Kalev’s Anti-Blog: The Boy Toy and the End of History

I wrote this essay some years ago, but I still like it. I have up-dated and improved it a bit.

 

My friend and former student Jenn Clarke in now of Las Vegas, a great place of speculation, referred to her latest beau as her “boy-toy” to me. Strangely and oddly, aptly, this term seems to refer to practically every young man in his twenties and younger whom I have come know, especially through the university where I used to teach. Young men today are unmanly men is how I characterize them. It is a kind of castration, others might say.

 
 

Yet, this phenomenon shows itself on a higher intellectual level where it can be argued that the unmanly man is indicative of a world that is entirely new. This argument was made by Alexandre Kojève, the great Hegelian sage, in 1956 (“The Latest New World”) when he commented on the then-scandalous book Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan, who herself scandalized others because she was an unwed mother as well (a no-no at the time in France). In that book, all the men are boy-toys as if the entire masculine world were that way. It was thought rather shocking at the time as something that couldn’t be, but now, a year or so since Sagan’s death, it appears to me that all the young men are just that and no one seems to mind.

 
 

Kojève notes, “Before this French girl took up her pen, no writer wished to discuss it, at least not in fine language. To be sure, a great American writer, a specialist in the analysis of manly behavior, did consider of the problem, emasculated by its still-unidentified father. Having grown a beard (long since turned white), probably in order to muster up the courage for his heroic struggle with despair, this well-known writer searched the world over for the last human male, or rather for the truly male last man, and claimed to have found him in the Caribbean Sea in the person of an old fisherman, admittedly half dead. The only worthy adversary he could find for him was, as it happens, a fish, a heroic and powerful adversary to be sure, but still a fish (of a different species, incidentally, from the fish that served as a model for one of the symbols of a well-known religion).”

 
 

This delicious irony used against Ernest Hemingway only illuminates the problem of masculinity in modernity (and let’s not forget the bovines that Papa obsessed about matadors gored in the groin). At one time, men took women, raped them, and put them in their houses as slaves or wives; men fought in hand-to-hand combat; a man like Caesar or Alexander went into battle to conquer the world; and so on. Today, consider the boy-toy soldier who sits behind a computer touch screen in Tampa, Florida and with all the practiced precision of a videogame player sends off a missile to kill 50 men in an Afghan or Iraqi field a halfway around the world. Alexander the Great wanted to be Achilles, and went to find the worst fighting so that he could excel all others. No one fights hand-to-hand today except in a gym. Julius Caesar personally led his troops at the most important moment of the Battle of Alesia, wearing his red cape is that the enemy Gauls could identify him and know it was great Caesar there.

 
 

At the same time, there was another form of masculinity was that the superiority of the mind and that masculinity that desired to make something overwhelmingly beautiful. Look around the boy-toys and their aspirations: Who has this erotic grasp of the good and the beautiful any more?

 
 

Today’s boy-toy is rude; pushes a woman away from the mirror so that he comb his hair; takes more time in the nightclub bathroom than women do; and would rather play Texas hold ’em poker than play with his highly-sexed girlfriend (what an idiot).

 
 

Kojève was not making fun of the man-man writers of the earlier part of the 20thcentury, men like Hemingway, AndreMalraux, or Henri de Montherlant (oh, forget Homer), for no reason. What Kojève believes is behind this demasculinization of the male is part of a genuine historical change, what is popularly known as post-history. To be brief, according to Kojève, there was a historical progress through the ages, especially in thought and philosophy, that culminated in the achievement of true and final wisdom by Hegel, the German philosopher. This wisdom coincided with Napoleon’s complete transformation of Europe. It also coincided with a man known as Beau Brummell, a dandy, “a man dressed in civilian garb (and obviously in the color of mourning) could henceforth aspire to honor (which some consider futile) of virile heroism (if only in haberdashery).” In other words, clothing makes the boy-toy. This change also coincided with one Marquis de Sade that about the only place a man could really be violent was in the bedroom, cutting the flesh of a woman and dripping hot wax into the wounds after she has been tied up.

 
 

At this moment on, Kojève argues that history has ended and now the rest is just a massive mopping project which culminates in what he calls the Universal Homogenous State, one universal political regime whose residents are content, living in universal justice, at permanent peace, capitalistically with socialist equity, and completely atheistically. It is a grim vision for a man like me who prizes his individuality, intellect, and his heterogeneity.

