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This is clearly a far cry from the current situation. Many men – perhaps you or someone you know – are struggling financially, socially isolated and confused about where and how to apply themselves. This is unsurprising, in a world where volatile, feelings-based reactions are favoured over rational discourse, where masculinity is shamed as inherently toxic and with fundamental categories of perception – e.g. gender – being attacked.
Whilst men are not the only solution to these challenges, they are a significant one. Even though they have been weakened by our culture, they’re capable of regaining strength. What we need now are balanced, noble, courageous leaders. In the UK we reckon it would take 16,000 such individuals – our Knights – to change things. Have you suffered enough to make things different, yet? Or will you forge yourself into Knight – a man of “blood and iron” yet “gentle and modest”? This is not a fantasy novel – it’s a reality you can choose! The world is full of monsters and dragons. It takes courage to face them. Particularly when they’re lurking inside of YOU!
It is true that civilisations rise and fall, but does it need to be a catastrophe? Alexander Tytler of the University of Edinburgh noted eight stages that articulate well what history discloses. We seem to be in the 7th stage (of 8) of the collapse of our civilization. We have become apathetic to the troubles of the world and our contributions to it, distracted by our self-centred interests, to our personal detriment. Apathy leads to dependency, which leads to slavery. Entitled populations (accustomed to having whatever they want) blame others for their problems, insisting and begging for others to solve their problems for them. This creates a mandate for tyrannical control. This can be seen time and again throughout history. At least 150 million people died worldwide in the first half of the 20th century, due to the internal political skullduggery of Soviet Russian, Communist China and numerous other countries. But that I’m sure will soon be considered acceptable “for the greater good”, particularly since we have “too many people on the planet” as it is…
One of the West’s founding fathers – Plato – agrees that there is a cycle of decline in civilisations. For him, when we reach Tyranny, an improved next step would see the return of Aristocracy, until we descend once more through various regimes, ending penultimately with Democracy, then yet again, Tyranny…
So is this how it needs to be? Do we need to be on the karmic wheel of nonsense? Well I don’t see much being offered as an alternative… It would be easy – from our bloated and complacent positions – to throw our toys out of the pram and stomp our feet about all of this. But that’s only going to make things worse.
So if we continue, the only thing that can propel us from tyrannical to aristocratic rule, is enough suffering and conflict to bring about the wisdom, virtue, and courage necessary to begin a new – not so tyrannical, but probably not so great either – civilization that will rise from the ashes. One option could be to lean into the dive to bring that new civilization about quicker. Is that what this magazine is about? Creating a new civilisation? Well, I wonder.
Whilst Tytler’s work captures the imagination, Plato gave us a different option than the torturous cycle of regimes. The rise of a King – a benevolent dictator. That may seem like a contradiction in terms. But could there be a smaller chance of power being mishandled if less people were involved in the process? Given how flawed people are – particularly in our regressive culture – it seems likely to me that one cook would make better broth. So perhaps it’s a worthy endeavour to create the conditions for such a King to rise.
Creating the Conditions for the King
Some say the “feminine is rising” in the West right now. But like all good things, this idea is misunderstood and misapplied, expressing itself through virtue signalling social justice types as “women need to behave more like men”. I’m paraphrasing the thought process of course. Sounds like more patriarchy to me, not less! Rather, what our society needs is for everyone to genuinely embrace more femininity, which is also to say, receptivity, sensitivity and a community-orientation. We need to listen to one another more and work together to find solutions that work for as many of those being impacted as possible – true. But the more people in the group, the less ideal the solutions will be for the individuals. It seems that there will always be a level of sacrifice with being part of any sized group. But that sacrifice should better be a choice, not mandatory and it’s down to the masculine to say when enough is enough. More “femininity” should not be embraced at the expense of masculinity. Rather they should exist side by side.
What we’re after is balance. In all dimensions. For example, it lacks nuance to state that either centralisation or decentralisation of power will solve the world’s problems. Both must exist, in balance. Do you think power in the world is balanced well between being centralised and decentralised?
Thinking more immediately, whilst most of us have genitalia that suggest tendencies of physical expression, we are all capable of mental balance between the genders. Most importantly, remaining balanced enables us to traverse the balancing beam of life; making progress and coming into contact with challenges that require us to learn in order to overcome them. Through this process we become increasingly refined – or different – as we do. Differentiation is the outcome of learning (which is the point of life), brings a sense of purpose and is the opposite of sameness. Do you think there are more people thinking, feeling and behaving in a unique way these days, or less?
