The Welfare State and Manhood

There is no question that the recent decision of the Obama administration to admit women to military combat units represents the crowning achievement of the feminist agenda.  By elevating women to the same level as men throughout our defense forces, a fully coed military, just like a college dormitory, has become the law of the land.  To exultant feminists, the glass ceiling in the military has at last been removed.

But to the statists or to big-government ideologues and their supporters, the motivation behind the admission of women into combat is the reverse of the feminist's motivation, because the statist knows that for the social welfare state to succeed, it is a question not of women being elevated, but of men being degraded.  To the statist, the fundamental purpose of employing women in military combat is to destroy the unique virtues that define manhood

Andreios, the ancient Greek word for "the courageous man," and the Latin word virtus, meaning "courage," both have their roots in the word "man" in their respective languages, indicating that the conception of courage to the ancients was intimately related to a certain type of virtue or behavior which they considered the defining or essential aspect of being a man.  Our terms "manliness," "manly virtue," and "manly courage" somewhat approximate the ancient terms.  The origin of those ancient words for courage is fitting, since throughout history, courage has always been considered both the epitome of manly behavior or virtue and the essence of a man who has the maturity, autonomy, and self-confidence to face the world based upon his own individual excellence.

Our Constitution was written by and for men who lived lives based upon these traditional views of virtue and manliness.  That is why, in order for the entitlement state to succeed, the Constitution must be ignored, violated, and deconstructed repeatedly.  Our present constitutional chaos is very reminiscent of the last hundred years of the Roman Republic, which finally ended in the dictatorship of Julius Caesar and the subsequent establishment of the de facto Roman imperial system by Augustus based upon republican institutions which remained in effect, but only de iure.  This is very much like what we see in our own times, in which our Constitution remains in effect de iure, while, de facto, much of our government functions in an extra-constitutional fashion.  Under such chaotic conditions, a population that has lost its virtue can be easily fooled into believing that they are still a free people, while their liberty and self-reliance are being stolen from them in the name of security and entitlements -- or, as the Roman satirist Juvenal called the latter, "bread and circuses."

This extends into citizens' lives far more deeply than they will readily admit.  For example, FDIC insurance is clearly unconstitutional, yet how many Americans these days would support the discontinuation of FDIC insurance on the grounds that it is a threat to the integrity of the Constitution?  But a virtuous man would support the removal of the FDIC program to save the Constitution, because that man understands that a necessary part of virtue is the freedom to fail -- the very antithesis of the welfare state.  For without the freedom to fail, there is no element of risk, which is fundamental to the development of the courage, virtue, and self-reliance -- all of which underlie what makes a man a man in the sense understood by our founding fathers and many earlier cultures.

Manly virtue historically was not considered a common or even desirable trait in women, whose own female virtues were valued for different social purposes.  Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the welfare state is more popular among women than men, because many women, when they cannot find the security or support which in the past they received from individual men (such as a husband), will turn to the government for that security and support.  Leftists have contrived and supported this state of affairs to the maximum in our increasingly fragmented society.

That is not to say that women cannot display virtues more characteristic of men.  Roman historians frequently praised the celebrated matrons who helped build Rome.  Esther had the courage to face the Great King of Persia in order to save her people.  Many female settlers on the American frontier exhibited what could be called manly virtue.  A modern example of a woman displaying manly virtue is Lady Thatcher.  But as a rule, societies developed and thrived based upon men and women each displaying the virtues typical of their respective genders in a complimentary fashion.  When men no longer play their part, either because they choose not to or because women no longer require them to, women readily turn to the social welfare state, which is more than happy to oblige them.

The purpose and result of the welfare state is to remove both the element of risk in life and the reward that comes to those willing to take that risk.  For the welfare state to accomplish its purpose, everyone must be brought down to a level of single sameness as much as possible, submerging the individual to the group, and no one must be allowed to strive to achieve more for himself than is beneficial to the whole group.  In the welfare state, there is no place for individual nobility, heroism, courage, or virtue. Since risk, reward, courage, and virtue are essential to manliness, it follows that the presence of such virtue in the male population is a major impediment to the establishment of the welfare state.  

Since manliness is the primary obstacle to the establishment of the welfare state, the obvious solution for the statist is to disparage manliness and make men more like women, which is exactly what our educational system and popular culture, both in the hands of the left, have been busy doing: shaming traditional male behavior in young boys, drugging the boys who are allegedly hyperactive, promoting gun control, and encouraging men to show their "feminine side" -- while at the same time insisting that women can do anything men can do and encouraging women to mimic male patterns of behavior, including promiscuity, to the point that now women are to be deployed in combat.  Even dodgeball and bullying are threats to the socialist enterprise; both must be suppressed.  Better, the progressives think, to encourage state-sponsored false self-esteem or "it takes a village"-type thinking.  What better way to discourage individual virtue?

The welfare state is nothing less than an assault on manly virtue.  It is no accident that in the welfare-dependent family, the position of father is obsolete.  Government entitlement programs simply apply that concept more broadly throughout society.

Several years ago, I read a story about a young couple who were told by the wife's obstetrician that the wife needed to be hospitalized to insure the health of the mother and the baby.  Because the insurance company would not pay for the hospitalization, the woman was not hospitalized.  The result was that the woman nearly lost her life and did lose the baby.  The husband was indignant and sued the insurance company.

Whatever the merits of his claims against the insurance company, the truth is that it was the husband, not the insurance company, who was ultimately responsible for his wife's safety and care.  He was a healthy young man; he should have found some way to pay for the hospitalization by whatever means, even if it meant working a second job at night or whatever.  That is what a virtuous man would have done.  What good is suing the insurance company ex post facto?  Even if you get a settlement, the baby is still dead.  And what if his wife had died?

This story illustrates the consequences of men relinquishing their virtue to a third party -- in this particular instance to an insurance company, but in a broader sense the same considerations apply to the welfare state.

The statist must deconstruct manhood in order to be able to establish the social welfare state.  It is the centerpiece of the whole enterprise.  There is no better way to deny the special qualities of manliness than by claiming that there are no differences between the sexes, which conveniently also fits the agenda of the statist's fellow-traveler, the feminist.  Once manly virtue has been fully relinquished and suppressed, the statist can then mold and manipulate a docile, servile population in whatever way he wishes.

And then America truly will no longer be, as our national anthem states, the land of the free and the home of the brave.

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