Seven years ago, my guest today published what has become an underground cult classic on masculinity. His name is Jack Donovan and that book was The Way of Men. I had him on the podcast a few years ago to discuss it — check it out if you haven’t listened to it. In The Way of Men, Donovan argued that for men to really live what he calls the “tactical virtues” of masculinity, they need to join an all-male honor group, or what he calls a gang or tribe. In his latest book, Becoming a Barbarian, Donovan lays out what creating these honor groups would look like.
On today’s show, Jack and I discuss why masculinity is often tragic, why today’s modern world makes it hard for men to form male honor groups, the difference between a club and a tribe, and what it means to start the world.
- The runaway success of The Way of Men
- How Becoming a Barbarian is a continuation of The Way of Men
- The difference between a tribe and club
- Why masculinity is tragic and requires conflict
- Anti-fragility and masculinity
- Why men need other men to fully experience masculinity
- Why the lone alpha male is a myth
- Why belonging to a group can make you a more interesting person
- Why modernity makes it hard to be part of a community
- Why individualism can make us less free
- What it means to be a barbarian
- Why social media gives the illusion of action and influence
- Can you have an online tribe?
- Why technology is the opposite of manliness
- How the Amish can serve as a template for living in a community
- What do you build a tribe around?
Resources/Studies/People Mentioned in Podcast
- Leupold Optics
- InSights Training
- Iron John by Robert Bly
- Manliness by Harvey Mansfield
- Hell’s Angels by Hunter S. Thompson
- Communities vs. Networks
- Why I Like It When Other Men Make Me Feel Bad About Myself
- Competition: The Fuel for Greatness
- Antifragile by Nassim Taleb
- Becoming Antifragile
- My podcast with Richard Wrangham about Demonic Males
- My podcast with Joyce Benenson about the differences between how men and women socialize
- Fighting for Life by Walter J. Ong
- Be Alpha Like the Wolf
- What is Honor?
- How to Revive Honor
- My podcast with Marc Dunkelman about The Vanishing Neighbor
- My podcast with Cal Newport about Deep Work
- My podcast with Matthew Crawford about The World Beyond Your Head
- Let Sympathy Lead to Action
- Arthur’s Hall of Viking Manliness
- Dunbar’s Number
- Men in Groups by Lionel Tiger
- My podcast with Sebastian Junger about Tribe
Donovan and I admittedly have different conceptions of manliness. To me, “primal” anthropological/biological manhood should always be coupled with the ancient conception of manliness as virtue. Donovan champions a stripped-down, raw masculinity over and above more lofty conceptions. But even if you disagree with some of his views, his sharp and compelling insights into the core of masculinity force you to re-think your assumptions about what it means to be a man and to live in a community; after all, you can’t build towards higher manhood unless you understand the foundation — you can’t become a Gentleman Barbarian and neglect the barbarian virtues. The ideas in his books are thus worth grappling with. You can pick up copies of The Way of Men and Becoming a Barbarian on Amazon.