The Decline of Western Man (and Woman)
I would be very much surprised if there is a single reader of this interview who is unfamiliar with the writing of F. Roger Devlin. In addition to his frequent attendance at the kind of gatherings the SPLC reports on, his frequent book reviews and occasional essays have been carried by nearly every corner of the web that makes up the unauthorized right, and that has been the case for over a decade now.
Although generally very private, Dr. Devlin tells us that he is from Baltimore, and received his PhD in Political Philosophy from Tulane University. For those of you interested in familiarizing yourselves with the man and his work a bit more before reading on, I recommend his most famous essay Sexual Utopia in Power, along with his two more personal essays: Why I Write and The Academy: Reform or Secession. Below, Dr. Devlin shares his thoughts on literature, the late Sam Francis, economics, and much more.
What does the “F” in your name stand for?
Francis. I include it in my signature to distinguish myself from other Roger Devlins who may be out there. Once I was bemused to find myself referred to as Father Devlin.
Independent writers are invariably urged to create an Internet personality by maintaining a personal blog, or at least a presence on Twitter or Facebook. You have done none of this. Why not?
I prefer the discipline of writing longer pieces. We live in an attention deficit society already, and I don’t care to exacerbate the situation. These websites, moreover, are already being used as a form of social control. Remember Justine Sacco?
You have made your reasons for leaving the academy clear, and it is hard to disagree, but it is still quite impressive to put those critiques into action and just walk away. What advice do you have for those considering doing the same?
My own reasons were partly personal, and not necessarily a model for others to follow. I was encouraged by the examples of men like Russell Kirk and John Attarian. But I can’t recommend it as a career for men with large families to support.
Eventually we are going to have to create our own institutions, both schools and think tanks, for dissident scholars. Right now we do not even have the infrastructure for hiring full-time activists, as other ethnic groups do.
Do you value the writing and research skills gained from your time in college enough not to regret having attended, or do you wish you had never even bothered?
I use my education every day. In fact, I consider my main “occupation” to be educating myself about the world around me, and my writing as a byproduct of that effort. Yet long years of schooling are no guarantee of anything. I am frequently disappointed in the shallowness and conventionality of academics’ political views.
Young people should not go to college without a clear idea of what it is they hope to accomplish. Humanities departments, especially, are utterly corrupt. For many, it would make more sense simply to acquire an un-outsourceable skill through apprenticeship. Those who cannot advance without a credential may consider pursuing a cheap distance-learning degree while getting their real education elsewhere.
I understand you lived as an expatriate in Europe for a time. Can you explain a little about how you made this decision, and why you returned? Would you recommend that more whites “return to the homeland”?
I did some of my graduate study in Germany. Afterwards, I stayed in Europe to write my doctoral dissertation while teaching English. Such an experience can be valuable, but not unless you are prepared for it by learning languages and history. A sound education without time abroad is better than time abroad without a sound education.
How did you discover AR?
Back in 1999, the Council of Conservative Citizens offered Sam Francis’s Revolution From the Middle as a premium for joining. I joined and attended the national conference that year, where I heard Jared Taylor speak. So I began looking at the magazine on the web. I remember being impressed by Glayde Whitney’s article “The Biological Reality of Race.” I was used to empty academic blather about race, and it was something new to come upon an article written in a matter-of-fact tone by someone who actually knew what he was talking about. I still had a lot to learn, then; my own first contribution to the magazine came only in June, 2008. [See here]
I understand you knew Sam Francis personally before he died, and by all accounts he was quite a man. Unlike so many who knew him, you have written little about him; could you share a few of your memories of him?
I started reading Sam’s columns in Chronicles in 1997, and almost always learned something new. Later, I attended meetings of the CofCC National Capital Region chapter over which he presided. He was distrustful at first, because I tend to be quiet in company. One night I held forth more than usual, and before the next meeting I got a call saying Sam had specifically asked if I could come. So then I got rather less shy with him. We met for lunch one-on-one a couple times in 2003. He introduced me to Wilmot Robertson and racialist literature of a sort unmentioned in his Chronicles pieces. He was a blunt man who cared nothing for “the structure of prevailing taboos” (as Buckley termed it). Like myself, he was an academic manqué.
