Jack Donovan is the author of the The Way of Men — a straightforward, politically incorrect theory of masculinity that became an underground hit around the world.
He has appeared as a guest on The Art of Manliness, The Art of Charm, Mating Grounds, Renegade Radio, Blunt Force Truth and countless other podcasts to talk about his work.
Donovan has been blogging, writing and speaking about masculinity and tribalism since for over a decade.
He lives in the Pacific Northwest, where he leads a chapter of the infamous Wolves of Vinland — an esoteric tribe of Germanic pagans.
Find out more about Jack Donovan at:
Stefan Aarnio: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the show Respect the Grind with Stephan Arnio. This is the show where we interview people who’ve achieved mastery and freedom through discipline. We interview entrepreneurs, athletes, authors, artists, real estate investors, anyone who’s achieved mastery and examined what it took to get there. Today on the show I have Jack Donovan. He’s a well-known author for his book called “The Way of Men” and several other books. He’s a leader in what I believe to be the masculinity movement. Jack, you’re welcome to the show Respect the Grind. Thank you so much for joining me. How are you doing today?
Jack Donovan: I’m all right. Thanks for having me.
Stefan Aarnio: Awesome. Jack, I ran into you by accident. I was on Amazon one day buying books. And you know, Amazon always, you buy a book, it says, “Hey, if you like this book, you’ll like that book.” So, I was buying books on human nature. I’m a big student of human nature. I’m always studying human nature, so I was buying, I don’t know if you’ve read The Lucifer Principle by Howard Bloom?
Jack Donovan: Yeah. Actually, I did read that years ago. Many years ago.
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, exactly. So I bought that and then I bought Mark Manson’s first book, Models. I don’t know if you’ve read that one.
Jack Donovan: Uh-uh (negative).
Stefan Aarnio: Okay, well, it’s pretty good. So I was buying all of these books about human nature, then it says, “The Way of Men, Jack Donovan. You should buy this.” So I said, “Okay, I’ll put it in my cart.” Bought it, I read it, I loved it. Can you tell the people at home a little bit about who is Jack Donovan? Tell us a little bit about The Way of Men, and just for the people who don’t know you out there.
Jack Donovan: Okay. Well, I’ve been writing about masculinity for about 10 years, which seems like a crazy thing, but I’ve been doing it for about 10 years. The Way of Men came out [inaudible 00:01:56] and that was kind of my attempt to answer the question, “What is masculinity?” I found that in talking to people, as I was writing this book and working on it, I realized that there was a need, because when you ask most men what masculinity is, they come up with examples and adjectives and stories and a lot of confused points, and they can’t really articulate it very well.
That becomes a problem because then there’s a whole group of people that tell them that masculinity’s bad, and masculinity doesn’t exist, and they’re just insecure, and then the toxic masculinity thing. All that stuff. So you have people arguing against masculinity. Then the guys who are masculine, they know what it is, but they can’t articulate it, and then they kind of end up in their heels, without kind of-. I think they lose arguments and they have their minds changed in a way that maybe they don’t need to be changed.
So, I wrote the Way of Man and came up with what I really think masculinity is, which is … I think the baseline of masculinity is the way men judge each other and always have throughout their revolutionary history. The things that we needed from each other in the times of need, in survival times. If you look at them, my joke that I always use with it is, “What would you do if zombies attack your building right now, what would you need from the men in the building, and who would be the highest value guy?” It would be the guys who are strong.
Are they going to take risks when you need them to? Do they have any skills that are useful in that situation? Like a recent mastery, or whatever you’re choosing. And do they care about the group at all? Like they care about what your opinion of them is, because men’ll do a lot of things for modern-day [inaudible 00:04:01]. Makes that kind of in a bigger concept if you want, and it has happened in western civilization, but, at the end of the day, honor is a reputation within a group of men, and if you get the guy who is like, “I don’t care what anyone thinks of me.” Actually, you can’t trust him, because you can’t trust someone who doesn’t care what you think of them. He can just change his mind and do whatever he wants, whereas I think men especially are keyed into that, “Well, I said I was gonna do it. Everyone’s watching me. I care about these guys, so I have to do something if I don’t want to do it.” And I think that that’s a really important virtue to have.
And those four things, I think, are the way men judge each other and always have throughout history. Then, masculinity automatically becomes cultural, and [inaudible 00:04:49] and much more complicated, but if you don’t have those four things … I think that those are key things that you need to work on.
Stefan Aarnio: So, Jack, it’s a fascinating subject because I’m an entrepreneur, and I’m hiring these millennials. I’m 1986. I’m born in ’86. I technically am a millennial, but I’m like an old man over here because I’m hiring these 20-year-old guys, 22-year-old guys, 21-year-old guys. I’m 31, I’ve been grinding it out for 10 years. I’ve got these young boys coming into my office, and they complain and they whine like little girls. They say, like, “Oh, I’m not happy here, and this isn’t my dream, and this isn’t what I want to be doing.” And they have these emotional complaints, and I got to a point where I had to ask myself, “Why am I having the dad talk on how to be a man with these boys? Why didn’t their dad have this talk with them on how to show up to work and actually work within the tribe and do the job as the gang and the tribe expects of them?” I got to the point where I had to ask that question. What brought you to the point you had to ask yourself, “What is a man, and what is masculinity?” What’s your personal story with that?
