Author: Integral Axis

Self-Mastery, pt. 1 – the Breath

Mental activity is inherently intertwined with the functioning of the autonomic nervous system, including respiration. The example most people being aware of being the balance between the sympathetic nervous system and arousal, on the one hand; and the parasympathetic nervous system and relaxation, on the other.

It’s not normal for the average person to have any voluntary control over their autonomic nervous system. However, every individual has conscious control over their breathing – which is both consciously and unconsciously controlled, and thus provides a link between the conscious and unconscious. Having a degree of control over the breath, it is possible for everyone to influence their inner state via control of the breath.

Here we will be using the most basic of breathing exercises – yet also the one which has the most profound and immediate effect. The purpose of this particular exercise is to impose a rhythm on the breath, which, through its influence over the rest of the nervous system, can help bring the psycho-mental flux under control. This is brought about by the two-way relationship between the breath and heart, on the one hand; and the activity of the mind, on the other.

In order to achieve this objective there must be two conditions imposed on the breath:

  1. It be rhythmic (the inhalations and exhalations are matched.)
  2. It be automatic (not under too strong a voluntary control, which can inadvertently cause problems, such as tension or hyperventilation.)

 

These are the two necessary conditions. If we have these two conditions present then all other considerations are of little significance.

 

Rhythmic

The virtue of the perfectly rhythmic breath was an important element within the tradition of yoga. It was an essential part of their discipline of pranayama – which was at once seen as a suitable practice for the average man, as well as a pre-requisite for more advanced meditative practices.

Modern science is developing its own support for this method. Namely that breathing is intimately tied up with activity of the heart – which is directly liked up to the brain via the nervous system – and as such, can be consciously manipulated as a method of controlling nervous system activity. The more rhythmic our breathing, the more stable our autonomic nervous system is. This manifests itself as increased heart rate variability; which is seen as signifying nervous system adaptability and stress resilience.

The goal is to train the breath to adopt this steady breathing pattern as its default state. The steadiness of the breath becomes a strong foundation upon which to develop the steadiness of the mind.

As a beginner, this can be practised in small 10 to 20 minute sessions, intermittently throughout the day when appropriate. Over time, the unconscious will readily adopt this as its default breathing style. It can then be left to run like clockwork in the background ensuring an ongoing state of heightened mental sureness and stability.

Choose somewhere comfortable to sit where you won’t be disturbed, and practise the breathing pattern below. A stopwatch or clock with a second-hand can be used to maintain the proper timing. Though you could also, for example, tap out a steady beat with your fingers. Reciting a mantra in the mind is sometimes suggested in traditional yoga teachings as a means of keeping time.

In actuality, any recurring rhythm could be used for the breath, but the most practical – and the one that produces the most optimal results – is probably a 2-1-2-1 ratio (inhalation-hold-exhalation-hold); or alternately a 1-1-1-1 ratio.

The actual time for each segment in the sequence doesn’t matter, as long as the proportions remain correct. The correct speed of the breath will depend a great deal on present circumstances. i.e. it would necessarily be much quicker during intense physical activity than at rest – a point more relevant for when you begin to incorporate this continuously throughout the day than in the beginning when the practice is first being learned.

The following two are just examples of timings that may be used. They would be the most practical, due to them being the ones most easily practised with the assistance of a stopwatch or clock:

4 seconds in, 2 seconds hold, 4 seconds out, 2 seconds hold. (5 breaths/minute – slow.)

2 seconds in, 1 second hold, 2 seconds out, 1 second hold. (10 breaths/minute – moderate.)

 

So, for example, you would inhale gently for four seconds. Hold the breath for two seconds. Exhale gently for four seconds. Hold the breath for two seconds. Repeat in a cyclical manner.

 

Side note: the popular notion that high arousal (adrenaline) equals stress, and that relaxation techniques which induce parasympathetic dominance are the key to a healthy mind, is pretty wide of the mark.

The mind being in a positive state – along with the corresponding physiological state – has little to do with high vs. low arousal. It instead has much to do with what some are now calling brain coherence – brainwaves, as measure by ECG, etc. manifesting a highly ordered state. This is found in conjunction with a highly rhythmic heart beat (at the same time exhibiting high variability – i.e. a steady, predictable variability; as opposed to a chaotic and unpredictable variability.)

 

 

 

 

 

The bottom line here is that a high arousal state is definitely useful if you’re also in a state of internal coherence. Conversely a low arousal (or ‘relaxed’) state will still be negative if you are in a chaotic internal state.

 

Automatic

This is the second vital consideration. It also presents something of a paradox, for the task at hand is the conscious manipulation of the pattern of the breath. However, focusing on moving the breath in and out with our conscious mind presents a significant problem. The conscious mind does not know how to breathe anything like as well as does the sub-conscious mind – whose task it usually is. Consciously manipulating our breathing in this way is very likely to lead to problems – hyperventilation, and/or tension from the forced nature of it – and will only make our situation worse. Hyperventilation deprives the brain of oxygen, hindering mental performance – even in the presence of brain coherence where the breath is properly rhythmic. None of this is what we want.

The answer is to control just the parameters of the breath; but to actually let the breathing process itself – the mechanical in and out – take care of itself. This can be developed as a skill by simply sitting and observing the breath. Notice how it feels when the breath takes care of itself, going in and out automatically. And also understand the difference between this and how the breath feels when we are actively and consciously inhaling and exhaling. There is a subtle but marked difference. Aim for the former – an automatic breath – and not the latter. The body knows how to breathe better than we do.

You want to almost keep the breath in peripheral awareness, whilst controlling the parameters – the length and timing of the inhalation, exhalation and retentions.

 

Combining the two into one (rhythmicity and automaticity together) is the whole method. When performed correctly everything will be subjectively experienced as being just right.

 

Breathe through the Heart

There is an additional, third, element that can be leveraged in this breathing exercise. This is to consciously breathe through the centre of the chest – where the mystical side of the Indian tradition held the heart chakra to be. Doing this amplifies the power of the technique. It is not necessary; as are the elements of rhythmicity and automaticity. Breathing through the heart is instead supplementary – providing an enhancing effect.

This would give us a diagrammatic representation looking something like the following:

The Logic of Modern Art

The essence of modern art is the negation of beauty. The value of beauty – along with its association with the sacred – is inverted. Ugliness and vulgarity is now put forward as ‘art.’

