The hallmarks of a democratic society are free speech and exploratory thought. All opinions and ideas should be heard, and individuals and society as a whole should strive to find new, better ways to understand the world and to interact with it.
Unfortunately these are ideals that, like every utopian dream, have not and may never be truly realized. Human relations, whether friendship, marriage, family, community or nation, are collections of compromises. Speech is free, unless it is threatening or hateful. New thoughts are explored, unless they are dangerous, such as the development of new weapons of mass destruction. All good things in moderation.
No matter how democratic, every society defines a list of acceptable beliefs, ideas and activities for its citizens. Sometimes the list is expansive, banning only the most obviously dangerous items, and other times the list is narrow, a rigid regimen of thought that everyone must follow. Now, as has happened time and time again throughout history, the number of compromises is growing. A lengthening selection of views are being deemed hateful and ever more ideas are branded dangerous and retrograde.
With each passing day we are slipping further and further into this trap, our culture’s list of acceptability dwindling until the agenda of acceptable opinions on some topics can be counted on one hand. In a few cases, on the joints of a single finger.
In many ways this is understandable on a societal level. One of the functions of a shared culture is to create an environment of stability within which its citizens can thrive without fear or confusion. Shared languages, religions and philosophies all contribute to a nation’s wellbeing, but they also limit its scope.
Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent, and debate.
– Hubert H. Humphrey
That is the reason for the vital importance of a counterculture within society. Counterculture does not only mean revolutionaries fixated on tearing down society, but on the everyday dissent of thinking citizens re-examining their assumptions and challenging their neighbors. This spirit of dissent is the heart of democracy, reaching for the boundaries of free and experimental thought. Pushing the limits of acceptability, wrestling with taboos, challenging “common sense” assumptions; that is what a healthy counterculture does, and it benefits society greatly.
Without the challenge and back-talk of a counterculture society inevitably slips into patterns of ideology which, however irrational, go unchallenged and grow into a major force of influence. Pagan priests created rituals to elevate themselves, church leaders demanded strict adherence to doctrine, early scientists tried to force reconciliation of religion and science, then clung to outdated theories that could be easily disproven by actual scientific thought.
It takes open thinking to challenge assumptions and it is the duty of a democratic society to balance safety and exploration. Today’s society is becoming less and less willing to entertain new thoughts, instead opting for the comforting embrace of dogma and doctrine.
Not church doctrine, but cultural. Ever fewer worldviews are deemed acceptable as the anointed sectors of society force their lens of thought more and more onto the general population. Not just conservatives, but so-called “liberals,” who are no more interested in new ideas than a 14th century bishop. Liberals now have their own very well defined worldview, with their interpretations of various issues all carefully laid out, and they refuse to accept challenges to them. They challenge the old ways, but are interested only in imposing their own version of The Way Things Ought To Be.
This is how intellectual honesty dies: when there are no more liberals–in the proper sense–just different camps of conservatives each trying to force their own beliefs on the rest of the world. No matter which side of the abortion, climate, war, or other debate you are on, it has to remain a debate, not a screaming match. Dogma, whether born from tradition or progressiveness, can never foster democracy. Only truly free and exploratory thought can. Life is a work in progress and human society will never be perfect, so we have to always be looking for new, better ideas.
Discussion in America means dissent.
– James Thurber
That is why a new counterculture is needed. The social reformists of the 1960s shook up the world, but many of their ideas, even the most innocently but fundamentally flawed, have been adopted as gospel by the liberals–liberals-in-name-only.
A new breed of true Liberals is needed, aligned not left or right, but forward. Individuals “widely open to new ideas, willing to depart from established opinions or conventions” and to reopen debate across the cultural spectrum. Of the many candidates for such a force of reform, the Men’s Rights Movement may be the strongest and best-rooted for the task.
There is a storm of misinformation swirling around the Men’s Human Rights Movement the likes which is usually summoned only for the most extreme movements. The mainstream media has always been a platform for social conformity and now as ever it pushes the dominant social narrative. Rape hysteria, smear campaigns against the MHRM, bald lies and distortion of facts, all to paint the MHRM as a radical hate movement. The Men’s Human Rights Movement, however, is not a radical movement, is not calling for the dissolution of society as we know it, and has goals which are squarely in-line with the most basic human rights.
And that is what makes it powerful. Seeing the self-destructive ideological mistakes of their detractors, men’s rights activists prefer to gravitate to issues with well documented statistics and facts to back them up, not mere base sentimentality. That is why the MHRM will be successful.
And that is why the cultural agitation of the MHRM has much broader implications than the institution of equal rights for men and boys. By challenging the assertions of the pseudo-liberals, the MHRM is the proverbial foot in the door, taking the beating but forcing open the door to allow debate. Without MRAs crying foul and demanding truth society will sink ever deeper into post-liberal gynocentrism, adopting a new system of rigid cultural rules that will be as oppressive, demeaning and factually wrong as any ancient system.
Bring it on. Dissent is central to any democracy.
– Harry Belafonte
By being the counterculture, by demanding debates be held and forcing the return of intellectual honesty, the MHRM can be a force of wider good in society. Make our politicians banish dogma, force our scientists to be objective, return our universities to bastions of free thought where no one fears persecution because of the arrangement of his chromosomes.
Society is buying into doctrine again, whether it originates in 1070 or 1970, and only Men’s Human Rights Activists have the drive, the dedication and the bravery to stand up to the ideological bullies who would strangle democracy rather than be exposed to the disinfecting light of public debate.
With each victory of the MHRM, the debate will spill-over into other sectors, inspiring forward-thinking dissent far beyond the reach of men’s issues. Men’s rights are worth fighting for in and of themselves, but more important is the act of defiance itself. It is the willingness to challenge, to stand up and ask “why?” that makes democracy possible–and the challenge must be continuous or dogma will return.
Any belief can become doctrine, and we can never know what corner the next ideological bully will emerge from–maybe even someday from the MHRM itself one day–so every idea and assumption must be challenged, repeatedly and thoroughly, until only the truth wins out. This ideal has been lost in the muddy waters of political correctness and it is up to the MHRM to remind thinking men and women around the world that it is every person’s duty to challenge ideology.
We do it by fighting misandry and gynocentrism, but the very fact that we fight at all will inspire others to step forward also and join the fray, the marketplace of ideas, that is Democracy.
Editorial note: cover image from a photo issued as public domain by the National Archive Records Administration. –DE