Online message boards and discussions have certain recurring themes that people bring up for years, and the discussions seem to go “in a circle” without any foreseeable end. One of these discussions is the “alpha/beta male” argument for who is an alpha male and who is a “beta” male.
The terms “alpha” and “beta” have been used for a long time in “men’s” writings, but reached a level of special prominence beginning in the mid-2000s with the emergence of people promoting the idea of “game” to help increase one’s attraction to women. This movement, which has since propelled the rise of MGTOW, the “manliness” movement, and a focus on traditionalism, uses the terms alpha and beta to distinguish between men who are considered “leaders” and the other men who are “followers.” The focus has been to teach men the styles, mannerisms, and behaviors that will compel women to like them and move ahead of other men so they can be the “dominant males” just as there exists among a group of animals. It is common for the promoters of this philosophy to speak of such a quest for dominance in terms of Darwinian language, saying that it is the “strong” who rise and get the women, while the “weak” men, the betas, are the ones who are “left behind” in the dating market.
Without going into detail about the obvious evils of much of the above-mentioned philosophy, there is a degree of truth in this in so far as how it reflects current realities and even historical patterns. Traditionally the concept of “alpha” used above really does apply to a small number of men, who receive disproportionately high amounts of women and sex as opposed to the rest of the male population. Likewise, there is a natural tendency for women to seek the most “powerful” man in a group of men, and so it is true that most women will be attracted to the top tier of men even if the women themselves are not among the top tier of women. The men at the top of the social hierarchy have the most choice when it comes to type of women, while men at the lower ranks naturally do not have such access. For example, a billionaire’s son who epitomizes the most contemporary ideas and fashions can get almost any woman he wants, but a 40-year-old pudgy computer programmer who may be a good person and dress well simply does not possess the same options.
However, the alpha-beta model described above is far from perfect, and it only works in limited circumstances because it focuses on a particular relational concept limited to dominance over another in a group setting. It does not well address the known fact that is admitted to by many who teach “game” that alpha males, in spite of the emphasis on darwinian biological concepts, are not biologically “alpha” and can become “betas,” to which they also admit by their own teaching of game that “betas” have the capacity to develop the characteristics that enable them to become “alphas.” There is also an admission, albeit far less discussed, that a man can be alpha in terms of his particular situation at a given time, or even for his whole life but not stand anywhere on the social hierarchy in terms of popularity or desire. This is often describing a man who may not be desired by women and a leader in his field, but when one looks at him, one knows almost instinctively that this person in question is an “alpha.”
What does it mean to be an “alpha” versus a “beta” male? Is it a question of biology? Of presentation? Of “secrets” to getting people to like a man and have conjugal relations with him that one can pay a ‘one time low fee of $19.00 but wait there’s more’?
To answer this question, I turn to the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas. In Part I, Question 3, Article 1, he asks the question if God possesses a body, and the doctor replies that God cannot possess a body because:
Secondly, because the first being must of necessity be in act, and in no way in potentiality. For although in any single thing that passes from potentiality to actuality, the potentiality is prior in time to the actuality; nevertheless, absolutely speaking, actuality is prior to potentiality; for whatever is in potentiality can be reduced into actuality only by some being in actuality. Now it has been already proved that God is the First Being. It is therefore impossible that in God there should be any potentiality (source)
The doctor uses two important words that permeate all throughout the Summa Theologica when discussing God’s nature, which is actuality and potentiality.
Actuality is a state of being, while potentiality is a transitional state describing that which could be in actuality. It is the philosophical equivalent to the scientific distinction between the actual energy of a body in motion versus its potential for motion, distinguished as kinetic energy versus potential energy.
This is a critical distinction because when applied to the concept of “alpha males” and “beta males”, it provides a new level of meaning to both terms. Instead of viewing the two as the difference between the “powerful” and the “powerless,” which is the current model, it refers to a state of being distinguished by certainty versus uncertainty.
Arguably the most important difference between the alpha male and the beta male that all “game” writers and speakers talk about is one of confidence. They note that without exception, the alpha is always confident in himself and who he is while the beta is never. They will even add that “betas” can be alpha in certain situations which they are “confident” in, but once they are out of those situations they return to exhibiting “beta” behavior. They even say that money, which can be helpful, does not make a man an alpha or save him from being a beta, and that even a homeless man with no money can be alpha while a billionaire can be a complete beta.
This admission is direct proof of St. Thomas Aquinas’ statements on potentiality versus actuality, but instead on attitudes and the personality. “Beta” male activity is defined by a lack of confidence, while “alpha” male activity is likewise defined by confidence.