The method for how this is done:

Beauty has two forms: 1) beauty-without-form (generalised beauty), 2) and beauty-with-form (the beauty of particular things.) There is, additionally, the perennial connection between the aesthetic and the sacred.

This gives three means of inverting beauty:

  1. Inversion of beauty-without-form
  2. Inversion of beauty-with-form
  3. Inversion of aesthetic/sacred link

 

We will begin by looking at 1) beauty-without-form.

 

1. Inversion of Beauty-without-Form

To understand beauty-without-form we must understand the concept of entropy

For our purposes, entropy can be understood as the principle that everything in the universe tends to greater disorder over time. As time increases, so does disorder/entropy. The exception is if energy is put into something to make things move in the other direction – i.e. to increased order (lower entropy.)

This is intuitively obvious. If we put our energies into the construction of a building and then leave it to the elements, it will only deteriorate over time. The brick and mortar will crumble, glass break; the building will slowly fall apart until collapse. This is entropy. From order to disorder. Conversely a large pile bricks and materials will never spontaneously arrange itself into a house by chance.

To take another example, consider a sandcastle on a beach. But instead of thinking of it as a single object, think of it in terms of its many constituent parts – the grains of sand that it’s made up of. And along side this; consider a pile of sand consisting of a more or less identical number of grains of sand.

The sandcastle represents the grains of sand in a low entropy state (ordered.) The pile of sand represents the grains in a high entropy state (disordered.)

Entropy is a measure of how many ways we can rearrange those grains of sand without messing up the overall shape or structure. There are infinitely greater ways of doing this to the sand pile without causing any meaningful alteration to its structure. This is therefore said to possess ‘high entropy.’ Whereas, almost any rearrangement of the grains of sand in the sandcastle and it will no longer be the same thing. This means it exhibits low entropy, which represents a more highly ordered state.

And again, if left to the elements, then the winds will attack the sandcastle and it will gradually disintegrate and become less ordered.

 

A low entropy state is an aesthetic state. This is what we’re referring to as beauty-without-form; the beauty of nothing in particular. And conversely a high entropy state is an unaesthetic state.

Low entropy = High aesthetic

High entropy = Low aesthetic

 

A low entropy state is a high aesthetic state…

Beauty-without-form is the manifestation of order in the world. The aesthetic is the crystallisation of order in the world. Order can be understood as consisting of two complementary components, harmony and complexity:

ORDER = HARMONY + COMPLEXITY

(it can be understood as such – it is not a synthesis.)

If we take a look at the pictures above and below we can understand what the simple formula above really means.

 

So,

Beauty-without-Form = Harmony + Complexity

 

Therefore, beauty/order can also be negated in one of these two ways:

1) through the radical minimisation of harmony

2) through the radical minimisation of complexity

 

1) [high complexity / low harmony vs. 2) low complexity / high harmony.]

 

1) high complexity / low harmony = would give you disordered complexity

2) low complexity / high harmony = would give you hyper-simplistic harmony

 

Examples of 1) and 2) …

So this is the first means through which beauty can be negated. – the entirety of modern ‘aesthetics’ constitutes a willed negation of beauty. Modernity is entirely negationary. Modernity is a neurosis.

 

2. Inversion of Beauty-with-Form

Now we move on from the negation of beauty-without-form to the negation of beauty-with-form – that is, the standard of beauty which is particular to a thing itself.

The clearest exposition of this idea came from Plato. Though the idea itself existed long before he came along.

This idea is called Plato’s Theory of Forms. Its premise is that every object has its own ideal form or structure – which exists in the metaphysical realm; outside of space and time. So, for example, there exists the Form of a perfect circle. An individual object in the human world can be said to be a circle, or circular, only insofar as they participate in, or imitate, the perfect Form of a circle.

Every person is born with innate knowledge of the ideal form of all natural phenomena. Two pertinent examples, for our purpose, are the human face and human body. It has been found, for example, that newborn babies spend more time looking at attractive adult faces than unattractive ones – this is an innate preference. They possess an innate (though sub-conscious) conceptual model of the perfect face against which they judge the attractiveness of actual human faces.

The Marquardt Beauty Mask, developed by plastic surgeon Dr. Stephen Marquardt:

 

Marquardt’s Beauty Mask overlaid over two real-world examples – one representational, one actual.

 

Two historical representations of the perfect male body – Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man (left) and Myron’s Discobolus (right.)

 

So this is the second means of negating beauty: through the negation of beauty-with-form – by which we mean radically distorting an object away from its ideal Form (whilst still being recognisably of that Form.)

Examples:

 

Six pieces by Francesco Sambo:

 

3. Inversion of Aesthetic/Sacred Link

The third and final means of negating beauty is less directly to do with beauty itself. It involves a radical rejection of the traditional link between the aesthetic and the sacred.

This is accomplished through the juxtaposition of the aesthetic and/or sacred, with elements which are at the furthest possible point from the spiritual. (The lowest, basest, crudest; that which is vulgar, sordid, dirty; the most biological, animalistic and carnal aspect of human existence.)

Two well-known examples, utilising this juxtaposition in regards to that which the West has traditionally considered sacred:

 

A similar juxtaposition in the realm of the aesthetic: feminist theatre group Sirens standing on stage making male masturbatory hand motions, as part of an art piece:

 

To conclude: the practical uptake of all this is that now – equipped with the underlying logic of modern art – it should be perfectly possible for us to create our own pretend modern art, as a form of mockery; but more importantly to elucidate the principles outlined in this article, and in doing so to demonstrate the bogus nature of it all. This is surely the optimal line of attack against this stuff – a more effective strategy than simply constructing and propagating arguments against it. Thoroughly undermine its credibility. The Emperor has no clothes…

Right vs. Left – Its Validity

Here we’re going to look into the legitimacy of the Right / Left political dichotomy. It’s becoming increasingly common for people to dismiss the idea that there lies anything meaningful behind the Right/Left political axis. But we’ll conclude that it is in fact valid and useful, in so far as it is correctly understood.

The core issue these two worldviews disagree on is that of hierarchy. The Right is for it; the Left against it. The Left claims to desire ‘equality’ instead.

In this sense, we can say the Right is vertical while the Left is horizontal.

On the one hand we have the Right, whose visuo-spatial representation of politics is Up vs. Down. Life is viewed and judged against the backdrop of a hierarchy of quality – from the highest down to the lowest.

