Every man wants to get better with women, and most men who become unorthodox thinkers will come across a set of ideas labeled “Red Pill.” These ideas, promising a life of abundant sex with beautiful women, are seductive, pun intended. But are these promises true, and even if they were, what are the consequences of these ideas? As Cicero noted, sometimes it isn’t an idea’s intention, but its consequences that determine your fate. What are the consequences of “Red Pill” ideas? What is the fate of those that subscribe to them? These are the questions Jared at Legends of Men asks in The Red Pill Ideology: The Love Child of Pick-up Artists and Feminists.
Jared sent me a review copy and asked for my opinion. That disclaimer now posted, here it is.
How do we define “Red Pill?”
After reading Red Pill Ideology, I can’t say I’m in complete agreement with Jared. He seems to define the “Red Pill” concept narrowly, pertaining only to the “sexual marketplace,” where men and women exchange their “sexual market value,” a big concept in “Red Pill” thought. Everything else outside that system is meaningless in the context of the “Red Pill,” he says.
And yet, as he notes, many of those thinkers began talking about politics, culture, and the social order. The election of Donald Trump was a hot topic, but other topics, including the wisdom of the past, getting better friends, diet and exercise, and so on, were and are big in “Red Pill” sectors.
Or at least they seemed that way to me. Return of Kings, as he notes, offered a wide variety of topics on being a better man, which is what the “Red Pill” at first appeared to me as. It was more a community than a belief system, designed by men to help men be better, based on results that worked.
Or maybe that was just my naive belief the entire time. Jared favors a much narrower interpretation, where the “Red Pill” doesn’t exist outside of the sexual marketplace, and indeed, it’s hard to argue that the sexual marketplace isn’t the root of the ideology. The “Red Pill” evolved from the pickup artists of the 1990s and 2000s, after all, and there’s a lot of problems there.
As George Bruno notes in the introduction:
When my brothers and I were chatting about today’s red pill mindset, we quickly came to the conclusion that it was just being a man and were perplexed that it would even have to be taught.
Jared would argue that the ideology and chatter about “hypergamy” and “intersexual dynamics” is just bullshit nonsense that gets in the way of being a man. Truthfully, it is hard to come to another conclusion. A too broad interpretation of the “Red Pill” ideology for things that don’t need such a title amounts to word-thinking, where labels, not a good understanding of reality, drives behavior.
And two objections to this ideology are indeed, devastating.
The “Red Pill” as confirmation bias
Scott Adams said in Win Bigly that “confirmation bias isn’t a feature of the human operating system, it is the operating system.”
Confirmation bias is endemic to the “Red Pill” ideology, as Jared explains:
Even many of the red pill assertions are self-fulfilling. For example, there is a red pill assertion that any woman can be a slut on the right day. One way this assertion fulfills itself is in the sexual marketplace. PUAs seduce married women in night clubs or bars and have sex with them within hours. The red pill assertion is validated by the married woman’s infidelity with an alpha male. The flaw in this rationalization is that the married woman was in the sexual marketplace (as seen by her promiscuous behavior in the night club). She was there to actively participate in a market that exchanges casual sex and sterile promiscuity. She wasn’t any woman, she was the PUAs target demographic for enjoying the decline. All that the red pill man has established by enabling her adultery was that any slut can be a slut on the right day.
Jared doesn’t put in that term, but this is classic confirmation bias. It’s easy to validate the idea of “female hypergamy,” if you’re looking for the women likeliest to behave according to the label.
But as Robert Cialdini notes in Pre-Suasion, it’s as important to look for disconfirmations of our ideas as it is to look for confirmations. It’s just difficult to do so because we aren’t naturally inclined to look for them. Nevertheless, the attempt needs to be made, and the ideology Jared critiques doesn’t do it. This actually became obvious to me a few years ago. Jared just dealt with it in the most comprehensive way. As he notes:
They seek out the club sluts because sluts easily demonstrate their beliefs about female hypergamy better than anyone, but they could spend their efforts finding good women. They don’t because it’s easier to participate in the sexual marketplace, harbor negative feelings about women, and retreat to an echo chamber of like-minded red pill men, than it is to genuinely be a leader of a family.
This brings me into the second critique.
