Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Alpha Mystique: Why I'm Not an Alpha And You Probably Aren't Either

So I've received some attention and good reviews from the site In Mala Fide, which has a lot of interesting and varied articles about the nature of modern manhood. (This is a really good one.)

This blog was my introduction to the (rather unfortunately named) "manosphere," the blog groups basically concerned with the idea that modern men are gelded and oppressed by feminists who have become the dominant force in society. (I suppose the name "He-Man Woman Hater's Club" was taken.)

The term "alpha" is bandied around a lot -- referring generally to dominant, confident males. Guys like Tucker Max and Mystery, who have dedicated their lives to randomly fucking as many women as possible, are often considered to be exemplary "alphas." One writer on the subject postulates that an alpha male is all about self-gratification and dominance and does whatever he wants, whenever he wants.

Recently, shockwaves have been running through the "manosphere" -- sex-and-alcohol icon Tucker Max announced in an article in Forbes magazine that he was giving up drinking and fucking around, and had taken up yoga and psychoanalysis and gotten a girlfriend. (I guess he hit his fornicating "max" as I postulated in another post.)

The Forbes article is rather unfortunately couched in self-pitying Oprah-speak, but most of the points in it are valid and can't really be argued.

I thought it was pretty self-evident that running around drunk all the time, fornicating randomly, is pretty much the OPPOSITE of "Alpha" behavior.

It's like nobody every bothered to look up the word "alpha" on Wikipedia.

This is from the Wikpedia article about chimpanzees:

The Alpha male is the highest-ranking male who controls the group and maintains order during any disputes. In chimpanzee society the ‘dominant male’ does not always have to be the largest or strongest male but rather the most manipulative and political male who can influence the goings on within a group. Male chimpanzees typically attain dominance through cultivating allies who will provide support for that individual in case of future ambitions for power.

So basically, if you don't have a "pack" you are leading, you're not an "alpha."

Equally misused is the word "beta," when referring to the submissive, ineffectual modern man -- the beta, in animal hierchies, actually has a very important position:

A beta animal is an animal that is second-in-command to the reigning alpha and will act as a new alpha animal if the old alpha dies.

It's the omega animal that is last in line for food and sex. (But of course referring to "omega males" just brings to mind the fucking awesome Charleton Heston movie OMEGA MAN.)

I quote from the website of former bodyguard and correction officer Marc MacYoung,, in the section on alpha behavior:

“Being an alpha has to do with one’s involvement in a group. More specifically, it’s about helping develop and maintaining a group dynamic, hierarchy and the functionality of the group. And this not just for your own benefit.

Being an alpha is about leadership and taking care of others.”

So doing “whatever you want, whenever you want” is pretty much the opposite of being a leader. There are a complex web of responsibilities and relationships that are navigated to get to that point.

You know who does whatever they want, whenever they want? Spoiled Western college kids with absentee fathers.

You know who does what they NEED to do?

Alpha males.

ALL people in a position of power or leadership reach that position by navigating a series of responsibilities and relationships with their superiors, their subordinates, their rivals, and their enemies. Sometimes violence and immorality will get to that point, sometimes not; but pure self-indulgence and irresponsibility?

No way.

Yeah, sure, once you ACHIEVE a position of power and responsibility, some self-indulgence probably comes with it — of course you get the best women and so forth. But that’s a RESULT, not a CAUSE.

This all has nothing to do with morals, being an asshole, polygamy or monogamy, ruling with an iron fist, whatever; sometimes that’s an expedient to achieving the goals of leadership, sometimes not. They got to their position by dealing intelligently and effectively (perhaps brutally, perhaps not) with threats to the good of the group they were in, not by fucking around indulging their every whim.

Then there's the issue of the fact that it's not really too difficult to LOSE alpha status:

“Before you can understand what an alpha is, you first need to understand something about the nature of power. Namely: Power is granted to you by the group. You don’t have power unless other people give it to you.

Here’s the catch, the group gives you power on the condition that you look out for their needs. That’s the deal. You get extra power to serve them. If you violate this trust then you will be stripped of your power by the group.”

