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The Masculinist Podcast

Author: Aaron Renn

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The podcast about how we live as Christian men and as the church in the modern world. Featuring deep cultural diagnostics, insights and interviews to help you make sense of this crazy and unprecedented age in which we live.
42 Episodes
In this final podcast installment looking at the fall of the old WASP establishment, we'll compare sociologist E. Digby Baltzell's conservative defense of organic social hierarchy with today's movement conservative that rejects social distinctions.
A Man In Full

A Man In Full


This episode looks at the implications of the fall of the WASP establishment by looking at the life and career of J. Irwin Miller, a WASP industrialist whose commitment to and investment in his town of Columbus, Indiana helped make it the Rust Belt city that never rusted. The town never went into decline and remains a top architectural destination in the United States due to Miller's leadership.Miller was also an important national figure. The first lay leader of the National Council of Churches, an advocate for the Civil Rights Act, a leader in divestment from South Africa over Apartheid, and board member of AT&T, Yale, the Ford Foundation, and the Museum of Modern Art.Recognizing his caliber of leadership, Esquire magazine featured Miller on its cover with the caption, "This man ought to be the next president of the United States."Miller's life illustrates a tradition of leadership and community service that's largely disappeared in the wake of the collapse of the establishment.The Atlantic (written by me): The Rust Belt Didn't Have to Happen - Is it too late for a man of honesty, high purpose, and intelligence to be elected President of the United States in 1968? - Kriplen: J. Irwin Miller: The Shaping of an American Town -
Conservatives today bemoan the fact that men no longer behave as gentlemen. Yet their exhortations on the topic are without effect. E. Digby Baltzell's writings on the American upper class shed light on this decline of the gentleman. He notes that an upper class establishment, as American had until the 1960s, made the social, moral, and behavioral codes of the upper class normative, or at least aspirational for society at large. The end of the establishment meant that those standards also went out the window.It's also the case that the gentleman's code as we understand it was a product of the Anglo-American upper class and especially the Victorian era. It was not universal. This period had organic social hierarchy, patriarchal families, and significant restrictions on female behavior, all of which those who argue men should behave like the gentlemen of that era reject.The largely Boomer social conservatives bleating about being a gentleman should be ignored. Instead, we as men should start thinking about the social norms that we want to have in our groups in the 21st century.Rediscovering E. Digby Baltzell's Sociology of Elites: Cons Are the Enemy of the American Man: End of the Gentleman:
This episode in my series on the historic Protestant Establishment in the United States looks at the role the collapse of that establishment played in many of the dysfunctions of our age. These include the erosion of political norms, the decline of the gentleman, the fading away of the ethos of "fair play," the rise of charismatic politicians like Trump, and the decline of trust in institutions.Rediscovering E. Digby Baltzell's Sociology of Elites:
This episode discusses the evolution of the American upper class from a local and familial to a national and associational community. It describes the nationalization and industrialization of the US in the post-Civil War era.  And it explains the challenges faced by the old WASP establishment leading up to its demise in the 1960s: managerialism, ethno-religious exclusion, and the failure to take up leadership positions in society.Rediscovering E. Digby Baltzell's Sociology of Elites:
Henry Kissinger quipped, "No one will ever win the battle of the sexes. There's too much fraternizing with the enemy."  This encapsulates the broader truth about the relationship between the sexes. We are in this boat together. When men struggle, it affects men's relational prospects. But that's also true the other way around. We should want to see women flourish. So in working to build up men, we should not look to tear down women.Also, in this issue I provide an extended excerpt from my major retrospective on the old White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) establishment, and the implications of its collapse. As a product of Catholic peasant stock on both sides of my family, this was an interesting one to research. It is also a critical topic to understand the dynamics of our contemporary world.
