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  Road to the Middle Class
Sunday March 29, 2015 
by Christopher Chantrill Follow chrischantrill on Twitter









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Anita Sarkeesian: The Road from Individual to Victim

CANADIAN critic and social justice warrior Anita Sarkeesian is the young lady that stirred up #gamergate. So far so good. But I recently got to view remarks she made at All About Women 2015 at the Sydney Opera House (H/T Susan L. M. Goldberg). In her prepared remarks Sarkeesian described her journey from neo-liberal individualist to feminist victim.

This is fascinating to me because of my three-stage theory of social membership. Simply put, my theory imagines three types of people. There are the People of the Subordinate Self: think workers, peasants, serfs, slaves, bondsmen, underclass. Their creed is collectivism; their place is the village. Then there are People of the Responsible Self: think Jews, Christians, careers, bourgeoisie, markets, business. Their creed is responsible individualism; their place is the city. Finally there are the People of the Creative Self: think artists, writers, revolutionaries, activists. Their creed is expressive individualism; their place is the artist's colony.

Now, it is my notion that you need a religion when you move from one selfhood to another. The Axial Age religions, including Judaism and Christianity, are vehicles that help people on the road from the world of the Subordinate Self to the world of the Responsible Self. Romanticism is the vehicle if you want to graduate from the creed of responsible individualism to the belief system of expressive individualism.

What I had never thought about is what religion you need if you want to go in the opposite direction! Suppose that you were born into a family in the middle class but you don't feel like a responsible individual at all? Suppose you find that you are really a victim, a member of the tribe of the exploited and the oppressed? Perfectly simple. For you there is leftism. Here is Anita Sarkeesian describing her journey.

Like most people who grew up immersed in the neoliberal ideology of the West, I saw the world largely as a series of individuals making their own personal individual choices. And here I was, a young woman making my own personal choices about what to wear, what to buy, what to study and what I wanted to do every day. Within that narrow individualist framework feminism seemed like a relic of the distant past.
 But then she had her Road to Damascus experience.
With the help of some amazing mentors and by reading a lot of feminist writing, especially the words of women of color and queer women from around the world, I learned to see through a sociological lens and understand the world as it really exists, as a series of intersecting social systems. Once you have a systemic and institutional framework, you see how oppression manifests in many subtle ways under the systems of what bell hooks calls “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy”.
Well, of course! It all dovetails! But there is a problem.
 Unfortunately many contemporary discourses in and around feminism tend to emphasize a form of hyper individualism (informed by the neoliberal worldview). More and more, I hear variations on this idea that anything that any woman personally chooses to do is a feminist act, this attitude is often referred to as “choice feminism”. Choice feminism posits that each individual woman determines what is empowering for herself, which might sound good on the surface but this concept risks obscuring the bigger picture and larger, fundamental goals of the movement by focusing on individual women and a very narrow, individual notion of “empowerment”. It erases the reality that some choices that women make have an enormous negative impact on other women’s lives.
So, you see, unless you go with Sarkeesian's approved feminism you are helping the patriarchy, and you will be shunned. You see, "Even if an individual woman can make patriarchy work for her, it’s still a losing game for the rest of the women on this planet." And that is bad.
And because of how systems of oppression intersect and compound one another, it’s women of color, indigenous women, women living in the global south, women with disabilities, queer women, and transwomen who bare the brunt of those ramifications.
 The bottom line is this:
In order to be a feminist we have a responsibility beyond ourselves, we have a responsibility to each other, and we have a responsibility to work for the collective liberation of all women.
So it's a fantasy to think of yourself as a responsible self and an individualist. Because, really, we aren't individuals at all, but victims, and what we need to do is to "work for the collective liberation of all women."

Now actually I agree with Anita Sarkeesian. We really are victims. Ever since the first families in Mesopotamia got sucked into alluvial agriculture five thousand years ago humans have found themselves "caged" by the new ways. That's the word that Michael Mann uses in The Sources of Social PowerIn other words, once you've abandoned the nomadic ways of the hunter-gatherer and joined a fixed settlement that works the land you are trapped in the new way. For one thing, agriculture supports a lot more people per square mile than nomadism. If you break up agriculture, a ton of people are going to die until the population reduces to a level that can survive on nomadism.

Another thing is that people become less war-like in settled agricultural communities. In nomadic groups all the men are enrolled to fight the border wars against the neighboring groups. In the larger agricultural societies only the warrior class does the fighting, and the borders are much further away. So the death by violence comes down from 500 per 100,000 per year to 50 per 100,000 per year, according the Steven Pinker in The Better Angels of Our Nature.

