There are stories of coincidence and chance and intersections and strange things told and which is which and who only knows…and so it goes and so it goes and the book says, we may be through with the past, but the past ain’t through with us. —Magnolia
If the “past ain’t through with us,” what’s the point of deliberating about going our own way and of making the choice to go our own way? If the “past ain’t through with us, are MGTOWs and other men “choosing” to go their own way, or are they simply passive actors, soldiers on the battlefield possessed by thoughts of helplessness, caught within a storm, too close to observe its beauty, wrenched with fear and immobilized by their fate?
I’ve been asking this question for a good while now and when I hear statements from various MGTOWs describing Briffault’s Law as the inherent nature of women, when I hear statements like “men will not change,” I suspect there may be a strand of fatalism that runs deep within MGTOW philosophies. MGTOWs should be careful and would be wise to not fall into the trap of invincible fatalism and, by extension, other sorts of various determinisms. Doing so makes all the deliberation about going our own way and opting out of marriage and similar relationships unintelligible.
Even though there may be a sense of comfort, a solace to be got from embracing fatalism, doing so undermines the deliberation and subsequent choices made by men who go their own way. The problem here is that deliberation is an unintelligible and useless endeavor for the fatalist.
At first glance, it would seem that men who are going their own way may have deliberated and made their choice. However, it may well be the case that some MGTOWs are simply fatalists who sit back like passive observers and take comfort in knowing that things are the way they are because things simply could not be otherwise. Consider this statement from Stardusk:
I’ve come to the conclusion that men, generally speaking, are just that and that’s all they want to be. They do not wish to be anything else, nor can they envision themselves being anything else.
This statement seems to fit nicely within the framework of a fatalism—of men’s prior and continuing facticity as tools—as men whose “past ain’t through” with them . Men are “fossils,” as Stardusk says. They are what they are and they will not be otherwise. It’s almost as if a place of solace is being created within a position of stoicism, wrapped in a shell of deliberation and choice. Consider this description of fatalism from Richard Taylor.
We are all, at certain moments of pain, threat, or bereavement, apt to entertain the idea of fatalism, the thought that what is happening at a particular moment is unavoidable, that we are powerless to prevent it. Sometimes we find ourselves in circumstances not of our own making, in which our very being and destinies are so thoroughly anchored that the thought of fatalism can be quite overwhelming, and sometimes consoling. One feels that whatever then happens, however good or ill, will be what those circumstances yield, and we are helpless. Soldiers, it is said, are sometimes possessed by such thoughts. Perhaps everyone would feel more inclined to them if they paused once in a while to think of how little they ever had to do with bringing themselves to wherever they have arrived in life, how much of their fortunes and destinies were decided for them by sheer circumstance, and how the entire course of their lives is often set, once and for all, by the most trivial incidents, which they did not produce and could not even have foreseen. If we are free to work out our destinies at all, which is doubtful, we have a freedom that is at best exercised within exceedingly narrow paths. All the important things—when we are born, of what parents, into what culture, whether we are loved or rejected, whether we are male or female, our temperament, our intelligence or stupidity, indeed everything that makes for the bulk of our happiness and misery—all these are decided for us by the most casual and indifferent circumstances, by sheer coincidences, chance encounters, and seemingly insignificant fortuities. One can see this in retrospect If he searches, but few search. The fate that has given us our very being has given us also our pride and conceit, and has thereby formed us so that, being human, we congratulate ourselves on our blessings, which we call our achievements; blame the world for our blunders, which we call our misfortunes; and scarcely give a thought to that impersonal fate that arbitrarily dispenses both. –Richard Taylor, Metaphysics 3rd Edition.
The above passage from Taylor’s classic is a compelling description of and introduction to fatalism. It’s the opening passage in his chapter on fatalism and these sorts of passages, with their soothing style and humble attitude, permeate his book and other writings. Even when I disagree with him, there is a kind of soothing solace to be got from his words.
