The Geeks vs. the Jocks


Why it's Hard to Elect Liberals

(Version 1.0)

Copyright © 2005 c.e., Isaac Bonewits

This essay is the result of meditations directly linked to the process of writing my book, The Pagan Man. I'm not claiming that all Neopagans or very many Mesopagans (mixed Christian-Pagan believers) will agree with me, but these are my conclusions rooted in my religious beliefs and polytheological speculations, informed by my research into men's issues in the history of Western culture.

Being a Pagan man means, among many other things, fighting for what one thinks is right and true, even if one belongs to a religious and political minority, so I spend a great deal of my time thinking about political issues and taking what actions I can to support my beliefs, including writing political essays rooted in my religious beliefs. Let me point out my biases immediately for those of you who are unfamiliar with my writings. I believe that those who have stolen the term "conservative" as an excuse to glorify greed over generosity, competition over cooperation, individuality over community, exploitation over stewardship, and violence over peace, do not have a "divine right" to rule either America or the rest of the planet, no matter what their scriptures say. If I wanted to live in a power-mad theocracy, there are several Middle Eastern nations to which I could move (and where they would quickly kill me), so obviously I don't support the Religious Reich in America any more than I do the jihadists of the Middle East.

To this Neopagan, it's not moral for some people to be obscenely wealthy while others starve, to use up most of the world's resources to give a tiny fraction of its population a luxurious life, or to destroy entire ecosystems, and perhaps the Earth's very ability to sustain life, in order to fatten the secret bank accounts of people who already have more money than they will ever be able to spend. To anyone who pays attention, it is also clear that those working class and middle class folks who dream of being wealthy someday, and who thus vote to support the policies beloved of multinational corporations and the super-rich, are being bamboozled by clever propaganda--for 99% of them will die only slightly better-off than their parents and grandparents, if not worse.

Some relevant ancient history

Indo-European myths (those of the Paleopagan Celts, Germans, Norse, Latins, Greeks, Slavs, etc.) commonly describe social and cultural conflict between the members of a "clergy" caste/class, who were the intellectuals, artists, judges, priests and priestesses, etc., and those of the "warrior" caste/class, who defended their tribes and attacked others (see my essay Indo-European Paleopaganism and its Clergy for an overview, and consult the works of Georges Dumezil and his followers for details on this).

As I say in The Pagan Man:

This time period (from about 2000 BCE to 500 - 1000 CE, depending on what IE territory you are looking at) is as far back as we can trace the war between the geeks and the jocks that goes on even today. The results of this conflict varied in different places.

In Ancient Rome, the warriors became more important than the clergy and most of the latter became governmental functionaries or political appointees. This seems to have gone along with the "historization" of Roman myths, whereby various deities became described as mortals in the stories (see Archaic Roman Religion, by Dumezil).

In the Celtic cultures, the clergy and the warriors seemed to have been in a state of balance (in that neither side was depicted in the myths as more important than the other), at least until the Romans arrived in the first century BCE, which is when we first begin to have detailed knowledge of the Celts. Julius Caesar knew that the traveling members of the druid classes (mostly bards, storytellers, and visiting judges) of Hispania (what we now know as Spain and Portugal) had made the Empire's conquest of their Celtic territory harder, by warning tribes further away from the battle lines of what was to come--"Don't trust these Roman guys, they don't fight fair!" Logically enough, when Julius Caesar decided to invade Gaul he also decided to kill every druid he got his hands on, unless they were willing to become "native guides" for him and his army.

Over the next century or so, the Romans slaughtered members of the druidic class (throughout Gaul and the parts of Britain that they conquered) by the hundreds and the thousands, wiping out the native intelligentsia before conquering the tribes. Later, the Roman Church was to wage a centuries-long battle against the Irish and Welsh druids, finally converting, killing, or banishing the last of them by 600 CE or so.

