A conversation with war reporter Sebastian Junger. Plus: the brilliant economist Tyler Cowen on bank runs, crypto scams, and mind-bending AI.
I have to agree with Sebastian. I grew up very upper middle class. Dad was surgeon. Had nothing but private schools, the yacht and hunt club growing up.
At 18 I enlisted in the Army. Took the riskiest MOS I saw, recon specialist.
I wont get into all the details of basic training and AIT but I will say that I came out of it a different person. (Though I pray to God, to this very day, that I never have to do another 25 mile road march with a full combat load in July). I got out of the Army after 4 years and then got called back for Desert Storm out of the IRR. Never got to see combat. The war ended too quickly for that. If I am honest, that still irks me. Its like being a bench warmer.
I went home after Desert Storm and started college. Two things...
1. I was astounded at the level of immaturity of my peers in school compared to myself and to the peers the same age I had just left in the Army.
2. I am convinced, to this very day, that the most destructive and the most dangerous kind of man is one that has never proven himself to himself, that has never been tested. Those are the guys with massive insecurities that manifest themselves in antisocial and violent ways. Once you have been tested and come through you know how strong and how capable your really are and you can face life bravely because you know you can endure or overcome whatever is thrown at you. You can approach life with an internal confidence that in turn makes it easier to do.
I’m heartened and gratified by the sense that Bari Weiss, by presenting the Witch Trials of JK Rowling in defense of authentic feminism, and the exploits of Sebastian Junger in defense of authentic masculinity, is resisting the push to conflate and androgynize (if that’s a word) the sexes. These Free Press offerings commit to defending and celebrating our biological differences and strengths. Mars and Venus - Vive la difference!
Biden's budget is almost $7 trillion. Note that, before Covid spending hit. Trump's was at $4 trillion.
This is lunacy Don't blame the Fed for this. They didn't help by keeping interest rates abnormally low and pushing people into riskier investments but we have a government which is reckless and insane. Our national debt is at $31.6 trillion. This is breathtakingly stupid.
No surprise when America is led by a corrupt, senile imbecile. If the adults really took charge, the party would be over. And still maybe not in time.
Fantastic interview, but the constant use of the word "right" is like nails on a chalkboard. I don't know who started this trend, but I wish it would go away. People no longer want to seem like they no more than anyone else, we must be egalitarian. But why listen to someone if they truly have no more insight than the listener or the interviewer? Please help this trend die!
Also, it was telling to hear Yunger identify as a democrat every time he made a valid criticism of the shift in the present Democratic Party. We get it, it's hard to leave your tribe or even to acknowledge that the other side isn't the demon you once thought it was and your side may not be the force for good. But constantly reaffirming your on the "good side"'won't help you with the mob. Better to recognize where things stand today and accept that you may have to rethink everything you once believed. It's happened to the best of us, and we've come out stronger and more emphatic for it.
Interestingly, I believe that the testosterone hormone plays a large factor in taking risks. As men age and the levels of testosterone flatten, you start to see a more emotional component and contemplative aspect to their thoughts. I would love to see a study of TRT in older men, and the change in perspective and risk taking in their age brackets vs. older men not on TRT.
I didn’t enlist nowhere, just grew up in the debris of the USSR, surrounded by the artifacts of the World War Two and pretty much figuring many things on my own and taking - unthinkable by the US standards - risks since age six. Everything that Sebastian Junger spelled out in his interview, is a common knowledge for most ex Soviet immigrants. It also leads to many answers for the current situation in that part of the world right now.
I also couldn’t help thinking how Eugene Hutz, the lead singer of the gypsy rock NY based band, Gogol Bordello who was an immigrant from Ukraine, eventually left US for Brazil… He is from the same place and year as Sergei Brin. The main line of Hutz famous hit “Immigraniada” is: “we’re coming rougher every time” … Well, I think I know why that spirited man ended up leaving the US… and joining a more Apachi-like environment 🤔 . If you watch “Immigraniada” on YouTube, you ll know too. 😉 I keep wondering, who is now more free and better off, Hutz or Brin? Hopefully, both found what they were looking for.
Now with the US born kids i am puzzled, how to raise them and am suffocating in the safeteism . Where do I go to give them the necessary level of “figuring it out on their own and risk taking? Which “Brazil” should I take them to? I cant stand an idea or raising wimpy kids.
Last month I watched “Stand By Me” a 1984 US film about a group of teen boys in rural Oregon who headed out to find a dead body of another teen. We watched it twice with my kids, who are 11 and 12. Highly recommend.
After college I became a Corrections Officer in a maximum security prison. Then a Parole Officer out on the streets. I left that corrupt world since I was changing for the worse. ButNow that i’m a therapist I have taken up amateur boxing. People are always puzzled why I risk head trauma and getting knocked out.
I’ve always struggled to explain it to people. I think being a fighter is just who I am. As a therapist I do a lot of the work that burns out other therapists. Many of my clients have experienced major traumas. I can handle hearing about it just like I can handle being punched in the face. I actually don’t think I would be a therapist if I wasn’t able to help people who have been through hell. My biggest challenge are “ the worried well”.