Against this, the Left arises – by way of reaction – which inverts everything the Right stands for and instead views everything in terms of Forwards vs. Backwards. The purpose of life is to escape a pervasive state of ‘oppression.’ The future will thereby be one long expansion in ‘freedom’ and ‘equality.’

This represents the core conflict between two eternally opposed worldviews.

Right Left in Spatial Terms

 

What the Right stands for is eternal Cosmic Truth. The Good, of which every of value is a manifestation of the Divine.

All of these are aspects of one and the same:

Right vs. Left 1

Right vs. Left 3

 

The Left as an Inversion of the Right – The worldview of the Right is the default one. The Left comes into being reactively by way of a complete inversion of everything the Right stands for. If the Right is the Sun, then the Left is the Shadow – the Left is a pure negation of the Right (psychologically reactive.) And the world is in a constant struggle between these two poles.

Right vs. Left 2

The Left originates in a psychological neurotic complex, which inverts every one of the Right’s core aspects and ideals, and pushes for them under the language of various pseudo-ideals: ‘equality’, ‘freedom’, ‘progress.’

 

A better spatial analogy than ‘Right’ vs. ‘Left’: Centrality vs. Dispersal

— dispersal because the left is fundamentally aversive.

In physics terms this would give us…

Centripetal (towards the centre) vs. Centrifugal (away from the centre)

Right vs. Left 5

It is vitally important in all of this, if we are to avoid confusion, that we understand what I’ve called the Schizoid nature of the Left – (using the word ‘schizoid’ loosely to mean ‘split-like.’ i.e. the Left has a ‘split-like’ nature.)

The view of politics which the average person has come to possess, delineates things primarily according to economic policies – with communists and socialists on ‘the Left’; and laissez-faire capitalists or economic liberals on ‘the Right.’ This would leave the true – historical – Right out of it altogether, or leave it with a false position vaguely off the centre. Some modern Rightists helpfully compound this problem by terming themselves ‘Third Position’, and claiming to be ‘neither Left nor Right.’

Right vs. Left 6

A far more accurate way of understanding the above would be to put The True Right on one side (representing as it does; hierarchy, spirituality, organic unity…) and position both communism and laissez-faire capitalism on the other side as two different forms of the Left (valuing: equality, materialism, individualism – socialism is still essentially individualism; it is the banding together of individual egos for mutual benefit. Laissez-faire capitalism / economic liberalism literally arose out of the historical Left against the Right.)

Right vs. Left 7

This is what is being referred to by the schizoid nature of the Left. The Left arises out of an inversion of the Right, but it has at its disposal many different means of negating the ideals of the Right. These often appear to be the complete opposite of one another. Consequently many of the ideological oppositions of our time are in reality different versions of the Left squaring off against one another.

To demonstrate this using as an example the abstract ideal of Beauty; there is only one way of moving towards Beauty – towards the perfection of the Ideal of Beauty. On the other hand, there are always many varied means of negating an ideal such as Beauty. As already mentioned, these are often distilled into and expressed as two ostensibly diametrically opposed alternatives.

Centripetal Centrifugal Beauty 2

The below is a visual example of the schizoid nature of the Left’s negations as applied to Beauty. (Understand that Beauty in its purest form is essentially synonymous with maximum order – and order can itself be understood as harmonised complexity.) If we take order to be ‘harmonised complexity,’ then Beauty – being synonymous with the maximisation of order – can be negated either through the radical reduction of harmony, or the radical reduction of complexity:

Beauty Negated Two Ways.png

The same also holds true not just on the aesthetic plane, but on the political plane as well. Here the worldview of the True Right, and its ideal Social Order or State – which can be understood as a cohesive unity possessing internal differentiation (this was considered the ideal up until the modern period) – is negated by two modern leftist movements: communism/socialism and classical liberalism with its individualism and laissez-faire economics. The former achieves this inversion via the radical reduction of internal differentiation. The latter through the radical reduction of cohesive unity.

Here represented through the idea of centripetal vs. centrifugal forces – or centrality vs. dispersal.

Right vs. Left 8

Here represented more directly to the idea of the Ideal State:

Two Means Negating Ideal State

This concludes our look at this topic for now (though we may well come back to it in future.) For a more in-depth look at the contrasting principles of the Right and Left look at 5 Principles of the Right

Know Your Enemy

There’s a definite problem on the Right whereby people decide that just one category of person is the problem, and seek to use a single strategy against that one group hoping it’ll lead to victory. Things aren’t that simple. We need to appreciate the full complexity of the situation, if we’re to come up with a strategy to defeat them with.

So what I’d like to do here is analyse the tangled web of forces that makes up the Left – from its most active to its most passive actors. We can differentiate between its various threads and look at which can most effectively be combated. The next step will be to figure out how. Let’s see where the enemy is weakest, and where – if anywhere – does our greatest strength lie.

Read the list below and 1) suggest anything you think should be added or removed from the list and/or 2) offer suggestions for how best to tackle one or more of them.

  1. People with a genuine attraction to the idea of equality – Caused by status anxiety revolving around feelings of inferiority. (Equality is only an improvement if you’re below average.) Results in hostility to the idea of hierarchies based on an objective standard of quality. [See: The Psychology of Leftism]
  1. Racial, ethnic and religious minorities – side with the Left in other people’s countries – Blacks in White countries, Jews in gentile countries, Muslims in infidel countries, and Irish-Catholics in UK and America, etc.
  1. Those in it for financial gain – support modernity so as to exploit it financially via the peddling of degeneracy, the opening up of new markets, use of cheap labour, etc.
  1. Poorer people who side with the Left because it’s wealth redistributive policies will leave them materially better off. (The ‘other half’ of number 3. But I still like to keep them conceptually distinct.)
  1. Social conformity – the great bulk of people who to a greater or lesser extent are subconsciously copying what they perceive to be the norm. ‘Perceive’ being the operative word. [For example: What You Can’t Say] (Motivated by the threat of social punishments.)
  1. Status-seeking conformists – people copying what they perceive ‘educated’ opinion to be so as to appear smarter themselves. Followers of intellectual fashion. [See: Cultural Hegemony] (Motivated by the prospect of social rewards.)
  1. Familial identification – many people identify with a political party or ideology because their family supported it, despite the reasons their family did so no longer being relevant. For example, many White working-class people still identify – and thus vote – for socialist parties even though those parties are currently dedicated to ethnically-cleansing those people in their own countries, and pursuing policies which inevitably lower their quality of life. Another example is people who identify with – and thus vote for – conservative parties because their parents did, despite the fact their parents voted for those parties because of their social conservatism but they’re now supporting gay pretend-marriage, etc. This phenomenon is analogous to the way in which people usually support the sports team their parents support – albeit a much more insidious version.
  1. Misinformed – people who genuinely and honestly believe falsehoods (about history, or racial/sexual/individual differences.) because that’s what they’ve been led to believe is the truth.
  1. Psychopaths – will literally say whatever people want to hear. Fuck all can be done about these unfortunately. Other than maybe call them out as individuals. This is obviously a special case of number 6, but I feel it’s worth bearing in mind anyway.
  1. People who are literally paid money to be spokespeople, or write articles, etc. for the Left despite a complete lack of belief. It happens.

