The Men’s Movement — why there is so much to gain from “the left.”

There’s a certain acrimonious streak running through the men’s movement against what is perceived as being “the political left”. This is understandable, given that feminism is widely held as a left-wing invention [1].

Throughout much of my life, I was essentially non-political because I failed to see how culture and the forces operating though it affected me. The moment I began reading and engaging in the men’s human rights movement was the moment I became “political” in the sense that I understood for the first time that in order to have a voice, I would have to fight for it.

I’ve been on a rather an interesting journey ever since — one that has taken me to places that I once could never have imagined I would go. Instead of staying clear of “the left,” that’s where I decided to go and what follows is, in part, a personal account of this. In the concluding section, I explain why I think it’s so worthwhile to engage in the territory of the left, and so important not alienate ourselves from it. Everyone is free to make of this what they will (there’s a comment section below).

Now, the origin of the terms “left” and “right” lie in the French Revolution of 1789, where the National Assembly was divided into two, with the aristocracy sitting on the right of the house, and those representing everyone else on the left. Western politics is generally polarised between “left” and “right”. This is especially true of the US I think, but also of the UK, albeit a little less so perhaps.

I’d like to argue, however, that the very notion of a political binary, as represented by a “left” and “right”, presents us with a false dichotomy when the real world is so much more complex. Human politics is, in reality, a rich tapestry of overlapping perceptions, ideas and social values that cannot meaningfully be distilled down to two opposing world views. This is why I deliberately wrap the term “left” in quotes — it is an artificial social construct like “patriarchy” — there is no such thing in the widely used sense of the word.

Moreover, I believe it a mistake and a handicap for those in the men’s movement to reject all that is perceived as being on the “left” when, not only is there is so much to be learned, but so many to alienate.

I’m not about to suggest to anyone that they should look favourably at the Labour and Democratic parties. In any case, the so-called left-wing mainstream parties have proven themselves to be vehicles for the Tony Blairs and Hillary Clintons of this world to rise to power. Rather, I’m going to draw largely from my own experience of non-mainstream groups.

I find it a little ironic that I should write an article such as this when I consider that once, as a product of Thatcher’s Britain, I would have said that I was, if anything, a “conservative,” at least one with a small “c”. My father, however, had worked in a factory all his life and had been involved in unions and, at times, industrial action. As a teen, I recall him relating his experience of a picket line in the 1980s, where soldiers dressed in police uniforms had charged them with batons. At the time, I couldn’t identify with any this, however.

As a youth, my focus was on science, computers and technology. This I saw as the future. In any case, I was interested in working hard, getting ahead and owning things. This is what “the right” appeared to represent, whereas “the left” was all about joining dole queues and men in donkey jackets who proclaimed, “This is the winter of our discontent!” [2]

In truth, however, it seemed that politics didn’t really affect me because it made very little difference which of the two main political parties was in government.

My introduction to left-wing politics came many years later in the form of a brief and stormy love affair with a woman I would have described, in a somewhat condescending tone, as being “a bit of a leftie”. I would describe her now as a bit of psychopath, and I’ll touch on that in a moment.

At the time, having consciously decided to disengage from a society I felt little connection with or place in (I’m sure many male readers can identify here), I had gone my own way and was living a rather remote existence on the east coast of England. Ruby (not her real name) lived in Newcastle, which was the nearest city to me. It’s with a tinge of regret that, to date, she represents the one and only intellectually based romance I’ve ever had.

Things started with a chess game with moves communicated remotely by text message. I began my opening without much consideration, using a text book gambit, and remember quite distinctly the moment I realised that I was going to lose badly unless I seriously upped my game. The next few days were a period of intense concentration, during which we fought each other to a stalemate.

Ruby possessed a sharp intellect and was highly aware both politically and socially. In these areas, I really was no match for her at all.