A value proposition
In one chapter, Jared details how the ideology encourages men to turn people into things and treat them as business arrangements. The idea is to bone sluts and accumulate wealth but never go beyond that and form a family, due to the risks of losing it all in a lopsided family court system. Jared calls it “a self-hatred that compels them to end their genetic line.”
At first I objected to this. As he himself notes, the family court system is unfairly lopsided against men, and it isn’t hard to blame men for reacting rationally to it. It’s just another disincentive (among many) selecting against marriage and family formation in today’s world.
And yet, this gets us into the next section, outlining how the ideology makes men value individual pleasure over great deeds and social welfare. Men who subscribe to it (by and large) don’t leave behind any children in their image to build a better future. They also abstain from any communities that make them accountable for failing to build a more robust legacy and a better world. They have no loyalty to their countries or higher aspirations of glory. Like Paris, they judge in favor of Aphrodite, indulging in a life of empty lust, over Athena, the patron of great men like Achilles, Diomedes, and Odysseus, who promises glory and great deeds.
There is an objection to this if you define the ideology more broadly. Many of the men involved are concerned about the state of the world, but Jared would say that it isn’t the essence of the ideology. It is hard to argue that, at its root, the ideology is the bastardized version of Epicureanism that so disgusted Cicero, where pleasure is seen as the highest good. But pleasure can be taken away. Then what? A complete man will need to orient his life around more robust ideas. And if he orients his life around the idea that pleasure is the highest good, the consequences are that he won’t act to better his nation and glorify his name. “Red Pill” ideologues can talk about it, but talk is cheap, as they say. If they’re concerned about their names and nations, they have to act, and in ways that aren’t always based on pursuing pleasure.
There are some odds and ends I still disagree with, such as this:
Shortly after Trump was elected, the feminist hysteria began to recede from public discourse. False rape accusations stopped making headlines. Women’s rights marches received less media attention. Red pill content consumers, however, preferred the good ol’ days of critiquing feminism.
This is silly. With the “Women’s March” and the advent of the Me Too stuff in 2017, feminist hysteria grew bigger than ever, though the movement’s crushing defeat at the Battle of Kavanaugh in 2018 has taken a toll. Either way, the hysteria is being mainstreamed and getting off college campuses. Critiquing the hysteria is therefore getting more important, not less.
Still, Red Pill Ideology’s fundamentals are solid, including its critique of the ideology’s basis in Evolutionary Psychology, which I regrettably don’t have room to go over here.
Like Jared, I broke from these ideas in 2017, when I saw them taking a dark turn. You don’t see me use terms like “red pill” around here anymore, do you? Truthfully, I’m mildly embarrassed at some of that stuff now.
But that signals my growth as a man, compared to the people Jared accuses of not growing at all. To go back to George Bruno, the ideology, broadly defined, really just incorporates “how to be a man” in it, but with darker undertones. You don’t need the “red pill” for that. Indeed, the fact that some men believe they need such an ideology shows how badly men have been served by our education system and postmodern culture. Obviously, a lot of guys need guidance, since they aren’t getting it from appropriate figures and institutions. That’s where the “Red Pill” ideology sprang from in the first place. How should you proceed, then?
Since people are bad at interpreting reality, Scott Adams talks about picking the delusion that works in How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. I don’t deny that the Red Pill delusion has helped a lot of men be better in some way. It’s given them confidence that they lacked before, and spurred them to take action. A lot of times, that’s all you need, even if the actual belief system is unsound. But Jared points out that the negative consequences of the Red Pill will eventually undo the good that comes from it, even if they weren’t intended. It is the consequences of an idea that matter.
Ultimately, I see this book as a challenge for us to view the ideology as a phase. It might be helpful at certain points in life, as it can orient you to take control of yourself, act, and begin to explore your masculine center in a way that our weak postmodern culture discourages. But ultimately, it’s a phase, not the end point. The greater masculine identity lies beyond the red pill. The ideology can help you at first, but you will need to move on.
Make sure you’re one of the people that does. You don’t want to be whining about “female hypergamy” and “intersexual dynamics” for the rest of your life. The good life is elsewhere.
Red Pill Ideology is a wakeup call that you’d be wise to read and heed.