Jack Donovan: [inaudible 00:06:03] I was brought up in the mainstream. I’m a little older than you, but I was brought up with the idea that maybe masculinity was outdated. I was trained as an artist as my original vocation, and I believed that. I actually was always interested in gender, I mean, I was reading books about gender and things like that when I was really young. And then, when I was older, I realized that maybe I had seen how life actually works, and maybe it isn’t how feminists wrote about it in the nineties. Life is not what happens at a university campus, which is what all of that theory is. It’s like these sheltered people writing fantasies about what life is like.
So, I started a little bit about the real world. I looked at some of these ideas, and it came to me through literature. I started reading Jack London, and I’m like, “Ah! I missed something in this. I thought it was dumb when I was a kid. This is amazing.” And I started going back to things like this, like, “There is something beautiful and awesome about being a man that is being lost.” I think that it’s important to try to recover that because it’s who we are. My big thing today, as much as ever, is that being a man is part of who you are, and to be the best version of yourself, because you were born a man, is to be a better man. To be more masculine is the highest version of myself, and that’s what I try to help people realize in their own way.
It’s a very powerful subject when you start speaking to these young men or these men without, maybe, fathers or strong role models. You start speaking to them in man language. “This is how you be a man. You have to come and do your work, and do the work of the tribe and do what other men expect you to do.” Why do you think so much of this stuff is lost nowadays? It’s interesting to me because I look at it, and I’m like, “Why do I have to dig this up and go find this on the internet somewhere? Why isn’t this just present and part of the tribal culture that we have right now?”
Jack Donovan: Well, I mean, mainstream culture is very much organized to have you be a passive consumer, and men … it’s better if you’re more passive, and whatever, and that’s the way everything is organized. A lot of it has to do with the Industrial Revolution. It goes back further than people, I think, think it is, not seventies feminism, which is, again, sheltered people making things up, but when it gets into today, you get to…
Look at who’s teaching school. Most people who are teaching school are women. So, they’re telling young men how to behave instead of men, and the same thing is true, I mean, there are a lot of fatherless homes. So, the whole world is really how women think. It’s easy, and I think getting affirmation from women is easy because they live in circles of affirmation. They’re like, “Everything you do is amazing.” So, if you can sit around with a bunch of women and have them tell you everything you do is amazing even when they’re bullshitting you, and they don’t care, they do that to each other and they don’t actually believe any that, but they say it because they like to say happy words.
Obviously, we’re speaking in generalizations. I’m not saying exactly, but they do have similar tendencies. What I think is, when you go into a world where you’re dealing with men, and they aren’t impressed with your bullshit, they don’t think you’re a special little snowflake, you’re just like the other 30 kids. Impress me. That’s the way men will behave, and they’re not used to dealing with that, and the easiest thing to do is to say, “I don’t want to be that guy.” The easiest thing to do is say, “I don’t want to be around guys like that because it’s hard.” It’s easy to sit in a room and have a woman tell you that you’re amazing no matter what you do.
This universal acceptance and however you feel about yourself is what is real, and all of this stuff that we see in media constantly and all that kind of stuff. It’s easy to live in that world of fantasy where you’re a magical person for doing nothing. The way of men is really to hold the people around you accountable. That’s hard. It’s the easiest thing in the world to back out of it. They feel good for backing out of it, and then they can say, “Those mean guys who were mean to me were wrong, and they’re-” Because it makes them feel better. It’s kind of- which is kind of what I’ve been saying for-right now.”
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, I think that’s powerful. There’s a poem, it says: “Hard times creates strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. Weak men create hard times.” I love what you said about being a man. Being a man is hard. You have to do the dangerous work. You have to do the scary work. You have to do the stuff where you could get hurt or messed up. Even if you’re in the business world … I’m in the business world. I was looking at my office. I had 8 or 9 employees. The women are all doing support roles. The men are doing all the straight-commission, hardcore negotiating and selling, which, you know, you can generally make no money and waste your life. What do you think of that, “Hard times creates strong men?” Are we missing that right now? Are we missing that hardness for us to come back?
Jack Donovan: Oh, yeah. We all live in a phenomenally-protected state. I wish I could say that it’s gonna change. I don’t know that it is. Like I said, governments are kind of getting … well governments are kind of getting biggeR and getting more control over everybody. Sympathy kind of rules everything, this kind of female sympathy. Like, in America right now, it’s all about the guns and things like that. That’s entirely a woman thing. It’s unfortunate, but I don’t know where that’s gonna go, so that’s my big thing with the book that I’m writing now, is more about realizing that the world is kind of messed up, and we would be better men if we were pushed a little harder. And the only thing you can really do is push yourself and channel your energies into what you can do to create, kind of, pockets in the world where you can have the best kind of experience as a man that you can.
