The Problem of Surrogate Activities

With the recent passing of Theodore John Kaczynski, the notorious Unabomber and critic of industrial society, it seems timely to raise the ubiquitous modern problem of surrogate activities. In fact, I think surrogate activities are one of the biggest problems for the true right in Australia, and for the right in the other industrial states of the Western world. So what are surrogate activities and what’s the big problem?

Surrogate activities are, quite simply, activities that artificially fulfil some real need of man in a way that deviates from and takes the place of the true end of that need. Two examples that plague modern man will be sufficient to demonstrate the nature of these activities: video games and pornography. Both of these activities are designed to channel real human desires into sterile time-wasting acts that create an illusion of achievement and success, but in the end leave the participant with the hollow feeling that they have been left with very little real as a result. In fact, the time-wasting nature of activities makes them a pure subtraction from the drive to real achievement in that they both falsely “fulfil” a desire, reducing the person’s drive for a real fulfilment, and waste the time that could be spent pursuing that real fulfilment. That the creators of these things know exactly what they are doing can be seen by the flood of “achievements” that have been attached to video games, driving young men to strive for 100% completion of their favourite games. Gamergate showed us that there is a large demographic of men who favour the right, but are caught up in games. Needless to say, whether it’s porn or video games, it’s not a great result to be sitting sweaty in the basement while reality and hostile forces swirl around outside the artificial bubble of the surrogate activity.

The examples that I have already mentioned above complicate the basic idea of the surrogate activity due to the addition of the virtual reality involved in those activities. What about activities in real life? Actually, it won’t take us very long to find the real analogues of pornography and video games as surrogate activities. Is the real end of sexual desire fulfilled if a man stops watching porn and instead visits the brothel or the prostitute? By no means! The sexual desire is still channelled into a sterile and degenerative act that not only produces nothing, but debases all involved by destroying the integrity of their psyches. What about the real analogue of video games? Is there such a thing? Indeed, here we are faced by the notorious “sportsball.” Now, before I am misunderstood, I will admit that various sports can be good community building activities and they have a place in building camaraderie, leadership, and team skills. This, however, applies to a sport as a community activity and not professional sports and sports as spectacle. These things were already well-critiqued by the Australian Roman Catholic poet Bruce Dawe in his poem, Life Cycle. An excerpt, on the child’s induction into sportsball:

Hoisted shoulder-high at their first League game

they are like innocent monsters who have been years swimming

towards the daylight’s roaring empyrean

Until, now, hearts shrapnelled with rapture,

they break surface and are forever lost,

their minds rippling out like streamers

In the pure flood of sound, they are scarfed with light, a voice

like the voice of God booms from the stands

Ooohh you bludger and the covenant is sealed.

Indeed, Dawe’s point in the above as a Christian writer is quite clearly that our beloved AFL has replaced the more fundamental and real importance of religion in the life of our people; however, one need not hold a religious position to accept the basic view presented, since we could also see AFL as a surrogate activity replacing true political life. We can see that sports teams no doubt have greater support bases and more loyal fans than any Australian political party, a truly sad state of affairs in the life of our nation.

As a Platonist, I don’t want to see my people left watching shadows on the wall of the cave, rather, I want to free them to leave the cave and see the full reality of all the glory of the sky, with the stars of the Southern Cross shining in the night. It’s important that on the individual level we strive for real achievements in our lives. Put the time points God allocated you into your own stats, not those of the virtual character, and spend them wisely. When it comes to community associations, by all means watch the footy and be part of a club, but seriously consider getting involved in the political organisation of native Australians. It’s not enough to get fit and have a family on your own, although those are real achievements on a personal level. To protect those achievements you need to succeed communally. And remember, you don’t want to get caught in the basement in front of the computer when the enemies of White Australia break down your door.

Elias Priestly

ANA Victoria