The Romans weren't able to conquer the Germanic tribes, but the job of suppressing the clergy class was done by the Germans themselves. That is to say, the competition between the clergy and the warrior classes in the Germanic/Norse cultures was "won" by the warriors. By the early medieval period, Germanic Paleopagan clergy spent most of their time attending to local shrines dedicated to specific deities. The majority of religious activities were led by the male or female heads of households, or tribal chieftains acting as clergy. There were skalds (equivalent to the Celtic bards or poets) attached to the households of tribal leaders, much as the fili (poets) later were in medieval Ireland. There were some traveling soothsayers/prophets, usually women, called volvas who practiced a form of divination and oracular trance possession called seidh. This eventually became associated predominantly with women and effeminate men, because the magical techniques usually involved passivity and receptivity rather than assertive magical action.

The Germanic tribes known as the Angles, the Saxons, the Jutes, as well as the Scandinavian Vikings took these attitudes with them when they conquered what became the British Isles. Magical and spiritual matters (other than battle magic) was considered to be of interest only to women and those weak intellectual men the warriors kept in their places as poets or bookkeepers.

Later in The Pagan Man I point out:

Among the Norse and Germanic peoples, passive/receptive homosexuality was looked down upon by the warriors, while active partners of such men were given free rein. It was "unmanly" to be passive and receptive, which is why the seidh system of shamanic divination was considered an unfit occupation for males (despite the story about Odin being taught seidh by Freyja). Diana Paxson, a leader in the Norse Neopagan community, has these important notes to make in an essay entitled Sex, Status, and Seidh: Homosexuality and Germanic Religion:

"Late Norse homophobia seems to be inextricably connected to late Norse misogyny. Femaleness and Magic were both severely repressed and thrust into the dark, chthonic realm of the unconscious, which therefore became a place of horror and fear. This represents a major shift from the situation in most Pagan cultures, which recognized and valued chthonic [underworld] and liminal [borderline] power, and saw in it a necessary balancing aspect of spirituality. Perhaps the degree to which horror of 'woman's magic' is expressed in the Saga period provides a measure of the prestige in which women's spiritual power was held in earlier times

Clearly in a traditional culture the criminality of sexual behavior depends less on the gender of the partners than on their relative social status-their freedom to refuse. Whether any act (of sex or magic) is considered shameful depends on the status of those with whom it is typically associated in that society. If women are defined by a culture as submissive, and if one considers women inferior, then it becomes shameful for a person of socially superior status (a male) to submit sexually."

Much of this is related to mammalian power and status displays. The "top dog" is such because he has the power to mate, forcibly if he wishes, with all the other dogs, male and female alike. The ancient conflict between the warriors and the clergy castes explains more than just why modern Pagan men might be ambivalent about Pagan priesthood and why Germanic/Anglo/Latin cultures are so homophobic. It also explains why the general American, British, and Latin American public don't elect many liberals or most women to high office, and why male homophobia towards gay men is qualitatively different than that towards lesbians.

"Effete intellectual snobs"

Despite loud claims to the contrary by conservative pundits, most intellectuals are, in fact, political and social liberals. Liberalism requires long-term thinking, looking at complex solutions to complex problems, and paying attention to group welfare rather than just individual welfare. These mental skills are all different from warrior-thinking, which is why university environments throughout the Western world are full of liberals, except for the obligatory campus jocks and contrarian intellectuals. Dualism, the belief that all topics have only two, completely irreconcilable, sides to them, then pushes members of both the liberal and the conservative groups to ever more-extreme positions.

Intellectuals in Germanic/Anglo/Latin cultures are only allowed to be "under" the warriors, never "on top." So when a politician talks about the need for a sensitive analysis of complex issues, rather than just hitting The Enemy over the head with clubs, swords, or bombs, he is instantly suspected of not being "tough" enough to lead the warriors--not just because "tough men don't think hard" (as amply demonstrated by George W. Bush) but because on a very deep subconscious level, the top warrior is the top dog who gets to force the other males and all females to be passive receptacles. Being led by an intellectual or a woman is an insult to their manhood because it violates the pack order they see as based on implied or overt force.

