Communism and libertarianism won’t save men

Every movement has a goal, and every movement faces criticism. Sometimes it’s criticism of the goal itself, sometimes of the method chosen to achieve it. The Men’s Human Rights Movement (MHRM) is bombarded with both, ranging from blatant attacks on the very concepts of men’s rights to debates over the place of women in the movement.

Other criticisms, though, are more universal. Throughout history, every movement for social reform has faced blowback and resistance due to humanity’s natural inertia. In today’s globalized, digitized world, a new go-to argument has emerged: “Aren’t there bigger things to worry about?”

It seems like no matter what you are fighting for, there is some bigger battle out there, and some people think you should be waging that battle. In the case of men’s human rights activism, critics will point to the “broader” social ills of wealth disparity, under-education, corruption, poverty, and starvation, domestically or overseas, and argue that these are bigger issues that need addressing. Do away with poverty, they say, and men’s problems will disappear. End government overreach, they attest, and men will no longer be abused.

Is it a strawman argument? Only half-straw: all fights against inequality and oppression are valid, and some do have a more sweeping impact than others, but thinking that general social reform will solve men’s issues is a confusion of cause and effect.

For specific examples of this fallacy, you can look at two of the stronger currents in western social reform movements: communism (socialist/big government) and libertarianism (individualist/small government). Between the left and the right, these two ideologies encapsulate most of the ways dissatisfied citizens think governments should change. Both sides believe they have a route to a peaceful, prosperous world, though in many ways they are polar opposites.

Problem is, as usual, they forget all about the men and boys. Neither communism nor libertarianism, left alone, would ever do more than nominally improve the well-being of men. Both seek to improve the world by undoing injustices, and both have merits to be debated another time. It’s not that either belief has any inherent dislike of men, but neither attempts to deal with the underlying gynocentrism that has created so many of the problems men suffer under.

In large part, this is due to their modernness. The ideals of communism and libertarianism both date to antiquity, but in the past three or four centuries they have solidified into the social reform ideologies we now know. Because of their recent history, both movements deal with modern problems. Gynocentrism, however, dates far back into human history and has become ingrained beyond recognition by most.

Take communism to start: in the modern western world, the most well-liked and praised example of communist-style collectivist ideals would probably be the heavily socialized countries of Northern Europe, and (in the US, at least) their poster-child is Sweden. High taxes and a robust welfare system have created a happy and prosperous nation.

However, as elsewhere, women are the happiest and most prosperous. In Sweden, men work more, pay the majority of the taxes, have less education, and live shorter lives than their female counterparts. Like its Scandinavian neighbors, Sweden has endeavored to equalize its citizens by having the government distribute wealth more evenly. Why, then, do men still carry the burden and collect little of the benefits?

Because men’s inequality is not about money. If anything, wealth disparity is a byproduct of the hyper-competitive, misandristic societies that gynocentrism breeds. Socialists can combat income inequality all they want, but that will do nothing to reduce female privilege, the expectations for performance put on men, or the myriad social beliefs that, even in an “equal” society, leave men as the nation’s workhorses and cannon fodder.

Gender inequality reaches across classes, so in a communist state we would simply transition from numerous social tiers to a mere two: male and female. From those inequalities all the plagues of consumerism and capitalism would re-emerge, undoing whatever good had been done.

Libertarianism is no better in that regard. Increasing personal freedom and removing government restrictions is an admirable goal, but it also overlooks the unique social pressures placed on men. Even in a happily anarchistic society, what is to keep women from collecting on mother privilege or from damseling so men will do all the hard/dangerous work? Some might argue that a libertarian state would “free” men and women to behave and perform as equals, but gynocentrism is too ingrained, too easily accepted, and too often chalked up to innate characteristics of the sexes.

Even in an ungoverned, free society, accusations of rape culture will still be leveled at men, blaming their “violent nature.” There might not be a government to write Dear Colleague letters or prosecute without cause, but the shame and the stigma would still be there, men defenseless before generations of white knights. Men would still not be free, policed by their wives instead of the state.

Neither communism nor libertarianism tries to deal with men’s issues, so their ideals of social freedom and equality are a half-measure at best. This may, in fact, be a crippling flaw. How many of the economic injustices and restrictions on the individual are born out of men being driven to compete excessively and women hiding behind their gender? If the gender inequality continues, can any ideology foster true equality?

Make no mistake, the injustices faced by men are no small matter. Some would say that mass starvation and systemic warfare are of greater importance, but consider this: the average difference in life expectancy between men and women is five years. That is lost time. Added up for the 3.5 billion men and boys in the world, that lost time is enough for 250 million whole lifetimes. Just for the men now living, their lost time taken together is more than four times the number of lives lost in World War II.

I refuse to pick and choose between terrible oppressions to fight. All must go, and ignoring any of them will forever hinder attempts to combat the others. By failing to address gynocentrism, both communism and libertarianism, and other social reform movements, gloss over a root cause of social inequality: the exploitation of men for the benefit of women.

Many of the differences in ways men and women behave and are treated seem small, but great inequalities arise from small ones. Whether it is a nanny state born from women’s insecurity or exploitive workplaces preying on men’s urge to perform, sexism lays the foundation for injustice. If men and women were truly treated with equal compassion, respect, and accountability, all our other social ills would be that much easier to address.

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