Stefan Aarnio: Right, well, it’s tough nowadays. I’m writing a book right now called Hard Times Create Strong Men, and it’s about masculinity, and it’s about … I open the book with talking about the sign of the times, the zeitgeist, the spirit of the times. And I do an analysis on Donald Trump. He is a tribal leader of the business world. He’s a strong man, kind of like Vladimir Putin. Vladimir Putin’s a strong man on the other end of the world.
We live in this time right now where, you know, Trump, he’s a business success, he’s a big icon, he’s successful in almost every way you can measure success. The world, or a big part of the feminine-driven media, they’re literally beheading him on TV, Jihad-style. I wrote in my book, I said, “If this was Russia, they would behead those beheaders. They would just throw people in jail.” We live in a time where you’re a strong man right now, there’s a hostility towards that. Is that because the people in power are trying to break up the formation of new power, or are they trying to break up potential gangs that could rise up? Why are we so hostile to masculine strength?
Jack Donovan: Because strength is a threat, right? Strength of will and purpose is a threat. It’s easy to say, “I stand up and speak. Truth is power,” when all you do is hold a sign and stand on the street. That looks great.
And you know, there’s nothing to that. It doesn’t matter. It’s a joke. If the government feared you, they wouldn’t spray with rubber bullets. They have, actually, helicopters. They can make you go away. So, it’s this big charade that everyone participates in where they think they have some access to power that they don’t have.
I don’t think that there’s a lot to-.
Stefan Aarnio: So, let me ask you this, Jack. What can the average man do to be a better man and, I guess, be more masculine and serve himself and serve his own tribe better and be a better version of a man? Because I think we live in a world right now where there’s not a lot of strong men right now. There’s a lot of weakness. Women are interesting because they say they want nice guys, but they don’t. They want to be led.
It’s super weird, you know, I was reading some statistics about … women in marriage, if the man does the house chores, and if he does the shopping, and the cooking, and the cleaning, the sex goes down in quality, and it goes down in amount of times having sex, but she says she wants those chores, but she really doesn’t. So, how can a man be a better man today in this world where it’s very confusing to even figure out what a man is?
Jack Donovan: The women think it’s funny. It’s like, they all want and equal partner that chokes them out and pulls their hair. They’re kind of full of shit, but, as far as what men can do … I had a conversation similar to this. We had a guy at our auction, a young guy, he actually started reading and watching some of my videos because he- . When he came in, he asked me that question about how the world doesn’t really want to be masculine. And I’m like, “Well look at this place.” And it’s just me and him and another guy there, and I’m like, “We’re the only ones here.”
There’s- sitting here, and we’re the only ones here. Masculinity comes from pressure. If you’re gonna become a better man, or better at being a man is kind of the way I like to phrase it, because they’re two different things.. But if you want to be better at being a man, you have to put yourself under pressure and make yourself be able to respond to pressure. That’s where real confidence comes from. Not just like, “I’m beautiful just because I believe I’m beautiful,” kind of bullshit. The real confidence comes from, “I’ve felt with problems. I’ve solved problems. I’ve been put under pressure. I’ve been made uncomfortable, and I can handle it.” That’s where you get actual toughness from, and when you had a bad day, that you come back and keep doing it again.
I think that you have to seek out those situations. I always tell people that I think martial arts are a good situation. I know for most men, it’s a little unfortunate that a lot of times, in bigger cities, you have to work with women- but that is what it is. Sometimes you just have to put that aside because I’m here to get my shit done, and if I have to pretend that I care about- whatever, that is what it is.
I think that putting yourself in that situation where you have to literally man up. I mean, I have to do it myself. I have a slogan, “Life is conflict. Peace is death.” That’s the one that comes back to me all the time when I don’t want to do something. I’m like, “Oh! I have to go spar that guy? Jesus. I don’t want to … oh god, I wrote the line, I have to fucking do it.” That’s one of the things, I’ve had to say that to myself a bunch of times. I mean, that’s what this is about. You have to put yourself in a situation that you don’t necessarily want to be in to make yourself better. Now, you don’t have to put yourself in every bad situation because that’s retarded, but you do have to put yourself being uncomfortable in-
I was just having lunch with a guy right before we did this call. He’s like, “It’s been a long time since I’ve been punched in the face. I really feel like I need to get punched in the face soon because, like, I don’t know how I would deal with it because it’s been years.” And I think that it’s good to have that in your life once in a while. I mean, you don’t have to do it all the time, but I think that you do have to have a sense of how you respond in a difficult situation.
Stefan Aarnio: Along with that, you know, I like that saying, what is it, “Life is conflict. Peace is death.”
Jack Donovan: Yeah.
Stefan Aarnio: Oh, buddy, that’s beautiful. I say, “Respect the grind.” That’s my show. You’re grinding. It’s just a continuous grind. It’s friction. It’s pressure. Pressure makes diamonds, exactly like you said.