The few public intellectuals who have ever been elected President of the United States, such as Thomas Jefferson, Franklin Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy (all of whom, by an odd coincidence, are seen today as having been "liberals"), managed to bury their intellects under tough images, enabling them to be seen as "smart" rather than intellectual. Being a smart man is considered okay in America and England, because it is associated with becoming wealthy, which is almost as manly as being a warrior (inheriting wealth is somewhat suspicious, because you do it as a son, who is a dependent, not a ruler). Benjamin Franklin, who started out being seen as a smart man for the inventions that made him wealthy, made the "mistake" of becoming America's first and most famous scientist, and thus an intellectual. Even worse, he became a diplomat, the one occupation for which warriors have the most contempt (because they sometimes prevent wars and thus diminish opportunities for glory). All of this led to him becoming what has been called, "The most famous President of the United States who was never President of the United States."

When a smart man tricks his way into the White House (usually by being seen as "a good old boy") and accidentally reveals himself to be an intellectual, he becomes the target of rabid political campaigns designed to drive him from office or prevent him from being re-elected, as the United States saw with Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

The terror of feminine power

So it now becomes obvious why women find it so hard to be elected to high office in the Anglo/Germanic-Latin cultures. Women warriors in the ancient Indo-European cultures were objects of both fascination and dread to the male warriors. When they were seen as both mighty warriors and highly heterosexual, such as the Irish goddess Morrigan or the British one Brigantia, they were revered and even loved, for they still "needed" men sexually even if they didn't need them for protection.

Consider the character of Eowyn in Tolkein's Lord of the Rings. During the earlier parts of the story she established her feminine credentials as a nurse for her father Theodin, then spent several chapters mooning after the unattainable but very manly Aragorn. When she finally rides off to battle with the men (still being womanly by caretaking the hobbit/child substitute), her dramatic action in slaying the worst of the evil warrior-wizards "who could not be slain by a man" is acceptable and the audience bursts into applause. Afterwards, she is "fixed up with" another brave male warrior who will go back home with her to rule the nation her father bequeathed to her.

Why, by the way, is the King of the Nazgul as malevolent a sub-character as Tolkein could devise? Because to warriors, wizards who use magic to "cheat" in battle are contemptible intellectuals, reversing the natural order of things by "topping" the warriors. This is probably why Gandalf the White, supposedly the greatest living wizard on the side of the Forces of Good, actually does so little magic in the story--what he does is either harmless entertainment or directed exclusively against magical threats which are unnatural to begin with. After all, he drove the dragons away with his magical laser beams, why couldn't he have driven the giant elephants away? ("Because he was wearing a dress?" asks Phaedra.)

But in contrast to "safe" women warriors, the Amazons of ancient myth were tough warriors who didn't need men at all, either because they were lesbians or because they "used" men for their sperm before killing or driving them away. Women like them were despised as evil, unnatural monsters who were to be raped and/or killed, not followed into battle. Hence we see why homophobic men just sneer at "fem" lesbians, actively hate "dykes," and are often obsessed sexually with bisexual women.

So for women to succeed in politics, they must seen as tough (but not too tough) fighters and as emphatically heterosexual mothers and/or subordinate lovers-not equals-of powerful men. Then, as long as they are willing to be told what to do by the male leaders of the warrior class, they are acceptable and can even be presented as "proof" of how unbiased the warriors are towards women (think Margaret Thatcher, Indira Ghandi, and Golda Meir). One of the reasons that so many political conservatives are so rabid about Hillary Clinton is precisely because she is "too tough" and is not subordinate enough to her husband.

All of this also relates to the fear and dread that the warrior class has towards the feminist movement, for it threatens to put more women into "unnatural" positions of power over them.

Vive la France?

But what about the French? How did they escape from so much of this hatred of intellectuals and its intertwined homophobia? Why are their politics so liberal and their attitudes towards homosexuality so blasé? The answer lies in the classes that most intellectuals and warriors forget about except when they want something from them: the producers and the serfs, or as we think of them these days, the "middle and lower classes."