Confidence is subsequently defined as “full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing; belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance.”
Confidence, therefore, is a state of assurance of oneself in who one is. It is, in the true sense, the words of the Sibylline oracle to “know thyself,” for by knowing who one is and what one’s abilities, strengths, limitations, and restrictions are, one knows what one can and cannot do and where one can be successful and where one knows he will faith. While it is true that a man can have a false confidence and thus a false perception but actually believe in his false conception, he can possess confidence in his falsity. This is akin to the example of the myth of Icharus, who was confident when he believed he could fly to the sun with homemade wings, only to have the wax on his wings melt and his wings disintegrate and plunge to his death.
Confidence is not necessarily equivalent with morality or righteousness, or even being correct. As such, while “alpha” is a state, it does not mean that being an alpha means that one is moral or that one is immoral, as one can be an “alpha” an act in both ways, or that he is correct. What it means is that a man holds to the convictions which he has come to believe in and is assured of them. A man can be assuredly right or assuredly wrong, but he can hold to his belief in them with confidence.
Therefore, one must naturally distinguish between two forms of alpha. The first form is the material alpha, which is a man who is confident in himself and with that he stands at the top of the social hierarchy in his given cultural context. The second form is the immaterial alpha, who possesses all of the characteristics of the material alpha except that he is not necessarily in a position of social power and leadership. The immaterial alpha may be last in the social standing and hated by all, but his confidence and knowledge of the self is shaken by nothing at all, knowing himself and his beliefs and persisting without doubt to the end, reflecting the words of the prophet Isaiah “I have set my face like flint, knowing that I will not be put to shame” (Isaiah 50:7).
“Beta” is the other state defined here, which while referred to by the “game” movement as submission, expresses not necessarily weakness, but uncertainty in the face of two states of assurance and thus the potential to move between the given states. Beta at its most positive expression therefore is a transitional state that is likewise neither good nor bad, but represents the potential for change that all must pass through, however short it may be, when he changes from one state of alpha to another. Beta is the process of metamorphosis, the pupae stage from when one thing becomes another. It is impossible to deny that a man could never be a “beta,” because it would mean that a man cannot change but always stays the way that he is, which either means that he is lying about who he is, or that he is claiming he is god (because God never changes) and therefore is doubly lying and committing blasphemy.
But then what is to be said for the “beta male” that as the “game” movement rightly points out, is portrayed as a weak and submissive male who is guided by forces outside of him?
If one looks at the difference between beta and alpha as being one of potentiality versus actuality in respective terms, beta is a necessary state which one passes through but does not stay within. The only problem that could come from the beta state is if one mistakes “beta” for actuality instead of potentiality.
All transition in life between states an opinions comes at some level from doubt about the veracity of a certain position that would cause such a change. The process is necessarily State A —> change —> State B.
If a man in the state of beta, the state of potentiality caused by doubt about his current state of certainty through which he is supposed to undergo an internal metamorphosis into another state of certainty does not make the transition to certainty, staying instead where he is, by staying in his uncertainty becomes captive to the same forces which brought about uncertainty and thus becomes the slave to them. This phase of the pupae being “trapped in the cocoon” eventually engenders in himself a sense of self-captivity, becoming a prisoner of his own thoughts, emotions, and circumstances instead of the one who chooses his future or state depending on his role because he defines himself now in terms of what he thinks he should be in relation to others because he does not know who he is or who he wants to become in terms of his knowledge about himself.
The difference might be classified as two kinds of betas. The first would be transitional betas, who are going through the natural metamorphosis from one state of alpha to another. The second would be abortive betas, who are stuck in a state of uncertainty and transition and have become captive to it.
When one looks at this, it is curious to think that many of the men who talk about “game” and promise to help men become “alpha males” are actually not helping them, but are exploiting natural desires for their own game by pressing doubt into the minds of men about who they are and their capacities for romance. For example, many of these “game” channels will distinguish between “real alpha men” and “beta male cucks,” the latter of who are looked at and spoken of as if they are worthless losers with no future and deserve to be disrespected.
While it is true there are real men with disordered behaviors that need to be discussed, a lot of this is just insulting and destabilizing one’s concept of being for personal gain. Those people affected, who lose confidence in themselves, naturally begin to doubt their own sense of self, and with that along comes the person marketing “game” to sell his product saying that he will show this person what he has to do to “get women.” Effectively the marketer has not actually made his fortune by promoting the “alpha” behavior he claims that he is selling, but by instilling a sense of doubt and then feeding said doubt, possibly even to the point of a man becoming an “abortive beta” in that he no longer knows who he is or what to do to make himself better and defines himself in terms of his weaknesses and circumstances, and then having said marketer present the “solution,” which is to listen and do what he says, which often times does not actually solve the problems, but increases more doubt because the men attempt to use the techniques they learn and often times they do not work or work only under limited circumstances. The yield is a man who has ripped people off of their money by destroying their sense of self-worth and being.