Stefan Aarnio: Jack, for the people at home who maybe haven’t read your book, can you tell us a little bit about the difference between being a good man and being good at being a man? Because that was one thing, when I read your book, good man and good at being a man, that was a major, major wake-up moment for me and probably one of the major hooks in your book that made me read it a couple times. Why don’t you tell us a little of that.
Jack Donovan: I think that’s a really important point. I think when people talk about, “What is masculinity?” A lot of times, they’ll make it about morality. Then, they’ll drill it down to their particular religious beliefs or what they were raised with or how their dad told them that men behave, and I think that you have to separate that out. If you really want to understand what masculinity is on an evolutionary level, on a human nature kind of level, you have to separate that out because that changes from society to society. That changes constantly, and you have to look at what’s always the same with masculinity.
When I say that, “What is good at being a man?” I’m talking about the tactical virtues that I talk about in the book: strength, courage, mastery, and honor. These basic things that you need in that primal scenario where you’re under threat. And when it talks about being a good man, that gets into whatever social norms are, whatever your religious beliefs are and what you think a man should, rather than just basic manliness and manly behavior. That becomes very nuanced. It talks about all your different philosophies and things like that. Everybody’s gonna have a different idea of what a good man does, how to be a good man.
And that’s also where it gets very muddy because being a good man is not that far from being a good person, and now it’s gender-neutral. I mean, a good man is honest. Are you saying a good woman is honest? I mean, it’s the same.
When I was talking about masculinity, I’m talking things that are specific to masculinity. You really relate it to secondary sex characteristics.
Stefan Aarnio: Hmm. Now, Jack, when you talk about masculinity … I’ve started to talk about it a bit because, you know, I’ve written four books, my fifth book is Hard Times Create Strong Men is about masculinity too. As soon as you start talking about masculinity, there’s always this little voice that pipes up in the room, “But what about women?” There’s always the woman, “What about strong women?” I’m writing about strong men, what about strong women? What about femininity? What about … “Why isn’t this about me? Everything should be about me?” That’s what that voice is saying. “Make this about me!”
Jack Donovan: Right. So, I guess a big topic, and I guess a lot of … I don’t know what it is … contention, pressure between the genders. There’s a lot of gender confusion. There’s 63 genders now. There’s men who are confused, men who are confused, women who are trying to get careers, they’re missing their child-bearing years. It’s a big gender mess. I’m one of four children out of … my mother’s an identical twin, so there’s four children between the two twins. We’re all 30 and nobody has kids right now because nobody can figure out their freaking genders right now and what their gender roles are. What do you say to the … you know, you’re defining masculinity, and I think there’s a real power in that. What do you say about the other half to the women, what do women need to do to right now to be more of women or maybe women that men would want?
Stefan Aarnio: I think that’s an interesting way to put it as being women that men would want. They’ve been trained that they’re not supposed to care about that even though they take nine selfies of them. I think they just need to be honest. If you want a man, what do you want a man for? I think is an interesting question that they need to ask. If you want a man to find you desirable, then you’re going to have to be desirable, and that isn’t like, “I’m perfect the way I am,” because, you know, he still has to look at you naked. If you want to be desirable, then you have to actually be desirable and not just be- Not that that doesn’t-
I think that the number one thing is, “What do men and women need from each other?” Like, what does a man need from you, and what does a man need from a woman? And I think that is a very difficult question these days because you have women who are financially independent and sometimes more successful because it’s a world geared really for a lot of women’s skills. You don’t need a lot of guys doing a lot of hard, dangerous work anymore. You need a lot of people filing paperwork and doing customer service. So, you have things that women are actually very good at are part of the main society. So they don’t need the economic support necessarily except for to maybe raise children. And what kind of world would you have [inaudible 00:25:52]?
I think it’s really asking the question between men and women, what we need from each other at this point. I think that that’s tough, and I think that requires some soul-searching for women as well because they’ve been told a lot of things that are lies about who they are and what men are supposed to want from them and what they’re supposed to want from men. And so they live in this world of fiction, and I think that they need to be honest with themselves and ask, “Well, what do I really want? What really makes me happy? And do I care if other women are gonna say that that’s wrong?” That’s a big factor.
Jack Donovan: Right. I think it’s more confusing right now than ever because women are told they have to get a career, they’re told at some point they’re supposed to have a baby somehow, and somehow they’re supposed to be married, but then they’re supposed to be independent. My parents are divorced and I think what it came down to was that my mom didn’t need my dad, and my dad didn’t need my mom. There was no need between the two of them. There was a homogeneousness there where they were kind of the same, and ultimately, I think my dad became more feminine and my mom became more masculine. And suddenly, there was this weird reversal of polarity, and it’s almost like we have that times thirty million now.
