Recent titles like The War on the West, How to Save the West, Manhood, and The Toxic War on Masculinity suggest that conservative thinkers have become increasingly preoccupied with two urgent cultural issues: the decline of Western civilization and the crisis of masculinity. I myself have written and spoken about both topics on many occasions, including here and here at the Deep Dive blog. They aren’t often discussed in tandem, however, although in fact they are inextricably linked; indeed, I would argue that reclaiming the masculine values which our culture has demonized as “toxic” is essential to pulling Western civilization out of its tailspin and restoring its greatness. But which masculine values? There are competing visions of masculinity today, and whichever one prevails will determine the future of the West.

What does it mean, exactly, for a civilization to be in decline? In the West’s case, it means the most prosperous and productive, technologically and scientifically advanced, artistically glorious and humanized civilization in history is rapidly losing its momentum, its confidence, its will to live. It is being subverted from within by a metastasizing, neo-Marxist virus that is sabotaging our every economic, cultural, and societal structure, and dismantling and discarding every foundation of Western traditions and values.

The capitalist engine that powered the West to unprecedented freedom and prosperity is being undermined by widespread woke corporatism and a growing sympathy among young people for “democratic socialism.” Our youth increasingly value big-government paternalism and collectivist safe spaces over individual rights, including freedom of speech. Dumbed down and disconnected from their own cultural heritage, they have come to disdain their own civilization as an historically unique perpetrator of oppression, bigotry, and exploitation of other cultures. A recent Gallup poll of Americans between the ages of 18-34 showed that only 18% say they are extremely proud of their country.

As for faith and family – two vital components of any successful civilization – our Judeo-Christian faiths and morality are giving way to a reversion to paganism, and religious communities are being marginalized and increasingly subjected to a “soft” totalitarianism. The basic cellular unit of the nuclear family has been deconstructed and redefined almost out of existence by the Sexual Revolution, a half century of radical feminism, and now the aggressive expansion of gender ideology.

These are just some of the signs that the greatest civilization in history may already have passed a critical tipping point.

As for our crisis of masculinity, the assault on the nuclear family has also succeeded in diminishing the value of, and respect for, the traditional roles of men in the West. For the first time in history, there is no clear consensus of what it even means to be a man, what a man’s familial and social responsibilities are, or how a man finds purpose – and without purpose, a man ceases to matter. When men cease to matter, civilization begins to disintegrate.

Young males now are often adrift and directionless, while the culture vilifies them that their very nature is toxic, that they perpetuate “rape culture,” that they are misogynistic oppressors of women (even as women now enjoy unprecedented access to, and success in, every field from business to science). They are told “the future is female.” A deep undercurrent of resentment and anger boils now among many disaffected young men who often either are searching for meaning in all the wrong places or have given up and retreated entirely into the virtual wasteland of online porn and gaming addictions. This crisis alone is a recipe for civilizational collapse.

In response, the internet now teems with masculinity gurus: psychologists, pundits, ex-military life coaches, and others, including Jordan Peterson – bestselling author of Twelve Rules For Life, who has inspired an army of lost young men to get their lives together – and Republican Senator Josh Hawley, whose new book Manhood urges American men to embrace their God-given calling both to lead and to serve.

Most of these gurus, however, seem to be focused on helping young men become good at being men, at reacquiring the roles and skills men have traditionally taken for granted but which the modern world has stripped from too many of them. Granted, this is a crucial aspect of reclaiming their masculinity, but unlike Peterson and Hawley, few of these guides seem to be oriented toward helping young men become good men. In other words, the focus tends to be on male mastery, not moral masculinity. Indeed, some of them, in the dark recesses of the “manosphere” (the online realm where many alienated young men hang out seeking life and relationship advice), are pernicious influences pushing strategies for rejecting the traditional path of marriage and children and instead leading solitary, self-centered lives devoted to financial success and the sexual conquest of women.

Among all these influential role models, it has become impossible to talk about the state of masculinity in the West without addressing the impact of controversial social media superstar Andrew Tate. A former kickboxing champion and shrewd self-mythologizer, Tate, 37, is seemingly ubiquitous across the internet. His name is one of the most searched in Google. His TikTok videos have been viewed billions of times, shared through a massive network of followers. His influence among many millions of alienated young men and boys is arguably on a scale equal to that of Jordan Peterson.