"Awake ye sons of France to glory, hark, hark, what myriads bid ye rise! Behold your wives and grandsires hoary, behold their tears and hear their cries. Shall hateful tyrants mischief breeding, with hireling hosts (a ruffian band), affright and desolate the land, while Peace and Liberty lie bleeding? To arms! To arms, ye bold! The avenging sword unsheath! March on, march on, all hearts resolved--on victory or death!"

This is one version of what became the French national anthem, "Le Marseillaise," in the 18th century. Many different versions of the song were written. These are the English lyrics I learned as a child and still love (no, I can't sing it in French). Compare it with "The Internationale," which was to become the rallying cry of union workers and Marxists in the 20th century:

"Arise ye prisoners of starvation, arise ye wretched of the earth. Justice thunders condemnation, there's a better world in birth. No more tradition's chains shall bind us, arise ye slaves, no more in thrall. The world shall rise on new foundations--ye have been naught, ye shall be all."

In 1789, over 25,000,000 French people were peasants barely surviving in the countryside. A few thousand members of the clergy and warrior classes lived in opulent luxury, supported by a small middle class of shopkeepers and servants, mostly in the cities. This wasn't all that different, except perhaps in the population extremes, from the situation in much of the rest of Europe. So what happened?

There are many, many ways to explain the French Revolution (a good starting point for research is the Liberty, Equality, Fraternity: Exploring the French Revolution website), but here's an aspect of it that has occurred to me. For 4,000 years the Indo-European clergy and the warriors were allies, however uncomfortably. In the 1780s, however, French intellectuals who were just plain tired of the Church's control of science and philosophy, "betrayed" their religious brothers in the clergy class and made an alliance with the producer and serf classes to overthrow both the Church and the warrior class (the nobility). They actually succeeded, mostly because of the sheer numbers of warm (lower class) bodies they could throw at the warriors. The intellectuals then proceeded to make a mess of things, mostly because they couldn't make the leap from generating fine-sounding theories to leading a nation of ignorant and uneducated people, while trying to keep the warriors who had risen from the lower classes under control. They even tried to make a Mesopagan version of Roman Paleopaganism the new faith of France!

Eventually, the Church and the warrior class managed to regain much of their former power, aided by the new merchant class, but something remarkable had happened. Intellectuals had become national heroes and the French people continued to consider artists, poets, scientists, and philosophers as important members of society who should be listened to. Even more, atheism and agnosticism became respectable attitudes, which considerably weakened the hold of dualism on public thinking. The ultimate results, as far as this discussion is concerned? Intellectuals became social, political, and cultural leaders and "liberal" political, economic, social, and sexual attitudes gradually became the norm. France defined itself as the "civilized" country and got more than a bit snooty towards other nations and cultures.

That is why, despite the honorable history of French military men (who won half of the American Revolution for us, after all) when most Americans and British people think of French men and the French nation, they think of them as "perverts," who reversed the natural order by letting a bunch of pointy-headed intellectuals boss the warriors around and ruin their protection racket. Certainly many people have never forgiven the French for making religion subordinate to the needs of the people, or for weakening the memetic power of dualism, so they insist that the French "must be" immoral and degenerate. (For information on memes, go to If it's offline when you go there, wait a few days and try again. For some odd reason, this most subversive of websites tend to get kicked offline a lot)

May the best man win?

Can you see why a presidential candidate such as John Kerry, who was complex, subtle, slow to decide his positions on things and--horror of horrors!-who even spoke French, was doomed from the beginning? The warrior and merchant classes who rule America, along with their allies in the Religious Reich, have worked hard to promote a dualist, anti-intellectual culture of short-sighted, simplistic thinking. If the phrase "ruling classes" shocks or offends you, I'm sorry--were you one of those people who fantasizes that America has no classes? Or that anyone mentioning the existence of classes is "trying to whip up class warfare," rather than just mentioning the centuries-old class war already going on?

In any event, our rulers' memetic efforts, rooted in Christian dualism and Anglo/Germanic homophobia, have successfully created one of the most virulently anti-intellectual cultures in human history. Being able to associate any other kind of thinking than their own with effeminacy, weakness, and the Forces of Evil is a remarkable accomplishment of memetic engineering in social, political, and religious control, which is why dualism has been so popular with the Christian churches and Islam for so long. And then, after centuries of dualistic religious, political, and philosophical systems ruling the world, us darned Neopagans have to show up and start promoting complexity, sensuality, and personal religious freedom. No wonder the members of the Religious Reich hate us so much!

