Celsus (Origen, Contra Celsus, 7, 53), he has been tortured by his master who deliberately twisted his leg. The philosopher-slave gave nothing to the pain: he endured it with complete composure and calmly told the master “if you keep twisting it, it will break.” The latter kept twisting, Epictetus’ leg broke in a crack, and the philosopher merely said: “didn’t I tell you that it would break?” This story was recorded by pagans as well as early Christians. It is likely to be the origin of the expression enduring stoically—that is, giving nothing to whatever pain or suffering is inflicted on you, dominating it under the guard of your composure.
Elements of Stoic philosophy can be found in modern authors who are usually known for their own sake. The French Jansenist Blaise Pascal wrote a pedagogical discourse where he tells an eight-year-old noble how, far from being inherently aristocratic, he owes his situation to fortune. Being born here or there, going through this or that situation, is random and different for each individual. Therefore, Pascal writes, a nobleman must act as if he had more dignity—and act with a due sense of responsibility—while remaining that he is neither superior nor different at all. His situation is merely a place he has been thrown in by God or fortune. It is merely individual and quite random. Individuals are shuffled into a vast haphazard world and they should be prepared to endure. A similar theme echoes in Nietzsche’s notion of amor fati, loving one’s fate no matter what happens.
Given Roosh’s convoluted path, the relevance of Stoicism from his point of view is hardly a mystery. This philosophy strikes an important chord for many of us as well. We have been raised for being career-minded chimps and consumers. We were accustomed at looking for other people’s recognition, at avoiding disputes, and believing that consumerism and niceness would be enough for solving most problems. The most “nice” we were, the most it meant that we were actually weak and dependent. We also tended to think about society and the usual environment as something made to last. If fortune existed, it seemed curtailed by the modern world and its immanent process of “progress.” C’mon, it’s 2015!
And then, going beyond the bubble of comfort and wishful thinking, we found out what it really was. We realized through pain and disappointment that being realistic and self-reliant was much better. Indeed, as our sixty-eighter parents forgot the origin of the word “fit” to the point of turning it into mere physical maintenance—doing zumba is “fitness”—we found illuminating explanations in the very root of the word: fitness is adaptation. In nature, if you aren’t fit enough, you sink. And in society? It depends if society is something coming after nature, i.e. something wholly different from nature, or merely a layer added on the top of it. Sixty-eighters and other leftists cling to the first idea, conscious people accept to embrace the second.
Of course, the Stoics didn’t know about evolution. They didn’t need it, however, to realize that taking comfort and well-meaning relatives for granted makes one flimsy. The day they are taken from you, what will you do? And even if comfort was to last forever, would it protect you from being frustrated at small things? “Never trust prosperity,” wrote Seneca. “I’ve seen for myself people sunk in gloom in cheerful and delightful country houses, and people in completely secluded surroundings who looked as if they were run off their feet.”
Looking around us we can see how relevant the Stoic teachings are. Many White children today are spoiled by comfort and ineffective parenting. They play with an iPhone at six or eight years old, never receive punishment from their parents no matter what they do. As a result, they turn hyperactive, which is a polite word to say dissipated and unable to focus, become temperamental, are either unable to socialize with other children or have more respect for the stronger child who can punch their face than for their own father. Those children would be much happier—and more advanced in their various classes—if they had learnt to rely on themselves rather than electronic devices and weak parents. The same goes for adult consumers: believing that any of their problems can be solved through buying and wishful thinking, they go from frustrations to disappointment as reality stubbornly goes away from their expectations.
Excessive dependence and inner instability were relevant in the ancient Roman Empire just as they are today. Seneca casted a critical eye on the practice of endless traveling. “People who spend their whole life travelling abroad end up having plenty of places where they can find hospitality but no real friendships… How can novelty of surroundings abroad and becoming acquainted with foreign scenes or cities be of any help? All that dashing about turns out to be quite futile.” Some weeks ago, the Millennial generation’s relationship with traveling was criticized here in a strikingly similar manner.
