This post went through multiple revisions when it came to the title. This is quite abnormal for me as I usually just title a post when I start writing it and leave it like that. It started off as “Delusions of Responsibility”, then it became “Illusions of Control” then it morphed into “Toxic Doses” and then it became Illusions of Grandeur.
A major cornerstone of life that many men are raised without these days is accountability. In fact, many problems in our modern world stems from risk being disconnect from reward, power from accountability, and actions from consequences. We saw this in 2008 in our financial system where those who had made millions and more, have yet to face any consequences for their role in what almost sank our financial system.
We see it in politics where the goldfish memory of the great majority of voters means that there is hardly ever a debate regarding “What has the incumbent accomplished?” but rather a series of sales pitches about what both candidates are promising that they will do. This is funnily enough a cluster-b seduction tactic as well, known as “future faking”.
It’s also quite present in intersexual dynamics, best summarized by Rollo Tomassi as “The goal of feminism is to maximally restrict male sexuality while removing all restrictions on female sexuality“. One of the core ideas of feminism is the “subject-object” dichotomy, wherein a subject can only act, and an object is acted upon. While I think this is very much flawed philosophy, in that every single human in all of history will have lived their life on varying and shifting degrees of the area in between. It does create an interesting perspective. In that it does in essence free women from the risk and consequences of the actions pertaining to intersexual dynamics, not in actuality but in social perception. However, as risk can never be eliminated, only managed or transferred, it means most of this risk has been placed on men.
In the “Subject-Object Dichotomy” a subject is viewed as having agency, as in “instrumentality” defined as being capable of exerting power in order to achieve an end. A manager has agency in defining the work times of an employee who reports to them. A man has agency when he asks a woman out, and a woman has agency when she accepts or turns him down. If the man is turned down, he has agency to improve himself in order to better his chances for the next time he asks a woman out, he can improve his style, lift weights, fix his diet, his grooming, make more money, improve his game and many other things. A woman can do all these same things to improve her odds of meeting a partner she deems suitable.
An object on the other hand is purely acted upon and has no instrumentality in its own life. This goes beyond act – react, in the wild for instance one could argue that a predator acts, and prey reacts. However, a predator reacts to the migratory patterns of its prey, and prey acts to seek out new food sources. This is somewhat of an academic discussion, because it can easily be argued that the prey does in fact react to the environment when they migrate, for instance a coming seasonal change or dearth of food.
It’s also the reason why the “subject-object” dichotomy has very little application outside of analyzing literature, film and other forms of art, because life is a constant flux where we are both objects (being acted upon by external forces) and subjects (acting upon external forces). The subject-object dichotomy makes sense when analyzing works of fiction, because all characters in a work of fiction are ultimately objects, the only one who has agency in totality is the writer. Whether a character has agency or not within a work of fiction is merely a function of the role that character has been cast in by the author. In a work of fiction, every character is a means to an end, not an end in itself. The situations the characters are placed in exist purely for the writer to communicate something to the reader about each character or the over-arching narrative.
If one were to look at Henry VIII, perhaps the most powerful King at the time, and the Catholic Church the most powerful organization in Europe at the time, both demonstrated agency in the face of each other. Henry to gain control over his married sex life, and the catholic church to maintain it’s iron grip on religion in Europe. Henry was acted upon by the Catholic Church, and the Church acted upon by Henry, meaning that both parties were simultaneously both object and subject.
The Pendulum Principle
I’ve utilized the concept of the pendulum principle quite often on Twitter, the gist of the principle is that humans rarely appear to work iteratively in small steps aiming to inch gradually closer to an ideal state, but rather swing from one extreme to the other. Often this is driven by creating false dichotomies, based on a volatile mixture of ideology, lack of knowledge and emotion that has the effect of being a polarizing force.
The Subject-Object Dichotomy is a great example in that it classifies in a binary fashion that which is inherently non-dichotomous. For instance, a man who hates his boss and his job, always has the option of quitting. However, he may elect not to because his evaluation of his options, conscious or subconscious is that despite his hatred for his boss and his job, it’s less painful to remain in the status quo than it is to face uncertainty. A woman may elect to continue a bad date with a man she finds unattractive, boorish and having few redeeming qualities, because living through another two hours of his company is less uncomfortable for her than standing up and walking out. In these cases both the man and the woman elect to exert less power than they are capable of in the situation, due to their evaluation of pleasure and pain.