I recall, a little uncomfortably now, the time I tried to engage her in a political discussion. As she spoke fluently of capitalism, the markets, robber barons and dialectic materialism, I felt a certain sense of powerlessness as the seabed yawned away beneath my feet, and it occurred to me that I was out of my depth.

The truth was, assuming that there wasn’t a great deal to know, I had never really thought about capitalism. Sure there was some technical stuff about finance and the economy I didn’t know a great deal about, but in essence, I felt that my world view had things sufficiently covered — capitalism was about money, and money was a necessary incentive not to be poor. It would nice if no one were poor, of course, but things just couldn’t work that way.

As a side, I use the term “a bit of a psychopath” in my description of her quite deliberately to refer to the fact that she exhibited a number of, what I now understand to be, psychopathic traits. That doesn’t mean that I found her malevolent, however. In fact, she could be quite altruistic — if she chose to be. I wonder now, however, just how much she regarded altruism an academic exercise in successful relational strategy, rather than some profound axiom of being. Charming, educated and incredibly intelligent, it was a bizarre enigma to me that she seemed to lack any ambition whatsoever.

I refer to the relationship with “love affair” and “romance”, but to be accurate, these terms describe my relationship to her, rather than her relationship to me. The reality was that I was hooked on the promise of her affection, which was never quite fulfilled in earnest. Instead, I only ever won a charming smile which allured to kindness and warmth but was little more than a veneer for her detachment and amused indifference.

I would describe my experience of her as akin to sucking on an ultra-light cigarette in desperate need of satisfaction that was never quite forthcoming. In the end, this proved too confusing and distressing for me.

While she was an expert in holding things back, she never once engaged in overt deception. If anything, she was nothing if not disconcertingly honest with me. She told me several times that she was incapable of guilt or remorse, to which I failed utterly to relate, and so dismissed. Lacking insight into a mindset radically different from my own, my problem was that I was unable and unwilling to believe her. Instead, I had her on a pedestal.

I think she found it rather fascinating to explore the contrast between herself and emotionally vulnerable souls like myself, as she recounted an early childhood drama to me — one in which she had burned down her father’s house. After setting light to the curtains and watching the flames rise to the ceiling and then engulf the room, she sensed the danger and left by the front door, stopping to take her little brother with her as an afterthought.

When her father later returned home to a smouldering ruin, he assumed that the fire had been accidental and that Ruby had bravely saved her younger brother. She was duly showered with praise and adoration, and she described how much she thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. She had never felt the need tell anyone the truth behind the fire, and never did at the time.

Why is any of this relevant? Well, it isn’t really, except that for me she represented a catalyst — an emotional taproot that would later give rise to a paradigm shift in my understanding of human beings and the human condition. In terms of life-changing experiences, she was, in fact, one of the most useful people I have ever met.

Later, I would read up on “dialectic materialism” and find myself more than a little surprised to be intrigued and drawn to the subject than I would have expected.

A number of months down the line, I was living in London, when a friend of mine, who fits the stereotype of a ranch-owning Texan with a love of guns, sent me an email bemoaning the very existence of a certain left-wing book. This book, he lamented bitterly, was the primary cause of all that was wrong in the world, having been used so effectively by “leftie” agitators ever since it was first written in the 1970s. Naturally, I thought this would serve as a great introduction to the virulent politics of the left, so decided that I would read the damn thing.

The book was, of course, Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky. I also purchased a copy of Rules for Conservatives, a conservative counter text, which I planned to read as well. I find it rather amusing now that I still regarded myself a small-c conservative, one of the good guys, and thought that the second text would serve as a healthy counterweight to the propaganda I was about to dangerously expose myself to in the first place.

And who knows? Perhaps I was right! For having first been thoroughly corrupted by Alinsky, I never wanted to read Rules for Conservatives. Maybe I should, and perhaps one day I might. For than moment, at least, the second book sits pristinely on my shelf, having never been opened.

