The Way of Men: An Anarchist Perspective

by R.J. Jacob

“If there is any universal virtue in men, it is the fighting virtues.” -Jack Donovan

The Way of Men by Jack Donovan

Jack Donovan’s The Way of Men is a real spear through the side of the one world therapeutic tribe. Jack incorporates his theory of masculinity into a Nietzschean critique of modernity that unveils human nature and goes to town on feminists and professional utopians.

Donovan explores the origins of masculinity by looking at the human EEA. Different species must evolve different mechanisms in response to the imposed conditions. Donovan describes human males as a party gang species organized into male dominated gangs whose members compete and cooperate for status, women, and the greater good of the gang. The earliest male humans, comprising the genus Homo, needed the warm smell of the gang to survive, to position themselves in, to ground themselves in. For Donovan, the first male “virtues” emerged during man’s hard gang hunter way of life. Donovan identifies four core tactical gang virtues of “primal gang morality” — Strength, Courage, Mastery, and Honor. However, the four gang virtues do not form a highest moral imperative. These are the basic attributes men must exhibit in order to survive and go on to create a set of higher virtues specific to men. But when the higher virtues are established, primal gang morality still lies beneath.

Society is founded by a gang and it grows from primitive gang unit, to culture city, and at last to full civilization. Along the way, women and fearful men supplant man’s tactical gang virtues with a set of civilized virtues to control male dramas, to give nature a make-over, to pull the weeds out, leaving only the good smells. Donovan breaks down the various power structures put into place to deny men. He shows that as society moves into full civilization, masculinity must become increasingly curbed and controlled as men no longer need to do battle, hunt, kill, and overcome. Man’s explosive drive for sex, control and destruction must be consumed elsewhere through simulated, vicarious, and intellectual vehicles. Manhood is further withered in the statist bureaucracy and brought down to achieve equality and homogeneity which weakens distinction and imposes sameness — all the while man sees his highest values crashing in on themselves. The only way out, says Donovan, is to gang up and bring down the modern world. One of the central themes in The Way of Men is the way in which men of a smaller indigenous gang are often more powerful, more connected, and more holy than men in larger gangs. Donovan decries the idea of large, traitorous, “worthless” empire and calls for a return to the golden summit of small bonded brotherhoods of men.

Donovan’s concept of the “perimeter” sees human conflict as an inborn pattern fixed into existence, an inextricable feature of anthropological human nature. The tactical gang ethos can be used to reach a state of the pre-rational to where we can explore our instincts and passions rather than building men and building civilization on fear and denial. In separating masculinity (Being Good At Being A Man) from ideal (Being A Good Man), Donovan formulates a Nietzschean critique of society’s “Good Man” as a “well behaved slave” serving his masters. Men surrender to the humanist, feminine moral imperative which restricts the desires of men. It creates an acceptable zone for manliness, and by doing so, the imperative structure now has a system of governance. Ruling classes then use feminism and pacifism to serve their interests by selling The Good Man Masculinity to control the way in which men exist in this world. The modern world view is a world devoid of manhood, replaced by an ideal, and the “moralizers of masculinity” use moral evaluation to infect men with self denial and raise everything that lowers men to the ideal. If you buy into the ideal, others gain power over you through the changes made by the values. This is slave morality. Men begin working for a new reproductive interest. Donovan’s description of the “globalist bonobo masturbating society” is probably the best end-game example of slave morality/emasculation I’ve seen thus far. It is the result of a long homogenous form of activity of one kind of feminized man. It is the male experience of being utterly powerless, and the most desperate embitterment against existence for men. The bonobo masturbation society is a challenge to any anarchist stuck in the linear assumption of history that progression of society is unfolding in a process towards “goodness” or perfection.  Donovan shows us what it might look like to reach the state of perfection — to access a world in which men live a life where they are no longer a threat to any other human.

One of the most tragic things about the anarchist movement is that it has squandered it’s historical fearsome image. The original anarchists had killed an American President, a French President, the Russian head of state, the Austrian head of state, and the Spanish Prime Minister. How did the anarchists go from killers to gay rights sctivists? How did they go from having public leaders like the all-terrifying Mikhail Bakunin to the gentle speaking Noam Chomsky? Why are anarchists trying to turn the world into a giant hospital with everyone as everyone else’s nurse? It is in Donovan’s natural framework of unacceptable manliness and tactical gang virtue that illustrates where lay the real power of the anarchist’s appeal — in his masculinity. The anarchic gangsters and outlaws of the Old West may not have been “good men,” but in the words of Charles Portis, they had “true grit.”.

By the end of the book, you’ll want Donovan in your gang.

8 replies »

  1. This is a good, easy to digest read. I recommend it as well. He references John Robb and references the hollowing out of Nation States. His proposed solution to this is to start a gang, so this should be familiar territory for ATS folks!