Social class has fallen off the radar in America, but remains key to understanding many of the problems we face today in society. This includes everything from the erosion of political norms to men no longer behaving as gentlemen.These problems are traceable in part to the fall of the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) establishment. Sociologist E. Digby Baltzell, who popularized the term WASP, predicted many of these problems years ago. In a new podcast series starting today, we will examine his work and what it tells us about America.In this episode we will define and distinguish between the elite, the wealthy and the upper class. We well also talk about what it means to be a well-functioning (aristocratic) vs. poorly-functioning (caste) upper class. And we'll define authority and establishment, looking at what makes for a well-structured (establishment) and poorly-structured (caste) elite. Finally, we'll talk about the very specific meaning that the term WASP itself has.These categories are fundamental to understanding what has happened to America since the decline of the establishment. In future episodes we'll trace some of the consequences of this.Rediscovering E. Digby Baltzell's Sociology of Elites: Rise of the “Establishment,” and Its Impact Today:
The decline of Mainline Protestantism, that is the historically prominent American Protestant denominations, had profound consequences for America and American Christianity.  Mainline Protestantism was how Christianity was integrated with and represented in society as a whole. With the decline of the mainline denominations, America ceased to be a Protestant, and ultimately Christian nation.This podcasts describes what Mainline Protestantism is, the origins of the term "mainline", the nature of their decline, their role in the sacred order of society, what may have led to their decline, and the consequences for the church and society.David A. Hollinger, "After Cloven Tongues of Fire: Ecumenical Protestantism and the Modern American Encounter with Diversity":
Everybody likes to beat up on fundamentalists. I grew up in a rural, fundamentalist, pentecostal church. And while I am not a fundamentalist today and think they get a lot of things wrong, they also have some virtues we should appreciate. In this episode is discuss the power of a simple, naive faith, and the willingness to embrace and teach unpopular doctrines.
Rational, logical argument is often  a recipe for losing debates today.  Rather, winning battled depends heavily on emotional appeals and above all seizing the cultural high ground. James Davison Hunter showed the importance of networks and institutions at the cultural center in determining society outcomes. The New Calvinism movement is an example of an instantiation of Hunter's idea, with celebrity preachers and other key figures creating networks and institutions to achieve power over their subdomain of Evangelicalism. The debates over the Statement on Social Justice show the futility of logical argumentation in the face of superior cultural power.Those engaged in debates and disputes within the church and society must understand the full spectrum of considerations around power and persuasion, not just make logical arguments.
The Gospel Coalition is the flagship organization of the New Calvinism movement. They hold their major conference every two years in Indianapolis. Since I'm now back in Indy and they were meeting in person here despite Covid-19, I decided to attend and check it out.This podcast was recorded in the middle of the conference to share a few observations about it, and the New Calvinism movement generally. The conference showcases two of the great strengths of the movement: its intellectual orientation (serious people talking seriously about serious things) and their excellence in public speaking.  For further reference:Noah Smith on experts who lie: interview with sociologist Brad Vermurlen on New Calvinism:
In their book Metaphors We Live By, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson noted how our language, and very way of perceiving the world, is saturated with metaphor. We use the metaphor "Love is war," for example, when describing someone as a relational "conquest."Metaphors, analogies, etc. are a helpful and essential way of making sense of the world.  But the metaphors we live by can, as with "love is war," import ways of thinking about issues that may not be entirely healthy.In this podcast we examine metaphors used for understanding race relations in America, and how we might be able to positively reframe our challenges using a different metaphor for thinking about them.Buy Metaphors We Live By:
In our 24x7 media and social media saturated world, it's very easy for us to spend too much time engaging in the controversies of the day and not focusing on what's important to our own long term agenda. It's said that the media can't tell you what to think, but they can tell you what to think about. Merely focusing on something elevates its importance in our mind. We need to be careful where we are putting our focus so that we don't end up letting the media subtly rewire our agenda without us even noticing it.
Organic Community