Consumer society lies on chronic frustration. One has to be unsatisfied to go buy in the last fashion, go to this or that diversion. The imperative of economic growth leads to the making of rootless individuals, working endlessly for buying cheap crap again and again. Some leftists have been good at pointing out how consumerism works but don’t have much to suggest as an alternative. On the other side, Stoicism gives you practical directions to follow. Embracing it is adopting an orientation: towards self-reliance, clarity of mind and the mastery of your emotions. A good Stoic finds in himself the resources for happiness. He is ready to go through the unknown, eager to subject his emotions to a deeper will. With such a mindset the Stoic is ready to take up the path for mastery. He will suffer less from the setbacks, failures and other vagaries one meets while trying to surpass himself.
Hence, Stoicism appears as a noble path for becoming steady and masterful. It is a philosophy for edification. Whatever happens—being ready, exerting one’s will as a flame that fortune cannot touch, commanding one’s resources is the pride of the Stoic.
Those points made, everything isn’t so beautiful in the Stoic philosophy.
It shows the world as a place hopelessly run by chance or fortune. The individual has a great potential to master his own emotional states and actions, he is responsible for what he does, but is completely powerless when it comes to the world. Each individual life is shown as owing everything to fortune and only at a much lesser degree to one’s actions. Stoicism gives a strange mix of optimism and pessimism: one can go to the heights of excellence and mastery, but no control is ever possible over the external world. Far from being masters and owners of nature, as said Descartes, we are thrown into the world like pinball balls and our responsibility lies in our inner territory.
It would be possible to analyze in-depth the key tenets of Stoic thought, yet I will highlight its dubious features in a more schematic manner. In my humble opinion, four of them can be pinpointed:
1) Pessimism. The future will be hard and tough. Even if you manage to reach prosperity, it can be stripped from you at any moment. There is nothing you can trust beyond your own abilities. With such a mindset it becomes hard to plan for something or seriously commit to something. The Stoic-influenced Jansenists were committed to salvation because their perspective took God as an eternal, undefeatable element. They casted a gloomy view on the world, treated people as contaminated sinners who should repent again and again until their death. Jansenists looked for Tradition, but didn’t know where to look. Their quest led them to an excessive and ultimately self-defeating asceticism. Despite the high social situation many of them had, the excessive austerities Jansenists practiced had the effect of hounding people out of religion, while the disingenuous but optimistic Jesuits teamed up with the King and had them persecuted. Pessimism demotivates. It makes one gloomy and repulsive. It should be noted that, at least, traditional Stoics were very optimistic on self-mastery and willing to work hard for obtaining it while Jansenists were poisoned by the idea that passions are beyond mind control.
2) Whoever you are, you have no control over the world you live in and how it works. Events are decided by fortune, which means a capricious god or an unpredictable randomness. This is typically what NLP-oriented coaches call a limiting belief: if one believes the workings of the world are beyond human action, he will never try to influence them. Stoicism leads to a sharp distinction between an inner world where one can achieve complete freedom through mastery of one’s mental states and an outer world where everything can appear, disappear or mix in a completely unpredictable manner.
3) As a result, a Stoic may turn exasperatingly self-absorbed and oblivious of the world around him. He may also have problems for basic sociability. Maybe Epictetus could have prevented his master from breaking his leg if he tried to stir up some doubts in the master’s mind by targeted questions. Sometimes maintaining composure and saying nothing fails while outward intervention would have achieved better results. Stoicism makes one individualist. If you believe that other individuals belong to “the world” whereas only you belong to yourself, try to communicate with or influence other people is pointless. They belong to the same random causes than everything else external. However, being sociable and believing that other people can be influenced provided one uses the right means works much better. If one’s aim is eudaimonia (happiness) through self-mastery, this can be a perfect excuse for not going out, remaining isolated and accept whatever the more socially savvy have decided for you, because at least they apply their power onto the world instead of focusing on themselves.