The crisis of “alpha” and “beta” is not one of “strength” and “weakness”, let alone the Darwinist nonsense that is spouted by so many so-called “experts” in “game,” but is a product created by the crisis of the family, the breakdown of culture, the manufactured destruction of society by the same Darwinian philosophical acolytes who spend their days talking about alpha and beta males. While there always have been the socially powerful and accepted who do win the attention and affection of large numbers of people, men and women, and while there are those who are the “underclasses” of society, and those among the underclasses can raise their social standing in a material sense, this is but one dynamic of the many which it encompasses, and even this still is defined by a state of being but on of social popularity that can and still does change because social popularity is conditional upon one conforming to external trends before it is a measure of natural inner confidence, and as the popular sentiments of any group can change, a man who is an “alpha” can be reduced to a “beta” if the decline in popularity causes a crisis of identity, and if that crisis does not naturally lead to a metamorphosis into another state of alpha it will lead to the state of an “abortive beta” as was described earlier.
One of the questions commonly put on the 4Chan message board is “Is Jesus an alpha or a beta male?” The answer to this question is that Christ is an “alpha” in the truest sense of both definitions mentioned earlier.
Refer to St. Thomas’ discussion of potentiality and actuality. Christ is all actuality because He is God and God is all that there is. Therefore, there can be no potentiality in God. As such, God is “alpha” is that He is not merely “confident” in Himself, but He is all that there is and is perfectly good in all since He is goodness itself. In that sense there is no more perfect alpha than God, as He is the one who is at the head of all humanity as He is the progenitor of all that is, necessarily including all life, but He also does not need anybody to follow Him because He did not need to create anything, and if His creation does reject Him it affects Him not in the slightest.
However, it is important not to become consumed with the distinction between “alpha” and “beta” because they are words loaded with false meaning and connotations meant to further a Darwinistic view instead of helping men better their lives in a world that increasingly has manipulated their sense of being and self-worth no different that what the MGTOW or “manliness” movements are doing right now, which is essentially taking the feminist movement of the 1960s and wrapping it in a masculine context.
If a man wants to talk about “alpha” and “beta”, he would be to start with a discussion of himself, and to that as brutally honest of a discussion since only the truth about a man can ultimately bring him to a better state of being. As the admission of potentiality in man is a direct admission that he is not God, it means that a man is not trapped where he is, and that he can better himself and grow into a state that is not only different from where he is, but better.
Being an “alpha” male in either the material or immaterial sense also must not be equivocated with a sense of self-satisfaction or happiness. One can be an “alpha” and miserable just as one may be a “beta” in the abortive sense but happy, or even the opposite. The difference is one of state of being, between knowledge versus doubt, faith in a position versus internal captivity to circumstances. A slave may be in chattel and forced to work for a master but can be “alpha”, but the same slave-master who has power over him and in the particular social context is a material alpha actually be a “beta” in the worse abortive sense. Likewise, a man who is “beta” but in the phase of transition between views” is not actually submissive, but admitting that he is on the way to seek knowledge, and especially to reach truth, assuming he is speaking honestly, will eventually arrive at the truth no matter how long it takes him. Time is not so much a consideration, as is state of being and one’s response to said state.
For a man who wants to improve himself, and who is not sure where to start, the best place to start is to drop the use of the “alpha” and “beta” terms for himself, and then to ask oneself who he is and to get an answer. It may not be an answer that one likes, but to know oneself is the only way that one can expect to make the metamorphosis into another state, and to continue said process throughout one’s life. Indeed, the process of transition from one state of being to a better one is the Christians struggle to become more like Christ, for just as salvation is a gift, a decision, and a process, that process necessarily involves continuing to cast off that which is old or no longer relevant and to continue to grow and change to become more like Christ in reflection of the theosis that all Christians are to partake of, that as God descended into the humanity of man, He did so in order that man might have the ability to ascend to be with Him eternally, and to do that is to follow God along the struggle that leads to life eternal. It is the death to self, the transformation that eventually will transform man, as St. Paul teaches, that those who follow and persist to the exact very end will become like God and will see Him, just as Christ promised- “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.”
It certainly does not happen by listening to advertisements and articles telling people that they are not “man enough” unless they pay them to tell them how to be a “real alpha.”