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On Manual Work for Men

Those who rule us seek to stamp out masculinity. Over the past
several decades their attacks have been wildly successful, as a glance around you will show. True, in some families, boys are still raised to be men. But when they leave home, the never-ending attacks of the feminizers pick off many, because in every area of mainstream American life, masculine behavior is anathemized and punished. Only those willing to pay heavy personal costs can defy this never-ending coercion. Some men resist, and some even reverse the indoctrination, discovering and adopting masculinity on their own—although without broader social support and traditions, such self-taught men run the risk of caricaturing masculinity. What we need is a mechanism for any man, at any age, to begin centering and cultivating real, well-rounded, durable masculinity. Fortunately, such a mechanism is readily available and teachable—taking up tool-based manual work.

This is the first paragraph, and here is the link to a free-download PDF of the rest of this article by me, in the seventh issue of the journal Man’s World. (My piece begins on page 307). This popular journal is edited by the pseudonymous Raw Egg Nationalist (who can be found here on Twitter). A flipbook version can be found here. Download and enjoy!

14 Comments

  1. David A. Rowe says

    I was fortunate to be raised more as a Gen X child in a rural area, and to experience hard work at a young age. Certain not as much as some of my peers, but I was always doing something with my stepfather or grandfathers. I later joined the Marines during the height of Iraq, and there are few finishing schools for Applied Masculinity better than the Marine Corps. I can only conclude it is divine providence that I have been afforded so many privileges before entering an age of strife with young children. It is no accident that we named our firstborn son after a biblical judge and our daughter after her great grandmother. They have inherited a greater legacy through us from so many generations of struggle and sacrifice than mere money could ever afford them.

    • Charles Haywood says

      Excellent! But is that still true of the Marines? (You should have a special badge, by the way, as the very first follower of The Worthy House.)

  2. Good essay Charles. May I make one suggestion? A boy under the age of 10-12 can’t do much other than chores. Good that, but not creative. If you have one of these scamps around I would recommend you get them a leather-tooling kit, some hides, wallet or belt kits and let them make something. I did it for a merit badge half a century ago and although it seemed tedious at the time, I kept at it and made a belt for my dad, wallet for myself. My dad kept the belt his whole life and I learned that I had the ability to create something practical and beautiful and that somebody else appreciated. That feeling of the power of pure creation led me to building bookshelves and primitive tables in college, jobs in construction and homebuilding and now that I’m retired landscaping and furniture making. The key is to teach the boy to power through the tedium and then step back and marvel at what they created. Once the testosterone kicks in they will want to create bigger and more audacious things.
    Tom

    • Charles Haywood says

      Oh, I have two of those scamps! And as it happens, they are big on leather–I just helped them repair the sheathes and belt loops for two knives I had as a child that I bequeathed to them for their birthday. Not as fancy as a belt, though, and that’s a good idea. They spend a lot of time with hand tools of various types. I keep them away from the table saw! I briefly ran a cabinetry business, so they have access to a lot of tools. I completely agree that, guided, they will benefit immensely.

  3. Maus says

    An excellent essay on the value of manual labor as a preparation for manhood. Your prescriptive approach describes my own childhood uncannily. My father shared his love of the soil and gardening, the power to train the earth to yield food and beauty. My grandfather shared his tools and how they were to be used. No scrap of unattached wood or metal was safe from my brother and me. Later, as I entered the world of work with adolescent jobs, I used my hands to wash dishes, cook, bag turnips, move furniture. I learned what a relief a hot meal and a soft bed were to a tired body and a sore back. These lessons remain with me despite almost thirty-five years of riding a desk as a sedentary creature who earned his bread by working with his mind and his voice. I secretly harbor the confidence that if the world went tits up tomorrow, I’d drawn on my past experience and manage to survive.
    As an aside, I will observe that your essay seemed in strange company. I skimmed the entire periodical, and the majority of its contributors seem a tad irreligious (or perhaps pagan) and a bit too fond of a sort of artistic homoerotic innuendo. I recognize that being a dissident often throws us together with others of differing views; but how does your Orthodox faith and your strong aversion to homosexuality sit with some of this stuff? Is it simply the expedient posture that the enemy of my enemy is my (temporary) friend? Please understand that this isn’t meant as a criticism but as a sincere question. I’ve recently made common cause with some local citizens who shared a common goal but whose divergent philosophy of life troubled me. I don’t regret my decision; but it has let to some unpleasant entanglements that may chill my ardor in future.