In Canada or in the States, you see more and more, if you go on a dating sate right now, you look at the women options or the leftovers online and you go, “Whoa, man, there’s a whole bunch of reversals going on here. You’ve got your heavier women, you’ve got your … I find it interesting to look at a woman’s online dating profile. She’ll write it like a man. She’ll say, “I have my own house. I have my car. I have my job. I have my career. I have two dogs. I travel.” She’s almost writing what she wants in a man, but she’s writing it about herself.
Jack Donovan: Right.
Stefan Aarnio: So we get into this backwardness. Do you think there’s … is there a way that we can go back to the traditional roles, or do you think this is the new playing field and the new way that it is?
Jack Donovan: Well, I think we as society is gonna do what it’s gonna do. I don’t think I or you can really influence that in a meaningful way. We can influence people, and people who read our books and listen to podcasts and so forth. And you do have still choices in life, and you can decide what you want, and you can say now. You don’t have to do … I think one of the biggest problems for men is that they finally find a woman that they like, and they can’t say no, and she ends up running him. And they do whatever she says. It starts out with an, “Alright, sure, that’s not so bad.” And then three years down the road, she’s really in charge. And then she’s not happy because she actually doesn’t want to be in charge. She just thinks she does. And then he’s not happy because now he’s a bitch.
I see that with friends and associates and all kinds of things all the time. I think that men need to learn to say no, and women need to understand themselves better and understand what they actually want versus what they have been told that they want by, again, these people saying in universities creating their own version of the world.
Stefan Aarnio: Right. Yeah. A lot of internal work needs to be done. Now, Jack, another part of your book that I really like was the bonobos versus the chimps. You’ve got bonobo society, chimp society. Can you tell the people at home a little bit about the bonobos versus the chimps and how that works together?
Jack Donovan: Well, just some reading that I was doing on early primates that I think was just a good story and a good example of different kinds of groups and ways to live, really. One of them is the high pressure environment, which is the chimps, where they had to compete with other animals like gorillas and things like that for food. And the other ones being the bonobos which are famously, although we don’t know if this is actually true anymore, but they are famously known for being very promiscuous, very matriarchal, and very nonviolent, in theory. I don’t think that that’s necessarily believed to be true anymore.
But if you have a society that has … basically, the idea is that they have no competition for resources, so they were living in this paradise where they could just eat whatever they wanted. They didn’t have to do anything, kind of like modern society, where you really don’t have to do almost anything if you want to live a basic life. You get up and go to a boring job where it’s not hard, and if you don’t want to do that, the government will probably take care of you, and you just kind of sit around and do the bare minimum and really live in pauper’s leisure. You can enjoy life in the kind of saddest way, but you can still live and be satisfied and play video games and have sex on a pile of dirty laundry.
But there are other, obviously, ways to live. The chimps were more of a competitive society, and so they had to hustle. They had to respect the grind. And so they were much more patriarchal than women and had control over their women. The fathers knew their sons, and they worked together because they had to work together to hunt and to get [inaudible 00:31:41]. Like I said, it has a lot of parallels to our society now versus how it was for most of human history where life was a little bit harder and things were obviously organized by men who were taking all the risks, and women really needed them to take those risks, and they wanted to be protected because there were bears out there. There were things, there were bears, there were other tribes of men, there were all kinds of things that were creating problems, and so it was the man’s job to deal with that.
And we still want to do that. We still want to be the guy who does that. For women and for ourselves. But modern society really gives us no way to do that role and to be that guy who is the [inaudible 00:32:34] protecting a society and everything that’s inside and everything that he cares about. Most guys will never have the opportunity to do that in a meaningful way, and so you kind of have to figure out how to do that on your own.
Stefan Aarnio: Right, it’s a really interesting world because we have … I was hanging out with a client of mine. I coach people in real estate investing. One of my clients used to be in forestry, and he was telling me about three of his friends who died in forestry. Apparently, forestry is the second most dangerous job. Number one is offshore fishing where you’re out there in a boat. If that boat tips over, it’s over. That second one is forestry, which I never would’ve guessed. The third one was, like, bush piloting.
And then the fatality rate dropped to like, police, fire, and the army and stuff that you think is dangerous, but forestry is incredibly dangerous because they’ve cut a tree. A splinter could go through your face, or something would fall on you, or your harness would break. At one point in history they didn’t have any more wars, World War II was over, and I guess war was a way to raise the boys. You put the boys in a war, they’d get toughened up, they’d get strong. I think the U.S. Government was talking about doing a simulated war where they’d send all the boys out to cut trees or they’d send them all out to do all these dangerous jobs to have a simulated masculinity. Do you know what I’m talking about?
Jack Donovan: I think I do. I’m trying to think. I’m trying to place that. I don’t even know if it was a serious discussion or whether it was just an [inaudible 00:34:06].
Stefan Aarnio: I think it was proposed. I think it was a proposed idea, like, “Hey, we need to toughen these boys. We need to send them out into the forest to fight the forest. We need to send them out there to do all these manly jobs so that we can maintain and still have these men, I guess, when we need them, rather than just sending … today, we don’t have conscription in Canada where I live. Nobody knows how to use a gun compared to the old days. We have a completely, I don’t want to say useless in a way of being a man in a society, but you have men here who don’t even know how to negotiate. Even the most basic man skill is negotiating. What do you do with all of these boys, and how do you make them into men? Because they used to have a way to do that, and now we kind of don’t.