Setting aside adapted speeches, most of your writing consists of book reviews. With only one exception, you have not written a stand-alone essay in about five years, which is unusual for writers. Are you simply more inclined to analyze and reflect than advocate?
That is probably true. Partly it is my background in philosophy, which makes me like to pick apart arguments, discover concealed premises, etc. Moreover, I get plenty of my own thoughts and ideas across in this most modest of literary genres, and there is a constant demand for reviews.
While your reviews of non-fiction can be easily categorized into various genres (e.g. immigration, Nouvelle Droite, education), the same cannot be said of your considerably less frequent fiction reviews. Along with the reasonably well-known Solzhenitsyn, you have expressed admiration for the so-called Biedermeier writers of 19th century Germany, an affinity for ancient Greek plays, and enjoyment of one self-published contemporary collection of short stories. Could you tell us some more about what fiction you read?
The realistic novel is my favorite form. Favorite authors include Austen, Scott, Stendhal, Goethe, Stifter and the Russian realists. Classical Greek literature in all genres is the essential basis for everything that follows. Yet there are still embarrassing gaps in my knowledge of literature, including virtually the whole contemporary scene.
You almost always refrain from comment on contemporary American politics, and even review few books related to the matter (an interesting exception being Jan Brewer’s book, Scorpions for Breakfast); why? Do you read the news and try and keep up-to-date on what is happening, or have you completely checked out?
I am as far as possible from any lack of interest in politics, but I take a long term view of events in which particular electoral contests shrink to near-insignificance. The liberal system will not be defeated by electing substantial numbers of dissidents to high office; there is truth in the old radical slogan that if elections could change anything, they would be illegal. The liberal system will collapse of its own weight: debt, over-centralization, anti-natalism, all the perverse incentives it creates. As our old sources of national strength quietly dry up, the regime is distracted with exotic trivia like gay marriage and the search for new forms of discrimination to combat. Competition from China alone is going to put an end to this ideological navel-gazing in the not-too-distant future. We must position ourselves to present the public with a credible alternative when the crisis hits. This is my focus, not the shadow-boxing of Republicans vs. Democrats.
Your writing has influenced an incredible number of people across the spectrum of the unauthorized right. Your name has been explicitly championed by masculists like Heartiste, neoreactionaries like Aimless Gromar, and ethno-nationalists like Chechar. One can also detect “Devlinisms” in the writings of other regular dissidents, like Gregory Hood and Jack Donovan. There is even a blog now dedicated to putting all of your work in one place: Devliniana. What do you attribute this very broad appeal and impact to?
Political labels are context-dependent. In the context of feminism, I am a masculist; in that of hyper-modernity I am a reactionary; in that of anti-racism, I am a racialist. Fifty years ago, I might have been a Goldwater conservative, but the worsening situation, along with the cowardice and short-sightedness of Conservatism, Inc. have transformed me (somewhat against my own natural inclinations) into a kind of radical. This doesn’t mean there is anything self-contradictory in my views.
What ten books would you consider essential for right-wing dissidents?
- Race, Evolution and Behavior by J. Philippe Rushton, 2nd abridged edition.
- The Dispossessed Majority by Wilmot Robertson.
- Taken Into Custody by Stephen Baskerville.
- The Closing of the Muslim Mind by Robert R. Reilly.
- The Solzhenitsyn Reader, ed. by Ericson and Mahoney.
- Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt.
- Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke.
- Anything and everything by Samuel Francis.
- Anything and everything by Jared Taylor.
- Anything and everything by Kevin MacDonald.
I understand that you have a new a book coming out with Counter Currents Publishing. Could you tell us a little about it?
It is simply a collection of my essays to date on “hypergamy and the female revolt against civilization,” as the subtitle puts it, along with a Preface, Introduction and Postscript. Some of the essays are lightly revised.
By far your most famous piece of work is Sexual Utopia in Power, which has even been noticed by the mainstream. Would you have ever guessed that this would be your defining essay, and why do you think that has proved to be the case? If you could change anything in it now, would you?