4) An especially nasty feature has grown out of later, Roman Stoicism: rootlessness. Individuals are thought of as essentially the same. There is no filiation, no sense of belonging, no sense of history. One has been merely thrown out in a random place: one could have been a Roman, a barbarian, a woman, a crippled or whatever. The implication is that individuals are at the bottom equivalent substantial selves. What they do differs, of course, but what they are is absolutely the same. Each individual is chained to his fate: “some are bound by a loose and golden chain, others by a tight chain of baser metal; but what difference does it make?” There is no sense of inheritance, no sense of belonging to a group or of being made for some specific activity. Individuals have no roots, no filiation, no history beyond themselves. They are thoroughly interchangeable. The only thing beyond your own similitude with others is your inner capacity of attaining tranquility of mind. Beyond that—a random universe where everything endlessly fluctuates but keeps an equal value.
The latter feature, individuals’ interchangeability and rootlessness, seems to me the worst one can find in Stoicism. Pessimism may be gloomy, at least it is sufficiently obvious to lead one towards changing his orientation. Individualism can be trumped too, especially if one aims for mastery in social matters. Experience shows quite clearly that people who are sociable and reasonably altruistic tend to succeed more than the depressive and the lunatic. But the rootless conception of individuals is way more insidious. It lurks in the background and leads one to consider with an equal indifference everyone he meets while other people attract power and money through tribalism.
Rootlessness leads to a self-defeating view of the individual, prone to treat him as he went from nowhere to nowhere with no belonging to the world he lives in. It is also blatantly false. I am not a disembodied soul associated with a random body, and neither are you. I don’t owe my life to a random attribution nor any “privilege.” I am the outgrowth of my genes, of a culture that has been crafted by my ancestors’ activity, my nation and my civilization. One is much more than a fleeting mind or a series of actions. We do exist for the world around us, as well as parts of the world exists for us. There is a sense of the extended self we must develop in order to achieve a shared White consciousness that Stoicism negates.
It is not because of fortune, but because of that very defect, that Seneca’s writings—as well as those from other Stoics—barely mention children. Just as our ancestors are our past, children are our future. We are links in a chain that gives perspective and sense to one’s life. We are peculiar, and children mean perpetuating what we are, sometimes pushing it to higher heights. Yet, if the extended self is negated and one is merely a pinball ball in a haphazard world, why bother with costly little babies? They are part of the world just as anything else. One may be a soldier or a mother, but one won’t do so thanks to a higher meaning or by the flame of Tradition: going to battle is merely fortune, just as anything else. As long as one maintains one’s composure and self-mastery, nothing really matters.
What Some Leftists Understand Better
Roosh has been a globetrotter for years. Randomness was a concrete reality of his life: when you are going in an unknown place searching for girls, the girls you will meet change depending on the time and moment you go. In his quest for girls, Roosh didn’t seem to entertain the thought of settling down to form a family. Nor did he feel any belonging to the shallow giant mall called United States. For years his blog has had a very small influence on the world around him. Stoicism was highly relevant to Roosh’s life, both in its positive features—self-reliance, mastery of one’s emotions, acceptance of any of the hardships to come—and the darker—rootlessness, individualism, outward gloom.
Now that we have seen the defects, it is easy to think about their reverses. Namely, enthusiasm instead of pessimism, outward focus instead of inwardness, projects for the world instead of pure resignation. Those features define philosophies that give more to a social whole. In Judaism, one can find sufficient outwardness for creating successful businesses and moneymakers and a messianism that gives hope in the future. Also, both Marxism and fascism show all the features outlined here by embodying themselves in collectivities, then moving them towards the actualization of a great project.
It works. In the animal kingdom, social species take the lion’s share. An individual ant is very small, but as a clad ants have been so successful that they gave rise to thousands of subspecies and so many individuals that all individual ants combined weight more than all humans on Earth. Familiar animals like cats aren’t always sociable towards their congeners but appear remarkably cute, playful, etc. with humans. This human-oriented sociability allowed domestic cats to become way more numerous and diverse than savage cats. The former are constantly fed by their owners and sometimes have numerous offspring whereas the second are loose individuals striving day by day.