Jack Donovan: Yeah, that was an interesting suggestion. I wish I knew what essay that was. It was a moral war or something like that. It had something to do with … it was someone who was kind of against war but was like, “We need something.”
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, he was like, “We need to toughen the boys up by sending them to war. We don’t have a war, so let’s make them cut trees down.” Or something like that.
Jack Donovan: Yeah. There’s some merit to that. If you want to make men better … I don’t know if you can do it on the government level because they’re not on that page … but that’s not the goal that they had in mind, but obviously if you want to make men better, there are other things you can send them out to do. Obviously, men bond by doing things together, like aggressing against something. It doesn’t have to be people. It can be nature, like logging is a perfect example. Doing kind of hard work, building something, that kind of stuff. A lot of guys don’t have that. They don’t have to do anything … there’s a lot of personal fulfillment you can get out of that.
I mean, I [inaudible 00:36:06], and me and my buddy were up there like every weekend building different structures for our group, and it was really fulfilling, and you really feel like you’re doing something. It gives you a sense of purpose that you wouldn’t have otherwise, that in these basic jobs, like filling out paperwork, you’re not gonna get that sense of purpose most of the time. And I think that’s definitely something that … anyone who wants to make young boys into better men, yeah, you gotta send them out to do something hard. I think that that’s the bottom line, that’s what it is. You gotta send them out to do something hard so they learn something about themselves, so they learn they’re not as fragile as they’ve been told they were by their mothers. [inaudible 00:36:47] they could be more confident men.
Stefan Aarnio: I like that. Sending them out to do something hard because, a lot of the … I find it amazing, actually, just serving in my office, the hard jobs are still filled with men. The very hard jobs, the most difficult, whether it’s sales or negotiating or something, typically men … even when you look at, this is kind of a joke, but when you look at fashion designers or you look at the best in hair and makeup, it’s still men. They’re very gay men doing the …. they’re better at being women than men. Even those very, very hard jobs are held by men. Now, the other thing I really liked about your book, Jack, was the story about Rome and the founding of Rome. Tell the listeners a little bit about the founding of Rome, and about how Rome was a gang, and you know, it’s the western empire that we always look to. America is always compared to Rome. Rome is, you know, sort of an extension of Greece. It’s the base of western society. Tell me about how Rome was initially a gang of thugs and how that grew.
Jack Donovan: Yeah. That’s the story of Rome. Now, whether that’s what really happened, who knows? But who cares? Sometimes, stories are better. I was talking to my friend the other day, and he said the idea that history is a list of things that happened in chronological order is very new. If you look at old histories, they were like, “Here’s the story, and there’s a lesson here. Here’s the story, and there’s a lesson here.” So that’s kind of how I’ve used the history of Rome as well and the story of the history of the founding of Rome.
You know, you had brothers, and they had a bunch of followers around them. They ended up founding their own city because no one really wanted them because they were kind of outlaws, and then the neighboring towns wouldn’t let their women, so they had a situation where they kind of invited everyone over for a party and kept their women … because they were strong, and they were [inaudible 00:38:54] to the neighboring towns, and they were tougher guys. And that’s a lot of times how that kind of stuff goes down.
But I mean, I just thought that was an interesting story to tell in terms of creating a strong society, and I really think this kind of an idea of brotherhood is the foundation of culture. I think it’s men working together. We think of culture of being this high thing that comes much later, but like, in the group that I’m in with other guys, I think that culture starts many times, it’s inside jokes. It’s men socializing with each other and deciding what kind of society we want to have. And they’re really creating order, and that’s kind of this basic way of starting a new world is that you create an order … it’s a bunch of guys sitting around, “How are we gonna do this?”
And they’re making decisions, and along the way, they’re creating their own kind of internal culture. Like, “What do we not like? Let’s not have that. Let’s not have that here.” And me and my guys make that kind of decisions all the time. Like, “Why are we saying that? Just because other people say it? Okay, we should probably stop saying that because we want to control our culture.” And I think that’s where that kind of comes from. Small groups of men I think are the nucleus of culture, and then that culture kind of expands on that identity. And that Rome is a really good example of that because you know, all through the society there were Romulus and Remus who are part of the society, and that’s the nuclear thing that started with two brothers. I think that that gets lost a lot.
And I think that if you look at the way societies have been celebrated until very recently, it’s all their war heroes, and all their people, the guys who have made ultimate sacrifices, and great men who have been great builders and doers and things like that. These are the people who are [inaudible 00:40:58]. Only recently has the art that you put in town square been anything but that, and now it’s like, [inaudible 00:41:08] modern art, it’s just different, obviously.