    • Charles Haywood says

      A good childhood! Mine, somewhat oddly perhaps, involved little–my father, dead twenty years, never was any good at any kind of manual work, nor did it run in the family. I took up gardening young, though, and some woodworking, on my own. I wonder, if I had stayed a lawyer, if I would have been able to fit some in–though I did, actually, as a lawyer, including building bookcases and doing some renovation work.

      On the second point, no criticism taken! I’ve written several times in detail on my opinions on working with what might generically be called the pagan Right. In short, I am strongly in favor of working closely with the pagan Right, because (a) allies are essential and (b) I’d far rather be ruled by a government of the pagan Right than our current regime. (That’s not to say everything in Man’s World is pagan, but certainly Bronze Age Pervert is the most visible spokesman for this tendency.)

      I think it less accurate that there is homosexuality in the magazine. I think this is a misinterpretation of the pagan Right’s emphasis on male physical improvement and beauty (and some of it is an in-joke, too). Apparently Tucker Carlson is coming out with a documentary on the “men’s movement,” however you define that, and the trailer was described as basically homosexual. I think that’s totally false. It’s an attack (or projection) by real homosexuals—the usual slur that anyone opposed to the homosexual agenda must himself be a pervert recast in a slightly different form. So it’s not like Man’s World is in any way a homosexual magazine; if that’s the impression you take away from reading it, the impression is certainly inaccurate. I suspect the editor would find that funny, actually.

      More broadly on both these topics, it is no doubt true that although one’s definition of who can be an ally must be elastic and perhaps also changes over time, there is some limit. That limit is probably defined by the purpose of the alliance—thus, if I was fighting an attack on gun rights, I’d overlook that someone was pro-abortion. Ultimately, of course, you can’t run a society with too broad a divergence of views in the ruling class. But that’s a problem for Future Charles!

      • Charles Haywood says

        I will note, however, that is certainly true that under Foundationalism, and in any decent society, homosexuals will very much be forced back into the closet. There is no role whatsoever in my future ruling class for open homosexuality, which will be aggressively stigmatized, and punished with criminal penalties for those not getting the message (including mandatory execution as the only sentence for corrupters of children).

  4. Ryan Murray says

    Looking back at my childhood on the family dairy, one of the most laborious jobs was stacking hay in a dark, dusty and typically sweltering barn haymow. I can track my journey to manhood by the milestones of my responsibilities in the process. Starting out as a young boy by my father’s side in the hay wagon trying with all my might to help but in reality just being in the way to the first time I was genuinely helpful. As my competence and body grew, I took my father’s place in the wagon by myself. I learned the rules and techniques to properly stack haybales, which like many a simple task if not done correctly comes to bite you in the ass later. As my body changed from that of a boy to a young man, I found I could throw bales as far, fast, and as accurately as my father and uncle: a source of great pride for a young farmer. I then found myself in charge of the small crew of farm hands, mostly men 3 times my age that never moved beyond being a farmhand or my peers I dragged home to help from various sportsball teams. The responsibility of being in charge and working hard shoulder-to-shoulder with the often rag-tag team to get the hay stacked in the loft and the wagons back to the field in a timely manner certainly did more to develop my burgeoning manhood than any of the sportsball teams I enjoyed participating in ever did. I have the good fortune to be raising my young son on the same farm and hope that some day he can look back at the labors of his youth with such fondness and gratitude.
    On farms in my area its well known that if you need manual labor done you either get some old timers who grew up in better times, or illegal immigrants who grew up in a society not treating them like little girls. I hope that young American men can regain there affinity for manual labor. I feel a strange shame for my generations shortcomings in work ethic, I watch so many young men shamelessly be physically outworked by old men and young woman, who are half their size. I don’t understand how they have no pride and feel no duty to lighten the load for the old and woman by taking that labor upon themselves.

