There are five main principles that I believe do a nice job of providing a scaffold on which to hang our theories, provided by James Huff. They are, in James’s words:
1) Personal Accountability – An internal measurement of Merit. This is defined through self-sufficiency without resorting to violence and coercion, and the willingness to face natural consequences for your decisions. It is primarily used as an honest form of self-assessment. It keeps unrealistic expectations and narcissism in check.
2) Personal Responsibility – The measure of external actions that can also be seen and judged by others.. This one has a twofold process, one of which is redundant to personal accountability, but creates a tie between the self and the world outside of the self. This is the physical manifestation of personal accountability as judged by others in both deed and word, and the barometer of basic relationships with other people.
3) Characterization by Merit–The ability to judge others based upon their personal responsibility. This means other people should be judged by whether or not they are moving toward self-sufficiency without resorting to violence and coercion and whether they demonstrate a measure of personal accountability by facing the natural consequences of their actions. This is true regardless of external features of the individual being judged.
4) Non-Aggression/Non Violence – Simply put…… Thou shalt not enforce thy will upon others through the use of threat of the loss of life or liberty, or by injury, or through the threat of loss of personal property (or by making good on said threats and simply taking what you want). This can be altered only in the scope of upholding contractual law in which consequences for breaking the contract are fully understood between both parties, or in defense of personal property rights.
5) Respect for Personal Property Rights – By which the fruits of all time and labor by an individual gained through self-sufficiency in any environment, or property gained through contractual agreements with other individuals is solely the possession of that individual and is not to be removed by any form of force or coercion. Another way to put it is the actual body of the individual and anything created by the body (the tool of consciousness) is the exclusive property of that individual unless contractual agreements are signed between parties for the exchange of goods and services.
With all due respect to Factory, who generally is quite reflective and insightful about a number of issues relating to this, this formulation seems fundamentally misguided to me.
A threshold problem is that it is based on a rather Lockean discourse of rights — property rights, meritocratic rights, contract rights and so on. It can’t possibly be the case that masculinity is encapsulated or well-explained in terms of a neo-Lockean (or other) discourse of rights, precisely because it long predates any such discourse.
A further, and more fundamental, problem is the emphasis on self-sufficiency. This is certainly a misguided emphasis, and has more roots in contemporary political conservatism and libertarianism, and their respective roots in political philosophy, than it does in any enduring masculinity. The true expression of masculinity in a public/political sense is patriarchy, which is marked by men behaving as a band of brothers — competition and collaboration in tandem. It does embody a somewhat merit-based hierarchy (yet not entirely one), and prizes personal responsibility and accountability, yet these are not oriented around self-sufficiency, but around the band itself. Men work best in hierarchical collective efforts — sports teams, military brigades, corporate executive teams — competing against other hierarchical collective groups of men. It’s the opposite of self-sufficiency — it’s a model that embraces personal accountability, responsibility and merit, but in a setting that emphasizes the competitive collaboration with the rest of the brotherhood. And that very well may involve violence — certainly it has over history, and to suggest that non-violence is the definition of masculinity defies the mountain of historical evidence to the contrary. Whether violence is justified in a particular instance has been the subject of a mountain of moral and ethical writing, but never has it been suggested that violence in itself, as violence per se, is not masculine, precisely because it is wrong to do so. The proper exercise of masculinity necessarily involves violence from time to time — and that requires deep thought, and we have much of that already, about what the “time to time” circumstances are that justify the use of masculine violence — and that deep thought goes much further and deeper than contract rights.
There is no real need to reinvent the wheel here. Masculinity is enduring. If it isn’t practiced much today, that is because parents (fathers, mostly) are not doing their job, and society is instead fashioning men into non-masculine pussy-boys. But masculinity itself is enduring, and is not to be found among the interstices of contemporary political ideologies — it is deeper and older and has nothing to do with them in itself.
We can, and must, do better than that when we articulate what the enduring masculine means in this contemporary context. It must not be moored to contemporary ideological discourses, but transcend them.