Rules for Radicals is a readily amenable instruction book for how the “Have-Nots” in society may take power from the “Haves”, i.e. those with disproportionate power, undeserving privilege and ill-gotten wealth. Now the thing was this — I found profound identification with Alinksy’s description of society’s “Have-Nots,” both in terms of being a member of the current human subgroup targeted for prejudice, and for my working class background.

No subgroup in western society today is so routinely and so openly denigrated, disadvantaged, excluded and exploited as the blue collar, low status, working class male.

I think some in the MRM, angry with what they see as the cultural Marxism of the “left” [3], quite naturally look to the political right for a morsel of sympathy or understanding.

They will, of course, be disappointed.

Here, David Cameron, the British Conservative Prime Minister writing in the Sunday Telegraph not too long ago, shares his own view of low-status males from the balcony of his ivory tower:

“I also think we need to make Britain a genuinely hostile place for fathers who go AWOL. It’s high time runaway dads were stigmatised, and the full force of shame was heaped upon them. They should be looked at like drink drivers, people who are beyond the pale. They need the message rammed home to them, from every part of our culture, that what they’re doing is wrong – that leaving single mothers, who do a heroic job against all odds, to fend for themselves simply isn’t acceptable.” – David Cameron [4]

So, in his view, what young men need, having grown up in social deprivation without fathers or positive male role models, is yet more hostility and shame because they haven’t had enough already.

I’m also minded here to recount a particular conversation I had with a former friend of mine a few years ago. Although retired, he had previously been a senior executive in a major oil company with the rather imperial title of “northern hemisphere manager.” We were discussing homeless men, and I had just outlined my belief that what frequently lay behind all the accepted causes of homelessness — such as addiction, family breakdown, mental illness, lack of a family network and domestic violence — was early childhood abuse and trauma. This I concluded, was at the root of the problem, and that it was generational in nature.

My own personal experience of dealing with those on the street confirmed this. Overwhelmingly, those I met were adults who had been battered, abused and neglected as children and, as a result, could not form healthy and stable relationships and, significantly, could not integrate and function successfully within society.

I’ll always remember his response, which came in the form of a lecture on early childhood development delivered down to me with the supreme confidence that only those in ivory towers can manage.

And here it is:

“What happens is this,” he said (I’m quoting from memory here, but his words stuck with me so they should be pretty close). “By the time a child reaches ten years old, he has enough wherewithal about him to conduct a survey of his life. He analyses his relationships with others and his place in the world. He then uses this information to form a decision on what he’s going to do with his life. Those who chose to get ahead do well, while those who choose to live off the backs of others don’t.”

“So,” I asked incredulously, “those living on the street choose to be that way?”

“Yes,” he said. “They choose to beg because they can’t bother to make an effort in life.”

That was the last time I saw him.

To be fair, his own childhood had been one of financial shortage. But what he had had, that so many do not, was a loving mother who had both nurtured and educated him. This was invisible in his mind, and so was prone to projecting his own psychology onto those who had known nothing but brutality and rejection from the moment of leaving the womb. He had never known his own father and had taken on the role of family provider and protector from an early age. As such, he was minded to view emotionally crippled males, not as human beings with problems, but as the problem.

But coming back to the point, apart from the fact that the perspective of those on the right is often one of the ivory tower, the right represents the interests of those who want to conserve the status quo in order to hold onto what they have.

This is what it means to be a conservative.

For the Haves, change is rather disconcerting. For the Have-Nots, who have little to lose, change is rather more appealing.

Looking at things this way, why on earth did I ever support conservatism?

Well, I guess if I’m honest here, it was because I once felt that I would be able to “get ahead,” save for the future and climb the ladder of ownership in some way. Clearly, I no longer feel this is as worthy a goal as I once did. Perhaps watching my father work in a factory until he was 67, having saved into a pension scheme where his labours could be creamed off, has had something to do with my change of heart.

