Leadership and the Beta Male
Beta Males tend not to be risk-takers. They have survived the eons by valuing safety over adventure. You will not find a beta-male on the polo field, or helicopter skiing on a virgin glacier, but make no mistake, there are many a beta that will go, three, maybe even four days without flossing. (Although, admittedly, there was a point during the Paleozoic period when the beta-male gene line was nearly wiped from the face of the earth by a virulent strain of gingivitis.) And when his imagination leads to hope, the young Beta Male may even gamble. Whenever you meet a guy who says he put himself through college by shooting pool or playing cards, rest-assured that his education was actually paid for by a cadre of hopeful Betas. But more often, among Betas, safety is the rule, and with safety, comes dependability.
In the workplace, only a Beta male knows how to unjam the copier, access the network, and bypass the company internet filter to get to the porn sites. Beta Male nerds are not socially inept geniuses, they are just socially inept – instead of a burning genius he is compensated with a dull competence. That said, the Beta, for whom anxiety is the trailing-edge curse to his cutting-edge imagination, tends to deliver on time, seldom calls in sick, and returns his messages promptly, if only because he can see the dire consequences of being fired at every turn. While you’ll find Alpha males in great numbers among the ranks of entertainers, astronauts, and military commanders, The Beta male tends to excel at retail sales, accounting, and surrender. Take the steady Beta Male out of capitalism, and the system collapses on the Alpha Male ideal that the strong will always prevail over the weak to the benefit the group, when in fact, it’s the strength the group that benefits the group. (Putting, decidedly, the wisdom of survival into the realm of neither the Alpha or the Beta Male, but the female, for whom cooperation is the strong suit, and about whom we are still not going to talk, lest our thesis become as the gut-shot dog of Bush foreign policy. )
While the Beta serves as the very vertebrae of the backbone of American business, in politics, he is often the behind the most heinous fuckery and outrageous weaselosity. Carl Rove, Robert Novak, and James Trafficant are all classic Beta Males. (Yes, there are Betas in both parties. The Beta Male votes Republican because guys like Bill Clinton, or basically anyone with charisma, might take his money and his woman away. He votes Democrat because you never know when you might have to take advantage of some of those social programs.)
Beta Males do not lead countries, they run them. And those who fail to recognize the distinction tend to fail not only as Beta males, but as human beings in general. A Beta male feeling the responsibility of an Alpha Male is how you end up with a guy in a bell tower with a high powered rifle. You don’t want the Beta Male making executive decisions, ignoring his natural weaknesses and proclivity for daydreaming. Many serial killers are simply Beta Males who have channeled their leadership shortcomings into less than healthy habits. That said, you can’t beat a Beta when it comes to workplace massacres. It was a Beta male who first made the word postal a cause of death. Most healthy Betas, however, will avoid overt confrontation at almost any cost, and will choose to sulk, whine or lurk rather than attack. Scratch a stalker, and you’ll find a Beta Male with a handful of restraining orders yearning to break free. The only true Beta Male martial art is based entirely on the kindness of strangers: the fearsome kung fu of passive-aggression.
On the battlefield, you’ll find the Beta Male typing orders rather than giving them, or occasionally wiring explosives to bring down a building, burn up a village, or generally braise an entire population – master of fire, if nothing else. It was a crafty Beta Male who first discovered fire, and true, it was almost immediately taken away from him by an Alpha male (Alphas missed out on the discovery fire, but because they did not understand about grabbing the hot, orangey end of the stick, they are credited with inventing the third degree burn instead.) Still, the original spark burns bright in every Beta’s veins. When Alpha boys have long since moved on to girls and sports, Betas, in order to sublimate their frustrated sex drive, will still be pursuing pyrotechnics well into adolescence and sometimes beyond. Alpha males may lead the armies of the world, but it’s the Betas who actually get shit blowed up.
Famous Beta Male military commanders are – well, there are no famous Beta military commanders, but if there were, they would have names like Alexander the Average, , Peter the Consistent, William the Congested, or Ivan the Relatively Unpleasant. With few exceptions, Beta Males don’t become famous.
In fact, staying below the competition radar is one of the marked advantages of the Beta Male. The way that Beta males thrive is because no one believes they exist, and therefore they make great spies. Not James Bond, Aston Martin with missiles, boning the beautiful Russian rocket scientist on an ermine skin bedspread sort of spy, more the bad comb-over, deep cover bureaucrat fishing documents out of a dumpster spy. His overt non-threateningness allows him access to places and people that are closed to the alpha male, wearing his testosterone on his sleeve. A Beta Male very-well may have a throwing knife concealed in the frame of his briefcase, but it’s a good bet that he only uses it to open letters and clean his fingernails. The Beta male, can, in fact, be dangerous, not so much in the Jet-Li-entire-body-is-a-deadly-weapon way but more in the drunk-on-the-riding-mower-making-a-Luke Skywalker-assault-on-the-tool-shed sort of way.
Which is not to say that the Beta is always the one ground under the heel of the confrontation’s boot – even the most docile Beta will look upon a George Will or a Dennis Kucinich and think to himself, “Mon Dieu, I must relieve that little bitch of his lunch money, post haste.” (Betas are suckers for the Foreign phrase affectation.) Everyone is happier if he has someone to look down on, as well as someone to look up to, especially if he can resent both. This is not only the Beta Male strategy for survival, but the basis for capitalism, democracy, and most religions.
Next, in part three, we’ll examine the Beta Male as a Mate.