 
 

In fact, this historical change, Kojève argues throughout his works, will result in man living completely naturally, i.e,, without any of the conventions of the past as if he were a bee in a hive. Masculinity, the old maleness, is disappearing, because it belongs of the world before post-history and the new men are the boy-toys who will live in the new future. For the old world was masculine. In the new world, the girls stay girls, just as they have always been, because the old world was a male’s world. It is not clear what the women of the Universal Homogenous State, but I imagine they will be very much like my lovely young women friends whom I love very much: feminine, yet sexually aggressive, equal or better than the men around them; unsublimated and thus not really romantic as simply sexual; dedicated to fun and joy; sensitive to others and to themselves; and living a world where men are not obligated to care for them or marry them, perhaps enjoying the leathers of sado-masochist tortures. They will have boy-toys. And everyone, male and female alike, will be wise, because all the answers of what life is about are answered. Imagine, the boy-toy is wiser than the Buddha or Aristotle.

 
 

In the Universal Homogenous State, people will gain satisfaction through family and economic life, Kojève says. We really don’t know what these people will be in the future, but we are seeing the transition to this new world through Sagan’s vision of a world without men, the world of the women in Sex and the City, the television series and now two movies, where Mr. Big seems very small and the greatest, ecstatic pleasure is a wonderful pair of shoes.

 
 

Kojève debated his friend, the philosopher Leo Strauss, over the future and the problem of the Universal Homogenous State. Strauss without fear or favor labeled the Universal Homogenous State a tyranny, one that eliminates philosophy from all life. What Strauss meant, in part, was that free inquiry is by its very nature is heterodox and that the freedom of the mind is always at odds with any political regime. If the Universal Homogenous State were to come to be, all people will think exactly alike about the greatest questions of all. Although Kojève argues that the Universal Homogenous State is completely just and everyone will be content (not happy, a philosophical understanding), Strauss argues that in a certain sense true philosophy is always politically subversive and would never accept the Universal Homogenous State. Thus, philosophy really would have to eliminated, perhaps in the most radical way. Wisdom or the search for wisdom can never be politicized, especially over the entire world, even if it is at peace and is just.

 
 

In a certain decisive sense, Strauss is standing up for the classical view of masculinity where the man of great liberality and mind constitutes the real man. Everything else really doesn’t matter when it comes to being a man. The real man is Socrates, not Achilles or Alexander. We know what happened to Socrates. The city of Athens generously poured poison in a cup for him to drink (we would strap him on a gurney). It is not just Socrates: Consider, for example, a masculine woman the great woman philosopher, Hypatia. She was assassinated by Christian monks at the order of St. Cyril of Alexandria. They ripped the flesh off her bones with seashells while she was still alive, burned the pieces, and threw her skull and bones in the bay in Alexandria, Egypt. No, philosophy is subversive, perhaps even more so when the philosopher is a woman.. The powerful are afraid of free thought and tyranny is always against thought and enforced against the body.

 
 

Strauss characterized the resident of the Universal Homogenous State as “the Last Man,” who is a major character in Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra. The Last Man is the man who has invented happiness. Blink. He is the human being who drives to the mall in an SUV for happiness. Blink. He is the boy-toy with an iPod and iPhone 4. Blink. Yo. Hey.

 
 

For those who think that the Universal Homogenous State is an impossibility, think again. Kojève was not a scholar shut up in some university. He was a bureaucrat in the French Ministry of Economics and its guiding genius. He was one of the founders of what we now call the European Union that is erasing the borders of Europe. When every country sent great hordes of economists to the first GATT conference (now the World Trade Organization), France only sent one, Kojève , a philosopher/sage, not an economist. Yet, Kojève is personally responsible for putting into place the capitalist engine that is driving us to the Universal Homogenous State. Consider the radical changes that are changing the face of India or even of the Arab countries and places like Vietnam as they integrate into one world. Consider the recent Busheviks’ drive to make the whole world democratic, i.e., homogenous. Everyone will think the same.

 
 

We are now at the decisive moment politically with respect to the Universal Homogenous State and now if all the men are boy-toys there are no men to stop it. I feel like a man lost in the past and cut off from the future which is now.

 
 

It was Valentine’s Day, and Jenn said to me after I asked what she was doing for a date, “My boy-toy is in London.”

 

It’s a very small world and there is no place to get away.


 

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About Kalev Pehme

I am an icastic artist and a Straussian. I am not a conservative or neocon Straussian. Sadly, there are too many of them. My interests are diverse, however, and sometimes quite arcane. I have a deep interest in Daoism, Indo-Aryan religion, Buddhism, Plato, Aristotle, and whole lot more. I love good poetry. I also enjoy all things ancient. And I would like to meet any woman who is born on May 29, 1985.
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20 Responses to Kalev’s Anti-Blog: The Boy Toy and the End of History

  1. icastes says:

    Tawnya Gunn, a remarkable young woman of Redondo Beach, photographer and musician, asked me what my definition of a boy-toy is, and I said that it was the same as hers. She shook her head, and then demanded that I give a definition. I said it was a demasculinized male. She shook her head again, and replied, “No, its a man a woman uses for sex, and he is usually younger than the woman.” I replied that any man who allows himself to be used by a woman in that way is demasculinized, as traditionally men command and use women. She shook her head and walked away to get back to work.