Capitalism is an infinite growth model which, in order to conserve the way things are for those who control wealth, power and status, forever needs to find continued economic growth in order to survive. Here are a few rather illuminating quotes from a 2015 report of the UK Government’s Women’s Business Council which extols the economic need to get more women into the workplace [5]:

“Between 2008-2014, the number of women who were in work but wanted to work more hours than their current job provided, increased from 1.1 million to 1.55 million — a rise of 41%.

“If each of these women worked one more hour per week, this would translate into an extra 1.55 million hours a week or 80 million extra hours worked each year.

“This is equivalent to more than 36,000 full-time workers.”

More workers equal more taxation, more consumer spending and the continuation of profit.

The report concludes:

“Equalising women’s productivity and employment to that of men’s levels has the potential for increased gross domestic product of 35% in the UK.”

Now, forty years ago, the cost of a family home was limited by a single working wage. Have you ever wondered why, today, it is defined by two working wages?

I advocate no return to traditionalism, or to a time when economic production was carried largely on the back of male physical labour. However, many middle-aged women are now waking up to what “equalising women’s productivity and employment” really means for them — and it’s not always the freedom and happiness they were promised.

The cultural Marxists of the Frankfurt School have indeed served as a catalyst for the advancement of feminism, which has, in turn, provided a convenient cover for the breakdown of family life needed to put women to work.

As second-wave feminist, Linda Gordon put things:

“Whatever its ultimate meaning, the break-up of families now is an objectively revolutionary process … Families will be finally destroyed only when a revolutionary social and economic organization permits people’s needs for love and security to be met in ways that do not impose divisions of labor, or any external roles, at all.” – Linda Gordon [6]

It would seem that Gordon failed to grasp just how adaptable capitalism really is. It’s rather ironic, I think, to reflect on how the primary beneficiary of Gordon’s dream has not been women as a group, but capitalism itself!

Erin Pizzey, on the other hand, the family care activist and founder of the early domestic violence refuges, puts rather more human value on family life than the likes of Gordon. Pizzey was instrumental in the women’s liberation movement of the late 1960s and early 70s herself and, in a recent article on her WhiteRibbon.org website, she is quite clear that the men on the left were betrayed by a subgroup of hardcore women who had their own personal agenda:

“In 1971 liberals, the media, universities and an ill-assorted band of left wing journalists were all leaping to the barricades to fight in the coming revolution against capitalism. What the men had not understood was that their female partners were now dissenting from fighting side by side with their brothers but and were actively rearranging the goal posts. No longer as far as the new feminists were concerned was capitalism the enemy but it was replaced by ‘patriarchy.'” – Erin Pizzey [7]

Now, if there is any political faction which has steadfastly upheld a literal interpretation of Marxist ideology, it is Trotskyism. Trotskyists tend to reject feminism as identity politics which has divided the working classes. In fact, the International Committee of the Forth International (a faction of the organisation founded Trotsky himself) has written extensively on the Frankfurt School, which it regards as anti-Marxist and a foundation for “petty-bourgeois pseudo-left” political movements [8].

Given so many well-connected feminists come from middle-to-upper class backgrounds, I find their description of feminism as a “petty-bourgeois pseudo-left political movement” quite fitting.

Rather than viewing “the left” as a definable pole of a political binary, I prefer to think in terms of a cultural melting pot of inhomogeneous groups, interests, struggles and ideologies. The only thing they necessarily have in common is that its proponents see themselves as the Have-Nots seeking change, rather than the Haves resisting it. The very idea of a homogeneous political “left,” is a gross oversimplification.

By indulging our anger, and uselessly railing against all that is seen as “the left,” we are not only alienating a huge number of desperate men and potential supporters, we are cutting ourselves off from political and social groups from whom we could learn so much, even if we do not always share their perspectives. What’s more, we leave ourselves with little option but to appeal to the right, in other words, the Haves of this world, for salvation.