One view of history is that we’ve had over a thousand years of heroic masculinity driving things forward. If that’s true, it was certainly sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. So again… I’m calling for balance. Let’s avoid the easy trap of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Masculinity has weaknesses and when left unchecked by femininity, leads to (for example) ecological catastrophes, as Mother Earth is raped by greed. This degrades the soil along with the quality of the food coming from it and therefore human health takes the hit. Yet masculinity’s gifts have brought us the houses and council services (among many others gifts) that keep our families warm, dry and safe. Just look around and marvel at the built world – built by the masculine. But that forward-facing, driving spirit – now more than ever – needs to be brought into balance for the sake of our species’ survival. However, the only way the truly toxic masculinity present in large multinational organisations can be brought into balance, is if ordinary men take back the power that they have handed over.
How to Claim our Personal Power
Real inner strength and power can only be accessed if we’re balanced. Without balance, our attention and energy is on not falling over! But what balance am I talking about exactly? As you’ve read in previous parts of this article, a balance between individual and collective, masculine and feminine, outward and inward orientation, must be struck. If we are able to do so, we will find ourselves inhabiting the “golden mean” – as one of the worlds most influential philosophers – Aristotle – calls it and who claimed this to be the definition of living morally.
World renowned Polymath, Rudolf Steiner, also recognised that occupying the balance point makes a force to reckoned with – the “representative of humanity”. According to Steiner, the most appropriate image of this balance can be found in Christ who keeps the extreme forces (devils) of Materialism and Spiritualism (on either side of him) at bay, within himself. Another image of this balance can be found in stories of knights. As written by C.S. Lewis in the early part of the 20th century in reference to Lancelot: “The knight is a man of blood and iron, a man familiar with the sight of smashed faces and ragged stumps of lopped-off limbs; he is also demure, almost a maidenlike, guest in hall, a gentle, modest, unobtrusive man” and “The man who combines both characters – the knight – is a work not of nature, but of art; of that art which has human beings, instead of canvas or marble, for its medium”.
As a side note, none of this is to say we need to engage in violent behaviour. Our greatest weapon afterall, is the sword of our mind and in the words of my Sifu “if you have to hit someone, you’ve already lost”. Certainly for me, since learning martial arts, I’ve never had a fight outside of a training hall. We should have the capacity for violence, yet be restrained with it. I suspect that if there were more potentially dangerous men in the world, there would be far less trouble.
So to honour our feminine side with its openness and receptivity is wise – especially in times of great complexity such as we face in the world today. But our masculine side needs structure to work with. One such structure that I have found exceptionally helpful is the Four Classical Elements. They come from our ancients and they’re still talked about now, for a good reason – understanding them helps people to make positive changes to their lives! The elements are Earth, Water, Air, Fire, each of which we need to find a balance in and between to create a harmonious life. The Four Elements are as follows:
- Earth corresponds to your Physical life. It includes your health, finances, home and routines. It is connected with the Economic sphere of the social world.
- Water corresponds to your Emotional life. It is expressed through your relationships and creativity. It is connected to the Political sphere of the social world.
- Air corresponds to your Mental life. It concerns gaining knowledge, developing competence in a discipline (formal/informal) and communication skills. It is connected to the Cultural sphere of the social world.
- Fire corresponds to your Spiritual life (or life of Will). It concerns personal freedom, autonomy and purpose through generating motivation/willpower and business ideas. This element is not connected to the social world. It is connected with your own sovereign inner world.
So there’s a part of the structure. However, there are levels to the mastery of each element, as follows:
- Level 1: You don’t know what you don’t know and thus have a steep learning curve ahead of you. Your goal here is to move from dependence to independence, relying on yourself as much as possible.
- Level 2: You have gained some knowledge, but really only enough to know where you are ignorant and what you need to learn. Your goal here is to move from independence to interdependence, balancing your own needs with the needs of others.
- Level 3: You have become proficient to the point of being confident in the skills and knowledge you have attained. Here you have reached our criteria for knighthood.
- Level 4: You have become so proficient that you operate naturally to a high standard. Here you’ve attained mastery and are called to teach.
How developed are you in the elements?
Are you balanced?
We can provide feedback on your level and balance in each of the elements – highlighting areas of strength and weakness, as well as opportunties for growth and threats to it. Please complete our Purpose Roadmap Survey. Once complete, you will receive a free customised report via email.
How Many Knights Does it Take?
Given the global scale of the problems created by our increasingly connected world, perhaps we would need a global, co-ordinated solution, such as those offered by organisations like the UN, WHO, IMF or WEF? This seems a little too Utopian to me. The trouble with utopianism is that it’s aiming for perfection – a state that does not exist in any single fragment of material reality, no matter how large. Only the totality of everything can be said to be perfect and no human society can have control over the entirety of existence, because we are but a speck of dust within it. Too deep?
Anyway… I can see that if there were a concerted local effort, we may well be in with a chance of creating something good. So let’s for now take my own country – the U.K. The current population stands at around 68.8 million. How many of those need to become our knights to make the difference I’m speaking of? Let’s draw on some research.