  2. Alex Gorelik says:

    I don’t view the UHS as a threat – I view what I think will happen fairly soon after UHS is established as the great threat. What I mean is: UHS is directly contradictory to human thymos. Attempts to repress thymos will not be universally successful. The moderns attempt to channel thymos into commercial activity, and commerce does soak up considerable thymotic energy. But by no means all. It is notable that the nation which has been a modern regime the longest (the UK) had the largest (by far) colonial empire. The thymotic men of the UK who could not be content with commerce at home could be quite profitably utilized within the empire. It is notable that those modern regimes which did not have extensive colonies – f0r example, Germany – had significant problems with thymotic men. (We might even partially ascribe the great aggressiveness of German philosophy in the nineteenth and early twentieth century as the blocked thymos of Germany evidencing itself in thought).

    The US, also a modern regime for a long time, had significant internal colonial enterprises (the settlement of the west, which could occupy thymotic energy well into the later nineteenth century). After that settlement, much of it’s thymotic energy was engaged in the American reorganization of the world after WWII.

    The problem is this use of thymotic energy becomes precisely unnecessary after UHS. It is not UHS itself that worries me, it is what will happen with worldwide thymotic energy fairly soon after UHS is established. And, as you say, we essentially do have UHS now that China, India and Russia have become at least somewhat semi-capitalist.

    The problem is that the most thymotic young men will not be satisfied for very long with extreme sports, extreme sex, commercial activity, pointless hobbies and so on. Before modernity, because pre-modern political regimes were usually so small in geography, there were always many small wars that could soak up the thymotic energies of the young men. Wars are bad, of course, but these political regimes were usually so small and with such limited technology that there was no great worldwide problem with the very localized destruction of these wars.

    All that changes with UHS – my prediction is that the thymotic young men will aggressively seek out political power, possibly through the military. There will be reasonably large numbers who will not be satisfied with anything else, no matter what society does to suppress them. Since thymos itself is so powerful, without a politics that thymos can be usefully utilized within, these thymotic young men will be far more energetic and aggressive than the rest of the population whilst having UHS political regimes attempting to suppress (not utilize) their thymos. And that suppression will in turn make their thymotic energies much higher.

    These thymotic young men are already desperately seeking out ways in which their thymotic energies can be relieved (they are trying extreme sports and extreme sex as relief right now, but that will not last long – no more than another 10 or 20 years). The tyrants of the near future will (even must) utilize this massive suppressed energy – and these future tyrants will (even perhaps must) use these energies in the most horrific and terrible ways on a universal and worldwide level. UHS could lead to universal war and holocaust accomplished with the worst and most horrific technology. This is what I fear.

    It is Socratic political philosophy that is the solution to this. But it is not a full solution – witness that Socrates was not able to harness the thymos of Alcibiades and Socrates’ failure in this was the major factor in the fall of Greece (as we see in the Hellenika). Still, there are many young men (and these will be the very finest and best young men of the time) whose thymos could be channeled into the very best and finest way of life, philosophy, through a renewed Socratic political philosophy. These young men might be able to lead the way out of UHS without great war and destruction. That this might be possible is shown by Xenophon’s leadership of the 10,000 in the Anabasis – Xenophon (the thymotic man who was trained by Socrates) is able to channel the thymos of a group of very thymotic (and unphilosophic) warriors in productive ways (the almost founding of a city in the Anabasis).

    If Greece were able to produce not one Xenophon, but instead several, it might have been able to avoid it’s fall and go on to the greatest things. Since there was one Xenophon amongst Socrates’ friends, there is a possibility there could have been more.

  3. icastes says:

    The military is changing rapidly through technology. The US military is attempting to make robots and other machines like drones where men are not directly involved in combat. In other words, the day of the warrior is basically over. There are no more dogfights in the air, because you can shoot down an enemy plane from 60 miles away. What war will consist of in the future will be the effort not to so much to kill directly, but to eliminate the opponent’s technology. Considering how much all men are now dependent on technology, the destruction of technology could wipe more people than a nuclear attack and do it more torturously.

    Also, there is no war once the Universal Homogeneous State is established. There is only peace. Man finds his contentment from economic activity and familial life.