In human history, countless small tribes have been subjugated by larger bodies. An empire typically rules over various tribes and nations. In the nineteenth century, Jews have succeeded at taking over various markets, especially in banking, by maintaining a consistent tribalist behavior. A strong consciousness of ingroup/outgroup, the idea that Jewish success would be the moral success, a careful attention to politics and every opportunity to act, have repeatedly trumped over societies of fragmented Europeans. The following century, a fragmented and banker-manipulated France was easily subjugated by the enthusiast soldiers of the Werhmacht. On the one side, a nation full of doubts, deeply undermined by corruption and secret societies. On the other side, an exalted people whose life was deeply meaningful: setting up an empire for a thousand years, ordering at least this world and defeating the corrupters. The second side was much better at cultivating motivation.
What do you want? If the answer is your own happiness—or, as the Stoics said, eudemonia—you would be right to reject consumer society and stick on self-mastery. Stoic philosophers also insisted on living in harmony with the cosmos, according to the laws of “nature.” There is an interesting streak here. The desire of cosmic harmony denotes an endeavor for something larger than the individual self, an attention towards the whole. However, given the Stoic views of pinball individuals thrown into a radically random world, the harmony one can hope to achieve lays in one’s mind. We fall back on the nasty features that subvert enthusiasm and outward projects.
Eudemonia Is Not Worth Victory
Happiness is a reasonable goal. Yet I don’t think it should be the ultimate goal. If it was, we would be better off not caring about what happens out there. We would accept being robbed by black thugs and attacked by a vicious media system. White genocide itself would be “fortune,” even if we know that it is the result of a conscious will. Accepting that descent into the abyss as “fortune” and burying our heads in the sand—even a purely mental, eudemonic sand—we wouldn’t be anything else than conservatives. I think we have a better sense of dignity and a more extroverted view.
The hell with individual happiness! We were born from the toil of generations of ancestors. We embody our civilization—both by genes and culture. This civilization is not any: it is the very inventor of modernity and science. The amount of wealth created and shared by our ancestors has no equivalent in any other civilization. Knowing that we are the current chain link, should be accept its further dissolution for a bit of “happiness” inside our heads? Even if some could achieve an unshakable serenity, this noble mental state would be void of dignity. It would be beauty in atomized, isolated minds. It would be blown up and forgotten like the flame of small candles in the wind. Anyone who yearns to Traditions wants better. Mere good-feeling is an ideal for sixty-eighters and cat ladies. A Templar knight, to take an example of true heroic behavior, would have laughed at it.
Leftists like to talk about “White resentment” or “male resentment.” Their talk is part of a strategy of venomous associations: terms like “resentment”, “fear” or “hatred” are negatively connoted. Widely repeated by the media, they associate anything outside of the Left hegemonic center with negative feeling. The leftist talk about our supposed “resentment” follows a Pavlovian logic. At the same time, it is not completely devoid of truth: we all felt rage at what the world is becoming, at our own lack of power. Yet our rage is legitimate. Our bad feelings, arising from the immersion in a corrupted world, are a proof of inner sanity. Feeling disgust at the degenerate is a mark of healthy taste.
Sometimes I remember some events of my past that fill me with anger. If I was aiming at mere happiness, I would work on my memories and feelings to suppress both. But this is not my aim. I don’t want to renounce to rage: I want it to motivate actions that will bring true justice on the world. Marxists didn’t triumph over so many people by aiming at individual eudemonia. On the same fashion, I feel that our individual rages here and there are much richer than what the leftists and eudemonists say. Rage can bind us as brothers of fortune, it leads us towards sharing a sense of justice and sharpening a sense of beauty. I don’t want happiness—I want victory, I want what defines me and us to shape the world. Mere individual happiness is an ideal for cows watching trains (or television). Victory over the criminals and degenerate today above us, not to mention more constructive aims—this is a meaningful aim. Happiness is a reasonable goal, victory is a higher end.
Stoicism gives one a sense of the higher. It makes one aware of his own potential. Stoicism helps you or remind you to aim at mastery as well as being prepared. Yet this philosophy also includes features that should be discarded in favor of collective enthusiasm, altruism, and a sense of the beautiful and fair to bring onto the world.