The next step will be working out the best strategy to be used against each of these.

Hierarchy vs. Inequality

I’m on record (all over the place) as stating that the distinction between Left and Right basically boils down to a battle of equality vs. hierarchy. Some people might however be tempted to view the Right as simply being for ‘inequality’ — as that’s the obvious antonym of ‘equality.’ But this is incorrect; the worldview and tradition we call the Right centres around a vertical arrangement of relationships between superior and inferior – with expectations and obligations for both sides in their dealings with one another (e.g. noblesse oblige.)  The true Right has never been about the desirability of the mere existence of inequality between people. Therefore, it’s important we develop a clear understanding of the conceptual difference between hierarchy and inequality. It’s the central pillar of our worldview – and people will want a firm explanation of what it is we’ll replace egalitarianism with.

So here’s Jonathan Haidt on authority (still interesting despite his silly naturalistic explanations for everything):

‘The obvious way to begin thinking about the evolution of the Authority foundation is to consider the pecking orders and dominance hierarchies of chickens, dogs, chimpanzees, and so many other species that live in groups. The displays made by low-ranking individuals are often similar across species because their function is always the same — to appear submissive, which means small and nonthreatening. The failure to detect signs of dominance and then to respond accordingly often results in a beating.

So far this doesn’t sound like a promising origin story for a “moral” foundation; it sounds like the origin of oppression of the weak by the powerful. But authority should not be confused with power. Even among chimpanzees, where dominance hierarchies are indeed about raw power and the ability to inflict violence, the alpha male performs some socially beneficial functions, such as taking on the “control role.” He resolves some disputes and suppresses much of the violent conflict that erupts when there is no clear alpha male. As the primatologist Frans de Waal puts it: “Without agreement on rank and a certain respect for authority there can be no great sensitivity to social rules, as anyone who has tried to teach simple house rules to a cat will agree.”

This control role is quite visible in human tribes and early civilizations. Many of the earliest legal texts begin by grounding the king’s rule in divine choice, and then they dedicate the king’s authority to providing order and justice. The very first sentence of the Code of Hammurabi (eighteenth century BCE) includes this clause: “Then Anu and Bel [two gods] called by name me, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, who feared God, to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm the weak.”

Human authority, then, is not just raw power backed by the threat of force. Human authorities take on responsibility for maintaining order and justice. Of course, authorities often exploit their subordinates for their own benefit while believing they are perfectly just. But if we want to understand how human civilizations burst forth and covered the Earth in just a few thousand years, we’ll have to look closely at the role of authority in creating moral order.

When I began graduate school I subscribed to the common liberal belief that hierarchy = power = exploitation = evil. But when I began to work with Alan Fiske, I discovered that I was wrong. Fiske’s theory of the four basic kinds of social relationships includes one called “Authority Ranking.” Drawing on his own fieldwork in Africa, Fiske showed that people who relate to each other in this way have mutual expectations that are more like those of a parent and child than those of a dictator and fearful underlings:

In Authority Ranking, people have asymmetric positions in a linear hierarchy in which subordinates defer, respect, and (perhaps) obey, while superiors take precedence and take pastoral responsibility for subordinates. Examples are military hierarchies … ancestor worship ([ including] offerings of filial piety and expectations of protection and enforcement of norms), [and] monotheistic religious moralities … Authority Ranking relationships are based on perceptions of legitimate asymmetries, not coercive power; they are not inherently exploitative.

 

The Authority foundation, as I describe it, is borrowed directly from Fiske. It is more complex than the other foundations because its modules must look in two directions— up toward superiors and down toward subordinates. These modules work together to help individuals meet the adaptive challenge of forging beneficial relationships within hierarchies. We are the descendants of the individuals who were best able to play the game— to rise in status while cultivating the protection of superiors and the allegiance of subordinates.

The original triggers of some of these modules include patterns of appearance and behavior that indicate higher versus lower rank. Like chimpanzees, people track and remember who is above whom. When people within a hierarchical order act in ways that negate or subvert that order, we feel it instantly, even if we ourselves have not been directly harmed. If authority is in part about protecting order and fending off chaos, then everyone has a stake in supporting the existing order and in holding people accountable for fulfilling the obligations of their station.’

The Psychology of Leftism

From Industrial Society and Its Future by schizoid nut and eco-terrorist, Ted Kaczynski. He nails down the cause of genuine egalitarianism as ‘feelings of inferiority.’ He also ascribes it to what he dubs ‘oversocialization.’ I’d dispute that. What he calls oversocialization is probably more a case of low levels of physiological toughness (see here and here.) But nevertheless, his comments on feelings of inferiority are all you’ll ever need to know in order to understand every genuine egalitarian you ever come across. Bear his words in mind whenever you hear a leftist speak.

‘Almost everyone will agree that we live in a deeply troubled society. One of the most widespread manifestations of the craziness of our world is leftism, so a discussion of the psychology of leftism can serve as an introduction to the discussion of the problems of modern society in general.

But what is leftism? During the first half of the 20th century leftism could have been practically identified with socialism. Today the movement is fragmented and it is not clear who can properly be called a leftist. When we speak of leftists in this article we have in mind mainly socialists, collectivists, “politically correct” types, feminists, gay and disability activists, animal rights activists and the like. But not everyone who is associated with one of these movements is a leftist. What we are trying to get at in discussing leftism is not so much movement or an ideology as a psychological type, or rather a collection of related types. Thus, what we mean by “leftism” will emerge more clearly in the course of our discussion of leftist psychology.