I think i’m just a fighter and since i’m not a sociopath i’ve spent my life finding places where its put to good use or is socially acceptable.
On a side note it is interesting to me that a large number of female sexual assault survivors come to me for therapy. Usually they tell me they wanted a therapist who wouldn’t get upset hearing their stories. Apparently the majority female, emotionally in touch and sensitive, therapists out there burst into tears hearing some of this stuff.
Typically not immediately after the assault, unless they were already my client when it happens. As one would expect in the direct aftermath women aren’t interested into talking to a man about it. But unexpectedly years later when opening up about it they choose to talk to me.
"You have to be worthy of it and you have to make sacrifices for it or they don’t want you. And that’s always been true. And if you grew up in an affluent American suburb, it’s hard to tell if you’re fulfilling those standards or not."
This insight helps explain virtue-signalling (although the sacrifices are near nothing). People are trying to prove their moral worth to others and then put BLM signs or Believe Women or Trust Science on their lawns.
" I typically blame the voters. So you hear, oh, Silicon Valley got this candidate elected, that candidate elected. And the story changes depending what side you’re on. Ultimately, the voters decide. The voters do not always choose well."
But voters can only act on the infomation they have. Silicon Valley has played a major role in limiting information available to voters. When social media and search engines, along with news media, entertainment media and academic classrooms all tell the same lies and prevent other opinions, or even alternative facts, from being heard, is it really the voters' fault? That's why we crucially need The Free Press, but a few bloggers and websites, along with a couple of print organs and, yes, even Fox News, are vastly outgunned.
I think that the discussion of the inherent risks (in childbirth) that women face by virtue of their biology is a grossly overlooked factor in trying to understand modern sex-specific social trends. Might this biological fact have something to do with the recent epidemic of adolescent women seeking to change their sex? Of course you don’t hear any of these girls saying that they want to change sex because they are afraid of childbirth, but a logical explanation like that would obviously not qualify for a psychological diagnosis.
Social contagion is certainly a major factor, but there has to be some underlying archetypal psychological driver to fuel these things. Might be an interesting hypothesis to investigate.
Listen to Sebastion; understand MAGA.
My rural neighbors actually believe their communities and families and history are at stake. The authentic MAGA men really believe fighting the left is worth dying for. These men hope they would be willing to fight to the death to keep their women women, their girls girls and their boys boys so as men they can die to protect them. All men to be men need others to die for, or at least we need others who we believe would appreciate our often untested, often inadequate, courage to die for them.
Men needing to prove their worth is a very natural thing. Hopefully it's done in the pursuit of good for your neighborhood or society at large, as opposed to proving your worth to be a member of a gang or joining the mafia.
To my surprise, this article was really an epiphany for me. I came back to the U.S. after several years overseas. I was not in the military or in the Peace Corps, but I lived in small rural communities probably similar to a Peace Corps experience. In addition to hard work, there was lots of time for just spending time with people, just talking or doing small things.
Returning to the U.S. was literally the hardest thing I ever did after living abroad. Everyone was just whooshing around, there was never any time for anything, people seemed disconnected even from those they called friends as they just ran, ran ran. I was really rattled and had a very difficult time adjusting. I couldn't connect with old friends, and I thought maybe I wasn't suited for life here. I almost left the country, never to return. I finally settled in a small community, developed a network of friends, and slowly adjusted. I've mentioned this difficult period to many people throughout the course of my life.
Years later, moving to a more urban environment (nothing like a NYC, but still...), I experienced some of the same adjustment, but this time I was better prepared for the shock.
Sebastian's observation that the PTSD wasn't in country but rather upon return, and his adding that 25% of Peace Corps workers suffer something similar, completely resonated and helped me better understand this difficult transition. It also gave me a broader perspective about what's going on in our society generally. His comment about not owning a smart phone was spot on. At the very least, there should be a "leave your phone in a box" day to remind people that those strange creatures all around them are their fellow human beings.
It is unfortunate that Tim Hetherington is mentioned only in the caption to Junger's photograph. Tim co-produced and was the cameraman for Restrepo. He was a world-recognized photographer. And he was killed a year after Restrepo, in 2011, covering the civil war in Libia.
I listened to this podcast.
I think it’s interesting thinking about how war and struggle can bring solidarity and give men a lot of purpose.
However, I’m not entirely sure of what I or anyone else can do with this information. Less strife and war is universally good and no matter how high the suicide rate gets, I prefer it to deaths from war or just engaging in war in general (or any type of armed conflict) and I think this podcast did a good job of characterizing the negative effects of war (past the obvious).
I think men should embrace the change in society and look for struggle in more meaningful and non-violent ways such as in artistic/personal expression.
"You get answers ranging from SVB was too woke, to it had poor risk management, and everything in between."
"Being woke" can cause problems for reasons other than the consequences of the wokeness. It can also mean that you're focused on something other than what you ought to be doing with your time, which has consequences.
If I say that a high school student's grades are suffering because he plays video games all day, I'm not implying that video games literally cause bad grades. I'm saying that gaming time is coming at the expense of schoolwork time.