I believe there are similarities between fatalists like Richard Taylor and some of the men who are going their own way. For Taylor, fatalism is the belief that whatever happens is and always was unavoidable. Although this may sound a bit like determinism, Taylor is careful to make a distinction between determinism and fatalism. Determinism, for Taylor, is the theory that all events are rendered unavoidable by their causes. Fatalism, simply put, is the belief that whatever happens is unavoidable. It may seem like a minor distinction, but Taylor is quick to point out that determinists, if being consistent, should very well also be fatalists. Determinists simply wrap a layer of theory about causality around fatalism. As such, the fatalist can deliver a rather humbling blow to the pride of determinists who do not consider themselves to be fatalists.
Could it be that some in the MGTOW community are simply adding a wrapper of deliberation and choice to their fatalist philosophy? Perhaps some in the MGTOW community are fatalists first and MGTOWs second? If this is the case, what happens to the foundations of a fundamentally deliberative philosophy like going our own way? A fatalist philosophy is antithetical to a deliberative philosophy. If there is no liberation to be got from deliberating about going our own way, then there is no point to deliberation, and by extension, there is no point in going our own way. In other words, a fatalist who “chooses” to go his own way makes no sense. The fatalists and the deliberative MGTOW are mutually exclusive. Trying to be both at the same time is fallacious incoherent gibberish. Care should be taken to make a clear distinction between a MGTOW and a fatalist who wraps his fatalism in MGTOW skin. It’s a trap.
Taylor mentions a number of possible reasons for believing in fatalism. The primary reason for believing in fatalism is a matter of truth. Taylor argues that there is a body of truth concerning the past and that it is natural to suppose that there is a body of truth concerning the future. As such, Taylor says that “there existed a set of true statements about his life, both past and future…[and that]…each of us has but one possible future, described by that totality of statements about oneself in the future tense, each of which happens to be true (Metaphysics 67).” As such, there are two mutually exclusive, but exhaustive classes of statements—all those that are true, and the class of all that are false. Nobody has ever changed the truth-value of any of these statements and nobody ever will. That is all and there are no others. The totality of these statements constitutes a person’s biography.
Notice the similarities between such beliefs about a person’s biography and the biographies of women as hypergamous and as inherently abusive to men via Briffault’s Law. A person does not deviate from these statements that coincide with their actions. To do so would be to render a false statement true or a true statement false—something that would be a logical fallacy and violate the Law of Excluded Middle.
Taylor extrapolates by writing that “there is nothing anybody can do about [the past, and]…by the same token, of the future of everything under the sun. Whatever the future might hold, there is nothing anybody can do about it now. What will happen cannot be altered. The mere fact that it is going to happen guarantees this (Metaphysics 67,68).” Taylor writes that he must “assume certain things are true,” if he is to deliberate, because he finds himself making “certain presuppositions” without which “it would be impossible to deliberate at all (Metaphysics 42).”
For fatalists like Taylor (and some self-proclaimed MGTOWs), the “past ain’t through with” us and neither is the future.
Taylor lays out some important distinctions about deliberation. I largely agree with most of his distinctions. However, two of his distinctions are problematic for the fatalist. Firstly, deliberation is only possible about future things, never about past or present things. Secondly, Taylor writes that “I cannot deliberate about what to do, even though I may not know what I am going to do, unless I believe that it is up to me what I am going to do.” So, for Taylor, if a fatalist is to deliberate, it must be about future things and it must be about things that he believes are up to him.
For men going their own way, marriage is about a future thing and whether or not a man marries is something that is “up to him.”
“If I am within the power of another person, or at the mercy of circumstances over which I have no control…I cannot deliberate about it. I can only wait and see (Taylor, Metaphysics 43).” As such, a fatalist thinks of the future in the way we all think of the past but “…the future is still obscure to us, and we are therefore tempted to invest it, in our imagination, with all sorts of ‘possibilities’ (Taylor, Metaphysics 60).” However, Taylor writes in the same paragraph that the “fatalist resists this temptation, knowing that mere ignorance can hardly give rise to any genuine possibility in things (Metaphysics 60).” Taylor goes on to describe the fatalist as one who views the past and future “the way God is supposed to view them [the past and future] (Metaphysics 60).”