Even so, our conception of leftism will remain a good deal less clear than we would wish, but there doesn’t seem to be any remedy for this. All we are trying to do here is indicate in a rough and approximate way the two psychological tendencies that we believe are the main driving force of modern leftism. We by no means claim to be telling the WHOLE truth about leftist psychology. Also, our discussion is meant to apply to modern leftism only.

We leave open the question of the extent to which our discussion could be applied to the leftists of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The two psychological tendencies that underlie modern leftism we call “feelings of inferiority” and “oversocialization”.

Feelings of inferiority are characteristic of modern leftism as a whole, while oversocialization is characteristic only of a certain segment of modern leftism; but this segment is highly influential.

FEELINGS OF INFERIORITY

By “feelings of inferiority” we mean not only inferiority feelings in the strict sense but a whole spectrum of related traits; low self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, depressive tendencies, defeatism, guilt, self-hatred, etc. We argue that modern leftists tend to have some such feelings (possibly more or less repressed) and that these feelings are decisive in determining the direction of modern leftism. When someone interprets as derogatory almost anything that is said about him (or about groups with whom he identifies) we conclude that he has inferiority feelings or low self-esteem. This tendency is pronounced among minority rights activists, whether or not they belong to the minority groups whose rights they defend.

They are hypersensitive about the words used to designate minorities and about anything that is said concerning minorities.

The terms “negro”, “oriental”, “handicapped” or “chick” for an African, an Asian, a disabled person or a woman originally had no derogatory connotation. “Broad” and “chick” were merely the feminine equivalents of “guy”, “dude” or “fellow”. The negative connotations have been attached to these terms by the activists themselves.

Some animal rights activists have gone so far as to reject the word “pet” and insist on its replacement by “animal companion”. Leftish anthropologists go to great lengths to avoid saying anything about primitive peoples that could conceivably be interpreted as negative. They want to replace the word “primitive” by “nonliterate”. They may seem almost paranoid about anything that might suggest that any primitive culture is inferior to ours. (We do not mean to imply that primitive cultures ARE inferior to ours. We merely point out the hyper sensitivity of leftish anthropologists.)

Those who are most sensitive about “politically incorrect” terminology are not the average black ghettodweller, Asian immigrant, abused woman or disabled person, but a minority of activists, many of whom do not even belong to any “oppressed” group but come from privileged strata of society. Political correctness has its stronghold among university professors, who have secure employment with comfortable salaries, and the majority of whom are heterosexual white males from middle- to upper-middle-class families. Many leftists have an intense identification with the problems of groups that have an image of being weak (women), defeated (American Indians), repellent (homosexuals) or otherwise inferior. The leftists themselves feel that these groups are inferior. They would never admit to themselves that they have such feelings, but it is precisely because they do see these groups as inferior that they identify with their problems. (We do not mean to suggest that women, Indians, etc. ARE inferior; we are only making a point about leftist psychology.)

Feminists are desperately anxious to prove that women are as strong and as capable as men. Clearly they are nagged by a fear that women may NOT be as strong and as capable as men.

Leftists tend to hate anything that has an image of being strong, good and successful. They hate America, they hate Western civilization, they hate white males, they hate rationality. The reasons that leftists give for hating the West, etc. clearly do not correspond with their real motives. They SAY they hate the West because it is warlike, imperialistic, sexist, ethnocentric and so forth, but where these same faults appear in socialist countries or in primitive cultures, the leftist finds excuses for them, or at best he GRUDGINGLY admits that they exist; whereas he ENTHUSIASTICALLY points out (and often greatly exaggerates) these faults where they appear in Western civilization. Thus it is clear that these faults are not the leftist’s real motive for hating America and the West. He hates America and the West because they are strong and successful.

Words like “self-confidence”, “self-reliance”, “initiative”, “enterprise”, “optimism”, etc., play little role in the liberal and leftist vocabulary. The leftist is antiindividualistic, pro-collectivist. He wants society to solve every one’s problems for them, satisfy everyone’s needs for them, take care of them. He is not the sort of person who has an inner sense of confidence in his ability to solve his own problems and satisfy his own needs. The leftist is antagonistic to the concept of competition because, deep inside, he feels like a loser.

Art forms that appeal to modern leftish intellectuals tend to focus on sordidness, defeat and despair, or else they take an orgiastic tone, throwing off rational control as if there were no hope of accomplishing anything through rational calculation and all that was left was to immerse oneself in the sensations of the moment.

Modern leftish philosophers tend to dismiss reason, science, objective reality and to insist that everything is culturally relative. It is true that one can ask serious questions about the foundations of scientific knowledge and about how, if at all, the concept of objective reality can be defined. But it is obvious that modern leftish philosophers are not simply cool-headed logicians systematically analyzing the foundations of knowledge. They are deeply involved emotionally in their attack on truth and reality. They attack these concepts because of their own psychological needs. For one thing, their attack is an outlet for hostility, and, to the extent that it is successful, it satisfies the drive for power. More importantly, the leftist hates science and rationality because they classify certain beliefs as true (i.e., successful, superior) and other beliefs as false (i.e., failed, inferior). The leftist’s feelings of inferiority run so deep that he cannot tolerate any classification of some things as successful or superior and other things as failed or inferior. This also underlies the rejection by many leftists of the concept of mental illness and of the utility of IQ tests. Leftists are antagonistic to genetic explanations of human abilities or behavior because such explanations tend to make some persons appear superior or inferior to others. Leftists prefer to give society the credit or blame for an individual’s ability or lack of it. Thus if a person is “inferior” it is not his fault, but society’s, because he has not been brought up properly.

The leftist is not typically the kind of person whose feelings of inferiority make him a braggart, an egotist, a bully, a self-promoter, a ruthless competitor. This kind of person has not wholly lost faith in himself. He has a deficit in his sense of power and self-worth, but he can still conceive of himself as having the capacity to be strong, and his efforts to make himself strong produce his unpleasant behavior. But the leftist is too far gone for that. His feelings of inferiority are so ingrained that he cannot conceive of himself as individually strong and valuable.

Hence the collectivism of the leftist. He can feel strong only as a member of a large organization or a mass movement with which he identifies himself.

Notice the masochistic tendency of leftist tactics.

Leftists protest by lying down in front of vehicles, they intentionally provoke police or racists to abuse them, etc.

These tactics may often be effective, but many leftists use them not as a means to an end but because they PREFER masochistic tactics. Self-hatred is a leftist trait.