Yes, it is my most important essay. I meditated on it for years before writing it down, and the intention was to make points that I did not see anyone else making. The response has been gratifying.
Given the popularity, and obvious influence, of your writings on what can be loosely called “socio-sexual dynamics,” I would like to ask a few specific questions pertaining to this area of your work. The first four questions come from my sometime collaborator, Hadley Bishop.
One of the first elements which trips up readers coming from a more study/data-minded approach is that socio-sexual dynamics is very methodologically fuzzy. It seems you have hit on some important things in your writings, but your citations are sparse. How did you arrive at them, and could your method be used more widely?
My writings are essays, not peer-reviewed research papers. Canadian scholar Barry Cooper says this about the essay form: “An essay presents a point of view, not new information. It pushes investigation and argument to an extreme, and it does so in a mood of great confidence. The usual scholarly paraphernalia can be minimized, subtle qualifications and second thoughts can be dispensed with.” The reason I used this imperfect form is that I had too much to say to fit into any other. Testing all my assertions with double-blind experiments and control groups would be the work of several lifetimes.
No, I do not possess any transferable method. I got my data by slumming around the Internet on chat forums and pick-up sites, interpreting it with the help of simple evolutionary psychology. The result was eventually a new model of sexual dynamics that accounts for wives being responsible for 90 percent of divorces, epidemic bachelorhood, bad boys with harems, death-row inmates besieged with female fan mail, unprecedented female freedom matched by unprecedented female frustration with men, etc. None of this can be explained if you imagine that women are morally superior natural monogamists to whom ardent swains must prove their worthiness, however edifying such a vision may have been to our grandfathers.
How would you demonstrate (apart from citing observation and common sense) that females have less agency than males–that they are irrational, immature, irresponsible, etc.?
That’s one for the neurologists.
I’ll say this, however: Women can be made more responsible by being held responsible. Men do not like to do this, because being a man means taking responsibility. Men will even try to blame themselves for their wives’ unfaithfulness, and wives are happy to let them. You get from women only as much virtue as you demand, so demand a lot.
There’s a fairly strong correlation between high IQ and lower fertility rates. What’s the mechanism behind this? Is it that high IQers tend to be concentrated in cities with higher property rates, making it economically more difficult to reproduce? Is it that high IQers tend to adhere to the zeitgeist, that is, a feminist conception of gender relations?
Both of these are factors, but it may be more important that only intelligent people are forward-looking enough to use birth control.
Autonomy guaranteed through economic wellbeing seems to facilitate short-sightedness in average people, in that they discard familial relations and the desire for children, both of which are good for them in the long run. Given that prosperous material conditions are a key influence here, would you just wait out the ruinous economic cycle of collapsing fertility rates until it becomes rational to have children again, or is there anything else to be done in the interim?
Our current way of life is obviously unsustainable and, as you point out, it will inevitably become rational to have children again at some future date–but this may happen only after a collapse unlike anything seen since the fall of Rome. By that time, European man may be too small a fraction of humanity for his civilization ever to recover. Those whites who buck the trend and have children today may prove the decisive factor in our survival.
What do you make of today’s “hook-up culture,” “pick-up artistry” and the like? In light of your view that marriage no longer holds any incentives for men, it would seem that contemporary men’s obsession with “scoring” is merely a rational use of their energies. Do you agree?
Unfortunately, yes. Preaching morality to men is a waste of time. The laws must be changed.
Women wish to optimize the mating market for themselves at the expense of men (cf. Jack Donovan’s The Way of Men on bonobos vs. chimps). “Game” works against this female (and feminist) tendency. For this reason, women invariably hate and denounce it. But that doesn’t matter; it only matters how they respond to game techniques.
Game can even be useful in finding a permanent mate, though it is not inherently directed to this end. But it is no substitute for restoring the legal basis of marriage. Game helps men only at the individual level, while perverse incentives affect the entire society.
Aside from learning an Eastern European language (as you once suggested), what would you recommend these young men do instead of pursuing such passing fancies?
Focus on being the best man you can be, not on what women think of you. Do not get serious about any girl unwilling to accept your direction, or who does not have sound principles and a long-term way of thinking. “Doc Love” is my favorite dating coach.