One extreme approach to this is when one resigns oneself to fate in a sense, where one sees oneself as being a hypo-agent. Meaning that one views oneself largely as an object that is acted upon by external forces. This is related to the idea of external locus of control, or rather a person who gains their self-worth from the reaction of others. This can be a Good Boy who builds his life around doing exactly those things he expects will elicit praise and rewards from the world at large, or a woman who feels worthless without the affirmations she gains on social media. In this case they have relinquished to varying degrees their own agency in both their internal and external life.
The other extreme approach often advocated by other parts of the red pill community is the idea of hyper-agency wherein they accept total responsibility for everything. This is the “If a woman does anything less than exactly what you wanted, you were simply not alpha enough” position. Many men who adopt this approach make the mistake of thinking the whole world is under their control to some degree. While this is arguably better than the former, it sets a man up for failure in some regard, due to the fact that only an omnipotent being could be capable of this type of agency. If you want total control of your life and circumstances, you can attain such control but expect to live in solitude. The second you welcome other people into your life, anything beyond that point is a compromise to some degree between your agency and their agency.
An approach utilized by MGTOW, Herbivore men and other groups of men in the past 10 – 30 years has been to minimize their interactions in those spheres where they view the risk of losing agency to be excessive, and maximize their interactions in those spheres where they maximize their agency. For instance, a hardline MGTOW who rejects the idea of interacting with women in general, works to establish his financial buffer and dedicates as much of his time as possible to his interests, has made an evaluation of agency vs non-agency.
A man who marries, has a couple of children, and then gets divorced at the behest of his wife, is then ordered to relinquish half of his assets, may end up paying alimony and will end up paying child support enforced by law-enforcement. In this case, he is often reduced to a beast of burden who for all intents and purposes has very little agency in the whole ordeal given the present state of the legal system.
Risk and Agency
The funny thing about risk is that it’s ubiquitous, yet something people would love to eliminate. Many game salesmen have used the sales pitch “Never be rejected ever again” or “Get any girl you want” which is a fancy way of saying eliminate your downside risk, and maximize your upside risk. The reality is simply that you can never eliminate your downside risk, you can only minimize and account for it. Within risk management one can use the following broad classification:
Risks that have been correctly identified and measured. This does not eliminate any losses from this type of risk, it can still happen or there can be methodology flaws in the measurements.
Risks that are expected but have not been correctly or accurately measured. Simply put, there are things out there that we know about, but we do know how to accurately measure and thus account for.
Risks that we are not aware are even there and thus have no ability to measure.
In the first category, we are aware that the divorce rate is about 50% (higher for subsequent marriages). Thus we cannot say that a specific marriage will end in divorce, but we can say that out of 10000 marriages, 5000 will statistically end in divorce.
In the second category, we know that women cheat, but it’s difficult, if not impossible to figure out if a specific woman will cheat while in a relationship with a specific man.
In the third category we simply do not know what may happen.
Summary and Conclusions
I like the “clean your room” statement that Dr. Jordan Peterson made at one point, because part of the implicit meaning is that you should fix those things you have control over before trying to fix all the things you do not have control over. It’s possible to expand your sphere of control over time, for instance many men who start their own companies do so in order to take more control over their own work- and financial life. Many men who take the red pill do so following a period of hypo-agency, and start to take control of and improve many areas in their life.
However, much as with other things going from viewing yourself as a person who is an object, to a person who is a subject tends to lead to an over-correction. A man who has never had boundaries, will often enforce his boundaries excessively in the beginning. Likewise, as a gentleman who goes by the name of Socrates pointed out in a 21 convention speech a few years back, when men who lack social skills and calibration utilize pick-up material that requires a high degree of calibration in a very aggressive fashion this reflects negatively upon them.
The idea that you have hypoagency is just as damaging as the idea that you have hyperagency, because the former assumes you have control over nothing, the latter that you can control everything. Both are false.
“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” Marcus Aurelius – Meditations
What one often forgets is that if you view yourself as having control over outside events to a very high degree, then you are also culpable for the outcomes of those events. The person who claims “If your frame is strong enough, you’ll control the relationship” has clearly never dated or lived with a psychopath, borderline or malignant narcissist.
The fact of the matter is, that 1%er men experience cheating wives and girlfriends, divorces, getting shot down, and all other forms of adversity one can possibly face in the sexual market place or other marketplaces. One can never eliminate risk, one can simply manage it, plan for it and prepare for it. What concerns me the most, are when shades of grey are made black and white, and one argues that risk can be nullified, this is not the case, it’s simply illusions of grandeur.
You are responsible for your actions and your reactions to the actions of others. They are responsible for their actions and their own reactions to actions of others.