  4. Alex Gorelik says:

    “I replied that any man who allows himself to be used by a woman in that way is demasculinized, as traditionally men command and use women. She shook her head and walked away to get back to work.”

    It is not tradition, but rather nature. Some men will accept being used in that way. But some will not, and trying to suppress both their eros and thymos could lead to them being the most bestial and very worst of men, men who can only be stopped by the most deadly force. This is a very dangerous thing indeed.

  5. Alex Gorelik says:

    “Also, there is no war once the Universal Homogeneous State is established. There is only peace. Man finds his contentment from economic activity and familial life.”

    That’s what I’m challenging in Kojeve’s argument. There will simply be many men (and I do mean the male of the species) who will not find contentment from economic activity and familial life. Most men will but not all. In pre-modern societies, there were many ways to absorb the dangerous thymos – pre-modern warfare, the politics of small regimes, romantic love (conquering the beloved) and so on. All these have been intentionally removed by UHS.

    But instead of being expressed in potentially positive ways in the pre-modern regime, under UHS thymos will be expressed in terrible and bestial ways.

  6. icastes says:

    But you are assuming that man’s nature will not change. Kojève is clear: Man’s nature will change, because of the dialectic and the end of history. There will be no thymos or eros as there was in the past. Man becomes thoroughly wise, and therefore there is no reason for wise people to kill each other in warfare.

  7. Alex Gorelik says:

    “But you are assuming that man’s nature will not change.”

    Yes, I am asserting this, but we do have significant empirical evidence that the modern regimes have not removed thymos: the need of the UK to have a large colonial empire, the thymotic nature of 19th and 20th century German philosophy, the growing proportion of young men seeking release through self-destructive means (extreme sports, extreme sex, passionately pursued pointless hobbies and so on) and so on. We see this in that the young men are now attracted to extremist militarized fundamentalist religions everywhere in the world – where religion was once a way to relieve or positively channel their thymotic energies, the religions of the young men are now leading them to extremism and war.

  8. icastes says:

    It may be that there is an attraction to warfare today, but, again, you are not accepting the basic premise: Human nature will change. From Kojève’s point of view, these young men are in the throes of the end of history. For these men to live out such lives requires a social structure that supports it. That social structure will no longer exist.

  9. Alex Gorelik says:

    “For these men to live out such lives requires a social structure that supports it. That social structure will no longer exist.”

    Under UHS, the citizens have discretionary funds and at least reasonable amounts of leisure time. If the social structures do not exist, the young men have the funds and time to create them. (Indeed, they have too ample free time already now.) We see this already in the fundamentalist religious groups of young men, for example, who readily travel all over the world. These self-created organizations of the young men will be impossible to suppress – these will be the most energetic and bold people of all, and who can be the most dedicated to their causes. What else have they to do? To lose being a cog in a corporate bureaucracy and to come home to a domineering wife? Those are things they will toss away with the greatest gladness. They will have the most energy and devote the greatest energies to attempting to become men again. But because they no longer have the guides to thymos that they used to have, they will become beasts and not men.

    Yes, I do not accept Kojeve’s premise: I would say that man has a nature that cannot be changed. If Kojeve was correct, we would see that the world is becoming happier as we move closer to UHS. Is this the case? Kojeve uses the word content rather than happy. Even so, is the world becoming more content?

  10. icastes says:

    Men will not be happy, because happiness is a philosophical problem. They will be content, significantly different.

    The problem of the change in human nature arises from Rousseau who is the first postulate that such changes arrive through social changes and through revolution. The general view is very simple: Man as a primitive being changes his nature through the development of his social and political life. When that notion is married to historicity, then the change in man’s nature comes through the historical dialectic. Now, clearly, we are changed by technology, for example. But our nature doesn’t seem to change. However, a case can be made that we are very radically different from pre-historical humans. Moreover, if one believes evolution (and I don’t as you know), then of necessity man’s nature will change. And we must not forget, there are scientists today who are working to change man’s nature. The latter is very likely and the most frightening prospect of all, as there are efforts to combine man with machines and so on and no one is stopping them from doing it.

    As I reject that’s man’s nature will change through social change or through a non-existent historical dialectic, I am very pessimistic about what modern natural science is going to do. I would prefer a change into the Universal Homogeneous State through the historical dialectic than to accept changes made to man by science.

  11. Alex Gorelik says:

    “I am very pessimistic about what modern natural science is going to do. ”

    I do as well, but in practical terms, they do not have enough time to effect the changes needed. As I mentioned, I would argue that the effects of suppressing the thymos of the young men is already evident (at least to me) and, within 20-30 years time, we could begin to see the most terrible of results of suppressed thymos on a widespread basis. The men I am discussing have already either been born or soon will be.