Erica Chenoweth, a political scientist at Harvard University in her study of civil disobedience recognised that it is the most powerful way of shaping politics – by a long way. History tells us that it takes only 3.5% of a population to stand against a mandate handed down from on-high.
So 3.5% of our 68.8 million – that brings our target down to 2.4 million. Far more manageable, but can we do better still?
British anthropologist Robin Dunbar found a correlation between primate brain size and average social group size. By using the average human brain size and extrapolating from the results of primates, he proposed that humans can comfortably maintain 150 stable relationships. Those are relationships in which an individual knows who each person is and how each person relates to every other person. A community, essentially.
You could imagine that these individuals exert some level of influence over one another. The more well-developed, balanced, mature, intelligent, charismatic and confident among us may exert more influence than others. We could call them community leaders.
So then, how many on -purpose community leaders will it take to influence our 2.4 million, if they influenced 150 people each? Just over 16 thousand, or rather just over 16 thousand communities of 150 people each. Now this is very rough maths obviously and there are lots of holes in the argument that we will have to fill in another time. However, you can see some sense in the case, I hope.
These needn’t be 16 thousand men of course, but perhaps given the current societal shift toward centralised power, the masculine has some work to do to restore balance through individual sovereignty. As men, we are the majority shareholders in masculinity. So let’s get on it.
A Journey of a Thousand Steps
So we need to be balanced, strong, capable men, with high morals and the determination spoken of in tales of heroes. This is a grand aim. Taken in its entirety, a daunting and overwhelming task. But you can’t eat an elephant all at once. It must be taken a bite at a time (no need for alarm, Greenpeace).
Aside from the specific advice you may have gleaned from your Purpose Roadmap Report, your everyday life is filled with opportunities to create greater willpower and control over your body, mind and feelings. Each time you decide to do something that you don’t want to do, you are working a muscle that will get stronger and be able to lift bigger weights over time. The bites get bigger.
Through this process you’ll come to know yourself. Leaning, fatigued at the perimeter of your capacity, staring into the abyss of your ineptitude, you concurrently find yourself at the helm of everything that you now know is already possible for you. This self knowledge is priceless.
Suffering is a great teacher, however, we needn’t experience the constant suffering suffered by those who have lived neglectfully. We can instead choose our challenges and willingly face the consequences, with courage and positivity. The challenge could be doing the dishes, or solving world hunger (without solving the dishes) – it depends how much momentum you have and what you are uniquely positioned to achieve. But whatever challenges you take on, when you succeed (and often even if you don’t) you have actually changed something, which demonstrates your ability to create value. There’s purpose in this and persistent effort will generate increasing feelings of meaning in your day-to-day life.
The end goal – a peace of mind that you did your best with what you had. There can be no better outcome for a life. We can choose to be helpless victims if we like. However, we can also choose to be participants in an epic, evolving story, coloured by the many defeats and victories that a life well-lived contains.
Sovereign Man is here to remind you of all of this. To ensure you are fully aware that you are in the driving seat, to a great extent and that you can change things, become valuable, become the balanced leader the world desperately needs! We’ll be focused on topics such as relationships, work, money and self-sufficiency in all of these areas. Our contributors will be experienced in the world and in business, informed by history, philosophy, psychology, the arts, the sciences, spirituality and current affairs. They do not agree with one another on all topics – so it should be. There’s room for dissent and debate here (and in our Telegram channel).
We are currently building a personal development platform where you can work alongside other aspiring knights – your brothers-in-arms – to tackle life’s issues and make progress across all dimensions. Our early adopters will be given beta access to the learning platform, with a price lock as it grows and invited to help us shape the structures and protocols that will be used to create our 16,000 knights. We’re keeping the subscription fee reasonable (only £3/month). For those who don’t make it into the beta round, for your money you will receive early access to each new edition of the magazine as well as our full back catalogue.
Whilst this magazine is aimed at encouraging men, you needn’t be a man to further our aims. Becoming an in-formed relative or friend of men, and particularly a Mother of Sons, is a great gift to them. If you are a man who – through life’s battles – has lost the chance to excel in mind or body, I encourage you to choose to excel in some way that you can and pass your wisdom on to the younger generation.
Please pass this magazine around and join our Telegram channel. We wish for you to become empowered as a wise leader of an enduring civilisation. He who contributes to the creation of a culture from which the King can rise once again to protect and guide us away from the evils inherent in our nature. We see it as the most critical cause of our time. Whilst there are a lot of other causes and issues that need to be addressed, if we slide into complete centralised tyranny, everything will get worse. You have a mission. Will you rise to meet it?
This article first appeared in the first edition of Sovereign Man Magazine