  2. I really have trouble seeing how this lines up with the sort of ideas that are promoted by writers here. For one thing, the sort of pack mentality inherent in gangs seems more along the lines of the sheep mentality even when we are talking about extreme violence and it’s certainly not to me an owl (displayed prominently at the top of this website) thing. I think Donovan is setting up a false dichotomy here in that the only alternative to being a snarling member of a wolf pack is to be a soft gentle sheep.

    • I think it is strategically important and is another perspective on 4th generation warfare. That is the concept that male hierarchies from the smallest to the largest are made up of party-gangs of variable size. He points out that gangs of men come together to achieve larger objectives, but will also break up into smaller groups as the need arises. The relevance to today is that Nation States have maintained the allegiance of enough gangs to hold together the state and suppressed other gangs from arising and challenging them. In other words, middle class white men pursue their own self interest by putting aside their masculinity and going to work 40 hours a week and filling the void with football and porn. Underclass minorities tend to gang up more, but many of the brightest are brought into line with some level of upward mobility while the rest are attacked by the state’s gangs, the police. This is a tricky balance to maintain even in prosperous times. But as soon as the state is incapable of maintaining the middle class’ social status while suppressing the underclass, then the game is up. Men will find it in their self interest to break up into smaller gangs.

      The job of the owls is to provide a new political frame work for those smaller gangs to operate inside of. Without the anarchist philosophy espoused here this system of gangs would certainly degenerate into war lordism. Instead, we are creating a way for men to find honor in defending their own people, land and way of life, however those are defined (syndicalist, anarcho-capitalist, national anarchist, small town democracy, etc.)

      I share some of your reluctance with Donovan’s false dichotomy. He does tend to focus on the alpha male and corresponding alpha gang as humanity’s single common denominator which has brought us through thousands of years of evolution. One of the problems I have with this is that some of the most critical moments of survival of the human species weren’t really about having big strong males killing everything in sight. Survival in these moments (think Africa, when drought caused our ancient ancestor’s population to dwindle to a few thousand,) depended more on caloric efficiency and a person’s ability to walk with as little water as possible. Surviving these eras also meant extreme levels of ingenuity, projecting into the future, and making educated guesses about where a small band might find food and water. I don’t think that at these times men were at each others throats. That might be true in times of extreme scarcity today, with our high population densities. But even then there are usually significant external factors which cause a true dog eat dog, survival of the fittest world (the artificial microcosmos created inside of prisons, or a besieged city.)

      Basically, throughout the history of humanity, the tribal organizational model has produced time, location and situation specific leaders. Whoever can demonstrate their ability to tackle a given situation leads, and strength and corresponding alpha dog mentality is just one characteristic in mankind’s bag of tricks. Sometimes it is indeed the most important characteristic, but not always.

  3. It’s interesting to see real, thoughtful pushback against the sterile individualism and libertinism so prevalent in our movements. Like Vince I don’t buy everything in Donovan’s thesis, but I think there is merit in a lot of his points — for example, the cultivation of brotherhood among men and at least understanding those male drives that we seek to repress to function in society, if not expressing them in all their dangerous color (though I welcome the reemergence of the dangerous as worthwhile and healthy).

    I rather have a problem with the idea that the feminine is all downside, instead of being (1) an archetype that, like the masculine, we all express to some degree, regardless of sex, (2) having positive and negative attributes, just like masculinity, (3) something men need to come to terms with in order to be whole humans and not simply “men”. Individualism is usually realized as choosing your tribe rather than standing outside any tribe (there are genuine lone wolf types but they are rare) and we could do much worse than to have tribal bonds and understanding ourselves in, and in contrast to, that background identity. It’s one path.

  4. You misunderstand Donovan completely if you think tribalism is “one path.” It is the only path. The feminine must be complete suppressed in order to bond men in survival scenarios. The masculine must be pure, amoral, and with no thought of women or children or the elderly.

    A civilization built on moral values is not strong at all; it is not built on survival. Morality is a luxury, and every man knows this if he is honest in his heart.

    • I can appreciate your perspective. I come from places that remember what tribalism is. These are places that still hold on to strict gender roles, recognize the importance of a warrior caste, and have survived the worst and come out the other end alive. When there is a healthy place for men to be men then there is space for women, children and the elderly. It is balance. Every community needs it. Even in the face of extinction a people need a heart, and it can be found among their women. Elders show us the way, and our children are our future. A man needs a reason to stand and fight, and brothers to be at his side in the face of death.

    • I’m sure you’re correct that I don’t understand his thesis completely; I’d need to read the book.

      I can say that I find essentialist arguments rather unconvincing in general, as I don’t consider myself sufficiently intelligent to make broad claims about “human nature” that are anything but provisional and contingent.

  5. Reading these comments convinced me that most who read his book were looking for something that they personally will never find unless their mother shows it to them or their women helps them look for it. You guys just keep the place clean for us..

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