Leftists may claim that their activism is motivated by compassion or by moral principles, and moral principle does play a role for the leftist of the oversocialized type. But compassion and moral principle cannot be the main motives for leftist activism. Hostility is too prominent a component of leftist behavior; so is the drive for power. Moreover, much leftist behavior is not rationally calculated to be of benefit to the people whom the leftists claim to be trying to help. For example, if one believes that affirmative action is good for black people, does it make sense to demand affirmative action in hostile or dogmatic terms? Obviously it would be more productive to take a diplomatic and conciliatory approach that would make at least verbal and symbolic concessions to white people who think that affirmative action discriminates against them.

But leftist activists do not take such an approach because it would not satisfy their emotional needs. Helping black people is not their real goal. Instead, race problems serve as an excuse for them to express their own hostility and frustrated need for power. In doing so they actually harm black people, because the activists’ hostile attitude toward the white majority tends to intensify race hatred.

If our society had no social problems at all, the leftists would have to INVENT problems in order to provide themselves with an excuse for making a fuss.

We emphasize that the foregoing does not pretend to be an accurate description of everyone who might be considered a leftist. It is only a rough indication of a general tendency of leftism.

OVERSOCIALIZATION

Psychologists use the term “socialization” to designate the process by which children are trained to think and act as society demands. A person is said to be well socialized if he believes in and obeys the moral code of his society and fits in well as a functioning part of that society. It may seem senseless to say that many leftists are over-socialized, since the leftist is perceived as a rebel. Nevertheless, the position can be defended. Many leftists are not such rebels as they seem.

The moral code of our society is so demanding that no one can think, feel and act in a completely moral way. For example, we are not supposed to hate anyone, yet almost everyone hates somebody at some time or other, whether he admits it to himself or not. Some people are so highly socialized that the attempt to think, feel and act morally imposes a severe burden on them. In order to avoid feelings of guilt, they continually have to deceive themselves about their own motives and find moral explanations for feelings and actions that in reality have a nonmoral origin. We use the term “oversocialized” to describe such people.

Oversocialization can lead to low self-esteem, a sense of powerlessness, defeatism, guilt, etc. One of the most important means by which our society socializes children is by making them feel ashamed of behavior or speech that is contrary to society’s expectations. If this is overdone, or if a particular child is especially susceptible to such feelings, he ends by feeling ashamed of HIMSELF.

Moreover the thought and the behavior of the oversocialized person are more restricted by society’s expectations than are those of the lightly socialized person. The majority of people engage in a significant amount of naughty behavior. They lie, they commit petty thefts, they break traffic laws, they goof off at work, they hate someone, they say spiteful things or they use some underhanded trick to get ahead of the other guy. The oversocialized person cannot do these things, or if he does do them he generates in himself a sense of shame and self-hatred. The oversocialized person cannot even experience, without guilt, thoughts or feelings that are contrary to the accepted morality; he cannot think “unclean” thoughts. And socialization is not just a matter of morality; we are socialized to conform to many norms of behavior that do not fall under the heading of morality. Thus the oversocialized person is kept on a psychological leash and spends his life running on rails that society has laid down for him. In many oversocialized people this results in a sense of constraint and powerlessness that can be a severe hardship. We suggest that oversocialization is among the more serious cruelties that human being inflict on one another.

We argue that a very important and influential segment of the modern left is oversocialized and that their oversocialization is of great importance in determining the direction of modern leftism. Leftists of the oversocialized type tend to be intellectuals or members of the upper-middle class. Notice that university intellectuals constitute the most highly socialized segment of our society and also the most leftwing segment.

The leftist of the oversocialized type tries to get off his psychological leash and assert his autonomy by rebelling. But usually he is not strong enough to rebel against the most basic values of society. Generally speaking, the goals of today’s leftists are NOT in conflict with the accepted morality. On the contrary, the left takes an accepted moral principle, adopts it as its own, and then accuses mainstream society of violating that principle.

Examples: racial equality, equality of the sexes, helping poor people, peace as opposed to war, nonviolence generally, freedom of expression, kindness to animals. More fundamentally, the duty of the individual to serve society and the duty of society to take care of the individual. All these have been deeply rooted values of our society (or at least of its middle and upper classes for a long time. These values are explicitly or implicitly expressed or presupposed in most of the material presented to us by the mainstream communications media and the educational system. Leftists, especially those of the oversocialized type, usually do not rebel against these principles but justify their hostility to society by claiming (with some degree of truth) that society is not living up to these principles.

Here is an illustration of the way in which the oversocialized leftist shows his real attachment to the conventional attitudes of our society while pretending to be in rebellion against it. Many leftists push for affirmative action, for moving black people into high-prestige jobs, for improved education in black schools and more money for such schools; the way of life of the black “underclass” they regard as a social disgrace. They want to integrate the black man into the system,make him a business executive, a lawyer, a scientist just like upper-middle-class white people. The leftists will reply that the last thing they want is to make the black man into a copy of the white man; instead, they want to preserve African American culture. But in what does this preservation of African American culture consist? It can hardly consist in anything more than eating black-style food, listening to black-style music, wearing black-style clothing and going to a black-style church or mosque. In other words, it can express itself only in superficial matters. In all ESSENTIAL respects most leftists of the oversocialized type want to make the black man conform to white, middle-class ideals. They want to make him study technical subjects, become an executive or a scientist, spend his life climbing the status ladder to prove that black people are as good as white. They want to make black fathers “responsible,” they want black gangs to become nonviolent, etc. But these are exactly the values of the industrial- technological system. The system couldn’t care less what kind of music a man listens to, what kind of clothes he wears or what religion he believes in as long as he studies in school, holds a respectable job, climbs the status ladder, is a “responsible” parent, is nonviolent and so forth. In effect, however much he may deny it, the oversocialized leftist wants to integrate the black man into the system and make him adopt its values.

We certainly do not claim that leftists, even of the oversocialized type, NEVER rebel against the fundamental values of our society. Clearly they sometimes do.

Some oversocialized leftists have gone so far as to rebel against one of modern society’s most important principles by engaging in physical violence. By their own account, violence is for them a form of “liberation.” In other words, by committing violence they break through the psychological restraints that have been trained into them. Because they are oversocialized these restraints have been more confining for them than for others; hence their need to break free of them. But they usually justify their rebellion in terms of mainstream values. If they engage in violence they claim to be fighting against racism or the like.

We realize that many objections could be raised to the foregoing thumbnail sketch of leftist psychology.