In the transition from agricultural to industrial society you get another step in pacification. The nation state is bigger than the feudal barony, and the army of the feudal host is replaced by a professional bureaucratic army. Violent death rate drops from 50 per 100,000 per year to five or even one per 100,000 per year.

Don't mind me, Anita Sarkeesian, but I'd make a wild guess and say that the level of patriarchal oppression comes down with the transition from nomad to agricultural settlement, and again with the transition from agriculture to industry. These days we aren't governed by a landed warrior class, but by an educated elite class -- people like you, Anita Sarkeesian.

If you want to experience vicariously the good old patriarchy in action, read the Iliad. Those Argives and Danaans thought nothing of sacking cities, killing the men, and taking the women as concubines. Raping and pillage where what men did in those days.

But in America, in 1896, a young Norwegian immigrant woman, Helga Estby, walked across the continent to try to win a $10,000 prize. Was she raped and pillaged on the way? Wikipedia doesn't say. But I'd guess that she wasn't.

The truth is that responsible individualism is not liberation; it is a heavy yoke of responsibility: the responsibility to find work, the responsibility to make your own choices, the responsibility to find your own mate, all within the demanding environment of the market economy. It's not surprising that immediately after the rise of capitalism a succession of social and political movements started to yearn for the lost Eden of collectivism, and the liberation from the heavy burdens of life and work under capitalism from which there is no escape.

It is telling that in the university in 2015 women are demanding "safe spaces" from people and ideas that they don't want to face. If you ask me, that's a return to the patriarchy, because people in "safe places" need society to protect them from danger. And who do you think are going to be the protectors?

If life as a responsible individual is tough, the truth is that expressive individualism, the life of the artist and the creator, is even harder. All of us can find a place in the world if we give up our lives to a collective. Most of us can find a place in the world as responsible individuals. But only a few can make it as creators of original work.

So it's not surprising that there are many people like Anita Sarkeesian that long for a simpler, less creative, less responsible life. The trouble is that this liberation in collectivism is not liberating at all. Ask anyone that lived in Soviet Russia or Maoist China.

And Anita Sarkeesian is not really a victim. She is an activist, rough and tough and devilish sly, a leader and an influencer. In fact she is a member of the creative class, having hacked out a place for herself in the sun by developing a significant talent for creative publicity.

perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 03/27/15 12:30 pm ET

What Would an Islam Reformation Mean?

I love Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Somali Muslim turned western atheist. Her books Nomad and Infidel are breathtaking views into the crisis in Islam. Now she's just out with Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now and proposed to reform Islam, and I'll be out there buying myself a copy. Meanwhile we have the reviewers. Writes Brian Stewart: The argument in Heretic, Hirsi Ali’s fourth book, is ...

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perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 03/26/15 12:21 pm ET

Ted Cruz, Railsplitter

THE biggest applause line for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speech on March 23, 2015 at Liberty University was his actual announcement that he would run for President of the United States. The second biggest applause line was this: Instead of a president who boycotts Prime Minister Netanyahu, imagine a president who stands unapologetically with the nation of Israel. Yep, those conservative Christian ...

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perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 03/25/15 12:34 pm ET

If Feminism is all about vicitmization, then who will save the victims?

WE all know that the patriarchy is the source of all our problems on the racism, sexism, and homophobia front. But suppose it isn't? Yes, I know. If there is one thing we all agree on it is the evil of the patriarchy that kept women barefoot and pregnant since the dawn of time. But wait a minute! Chaps like Nicholas Wade in Before the Dawn and The Faith Instinct suggest that the invention of ...

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perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 03/24/15 12:24 pm ET

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Georg Simmel’s Sociology

Thomas Piketty’s Capital

The Spirit Level

McCloskey’s “Bourgeois Era”


Download latest e-book draft here.


A New Manifesto
A spectre is haunting the liberal elite—the spectre of conservatism.


The Crisis of the Administrative State
It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Government and the Technology of Power
If you scratch a social reformer, you will likely discover a plan for more government.

Business, Slavery, and Trust
Business is all about trust and relationship.

Humanity's Big Problem: Freebooters and Freeloaders
The modern welfare state encourages freeloaders.

The Bonds of Faith
No society known to anthropology or history lacked religion.

A Critique of Social Mechanics
The problem with human society reduced to system.

The Paradox of Individualism
Is individualism the gospel of selfishness or something else?

