“His moral and spiritual tradition has disintegrated, and he is now paying the price for this break-up in worldwide disorientation and dissociation.”
It was 1964 when Philosopher Carl Jung published “Man and his symbols” from which this quote is taken. And while it is an ongoing debate what moral and spiritual traditions of the man are and what role they play in social developments, it is apparent that widespread disorientation has taken hold of (young) men all over the world. One of the ugliest examples of this is the absurdly large popularity of Andrew Tate and characters alike. Tate, currently under house arrest on charges of sex trafficking, displays the worst of what a man could be. Greedy, arrogant and ruthless and as if this was not bad enough: these are the values he preaches to millions of young men online. While the way TikTok and other social networks work play their part in this, there definitely is a demand and audience for this kind of content and people.
In the world of today, boys and young men, especially when from a working-class and/or immigration background, experience some systemic disadvantages which render people like Tate attractive and which can result in a feeling of disorientation and frustration. The first being the way many modern, western educational systems are set up. Since boys usually enter puberty later than girls, their brains – more precisely the prefrontal cortex – develop later, leaving them in the childish-playful brain-space that is not well suited to learning activities and strict schedules of school life. In this phase many boys, especially without sufficient support at home drop out of higher education tracks, thus being robbed of later life chances. Furthermore, the lack of male teachers in the education system, specifically in younger school years has the same effect of disorientation on boys. They are deprived of good male role models that could show how being a modern man could look like. The same effect occurs when father figures are missing for example due to them working the whole day or when families are split up. Both are statistically more likely in working class families and thereby working-class boys are disadvantaged disproportionately.
This of course has knock-on effects. Later in life, men still get confronted with other cultural disadvantages like the taboo of talking about their (mental) struggles, out of fear of showing “weakness”. This is sadly represented in the high suicide rates of men and the likelihood of engaging in violence.
The lack of good, male role models, ancient but still prevalent gender roles, as well as economic hardships lead to a growing disorientation. That is where figures like Tate approach to fill the vacuum and provide questionable guidance for “how men should be” – and make bucketload of money off of it.
In short, he is saying: It’s your own fault, just stop being poor.
In the broader scheme of things, Tate fits into the internet’s “hustle culture” which is characterized by the outspoken denial of Marxist and humanist-equalist ideas and the embrace of individual agency, an exceptionally unsophisticated interpretation of capitalism and supposed traditional values.
A dive into websites for “inspiring Tate quotes” shows this. Between old truisms like “There is no joy without pain.” and pseudo-deep wisdoms like “No exceptional person ever lived like an average person.”, this ignorant “hustle culture” looms through the fog. Statements like “Arrogance is the cause of most first world poverty.”, and “Cost is the enemy of the poor man, so the poor try to save money. Time is the enemy of the rich man, so the rich try to save time.”, show the profound ignorance of the economic limitedness and the massive impact of higher circumstances on the lives of working-class people – or simply his blatant contempt for the latter. In short, he is saying: It’s your own fault, just stop being poor.
The same contempt comes to the daylight when he talks about women. They were “property of men”; less smart, emotionally steered and real men would realize and take advantage of that. Despite all the shitstorms he got for his appalling and aggressive language towards women, many still choose to follow him and look over it. The Trumpian coating of his hate speech in aforementioned truisms is enabling followers to look by this hatred and keeps him credible because “he mostly says true and relatable things”.
We cannot see this as a zero-sum game but as a shared struggle for human flourishing.
And so, it comes that no inconsiderable part of today’s young men is trying to regain orientation by learning to sanctify aggressiveness and about the ideology of ‘taking what you want in life yourself like a lion’. Instead of learning to become a great guy to be around, who is there for his friends, a good partner in love-life and eventually a great father to his kids, they are – in hope of covering their inner disorientation and insecurity – learning to belittle everybody around them and hate the great progress of the feminist movement during the last 200 years.
Thus, it becomes obvious that systemic problems of men need to be addressed. Ensuring boys can grow up around good role models as well as enabling them to think and go beyond toxic, old gender roles – that should get on the political agenda. This is not to say women’s disadvantages shall receive less of a focus but the opposite is true: to secure all the achievements made by the feminist movements over the past 200 years, policies in this area must go hand in hand. We cannot see this as a zero-sum game but as a shared struggle for human flourishing. Nobody is striving to (re-) establish a how-ever-kinded, Jungian male “spiritual tradition”, but a bit more orientation would surely be beneficial.