The real situation is complex, and anything like a complete description of it would take several volumes even if the necessary data were available. We claim only to have indicated very roughly the two most important tendencies in the psychology of modern leftism.

The problems of the leftist are indicative of the problems of our society as a whole. Low self-esteem, depressive tendencies and defeatism are not restricted to the left. Though they are especially noticeable in the left, they are widespread in our society. And today’s society tries to socialize us to a greater extent than any previous society.

We are even told by experts how to eat, how to exercise, how to make love, how to raise our kids and so forth.’

A Typology of the Left

When dealing with the Left, it’s useful to distinguish between its various sub-types, because combating these sub-types may well call for differing strategies and tactics.

So here it is: a typology – not of their ideas – but of their differing psychologies, personalities and motivations. It’s taken as a given that leftism = egalitarianism (i.e. synonyms.)

 

Here, I divide them up into 3 main categories. They are as follows:

 

1. Intrinsic Egalitarians/General Egalitarians

— People with a genuine attraction to the idea of equality across the board – in all areas of life. Caused by status anxiety revolving around feelings of inferiority. (After all, equality is only an improvement if you’re below average.) Results in hostility to the idea of hierarchies based on an objective standard of quality. [See: The Psychology of Leftism]

 

2. Extrinsic Egalitarians/Single-Issue Egalitarians

— People who side with the cause of equality, because they want equality in one  Racial, ethnic and religious minorities – side with the Left in other people’s countries – Blacks in White countries, Jews in gentile countries, Muslims in infidel countries, and Irish-Catholics in UK and America, etc.

 

3. Pseudo-Egalitarians (Economic and Social)

— economic a. and b.

—- a. Those who gain financially from economic liberalism – support modernity so as to exploit it financially via the peddling of degeneracy, the opening up of new markets, use of cheap labour, etc. As well as the international banking system.

—- b.  Those who gain financially from economic collectivism – i.e. poorer people who side with the Left because it’s wealth redistributive policies will leave them materially better off.

 

— social a. and b.

—- a. status-seeking conformists – people copying what they perceive ‘educated’ opinion to be so as to appear smarter themselves. Followers of intellectual fashion. [See: Cultural Hegemony] (Motivated by the prospect of social rewards.)

—- b. harm-avoidance based conformity – the great bulk of people who to a greater or lesser extent are subconsciously copying what they perceive to be the norm. ‘Perceive’ being the operative word. [For example: What You Can’t Say] (Motivated by the threat of social punishments.)

—- c. informational conformity. (Going along with the views of the wider social group and its appointed experts.) The misinformed – people who genuinely and honestly believe falsehoods (about history, or racial/sexual/individual differences.) because that’s what they’ve been led to believe is the truth.

 

typologyoftheleft1. Intrinsic or general egalitarians are those who find themselves in an unfavourable position in life’s various hierarchies generally. Or they just feel anxiety towards the prospect of competition (stemming from an inner weakness.) Either way, their fight is with hierarchy in general– though paradoxically, often presents itself as an attack on one hierarchy in particular (as if that were the main battlefront.) This is presumably to subconsciously displace the real cause of their anti-hierarchical attitude to life and the world. (This group contains those who, although sometimes bright and/or creative, generally fail at life. These people are losers, misfits, rejects, sexless, ugly, weak, lacking in vigour; but most importantly of all resentful.) This group represents the genuine egalitarian type. Driven by an identification with what is reviled or held in contempt; and antipathy towards what is strong and self-possessed.

The deep motives for intrinsic egalitarianism were most perceptively uncovered by Friedrich Nietzsche with his concepts of ressentiment and slave-morality.

This sub-type was also summed up perfectly by American eco-terrorist and schizotypal nutjob Ted Kaczynski. He attributed leftism to ‘feelings of inferiority’ as well as what he called ‘oversocialization.’ In regards to the former he wrote: ‘Many leftists have an intense identification with the problems of groups that have an image of being weak (women), defeated (American Indians), repellent (homosexuals), or otherwise inferior. […] [L]eftists tend to hate anything that has an image of being strong, good, and successful.’ Very well put…

 

2. Extrinsic or single-issue egalitarians are those who find themselves either in an unfavourable position in a single one (or a small number) of life’s various hierarchies – or – are concerned about the future possibility of suffering as a direct result of the existence of one of these hierarchies. (This group includes ethnic/racial, religious, and economic groups, etc.) Their battle is with particular hierarchies BUT often presents itself ideologically as an attack on all hierarchy.

Paradigmatic examples: how Irish Catholics in Ireland are known to be relatively conservative (by modern Western European standard), yet when living in traditionally Protestant England or the United States as ethnic minorities tend to side with the political Left. The strongest example of this phenomenon is that of the Ashkenazi Jews, who have practically built siding with the Left in other people’s countries into their collective identity as a diaspora people. Another example, would be the ‘working classes’ of modern Western populations, stratified according to socio-economic status, who often side with the socialist or quasi-socialist Left because they believe it’ll lead to them being economically better off. Outside of their economic concerns however, these people often exhibit quite conservative or traditionalist or ‘right-wing’ attitudes on political, social and cultural matters.

 

3. This group (pseudo-egalitarians) includes all those who through either commission or omission; through aggression, including passive-aggression; aid and abet the cause of the Left. It doesn’t matter whether these people identify with the Left – some of these individuals describe themselves as “right-wing” or “conservative”… but they are not. They’re helping to facilitate the centuries-long leftward drift of Western societies,because it benefits them economically and/or socially. (The latter being because either they stand to gain through feigning egalitarianism, or because they stand to lose something through revealing rightist views and sentiments.) This can either be conscious or unconscious, and these people may be naturally of a (weakly) egalitarian, inegalitarian or moderate disposition. It doesn’t matter, they’re pseudo-leftist.

Two Concepts of Freedom

– Modern or liberal idea of freedom:

‘Freedom from…’ Lack of coercion, restraint or interference. Being permitted to act on your every whim is total freedom according to this view.

– Pre-modern and traditional idea of freedom:

‘Freedom for…’ Ability to fulfil one’s purpose (‘telos’ in Greek.) Also contains within it the idea of not being constrained by one’s lower self.

 

This difference in approach to freedom stems chiefly from a difference in their view of a man’s purpose or telos. Pre-modern cultures took it for granted that every man and woman had their own telos – modern Western deCivilization assumes no such thing exists.