    • Charles Haywood says

      That is an awesome childhood story, and congratulations on being able to raise your son there as well! As to the your last points, yeah, I have no bright ideas–except that, as the meme goes, hard times make strong men.

  5. Adam says

    Hi Charles,

    Will you be commenting on Yarvin’s recent essay that’s been making the rounds of late?

    • Charles Haywood says

      No. It is so offensively stupid and ignorant as to be a waste of my time (to the degree it seems like a pysop). It highlights that Yarvin is rapidly diverging from the useful Right, however. I’m certainly not going to give more airtime to that.

  6. Carlos Danger says

    Very interesting essay. You bring a new, compelling slant to a lot of what Matthew Crawford has written, as well as adding new thoughts. I enjoyed reading the essay. Too bad my sons are too old for me to help steer them towards manual work with tools. I think it would help them a lot.

    Your focus is on personal manual work for men. This dovetails well with the book I’m writing with a co-author on speeding up innovation in the carmaking industry. We get into topics like the right to repair and the building of model cars. Both those topics involve getting (mostly) men and boys using tools to build complex machines with their own two hands.

    So much of learning comes from doing and creating and making mistakes, yet education for the most part focuses on rote learning from lectures and books and exercises where there is a right answer and mistakes are frowned on. That’s wrong.

    James Dyson (the vacuum guy who is one of the richest men in the UK) wrote an autobiography Invention: A Life in which he talks about that problem. He says, for example:

    “Children appear to be born with the desire and ability to make things, to experiment and play. This is a gift lost by all too many adults, but especially in a robotic world of the future, humans need to be more creative than ever, to dream up, invent, and make things that a machine, for all its algorithms, might find hard to imagine and give shape to.”

    And:

    “Sadly, the media doesn’t have much for aspiring young engineers to get excited about and, in Britain, there’s still a snobbery and dislike of manufacturing. To be unable to change a plug, repair a lawn mower, or hang a picture is all too often seen as a mark of cultural refinement and social superiority. And yet our humanoid ancestors set out on the story of invention and making things some 3 million years ago when they discovered tools, and, in doing so, found a new way to feed and clothe themselves and to create new forms of shelter.”

    And:

    “I’ve observed that from the age of around six, children are very engaged. They are inventive, dreaming up ideas, and curious, wanting to know how things can be made. Yet these traits get stamped out of them, partly by the system and partly because the teaching of these subjects in schools has not kept up with the pace of technological change. By creating special new spaces in this new building, I hope that we can foster, inspire, and educate more brilliant young minds.”

    We want to get students learning about cars by doing, but it’s hard to do. No wonder educators choose the traditional path. We tried to put together a modular model car contest and it was harder to do than we thought. We’ll try again.

    But all this applies at a society level as well as a personal level. We are becoming a society that doesn’t know how to make things, to create and produce, to manufacture. That means we lose a lot of knowledge and capability. Under Donald Trump we were seeing some effort to get back to making things here rather than importing from China, but like many things the effort has fizzled under Joe Biden.

    But “maker spaces” and the movement behind them have been increasing for years and they help. So do efforts like in Japan to emphasize “monozukuri”.

    We cover that society level in our book as well. It’s a shame that most “garage startups” are in the electronics industry rather than the carmaking industry. That needs to change, from the ground up.

  7. Vxxc says

    Farm work on neighbors farm helps too.

    Any manual labor really.

    I was just getting busy cutting firewood with the chain saw myself.

    Then there’s stuff around the house, the car – YouTube is a great teacher.

    Firearms training and cleaning, hunting .

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