So here's a Clue-by-Four for the Democratic, Green, and Libertarian Parties in the USA: Start doing some memetic engineering of your own! Start spreading slogans that praise complexity, the wisdom of thinking before acting, and the equivalence of all fundamentalisms. Start recalling the heroic images of the early political activists who fought for the working classes and the poor.

Start promoting your candidates as "heroes," but not as "warriors" in the traditional military sense. Don't make the mistake of promoting your liberal or libertarian candidates as warriors, because those voters who identify with the military mindset will always be more loyal to the warrior class and its conservative leaders than to the welfare of the general population as a whole (hence the "Swiftboat Veterans for Propaganda"). "Renegade" military men who criticize the military--for anything, ever, but especially if their claims are justified--are the kiss of death for the veterans' vote.
If your candidates were born rich, emphasize how they increased the family fortune by successfully competing in the marketplace with tough opponents. Promote your candidates as "smart" men who know how to use the knowledge and talents of their intellectual subordinates, whom they keep firmly under control. This won't work for female candidates, unfortunately, because American women, like Islamic women must never be seen as "dominating" a room with lots of men in it. This is why Hillary Clinton is so hated by right-wing extremists in America, and why women in Islamic governments are targets of assassinations.

Above all, fight dualism! Get your memes into the memepool with mainstream and underground journalists making fun of black-or-white thinking habits. Those habits are precisely why political mudslinging works: if an opposing candidate can be shown to have anything wrong with him or her at all, then everything about them must be wrong and "their side" must be The Forces of Evil. Stop letting the media use the phrase, "both sides of the question," and start insisting on discussing all sides of any given problem instead. Demand that the cable and internet news political discussion shows have at least three or four political viewpoints represented.

The so-called "culture wars" are actually memewars between two major memeplexes (dualism and pluralism) and a host of other, smaller memeplexes, all striving to become the dominant mental species that rules the world's minds. This is why Islamic Jihadists and Christian Reconstructionists/Dominionists have more in common with each other than either group has with their mainstream co-religionists, and why those who would save the world from terrorists and fascists alike had best start looking at the memes they unconsciously hold.

The Pagan Man: Priests, Warriors, Hunters, and Drummers is published by Citadel Press (Kensington Press). The ISBN is 0-8065-2697-1. It is distributed by all the major book distributors. Autographed copies can be ordered for $18US (postpaid to USA/Can) by clicking this button:

Copyright © 2005 c.e., Isaac Bonewits. This text file may NOT be freely distributed on the Net, as it contains material from a forthcoming book. If you would like to be on one or more of Isaac Bonewits’ emailing lists, click here to get subscription information.

Is having access to this material worth a few dollars, punts, pounds, or euros to you? Click the button to make a fast and secure donation to Isaac and Phaedra Bonewits, so they can afford to keep this website going and growing! Or you can suggest to your local Occult/New Age bookstore that they bring him and/or her out for one of his or her colorful presentations, or you could visit their Blatant Hucksterism Page, or you could just send money to them at PO Box 1010, Nyack, NY, USA 10960-8010.

Sign up for PayPal and start accepting credit card payments instantly.

Isaac & Phae say:

We use PayPal and we recommend it!

Back to the T.O.C. of
Isaac Bonewits’ Homepage

Pagan T-shirts ~ Mousepads ~ Coffee Mugs ~ Wall Clocks
Take a look at the graphic designs Isaac has available at his CafePress store!
(P. E.) Isaac Bonewits, Adr.Em./ADF
Snailmail: PO Box 1010, Nyack, NY, USA 10960-1010
This webpage design is copyright © 2001 c.e., Isaac Bonewits
Most recently updated: August 5, 2006 (advertising)
This page’s URL is
My Homepage URL is

. .  . . !