One website mentions Caesar, John Gotti, and Pablo Escobar as classic alpha males, but they're also good examples of guys who lost power by not serving the group. Caesar was assassinated by the Senators. Gotti doomed himself by pissing off longtime lieutenant Sammy the Bull. Pablo Escobar was chased down by police hit squads and vigilante groups when his reprisals became too brutal. Certain sources even have Atilla being murdered by a wife!

And you think those guys spent a lot of time doing whatever they wanted when they were young? Not working hard to establish themselves in their particular spheres?


Too much self-indulgence and not enough leadership will eventually get your ass kicked by the people you used to lead — that’s true of everybody from Tony Montana in SCARFACE to Muammar Gadaffi.

Blaming "civilization" misses the point entirely -- "civilization" is just the order that we have adopted and the power we have given to our "alphas."

Now of course -- the metaphor begins to grind down -- human society is a lot more complicated and stratified than monkey society. And these guys are ignoring the fact that there are "alpha females" in the animal kingdom -- elephants, for example, are a matriarchal society, and it's common in primates like bonobos as well. Female chimps sometimes choose (or oust) the alpha male. Alphas do mate with one female, also -- the concept of the "alpha pair" is common.

We have in human society a lot of unfortunate examples of "insecure alphas" -- betas thrust into leadership positions who clearly have no idea how to fucking lead. (Yeah, you know who I'm talking about. The last two American presidents, and many others.) And clearly, the supposed "alphas" -- leaders of the world, are WAY too busy self-gratifying and not leading. That's why the streets are full of rioters all over the world.

That's why guys like Tucker Max and the PUAs (and me!) are (were?) basically miserable -- they've succeeded at nothing other than getting drunk and getting laid. They only get respect from other fuckups. That kind of rootless fucking never led to any kind of dominance, except over "beta" college-age chicks. (I suppose you could argue that Tucker Max and Mystery have a pack of fans and followers on the Internet, and Mystery has his students.)

Basically, it's beta behavior. Jockeying for position in the pack.

I was kind of the "alpha" in my community in Vodkaberg, at least in the early years -- I had some respect as a teacher, as a foreigner, among the foreigners as a guy who knew the nightlife and lots of girls.

But it was more like a zombie movie -- I was the guy who was leading the group not because I was a natural leader, but because I was less helpless and hysterical than the others.

If we want to define the kind of nomadic, rootless, selfish drinking and fucking that characterizes that behavior and dream life of so many of the guys in this world, we could instead look to the idea of the "lone wolf" --

In the animal kingdom, lone wolves are typically older wolves driven from the pack, perhaps by an alpha male, or young adults in search of new territory. Rather than openly challenge the dominance of the pack leaders, many young wolves between the ages of 1 and 4 years leave their family to search for a pack of their own. Some wolves will simply remain lone wolves; as such, these lone wolves may be stronger, more aggressive and far more dangerous than the average wolf that is a member of a pack. However, lone wolves have difficulty hunting, as wolves’ favorite prey, large ungulates, are nearly impossible for a single wolf to bring down alone. Instead, lone wolves will generally hunt smaller animals and scavenge carrion.

So, I make no bones about it -- I left America because I was scared of responsibilities, and was frightened of the "rules of the pack" and wanted to go out on my own and indulge myself.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it sure as fuck isn't "alpha" behavior. Better to be a lone wolf than an "insecure alpha!"

So basically -- any guy with a family or a business is probably a LOT more alpha than a guy with no responsibilities, just by definition.

Take it from a guy who spent many years hunting smaller animals and scavenging carrion.


Anonymous said...

we could draw a line between "alpha status" and "alpha behavior" also.

John said...

When ever I see guys writing that they're alphas, I'm reminded that true alphas probably dont need to be constantly announcing it.

Lone wolf is definitely better than insecure alpha.

Anonymous said...

We could also draw the line between absentee fathers and the overbearing mothers that raised their offspring. No wonder some of the manosphere hate women. Their only frame of reference came from their mommies telling them that they were the big boys of the house from the time they were toddlers. While their mommies did a number on them and took on multiple boyfriends and new husbands. Mommy issues, the lot of them.

Anonymous said...

X, are you saying you're not an alpha, then? Are you a beta, omega, zeta, delta, epsilon? ha

Anonymous said...

