Mark Butterworth has some interesting comments on “success”:

“Michael Medved read extracts from portions of his new book, Right Turns, which didn’t make the cut and were edited out. One section had to do with his success as a teenager at selling encyclopedias. He ended the chapter with a brief homily on the key to any success in America was the ability to sell or promote your ideas, your product, your gifts and to close the sale. The most important aspect after all.

He mentioned that people who were too shy or reluctant to sell end up in a pool of self-pity …” Similar sentiment is reproduced on the VDARE site (not recommended):

“The Wiz looked upon [Croker] as an aging, uneducated, and out-of-date country boy who had somehow, nonetheless, managed to create a large, and, until recently, wildly successful corporation. That the country boy, with half his brainpower, should be the lord of the corporation and that [the Wiz] should be his vassal was an anomaly, a perversity of fate. . . . Or part of him felt that way. The other part of him was in awe, in unconscious awe, of something the old boy had and he didn’t: namely, the power to charm men and the manic drive to bend their wills into saying yes to projects they didn’t want, didn’t need, and never thought about before… And that thing was manhood. It was as simple as that.”

The above comments are illuminating in that they show how important salesmanship is when it comes to American life and the American ideal of masculinity. Successful salesmanship does require strong masculine traits: assertiveness, competitiveness, determination, and so on. Men who do not succeed at sales – who do not know how to “close the sale” or how to “charm men and … bend their wills into saying yes to projects they didn’t want, didn’t need, and never thought about before” – are deemed less masculine than those who do.

This perception is uniquely American. The Old World never questioned the inherent masculinity of intellectual or spiritual pursuits, and had always suspected the trading classes of gaining wealth through cowardly and deceptive methods (hardly ideal masculine traits). The recent equating of masculinity with salesmanship and financial success has more to do with the rise of the bourgeoisie and their values than with masculinity itself.

This might be interepreted as sour grapes on my part, since I’ve tried many kinds of sales and never made much money at it. Yet most sales positions seem to involve some form of dishonesty. Almost every kind of sales I’ve ever done involved trying to mislead people at first, even if prospects were not actually lied to. A salesman is highly incentivized to exaggerate the good and conceal the bad about whatever it is he is selling, and no one today thinks anything of it. It is expected and considered perfectly normal. When I had my Series-3 license and sold commodities futures, I was given a telephone script that asked prospects whether they had received a package we had sent — but no package had ever been sent to them. When I sold businesses, I was trained to contact business owners telling them I had many buyers interested in looking at their business — vaguely true but certainly misleading. When I sold insurance, I was trained to conduct pretend telephone surveys that were sneakily designed to set appointments. When I did multi-level marketing, I was trained to make calls pretending I wanted to talk to people about filling a “management position”. In all cases I was trained to be forthcoming about the good news and close-mouthed about the bad news.

Sooner or later my conscience would begin to bother me and I would just start telling people the truth about things, the pros and the cons, the good and the bad, hoping that they would make up their own minds and still decide to buy whatever it was I was selling. That didn’t work too well, to say the least.

The point is that we have an economic system that rewards lies and punishes truth – and this is considered “masculine”. We have a social structure that rewards those who impose their will upon others and punishes those who respect the integrity of others. Tell the whole unvarnished truth about the product you’re selling, and you can probably forget about financial success. If you’re a defense attorney and you tell the truth about your guilty client, you can certainly forget about winning the case. If you’re a politician and you tell the whole truth about what you believe, you can forget about getting elected (assuming you believe in more than just getting elected). If you’re a job applicant and you are completely candid about your strengths and weaknesses, in most cases you can forget about getting hired. Etc.

We are seeing something of a revival of masculinity. That might be a good thing if it were not a thoroughly pagan, barbarian masculinity that worships power and money instead of Truth. Men who strive for the old cardinal virtues of justice, wisdom, courage, and self-control will probably not be experts at “closing the sale”.