The Lion is said to be the king of the beasts. With its lustrous mane, muscular frame, and general readiness for a scrap it has a reputation for both looking good and being the bad boy of the animal kingdom. But what of man? Isn’t there a sense in which man is the true king of the beasts? As Shakespeare’s Hamlet considers:
What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how
infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and
admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like
a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals
Hamlet Act 2, scene 2,
But while there may have been a time when this distinction would have been a cause for a beating of chests, that time is long over. In the leftist dominant paradigm of our times man is not the “the paragon of animals,” but rather a dangerous beast, a predator who rapes, kills and destroys.
Just as white imperialists oppress native peoples and rapey men oppress women, the male science that created civilization and culture rapes mother earth itself. To the question posed “what is the most dangerous animal of all” the most votes went to the statement “yeah, man is definatly (sic) the most dangerous thing on this earth. Mankind is going to destroy this world”.
The Risk Society
This pessimism about man’s role in destroying everything he touches is at the heart of Ulrich Beck’s theory of the Risk Society. Concerned by environmental catastrophes such as Chernobyl, Beck, who died in January , considered that reining in post-industrial society was a losing battle.
While once the main dangers we faced were from external threats like lion attacks, increasingly what threatens us today are the unintended consequences of our own actions in pursuit of industrial and technological progress. Such unintended consequences threaten society itself. Society no longer produces just “social goods,” but in acting upon itself reflexively produces both goods and unintended “social bads.” In this way society’s main output is now risk itself.
When on 9/11 terrorists crashed planes into the twin towers, some thought Beck’s theory proven. Beck thought that risk society became “visible where societies are exposed to risks which are no longer covered by any kind of insurance” and notably 9/11 cost the insurance industry $40 billion with respect to a kind of danger it had never been exposed to before.
Some commentators think that the insurance industry’s response to 9/11 redefined the meaning of terrorism as a reality to be risk managed rather than merely countered.
Men In The Risk Society
As men we occupy a prominent place within the risk society, not least because the feminist left sees all of us as potential terrorists. In a society that is newly re-organized around the management of risk, any individual or group that can be presented as posing an unacceptable level of risk can expect to become the target of “robust” risk management.
After 9/11 young radicalized Muslim men are an obvious object of concern for the administrators of the risk society, but young men generally are also in the spotlight simply because they are men. Consider the pressure universities are now under to manage a non-existent “rape culture” on campus. Both their reputations and finances are at stake.
Over 50 US institutions now have ongoing Title IX sexual violence investigations in progress. Existing liability insurance may or may not cover claims and some are now taking out special insurance to cover campus rape scandals. The threat of civil suits must achieve what appeal to criminal law cannot.
It is clear then that the risk society can be manipulated for financial and political gain. Some have noticed the way in which the media have begun to use the words “terrorism” and “extremism” interchangeably. Given that organizations such as the SPLC tie extremism to anything they label “hate speech,” it is easy to see how blurring the distinction between terrorism and extremism can be used to construct political opponents as representing a risk to society.
One feminist group, for instance, produced a report commissioned by the Nordic Council that recommended banning criticism of feminism as a form of extremism citing the Breivik massacre as evidence.
The operative word here is “construct.” One of the main goals of academic feminism has been the re-construction of our culture through discourse. The feminist gaze constructs and positions men as predators. The identification of a “war on women” now takes the specific form of “rape culture.”
By this reading male heterosexuality represents an uncontrolled level of risk. It does not matter what goods we produce in making the world a better place if a feminist-dominated risk society sees men primarily in terms of risk. Will we soon need “rape insurance” to interact with women and need to provide proof of our no claims bonus?
But the logic of the risk society requires progressivism in its turn to acknowledge its own effect on society, not least as it is arguably the hegemonic discourse in the west today. And while events like Chernobyl and de-forestation remain real problems, arguably progressivism itself, as a dominant force for change in post-industrial society, also needs to be robustly “risk managed.”
The Dominant Philosophy Produces The “Social Bads”
From the birth of communism onward, nothing has de-stabilized societies more than attempts to strong-arm social change in pursuit of abstract notions of social justice. Even if we ignore the legions of the dead and murdered, and the fact that jihadist terror itself could easily be seen as an unintended side effect of “spreading democracy” at the point of a sword, within the west “social justice” has produced tens of millions of broken families, innumerable damaged children with an impoverished sense of self, destroyed trust between men and women and arguably now serves as a dead weight around the neck of a buckling debt-ridden western economy.
Yet currently it is men who are constructed as “objects of concern” within the risk society. It is men whose natural sexuality is increasingly pathologised or criminalized, and who compared to women are imprisoned at a rate of over 20 to 1 in UK (and at 10 to 1 in US) even while feminists argue that in the name of equality fewer women should be jailed.
Risk society is not a good thing. It is a product of a sick, neurotic modernity that sees danger around every corner, and which when it doesn’t find danger it simply manufactures it. It’s a society where children don’t get to climb trees or speak to strangers and where neurotic rape-obsessed feminists encourage women to protest more the cushier and more cosseted their lives become.
But, unfortunately, we do live in a risk society. Given that fact, perhaps it’s time to think about re-directing the focus of its concern, shining a spotlight on the Social Bads that progressivism is producing. Maybe it’s not so much a question of the huntress becoming the hunted, but just of nailing shut the cat-flap.
Read More: The Reign of Useful Idiots