    I do not think that the suppressed thymos will wait much more than that. Of course, that’s pure speculation on my part. For the moment, the young men remain mostly content with extreme sports and extreme sex. But the fact that they are content with these means that their thymos is still present and only very imperfectly and poorly channeled. I believe it is only a matter of a short amount of time before the thymos of the young men channels itself from hobbyist violence to political violence, and there will be the very worst of tyrants around to organize and exploit that.

  12. Alex Gorelik says:

    We might add that the eros of the young women is being completely unsatisfied as well. They view their boy-toys with almost limitless contempt (as they should). It is possible that the unguided eros of the young women will soon lead them to worship the most bestial of the new young men.

  13. icastes says:

    I think you’ve noticed that the women are taking over everything.

  14. Alex Gorelik says:

    “I think you’ve noticed that the women are taking over everything.”

    That is because their eros is being repressed so they are increasing their thymotic energies. But naked thymotic achievements (political power, etc) are not what women ultimately desire. The modern pressure is for men to increase their eros, but the modern regime does not have good tools to switch men from thymos to eros. The pre-modern state does – the conquest of the beloved (the beloved here being things as various as women, boys, the Muses, the Virgin Mary, the polis, wisdom, political rule and so on). The thymotic as a tool for the erotic end. Conversely, the pre-modern state encourages the erotic as a tool for the thymotic end for women: women utilize their love in service to the family, and the family is the building block of the polis. The women, with their love for their sons and husbands, make the sons and husbands into men who can do politics wisely.

  15. Alex Gorelik says:

    Again, I would say Socratic political philosophy is the only tool I can plausibly see as the route out of UHS without the most terrible wars and destruction. Our discussion of Xenophon shows us that the thymotic man properly trained by Socrates is both a possibility and can lead out of utter chaos. Socrates trained Xenophon’s thymos so that it could compel Xenophon both to pursue wisdom and to assume political rule when necessary. Of course, we also know that Socrates did not succeed with Alcibiades. But Socrates’ success rate wasn’t zero either, and perhaps we do not need a high success rate.

    Conversely, a Socratic political philosophy for women is also needed. Again, learning from Xenophon, Socrates is a better teacher of women than Ischomachus is.

  16. Alex Gorelik says:

    Where can I find Kojeve’s text?

  17. icastes says:

    _The Latest New World_ was published in English in _Literary Debate Texts and Contexts_ Volume II of _Post War French Thought_, edited by Denis Hollier and Jeffrey Mehlman. The text was translated by Arthur Goldhammer, a well-known translator. I don’t know off-hand where the French text it.

  18. Alex Gorelik says:

    The UC Santa Cruz library has a copy of this book, so I will be able to obtain it.

  19. dfbegame says:

    I can’ t but agree.I always wanted to write in my site something like that but I guess you’ r faster.

  20. Kris W says:

    Basically this is a result of the gender war between radical and traditional women, with men and boy’s caught in the middle.

    I wouldn’t get too caught up on “post-history”, the fact remains that more and more young men are waking up to all the intentional discrimination, disenfranchisement and abuse we are subjected to because of our gender. We are already starting to fight back(notice the ranks of the Republicans are a few “white knights” thinner in the halls of Congress?).

    And guess what? America still has a lot of enemies in the world. The whole feminist female supremacy plan might of worked if the world was at peace, but like it or not we are on the verge of a Third World War.

    And here is the kicker. Trust me it will be a big one, the West is doomed.

    You honestly think that self aware young men will go off to fight to defend the west? Because what would we be defending? A female dominated educational system that discriminates against us? Or how about our Courts of “Law”? Ohh wait males face discrimination there too. I got it the awesome employment opportunities for males in the West. Scratch that, due to discrimination in education and bean counters(and the fact that in every western nation it is legal to discriminate against male employee’s) males are facing record unemployment and a dramatic wage gap(over 1.25$ wage gap) between young women and young men.

    So basically unless you girls are willing to pony up and fight to defend your outrageous privilege your going to lose it when China makes the USA it’s eastern province around 2020-2050.

    Because there is no way young men of generation Y or younger will fight to defend the oppressive Matriarchy of the Western nations. And radical control freaks tend to not get along well. So neoconservatives, liberals, progressives, Western Marxist’s and feminist’s will be among the first sent to the Chinese State re-education camps.

    P.S those “boy toys” are the Sticklers(see American Pie), trust me many in my generation still have the strength and resolve, but why get your hands dirty when the natural flow of time will accomplish the same thing? The symmetry is beautiful and remarkably poetic.

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