From Multitude to Civil Society
The larger the government, the smaller the society.

The Answer is Civil Society
In between the separated powers.

The Greater Separation of Powers
If you want to limit power then you must limit power.

Conservatism Three by Three
Conservatism, political, economics, and cultural.

The Culture of Involvement
Imagining lives without the welfare state

The Poor Without the Welfare State
Can the poor thrive without the welfare state?

The Middle Class Without The Welfare State
How would the middle class live without all those middle-class entitlements?

From Freeloaders to Free Givers
The path to the future lies through moral movements.

The Real Meaning of Society
Broadening the horizon of cooperation in the “last best hope of man on earth.”

conservative manifesto



AAM Book of the Day

Carnes, Tony, The Pentecostal City

AAM Books on Education

Andrew Coulson, Market Education
How universal literacy was achieved before government education

Carl Kaestle, Pillars of the Republic
How we got our education system

James Tooley, The Miseducation of Women
How the feminists wrecked education for boys and for girls

James Tooley, Reclaiming Education
How only a market in education will provide opportunity for the poor

E.G. West, Education and the State
How education was doing fine before the government muscled in

AAM Books on Law

Hernando De Soto, The Mystery of Capital
How ordinary people in the United States wrote the law during the 19th century

F. A. Hayek, Law Legislation and Liberty, Vol 1
How to build a society based upon law

Henry Maine, Ancient Law
How the movement of progressive peoples is from status to contract

John Zane, The Story of Law
How law developed from early times down to the present

AAM Books on Mutual Aid

James Bartholomew, The Welfare State We're In
How the welfare state makes crime, education, families, and health care worse.

David Beito, From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State
How ordinary people built a sturdy social safety net in the 19th century

David Green, Before Beveridge: Welfare Before the Welfare State
How ordinary people built themselves a sturdy safety net before the welfare state

Theda Skocpol, Diminished Democracy
How the US used to thrive under membership associations and could do again

David Stevenson, The Origins of Freemasonry
How modern freemasonry got started in Scotland

AAM Books on Religion

David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing
How Christianity is booming in China

Finke & Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990
How the United States grew into a religious nation

Robert William Fogel, The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism
How progressives must act fast if they want to save the welfare state

David Martin, Pentecostalism: The World Their Parish
How Pentecostalism is spreading across the world


Is Israel Losing Its Soul?
liberal Israeli mourns Netanyahu election win.

Krugmans Fatal Conceit
so, the "austerity" of sequestration didn't hurt, contra Krugman.

Keep Your Worlds Straight
Jonah Goldberg wants you to be socialist authoritarians in your families but not in the bigger world.

Eevil corporation's message in secret code!
FCC’s ‘Throwback Thursday’ Move Imposes 1930s Rules on the Internet

Misunderstanding the millennials
Guess what: Millennials want to move to the suburbs!

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cruel . corrupt . wasteful
unjust . deluded



After a year of President Obama most Americans understand that the nation is on the wrong track. But how do we find the right track? Americans knew thirty years ago that liberalism was a busted flush. Yet Reaganism and Bushism seemed to be less than the best answer.

But where can we turn? Where are the thinkers and activists of the old days? Where do we find the best ideas? And how do we persuade our present ruling class to loosen its grip on power so that we can move the locomotive of state back onto the right track?

With all of our problems it seems like the worst of times.

In fact, this is the best of times. Under the radar a generation of great thinkers have been figuring out what went wrong and conjuring up visions of a better future. This book, "An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism" is an introduction to their ideas, and to the great future that awaits an America willing to respond to their call.

Although this book is addressed to all Americans, conservative, moderate, and liberal, and looks to a nation that transcends our present partisan divide, I must tell you that liberals will have the most difficulty with the book. The reason is simple. I am asking liberals to give up a lot of the power they have amassed in the last century. But we are all Americans, and we must all give up something for the sake of the greater good.


I am Christopher Chantrill and I am writing this book in full view. I'll be blogging on the process and the ideas, and I'll be asking you, dear readers, to help. Read the blog. Read the articles as they come out on American Thinker and ponder over the draft chapters here on this site.

Then send me your reactions, your thoughts, and your comments. You will help more than you know.


Responsible Self

[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.

Taking Responsibility

[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050

Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust

What Liberals Think About Conservatives

[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. “Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists,” she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican

Liberal Coercion

[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State

Moral Imperatives of Modern Culture

These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self

US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


©2014 Christopher Chantrill

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