Fatalists think of the future in the way we all think of the past and I’d say that some MGTOWs think of the future in the same way. I’d say that this sort of MGTOW isn’t really a MGTOW. Perhaps a more fitting description would be a fatalist-wrapped-in-MGTOW-skin (FWMGTOW). These FWMGTOWs believe that they are at the mercy of circumstances over which they have no control—the “inherent nature” of women and men, the abusive nature of society towards men as objects of utility, and etc. Perhaps these FWMGTOWs resist the “temptation” to imagine a possible future in which men are not at the mercy of such circumstance because they believe such possibility isn’t genuine. Perhaps such FWMGTOWs believe they have a “God’s-eye point-of-view” and believe that imagined possibility is a sort of sin, a transgression of fallacy.
According to Taylor, the fatalist is smart enough to resist this temptation. The fatalist is supposed to have the truth because the fatalist is supposed to have the “God’s-eye point-of-view.” It is as though Taylor subscribes to the Platonic realm of ideas, saying that to believe the ideal truth is a matter of having the God’s-eye point-of-view. An imagination about possibilities is simply a step removed from the ideal truth, for imagined possibilities are not genuine possibilities. They are a sin of sorts to be cast out of Plato’s Republic.
The “God’s-eye point-of-view” is itself an imagined possibility, but I’ll let that slide, for there isn’t enough room to get into that—at least not in this paper.
Here is the problem for fatalists (and FWMGTOWs). It seems that the first distinction (deliberation being about future things) allows Taylor (and FWMGTOWs) to say that he deliberates about future things, but at the same time, say that this deliberation is merely imaginative ignorance and self-deception about future things—things that are not “up to him.” It is difficult to see how Taylor (if being consistent) would ever be able to say that there is any utility in deliberating about future things. If deliberating is simply a matter of imaginative ignorance—an elaborate self-deception, then Taylor seems committed to saying that deliberation is itself confusion between genuine and imagined possibilities. In fact, deliberating about the utility of possible future things would be mere futility.
The whole process of weighing options in regards to marriage and other similar relationships would be nothing but a sham—an elaborate self-deception. For a man who takes pride in his logic and clear-thinking, the man who goes his own way via fate, rather than choice, has deceived himself about his options and all the work he may have put into deliberating about marriage and other options.
As such, their deliberation about what to do makes no sense. Deliberation is reduced to a sort of routine of motions. Fatalists (and FWMGTOWs) would simply be going through motions, like a machine outputting widgets—making deliberation itself unavoidable. Deliberating about something that one has no ability to change seems like unintelligible deliberation to me. It removes the instrumentality from deliberation. If the result of an elaborate deliberation process nets the same result as not deliberating at all, because whatever happens is unavoidable, then deliberation is useless…and so is the process of weighing and making a cost-benefit analysis of marriage. As such, fatalists (and FWMGTOWs) have to admit that they are either incoherent about deliberation, or that deliberation is useless.
I’m not at all denigrating MGTOWs. I suppose I am one. I simply don’t fall into the trap of invincible fatalism. I don’t take solace in believing that things will not change. I don’t believe that things simply are the way they are because things cannot be otherwise. Care should be taken to not fall into this fatalist trap, for if you do fall into the trap, much of what you say becomes incoherent gibberish. If you decided to go your own way because you are at the mercy of circumstances beyond your control, then what did you deliberate about? What did you choose? Nothing. You yourself would be a circumstance out of your own control. Therefore, any deliberation you may have done to make a decision about going your own way makes no sense.
If the past ain’t through with us, then what the hell is this thing that we are doing–going our own way?