Bronze Age Mindset: Nietzsche vs. Darwin
Encouraging health, normality, and physical nobility against their [the left’s] celebration of deformity, obesity, and sexual catamitism must be one of the basic functions of conservatism in our time. —BAP
The bugman pretends to be motivated by compassion, but is instead motivated by a titanic hatred of the well-turned-out and beautiful. The bugman seeks to bury beauty under a morass of ubiquitous ugliness and garbage. So much of the Pacific and the pristine oceans are now full of garbage and plastic. This garbage is flowing out of cities built on piles of unimaginable filth. The waters are polluted with birth control pills and mind-bending drugs emitted by obese high-fructose-corn-syrup-guzzling beasts. Then of course there is the ugliness of the people. And it's only getting uglier with the crowded, unhygienic new cities of our age, populated by hordes of dwarf-like zombies that are imported for slave labor and political agitation from the fly-swept latrines of the world. —same
More than a year ago a supporter of mine and a very fine fellow sent me a copy of a book entitled Bronze Age Mindset, by a person called Bronze Age Pervert. I had never heard of it before, or of its author, but I was led to understand that the book has been making waves in certain areas of the internet, like 4chan, for example. I had only vague surmises over what it could be about, and it sat on my bookshelf for a year or so before it finally appeared at the top of my queue of books to read (I acquire books faster than I read them, so finally getting to a book can take a long time). By the time I finally started reading it, others were urging me to give my opinion on it. I recently finished reading it, and so here I am writing this.
The book was evidently self-published, and written in deliberately bad English, especially in the early sections. I’m not sure why the author chose to leave out a’s and the’s in his sentences, for example, although the thought occurs to me that he may already have published material under a non-anonymous name, and he does not want anyone to recognize his more authentic and more articulate and grammatically correct writing style—because the book endorses, essentially, violence and what strikes me as something suspiciously resembling fascism. But endorsing violence and fascism could theoretically render a book more interesting to read and consider, so I am not really faulting it for that.
With regard to the substance of the argument put forth by the the author, for me he started off on the wrong foot with an alternative theory to Darwinism and Darwinian natural selection. Charles Darwin is one of my western culture heroes, and probably my favorite scientist of all time, so I may be somewhat biased; but it seems to me that the author indulges in an almost willful misinterpretation of how Darwinian evolution is supposed to work, because philosophy. He admits that certain aspects of Darwinian natural selection are true: “The hereditary nature of the qualities, and the suitability of an organism to its environment and vice-versa, all of this is true observation.” But he denies that the fundamental business of life in an evolutionary sense is mere survival and reproduction, particularly among “noble” animals like predators.
Bronze Age Pervert apparently prefers to see some teleological force driving life and evolution, similar to Schopenhauer’s conception of Will—and BAP mentions Schopenhauer almost as much as he mentions Nietzsche. He wants to see a kind of Will to Power driving the more advanced and respectable forms of life, as though nobility were an empirical quality that can be empirically measured. For example in chapter 1, section 12:
Very young rams, very young stag even when fawn, well before horns appear, play-fight with heads butting. This is in anticipation of horns that will grow. Yet no one teaches them this, but they know it in the blood. What came “first” for this animal, the development of horns or the “knowledge” and will to fight in this manner? In phenomenon like this is kept the secret and truth about evolution and life.
It seems to me that this is obviously an inborn instinct associated with reproduction—i.e. fighting for dominance and mating success during breeding age—but the author evidently wants to see it as some symptom of nobility of spirit, which then causes virile horns to grow. The fact that skill at fighting with horns or antlers results in the accumulation of harems of females for breeding purposes in some species, and that those best at it will reproduce their genes most effectively, and that this trait will then be passed on to the offspring, even without teleological considerations, seems to escape him. This is pretty clearly because, for largely emotional reasons, he prefers Nietzsche’s idealism to Darwin’s empiricism. He says:
It is the path that governs higher life; survival and reproduction are only side effects of this path. Life is at most basic, struggle for ownership of space.