Stefan Aarnio: So, I think there is a quote, I can’t remember who said it. I think it might have been Aristotle or somebody like that, but, “Society is born violent, it’s born patriarchal, and it dies tolerant and matriarchal.” If you look at the Romans, they started out as a band of thieves, pretty much, and they ended up with drunken orgies in the vomitoria, and the barbarians pretty much just walked in, and they could walk right into the city gates, right into the middle of the empire at the end because they’d become so weak in their culture and their society. Is that happening to us right now in the US and in the Western World?
Jack Donovan: Yeah. They had a [inaudible 00:42:35] masturbation society at the end of the day. They had a society where people only cared about pleasure and weren’t worried about their own defense because they were spoiled, and I think that’s obviously where we’re at now. “We” meaning, “they.” I try not to use “we” in that way. I think that mainstream society is very much that way, obviously, right now, and that’s unfortunate.
Nietzsche has said similar things. Men have known this forever. This is why it’s just a cautionary tale. Nietzsche had said something like, “An exhausted society that declines into degeneracy and wit.” It’s all wit, and that’s where we’re at, this culture of irony that everybody has. This culture is a joke and it’s not real, and no one’s really passionate about anything anymore. All of these things are now the [inaudible 00:43:33] society.
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, and I guess the question I had was, can we reverse it? Is there anything that we can do to slow it down or stop it? Because when you look at history, you look at the Greeks, you look at the Romans, you look at the Persians, you look at the British, you look at the Germans, anybody, any society … it gets taken over by barbarians at some point.
Barbarians, those men on the fringes, those men who are farmers, they’re from the country, they don’t have a lot of technology or a lot of culture. We’re not gonna pay attention to them. Eventually, those guys come in, they are the empire, and those things reverse. Is there any way for us to stop that cycle or is it just gonna keep going? And, I guess, in that question, who is the next barbarians?
Jack Donovan: Well, it’s hard to say because this is a [inaudible 00:44:24] world now compared to the way it was. There’s no plague, there’s no next door neighbor that’s just gonna roll in, but at the same time we are creating a society that’s pretty much like the Hunger Games. You know, like, the city people in Hunger Games who are all, like, makeup and silliness? And that’s kind of the mainstream culture right now. I think that society is only gonna get more ridiculous, and I think that more people will become ridiculous and weak.
And the question in that is whether the existing power structure … because there’s still men holding everything together. I wish they’d just let it go. I wish they’d stop trying to keep this thing alive that’s already dead. That’s my personal issue. If we’re gonna collapse into chaos, then new things would happen. It may be an existing … no one likes to be out of power, and so I think that the people who are … the cops, the people who are really running the government at the top levels, not the figurehead presidents and all that stuff, but the people who are really running things, I don’t think they’re in a hurry to let go of power. But then again, I don’t want to [inaudible 00:45:38] either. So, who knows? Maybe America just becomes a third world hellhole, and people from Mexico will come up, and North America just becomes a big mess. And then something new comes out of that because there’s nothing to hold it together anymore.
But that’s so far down the road. As I said recently, everyone wants a society collapse … I mean, not everybody, obviously, but a lot of people would love to see, if everything would just fall apart, the strong men would take over again and figure things out. But, in reality, I don’t know if it’ll happen, and I think a few things in many cases will just get dumber and dumber [inaudible 00:46:20].
So, we need to make our own peace with that and do the best we can.
Stefan Aarnio: Right, it’s interesting, like you said, we’re getting weaker and dumber every generation, and that’s a little bit scary because I think quite a large portion of the United States right now is below 85 IQ, and, at that point, the U.S. Military won’t even take you. So, you look at that, and you think, “Oh, man, what’s gonna happen with that? With the job requirements going up in IQ, people are going down in IQ, what’s gonna happen with that?” You know, you’ve got companies like Uber coming in. They’re gonna have self driving cars pretty soon, and you’re gonna have all these men who are, maybe, they’re not killing bears anymore, and they’re not even driving cabs anymore. What happens at that point, Jack? Where you’ve got guys where we’ve got literally no use now for.
Jack Donovan: I mean, again, in any other society, they’d join gangs, and they’d go around [inaudible 00:47:28] and they’d create a whole bunch of trouble, and that may still happen. It’ll happen in a lot of places, but we also have kind of a surveillance police state, and so those men just might all end up in prison. And then everybody else gets taxed higher to keep them fed and out of society.
So, I mean, knows? I mean, like I said, in most societies, what would happen is they’d end up creating a lot of havoc and a lot of crime, but who knows how long that’ll be allowed to go on?
Stefan Aarnio: Wow. It’s intense. So, Jack, for the young people nowadays … I’m a millennial, there’s millennials, there’s Generation Zed, young people. What are some things that the young men and young people have to do to succeed nowadays and be relevant and strong in today’s world?
Jack Donovan: Success is a different animal than what I normally talk about, I think. But I think, obviously, there are a lot of opportunities still. There are a lot of opportunities. I mean, I’m self-employed. I never would’ve thought that would happen in a billion years, but you can find your way to the … I mean, a lot of the structures are open. I mean, I self-publish, and that was looked down upon and also not feasible a couple decades ago, even a decade ago, rally, a little more than a decade ago. But now, you can live off that. So there are a lot of opportunities where you can create your own [inaudible 00:49:12] and create your own voices.