Tate’s notoriety stems from two things: his flaunting of an extravagant lifestyle (expensive cigars, suits, and watches, and a fleet of flashy supercars) and a reputation for outrageously misogynistic statements and behavior. The latter have gotten him kicked off a reality TV show and banned from virtually every social media platform. But as Tate sees it, any publicity is good publicity.

He himself proudly admits that he grew wealthy from his lucrative pornographic webcam business and related pyramid schemes which he ran out of Romania, a country he said he moved to because the government there is more corrupt and sexual assault allegations are taken less seriously. He and his equally unscrupulous brother Tristan made millions by romancing dozens of young women and then manipulating them emotionally to participate in a business model he has readily admitted was “a total scam” – not only of the female employees he admits he cheated but the lonely suckers his webcam girls sponged, sometimes for their life savings. Tate went on to launch “Hustler’s University,” a $50-a-month online program designed to teach young men essentially how to imitate his own success exploiting women. He even offered a “PHD Program” (“Pimpin’ Hoes Degree”) which is just what it sounds like.

Some on the political right nevertheless admire the glib, charismatic Tate for a few reasons: he has made valid conservative observations condemning the decadence of the modern West; he repudiates feminism and promotes a strong, unapologetic vision of masculinity; and he calls for men to embrace more traditional relationship roles like protector and provider. In a two-and-a-half-hour interview, media maverick Tucker Carlson treated Tate with almost giddy admiration and seemed to take everything he said at face value, which is a serious mistake where Tate is concerned. Shortly thereafter, another prominent conservative commentator, The Daily Wire’s Candace Owens, released her own, three-hour videotaped interview with Tate from his home in Romania, where he was only just recently released from house arrest while the Romanian authorities continue to build a case to indict him for human trafficking along with his brother and two female alleged accomplices.

Owens challenged Tate marginally more in her interview than Tucker did in his, but this conservative impulse to latch onto the celebrity Tate as a political ally must stop, because he is an execrable role model. His legion of male fans, who are justifiably fed up with a feminized culture that batters them for their “toxic” nature, sees Tate as someone who has it all: he’s a former champion athlete who advocates for men to improve themselves through self-discipline and fitness training; he’s “living large” surrounded by the kind of expensive toys that appeal to young men; and he lives on his own terms and doesn’t cower before feminist outrage or cancel culture. He represents to them a peak virility which flies in the face of a culture that celebrates gender-bending celebrities like singer/actor Harry Styles, who poses in dresses on the cover of Vogue.

But the showy facade of Tate’s lifestyle conceals a spiritual and moral abyss. Even a cursory investigation into Andrew Tate turns up abundant, damning video evidence of his own statements exposing him as a master manipulator (or in his own words, “ice-cold hustler”), a ruthless exploiter of women and the young men he claims to be inspiring, and a morally repugnant egotist.

As if this weren’t concerning enough in terms of the kind of masculinity he promotes, a revealing twist in the Tate saga is his recent conversion from Eastern Orthodox Christianity to Islam. “Islam is the last true religion on the planet,” he had declared even before his conversion. “Christianity has no power left,” he said, because Christians do not defend their own God, whom they allow to be mocked and disrespected in the culture.

“Muslims are the only people who defend their religion – they defend their beliefs, they refuse to be mocked,” Tate says in another video. “People don’t openly stand up and disrespect Islam – because they’re afraid.” In his mind, Islam is the true religion simply because it will likely be the last one standing. It’s irrelevant to him that the reason people are afraid to mock Islam is not because it is true or worthy of respect, but because its fundamentalist adherents have been known to respond to disrespect with murder and mayhem. What attracts Tate to Islam is not principles, truth, or spirituality but the fact that it projects a fearsome, hypermasculine strength.

In fact, as he stated passionately in yet another video clip (now deleted but preserved by the watchdogs at MEMRI) Tate admits that the Muslims he truly respects are the terrorist savages of Islamic State (ISIS):

ISIS are the real Muslims because ISIS do exactly what the book [the Quran] says. Kill everyone who’s not a Muslim and chop people’s heads off and set them on fire and be fucking raging lunatics. But all the other Muslims go, “They’re not real Muslims because I read the book and ignore those parts.” Well then, you’re not fucking Muslim, because you’re ignoring the fucking book.

Anyone who holds up ISIS as an example of admirable religious conviction needs a morality check. Regardless, he believes Islam is the future of the West. “This is why I’m Muslim,” he wrote on social media after his conversion. “Any Christian who believes in good and understands the true battle against evil must convert.”