So Bronze Age Pervert claims that the driving force for “higher” or “nobler” forms of animal life is mastery of space…which, with all due respects, I just don’t see. Even a territorial animal wants his space to facilitate reproduction—individual territories are set up especially at breeding time. I can accept the idea that organic evolution is not necessarily driven entirely by random mutation and survival of the fittest, there possibly really being a kind of Buddhistic karma or Schopenhauerian Will guiding the direction of gradual changes in species; but to favor some Nietzschean Will to Power as the driving force of evolution to the point of dissing Darwin is rather extreme from an objective point of view, it seems to me. A scrap of evidence that he produces in favor of his mastery of space theory is that “noble” animals like predators can’t stand being locked up in a cage and so they go mad or stop eating and die, or at least they become apathetic and refuse to mate and reproduce in captivity. The author prefers to interpret this as a sign that desire for mastery of one’s own space is frustrated in the noble beast, and thus that mere survival and reproduction are not the issue—the animal could still eat and reproduce if it wanted to, but its desire for mastery of space was more important. But I interpret this to mean that the animal’s set of instincts are so baffled by its new artificial environment that it simply shuts down. It does not want to reproduce because its environment is so radically different from what its instincts (including those for survival and reproduction) are designed for that it just doesn’t feel right. Then again, some of the “noblest” animals, like lions and tigers, breed fine in captivity.
Even when the author (I feel funny calling him Pervert, as though I’m taking unfair advantage and using his name against him) criticizes the hypothetical Darwinist, I think he misses the point: “He believes in Darwinism as a teleological faith, that reproduction and survival are the ends of life, the purpose toward which all life strives and that this explains how life or an organism behaves.” Really, Darwinism works without considering any fundamental desire of a life force for fuller representation or ideal fulfillment or any such thing: It’s simply a plain fact that if organisms don’t survive and reproduce, then their genes and the traits coded by those genes die out. That is just the simple fact of the matter. So regardless of the inner drives of an animal’s life force, noble or otherwise, survival and reproduction are the bottom line for natural selection and evolution. Teleology, or an emphasis on some deep purpose in the universe or in life, some goal striven for, are, or at least theoretically can be, irrelevant. It is not life itself which seeks survival and reproduction, it is the individual organism that HAS to survive and reproduce, regardless of its feelings on the matter, if its hereditary line is not to go extinct. A line that survives to evolve is necessarily a line that survives and reproduces, and instincts to ensure that survival and reproduction are themselves evolved in this way. It appears to be a love of a certain kind of philosophy that directs BAP away from cold, objective empiricism to the passionate, emotional sort of philosophy favored by F. W. Nietzsche.
Possibly the author’s most elaborate statement at Darwin’s expense, an attempt to portray the man as hopelessly culturally conditioned to the point of not “getting it” at all, is as follows:
Actually Darwinism is true, but only under certain conditions. It’s not even a “half-truth,” it’s actually the full truth about a kind of life, but the mistake is to think it describes all life. Darwin is meaningless without Malthus, but this is why Nietzsche is right about both of them when he says they describe only life in England, or more precisely the England of that time….
Solution to infant mortality problem meant these lower classes put all excess income into supporting more mouths to feed, not improving the quality of life of the children they had: just an exponential increase in human biomass! And this is the world of Malthus and of Darwin, life under filth, life under distress. Darwinism describes life under extreme stress. From this very partial view he thinks he has discovered the truth about life in general, but animal under conditions of extreme stress, crowded condition, observed and watched, filthy, beaten and imprisoned, its life severely regimented away from what it would like to do if left to its devices, will not give you secret to what life is. It will be very misleading example, and this is basis of Darwinism and of all thought that comes from it. It is the philosophy of life of the tenement and the slum, of the open air work-camp.
This is absurd, as though Darwin never left London, and never went to the Galapagos Islands and many other places around the world. The man was a well-trained and brilliant biologist who studied barnacles, earthworms, finches, and tortoises, not factory workers living in tenements.