Organic Community


Our relationships in life can often be characterized as organic or inorganic, as naturally occurring or as artificial, consciously chosen or constructed. Organic relationship tends to represent strong ties, inorganic relationship weak ties. Inorganic relationships are very powerful, but often can't be relied on when we need them. Organic relationships are the foundational base of social capital.More on community: from the JEC Social Capital Project: Ehrenhalt's The Lost City: The Forgotten Virtues of Community in America:
People tend to look at the compositions of bodies like legislatures or boards of directors based on attributes like party affiliation or race and gender.  But there are other characteristics like professional background, geographic origin, and educational experience that are often even more revealing of how people think about the world. This can give important insights into organizational dynamics.
This is the audio edition of Masculinist newsletter #50, all about online dating. It reviews the facts revealed through various studies of online dating markets. (This issue is very chart intensive, so it is worth looking at online even though I describe the contents of the charts in this audiocast. I also discuss how online dating represents the "globalization" of the dating market, with similar impacts to economic globalization in producing high levels of inequality. And I note how the way these sites are skewed towards looks, and the dynamics of responses to women can make online dating an unfavorable environment to men who are not in the top 10-20% of men in terms of looks. Online dating is a tool and there's no shame in using it. The point is that to make intelligent choices around online dating, we need to be aware of the dynamics of how it actually functions.Read the newsletter online at:
Perceptions of Time

Perceptions of Time


Our perception of time and relation to it radically shifts over the course of our lives. Our perception of the flow of time accelerates as we age, for example. It's not until around age 35 that we get the ability to intellectually and emotionally relate to the future story arc of our lives.  That's when we start being able to realize that not only have we changed in the past, we will continue to change in the future. This has profound consequences for our lives, including helping to drive the onset of the midlife crisis. Also, our perception of events is heavily dependent on whether or not they are within our living memory. Any event within our living memory seems like it happened just yesterday, while any that happened before that seems like the distant past.
Conservatives have long rushed to the defense of institutions and people who are threatened, even when those people and institutions were hostile to Christianity. This was true even when conservatives were a minority movement despised by all the major organs of society. They defended the university administrators during the campus unrest of the 1960s, for example, at a time when the universities were very hostile to conservatism. Christians also behave this way. It's rooted in an identification with the mainstream of society and its institutions. But Christianity today is socially marginalized and seen as a threat to the social order and the new public morality.  In that environment, American Christians need to reconcile themselves to being a minority, and start acting like it.  That means letting nature take it course with many of the problems of our society. Christians need to be willing to suffer for their beliefs. Now they have to be willing to let other people suffer for theirs.Geoffrey Kabaservice, The Guardians -
In this episode I wrap up my series on conservatism, summarizing the previous installments and encouraging conservative Evangelicals to rethink their deal with the Republican Party. Evangelicals have been the largest and most loyal voting block of the Republican Party, but have not received a return commensurate with what they've brought to the table. While the Democratic Party may not be a viable alternative, conservative Evangelicals need to force the Republican Party to reformulate itself to better align with Evangelical priorities. And to insist on having a genuine seat at the table in defining the conservative agenda.NBER Paper" Does Private Equity Investment in Healthcare Benefit Patients? - Alexander, Glass House -
Rethinking Free Trade

Rethinking Free Trade


Continuing with my series on conservatism, I note again that far from standing firm on timeless principles, conservatives have in fact changed their mind on many of the most basic elements of society. This includes civil rights and the nature of gender and the family.If they themselves say that they were wrong about such fundamental things, why would anyone believe they are right about anything else? Certainly, we should be open to rethinking many other conservative dogmas, including free trade.Economists have long argued that free trade is close to a free lunch, an unambiguous win-win in which any negative disruptions it causes will be modest and short lived.  In this podcast I look at those arguments, going back in time to the era in which NAFTA and the Uruguay Round of global trade talks were taking place, and China was preparing for entry into the global trading framework. The economic predictions of the free traders were wrong and the critics completely vindicated. The future course of events was accurately predicted by critics of dogmatic free trade, something it look nearly two decades for the economists to admit was true.Global Squeeze: The Coming Crisis for First World Nations (1998): The China Shock: interview with an author of the China Shock study:
Comments (1)

Brendan Baird


Jun 6th
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