I always thought the "ant" vs. "grasshopper" analogy was better than alpha / beta, anyway.

Anonymous said...

when a beta turns into a mangina.

Balkancynic said...

Eye opening blog entry ETX!

English Teacher X said...

Dude a lone wolf isn't a mangina! "stronger and more aggressive than the average pack animal." AWOOOOO!

Anonymous said...

Let's make a movie called "Revenge of the Manginas" where the bad guys are top-hat wearing pickup artists, and the good guys are a bunch of normal guys who don't feel like randomly fucking drunk club sluts.

dougray said...

The "lone wolf" thing might dovetail with another expression that's entering the lingo, "Gamma Male" --

article about it here --

from the article:
"Like their rat counterparts, [Gamma humans are] not much for following but show little inclination to lead. In a way, it's surprising that there's not more recognition of the Gamma personality because there's a whole Gamma subculture right in front of our eyes. As dominant loners, whether rough-hewn or refined, they're inclined to be individualists.

"As people, they tend to assume that other people are like themselves. Consequently, they tend to see the leader-follower bond as a little odd or degrading. Some are more sophisticated then others, but their psychological profile inclines them to look on leaders with suspicion and followers with disdain."

Anonymous said...

a mangina might be useful out there in the desert, X!

English Teacher X said...

Gamma male! I like the sound of that!

John said...

Hm, lone wolf or "alpha" who isn't really an alpha leader and doesn't really have a pack? Let me think.

steve said...

Very sociological post X, quite a diversion of course !

I have two thoughts on this.

First, I also was not aware of the proper meaning of the terms and had assumed the meaning was as per the common usage of the term.

Second, I can't speak for everyone, but I think you have mis-interpreted the reason for your popularity (internet popularity anyhow).

It is not due to your readers looking up to you from the hierarchical position of beta, omega males etc, but more looking over at you as an inspiration for those who follow a hedonistic philosophy.

Also it should be emphasized (even though you did mention it) that drawing direct parallels from animal society to human society is a little simplistic.

For example, there is no self-made baboon who can have his every whim and desire taken care of because he won large at the track.

Social animals need community to help with survival, whereas things like wealth and position can ameliorate those needs in humans.

Granted though that I think your point was more of a reflective nod to how you have spent your own time and if that behaviour was worthwhile or not.

But even in this regard, I don't think your conclusion is right, since it still relies on the premise that we want to have sex with nice girls to feel powerful or dominant, within society.

Personally I just like having sex with nice girls for the enjoyment. No one would assume a sociological reason for me enjoying a wank, so I am surprised that they all think that every attempt at sex with a nice girl is indicative of some underlying manifestation.

But then again, maybe i completely mis-interpreted the entire post ;-)

English Teacher X said...

No, I think you got it, and your points are well-taken. I certainly don't want to say I REGRET all the stuff I did; merely to say it's not really the be-all end-all of masculinity.

Twenty said...

Two things:

1.) I think you're confusing, and the PUA-o-sphere is sloppy about, "real" alpha status and alpha messaging. The PUA schtick is: "Women want to mate with the local alpha ... and while it's hard to *be* the local alpha, it's pretty easy to fool the dumb bints with a few mannerisms and behaviors." So actual alpha status gets conflated with alpha status *in the eyes of one or more women* with the *sexual fruits of alpha status*. Nothing (or not much) that you wrote is wrong, just a little besides the point.

2.) Two "rather unfortunately"s in one piece? That's a 5-yard verbal tic penalty, mister!

Despite the negative and argumentative tone of this comment, I enjoy and look forward to your stuff. Enioy the Kingdom, and hope things work out with the Russkie.

English Teacher X said...

hehe, 5 yard verbal penalty indeed, I think I actually edited out a third one.

English Teacher X said...

And I wouldn't say that was a very negative or argumentative comment. Not like calling me a mangina. Dude, that's cold. . .

Anonymous said...

Dude, your a mangina! Just callin it like I see it, X. You dipped into some pussy you like, and now you PAY for everything, carry bitches PURSES, basically do everything backasswards. Lone wolf, gamma, what ever you wanna see yourself, your just a mangina. Guess the middle east pussified your ass. No real man would ever carry some hos purse.

English Teacher X said...