Feminism is nothing other than a parasitic ideology originating from a subgroup of emotionally damaged women who have exploited existing political and social networks. Feminists are entryists — who once established, seek control in order to make every issue about themselves. What has allowed them to do this successfully is, of course, male chivalry. The political left of the past was simply its host, and the men on the left were betrayed and discarded. Chivalry rendered them blind and impotent against their betrayers.

Feminism is now an integral part of the Establishment and men, particularly working class blue collar men, are among the Have-Nots. In Cassie Jaye’s trailer for the upcoming Red Pill documentary [9], watch how the eye rolling feminist from “Feminist Majority Foundation” sits in her executive office claiming oppression while the working class men are generally the ones speaking from the street.

It is useful, I believe, to look at the social and political struggles of the past because there is much there to learn. I happen to believe that, as a product of their time, Marx and Engels were inspired. In the final analysis, however, they failed utterly to take into account human nature, believing that the chaos and complexity of nature, of which we are a part, could be supplanted with scientific order. I think ideology is a great thing — except, of course, that in order to get people to follow your blueprint for a better world, you must first crush them.

The term “left-wing,” can be taken to mean a whole range of political and ideological views, many of which I do not share. For one thing, I do not believe that everything about capitalism is necessarily bad, especially when any blueprint for something better would be subject to the law of unintended consequences as history has shown us. I’m no fan of labels, but prefer to declare myself on the side of the Have-Nots, and against the entrenched elitist power of the Haves. I oppose hereditary privilege, class systems, oppressive social orders and gynocentrism. If I am to be defined as “left-wing,” let it be in the sense that I’m interested in and advocate the politics of change.

I recognise, like so many outside the political mainstream, that the traditional parties of the left have long been usurped and are little more than a front for the interests of big business and powerful interest groups. As Owen Jones explains in his book, The Establishment: And how they get away with it, there is a revolving door between the offices of the political elite and the boardrooms of megacorporations. The British Labour Party, for example, betrayed its founding principles when Tony Blair tore up Clause IV to path the way for continued privatisation [10] and to ingratiate himself with Rupert Murdoch.

To be presented with a “this” or “that” choice between Labour and Conservative, between Democrat and Republican, when in fact both options often represent the same thing essentially, is no choice at all.

Here in the UK, Jeremy Corbyn appears as a welcome aberration from this. However, with his idea for women-only train carriages [11], he has tragically demonstrated that he suffers from “The One Good Man” syndrome, as poetically described by Alison Tieman in her article of the same name [12]. I could not help but find it somewhat pitiful to read how the feminist MP, Jess Phillips, who had laughed openly at the idea of men having their own “issues” during a Westminster backbench debate [13], and who Corbyn had just appointed to a Parliamentary Private Secretary post, gave an interview to Owen Jones in which she boasted of telling the Labour leader how she intends to knife him, not “in the back”, but “in the front”.

“The day that you [Corbyn] are hurting us more than you are helping us, I won’t knife you in the back, I’ll knife you in the front.” – Jess Phillips [14]

As an example of unguarded egotism and sheer unprofessionalism, this takes some beating. Here is a woman who is unaccustomed to having her views challenged.

In any case, this is a digression. What I’m building up to, and the purpose behind this article is to say this:

When I first became involved in the men’s movement, I knew nothing of how to campaign or how to organise. Like so many men, especially those in distress, I was isolated behind a keyboard. The feeling of powerlessness was overwhelming and disheartening.

However, by forcing myself out of my cave, swallowing a few initial prejudices, and getting involved in political groups at the street level, I developed a new perspective and a new purpose. While listening to a speech by Owen Jones at the People’s Assembly in London in 2013, I had the revelation that, “My God! These people know how to organise!”

There are a myriad of social justice and political groups who are experienced at organising and campaigning effectively, many of whom represent issues I could easily relate to and support.