One suggestion you have made for improving the current state of sex relations is a “male strike” of sorts, in regards to both marriage and coitus. You mention that such a strike “was probably beyond the imagination even of Aristophanes” (in reference to his Lysistrata), and I am curious how you envision such a strike. There is a theme of “masculinist celibacy” sprinkled here and there in Western literature, e.g., the proud “man’s man” Hippolytus, or the antiheroes in hardboiled fiction who view women as fiendish distractions from their truth-seeking goals–or even just the male-only world of Moby Dick and many war and adventure novels. Should any of these be considered models, or is your vision more along the lines of a Lysistrata in reverse, almost akin to the strike taken by the productive class in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged?
I must acknowledge that a male sex strike is a rather fanciful notion. Someone has pointed out that even if you could get 90 percent of men to go along with it, the 10 percent without self-control would easily keep up the supply.
Still, something analogous to a sex-strike works at the individual level. As long as you are dependent on sex, you are dependent on women. This is disastrous: In a healthy relationship, the woman is dependent on the man. Women are attracted to men whom they sense do not need them. Master your sex instinct, be more aloof in the company of women and see if your interactions with them do not improve.
Socio-sexual dynamics and education are the two topics that you often address directly, while most everything else receives treatment by way of book reviews, which leaves readers without a clear picture of your opinions on a number of different issues. For example, how do you feel about libertarianism generally, and free-market ideas specifically? In your writings, one can find pro-market critiques of the welfare state and protectionism (along with positive mentions of Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises), but there are also critiques of economism, a yearning for a more local economy, and sympathetic allusions to agrarianism and distributism. Furthermore, you have written for some publications that are quite libertarian (The Last Ditch), others that are fairly hostile to the ideology (Counter Currents), and others still that have a near schizophrenic variety of takes on it (American Renaissance).
There is an economic aspect to everything men undertake, and some acquaintance with economic principles is indispensable for anyone concerned with socio-political issues. This is why I have included Hazlitt’s little primer in my list of basic titles for the dissident. It will not make the reader an economist, but will make clear the roots of much fallacious economic thinking (even though Hazlitt’s examples are dated) and the difficulty of considering the economic good of society as a whole rather than of particular sectors whose interests are often opposed to those of others.
Economics is a science of means, of directing available means fairly and rationally to human ends, every one of which is non-economic. Economics thus cannot provide a sufficient basis for ordering human life as a whole. Economism is the fallacy of trying to make it do so, of confusing the economic good with the human good per se. Wilhelm Röpke got it right when he called for “a society with a market, but not a market society” in which economic relations swallow up everything else. He described economism as “a disorder of spiritual perception.”
Greg Johnson’s summation of Ron Paul’s program was perfectly apt: Paul wants to ensure that the little brown people who are taking our country from us will enjoy the benefits of a hard currency. This is the sort of confused priorities that come from having a narrowly economic view of the social good. Contrast Pat Buchanan’s view (quoting from memory) that “the economy is not the nation, and when what is good for the economy differs from what is good for the nation, the nation comes first.” My own ideal society would subordinate the economy to the good of the family as well as the nation, but this would still allow high productivity and incomparably greater economic freedom than we currently enjoy in America, especially for small businesses.
In the same vein, I’m curious to know what system of governance you see as most desirable: monarchy, limited republicanism, aristocracy?
There is no universally best political regime. In some ways, we could even use more democracy today; e.g., the general public has never favored mass immigration. Yet we also need a reaffirmation of traditional aristocratic virtues and a sense of natural hierarchy.
You seem to straddle the line regarding the Jewish Question. Generally speaking, do you see Jews as friends or foes in the quest for white identity and survival? And what do you make of Kevin MacDonald’s “Jewish trilogy?”