Mother! Don't taunt me like that here where everyone can see!

Anonymous said...

This is fun, let's all become known by the phonetic alphabet. Alpha, beta, charlie, etc. Use two like they do on aircraft registrations. From now on I am "Alpha Whiskey" instead of "Anonymous". I propose that the "Senor Anonymous" with "mangina" shite, become "Sierra Foxtrot". It could stand for "Stupid Fuck"....or it could not. Perhaps it could be his initials; "Stanley Fud"? X, you are now Echo Tango Xray - you get 3 letters because it's your blog. Over and out.

English Teacher X said...

Foxtrot-Uniform-Charlie-Kilo that guy!

goat said...

Wow great post.

You can find peace in this type of resignation. No shame in not being an 'alpha'... To some it may be better power to have over themselves rather than power over others.

Different paths have different rewards I suppose.

Anonymous said...

Damn X! You hit the comments jackpot. Congrats... Popular topic.

I'll leave the comedy to everyone else. They pretty much covered it;)

I've read a lot of the same type of material, and the male hierarchy psychology is definitely amongst the most interesting.

You wrote a good breakdown of it, inclusive of your observations.

What I found very helpful to understand the seeming contradictions in what an alpha is supposed to be, is the transactional psychology model which acknowledges two different types of alpha and two different types of beta personalities (luckily, I had read about it before I ever got turned on to the manoshpere material - check out Robert Anton Wilson's 'Prometheus Rising' for an excellent and thoroughly entertaining overview of it - mixed in with some Timothy Leary Psychology. All around, RAW is a great author, with intelligence that's off-the-charts, that I know you would very much like).

Anyway, the two types of Alpha, according to transactional psychology, are the "I'm Okay you're Okay" alpha, which is the natural leader who aspires to take care of his pack, often comprised of betas and other friendly but lesser alphas, and the other is the "I'm okay, you're not okay" alpha who is much more confrontational / who gives a fuck oriented and more often pack-less or a leader of lesser confrontational alphas instead of betas like the first type. Betas generally avoid this guy.

I'm not sure where the loner nice guy alpha falls in terms of the model, but it sounds like the "I'm okay, you're okay" alpha could certainly find himself a bit of a loner, especially if its situational in the case of ESL work, but might tend to pick of straggelrs as you did in Russia.
"Alpha" status is certainly relative to your companions, an example being the "alpha nerd" in a group of other nerds. But isn't being a nerd the new cool? I have no idea... Chachi out.

Odds said...

In the Manosphere, most bloggers adhere to Heartiste's definition of "Alpha".

An alpha is defined by "how hot are the women he can attract, how strong is that attraction for him, and how many of those women find him attractive."

There are lots of ways to define alpha, beta, etc. But most bloggers that visit InMalaFide like that definition the best. When they talk about alphas, they mean Heartiste's alpha.

King A said...

Excellent observation, well said, and very good site. You deserve a greater voice in the counterrevolution. (Until a more apt name than "manosphere" or "MRA" gains currency, I refuse to use the gay euphemisms.)

The current ethology -- alpha, beta, omega -- suffices for its limited purposes with regard to the sexual marketplace, but you are correct to go back to basics. Much of the tendency to redefine these categories is an attempt at 1) the self-aggrandizement of chumps of no accomplishment, 2) the mimicry of one's superiors for purposes of deception, and 3) the repositioning of social rank to dignify one's asocial tendencies, elevating anti-alpha behavior to its own special virtue.

Everyone online is a self-proclaimed alpha or rising beta. But if you think there are short-cuts to the status (i.e., enthralled by the impostor strategies of PUA "game" charlatans and nothing more), you've already demonstrated your relative rank. Nature gives us apex predators, pack leaders, and "kings of the jungle" whose force of will binds inferiors together. She also gives us mimics, scavengers, parasites, nocturnal thieves, saboteurs, and drones whose weaknesses are finessed into a survivable modus vivendi. The least aware among the social dynamic want to wedge their antisocial predilections into "alpha" for purposes of false dignity. It's a very human tendency, and one that should be disabused at every turn if there is to be any integrity in the idea of "alpha."

Anonymous said...

you aren't a fan of the more racist post on In Mala Fide are you?