It is also worth noting that the self-proclaimed misogynist Tate seems drawn to Islam because, in its most fundamentalist incarnations around the world, it enforces a strict and even brutal sexism against women. In one video, Tate openly expresses his desire to find an “Islamic-ass” wife, alongside whom he would keep a pile of rocks “in case she gets fresh,” referring to the sharia practice of stoning women to death. I don’t think this is what Tate’s conservative fans have in mind when they think he advocates for traditional male-female relationships.

But his point that other believers under attack do not sufficiently defend their faith is a sobering and valid one. Where are the Christian communities, for example, rising up to stamp out the infiltration of unbiblical gender ideologues who literally stand at the pulpit and proclaim that God is gay or transgender? Tate’s high-profile rejection of Christianity for Islam signals to his fans that the latter is manly and strong and true, while the former is effeminate, diluted by modernism and by a tolerance of secular trends, and ultimately false.

Here is an example of how this perception plays out in the real world: a report from Egypt several years ago noted that Muslim men there were stickering their cars with shark symbols in an aggressive response to the Christian “fish” sticker pasted on the cars of some members of the Coptic minority. When asked about it, one young Muslim laughed: “The Christians had the fish, so we responded with the shark. If they want to portray themselves as weak fishes, OK. We are the strongest.”

It is this supremacist perception that emboldens the persecution and genocide of Christians and Jews in the Middle East, that leads to attacks on churches throughout Europe and America and calls for global war against Jews and synagogues, that leads to priests being beheaded at church altars and to surging antisemitism. How much are we supposed to tolerate? The Christian command to turn the other cheek should not be misconstrued to mean that we surrender meekly to slaughter and extermination at the hands of our enemies. And yet too few Christians and Jews even bother to take to the streets in protest, much less fight back.

Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world, even as the true believers in Christianity and Judaism are in decline. This is largely to do with the higher Muslim birthrate, but how much of Christianity’s decline, for example, is because in its current anemic state it has little with which to attract young men looking for a faith that will empower them to fulfill their nature and their purpose, especially when the influential Andrew Tate offers such a seductive alternative?

This is not a call for persecuted people of faith to return revenge for violence. It is a call, however, for believers – especially men, whose natural duty is to protect and defend – to put on the full armor of God, as it says in the Book of Ephesians, and take a righteous stance for their God against evil, whether flesh-and-blood or spiritual. That stance can take many forms, all of which require a deepened commitment to one’s faith and a spirit of sacrifice and service. There is no room for sacrifice and service in Andrew Tate’s self-aggrandizing vision of manhood. Men must find the courage to defend and preserve the True, the Good, and the Beautiful in a culture waging open war against those values that made the West great. The civilization once known as Christendom cannot be rescued without a reinvigoration and manly defense of the faith that nurtured it.

An emasculated culture is a doomed culture. A civilization whose men feel it has no use for them, where their natural drives of competitiveness, adventurousness, and even aggression (all of which are condemned today as toxic) are not valued, encouraged, and properly channeled, will stagnate and die. A civilization whose men will not or cannot defend its women and children, its borders, and its faith and values is a civilization ripe for conquest, whether from without or within.

The future of Western civilization will depend on whatever vision of masculinity prevails. It will depend on whatever faith – be it Islam, Christianity, Judaism, paganism, social justice fanaticism, or any other – gives today’s morally adrift young men a code that speaks to their scorned nature and sets them on the path to becoming men of purpose and integrity and righteous strength. If we, as a society, make the right choice, everything else will begin to fall into place: the healing of our broken families, our divided communities, our decadent culture, our waning civilization. And then there will be what poet T.S. Eliot called “right order in the soul and right order in the commonwealth.”

Headshot of Mark Tapson

Mark Tapson is a writer, screenwriter, culture critic, and political commentator. The Shillman Fellow on Popular Culture for the David Horowitz Freedom Center, he has written nearly a thousand articles about the intersection of culture and politics for FrontPage Magazine, Breitbart News, PJ Media, National ReviewThe New Criterion, and elsewhere. Among the numerous films Mark has worked on are The Path to 9/11 and the award-winning documentary Jihad in America: The Grand Deception. Mark is also the host of The Right Take podcast and the author of a forthcoming book on the war on masculinity. Follow him at his Substack page, Culture Warrior.