I have read Dr. MacDonald’s trilogy from beginning to end twice, parts of it more often. I think the interpretation of “cultures” as group evolutionary strategies will prove a crucial insight. Viewed sub specie aeternitatis, Dr. MacDonald’s interpretation of Jewish-Gentile conflict has a tragic quality to it: Conflict is not due to any misunderstanding which might be corrected, but to the intrinsic nature of the two peoples. Of course, in politics we do not have the luxury of viewing conflict sub specie aeternitatis, and we must do what is best for our own people. This has nothing to do with harboring negative feelings toward Jews or anyone else, but only with perceiving our ethnopolitical situation accurately in order to act upon it rationally. I work with dissident Jews who are willing to work with me, but I do not foresee any time when the perceived self-interest of organized Jewry coincides with White self-interest.
Outside of briefly mentioning Wilmot Robertson’s The Ethnostate in a positive light, you seem to have never grappled with the idea of a white ethnostate somewhere in North America. What do you think?
I’m in favor of it. The whole racial problem comes of having to share territory with enemies and parasites. Anti-white sentiment is merely an “ideological superstructure” resting on the “material base” of shared territory: Remove the base and the ideology will vanish overnight.
At the risk of condemning you to the fate of Socrates, do you have any advice for the youth?
I am not against political activism by the young, but your primary focus in youth should be on educating yourself. Read the classics, not the bestsellers. Be open to learning from a broad variety of sources, but do not buy into any big ideology or world-view uncritically.
For those interested in further exploring Dr. Devlin’s work, it can be separated into six broad categories:
- Socio-sexual dynamics, anti-feminism, and the state of marriage. See: Sexual Utopia in Power, Sexual Liberation and Racial Suicide, Home Economics, The Feminine Counter-Revolution & it’s Limitations, and Rotating Polyandry – & it’s Enforcers.
- The European Identitarians and the Nouvelle Droit. See: A Europe of Nations, Generation Identity Introduces Itself, Alain de Benoist’s Vivid Memory, The Rectification of Names, Human Rights between Ideology & Politics, and Rethinking Democracy.
- The state of South Africa. See: Into the Cannibal’s Pot, A Home of Our Own, Snuffing Out South African Identity, and The White Nation of Africa.
- The alternative/dissident right and paleoconservatism in America. See: Standing Tall, Paul Gottfried’s Terrestrial Railroad Journey, Immigration and the Building of a New Majority, Picking Up the Torch, and The Family Way.
- Education, and its general decay. See: Clamping Down on Free Speech on Campus, You Can’t Say that Here!, The Academy: Reform or Secession?, Brown vs. Board, Govt. vs. People: The Curious Course Of The Desegregation Wars, and Higher Education: The Impossibility of Reform.
- Immigration, particularly in America. See: Why Global Democratic Revolution (And Mass Immigration) Won’t Work, Sojourners And Subversives: Cataloguing the Treason Lobby, Immigration and Human Nature, and Designer Nation – A History of American Immigration Policy.
Those interested in reading Dr. Devlin’s entirely original work (i.e. not book reviews) should see: The Case of Victor Davis Hanson: Farmer, Scholar, Warmonger (Winter ‘03/’04, “The Occidental Quarterly”), Sexual Utopia in Power (Summer ‘06 “The Occidental Quarterly”), The Academy: Reform Or Secession? (Winter ‘06/’07 “The Occidental Quarterly), Adalbert Stifter and the “Biedermeier” Imagination (Spring ‘08, “Modern Age”), Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn 1918-2008 (Spring ‘08, “The Occidental Quarterly”), The ‘ReAfricanization’ of the West (June ‘08, “American Renaissance”), Sexual Liberation and Racial Suicide (October ‘08, “TOQ” editor’s dinner), Home Economics (published in parts throughout ‘08 and ‘09, “The Last Ditch”), Immigration and the Building of a New Majority (June ‘09, “The Social Contract”), Why I Write (October ‘09, “TOQ Online”), CofCC National Conference 2010, Nashville, TN (June ‘10, “The Occidental Observer”), Higher Education: The Impossibility of Reform (November ‘11 “H.L. Mencken Club” speech), On Wilmot Robertson (October ‘13, speech at private gathering), The Question of Female Masochism (October ‘14, “Counter Currents”)
It should be noted, however, that Dr. Devlin has a knack for making a book review out of something that ostensibly isn’t.
There is also, of course, his book: Alexandre Kojéve and the Outcome of Modern Thought.