So it seems to me that, even if there is some teleological (or at least non-Darwinian) force also involved in evolution, that does not debunk Darwin at all, or marginalize him to near irrelevance. BAP accuses pretty much all biologists of being dishonest in his book, multiple times, because they don’t agree with him on this. A little later in the book he claims that biology and animal behavior will never really be understood without a deep understanding of hormone function (“Hormones hold the key to the meaning of life in the most fundamental way....Only a complete understanding of these hidden substances will reveal the fullness of life in its glory! ”), although time will tell on that one, and I don’t feel like arguing the point. Also I have no desire to wade into his belief that “No great discovery has ever been made by the power of reason.” At present I’m mainly interested in refereeing the boxing match between Darwin and a follower of Nietzsche.
It shouldn’t be too far out to consider Bronze Age Pervert a neo-Nietzschean in his approach to life, glorifying the Will to Power, exhorting the Overmen of the present age to rise up, dominate, tear down this sick world, and eventually build up a sparkling new one…that is more or less fascistic. Promoting this ruthless new way, or rather primordial one, appears to be the main point of the whole book. So naturally the author takes his biological (or pseudobiological) generalizations and applies them to human beings in particular.
For example he applies his “mastery of space” theory of the driving force of evolution, with its teleological force striving for perfection, towards human racialism (in the sense of anti-miscegenation) and physical fitness:
Peoples are nature’s circuitous ways to great specimens and for this reason the peoples that have arisen out of nature must be preserved in their distinct forms. In same way see from all this that aesthetic physique has the most cosmic significance, and it is because of what I have said so far that aesthetic bodies are a “window to the other side,” because they are the pinnacle of nature.
Possibly going with Nietzsche’s idea of eternal recurrence he also rejects mainstream anthropology and archeology:
I have no doubt anyway that beings of magnificent beauty and complexity existed before, but disappeared because the conditions for their preservation were that much more difficult. No doubt also that human civilization came and went in many cycles, over many hundreds of thousands of years. Civilizations far more advanced than ours are buried under miles of ash and rock, or under the ice of Antarctica, or were entirely pulverized.
I have no idea what evidence, if any, he could produce in support of this, but he seems to be ranting for the sake of exhortation in the book, and so cool objectivity really doesn’t have much place. He also believes that there was a Golden Age in the past, a belief very common among a certain type of traditionalists: the tradition may be deplorable now, and men weak as milk, but that’s because it has declined from its former ideal glory! (Although men are about as weak and degenerate now as they have ever been in the history of our species, and our culture is indeed very degenerate in many respects, I seriously doubt that we humans, in general, and our societies, have ever been anything but profoundly fucked up.)
Towards the very end of the book the author makes an attempted return to biology, for example: “Choose [a mate] by quality of biology and remember that the intellect is inherited from the mother, the character from the father.” I assume he got this idea from Schopenhauer, as he also endorsed it. It is an empirically false view, however, and my own ancestry debunks it, as I obviously inherited my own intellect from my father’s side of the family, and much of my character from that of my mother. But enough about me.
Also in a more or less biological vein the author calls for healthy living and exercise, for example: “The bodies of middle-aged people nauseate me, and I assure you, they bring nausea to nature as well.” The very idea that nature, notoriously supremely indifferent, is nauseated by older human bodies is just silly. In a more rational moment he also says this: “Any man who improves his body through sun and steel will drift away from the modern left, a program of decrepitude and resentful monstrosity. They know this and are afraid.” This second statement may be true, but on the other hand he admits to being a drunk who prowls the dirty, seamy sides of big cities, and consorts with prostitutes and drug addicts. Wallowing in such a debauched lifestyle is a theme that reaches a sort of crescendo and climax near the very end of the book…but that is getting into accelerationism, and his apocalyptic politics of the nobly and gloriously amoral and ruthless Overman will be the theme of the next post.
(And no, in the next post I won’t simply be bashing him and his book. I even agree with him on a number of important points, though certainly not all.)
This is my last blog post written as an ordained bhikkhu, when I was still in California. Just saying.