 

Modernity says… “be yourself” or “do you own thing.”

Tradition says… “become who you are.”

 

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Francis Fukuyama (in The End of History and the Last Man):

In the Anglo-Saxon liberal tradition familiar to us, there is a commonsense understanding of freedom as something like the simple absence of restraint. Thus, according to Thomas Hobbes, “LIBERTY, or FREEDOM, signifies properly the absence of opposition—by opposition I mean external impediments of motion—and may be applied no less to irrational and inanimate creatures than to rational.” By this definition, a rock rolling down a hill and a hungry bear wandering around in the woods without constraint would both be said to be “free.” But in fact, we know that the tumbling of the rock is determined by gravity and the slope of the hill, just as the behavior of the bear is determined through the complex interaction of a variety of natural desires, instincts, and needs. A hungry bear foraging for food in the forest is “free” only in a formal sense. It has no choice but to respond to its hunger and instincts. Bears typically do not stage hunger strikes on behalf of higher causes. The behaviors of the rock and the bear are determined by their own physical natures and by the natural environment around them. In that sense they are like machines programmed to operate by a certain set of rules, the ultimate rules being the fundamental laws of physics.

By Hobbes’s definition, any human being not physically constrained from doing something would be considered “free.” But to the extent that a human being has a physical or animal nature, he or she can also be thought of as nothing more than a finite collection of needs, instincts, wants, and passions, which interact in a complicated but ultimately mechanical way that determine that person’s behavior. Thus, a hungry and cold man seeking to satisfy his natural needs for food and shelter is no more free than the bear, or even the rock: he is simply a more complicated machine operating according to a more complicated set of rules. The fact that he faces no physical constraint in his search for food and shelter creates only the appearance, but not the reality, of freedom.

Hobbes’s great political work, Leviathan, begins with just such a portrayal of man as a highly complicated machine. He breaks human nature down into a series of basic passions like joy, pain, fear, hope, indignation, and ambition, that in different combinations he believes are sufficient to determine and explain the whole of human behavior. Thus Hobbes does not in the end believe that man is free in the sense of having a capacity for moral choice. He can be more or less rational in his behavior, but that rationality simply serves ends like self-preservation that are given by nature. And nature, in turn, can be fully explained by the laws of matter-in-motion, laws that had been recently explicated by Sir Isaac Newton.

Hegel, by contrast, starts with a completely different understanding of man. Not only is man not determined by his physical or animal nature, but his very humanity consists in his ability to overcome or negate that animal nature. He is free not just in Hobbes’s formal sense of being physically unconstrained, but free in the metaphysical sense of being radically un-determined by nature. This includes his own nature, the natural environment around him, and nature’s laws. He is, in short, capable of true moral choice, that is, choice between two courses of action not simply on the basis of the greater utility of one over another, not simply as the result of the victory of one set of passions and instincts over another, but because of an inherent freedom to make and adhere to his own rules. And man’s specific dignity lies not in a superior calculating ability that makes him a cleverer machine than the lower animals, but precisely in this capacity for free moral choice.

But how do we know that man is free in this more profound sense? Certainly, many instances of human choice are in fact merely calculations of self-interest that serve nothing more than the satisfaction of animal desires or passions. For example, a man may forebear from stealing an apple from his neighbor’s orchard not out of any moral sense, but because he fears that retribution will be more severe than his present hunger, or because he knows his neighbor will be going away on a trip and that the apples will soon be his for the taking. That he can calculate in this fashion does not make him any less determined by his natural instincts—in this case, hunger—than an animal who simply grabs for the apple.

Hegel would not deny that man has an animal side or a finite and determined nature: he must eat and sleep. But he is also demonstrably capable of acting in ways that totally contravene his natural instincts, and contravene them not for the sake of satisfying a higher or more powerful instinct, but, in a way, purely for the sake of the contravention. This is why the willingness to risk one’s life in a battle for pure prestige plays such an important role in Hegel’s account of history. For by risking his life, man proves that he can act contrary to his most powerful and basic instinct, the instinct for self-preservation.

 

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And Julius Evola (in Fascism Viewed from the Right):

While we are discussing these issues critically, since the question of the concept of liberty has arisen, it will be a good idea to add an additional brief reflection on the sense that liberty can have in a state based not on the social contract, but on human will, as the Fascist state wanted to be.

Plato said something that we have already cited on other occasions, that it is a good idea for the person who does not have a sovereign within to have one outside. This insight leads us to distinguish a positive liberty from the purely negative, that is external, liberty which can be equally enjoyed by someone who, although free in respect to others, is not free in respect to himself, that is, in respect to the naturalistic part of his own being. We should add to this the well-known distinction between being free from something and being free for something (for a given task or a given function). In one of our recent works we indicated that the principal cause of the existential crisis of contemporary man was precisely the attainment of a ‘negative’ liberty, with which, in the end, one does not know what to do, given the lack of sense and the absurdity of modern society. In truth, personality and liberty can be conceived only on the basis of the individual’s freeing himself, to a certain degree, from the naturalistic, biological and primitively individualist bonds that characterise the pre-state and pre-political forms in a purely social, utilitarian and contractual sense. Then it is possible to conceive that the true state, the state characterised by the ‘transcendence’ of the political level that we have discussed, furnishes a propitious environment for the development of personality and true liberty in the sense of virtus*, according to the Classical understanding. With its climate of high tension, it issues a continual appeal to the individual to carry himself beyond himself, beyond simple vegetative life. Obviously everything depends on giving appropriate and just reference points to encourage this impulse, so that the effect is really ‘anagogical’, that is, drawing upward. (For this, let us say in passing, it is absolutely inadequate to offer as a reference point an abstract ‘common good’ that reflects, in magnified form, the same ‘individual good’ conceived in material terms.) Once the mistake of ‘totalitarianism’ has been eliminated, it is therefore important to reject in the clearest way the accusation that a political system based on authority is, in principle, incompatible with the values of the person and suffocates liberty. The liberty that is experienced as negative is only an insipid liberty, formless, small and basically of little interest, and all the arguments for a ‘new humanism’ offered by intellectuals and litterateurs with no centre are futile against this fundamental truth.

 

* Latin: ‘virtue’. In the Roman world, virtus referred to one’s masculine qualities, which were identified with honour, courage and service to the people and the state. To the Romans, virtus was something that could only be had in the public sphere; using these same qualities in the pursuit of a personal goal was not respected.