Later, I moved into the fight against homelessness in Manchester, a scourge on society predominantly, but not exclusively, afflicting men. I gleaned insights into how to take a squat, something Erin Pizzey was proficient at during the 1970s and was present in 2015 when activists occupied the Bank of England building in Liverpool, turning it into a shelter for rough sleepers, see video below [15].

At the street level, there an overwhelming number of disaffected men who have been screwed over by the child support agencies, the courts, abusive ex-wives, the army and the state. I have also met many female campaigners who care deeply about homeless men, who are aware of the empathy gap, and who are often willing to face hardship, arrest and incarceration in order to help. Ideologically minded feminists, I noticed, are sporadic, however. The odd one I encountered, I simply side-stepped.

I had gone into things fearing that I would be excluded and pilloried if I dared express my beliefs but, to my surprise, I found this not to be the case.

Feminism is now the Establishment, and feminists walk the corridors of power in government, NGOs and academia. As you go up the political “food-chain” to where funding becomes available, the more feminists and radical feminist dogma you will find. At the grass roots level, however, feminists are hardly present at all.

Now, here’s the thing: They can be pushed out!

I have come to believe that engaging with and joining existing activist and campaign groups at the grass roots level is a worthwhile activity both politically and personally. Sure, it is necessary to choose causes judiciously and, sure, there is no shortage of dubious ideas and individuals out there (it goes with the territory and it’s the same within the MRM itself). Often it will be necessary to back out of a group on realising that it’s not what it first seemed. None of this, however, is a reason not to engage. Instead, we should embrace the messiness that is the political struggle and learn from it.

If we were to reach out and engage at the local and grass roots level in numbers, refuse to be excluded and refuse to back down, feminism can be pushed out from the ground up.

On a personal level, it is also an opportunity to network, make friends, and to put our own beliefs to the test and challenge our prejudices (we all have them). It is an opportunity for personal growth and development.

If, however, we continue to foster a predisposition against left-leaning groups and ideas, we rule all this out. Instead, we condemn ourselves to political isolation and powerlessness.

  1. Paul Elam. Spank a leftist
    http://www.avoiceformen.com/featured/gather-round-good-people-time-to-spankaleftist/

  2. Winter of discontent
    http://www.conservapedia.com/Winter_of_Discontent

  3. Angry Harry. Cultural Marxism and feminism
    http://www.angryharry.com/esCulturalMarxismAndFeminism.htm

  4. David Cameron writing in the Telegraph
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron/8584238/David-Cameron-Dads-gift-to-me-was-his-optimism.html

  5. Maximising women’s contribution to future economic growth, 2015
    http://womensbusinesscouncil.dcms.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/DfE-WBC-Two-years-on-report_update_AW_CC.pdf

  6. Linda Gordon. “Functions of the Family,” Women: A Journal of Liberation (Fall 1969).

  7. Erin Pizzey. How feminism succeeded in destroying family relationships
    http://whiteribbon.org/mega-featured/how-feminism-succeeded-in-destroying-family-relationships/

  8. David North. The Frankfurt School, Postmodernism and the Politics of the Pseudo-Left: A Marxist Critique
    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/07/21/dnbo-j21.html

  9. Cassie Jaye. “The Red Pill” documentary extended sneak preview
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HK7n_XA40V8

  10. The Guardian. Clause IV: a brief history
    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/aug/09/clause-iv-of-labour-party-constitution-what-is-all-the-fuss-about-reinstating-it

  11. The Guardian. Jeremy Corbyn raises possibility of women-only train carriages
    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/aug/26/women-only-train-carriages-a-possibility-under-jeremy-corbyn

  12. Alison Tieman. The One Good Man
    http://www.avoiceformen.com/feminism/the-one-good-man/

  13. MP Jess Phillips laughs at men’s rights debate request
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMlhKhpQWtY

  14. Knife Jeremy Corbyn in the front, not the back
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TcLhDTUxVs

  15. Andy Man. Inside the Bank of England
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nir8reb6Fy0

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTgtmPlqYJo?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

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