I mean, you look at a lot of young people today. They make their own media. Then, the big channels have been kind of censored more and more. You have YouTube and [inaudible 00:49:29]. They’ve kind of become, I think, like the old mainstream networks in America, like the CBS and the NBC. They give you so many messages. They’re gonna kind of censor everybody, but then new platforms come up, and there’s jobs for people creating new platforms, and so you have to keep one step ahead.
And that’s really how, I think, you become successful, is that you look ahead at what’s coming, and, “What can I do now?” Because a winner is always looking for opportunities to win. I think that you get too many people that get bogged down. “Oh, everything’s so crappy. I can’t ever do anything. I’m blocked from all of these directions.” And when something bad happens, they just go, “Oh,” and they’re done. It’s kike this defeatist mentality. What you have to do is just keep looking for books.
In the [inaudible 00:50:28] old book, I never read it, but it was Who Moved My Cheese? Or whatever. It was a business book or something like that. It was a slow read, because that happens all the time. Like, “Oh! I made all my money from this particular thing, but now it doesn’t work anymore. Now I’m shut out of it.” You have to be looking one step ahead of that all the time and be looking for the new thing that comes out, and if you don’t, you get caught, and you get a little lazy, and you might have to do some rebuilding. But you have to keep one step ahead because the world is changing very quickly, and I think that that’s probably the best way to … create your own media. You don’t like the way things are going? Create your own new thing.
And I think that’s the answer to all of those things is creation. Create something new rather than waiting for the world to provide you with something. I know some guys who are just mad that they aren’t gonna have the same opportunities that people had, like the Boomers had. Like, well, who ever had that? That was like a pocket in history that was magic. It’s like, “Sign up for a company, work there for the rest of your life, and then retire and live for, like, 30 or 40 years high on the hog.” That never happened. People had to work until they died. That’s not something you deserve in life. So, I think that people need to get out of that mentality that they’ve been cheated out of something that, really, just one generation was lucky enough to get.
Stefan Aarnio: Right. It was a magic time in history. They won a war, they had a bunch of resources, life is awesome. If you index the minimum wage 1968 gold to today’s dollars, it was $103,000 U.S. was minimum wage. Isn’t that nuts? That’s “make America great again.” If you’re getting 103 grand to work at Mcdonalds. Dude, not even Norway can pull that off. It’s like 50 grand in year in Norway, they just give that to everybody.
So, I just want to wrap up here, Jack.. I follow you on Instagram, and your handle is starttheworld. What does it mean to start the world? What does it mean to start the world? Why that tag?
Jack Donovan: Well, I think everything we’ve been talking about here. I think that, if you don’t like the world that you’re living in, you need to start your own. You need to, instead of constantly talking about stopping something or being like those conservatives think, like, “We’re just gonna slow it down!” You need to start creating things around you that are the way you want to be. Create your own life, and to the best of your ability. And be smart and understand how the world really is rather than how you wish it was. If you understand what is really going on, you can make the right choices for yourself.
I mean, you’re gonna be wrong sometimes, but I think that you need to start the kind of world that you want to the best of your ability. I think that, for everyone, that’s gonna be different, but I think that that’s … “Start a gang,” that’s kind of the original thing, and I went out and joined a tribe, and I devoted most of my time and money to building a group of guys who have the same, similar values to me. I think that that’s what people need to do more of and stop worrying about what people in New York say is important everyday, because you’re not gonna do that. You need to change the people around you.
Stefan Aarnio: I love that. I think it’s very, very powerful. Now, Jack, before we wrap up, is there any programs or causes you’d like to promote so people can reach out to you or get involved with what you’re doing?
Jack Donovan: You said the Instagram handle. That’s kind of where I live and breathe right now is at starttheworld. Like, right now, my website is jack-donovan.com. Over the coming months, like I said, I’m working on a book now. It’s kind of the third book in the series, and you kind of have to be in the first two to get it, but it’s about overcoming the [inaudible 00:54:31] of men, and some of this creativity we’ve been talking about, and then I think after that I’m gonna start a magazine –
Stefan Aarnio: Cool.
Jack Donovan: – a kind of men’s magazine that talks about philosophy because that’s what I do. So we’re gonna talk about philosophy, maybe have some other fun things.
Stefan Aarnio: Cool. What’s the name of the magazine gonna be?
Jack Donovan: I’m not telling yet.
Stefan Aarnio: Oh, okay. The magician can’t reveal all his tricks.
Jack Donovan: I’m six months out. I don’t want someone to steal it!
Stefan Aarnio: Okay, yeah, awesome, man. Thank you so much for being on this show today, Jack. Respect the grind. It’s been great talking to you.
Jack Donovan: Alright, thanks for having me.
Stefan Aarnio: Thank you.
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